Controller Evolution

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Controller Evolution

This week, MovieBob, Yahtzee, and James Portnow discuss the evolution of the controller and the difficulty in bringing non-gamers up to speed.

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Fappy

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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.
 

Formica Archonis

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So, these installments are just segments of one epically long discussion thread? Wow.

(10 points to Moviebob for sneaking in a short movie review there.:)

Edit: Oh, yeah.
I watched two people fall in love over a game of Dance Central.
WHAT?
 

czarevilsam

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there'll be no reason for companies NOT to put their back-catalogues online and rake in the microtransaction cash.
In terms of PC gaming at least, GoG.com can be said to already be fulfilling this purpose for a number of series. From Fallout to Duke Nukem, the old games that were the first games in these series are available digitally, compatible, and for a good price.

As for consoles, I don't really know much about that, but it doesn't seem to me like there's much out there for those games.
 

i am not god

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The second to last post of James'. The last couple of paragraphs. Couldn't agree more. Wonderfully written.
 

Tireseas_v1legacy

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Controllers and cloud gaming... interesting...

On the "back-catalog" point, a lot of the older games, primarily NES and older titles, had the problem of essentially being basic game mechanics (mostly-platformers) with half-cooked stories lumped onto them.

"Hey, let's have a princess get kidnapped by a turtle. Then, we'll have his Italian plumber boy friend try to rescue her." If you viewed this without any knowledge of the cultural significance, it would sound like an excuse to make a game rather than the basis for the most iconic franchise in history.

Just like it is hard to imagine the Cold War having known only the '90s and 2000s, the story-gap will probably be the most notable thing about gaming prior to the PS1 generation. I'll be honest, I can handle a game with a bad control scheme, but I can't handle a game without a plot.

Keep it up guys. I've seen many of your videos and articles and am looking forward to these conversations between you three.
 

Meanmoose

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this is really great stuff, keep it up! you guys should consider doing a podcast I think =)
 

RA92

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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?
 

JEBWrench

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Why is it that whenever motion controls are brought up nobody mentions Flower?

That game is one of the most immersive gaming experiences I've ever had, and it works *because* of the motion controls.
 

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Fappy said:
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.
your confusing superhero comics with the medium. Sure that is an obstacle to that sub-genre (and honestly its not actually necessary to do all the hunting around unless you want to, marvel writers have been learning to make jump on points recently so its kinda a null statement nowadays).

Equally you don't have to play any of the other halo's to understand halo 3 (mainly because the story is kill the evil aliens).
 
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About older games and people discovering them, this is one reason why Good Old Games [http://www.gog.com/en/frontpage/] exists.

Provides older games for $10 USD and under, all optimized for current systems, and no DRM, so there's little-to-no hassle in getting them to run.

Plenty of my friends have discovered great older games this way. And GoG's existence makes me happy.

As for console games, well the Wii Store has a HUGE storefront specifically for older Nintendo games. Plus its backwords compatable with Gamecube games. Although finding those games would be a challenge.

For MS & Sony, things are a bit more sad. Microsoft scrapped bringing Xbox games to the 360 long ago. They just don't seem to care anymore. Sony has put up quite a few old PS1 games on the Playstation Network, and is giving popular PS2 games HD remakes. For those that don't have HD remakes, well the PS2 is still around, and so are a lot of its games. And if you have any PS1 games, they're compatible with the PS3. But again, finding those games would be a challenge.

Still, I wish they would care more about older games. Specifically Microsoft. There's plenty of old Xbox games that I would love to get people today to play(like Timesplitters).
 

Fappy

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bahumat42 said:
Fappy said:
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.
your confusing superhero comics with the medium. Sure that is an obstacle to that sub-genre (and honestly its not actually necessary to do all the hunting around unless you want to, marvel writers have been learning to make jump on points recently so its kinda a null statement nowadays).

Equally you don't have to play any of the other halo's to understand halo 3 (mainly because the story is kill the evil aliens).
Yeah Halo is a bad example of plot complexity I know. :p
 

mjc0961

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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.
 

bobmus

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Meanmoose said:
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... :/

Also to quote James: 'Go back pre-DS and look at all the detractors who said a stylus was the worst input idea of all time...' - I can't stand a DS and would still say a stylus is the worst idea of all time...

OT: Have to agree with Yahtzee that game controllers will just become something people grow up understanding how to use, just as like a TV/DVD remote for today's youth (if you don't understand what I mean go watch your mum/dad/elderly neighbour/stalking victim attempt to play a DVD)

Great idea, very interesting to see what you guys have to say :)
 

RTR

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People bonding over video games...
So beautiful

AAAAAAAAAANYWAY, great column this week. I love reading you guys go back and forth with these topics.
 

Meanmoose

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TheBobmus said:
Meanmoose said:
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 considered this...Then I was all like: You should have a few headaches for the betterment of the universe as a whole :D
 

sir.rutthed

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I love the juxtaposition of the two most cynical people in gaming and a man with a very romantic view on gaming having a discussion about gaming stuff. Great read fellas.
 

snowman6251

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I want to share two opinions on the things they discussed.

1. Motion controls. I think they, or at least the wii, was an absolutely worthwhile experiment. It might have ended up being the best thing that happened to gaming. It wasn't. Far from it. Motion controls, frankly, suck and BADLY. We need to drop them. They're a waste of time as far as I'm concerned.

2. Cloud Gaming. I'm not huge on this either. I've used digital distribution services like steam and frankly I much prefer having a physical copy of my games. It's not just me liking "having" things either. Valve goes out of business, steam's servers go down, and I lose access to my games that I paid for. The same could be said for Onlive or any other similar service. I don't like that idea. I understand many game's online multiplayer will go down in the future but to lose access to the game entirely for similar reasons is a scary thought. I don't like that. I'd much rather just get a disk.
 

Anachronism

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James Portnow said:
That said, I still think preserving our heritage and handing off the classic games to future generations has immeasurable value. It's sad how much of our medium's history has vanished amidst the march of progress. It impoverishes designers and future aficionados, and, in doing so, impoverishes the medium at large. It's a tragedy how much is already forever lost.
*applause*

Absolutely couldn't agree more. I used to not be a fan of digital distribution, but I'm getting more and more on its side as I've seen older games, which otherwise wouldn't run on modern operating systems, being released on them. GOG is the poster child for this, in my opinion, and the value of the work they do in preserving classic videogames is inestimable.

Videogames are the only medium which, up until recently, haven't made an effort to preserve their past. Books get reprinted, films get re-released on the newest format, comics get collected in trades, but old games have tended to languish in unplayability; at times, it seems like publishers have been in favour of their back catalogues becoming unplayable. The lack of backwards compatibility in the PS3 was a colossal error, in my opinion, and playing a pre-XP PC game on a modern computer is pretty much impossible without downloading a whole lot of user-made patches and fixes. God help you if it pre-dates Windows 95.

In short: I completely agree, and I think it's wonderful that services like GOG and, indeed, Steam, are now being used as a way of making old games playable again.
 

EscapingReality

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I agree with Yahtzee almost everytime... except now. 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.

Games can cater to everyone now and hardcores have to shut up and stop criticizing the casual market because it's aimed at people that haven't played games before. There's Yogi Bear and there's Black Swan and there's Inception and no movie buff is criticizing their friend's kids for taking them to watch Yogi Bear instead of Apocalypse Now. Granted there are levels of entertainment but do not confuse quality with target audience.
 

Rayne870

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mjc0961 said:
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.
Gears of War 2 Handled this very nicely with choosing to take Carmine out on a patrol or not, I took him the first time for the conversation elements. But yeah you are right on what the industry needs to do. And with RPGs they can go with the model of starting you with the basics and you building your character into more complex tactics.
 

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mjc0961 said:
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.
Like Gears of War 1 and 2, which both let you skip the tutorial or go through it? (and not through a menu but with dialog for each choice to boot?)

Also, Moviebob needs to stop using caps in every post. I CAN READ IT WITHOUT CAPS, it's kind of annoying, even though earlier today I made a post with too many caps. I won't do that again, I usually don't.

[sub][sub]I don't really like Moviebob anyway, not since that fucking ludicrous video on Halo he did a while back.[/sub][/sub]
 

MaximillionMiles

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EscapingReality said:
I agree with Yahtzee almost everytime... except now.
-snip-
Granted there are levels of entertainment but do not confuse quality with target audience.
Uhh... That's kinda what Yahtzee said.
The point I suppose we dance around here is that gaming is multifaceted enough that it can cater for a wide range of people with varying ideas of entertainment. Motion controls are akin to playing cricket on the beach with your family at Christmas (in Australia, that is, southern hemisphere lovely weather year round ha ha), while a game like SH2 controlled with button controllers from a prone, inactive, sofa slump position is more like settling down to read a good book. I prefer the latter, and motion controls will never improve that experience. It just won't.
So... Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

But about controllers and complexity... I think MovieBob's concern is more valid than we know. Sure, game-savvy kids adapt well to modern games, just like the kids in the 80'ies or 90'ies adapted well to their games. But without a doubt the more accessible the game's controls are, the bigger is the potential audience. This is not something even worth questioning.

This is why Wii sports is so popular, this is why browser puzzles and games with low action content (ie. not demanding lightning reflexes) and accessible content are so successful and so well played. That is why causal games and social games work.

There is nothing wrong with controllers remaining complex. But don't expect a game with complex controls to be truly popular. It's just not going to happen, no matter how good the game is. Some people just won't be able to learn, or won't be willing to even try. Which is a shame, but that's how it is.
 

TheRealCJ

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I think part of this whole controller stagnation thing is that every game ever usually have the same basic controllers. It's not a bad thing, control schemes have reached a point that they're both at maximum utility and maximum simplicity.

Take a PC FPS, for example, WASD is the forward/back/strafe buttons, the mouse is the 360 look/attack controls. R is reload, Space is jump etc. If someone goes around changing it just to be different, you end up with people hating the game because they can't immerse themselves in the story, settings, etc. because they're too busy looking down at the keyboard and trying to figure out why "crouch" is mapped to the F7 key.

Motion controllers have the same problem. Because of the current lack fluidity in the sensing of motion, players end up watching what they are doing much more than they are watching the result of what they are doing. What are supposed to be "natural movements" become stiff and robotic, because if you actually move naturally (like in a game like Just Dance on the Wii), you end up failing basic moves in-game due to the fact that you were ten degrees off the proper position.

If and when motion controls get to the point where even the most natural movements are correctly interpreted as controls, I will have no problem with the whole "lack of immersion" thing. But until then, I'm inclined to agree with Yahtzee.
 

airrazor7

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although I usually agree with him, I have to disagree with Yahtzee on considering the toy guitars that started the music gaming genre as nothing more than glorified controllers. Essentially anything you may use to play a game is a "controller" but I believe the point is the approach to interacting with it differently, probably the point James was trying to make about the stylus. It isn't about just what it is or was at its present time but what it can lead to. Look at the games The Gig and Rock Band 3. The "controller" has evolved in such a way that now anyone who picks up those games and their peripherals have chance to come from the experience as novice or average guitar players on a real guitar.

I think the debate over controllers needs to encompass more than just the current standard for immersion and veteran gamers vs newcomers. When controllers are discussed, especially this rise in motion gaming that we live in, it should be discussed how the new controllers are currently changing gameplay and immersion, how they may change these aspects in the future and what new "controllers" will they usher in next.

I also feel the need to add this next bit. Yahtzee always defaults to SH2 and it inspired a thought: imagine if you had to play horror house simulators like SH: Shattered Memories and similar games with the running pad from the NES days along with a standard controller or motion controller. Basically, imagine playing any game that causes you to run from or to something frequently, you would use the your choice of main control for interaction and direction of movement while the actual movement and pace between walking and running was determined by your pace on the running pad. What different/new kind of immersion would that create for those games and if successful, where would that go to next?

I'm not saying that my idea is a great one but like I said before, I think that this was the direction of James' responses; that we need to consider new and different types of control for a widen variety of gaming experiences and evolutions. Maybe even bring things back like the joystick for more mech games and flight simulators or flight combat games.
Hmmm...what if we had two joysticks used simultaneausly? Okay, I'll stop now cause I'm just rambling
 

eharriett

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Yahtzee makes an interesting point. Gaming is the biggest form of entertainment today. Those who don't get it will simply die off. For those who are not "hardcore" they will simply understand gaming as one skill along with many others. Think of comics and the revolts of the 1950's by people who didn't get it. This is kind of the same thing. Comics were a way of storytelling, the controllers to games are one way of interacting with a computer. Those that don't understand it will feel alienated.
 

Korne

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Bob brought up that GH might not even work if it didn't have the controller. I disagree with this. Harmonix had made 2 fantastic rhythm games before Guitar Hero using basically the same highway of notes (Frequency and Amplitude). Everyone that I have showed the games to have become immediatly hooked, since they are really fun games (just like Guitar Hero). What the guitar controller did was serve as a hook and took out the foreign nature of a video game controller (people kinda get the guitar motion).
 

mjc0961

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Rayne870 said:
Gears of War 2 Handled this very nicely with choosing to take Carmine out on a patrol or not, I took him the first time for the conversation elements. But yeah you are right on what the industry needs to do. And with RPGs they can go with the model of starting you with the basics and you building your character into more complex tactics.
believer258 said:
Like Gears of War 1 and 2, which both let you skip the tutorial or go through it? (and not through a menu but with dialog for each choice to boot?)
Yep. The Gears series is a great example. I used them as an example in another thread where we happened to be discussing things every game should have.

