Controller Evolution

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Lex Darko:

Actually when I was playing the DA2 PS3 demo the first thing I thought when the gameplay started was, "this combat system has been dumbed down for the PCs." I had to pause a moment after I thought that; and asked myself why I thought so.

And then I remembered how a truly good console style hack/slash combat system feels. I thought about the combat in Jade Empire, Demon Stone, and the Kingdom Underfire Series.

DA:O's combat (played on the PC, and modded to hell and back) literally put me to sleep. DA2 is better but it's hampered by the vestiges of the old PC point and snore combat system it still has.

Well yes, I know what you mean. Like I always said, arcade combat was always suited to the controller. And it's not wrong of you to expect some good ole fashioned hack n' slash (which isn't all mindless button-smashing and can include real time tactical aspects, as Kingdom of Heaven shows).

Just posting to say keep this up! It's just as good as any of the video series on this site and I want it to last.

I think getting into gaming can be considered for different types of people. People with iphones or whatnots might want to start playing stuff like mirror's edge or doom to get a feel of what the experience is similar to. Someone who spends a lot of time on the computer should be started off by getting a free steam account and purchasing a copy of Portal or Half-Life 2. Maybe just buy a 16-bit console on eBay for a small price. If I were to recommend gaming to my friends, I'd let them borrow my gameboy or DS. Relatively simple controls and some excellent games. All of these can be very inviting to a new comer so I think the assumption that the people who are outside our current demographic should start off by playing Wii's is poor.

Great Stuff! very interesting, this column gets my big rubber stamp of Approval *stamping noise*, I'd like to see more of this. James, especially intrigues me with his ideas.

Anacortian:
I would just like to cast my vote in favor of continuing this series. An expert opinion is great, but an expert discussion is greater still.

Though this is a nice change of pace, lets not go overboard. The only real speciallist in here is James, Bob can at most be considered a movie specialist and both Yathzee and him just happen to be game dorks that have gotten the ability to be listened in the videogame media, but both have no bloody idea about the industry or it's inner workings. Hell, Michael Pachter would be more interesting in here simply because James, an idealist and Pachter, a businessman would be a pretty interesting clash of ideas and concepts.

Love this column! Really interesting arguments. I suppose with motion controls it really does depend on what you want from you experience, like Yahtzee I am more inclined to lay back with my video games and use them in this way, if it sucks me in great! But the Wii does offer another (as yet a little flawed) experience that I'm glad exists in the gaming culture.

MovieBob:
Hardcores will benefit from developers being less able to re-press the same game as a "sequel" when the last one is sitting right there online.

I'm not so sure about this point. I think hardcores are actually the ones expecting a sequel to be very similar to the previous iteration. A recent example is the unsong Civilization V fiasco, as in, a lot of hardcore fans were really disappointed with the game, but you wouldn't know about it unless you're part of the franchise's online community, since sales have been good (we're guessing the explicit casual appeal worked) and "professional reviews" praised it across the board (Tom Chick being the only mainstream exception).

What basically happened (appart from the buggy release) is that the sequel didn't built upon the previous game's strengths, and instead started from scratch keeping only the core aspects of the franchise, throwing away lots of mechanics and features we liked and were used to having.

Another lesson to be learned, is that we shouldn't underestimate the power of hype. We knew of the many drastic changes being made, but not only we had hoped and trusted the developer (never again), we also bought right into the hype. Even if publishers tried to re-press the same game, if the hype is built well, we'll buy it anyway. The fact that "hardcores" don't fall for mere graphic updates like "casuals" do doesn't make them impervious to other hype tactics.

Now, many disappointed fans did turn back to Civilization IV, but then it was too late. The only thing that comes close to Bob's point, are the players that bought Civ V as their first Civilization ever, and then went for Civ IV, having tasted blood but suspecting there was a sweeter source. But as far as I know there are not many of those.

Movie Bob! How you have dissapointed me.

A - Skippable tutorials are functionally more important than you realise. Beyond the argument on whether someone has a cetain level of experience, any game needs to cope with every day life, you know those 'Murphy's Law' situations. What if your PC or PS3 dies and you can't recover the save of the game you are half way through? What if there the tutorial takes an hour to complete, at a QA level of the production cycle that an hour per tester of potentially wasted time! It's not just the player at the end some disicions are made! The cloud may help this but personally I like owning a shiny box of new experiences...