It was also suggested that they make them unskippable because newbies might skip them and then whine when they don't know the controls, so I suggested an alternative. Games already have a habit of locking us out of the hardest difficulty until we beat the game once. Why not lock us into doing the tutorial until we beat the game once? Then, after that, we are given the option to skip it in any future new games we start, because we clearly know what we are doing if we've already beaten the game. And it will just be an option, so if it's been a while we can still take the tutorial as a refresher if needed.

believer258 said:
Also, Moviebob needs to stop using caps in every post. I CAN READ IT WITHOUT CAPS, it's kind of annoying, even though earlier today I made a post with too many caps. I won't do that again, I usually don't.
Perhaps he can swap out his use of caps for the use of a spell checker? That part I copied for the quote caused my browser to light up with piles of wavy red underlines.
 

Korne

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airrazor7 said:
Hmmm...what if we had two joysticks used simultaneausly?
You would have Virtual On, or actually... Steel Battalion... what a mess.
 

Extra Consideration

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Fappy said:
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.
But you said it is easier to get into game continuity with this post. What the hell are you trying to say?
 

Anacortian

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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.
 

airrazor7

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Korne said:
airrazor7 said:
Hmmm...what if we had two joysticks used simultaneausly?
You would have Virtual On, or actually... Steel Battalion... what a mess.
Yeah, I actually thought about that when I was typing and you've got a point(although I haven't heard of the Virtual On, I'll have to look that up). Still, it would be neat if developers continued to make attempts at different styles of gameplay, even when they sometimes fail (which they will) in order to create new experiences. Heck, that basically sums up my arcade experiences. While everyone else was beating the crap out of people on arcade sticks (my non-gamer girlfriend beat me on a Tekken 5 arcade cabinet, I think my ego is still sore) I was climbing into racing simulators, blasting away at different rail gun shooters and relishing in the experiences that could not be had on a home pc or console. For example, one of my favorite arcade experiences is climbing into a life sized pod racer with the appropriate hovercraft styled controls for a Star Wars pod racing game. I know gaming experiences like that can't be created on a pc or console, but it would be nice if in the years to come the classic controller would merely be an option out of several control schemes.
 

Easton Dark

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
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?
Start a new gamer onto S.T.A.L.K.E.R SOC and just wait a few hours.

Heck, even I get flustered by the number of hotkeys sometimes. Can't remember what's bandages and what's medkits.
 

JUMBO PALACE

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TheBobmus said:
OT: Have to agree with Yahtzee that game controllers will just become something people grow up understanding how to use, just as like a TV/DVD remote for today's youth (if you don't understand what I mean go watch your mum/dad/elderly neighbour/stalking victim attempt to play a DVD)
I've got to agree with Yahtzee also. Watching my dad try to operate our new television is just painful.

Games are so ingrained in our culture now, they're just a part of growing up. It won't be long until everyone knows how to at least operate a controller.
 

NaramSuen

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I usually find myself in agreement with Bob, at least in principle if not in practice, but I think that his "cloud gaming" idea is overly optimistic. I agree with him that it would make games more accessible to younger/newer gamers and they would seek them out like 13-year-old me renting 2001 on the advice of my alcoholic uncle. However, "cloud gaming" would decimate one of Bob's boy Nintendo's marketing strategies, repackage old stuff on new consoles. What is everyone excited about for the 3DS? That's right Ocarina of Time, a Nintendo 64 game that had been previously ported to the Game Cube. Now, I realize that it will be in 3-D, but that is part of my point, re-release the game with enhancements and upgrades. Also, Nintendo is the inventor of region codes, so would they really let anyone from any region download region-specific titles? I have my doubts. It is an awesome idea in theory, but one need only look to the disparity in Nintendo's Virtual Console release titles to see how this might play out in a larger market.
 

Hungry Donner

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I hate gamepads, not only do they make my hands hurt after half an hour or so but they always feel very clunky. However I don't think motion control is the savior here, it's great for some games but it severely limits your options unless also combined with a control.
 

Daveman

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I think Bob vastly underestimates the improved level of control that dual analogue sticks gave us only in the last generation essentially. Controlling the camera this way in not just FPS games but also most modern platformers has given rise to greatly increased intuitivity (is that a word?). I mean look at goldeneye, a fantastic shooter by all rights, but when placed in the hands of a modern gamer it is incredibly hard to control. This could be argued as that they haven't learned this controlling method but then I think they are just underestimating how easy it is to conceptualise your movements based on the two stick control system, even offering you the option to inverse it for what makes more sense to you. In old games on the N64 the analogue stick controlled movement and buttons controlled looking. Anyone who has ever played with a mouse and keyboard can tell you this is the wrong way around to do things.

In fact if we take a look at the Xbox controller more closely we can actually see it is designed to near perfection. They fixed the issue with the last controller of requiring huge hands to operate it, they added shoulder buttons because your fingers spend more time looped round the back there and you can easily control more than just two triggers. They stick to the standard layout of 4 buttons on the right which aides those familiar veterans with learning controls and a D-pad thrown in in the corner for easy access though it does not require a great deal of use due to the dual analogue controls. These two sticks are at different angles so in your mind they are much less likely to get mixed up due to the angle at which you hold it. These two thumbsticks have also evolved from dual joysticks as the joystick reuires much greater movement which is slower to respond which leads to frustration.

Basically, modern day controllers are actually pretty damn awesome and user friendly, having evolved from simple controllers, which only allowed simple gameplay, to more complex ones allowing a range of gameplay styles to be accomodated.


Also I think the DS is seriously missing a trick by not having games like Angry birds etc developed for it. That level of precision is MADE for the stylus control, not big, greasy, chunky fingers.

p.s. I'm loving this discussion thingy. Any chance of an actual audio conversation though? I just prefer discussions that way (says a regular forum goer), plus we'd get way more cock jokes out of Yahtzee.
 

ReiverCorrupter

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As I said in the last thread on this topic, I think think games offer two major types of experiences: games in the proper sense of the term, and virtual reality.

Wii sports are more like VR; you're actually playing tennis etc. except you do it in the comfort of your own home with your friends. That's where a lot of motion controls are going towards, but not all of them.

Here's how I see it:

VR allows people to do things bodily; there is no avatar, just the player. It's about taking part, doing it yourself. In this sense the player is taking part in a virtual reality themselves.

Games involve the player being suspended from the action, it's more like watching a movie. I don't think I'm going to far to say that most people don't want to take part in a slasher film, but they're more than happy to watch it. I think the same thing goes for shooters. Just because I like playing CoD, it doesn't mean that I want to play paintball in my own house.

There are even genres where the gamer doesn't have an avatar, like RTS games. Saying an RTS gamer wants virtual reality is like saying a chess player wants to joust. The RTS player is immersed in the competition of the gameplay, they don't want to suspend disbelief and jump into another reality.

Thus I think the game community will be split, with VR simulators like the Wii becoming very popular, but with traditional consoles clinging on for those who enjoy classical gaming. There's nothing wrong with either. I just think companies should realize that they are two markets so that they don't try to serve both in one system and therefore sacrifice the quality of both in the process. They should realize that people who are attracted to VR aren't necessarily going to like more traditional games.
 

Varya

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Nov 23, 2009
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YAY! Extra Consideration is a feature! Now I can go to sleep happy.
Great discussion, looking forward to future glories.
 

Dastardly

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Extra Consideration said:
Extra Consideration: Controller Evolution

This week, MovieBob, Yahtzee, and James Portnow discuss the evolution of the controller and the difficulty in bringing non-gamers up to speed.

Read Full Article
Diggin' the column. It's a long read, but none of it wasted.

And it's a perfectly valid discussion, from more than just a control perspective. This is a generation of games made by gamers, for gamers. Everyone involved has been intimately involved in gaming since adolescence. There's a certain body of requisite knowledge that is just plain assumed.

(Even if there is a tutorial, it's usually just an on-screen notice that says, "Push W to move forward." Okay... but why? And what about something that provides a little more practice? A couple flash cards do not a tutorial make.)

Some of the current innovations really could go a long way to making things more accessible... but only if our innovations get over this tendency of being so scattershot. Most of them are about novelty, which serves to draw our attention to the controller. That's not improving accessibility. That's really only workable through ergonomics--drawing attention away from the controller.

I'm not convinced motion controls are the secret to that, really. They're not as intuitive and natural feeling as we're led to believe. Without adequate force feedback, they don't convey any sense of distance or effort or mass to any of the actions.

Like 3D movies/television, they're trying to deepen the experience by more fully engaging the senses. More accurately, by more fully engaging one sense. Even more accurately, by more fully engaging one portion of one sense. But rather than more fully engaging that sense, this tends to isolate that sense from the others and pull you out of the experience.

For the future of motion controls, we're only focusing on one side of the coin: movement. But the ease and fluidity of our movements are entirely based on the tactile information they provide. The way I move through water is different from the way I move through air--not because of something I know, but because of something I feel. That move-feel-adjust-move feedback circuit is broken if there's no response from the environment. Like a deaf person's speech, our movements are less clear and fluent because we lack the other side of the exchange.

Voice controls? Those aren't much better. Until voice recognition improves and true natural speech recognition becomes a reality (in which your machine can recognize the same command phrased in different ways), voice commands are really just a set of "verbal buttons." They provide a convenience that is necessarily when you need to keep your hands free or be moving about the room... but video games don't quite require that freedom just yet.

EDIT: What does this have to do with the topic? Well, I'll tell you...

If we move toward innovations that engage both aspects of our senses, we can get into control schemes that really are more natural and intuitive. Currently motion controllers are just experiments going in that direction, but tactile feedback is needed to complete the circuit.

Arbitrary button arrangements aren't going to be the ticket for much longer, methinks. In the end, most of them are based on convention and habit anyway, like QWERTY (which had its purpose, way back when), but the console world is becoming more and more "fractured" (as Moviebob put it), so they don't benefit from the ubiquitous nature of QWERTY's now-arbitrary arrangement.
 

AmzRigh

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Dec 9, 2010
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snowman6251 said:
I want to share two opinions on the things they discussed.

1. Motion controls. I think they, or at least the wii, was an absolutely worthwhile experiment. It might have ended up being the best thing that happened to gaming. It wasn't. Far from it. Motion controls, frankly, suck and BADLY. We need to drop them. They're a waste of time as far as I'm concerned.
I don't think you can justly dismiss an entire classification of control when the technology is still in its infancy, especially when said technology, while imperfect, is an overwhelming financial success. What exists of motion controls are, by no means, the pinnacle of what motion controls are capable of; to abandon a technology before it's fully developed is to waste was was learned from it.

snowman6251 said:
2. Cloud Gaming. I'm not huge on this either. I've used digital distribution services like steam and frankly I much prefer having a physical copy of my games. It's not just me liking "having" things either. Valve goes out of business, steam's servers go down, and I lose access to my games that I paid for. The same could be said for Onlive or any other similar service. I don't like that idea. I understand many game's online multiplayer will go down in the future but to lose access to the game entirely for similar reasons is a scary thought. I don't like that. I'd much rather just get a disk.
A physical copy is at least as, if not more, vulnerable than a cloud copy. Physical copies (be they disc, cartridge, card, etc.) can be lost, damaged, or otherwise rendered unplayable; it's still lost access to a game that you paid for. Granted, it is still, in most cases, something that the player has some degree of control over. You might say that's a fair risk.

However, physical publication comes with its own costs: manufacture and shipping. This cost accounts for a significant portion of the price passed on to the consumers. To cling to an old idea with significant problems, rather than seek a new solution, is, again, quite shortsighted.

For example: an independent validation source. Perhaps some sort of platform-specific (or even platform independent, if we could swing that degree of cooperation) "key" -- a physical or digital item that would store verification of ownership for all an individual's digital acquisitions, not in the possession of the publisher or platform, but in the possession of the end user or a third party (perhaps a dedicated validation firm). Of course, redundancy is the best insurance against losing data, so the software distribution platform should keep record of this, as well; both are insurance against a loss of the other.
 

Formica Archonis

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<IMG SRC="http://s91291220.onlinehome.us/formica/allisonsmash.gif" align=right>
Jarrid said:
Formica Archonis said:
I watched two people fall in love over a game of Dance Central.
WHAT?
I'm hoping it wasn't the artist and the talking guy; that might get awkward come the following Extra Credits...
Well, it's so obvious. She depicts herself as so kind and approachable.:)
 

snowman6251

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AmzRigh said:
snowman6251 said:
I want to share two opinions on the things they discussed.

1. Motion controls. I think they, or at least the wii, was an absolutely worthwhile experiment. It might have ended up being the best thing that happened to gaming. It wasn't. Far from it. Motion controls, frankly, suck and BADLY. We need to drop them. They're a waste of time as far as I'm concerned.
I don't think you can justly dismiss an entire classification of control when the technology is still in its infancy, especially when said technology, while imperfect, is an overwhelming financial success. What exists of motion controls are, by no means, the pinnacle of what motion controls are capable of; to abandon a technology before it's fully developed is to waste was was learned from it.

snowman6251 said:
2. Cloud Gaming. I'm not huge on this either. I've used digital distribution services like steam and frankly I much prefer having a physical copy of my games. It's not just me liking "having" things either. Valve goes out of business, steam's servers go down, and I lose access to my games that I paid for. The same could be said for Onlive or any other similar service. I don't like that idea. I understand many game's online multiplayer will go down in the future but to lose access to the game entirely for similar reasons is a scary thought. I don't like that. I'd much rather just get a disk.
A physical copy is at least as, if not more, vulnerable than a cloud copy. Physical copies (be they disc, cartridge, card, etc.) can be lost, damaged, or otherwise rendered unplayable; it's still lost access to a game that you paid for. Granted, it is still, in most cases, something that the player has some degree of control over. You might say that's a fair risk.

However, physical publication comes with its own costs: manufacture and shipping. This cost accounts for a significant portion of the price passed on to the consumers. To cling to an old idea with significant problems, rather than seek a new solution, is, again, quite shortsighted.

For example: an independent validation source. Perhaps some sort of platform-specific (or even platform independent, if we could swing that degree of cooperation) "key" -- a physical or digital item that would store verification of ownership for all an individual's digital acquisitions, not in the possession of the publisher or platform, but in the possession of the end user or a third party (perhaps a dedicated validation firm). Of course, redundancy is the best insurance against losing data, so the software distribution platform should keep record of this, as well; both are insurance against a loss of the other.

With regards to your second comment, the problem however is that while that could work for a steam like service, that wouldn't work for Onlive, or other cloud gaming services. With a steam like service you could buy and download the game, install it, and permanently have it in theory. With cloud gaming however you never actually download the game. You stream it off the host's servers. Therefore if those servers were to go down you'd lose all your games and never have a way to access them again.

Physical copies do come with a risk of breaking but I personally take VERY good care of both my software and hardware, because they are expensive and I don't want to screw them up. Anything short of a fire or natural disaster will do no harm to my games as I keep them in pristine condition. That might not be true of everyone but at least in those cases it's their fault, not the company they bought the game from going under.
 

Ferisar

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Wait. Wait wait.

Silent Hill 2 and Wii Tennis aren't on the same level of immersion because of controls?

Yeah, no.
Not buying that. That's a really -really- baseless comment.
 

The Long Road

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This new feature is really a sight to behold. It's like gaming's Brain Trust is pitching little nuggets of their wisdom every week. There's only been two and I'm already hooked. Keep this up.
 

dragonburner

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James at the end with the killer point about virtual console. I think that motion and buttons should coexist. Just as there are many flavors of ice cream there could be many ways to control games. It isn't just chocolate or vanilla, but a swirl with sprinkles.
 

Zer0Saber

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And it's not like Nintendo has been adding any new NES games lately...I't been at like 88 for a year or so. Virtual console was one of the reasons I bought the Wii, and I got screwed on that deal.
 

Fappy

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Psychotic-ishSOB said:
Fappy said:
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.
But you said it is easier to get into game continuity with this post. What the hell are you trying to say?
As it turns out I accidentally swapped the two subjects of the first sentence thus making my entire post nonsensical.... oops. D:
 

Thorvan

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
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?
My only answer to this is... so? Just because we get simplified controllers does not mean that A; we lose the more complex ones, or B; it will result in necessarily worse experiences. There are significant markets for both the simplified and the complex input devices, for a smattering of reasons; and if we pressure game developers to provide a conduit for both of these in their games, what exactly is the downside?
 

RandV80

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Man, I wish people would stop looking at the Wii-mote+nunchuk control scheme (and now Sony Move) as a device for gimicky motion controls, and see it as a tool for enhanced control and precision. Metroid Prime 3 being the best example of those, and hopefully Skyward Sword can follow that up.

Starting from the NES console generation, enhanced controllers and controls came standard with a console upgrade. So who decided that the PS2 and Xbox controllers were perfect and we should stop there? Yes waggle sucks and is usually just a gimick, but upgrading your dual analogue input from XY to XYZ should be considered a good thing and embraced.
 

Zetsubou^-^

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lot of topics o_O good discussion tho.

1:as far as i'm concerned motion controls are hit or miss. certain games don't take it well and shouldn't try. i do feel that some genres actually use it well. for instance, resident evil 4 was much more entertaining (and less infuriating)when i could point at said baddy and hit him most of the time. it was also better for the quick time controls i know yahtzee so hates =D. the control schemes of the gc and ps2 were much harder to master. the same could be said for the metroid prime shooters. things like no more heroes could take or leave it, but it is nice doing that finishing slash. i dont feel it breaks gameplay. besides, who hasn't found a place where they can sit while playing wii? is it law that you stand?

2:downloadable content. i think it is the best and cheapest way currently to play older games that aren't compatible with current generation consoles.damn to the lack of backwards compatability, that destroys we who still cling to older games and hope our old systems don't break or become infinitely difficult to find. that said, i am wary of using credit cards and such to pay for things, but game point cards, much like prepaid time cards, lessen that worry. transitioning things over to dlc would mean they would need to find ways to fill out the development costs, but im sure it wouldn't be earthshattering.

3: skipping tutorials. yes and no. keep tutorials, but don't tie them to the early part of the game, explain how to exit it, and explain how to find it again if needed FIRST!!!!!
while we are on skipping things, plase make an option to pause cutscenes, and put the option to skip it one or two choices down that list. too long has a wrong button press skipped a scene i may have wanted to see. and pausing in games is just good sense.
 

Sovereignty

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Point: Movie Bob.


Seriously why isn't there a voting for who won this discussion!?

Great points though. I feel like a secret window into the gaming world was just opened.
 

Tele-screen

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This column gave me two connected thoughts afterward:

First, I thought back to the first time I picked up a game with a thumbstick. It was Mario 64 on the first level at a Toys R Us. There's that tilty bridge that leads up to where the cannon and Chain Chomp are and I had no ability to get across it. I tried 15 times and only managed to fall off, lose health from the nearby Goombas, and ultimately give up. Now I can spin two joysticks at the same time to strafe around a corner in a FPS and drop a bomb on somebody. Thinking back, it was a crazy long road over the course of a decade to get the middling level of skill I have. Trying to learn video games from scratch would be like asking someone to learn a new language.

My second thought is related and is in regards to Virtual Console and other classic game download services. I work at a one of the major console companies in customer service and help older people who have no interest in the modern games hook up their kids' consoles online. While I'm in the process, they are usually bored and indifferent to the actual gaming aspect of the console until I tell them that they can download the games they actually know, like Pac Man, etc. They get pretty excited, especially when they hear that they won't have to drop 50 bucks to play these games. A lot of our parents played the hell out of these games in college at their local pizza joints and are basically just lapsed gamers. The idea of conforming to an "adult" life made them leave gaming behind. I've found that the best way to ease them back into playing games with their kids is not necessarily motion controls, but familiarity, simplicity, purity. I'm with Movie Bob that access to gaming's past is what will help bring the medium into its future. If I was going to give my 5 year old nephew a console, I'd give him a GBA and a stack of my old Game Boy and Advance games. That's real training wheels.
 

soundoflights

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I would love to hear you guys get together on a VoIP for an hour a week and just discuss stuff like this. I think it would be pretty epic. I know I would listen to it, wouldn't even need a video.
 

STE3L

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there'll be no reason for companies NOT to put their back-catalogues online and rake in the microtransaction cash.
... except "they" may start having lower new sales * OH NO *

but it is still true that new players can't play the "REALLY GOOD OLDIES" without doing something illegal (Piracy), so we can only hope.

Keep it up guys, I'm starting to enjoy this.
 

Rassmusseum

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Love this column! I'm hoping the conversation will swing to more of the topics discussed in Extra Credits as this goes on. I'd love to hear what Yahtzee and Bob have to say about some of those things
 

Twilight_guy

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Nov 24, 2008
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The best part: gaming heritage. The fact that someone said that without using air quotes and without being called out on it is a victory for gaming as a an art form.
 

Retsam19

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As to the tutorial discussion, it's a difficult place for games. The comparison to different reading levels is very apt. On the one hand, you don't want to publish everything in the world at a high level that many people can't read at and just expect them to immediately jump the gap. If everything were written in Shakespearian English, we as a society would have some problems, especially in the short run, but if I went into a bookstore to purchase a copy of Hamlet, and they handed me a 15 minute examination on how to properly read a book and wouldn't let me purchase it 'till I was done, I'd be rightfully ticked off.

The key to this analogy is that it's not the job of each and every book to introduce you to the English language. It's the job of the book to introduce you to its own unique details and quirks, but it assumes you're already competent enough to read it. We already have an external infrastructure designed to deal with this problem. Now, I don't expect controlling a video game to be a core part of elementary school curriculum any time soon (though if those sort of controls are integrated more into our society, they could be), but perhaps the consoles or developers themselves should put out resources to do so? A free downloadable "Intro to FPS" tutorial could serve this function, allowing FPS games to streamline their tutorials.

Ferisar said:
Wait. Wait wait.

Silent Hill 2 and Wii Tennis aren't on the same level of immersion because of controls?

Yeah, no.
Not buying that. That's a really -really- baseless comment.
Baseless? I thought Yathzee justified it pretty well. To be immersed in a game, you have to feel connected directly with the action on screen. The game should be about thinking "move left, move right, jump" (or insert other genre-appropriate paradigm here), rather than thinking "push the left thumbstick to the left". But Wii Tennis, fun as it is, is all about the motion. It's not a fun game because the game itself is the best tennis game out there. If you somehow played with a classic controller, Wii Tennis would be destroyed easily by other tennis games, as it would mostly come down to single button presses. (With perhaps tilting a stick to indicate swing angle)
The game is fun because the physical experience is fun. But that's not very immersive, by most definitions.
 

RA92

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Thorvan said:
My only answer to this is... so? Just because we get simplified controllers does not mean that A; we lose the more complex ones, or B; it will result in necessarily worse experiences. There are significant markets for both the simplified and the complex input devices, for a smattering of reasons; and if we pressure game developers to provide a conduit for both of these in their games, what exactly is the downside?
Easton Dark said:
Start a new gamer onto S.T.A.L.K.E.R SOC and just wait a few hours.

Heck, even I get flustered by the number of hotkeys sometimes. Can't remember what's bandages and what's medkits.
In Dragon Age II, you can either take the whole hack-and-slash route (which is more oriented towards console gamers) or the whole finely-tuned micromanaging tactical route (which is suited better for the K&M setup). Then again, it's Bioware we're talking about, who's not known for shitty ports and actually makes proper multiplatform games. But what's to say that other devs will go through the trouble to cater to two entirely different fighting mechanisms?

Take a look at Tiberium Twilight. The game was trying to cater to both PC and console (though everyone was fired before they could finish a port) through radical changes in gameplay. The result of the more console-oriented gameplay was that it destroyed the C&C series for the PC community.

For all you know, the next Ace Combat iteration might just have QTEs for performing kulbits and pugachevs to make it more 'accessible' and to become the next 'CoD-killer'... '-_-
 

Eclectic Dreck

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I think that the problem that people tend to overlook (or gloss over when they do mention it) is simply that managing an avatar in 3d space is a non-intuitive process. It doesn't matter what apparatus you use to do this. With a mouse and keyboard, the accepted standard is that I use the mouse to control the camera (that is, I look up and down and rotate my character about their z-axis) and the keys control my physical motion in the world space (forward, backward, left and right). Consoles simply replace the keyboard and mouse with a pair of joysticks. The problem is, since the movement in 3d space is divorced from how we view 3d space (the spatial motion controls represent a spanning set of vectors for the record meaning you can traverse anywhere in a plane using only these inputs, in case you wanted to pick apart this argument on the basis that you use your camera control as part of motion), a person is suddenly required to manage these two features simultaneously in order to efficiently navigate and observe the game space.

Games that require movement in 3D space will be difficult for a non gamer for as long as this act is abstracted (i.e. there is a controller of any sort involved). If you look at the motion games that have reached a level of success that would depend upon a great many non-gamers participating, you find that they tend to have something in common: they do not expect the player to navigate their avatar through a world space. Wii Sports rarely asks the player to move their Mii at all and instead the controls are used to perform actions while the avatar maneuvers of it's own accord or, if they can move the avatar, they are never asked to manage both the movement of the avatar and a camera at the same time.

The large numbers of buttons and later complexities are all but irrelevant most of the time when a non gamer player could not, without significant effort, even manage to perform the most cursory feat required to interact with a game where they are expected to manage movement and camera. People are perfectly willing to play a complex game that takes ages to master if they individual steps they learn along the way are manageable but only someone dedicated to learning is going to take the time required to overcome that first enormous step
 

daftnoize

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Korne said:
Bob brought up that GH might not even work if it didn't have the controller. I disagree with this. Harmonix had made 2 fantastic rhythm games before Guitar Hero using basically the same highway of notes (Frequency and Amplitude). Everyone that I have showed the games to have become immediatly hooked, since they are really fun games (just like Guitar Hero). What the guitar controller did was serve as a hook and took out the foreign nature of a video game controller (people kinda get the guitar motion).
Thank you so much for mentioning those games. I am a massive fan of pre guitar hero harmonix and actually completely disagree with bob. I play all the guitar HERO GAMES WITHOUT THE SILLY GUITAR!!!! Argghh I rage so much (probably cos i don't really like the music in the guitar hero games) but wish they'd make a true sequal to amplitude. I suppose i'll just have to stick with gitaroo man from now on....
 

qou2600

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First of all, I think "Extra Consideration" is great. I really value all three of your opinions and it's great to see a constructive discussion between you.

Secondly, Your comment's about game tutorials got me thinking, why don't consoles come with various tutorials on them? They all come with internal hard drives, why not include a program where you control a person with a couple of different perspectives such as first person and third person to have the player get used to basic camera control and movement. It could even be something the avatar/mii could be used for, as a way to teach people new to the industry or the console in particular.

About the tutorial being skippable, this is mostly due to people who have played the game previously and don't fell the need to re-learn the control scheme.