B - Movie Bob - 'That'll be a win-win: Newcomers will have, say, GTA 1 through whatever to take a swing at before they dive into the newest one, and hardcores will benefit from developers being less able to re-press the same game as a "sequel" when the last one is sitting right there online.'

Now, I am not excusing the PUBLISHERS (after all its the people that hold the purse strings that decide these things and not the developer unless they also publish) that decided to cut a few corners in order to get a game development cycle in to a tight time frame for little cash. This is an awful practice and does nothing but harm.

Speaking from experience, a sequel will generally share code with it's previous version and the aim will always be to look at what went wrong and get those fixed. A game may have had massively broken code that public would never see, however those issues would HAVE to be resolved and take a certain amount of time and money to fix before they even start 'making' the new game. The less money left equals less time and resource that can be used to make the new features. It's not such a cut and dry argument when you take this type of issue in to account.

Haha, Yahtzee laying down the law, we bow to no man, woman or child!

I've been enjoying the discussion, both in the article and on the forum, so much so that it's got to the point where I joined just to join in. So congrats all round :-) To begin with, I think it's necessary to state a point everyone knows but no-one (I think) has really mentioned.

The universal controllers we use are a necessary compromise. In an ideal world, every game would have a controller suited specifically for playing it, and learning how to use these controls would be the best way to play the game. But games would then be very expensive to buy, and to a lesser extent, to manufacture. BTW this doesn't preclude that similar games would have vastly different controllers - after all, if two games are similar then undoubtedly they will have similar control schemes. But yeah, the controllers we use on consoles are an economic compromise - having one controller with multiple different buttons allows for a great diversity of actions to be done by the player without them having to create stacks of very specific controllers. That's why the keyboard and the PS3/360 controllers (the two are essentially the same) are built the way they are.

A lot of people seem to believe that this means they are optimal in some way, however. For those who are used to these schemes - yes, they very well may be optimal as they are suitable. Such people have a wealth of previous experience with these controllers, or previous and slightly less complicated incarnations. Let's think of current generation FPS's. I know that to aim on a PS3 controller is to press R1 then move the right analog stick. This simulates me looking down my sights then looking around through them. Now step out of your gaming bubble. Is this really the optimal way to *aim*? What about the light-gun way - you have a tactile gun controller with its own sights down which you can aim? I know this isn't perfect, as it requires calibration, but surely this a better way to *aim* a gun in an FPS. But you wouldn't use a light-gun in something like CoD, as light-guns have a very limited (and so far shit) capacity for moving the player around. To my mind, an ideal controller for an FPS would be one that would allow you to aim down-sight whilst retaining all the movement capabilities currently available. That would be a far more 'optimal' way to play these games.

What is the point of a controller? It's to allow the player to immerse themselves in the game, to go from cognitive thought to visible action with as little thought about how they are doing this as possible. On a micro level, a controller is 'optimal' if you can do this - hence I'd argue that, for me, a PS3 controller is optimal. On a macro level, a controller is 'optimal' if ANYONE who plays a game can do this - hence the reasoning behind the lightgun/FPS mash-up above.

This brings me to Yahtzee's point - "It's just I've never seen anyone get as lost in Wii Tennis for hours like I do in, say, Silent Hill 2". I'd argue that has little to do with the controller. Silent Hill 2 is a game built to be played over hours and hours and hours (or maybe just hours and hours, or even only hours). SH2 is made to be played immersively over a long period of time - it wouldn't work as a horror game otherwise. As for Wii Tennis - it's designed to be played in smaller, more discrete chunks. It's immersive for as long as a match lasts - events don't tie you from one match to another. You finish a game, then start a new one. No wonder no-one doesn't get lost in it for as many hours as they do in SH2.