Movie Bob said:
Right now, it's both easier and slightly less-expensive to familiarize oneself with comic-book continuity than it is with game-to-game continuity...
That is a very arguable point, because I have tried to familiarize myself with both. It's quite difficult to say which one is more expensive because of the time that some of the comic book characters have been around it's quite expensive to purchase all of their comic books, even as re-prints. Where-as some console game's that aren't re-printed are considered "rare" and then relatively expensive but still available on places like amazon.


Sovereignty said:
Point: Movie Bob.


Seriously why isn't there a voting for who won this discussion!?
Because it is a discussion not a debate or argument.
 

qou2600

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Also about the Guitar Hero Guitar controller, the game could have been made without the controller or a game similar but the controller played a key role in generating sales and helping it stand out in the public eye as a unique experience. It also adds to the immersion of the player because it give's them the feeling of holding an actual guitar.
 

Dice Warwick

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I already put my say on "motion controllers vs button controllers" and I stand by it. (that motion controllers need to take a more support role)

The hand-held (DS, PSP) make a good start for new gamers, most games on them are much more simple and forging.
 

Lex Darko

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
Thorvan said:
My only answer to this is... so? Just because we get simplified controllers does not mean that A; we lose the more complex ones, or B; it will result in necessarily worse experiences. There are significant markets for both the simplified and the complex input devices, for a smattering of reasons; and if we pressure game developers to provide a conduit for both of these in their games, what exactly is the downside?
Easton Dark said:
Start a new gamer onto S.T.A.L.K.E.R SOC and just wait a few hours.

Heck, even I get flustered by the number of hotkeys sometimes. Can't remember what's bandages and what's medkits.
In Dragon Age II, you can either take the whole hack-and-slash route (which is more oriented towards console gamers) or the whole finely-tuned micromanaging tactical route (which is suited better for the K&M setup). Then again, it's Bioware we're talking about, who's not known for shitty ports and actually makes proper multiplatform games. But what's to say that other devs will go through the trouble to cater to two entirely different fighting mechanisms?

Take a look at Tiberium Twilight. The game was trying to cater to both PC and console (though everyone was fired before they could finish a port) through radical changes in gameplay. The result of the more console-oriented gameplay was that it destroyed the C&C series for the PC community.

For all you know, the next Ace Combat iteration might just have QTEs for performing kulbits and pugachevs to make it more 'accessible' and to become the next 'CoD-killer'... '-_-
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 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJm6VXQYcfk], Demon Stone [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOG6ifU1_FM], and the Kingdom Underfire Series [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzhvu91_A0w].

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.

As for motion controls:

The only game I've played/seen/heard of that's made really good use motion controls have been on the PS3 using the Sixaxis. Those games being Folklore and Lair (post patch). In Folklore [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ozxFA0r8Dk] (Folksoul in Japan) you use the sixaxis to actually capture the different folks (monsters) in the game after you beat them into submission.

To me the wii/mote is a gimmick validated by those who know not what they do. Like the people who buy overpriced Apple computers because they think their Macbook says something about them other than, "they probably know less than dirt about computers and probably don't play computer games."

To be fair I gave the Wii a fair chance I even bought NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for the Wii. I had it for Saturn way back when it helped introduce the analog thumbstick. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-27Txc5xc9g] NJoD with the wiimote was a nightmare I spent so much time just trying to get the controls to respond in a predictable way I ended up thinking to myself, "I could playing Demon's Souls right now;" and 5 mins later I was.

I tried on 3 different occasions to play that game with the Wiimote but always end up using the analog stick attachment ignoring the motion control all together. If there was ever a game that could take advantage of the wiimote I would have thought it would be a game like Nights the fact that it doesn't should in itself tell us all something about motion control and games.
 

RA92

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Lex Darko said:
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 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJm6VXQYcfk], Demon Stone [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOG6ifU1_FM], and the Kingdom Underfire Series [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzhvu91_A0w].

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).
 

Fanta Grape

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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.
 

Revolutionary

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May 30, 2009
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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.
 

Razhem

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Anacortian said:
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.
 

Moffman

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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.
 

Venereus

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MovieBob said:
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.
 

Ruptuk

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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.
 

Captain Underbeard

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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
 

KEM10

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
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.
 

irani_che

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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
 

WanderingFool

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mjc0961 said:
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.
 

KEM10

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Captain Underbeard said:
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
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).
 

Deacon Cole

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Allow me to hijack the plane a moment.

Moviebob said:
...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.

So, I've continued to toy with the idea of pre-purchasing Minecraft. I know, I'm indecisive. And also broke. But I have been watching various videos some have made and I've come to the conclusion that Minecraft may be the best RPG ever made despite and probably because it lack two elements common to most RPGs: character stats and story.

There is nothing wrong with character stats per se. They are a tool and tools can be used well or poorly. However, they had long since lost their luster for me even back when I was dealing with paper and dice RPGs. In video games they become a thing unto themselves.

In Runescape I and many others have and continue to spend hours chopping down trees and then burning the wood collected. Why? To raise the woodcutting and fire building skills. Why? To get the skill levels as high as possible. This is not a phenomenon limited to Runescape or even MMO's. Level grinding is so common, it's taken as read by most players and some games are designed with level grinding in mind. I've ramble on about how I like how Bioshock lacked character stats instead having the player acquire plasmids and tonics that for the most part added abilities rather than improving existing ones. Similarly, Legend of Zelda mostly added abilities in the items/tools collected. Minecraft is the same in that the miner crafts tools from raw materials to accomplish tasks. On a side note, Minecraft may be one of the few games where item degradation makes sense.

Minecraft also has just as much grind as any other game, if not more but the rewards and methods are more directly linked. The basic method is exploration either by trudging around the surface or digging a really big hole. In either case you're looking for resources so you can build the things you want which could be and eighty foot nude statue of Sarah Palin or just finding more diamond so you can replace all the diamond tools you had to wear out to find more diamond. You never just stay in one place and slaughter infinitely respawning enemies. No, you must work for a living. Digging through solid rock, encountering and exploring cave systems, hoping that clearing through that next layer of rock will expose the ore you need. So the grind is in actually playing the game rather than stopping to raise your numbers high enough so you can get back to playing the game.

Story in games is a big, big topic and an ongoing debate. But I'm of the mind that what is called storytelling in many games is actually story from another medium that is tacked onto a game. That's what cutscenes are. That's what Bioshock's audio diaries are. An add on but not the actual story of the game you're playing. Not to mention most of them are either cliched or batshit insane like the final fantasy series. I think the dark lord is a fantasy cliche that should be retired forever.

Minecraft has no story or context. Your character merely pops into existence on a beach somewhere and leaves it up to the player's imagination to fill in the blanks if at all and is all the stronger for it. This means the only story going on here is in the actual text of gameplay. A story is an artwork fashioned from the events of live and here you fashion whatever story you get from what you actually do. This means it'll be a story about digging a hole, breaking into a cave system, hearing a giant spider somewhere in the dark, gacking said spider, finding a diamond deposit near a lava flow, mining the diamond and then falling into the lava and losing all your items including the diamond you'd just acquired.

Not much of a story, perhaps. Maybe not worth retelling to others. But from a play experience, it's a much better story than any of the other twaddle on the market. It's a story about what you did. What obstacles you encountered. How you figured out a way to overcome them. And how you either succeeded or failed.

This is what storytelling in games should be. This is why Minecraft is the best RPG ever made.

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.
 

alphaxion

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irani_che said:
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.
 

Captain Underbeard

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KEM10 said:
Captain Underbeard said:
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
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.
 

Rafe

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

irani_che

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Siberian Relic said:
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
 

irani_che

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alphaxion said:
irani_che said:
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
 

onyx452

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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.
 

Robyrt

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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.
 

Vanguard_Ex

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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.
 

walsfeo

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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 said:
Meanmoose said:
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.
 

Ed.

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KEM10 said:
Raiyan 1.0 said:
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.
 

KEM10

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Ed. said:
KEM10 said:
Raiyan 1.0 said:
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.
 

Ed.

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KEM10 said:
Ed. said:
KEM10 said:
Raiyan 1.0 said:
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.
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.
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

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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.
 

Extra Consideration

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EscapingReality said:
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.
 

RowdyRodimus

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Fappy said:
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.
 

sleeky01

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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.

 

Ari Brown

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Yahtzee said:
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
 

lozfoe444

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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.
 

caviar1

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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.
 

caviar1

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that is the coolest thing! that could bridge a gap between the hardcore and the newcomers, easy to use because the hand movement skills are already there and more practical than a keyboard, hell if this really takes off, i'd console game with this bad boy. i dont have to flail like with the connect or even stand up, to use Yahtzee's example, i could "read a good book" and still use a motion controller.
 

terror_ninja

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Cloud gaming? Like On-Live? Because im not too happy with the idea of using On-Live but I do wish there were digital downloads of my favorite PS2 games for my PS3.
 

commodorejohn

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Okay, could we please have a moratorium on the use of the term "the Cloud?" Please, please, pretty please? "Gaming-on-demand" at least makes sense and conveys meaningful information; "the Cloud" is just a God-damn Wired buzzword for people who think that distributed computing runs on pixie dust and leprechauns.
 

acsoundwave

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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.[/quote]

Quoted for truth, Bob. Let's think of it this way: what if there were a new release of the original 8-bit Super Mario Bros., and it had an unskippable tutorial level telling you how to jump? I can't speak for, say, a new gamer who had never played a platformer, but regular gamers would be annoyed.
 

Thespian

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Holy crap I love this series, it's awesome. James Portnow is an excellent columnist. Great flow, great content.
 

rembrandtqeinstein

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With the arcade heritage a distant memory games have only gotten easier to play. As extreme examples compare Mega Man 1(or my favorite Contra) with Kirby's Epic Yarn.

Mega Man 1 was MADE to make you lose. In Epic Yarn you can't even die.

The xbox controller looks like crap. The pinnacle of controller perfection is the PS2/3 dual thumbstick controller.
 

Notashrimp09

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Daveman said:
In fact if we take a look at the Xbox controller more closely we can actually see it is designed to near perfection. They fixed the issue with the last controller of requiring huge hands to operate it, they added shoulder buttons because your fingers spend more time looped round the back there and you can easily control more than just two triggers. They stick to the standard layout of 4 buttons on the right which aides those familiar veterans with learning controls and a D-pad thrown in in the corner for easy access though it does not require a great deal of use due to the dual analogue controls. These two sticks are at different angles so in your mind they are much less likely to get mixed up due to the angle at which you hold it. These two thumbsticks have also evolved from dual joysticks as the joystick reuires much greater movement which is slower to respond which leads to frustration.

Basically, modern day controllers are actually pretty damn awesome and user friendly, having evolved from simple controllers, which only allowed simple gameplay, to more complex ones allowing a range of gameplay styles to be accomodated.
I'm glad someone finally mentioned controller design. Though not unexpected, I'm a little disappointed it didn't really get mentioned between the Big 3.

However, I'm going to disagree with you, Daveman. The controller design, particularly for the 360 is not pretty damn awesome, or user friendly -- to someone like me. I've got really small hands, and as much as I enjoy the 360, it's controller is often problematic for me when it comes to games. I can't imagine what it'd be like for me to play on the original XBox, dealing with an even larger controller.

Let's look at Guitar Hero for a second. It was a lot of fun at first, but I got bored after I started mastering songs on medium, but couldn't perform anywhere near as well on hard, let alone expert. No, it has nothing with my ability to play rhythm-based games -- I wouldn't have been able to get into my college's music major program if it were that. I had to pass exercises speaking one rhythm and tapping out another in a completely different meter, Guitar Hero is easy by comparison. However, in Guitar Hero, reaching that dreaded orange button required a physical shift of my entire hand (instead of a couple fingers) in its direction, and that few seconds of disorientation is costly mid-song. In this case, practice mode only gets you so far. There was a dissonant gap between what I could mentally understand the game asking me to do, and what I physically had to perform to do it successfully.

Look at something more recent. (For me and my preferences) Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the most fun I've had gaming in a while, but I also have it on the 360. Having not played the previous installments, I'm having to learn everything from scratch -- and the challenge is also part of the fun. But it's another case where I lose time on some of the technical executions. Again, not because I'm incapable of "getting it," but when some of the more complicated button patterns involve moving all over the controller, it involves my entire hand moving all over the controller. My hand stretches to curve around the bumpers instead of resting there naturally, which means there's a lot less maneuverability in-between. (And at the moment, I don't have the money to invest in trying a stick.)

Now, before accusations start flying along the lines of why don't I play on a different console, or something with half-formed logic: I don't believe that my console preferences should be completely limited based on someone's size. That, and consoles are expensive -- If I already invested time and money into one console, I'm not keen on dropping a bunch of money I don't have to reinvest in everything because I enjoy one or two games that might be a little extra harder for someone like me to play. That's silly. I still have fun gaming, though it might be something to keep in mind for if there's ever a next-next-generation.

My question is this: is it far out of the technological realm for controller designs to go the line of baseball bats, bowling balls, and stringed instruments and be sized? Controllers, now in S, M, and L!
 

EscapingReality

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Fronzel said:
EscapingReality said:
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.
Yes it did. Motion controls makes games what they used to be in the arcade: You pick up and you play em. Everyone can play them, and only few can really master them. Simple mechanics make for a great gameplay.

I don't see you complaining about how clusterfucked the Xbox 360 controller is, and believe me that can be a hell of a learning curve for someone who hasn't touched a controller forever. Case in point (again) my father: He's a pro on flight simulators with the traditional PC joystick of the medium, stick him with HAWX and a 360 controller and he goes apeshit for around 30 minutes before figuring out the rudder and the thrust engine button.
 

GeorgW

ALL GLORY TO ME!
Aug 27, 2010
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Aw man, I want James as an uncle!
I liked that Yahtzee said what I've been saying for a while. Just wait a while and all the haters will die off.
 

Extra Consideration

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EscapingReality said:
Motion controls makes games what they used to be in the arcade: You pick up and you play em. Everyone can play them, and only few can really master them. Simple mechanics make for a great gameplay.
Examples, please?
 

EscapingReality

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Fronzel said:
EscapingReality said:
Motion controls makes games what they used to be in the arcade: You pick up and you play em. Everyone can play them, and only few can really master them. Simple mechanics make for a great gameplay.
Examples, please?
Mario, Asteroids, Pacman, Breakout, Donkey Kong, Angry Birds, Solipskier, Canabalt (simplest game ever), Audiosurf... I could go on forever and fill the page. Wii Sports is a prime example of simple mechanics/great game experience because you don't really need to learn to play. You just need to fucking play. In the words of MovieBob in The Game Overthinker: "Hitting a baseball with the bat shouldn't be the challenge because the bat is wrapped in barb wire; hitting the ball IS the challenge."

The gameplay mechanics are simplified by making you move something in par with the character in the screen. The translation of your ego (that is you) to your alter-ego (the character in the game) is seamless in the case of Wii Sports/Wii Sports Resort.

Not so much with third party games because they do not play test the games enough and thus make crappy controls for games that are not sport simulations. I played Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings for the Wii... I regret ever doing that.

Kinect doesn't have that. Since you do not have any physical conection with the videogame as you play it, the control schemes are much more complicated. The Kinect in and of itself is a wonder of hardware engineering (just look at the things people have done with the free libraries for Linux) but as a peripheral and the games it comes attached with it sucks big balls. I have seen the Kinect and tested it myself to see the technology wasn't implemented correctly in the Microsoft Kinect games (which is ironic), and it just feels AWKWARD. It feels awkward to move your body around pretending you are holding a racket to play ping pong, when in the Wii you have a physical object (the Wiimote) that actually maked you feel you're holding the racket and thus you don't have to LEARN HOW TO PLAY you just gotta PLAY.

That is the analogy with ye olde arcades. You just pick up and play.
 

dreamcastgamer

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I personally take the view that games seem to be splitting off into two major categories: Gaming sports and gaming experiences. More conventionally, they would be Multiplayer and single player, but arcade games could also come into the sporty category with high scores.

Sporty games, like CoD online play, are all about you gaming skills, so for these it makes sense to add a controller that replicates a real life experience to prove that your better at it. No one really plays the wii alone, it was marketed as a family console because of this aspect here

Gaming experiences do not need or warrant motion control. These are the type of games Yhatzee compared to a good book. In these games, because you need to coach the player through the experience and require much more concentration on the situation not the activity, having a control method with little to no effort is beneficial.

I like both, which is why I am happy to see motion controls continue to grow, but as with have all heard from Zero Punctuation someone like Yhatzee does not like the competitive side of games, does not want the title as the best gamer around. I personally think this is one where yes we press forward with motion control, but it can never take over from conventional methods.
 

alphaxion

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EscapingReality said:
Kinect doesn't have that. Since you do not have any physical conection with the videogame as you play it, the control schemes are much more complicated. The Kinect in and of itself is a wonder of hardware engineering (just look at the things people have done with the free libraries for Linux) but as a peripheral and the games it comes attached with it sucks big balls. I have seen the Kinect and tested it myself to see the technology wasn't implemented correctly in the Microsoft Kinect games (which is ironic), and it just feels AWKWARD. It feels awkward to move your body around pretending you are holding a racket to play ping pong, when in the Wii you have a physical object (the Wiimote) that actually maked you feel you're holding the racket and thus you don't have to LEARN HOW TO PLAY you just gotta PLAY.

That is the analogy with ye olde arcades. You just pick up and play.
I spent the christmas period temping on the games counter in a large highstreet retailer, we had a kinect demo set up. The amount of times I had to go over and handhold people on what is going on an what is expected of them was insane for something that is meant to be intuative.

In fact, the majority of them walked over to the controller to try and use the machine instead, adding further problems. As it is, the implementation isn't spot on... however, I fully expect that to improve as people are increasingly exposed to this tech and it evolves along with them.

We're still gonna miss the predicted timeslot of 2015 when people think of using your hands on something physical as babyish/old hat. <3 BTTF ;)
 

Daveman

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Jan 8, 2009
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Notashrimp09 said:
Daveman said:
self-snip
I'm glad someone finally mentioned controller design. Though not unexpected, I'm a little disappointed it didn't really get mentioned between the Big 3.

However, I'm going to disagree with you, Daveman. The controller design, particularly for the 360 is not pretty damn awesome, or user friendly -- to someone like me. I've got really small hands, and as much as I enjoy the 360, it's controller is often problematic for me when it comes to games. I can't imagine what it'd be like for me to play on the original XBox, dealing with an even larger controller.

Let's look at Guitar Hero for a second. It was a lot of fun at first, but I got bored after I started mastering songs on medium, but couldn't perform anywhere near as well on hard, let alone expert. No, it has nothing with my ability to play rhythm-based games -- I wouldn't have been able to get into my college's music major program if it were that. I had to pass exercises speaking one rhythm and tapping out another in a completely different meter, Guitar Hero is easy by comparison. However, in Guitar Hero, reaching that dreaded orange button required a physical shift of my entire hand (instead of a couple fingers) in its direction, and that few seconds of disorientation is costly mid-song. In this case, practice mode only gets you so far. There was a dissonant gap between what I could mentally understand the game asking me to do, and what I physically had to perform to do it successfully.

Look at something more recent. (For me and my preferences) Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the most fun I've had gaming in a while, but I also have it on the 360. Having not played the previous installments, I'm having to learn everything from scratch -- and the challenge is also part of the fun. But it's another case where I lose time on some of the technical executions. Again, not because I'm incapable of "getting it," but when some of the more complicated button patterns involve moving all over the controller, it involves my entire hand moving all over the controller. My hand stretches to curve around the bumpers instead of resting there naturally, which means there's a lot less maneuverability in-between. (And at the moment, I don't have the money to invest in trying a stick.)

Now, before accusations start flying along the lines of why don't I play on a different console, or something with half-formed logic: I don't believe that my console preferences should be completely limited based on someone's size. That, and consoles are expensive -- If I already invested time and money into one console, I'm not keen on dropping a bunch of money I don't have to reinvest in everything because I enjoy one or two games that might be a little extra harder for someone like me to play. That's silly. I still have fun gaming, though it might be something to keep in mind for if there's ever a next-next-generation.

My question is this: is it far out of the technological realm for controller designs to go the line of baseball bats, bowling balls, and stringed instruments and be sized? Controllers, now in S, M, and L!
I totally agree with you on the size thing. I don't have especially large hands and the old Xbox was indeed unbearable to play on because of it. The PS2 controller is more my kind of thing if I'm honest. The thing is we both exist within the bell curve, for those of us with smaller than average hands there are many more who find it perfectly comfortable, so the big gaming companies don't really care about us all that much. My large handed friends express similar problems, though more often with the PS3 controller. But that said, controllers may not be perfect, but they're a damn sight better than the ones that came before them. This entire point is that relatively small physical changes, unnoticable to the average observer, do make a huge difference in the enjoyment of a game. Motion controls are a HUGE step forward in gaming, when ultimately I would have liked them to take notice of the smaller details. One thing about studying engineering is it really opens your eyes to how much work people put into products. If you look at the controller, every single dimension has been carefully chosen. On a big project like the Xbox they no doubt had at least one person assigned to how big the thumbsticks would be and the exact size of the indent inside them. It's the little things that count... like little hands.
 

Thorvan

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
Thorvan said:
My only answer to this is... so? Just because we get simplified controllers does not mean that A; we lose the more complex ones, or B; it will result in necessarily worse experiences. There are significant markets for both the simplified and the complex input devices, for a smattering of reasons; and if we pressure game developers to provide a conduit for both of these in their games, what exactly is the downside?
Easton Dark said:
Start a new gamer onto S.T.A.L.K.E.R SOC and just wait a few hours.

Heck, even I get flustered by the number of hotkeys sometimes. Can't remember what's bandages and what's medkits.
In Dragon Age II, you can either take the whole hack-and-slash route (which is more oriented towards console gamers) or the whole finely-tuned micromanaging tactical route (which is suited better for the K&M setup). Then again, it's Bioware we're talking about, who's not known for shitty ports and actually makes proper multiplatform games. But what's to say that other devs will go through the trouble to cater to two entirely different fighting mechanisms?

Take a look at Tiberium Twilight. The game was trying to cater to both PC and console (though everyone was fired before they could finish a port) through radical changes in gameplay. The result of the more console-oriented gameplay was that it destroyed the C&C series for the PC community.

For all you know, the next Ace Combat iteration might just have QTEs for performing kulbits and pugachevs to make it more 'accessible' and to become the next 'CoD-killer'... '-_-
Well, don't buy the game, send a letter to the developer, encourage others to do the same. Yes, I UNDERSTAND that it's a problem for some, but again, having both simple and complex controls is a good thing, and it's a problem WE can fix either way.
 

Extra Consideration

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EscapingReality said:
Fronzel said:
EscapingReality said:
Motion controls makes games what they used to be in the arcade: You pick up and you play em. Everyone can play them, and only few can really master them. Simple mechanics make for a great gameplay.
Examples, please?
Mario, Asteroids, Pacman, Breakout, Donkey Kong, Angry Birds, Solipskier, Canabalt (simplest game ever), Audiosurf... I could go on forever and fill the page. Wii Sports is a prime example of simple mechanics/great game experience because you don't really need to learn to play. You just need to fucking play. In the words of MovieBob in The Game Overthinker: "Hitting a baseball with the bat shouldn't be the challenge because the bat is wrapped in barb wire; hitting the ball IS the challenge."

The gameplay mechanics are simplified by making you move something in par with the character in the screen. The translation of your ego (that is you) to your alter-ego (the character in the game) is seamless in the case of Wii Sports/Wii Sports Resort.

Not so much with third party games because they do not play test the games enough and thus make crappy controls for games that are not sport simulations. I played Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings for the Wii... I regret ever doing that.

Kinect doesn't have that. Since you do not have any physical conection with the videogame as you play it, the control schemes are much more complicated. The Kinect in and of itself is a wonder of hardware engineering (just look at the things people have done with the free libraries for Linux) but as a peripheral and the games it comes attached with it sucks big balls. I have seen the Kinect and tested it myself to see the technology wasn't implemented correctly in the Microsoft Kinect games (which is ironic), and it just feels AWKWARD. It feels awkward to move your body around pretending you are holding a racket to play ping pong, when in the Wii you have a physical object (the Wiimote) that actually maked you feel you're holding the racket and thus you don't have to LEARN HOW TO PLAY you just gotta PLAY.

That is the analogy with ye olde arcades. You just pick up and play.
Sorry, I was unclear with my previous post; I wanted examples of motion controls making "great gameplay" not simple mechanics doing the same.

You happened to address that topic to some degree anyway by mentioning Wii Sports, but while all the Wii Sports mini-games are indeed quite intuitive, I can't honestly call something that shallow a "great game".
 

GrizzlerBorno

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
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 they meant the co-existence of several different control schemes of varying levels complexity.
Although, I agree with Portnow; We already kind of have that in the form of handheld systems, with the simplified (D-pad only) controls that can give you a bsic rundown on how to effectively navigate in a 3D space.

Also, what game are you talking about, that dumbs down it's control scheme for consoles?
 

MB202

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More great stuff! Oh, wait, I just noticed the e-mail address for suggestions! I've got quite a few...

Also, Field of Dreams happens to be my dad's all-time favorite movie.
 

ImSkeletor

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This would officially be the best series ever if Shamus was on it too. As of now it is still really good.

OT: I got my sister to attempt to play a shooter for the first time. She had only played few platformers before. (LPB, Spyro 1,2,3 Crash 1,2,3) She collectively shot all of her own team mates in the back then accidently made her character look at his feet. She then hammered buttons to rectify this which made her character whip grenades at his feet and blow himself up. This all happened in the course of about a minute. So yes, controllers are very unfriendly to newbies.
 

RelexCryo

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Extra Consideration said:
Extra Consideration: Controller Evolution

This week, MovieBob, Yahtzee, and James Portnow discuss the evolution of the controller and the difficulty in bringing non-gamers up to speed.

Read Full Article
Moviebob:

"Believe me, NO ONE has a lower opinion of the "average joe's" ability to to better himself than I do; "

Me: I really, really hate your elitist attitude Bob. It's pretty much the antithesis of Democracy. Democracy is inherently based on faith in the average person- to see the average person as stupid or wortheless is to inherently see Democracy the same way, because Democracy is rule by the average person. The same is only slightly less true of a true Republic, which represents the people. Your attitude comes off as blatantly autocratic.

You, Bob, have some of the worst tendencies of liberals. Liberals and Conservatives both have horrible flaws, in addition to both being correct on various issues. I try to be open minded and listen to both, and I tend to agree with liberals and conservatives on different things- for example, I support gay marriage, and I also support gun ownership. I support greater regulation/enforcement of regulations for big bussiness, and I also support hunting. But you tend to automatically assume conservatives are wrong about everything, you tend to have a very low opinion of the average person, and you even admit you doubt the average person can better themselves at all. That elitist, autocratic, anti-democratic viewpoint is perhaps the worst flaw that liberals have.