So Yahtzee - the controllers have nothing to do with the duration of immersion, it's more the games they're played with. What about another important factor, the intensity of immersion? How 'immersed' in the game are players? Although that's difficult to gauge, I'd argue they are equally immersive experiences for me (hence on a micro, personal level) though on a macro level, I'd say Wii Tennis is, as more people can become immersed in this easier than SH2 precisely because of the controllers - swinging a Wiimote to mimic a tennis swing has more fidelity to the real-life experience than pressing X, an action not requiring you to move your legs, to run - and that's why Wii Tennis is arguably more immersive as far as controllers are concerned (NOTE: I'm not saying it's a more immersive game overall).

Going along these lines, there seems to be an idea that motion controls are rubbish and will always be rubbish. Games made for them tend to be simplistic, or not make great use of their controls, or when they try to be complex they are miserable experiences.

Well, duh. Try playing CoD on a NES controller. See how much fun that is.

Numerous contributors have mentioned that us growing up, and controller's evolving with new consoles, has gone hand-in-hand. That's a very valid point. I'd like to take this argument further though, as I alluded to with the above sentence.

Veteran gamers love to wear rose-tinted glasses. I know, I'm one of them. But think back to the NES, one of the earliest precursors to today's controllers - how many playing buttons did it have? 2. 6 if you count the D-Pad. How many did the Mega Drive have? 6 (10 with D-Pad). And so on. Games for these machines had to be relatively simplistic, as there were only so many combinations of button you could press - there were only so many inputs. Now? The PS3 has 12 buttons (including the D-Pad), and at least 360 degrees of rotation (or button presses) per stick. The amount of commands available to a PS3 controller compared to a MegaDrive controller is probably a billion times more (don't make me do the maths).

Why am I telling you this? Because the Wii controller is comparable to the NES - it's the first generation, the most simplistic, the most basic. Games with it are simplistic. The Move and the Kinect are MegaDrive/SNES equivalents.

I can gaurantee you, the PS3 equivalent will allow for games equally complex and deep and immersive and impressive as PS3/360 games. But you'll have to wait 20 years to see them. But it's short-sighted to write them off because their NES equivalent produces mostly rubbish games (and I'd argue they're rubbish because we've been spoilt by the PS3s/360s/PC games, and not as stand-alone).

Phew. Sorry that took so long. A thumbs-up if you stayed to the end :-D

Raiyan 1.0:
Oh dear...

Console gamers already see PC games being brought over to their platform being 'dumbed down' because of the constraints of the controllers. If the industry tries to cater to the novice to expand the market, won't they be simplifying the controllers even further if the current ones appear 'daunting' to a rookie?

I think what they were going for was more games that are simplified and just not using the whole controller for the sake of using the whole controller. I think a Prince of Persia game where all it is would be patforming: analog for moving, analog for camera, button to jump, trigger to go back in time. More games that don't feel obligated to use all 10 buttons, dual axis, and d pad. Besides, I doubt the computer gamers that issue that complaint on a regular basis would pick up said game...then again, Super Meatboy sold really well.

On controllers,
I find I can give anyone, be it a Xbox Halo fanatic or a PS3 COD guy my little sister who plays Wii or even my mum who doesnt play computer games but just about knows how to use a computer, a simple FPS like portal or minecraft or COD on a computer and they pick it up really quickly.
A mouse is very intuitive and effective. I would say computer games are the easiest gateway for bringing causal gamers into "mainstream" gaming

mjc0961:

and God forbid the Tutorial isn't 100% skippable or "hardcore" gamers are garaunteed to pitch a fit about it - as though it's inconcievable that people without their specific prior experience might want to play, too

What? You make it sound like there's something wrong with wanting a skip button, Bob. I have to disagree strongly: a skip button is what makes everyone happy.

If the tutorial is mandatory for everyone each time you start a new game, people who already know what they are doing are going to find it annoying.
If the tutorial doesn't exist, no players are going to get frustrated and turn the game off.
If the tutorial is there, but you can choose to skip it, experienced players can skip the tutorial and just play, while new players can take the extra time to pick up the basics.

With a skip button, everyone is happy. Every game tutorial should be skippable. It's just something that should be in every game these days, like an option for subtitles, and an in-game brightness adjuster so we don't have to change our TV's or monitor's settings if one game decides to be too dark or too bright by default.

I agree with this. As much as I find tutorials useful when new to a game, after playing though it the first time, if I go for a second run, I dont want to go through the learning session again. There should almost always be a skip feature; unless the tutorial is done in such a way that its necessary, but it doesnt feel like you are being literally "taught" things. Something like a first level that has prompts pop up telling you how to perform a certain action, but feeling like it is being said in context, and not rookie training. I would say something like the first level to MW2, in the first part where you are showing the new recruits how it is done. That feels to me like a well done tutorial. Actually, look up the Extra Credit episode about tutorials, they basically say that themselves, if I remember correctly.

Captain Underbeard:

I saved the entire post in spoilers (I think more people should do that instead of just cutting and replacing with a snip).

Two things. First, I think that is the most information anyone has ever put down in a first post. Second, I have to agree with the idea that the current motion controls are first gen and have room to grow, but you can't completely isolate them just because of that. Quick example: everyone goes nuts about the next WoW killer, it is the game to beat when it comes to MMOs. Problem is, when a new game enters the market that is good on its own merits but not quite as good as WoW, it is seen as inferior and left to die even if it could be better than WoW if given an extra year or two of development with a mediocre fanbase. We have to compare this first gen motion controller to the current gen of "regular" consoles because that is what they are against.

Ideally, I hope there is a happy medium between motion and analog controllers where everyone can get along. I would be hard pressed to play a platformer or an epic RPG with motion controls. However, I do think FPS games with a "Wii-mote" and analog for walking are going to be the next big thing (once we work out the kinks).

Allow me to hijack the plane a moment.

Moviebob:
...and hardcores will benefit from developers being less able to re-press the same game as a "sequel" when the last one is sitting right there online.

Bob, each time you play a game of, say, Chess, is that a sequel? The rules are the same each time. Why then do many play Chess regularly without complaint that it's just the same game every time? True, you don't have to buy the game each time you play unless the pieces are made of chocolate (there's an idea!) But I am curious what is at work here.

Part of it seems to be how closely video games are emulating movies and sequelists is the bane of the movie industry as well.

Personally, I detest storytelling in video games for this very reason. I had made a post on another forum that I'll spoil here.

Condensed version: Minecraft has the potential and probably currently is the best RPG on the market because it lack story and character stats which ties the story, as it what happens not to an abstract spreadsheet of numbers or some writer's pathetic attempt at aping Tolkien for the forty berillionth time, but on what actions the player takes. That is, the environment presents the player with a situation, the player takes and action, the environment reacts, the player takes further action, repeat until the situation is resolved. This is how storytelling actually works. It's not watching cutscenes.

It seems that most developers, especially the triple A sort, are coming up with a gameplay 'engine' that acts as a kind of laws of physics that they can then reskin with a new cast of characters, setting, etc. and expect it to not get stale.

But it does get stale and worse, storytelling in games tend to make the player's actions redundant and unnecessary. Being sent on some quest to save the world or bring in the mail is fairly meaningless when you realize that any other berk could have done it.

This is a big topic and I'm starting to ramble now, so I'll cut this short.

irani_che:
On controllers,
I find I can give anyone, be it a Xbox Halo fanatic or a PS3 COD guy my little sister who plays Wii or even my mum who doesnt play computer games but just about knows how to use a computer, a simple FPS like portal or minecraft or COD on a computer and they pick it up really quickly.
A mouse is very intuitive and effective. I would say computer games are the easiest gateway for bringing causal gamers into "mainstream" gaming

PC gaming is already the biggest gateway for bringing casual gamers into mainstream (tho the iphone is proving effective too) - just think how many people play games on the websites of Armor Games or PopCap. Then look at how many go on to buy a DS... then a Wii or a 360.

However, there is a massive way of bringing casuals into the wider gaming ecosystem - we gamers. How greater will the pull be if we took the time to invite our less gaming focused work collegues round for a gaming session or ask our parents to join in? You don't have to drop them straight into an FPS deathmatch, start them off with simpler games or even co-op missions.

If there's a human there to take the journey with them instead of just a cold, faceless tutorial then it's likely they'll be open to playing more.

KEM10:

Captain Underbeard:

I saved the entire post in spoilers (I think more people should do that instead of just cutting and replacing with a snip).