The evidence doesn't support the idea that the average person is stupid. In the 70's, James Holdren advocated forced sterilization because he was bigoted against the average person enough to believe that the average person is too stupid to use contraceptives, and that forced sterilization was necessary to prevent overpopulation. In reality, the average person is smart enough to use contraceptives, and the population of pretty much every first world country including the US is static, except for immigration.

More people are getting college degrees than ever before. The human race's I.Q. is increasing slightly every year.

Throughout Obama's campaign, people claimed that he would not get elected because of bigotry. He got elected.

Sarah Brady believes that the average person is too stupid/paranoid to own guns. The vast majority of gun owners never break serious laws, and letting people carry guns has consistently resulted in less crime.


Basically, the belief that the average person is stupid has not been supported by the evidence. There are some things I dissagree with the majority with, but the majority are the majority for a reason. People like you seem to think that evolution works in reverse, and those who are least intelligent tend to thrive. Not only is that discrimination, it is ridiculously illogical.
 

Extra Consideration

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Fronzel said:
Sorry, I was unclear with my previous post; I wanted examples of motion controls making "great gameplay" not simple mechanics doing the same.

You happened to address that topic to some degree anyway by mentioning Wii Sports, but while all the Wii Sports mini-games are indeed quite intuitive, I can't honestly call something that shallow a "great game".
And I want a magical pony. You're asking for something that doesn't exist. Not from motion controls, not from button controls, not from keyboard controls. Seriously, what game can you point to on the X-box where what made it a great game was the controller?

Until we get to the direct neural net hookup Yahtzee wants, at best what we can hope for is a controller that doesn't get in the way. And for a controller not to get in the way, it needs to be in a game that plays to its strengths, not it's weaknesses. For motion controllers, measurement strengths are in directionality of motion, and force of motion. Their weaknesses are precision timing of actions. Yet most games developed today really depend on precision timing. Make that jump at just the right time. Hop out of cover and shoot the guy at just the right time, etc.

Instead, when you get games that play to the strength of the motion controller, such as golf or frisbee, the controller is much less in the way than when you have to play them via "stop the moving slider bar at the right point."
 

cdomville

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Yes, I'm new as a poster, but I've been along time lurker on the forums.

Some people have been mentioning about the interactions of first person shooters. As a kid, I loved playing Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. It made me feel powerful, like a whole world had opened up to me, that I could BE the hero against evil. I played with a mouse and keyboard.

In 2003 I played the first Halo game, on the chunky Xbox game pad. It felt comfortable ( and the chunkiness was something I think they should have kept as an optional extra for the 360 controllers) but didn't like the lack of precision with the controls for aiming compared to a mouse, which was still a concern for me when I played through Reach. And yet the Halo series was another stage and influence as I grew up, and I rate the first game as one of the best I've played, even if the pistol was OTT, because of that influence in my childhood. :D

What I'm trying to get at is that, in the long run, the control scheme for a game does not matter in the slightest. JK and Halo, plot wise, are ALMOST IDENTICAL. Become a super soldier to save the Universe as your whole world is destroyed around you (Kyle Katarn being hunted for the Valley of the Jedi by Jerec, going to the Valley of the Jedi, as a Jedi, to save the Universe / Master Chief seeing Reach fall and then attempting the Covenant from activating the rings to save the Universe as an augmented human), and yet they are still both good games!!

This is why I am going to agree with Bob, and say that the next generation of controllers on ANY device (console, PC or mobile) will be an adaptation of what has come before until Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo/Apple*/Google* buckle.

One of them will eventually become insignificant in the gaming market. this will lead them to cause a shift in the gaming paradigm. Look at the rise of Nintendo in popularity once the Wii was released, Apple when they released the iPod touch, or Google's sudden entrenchement into the mobile/tablet space with it's Android operating system).

This ALSO means that motion controllers (not necessarily gesture based motion) are here to stay for the forseeable future due to the appearent demand from the creation of a very casual market in 2005. That said, who knows what will happen in 5 years with the release of the next and possibly final generation of consoles, as James mentioned.

*Apple and Google are included as they compete directly with Nintendo, Sony and MS in the mobile/tablet application business, which will take off in a big way with games during the course of 2011, look at the Honeycomb and iOS presentations of recent times and look at the publication Angry Birds on both platforms if you don't believe me, but that's getting a little off topic.
 

GiftoChaos

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One thing regarding motion controllers that you have massively overlooked. OK its in the far future. Basically the major complaint with motion controls from yatzee is lack of physical feedback breaking immersion and that gaming tends to be very escapist.

However is it not possible to integrate actual physical activity with games? It has only been hinted at with the Wii and Kinnect. Take for example your typical lasertag arcade; you put on your vest get into teams and walk into an enclosed area with plywood hills and walls to represent a battlefield. This environment looks eerily similar to your typical block environment in pre-alpha shooters doesn't it? Why not put some receiver nodes on the corners of those blocks and give everyone some sort of motion capture equipment. Then instead of relying on cheesy glow in the dark paint just put on glasses with tiny screens in them and let the game engine render the rest. Physical feedback is there because it is actually there. The game just makes it look prettier. No need to calculate physics either because everyone is already limited by what they actually can do. To represent death just disable their ability to shoot and render them as a ghost, since the gun doesn't need a laser anymore and the game controls how everything looks. Environments could be changed easily by moving your real life blocks around. Also no more need for the multi-directional treadmill.

This idea is also useful for non-combat gaming as well. Imagine going to a museum and actually seeing the events they are depicting through virtual renderings.

Is this around the next corner? I doubt it. The tech is already there, but the costs are very high for it. Also with investment in the tank new ideas are simply being deemed too risky. I think we'll only see it if the economy recovers very fast and after that there's another 20-30 year wait as someone of wealth actually decides to make it happen.
 

Korne

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daftnoize said:
Korne said:
Bob brought up that GH might not even work if it didn't have the controller. I disagree with this. Harmonix had made 2 fantastic rhythm games before Guitar Hero using basically the same highway of notes (Frequency and Amplitude). Everyone that I have showed the games to have become immediatly hooked, since they are really fun games (just like Guitar Hero). What the guitar controller did was serve as a hook and took out the foreign nature of a video game controller (people kinda get the guitar motion).
Thank you so much for mentioning those games. I am a massive fan of pre guitar hero harmonix and actually completely disagree with bob. I play all the guitar HERO GAMES WITHOUT THE SILLY GUITAR!!!! Argghh I rage so much (probably cos i don't really like the music in the guitar hero games) but wish they'd make a true sequal to amplitude. I suppose i'll just have to stick with gitaroo man from now on....
That is fair... you aren't going to like a rhythm game unless you like the music in it, and not everyone likes Rock/Country/Rap/Techno/ect. But the sped up Simon Says note highways are exillerating even without the guitar controller. It is like an advanced version of a kids toy, where you press a button and get a sound. Just like when we were 3, it is still as exciting today.
 

RA92

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Thorvan said:
Well, don't buy the game, send a letter to the developer, encourage others to do the same.
Let me just make this clear - I've no problem whatsoever if developers start broadening their demography of customers. What I fear is a shift in interest to cater to that new demography. Look at Epic. They established themselves on the PC. But when they found the money was on consoles, they simply spat on customer loyalty and started making shitty PC titles like the GoW port (which came out about 2 years after the console version, with the bug issues never fixed) and UT3 (which actually had less features than UT2004). Obviously, PC gamers voted with their wallets and went "WTF?" How did it turn out? With Epic blaming things on <url=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/100717-Epic-President-The-Moneys-On-Console>piracy, even though it was obviously just a case of MS giving the studio <url=http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a307109/epic-would-love-gears-of-war-on-ps3.html>"compelling reasons" to keep their GoW titles XBox exclusive. You know, the platform where all the money is. Hell, they're still being <url=http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/01/17/no-pc-bulletstorm-demo-cliffyb-indifferent/comment-page-2/#comments>dicks.

And it stings. CliffyB was the guy who made Jazz Jackrabbit, which was basically our cooler version of Sonic the Hedgehog. I was enraged when MS took away Crimson Skies and made it an XBox exclusive. It sucked how Sony took away Wipeout from us. The list goes on and on...





GrizzlerBorno said:
Also, what game are you talking about, that dumbs down it's control scheme for consoles?

Well, I put the phrase 'dumbed down' in quotation marks, because it usually isn't the case. Bioshock and Mass Effect were both ported from the Xbox, but I didn't really feel any discomfort using the K&M (except for the item management in ME1, which was clearly optimized for the controller).

But when it comes to RTS and RTT titles, the difference is visible. DA2 on the Xbox, for example, is based more on the hack-and-slash route (which is more oriented towards the controller) instead of the whole finely-tuned micromanaging tactical route (which is suited better for the K&M setup). Hell, the XBox version doesn't even have auto-attack.

Also, take a look at Tiberium Twilight. EA was trying to cater to both PC and console (though everyone was fired before they could finish a port) through radical simplification in gameplay. The result of the console-orientation was that it destroyed the Tiberium series for the PC community.

Along with that a lot of people raised their eyebrows when SupCom2 came out. It was more simplified than SupCom1 (which in turn was the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, an RTS title arguably more important than StaCraft) to resolve 'accessibility issues' (Gas Powered Games was trying to make a break into the XBox market) that left a large portion of the fanbase cold. Fortunately, they brought forward major updates and changes post-release.
 

Korne

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RelexCryo said:
Sarah Brady believes that the average person is too stupid/paranoid to own guns. The vast majority of gun owners never break serious laws, and letting people carry guns has consistently resulted in less crime.
I know this has nothing to do with the original topic, but I have to ask...

Has letting people carry guns consistently resulted in less crime? What are we comparing this to? I would compare it to the closest country (culturally) that doesn't allow guns, The United Kingdom. While the UK has slightly more crime per capita, the US has much more violent crime, including murder.
 

emusega

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This read was more interesting than the last one, as there was less agreeing and more extraction of points they don't agree on.
I'd like to say that I want to see more involvement of yahtzee, but then again, he is the one who already stated the most opinions in his videos and extra puctuation. Since he covered pretty much all of his stance on controllers I guess there is not really anything new to say from him.

What I am kinda missing is a certain connection to a certain group. It appears to me that James can mostly cover the point of view of the game developpers. Yahtee as the critic should be demanding certain features from the developers side. Bob appears to me as the one who plays games more for the actual fun of it, coupled with a lot of experience on the history of the developpment of a different and older medium: the movies.

So I would more expect something like this:

Y: Games are currently majorly lacking so and so. Game developpers should focus more on that.
J: Well, that sounds reasonable, but you should know that there are these and that problems and the current state is so and so.
B: We should also approach the issue from this or that side. Maybe people like it this or that side. The movie industry has similar problems and their approach to the problem was so and so.

???
Y: And whistled for a baboon.


Ok, scratch that last poart ^^
This is only a crude scenery of what I mean, but I hope you get the point. I might as well be wrong, I don't know.
 

Jennacide

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Well, to reassure James' doubt in the last paragraph, I for one can attest to that happening. My older brother bought a Wii like everyone else, but never grew up with games. That started with me and our younger brother, who are avid gamers. Eventually he got bored of what he had with the Wii and asked us for advice on anything to get on the Virtual Console, for which we insisted he get Secret of Mana, Super Mario World, and Mario RPG. Weeks later when we spoke again he was infatuated with all three, and asked to borrow my old SNES and some games to play in his spare time, having finally finished the three Virtual Console ones.

So I know it's happened at least once, hopefully far more often than this.
 

cdomville

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GiftoChaos said:
Is this around the next corner? I doubt it. The tech is already there, but the costs are very high for it. Also with investment in the tank new ideas are simply being deemed too risky. I think we'll only see it if the economy recovers very fast and after that there's another 20-30 year wait as someone of wealth actually decides to make it happen.
Agreed with most of what you said, but the fact is that technology tends to follow the adaptations of two versions of Moore's Law. Either processing power doubles or cost to manufacture halves over 2 years or so, more frequently 18 months. Kinect wouldn't have been possible tecnically as a consumer product at that price if there hadn't been other significant gains in R&D and the cost to manufacture the refined item at that price. It's the one reason why Microsoft are now more a focused R&D company funded by gaming, because they are trying to find ways to stay alive.

In addition, Windows is losing steam as an operating system because fewer people require a top of the line PC/laptop for their development or work. All they need is a home entertainment system and a device capable of surfing the web intuitively. the only reason that they need a PC is router configuration and syncing of applications and music form their personal collections. Apple recently said that we are in a 'post-PC era'. If you buy an iPad, you can get a keybord for your word processing, or you can get a Bluetooth keyboard and do the same thing, which is also present int eh Android tablets, and you can also present on HDMI out, so there is no need for a convential machine when you're presenting or even making these presentations.

Those two paragraphs are the reasons why your statement is incorrect. In 5 years time, we will have more poeople being more imaginative with fresh ideas game development (see Extra Credits' latest vid), and they will be underground, not in the AAA sector. From that independent sector will come new minds that will try and rethink what has come before in terms of control schemes.
 

RelexCryo

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Korne said:
RelexCryo said:
Sarah Brady believes that the average person is too stupid/paranoid to own guns. The vast majority of gun owners never break serious laws, and letting people carry guns has consistently resulted in less crime.
I know this has nothing to do with the original topic, but I have to ask...

Has letting people carry guns consistently resulted in less crime? What are we comparing this to? I would compare it to the closest country (culturally) that doesn't allow guns, The United Kingdom. While the UK has slightly more crime per capita, the US has much more violent crime, including murder.
UK isn't the closest country to the US in terms of living conditions. The UN did a study, and found that many parts of the US have similar living conditions to a third world country. The fact that are country is derived from the UK doesn't change the fact that we have very different living conditions, the UK offers a great deal of aid to the poor, the United States does not. Most of our murders are related to the drug trade, which is itself largely a result of poverty.