Two things. First, I think that is the most information anyone has ever put down in a first post. Second, I have to agree with the idea that the current motion controls are first gen and have room to grow, but you can't completely isolate them just because of that. Quick example: everyone goes nuts about the next WoW killer, it is the game to beat when it comes to MMOs. Problem is, when a new game enters the market that is good on its own merits but not quite as good as WoW, it is seen as inferior and left to die even if it could be better than WoW if given an extra year or two of development with a mediocre fanbase. We have to compare this first gen motion controller to the current gen of "regular" consoles because that is what they are against.

Ideally, I hope there is a happy medium between motion and analog controllers where everyone can get along. I would be hard pressed to play a platformer or an epic RPG with motion controls. However, I do think FPS games with a "Wii-mote" and analog for walking are going to be the next big thing (once we work out the kinks).

Yeah I agree - there have been plenty of other 'universal' controllers which have been made and died a death in their first generation. Usually the reason for this is because they're pretty poor though, and weren't suited for use as 'universal' controllers for that console. It can happen with good ones too, but it won't happen with the generation started by the Wii.

That control system is already established and in its second generation. It's proven to be wildly popular, and we will see more of it and not less in the coming years.

A controller has to be suited to the game-playing experience, and you have to ask what is the crux of that experience. I think the experience of a game can be broken down into levels of physicality and meta-physicality.

What do I mean? A dancing game is a highly physical experience - you're using your body to play the game. An RPG is a highly metaphysical experience - there are elements such as growth and relationship building (among others, naturally). I'd argue that metaphysical experiences can never have suitable controllers, for they aren't things we can touch. They have to be conceptualised into something that can be touched, like buttons on a keypad.

To review - as far as I see, optimal controls can be made for physical experiences, and it's quite obvious what they are. As for metaphysical experiences, the optimal controls are a lot more open to interpretation. So I'd say there are at least two paths of evolution of game controllers - the one with current PS3/360 consoles that are good at bringing about the metaphysical, and the Wii which can bring about the physical.

oh christ, james agrees with BOTH of them

These are fantastic, great point from all. I hope to see this series continuing for a long time.

Don't know about you guys, but I can see this becoming the Top Gear of the Escapist.

Siberian Relic:
Don't know about you guys, but I can see this becoming the Top Gear of the Escapist.

Yahtzee always was the gamer Jeremy clackson

alphaxion:

irani_che:
On controllers,
I find I can give anyone, be it a Xbox Halo fanatic or a PS3 COD guy my little sister who plays Wii or even my mum who doesnt play computer games but just about knows how to use a computer, a simple FPS like portal or minecraft or COD on a computer and they pick it up really quickly.
A mouse is very intuitive and effective. I would say computer games are the easiest gateway for bringing causal gamers into "mainstream" gaming

PC gaming is already the biggest gateway for bringing casual gamers into mainstream (tho the iphone is proving effective too) - just think how many people play games on the websites of Armor Games or PopCap. Then look at how many go on to buy a DS... then a Wii or a 360.

However, there is a massive way of bringing casuals into the wider gaming ecosystem - we gamers. How greater will the pull be if we took the time to invite our less gaming focused work collegues round for a gaming session or ask our parents to join in? You don't have to drop them straight into an FPS deathmatch, start them off with simpler games or even co-op missions.

If there's a human there to take the journey with them instead of just a cold, faceless tutorial then it's likely they'll be open to playing more.

agreed, I got into halo because of a co op.
reason i like PCs is that many ppl already have a PC at home which is capable of playing games

A big issue with the back catalog idea is licensing problems. I read an article once (I'm pretty sure it was here too) that the reason Sony hasn't just released all of their back catalog is because over time licensing changes hands, different people are in charge. They may want to do it but their hands are quite literally tied. But I have to agree with regular controllers over motion. I want to just sit back, relax, and zonk out when I play.

The alienation caused by the Xbox/PS3 controller cannot be overstated. I put my father (who will try anything once) in front of Flower, one of the most accessible video games of this generation, and he immediately got lost... because he put the controller down on the couch while watching the opening cut scene, then picked it back up with one hand, causing the camera to go nuts.

The modern console controller is built for FPS games. The PC controller is built for Microsoft Word. Beyond that, the learning curve only gets steeper, and there's not much you can do about it except make better tutorials. The best tutorials in the business are, not coincidentally, on the most popular games.

I love how it feels like I just read a discussion between a suave-looking 1950s deco art man, a little trilby-wearing bug eyed avatar with free floating ball hands and a long-haired bearded game guru cartoon.

The whole question about motion controllers is about saturation and exposure. The longer they are around the more kids will have grown up with them and expect them, kinda like vibrating controllers. Also, the longer they around the more developers will be able to develop classifications of games that utilize them to their fullest.

Why can't a console controller with motion control just use some elements as an "extra button" instead of being a full motion control experience. The example is best suited for survival horror - something jumps at me and I leap in start so it cause my avatar in the game to jump about. Other than that I still use standard controller configurations.

I'd still really like a 2 part 360 controller so I could move my hands about separately instead of keeping them held in front of me.

TheBobmus:

Meanmoose:
you guys should consider doing a podcast I think =)

Considering Yahtzee lives in Australia, and the other two presumably live in different parts of America, I suspect this would be one heck of a headache to do... :/

I host a board game related podcast, and our hosts are scattered around the USA. One of our contributors is from Australia, and we recorded a few segments together - with SKYPE it wasn't that difficult. They could easily have had this conversation in 15 minutes or less, including connection time.

KEM10:

Raiyan 1.0:
Oh dear...

Console gamers already see PC games being brought over to their platform being 'dumbed down' because of the constraints of the controllers. If the industry tries to cater to the novice to expand the market, won't they be simplifying the controllers even further if the current ones appear 'daunting' to a rookie?

I think what they were going for was more games that are simplified and just not using the whole controller for the sake of using the whole controller. I think a Prince of Persia game where all it is would be patforming: analog for moving, analog for camera, button to jump, trigger to go back in time. More games that don't feel obligated to use all 10 buttons, dual axis, and d pad. Besides, I doubt the computer gamers that issue that complaint on a regular basis would pick up said game...then again, Super Meatboy sold really well.

Keyboard and mouse inherently addresses this. No dev uses all the buttons that would be utterly insane so they just use what they need.

Another thing PC gaming has that almost all consoles lack total customization on pc you can map any button to any action. aditionaly you can plug in some other input device and map actions to that.

A good example from the FPS is mouse button 4 on mice that support it there is no consensus on what it should do same with eh Q key i use them as reload and mele respectively but because of the customisation everyone is happy.

Best thing for consoles would be to support a decent wireless keyboard and mouse or keyboard and pointer.

Ed.:

KEM10:

Raiyan 1.0:
Oh dear...

Console gamers already see PC games being brought over to their platform being 'dumbed down' because of the constraints of the controllers. If the industry tries to cater to the novice to expand the market, won't they be simplifying the controllers even further if the current ones appear 'daunting' to a rookie?

I think what they were going for was more games that are simplified and just not using the whole controller for the sake of using the whole controller. I think a Prince of Persia game where all it is would be patforming: analog for moving, analog for camera, button to jump, trigger to go back in time. More games that don't feel obligated to use all 10 buttons, dual axis, and d pad. Besides, I doubt the computer gamers that issue that complaint on a regular basis would pick up said game...then again, Super Meatboy sold really well.

Keyboard and mouse inherently addresses this. No dev uses all the buttons that would be utterly insane so they just use what they need.

Another thing PC gaming has that almost all consoles lack total customization on pc you can map any button to any action. aditionaly you can plug in some other input device and map actions to that.

A good example from the FPS is mouse button 4 on mice that support it there is no consensus on what it should do same with eh Q key i use them as reload and mele respectively but because of the customisation everyone is happy.

Best thing for consoles would be to support a decent wireless keyboard and mouse or keyboard and pointer.