If you want to compare the UK to another country that gives tons of financial aid to the poor, compare it to Switzerland.
 

brinvixen

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After reading the column (very insightful) and breezing through the forum (also very interesting and filled with valid points) I felt like dropping my own two cents, mainly towards the argument of controllers and first-time players.

Mind you, I agree with the idea that anyone who is handed a controller for the first time will probably regard it as a confusing device to understand (much less "master"), and find that their first hour or so of gameplay will be riddled with character deaths and frustration. And this can apply to all controllers: motion and button alike. The first time I played Wii Tennis, I kept missing the ball, because I couldn't time my swing just right, and my character kept randomly launching herself into the air and flailing wildly. Going further back, the controller for the first console I ever owned - a PS1 - had me rather bewildered, what with its R1 and R2 buttons oddly placed on the top of the thing, and the Start button being impossible to reach without breaking gameflow.

But, I enjoyed playing games. Controller frustration didn't win over fun, interactive experience. I've been a Playstation girl since I was about 8 (over ten years ago), and yet, my Sony seasoning didn't necessarily prepare for the updates made to the controllers. I used the D-pad for at least a year despite having a controller with an analog stick, because I couldn't get the analog sticks to listen to me like the D-pad did. I used to think that "Dual Shock" was disruptive and scary, even. And using the current Six-Axis on the PS3 controller still feels wonky to me. But I work at it. No one -- not even the "hardcore" gamers -- just pick up a controller and become "Master of the Game Universe".

What I'm coming down to is mainly addressing MovieBob's point about those people who have been playing games longer will have an inherent skill over those who haven't when it comes to controller control. Everyone, more or less, starts from ground zero when it comes to learning the works of the controller: whether it be clutching the device, or waggling a stick (or even moving in front of a camera and getting it to register you as a player, because I've played Kinect, and its a little blind at times). I think that controllers do not need to be altered in order to appease an audience (i.e motion controls doesn't have to equal casual gamer, because motion controls are "easier"...especially since that isn't necessarily so), because they'll all take a certain amount of time to navigate. And even though I know how to work the controller (and only a PS controller really, since that's what I own), I didn't need "Baby's First Controller" to get the hang of things, or have to be playing since the 80s/birth to get it either. I just worked with it till I could work it. If you're a first time player: yeah, the controller looks odd to you, but that shouldn't be a deal breaker, or make gaming inaccessible to you. It also shouldn't make you think that a motion controller will be "easier" than a handheld, as said before. If you like playing games, or you have an interest, or you just want to try them out, the type of controller shouldn't stop you.
 

Flying Dagger

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Easton Dark said:
Start a new gamer onto S.T.A.L.K.E.R SOC and just wait a few hours.

Heck, even I get flustered by the number of hotkeys sometimes. Can't remember what's bandages and what's medkits.
i made my girlfriend play half life 2 and she got confused by the number of keys she needed to remember... controls that seem intuitive - such as R for reload, have to be learned first, in the end she just gave up with the thing.

But I think they are missing a point (or I missed them making a point) about the power of flash based games. If you start people off on flash or java games, all you are missing is one or two steps of slightly more complex games that can fully transition a farmville player to a fully fledged pc gamer.
and I'm almost sure this happens in f2p mmos.
 

eharriett

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Here's my question to this: how are new gamers learning proficiency on these controllers? I am old enough that my first games were on a Colecovision with the simple joysticks. After the gaming crashes of the 80s, I didn't get a console again until the PS2. But during all that time, I was still heavily gaming through a pc with it's mouse and keyboard. Is that still what people are using to learn controllers? The keyboard complexities of a pc make a dual shock simple by comparison. But pc gaming has dropped precipitously since I was learning the ropes. How are younger people learning to use a controller competently now?
 

PowerC

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Ok, sorry to be a nuisance, but if James or anbody in Extra Punctuation sees this; The two people falling in love over a game of "Dance Central"? step back a second and please tell me that story, premise alone makes in sound amazing. The words coming into my head as I read them was pretty fantastic. Mabye fit it into an episode about Love & Relationships in games? one way or the other thats a story that needs told man...
 

Srakin

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This is more directed at Bob than anyone, but I have two amazing games that debunk the whole "Guitar Hero is not Guitar Hero without the toy guitar" thing. UmJammer Lammy and Paparapa the Rapper were both amazing rhythm games that used the standard Playstation controller.
 

Warachia

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Yahtzee did a whole extra punctuation on the presence of good tutorials, People will favour those over working into increasingly complex controllers. People are shallow minded, those who look past that will realize things like the wii controllers are nothing more than controllers with slight movement, and an acelerometer add on.

An example: I love the game Excite Truck, but using the wii-mote never let me feel like I was driving a car, I only felt like the buttons had been remapped.

A little extra bit, yes bob, how much you can get into the game does measure a game's worth. THAT IS WHY YOU ARE PLAYING THE GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE. There is no reason to buy ANY game if you aren't going to lose yourself in it in some aspect, the gameplay, the story, the characters, if you can't lose yourself in it, you just wasted money.
 

Dhatz

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its silly that console gaming got rid of the older types of games, where on PC flash games get all types of 2D games covered.
 

Misho-

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This is like a wet dream come true!!! James Porno, Yahtzee and Moviebob! The three guys responsible of me knowing the Escapist at all in the first place...
 

Saelune

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I much prefer using a 360 controller for Guitar Hero than the guitar. Certain songs are hard or impossible on it sure, but the songs where its a ton of single notes rapidly, is much easier, very fun, and people watching my hands become awed. In GH3 I think, I loved using a controller on expert on Reptilia. That was fun.
 

Extra Consideration

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I don't understand why Portnow and Chipman are so married to the idea of controllers with fewer buttons. If a game doesn't need those buttons then it doesn't need them, but some games benefit from additional key presses. And not having those options there limits what you can do with a game, as I see it. If a simple game doesn't need the buttons then having those buttons isn't really going to make it a problem. And most games allow you to reassign buttons anyway.

The trick is to not throw all the functions at the player at once. That's why new players get confused and intimidated. So why not simply use tutorials or practice sessions to help new players get a feeling for multi-button control. If you think about it, the standard setups work fairly well and it's matter of getting the player used to the button grouping. And grouping buttons by function is what we smart designers do for games like God or War or Batman: AA.

Just to clarify for those who may not understand me...And keep in mind I'm going by a FPS brawling-type game here. Such as God of War.

Left Stick - Move Character
Right Stick - Rotate Camera

Fairly basic.

X - Jump
Square, Triangle, Circle - Normal/Special Attacks

Keeping these grouped with a jump function is necessary for making jumping attacks flow properly.

R1 - Block
R2 - Aim/Scope
L1 - Dodge
L2 - Change Stance/Combat Mode/Vision Mode

Keeping block and dodge on the high buttons makes more sense. The lower shoulder triggers are better for attacks that aren't used often but still used enough to warrant them being keyed.

D-Pad - Inventory/Skill Set

Since the D-Pad is no longer used as a movement tool, it makes sense to use it as a hotkey function.

L3 - Toggle HUD Modes/Mini map
R3 - Camera distance
Select - In-game information menus (Character Sheet/Inventory Loadouts/Skill Trees)
Start - Game utility menu. (I.E. Save/Load/Options/Quit)

L3 and R3 are rarely used in most games, so putting related functions to their coinciding analog sticks is helpful. And start and select, isn't something I should need to explain.

This kind of standard uniform control, along with proper step-gradient learning through tutorials and practice is how new players will learn the ropes and figure things out. Experience players can be given the option to skip these if need be.

It's not really a hard concept. I would think you guys could have figured that out without my help.
 

unacomn

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The modern game controller, like my Logitech F510, is a marvel of technological achievement. It's packed with fairly precise dual analog sticks, two progressive triggers, a bunch of buttons and motors that can vibrate to the point where I can feel the weight of a car shifting in my hands in NFS5.

The problem is that most devs still think of a modern controller as an NES controller, and use it as suck. The day after I got my very nice gamepad I had a ton of ideas of how all it's features could be used, and they all had one thing in common, none of them were implemented in games. Why? Because simply massing the X button when the screen tells you too is easier to implement then, let's say, accurately applying pressure to the progressive triggers.

Here's a concrete example. At the end of Modern Warfare 2, instead of mash X to pull out that knife, how about slowly remove it with the progressive trigger or one of the sticks between heartbeats you could feel in the controller. No force feedback? No problem, use sound.

I had an idea for a section of a game where a character would stumble trough the darkness with only the sound from the game and the force feedback as direction. Why don't I see stuff like this in games? Most controllers are standardized at this point, there shouldn't be problems with implementation across a hardware made by different manufacturers.
 

JimmyC99

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speaking of game continuity, now with the advent of Wikia's such as The Vault, UESP and the Mass Effect Wikia, games are now far far easier to learn the past of buy just going on the internet, hell watching lets plays of a previous game before you buy the new one would make sure you know the story. lets say for example you wanted to buy Fallout New Vegas, but wanted to learn the history of the Fallout Universe first so you know who was who, why some people hate others etc. well you could buy the Fallout 1 and 2 and spend several weeks playing them, or you could jump on to the internet and go to The Vault and read up there, or even use one of the links there to download the Fallout Bible and read that. now you know more about the Fallout universe then most developers who work on the games.
 

daemongarso

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This is probably a tired example, but I thought Portal did the best tutorial ever because I didn't know I was playing a tutorial in the traditional sense. Instead I was discovering game mechanics. On the second play through, I was perfecting mechanics already learned, but I am still accomplishing things within the context of the game. Movies have "Show me don't tell me" as a primary rule for all film. Games should have "let me experience don't just let me watch." again, nothing new, just missing from this discussion as far as I could tell.
 

Therumancer

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Hmm, perhaps I missed it, but it seems like the current debate misses the most important point.

Controllers have gotten more complicated in response to better games that require more, and more advanced controls to make function. It's the increasing quality and complexity of games that has caused the industry to explode to the point where more people want to become gamers. Right now we're looking at a situation where consoles are "catching up" to PC games and seeing a lot more decent multi-platform releases because the consoles can now do things that they once couldn't and it's all those buttons and knobs on a controller that makes it possible where having a thumbpad or joystick and a couple of buttons once seriously limited the options. The simplicity of old school controllers was one of the reasons why a lot of people felt that consoles would NEVER be able to catch up with the PCs.

I mean sure, we could go back to the whole "joystick and one button" or "gamepad and two buttons" control scheme, which would be easier on casuals, but then not as many people would be wanting to play those games. Those "casuals" would not be as attracted to gaming anymore.

I will also say that I think motion controls are interesting, but seem to be stuck in a rut. Also the simple fact that motion control games aren't all that relaxing (you have to get up and spaz out) is going to be a barrier. Right now I think there aren't many games that go beyond the basic, gimmicky, casual level that aren't "hardcore". Simply put the industry needs more intermediate game development, games that say help to wean casual gamers into
more advanced fare, and are more focused on the games themselves rather than the gimmick
used to play them.

Another concern that I admit to is that with gaming reaching a bigger audience there is concern over it being all-inclusive. That's a slippery slope if there ever was one. With no offense to those who are physically handicapped, a LOT of things are ruined when they have to be changed or altered signifigantly to be accessible to them. Say designing a roller coaster so it can take a physically disabled person, which mandates it being able to run a specific type of car which can't safely hold that person unless it goes slower and doesn't perform certain manuvers. As a result of that one in a million guy, the hundreds of thousands of other people are left with an inferior experience.

With something like gaming, I have great respect for those who can overcome their disabillities to do something that logically they shouldn't be able to. If some physically disabled person learns to play "Dragon Age" or "Street Fighter" with his nose, good for them, but games should not be adjusted to accomodate such people at the expense of the rest of society and the genere as a whole.

The same basic logic applies to casuals, the problem with the gaming industry is in trying to make EVERY game accessible to the lowest human denominator.

I confess to some concern over games that have done things like include a "one button mode" and turned the whole thing into little more than a timing exercise intergrated into a movie (a giant, constant quicktime event so to speak). Right now it's intended for disabled people, but how long until we start seeing demands that if one game has done it, every game should do it, and games are designed around having to be able to accomodate such things? That's not a good move for gaming as a whole, and the same basic logic applies to casual gamers on a lot of levels.

Such are my thoughts.
 

ironlordthemad

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airrazor7 said:
Hmmm...what if we had two joysticks used simultaneausly?
But what if we used the two joysticks and put the buttons you need to control a game around the joysticks, but then made the joysticks a bit smaller so you could use them and still access the buttons without tangling your hands...
Wake up people, the joystick isn't dead, it just evolved into the controller stick.
Its evolve or die in a medium as fast moving as the gaming industry.

Also moviebob said that controllers look like symetrical piles of clay with buttons attached... has he not noticed that the controller fits almost naturally in the hand (except for the PS3 one which is too small for me) with little effort, hmm its almost as if its been designed that way?
Theres a reason they all have the same basic shape... because it works.

Also another point against movie bob (when have I EVER been known too make points against movie bob???) but he said there are no "entry levels" of games... just an inch of space away from where he mentioned farmville (and most of that inch was space between paragraphs). Seriously? Is there a more entry level game than farmville, it comes attached too a site millions use, requires very little to get started and then develops into a more complex game when you get more too manage as you prove that you have conquered previous stages...
If games are a flight of stairs that not everyone can climb, then farmville is a gradual ramp...
 