That's a horrible analogy. I'm talking about how games are getting too complex and have a high barrier to entry because of it and you talk about the 4 button on a mouse. Modern FPS games have a ton of buttons(walk, shoot, alternate fire, crouch, sprint, frag, sidearm, jump, check leader board, and possibly others), if you wanted to use that as an idea then you should have brought up Portal because of its minimalistic controls (toggle portals, shoot, grab, walk). I am talking about taking a step back and making simpler games so you can bring people into them easily. The Price of Persia game I mentioned was for the Wii and came out the same time as Mirror's Edge and did platforming better because it wasn't attempting to mess with the parkour stunts. It also didn't punish the players as much for slight errors, basically you went back to right before you made the last jump and got to try it again right away instead of running through a good chunk of the level again and again.

The idea is to get more people to play games, not scare them with controls.

KEM10:

Ed.:

KEM10:

I think what they were going for was more games that are simplified and just not using the whole controller for the sake of using the whole controller. I think a Prince of Persia game where all it is would be patforming: analog for moving, analog for camera, button to jump, trigger to go back in time. More games that don't feel obligated to use all 10 buttons, dual axis, and d pad. Besides, I doubt the computer gamers that issue that complaint on a regular basis would pick up said game...then again, Super Meatboy sold really well.

Keyboard and mouse inherently addresses this. No dev uses all the buttons that would be utterly insane so they just use what they need.

Another thing PC gaming has that almost all consoles lack total customization on pc you can map any button to any action. aditionaly you can plug in some other input device and map actions to that.

A good example from the FPS is mouse button 4 on mice that support it there is no consensus on what it should do same with eh Q key i use them as reload and mele respectively but because of the customisation everyone is happy.

Best thing for consoles would be to support a decent wireless keyboard and mouse or keyboard and pointer.

That's a horrible analogy. I'm talking about how games are getting too complex and have a high barrier to entry because of it and you talk about the 4 button on a mouse. Modern FPS games have a ton of buttons(walk, shoot, alternate fire, crouch, sprint, frag, sidearm, jump, check leader board, and possibly others), if you wanted to use that as an idea then you should have brought up Portal because of its minimalistic controls (toggle portals, shoot, grab, walk). I am talking about taking a step back and making simpler games so you can bring people into them easily. The Price of Persia game I mentioned was for the Wii and came out the same time as Mirror's Edge and did platforming better because it wasn't attempting to mess with the parkour stunts. It also didn't punish the players as much for slight errors, basically you went back to right before you made the last jump and got to try it again right away instead of running through a good chunk of the level again and again.

The idea is to get more people to play games, not scare them with controls.

The point of mouse and keyboard its totally flexible and scalable much more so than a console controler as everyone has used a keyboard.

simpler still than portal are the browser games those run on K+M.

There is a severe learning curve on both ends of gaming. Novice gamers have trouble with the complex button scheme on modern controllers but seem to get the motion controls much easier. My parents for example, bought a 360/Kinect bundle for Christmas and have been playing the crap out of the shovelware Kinect games while the Black Ops copy is gathering dust because its "confusing".
However, as a game enthusiast, I owned a Wii for several months before lightning killed it and a number of other things in my home (even surge protectors don't do much to a direct strike), and my experience with the Wii was ultimately frustrating and annoying, so much so that I bought myself a classic controller, after that I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Same with Kinect, I don't find myself intuitively picking up on the motion controls.
Another example is Guitar Hero/Rock Band. I'm a guitarist, been one for years and knew a number of the songs GH/RB listed already. But picking up the "controller" for those games threw me for a loop. I just couldn't get the rythym down because my hands wanted to move in more directions than the controller allowed. Thus I hated those games. Well for other reasons as well, but the learning curve for me was steep. Too steep to enjoy it.
A number of the game players today are used to certain movements with controllers and switching to motion controls may be too much change for them to implement right away. That being said, I will point out that Kinect has massive potential and I can't wait to see how it will be used in the future. But for now, I like my blocky lump of beads.

Edit: I may note that I also have much experience with KB + Mouse usage, but I do prefer gamepads for certain games.

EscapingReality:
Motion controls have really revolutionized gaming into making well thought out motion mechanics for people who are used to kinectic experiences. That is people who have most likely never touched a traditional controller. Case in point: My father. He gets dizzy with Tomb Raider and I couldn't get him into Smash Bros, but he is fucking crazy about Wii Sports.

"Revolutionized"? Really?

Maybe it's because my Wii mostly collects dust, but I can't name a game where the motion controls really make it much better.

Fappy:
I don't know if I would go as far as to say gaming continuity is easier to get into than comic book continuity. Although this may be the case for some games, generally its not very hard to say, track down and play the entirety of the Halo franchise (sorry Bob!) than it is to understand every nuance and character arch associated with the current members of the Avengers (oh yeah, and which team?) without research the characters' pasts and recent universe events.

Something that is missing from todays comics (and can be applied to games as well) is Stan Lees motto that "Every comic book is someones first comic book". You don't have to have a five page opening detailing what happened in the last 40 years, but add little dialogue boxes that reference the past and people catch on pretty quick.

In the original post James Portnow said: "Different input devices lead to experiences (I'm convinced this is why space pilot games disappeared: the death of the PC joystick)."

I'm not sure this is really the case. It seems to me that a traditional console controller should be not barrier to the much missed space pilot game.

With a right analog stick to control X and Y and the left stick controlling how fast you move through Z. The two trigger buttons and your set for a basic control map for a space pilot game like something from the old X-Wing/Tie Fighter games.

Since I haven't played it, what was the control set-up for the space fighter portion of Halo Reach? Was it similar to what I posted above?

In a related question: How *CAN* one use a motion controller like Kinect in a space pilot type game? Seriously, how does Joker do it on the Normandy 1 and 2?

I wonder if perhaps something like the Peregrine gaming glove might be a bridge for Kinect in relation to space pilot games.

Yahtzee:
Yes, controllers are complicated enough now that they make it harder for potential new gamers to get into. You can observe this at any time by sitting your mother or spouse or other total non-gamer in front of GTA4 and seeing how well they do. Generally it's a surprise if they can manage to walk down the street without staring at the floor and blowing their own nuts off. Hell, I remember when I first tried using console controllers, having previously gamed on C64, Amiga and PC with joystick, mouse and keyboard, I was tying my thumbs up in knots. Navigating an avatar in 3D space would be disorienting at first even with the world's most intuitive controller.

What about navigating semi-autonomous machine in through a building? The contemporary 360/PS3 controller is intuitive enough to allow interface for all kinds of real world applications. My biggest and best examples are things like bomb disposal robots and new mobile armament systems for the military. In these cases you'd see in an operator in the field watching a video feed on some kind of monitor or the device itself as the robot moves, all while the operator is holding a gaming controller. Brushing aside things like Paintball and Airsoft, controlling these machines and watching their video feeds is what I think we should call "Real Life First Person Shooters" if only because we still find ourselves detached from the action and controlling an avatar of some form. Paintball and Airsoft (or "Action Sports" as I have heard them be called) should earn the titles of combat simulators because the human element far more vital than hitting a a button to perform a predetermined and repeatable action that humans can't reproduce. Funny and ironic point, this concept was somewhat explored in that terrible movie "GAMER" using human beings as avatars instead of robots and instead of a controller, the protagonist uses one to one based motion controls like the kinect. Yahtzee does have a good point though, because in order to effectively operate these devices, you need to be trained on just about every detail of the robot's functionality unless you want to blunder into a minefield and blow up a ten million dollar piece of equipment. I wonder how MovieBob's "first wave" gamers (people like me) would do trying to operate these things with no official training whatsoever. Just making you think. That's why I do it.

.02

I think motion controls can be immersive in some ways. Pointing at the screen to paint in Epic Mickey did a pretty good job of getting me into the world. The remote shaking, not so much.
I also think that it's a shame that the classics aren't more readily available to those who want to know more about gaming's past. It's sort of like how the first few decades of cinema are lost forever. And gaming's only in its third decade. Think of how many games will end up lost in the next few years.
Then again, even if they were available, I'm not sure if anyone would be interested. My family still refuses to watch Citizen Kane.

maybe someday steam and netflix and gamefly will have a threesome and i could rent a new game i wasn't sure about, buy a classic for very little and have these things delivered to my house for a monthly subscription fee. I love hearing the escapists heavy hitters throwing sharing their ideas together, great idea for a segment.

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