ShannonG

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I think Yahtzee is right, he's just not *completely* right. The current generation of motion controls are cheap gimmicks. That doesn't mean that all motion control are cheap gimmicks.

As I type this, I am using Firefox as my internet browser. I have an add-on called 'FireGestures' (which is one of several such extensions), allowing me to use my mouse as a gestural interface. A quick swipe to the left to go back, a quick swipe to the right to go forward, an L-shape to close a window, and so on. It's quick and easy.

Many people have observed that sweeping gestures and whole-body movements make playing the game more work. And I agree with that assessment. However, the concept of a gestural interface does not require flailing around.

Let's go back a few years, to when the Wii was new. Commercials for Wii Sports show the players swinging the controller like a bat or a golf club. But when I actually played the game, I quickly discovered that you don't need to do that - and in fact, it's not even the most effective way to play. A short, quick flick of the wrist achieves a result that's as good or better than the flailing full-body movements.

And as far as I'm concerned, that's where the potential for motion control lies - the ability to make quick flicks that are no more taxing than pressing a button, and the ability to point the controller at the screen and use it as a 3d mouse. Also, like MovieBob, I think the best part of the Wii control scheme is the ability to have an on-screen pointer (which is actually better, in my opinion, than either a computer mouse or a touchscreen - it moves where you point, without your hand blocking your view.)

The ideal I hope we can work towards is something like a Kinect, but able to track eye and finger movements rather than (or in addition to) the full body movements. If you can move your finger an inch, or even a few inches, and give a command, then that's not a appreciably more work than moving your thumb from one button to another. Point at the screen and have a cursor (or targeting crosshairs) appear where you point. Give commands with simple gestures - for example, to pause the game you hold up your hand, palm outwards, in the universal signal for 'stop', rather than adopting a full-body pose as the Kinect currently requires.

There will always be a place for sticks and buttons, simply because interface elements like 'push forward on the stick to move forward' or 'hold down the button to keep firing' are not as easily replicated by motion control.

(Incidentally, this is why I think the Wii's 'nunchuck' controller is still a vastly superior motion-control device, even years later - it combines a fairly traditional thumbstick, d-pad, face and trigger buttons with a point-and-click interface and simple motion control for both hands. The Move is more heavily focused on the motion control, and the Kinect is entirely reliant on it.)

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, yes. I think that (perhaps barring the sort of Direct Neural Interface which Yahtzee alludes to) there will always be a place for traditional controls; however, if developers are willing to move past the 'standing up and acting out the motions because that is what looks good on the TV advertisements' gimmick, and acknowledge that most of the time you want to enter commands with as few movements as possible, Motion Control can and should have a place right alongside them.
 

airrazor7

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ironlordthemad said:
airrazor7 said:
Hmmm...what if we had two joysticks used simultaneausly?
But what if we used the two joysticks and put the buttons you need to control a game around the joysticks, but then made the joysticks a bit smaller so you could use them and still access the buttons without tangling your hands...
Wake up people, the joystick isn't dead, it just evolved into the controller stick.
Its evolve or die in a medium as fast moving as the gaming industry.

Also moviebob said that controllers look like symetrical piles of clay with buttons attached... has he not noticed that the controller fits almost naturally in the hand (except for the PS3 one which is too small for me) with little effort, hmm its almost as if its been designed that way?
Theres a reason they all have the same basic shape... because it works.

Also another point against movie bob (when have I EVER been known too make points against movie bob???) but he said there are no "entry levels" of games... just an inch of space away from where he mentioned farmville (and most of that inch was space between paragraphs). Seriously? Is there a more entry level game than farmville, it comes attached too a site millions use, requires very little to get started and then develops into a more complex game when you get more too manage as you prove that you have conquered previous stages...
If games are a flight of stairs that not everyone can climb, then farmville is a gradual ramp...
whoa...you um, really ran with that afterthought at the end of my post. I see your point but I think you missed mine. The other person that quoted me, Korne, hit a lot closer to the mark. You're probably right about how the joystick evolved into the analog stick, but an analog stick does not give the same feel of immersion as a joystick for something like a realistic flight simulator since the joystick's appearance and feel resembles that of an actual flight control stick versus and analog stick. Evolution of control in a physical sense of immersion was along the lines of my point which is why Korne's mention of Steel Battalion is a good example. The devs of the game may not have completely achieved their goal with the controller but anyone can tell they were trying to simulate a realistic experience of piloting a mech with their unique controller design.

So, maybe in a sense of simulation, joysticks are kind of dead.
Yes, I know there are flying games for the current gen consoles but one does not fly a real jet with their thumbs.

I also disagree with MovieBob's point about how there are no training wheels for gaming. Wasn't that the whole point of the Nintendo Wii? We mighty veteran hardcore gamers stand proudly on our soap boxes, scoffing and denouncing the wiggle and waggle of the wiimote because it did not grant the experience we demand as hardcore gamers, but isn't that the point? Was it not the purpose of the Wii to introduce gaming to the crowd we dubbed "non-gamers"? MovieBob, I know you may have overlooked it, especially since it sounds like you only have eyes for the XB360, but there are your training wheels, the wiimote and nun-chuck.
 

Extra Consideration

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ShannonG said:
I think Yahtzee is right, he's just not *completely* right. The current generation of motion controls are cheap gimmicks. That doesn't mean that all motion control are cheap gimmicks.

As I type this, I am using Firefox as my internet browser. I have an add-on called 'FireGestures' (which is one of several such extensions), allowing me to use my mouse as a gestural interface. A quick swipe to the left to go back, a quick swipe to the right to go forward, an L-shape to close a window, and so on. It's quick and easy.

Many people have observed that sweeping gestures and whole-body movements make playing the game more work. And I agree with that assessment. However, the concept of a gestural interface does not require flailing around.

Let's go back a few years, to when the Wii was new. Commercials for Wii Sports show the players swinging the controller like a bat or a golf club. But when I actually played the game, I quickly discovered that you don't need to do that - and in fact, it's not even the most effective way to play. A short, quick flick of the wrist achieves a result that's as good or better than the flailing full-body movements.

And as far as I'm concerned, that's where the potential for motion control lies - the ability to make quick flicks that are no more taxing than pressing a button, and the ability to point the controller at the screen and use it as a 3d mouse. Also, like MovieBob, I think the best part of the Wii control scheme is the ability to have an on-screen pointer (which is actually better, in my opinion, than either a computer mouse or a touchscreen - it moves where you point, without your hand blocking your view.)

The ideal I hope we can work towards is something like a Kinect, but able to track eye and finger movements rather than (or in addition to) the full body movements. If you can move your finger an inch, or even a few inches, and give a command, then that's not a appreciably more work than moving your thumb from one button to another. Point at the screen and have a cursor (or targeting crosshairs) appear where you point. Give commands with simple gestures - for example, to pause the game you hold up your hand, palm outwards, in the universal signal for 'stop', rather than adopting a full-body pose as the Kinect currently requires.

There will always be a place for sticks and buttons, simply because interface elements like 'push forward on the stick to move forward' or 'hold down the button to keep firing' are not as easily replicated by motion control.

(Incidentally, this is why I think the Wii's 'nunchuck' controller is still a vastly superior motion-control device, even years later - it combines a fairly traditional thumbstick, d-pad, face and trigger buttons with a point-and-click interface and simple motion control for both hands. The Move is more heavily focused on the motion control, and the Kinect is entirely reliant on it.)

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, yes. I think that (perhaps barring the sort of Direct Neural Interface which Yahtzee alludes to) there will always be a place for traditional controls; however, if developers are willing to move past the 'standing up and acting out the motions because that is what looks good on the TV advertisements' gimmick, and acknowledge that most of the time you want to enter commands with as few movements as possible, Motion Control can and should have a place right alongside them.
I have to disagree with you here, motion controls are indeed cheap gimmicks. That's not to say they don't have their place. But their place is in establishments like Dave and Buster's or Gameworks where more active fun is a wanted distraction and you're not so much looking to relax as you're looking to have a party with your buddies. Much like going to a place that has a miniature golf course and batting cages.

Motion controls aren't really much if you're just looking to have a more self-gratifying experience. For most games, the motion control simply gets in the way. Metroid Prime 3 was a game I really was disappointed in due to the awkwardness of the motion controls and a lot of the flails that felt utterly unnecessary.

And that's kind of the whole problem. It's a fun little gimmick for gatherings and parties on those rare occasions when families aren't throwing plates at each other and summoning the police. In a party atmosphere, sporty Wiimote games can be a fun distraction. It fits in a party atmosphere which is why most people only play games like Charades at parties. Most of the time, you wouldn't ask your mate for a rousing game of charades while you're watching Star Trek. This is why the Wii generally only gets pulled out on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The majority of games are more intimate experiences and do not benefit from awkward motion control flails. They just get in the way and tire you out, and if you're looking for that kind of active entertainment to fill your life, I'm not quite sure you should be investing heavily in video games. Wouldn't be cheaper to invest in a basketball?
 

ShannonG

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Sir John the Net Knight said:
ShannonG said:
I think Yahtzee is right, he's just not *completely* right. The current generation of motion controls are cheap gimmicks. That doesn't mean that all motion control are cheap gimmicks.
I have to disagree with you here, motion controls are indeed cheap gimmicks.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm having trouble drawing a line between what I said, and what you responded. Are you sure you're not confusing me with someone else?

Help me out, here. You quoted a post in which I discuss (at length) my belief that motion should be moving past flailing, full-body gestures and instead use short, controlled hand movements. In your response... you proceed to talk about how flailing full-body motions are bad.

Um... yes? That was kind of my point - that 'stand up and act out what your character is doing' is not the whole of what motion control offers, or even the most notable aspect.

I assume you use a computer, correct? By any chance, do you like to use a mouse? Why do you think we use that and not, say, a joystick to move the on-screen cursor around? I'll tell you: it's because it gives a more direct mapping of your physical movements to the input. Move hand right, cursor goes right. Move hand left, cursor goes left. That's motion control, in its purest form.

The Wiimote or Move controller are the next generation of mouse; a controller that moves in the same plane as the cursor (so 'up' is 'lift up' rather than 'push forward') and which can (potentially, at least) give you a third dimension of control, for 3d navigation. Once we get to the point where you don't have to hold a controller, it can reliably track small hand movements? I absolutely expect this sort of thing to become the default interface.
 

Santa216

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Oct 26, 2010
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An entertaining column, but there's... a walrus at the dinning table.

What is MovieBob even doing in this column? Doesn't he review movies or something? He's the guy who saw it fit to spoil the ending to Inglorious Basterds in his goddamn review. You can tell the other two are either politely ignoring his more inane assertions, or trying not to bash him too much when they do address him. Compared to them, whose arguments are well thought out and clearly stemming from experience, Bob looks more like he's stumbling for an opinion, sculpting his points as he goes while employing less than masterful craftsmanship. This results in something that, when viewed from a very particular angle and if you know what are you looking for, is not entirely unlike a sensible commentary. Also, he yells a lot.

I understand you need someone to have different opinions or points of view or whatever, but honestly, Bob's not up to the task. He's way out his league.
 

Fulcon

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May 16, 2010
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^He has a show called Game-Over Thinker. I think that qualifies him for a spot...
 

Cyberjester

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'reads the first paragraph'


Duuuudes. Seriously. It wasn't that controllers are complex and beyond understanding, people still play Mario Kart with the controller turned sideways. People bought the Wii for different reasons. For instance, WiiFit. I know so many people, all females, who want to lose weight so they look like rakes but don't want to exercise. So they stop eating. Great, now they're thin, ill and tired. So they exercise, but their only concept of exercise meaning anything is going to the gym. But then everyone will see them. So they get WiiFit instead and do pushups.

A Wii isn't considered gaming, so it isn't considered nerdy, so it's considered socially acceptable to play it. People that play console games talk about how boring and wholesome the Wii games are. Only they don't say wholesome, grandparents do, so they give their grandkids this console because it's good for them.

Kay? Not controller complexity like so many people say, other reasons. Lots of reasons. Nothing to do with the controller. Well.. Nothing explicitly, fairly tangential relationship. You should know better.
 

Puzzlenaut

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Santa216 said:
An entertaining column, but there's... a walrus at the dinning table.

What is MovieBob even doing in this column? Doesn't he review movies or something? He's the guy who saw it fit to spoil the ending to Inglorious Basterds in his goddamn review. You can tell the other two are either politely ignoring his more inane assertions, or trying not to bash him too much when they do address him. Compared to them, whose arguments are well thought out and clearly stemming from experience, Bob looks more like he's stumbling for an opinion, sculpting his points as he goes while employing less than masterful craftsmanship. This results in something that, when viewed from a very particular angle and if you know what are you looking for, is not entirely unlike a sensible commentary. Also, he yells a lot.

I understand you need someone to have different opinions or points of view or whatever, but honestly, Bob's not up to the task. He's way out his league.
I would say you are hating on Bob not because of what he has said but because he doesn't necessarily specialise in gaming, though I would argue that he definitely knows his stuff -- he's probably the most knowledgable and culturally/socially aware of the three.


OT:
Where the hell is our next installment guys!!!
 

Kenjitsuka

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Bob: If everyone put their backcatalog online they'd surely put all the junk in there as well.
And how can a true gaming novice know that the NES Mario's are pure gold and that some obsucre game with a more exciting title is actually crap that turns them off gaming forever?

Plus, you mention GTA1... I loved it back then in, uh 1996 or so, but it has nothing to do with GTA4 gameplay wise. It changed drastically after the last 2D one, so no use in 'learning' gaming from a game that has play no current game still uses, eh?