Really wish I could find a good link for the Titan Sphere
October 24, 2015 5:04 AM   Subscribe

As Valve prepares for the general release of a divisive PC gaming controller (and Microsoft readies their "Elite" version of the popular-on-PC Xbox One Controller), perhaps it's time to revisit the strange history of our attempts to make the ideal dedicated controller for PC games. posted by selfnoise (71 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
We already have the ideal controller for PC games: keyboard and mouse.

Maybe it's the type of games I play, but I've never seen the point of anything else. Plus, you don't have to buy anything extra.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:49 AM on October 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


This triggered some weird buried memory of being a teenager in the 80s and reading endless reviews of joysticks I couldn't afford, so I went scrambling through archive.org to find scans of "Video Games Magazine" (named before SEO was invented, obvs) where such innovations were reviewed...unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to link directly to the review, but it starts on page 58!
posted by mittens at 5:58 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


We already have the ideal controller for PC games: keyboard and mouse.

Which only works sitting up in a seat looking into a 34" max monitor.
posted by Talez at 6:19 AM on October 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


One of my favorite old controllers was the Wingman Warrior. Incredible for 2.5D Doom style games, less so as the Z axis became more prominent.
posted by Talez at 6:25 AM on October 24, 2015


I've had a bunch of controllers over the years, usually of the very vanilla kind.

The best ones were the XBox360 pad (although I'm taking points out for the shitty rubber in the analogs) for modern games, and the original Microsoft Sidewinder (classic games and emulators). Very close comes the Logic3 Explorer (console version here, but it's the same), if it had drivers to get all buttons working.

The OneElite looks quite good, but at that price I could buy a lot other things.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:40 AM on October 24, 2015


As I get older my patience for any game, and any game controller, decreases. Some of that is just that I can't get over the hump of "bothering to start the game, figure out the mechanics " but a lot of it is fighting, adjusting, not quite making it work, the controls for a southpaw. Left handed game play sucks for me even after years of tinkering and tiresome tweaking.

The Nintendo Wii came the closest to "casual gaming that just works" for me.

If I get a console for the family, I'm considering a Steam system, though. So I am still going to research the new controller. It just may not work very well for me.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:06 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'ma let you finish, but the Wavebird was the best video game controller of all time.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:10 AM on October 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


We already have the ideal controller for PC games: keyboard and mouse.

I came here to say just that. As long as I can put the mouse on the left and re-map the WASD keys to the arrow keys and invert the mouse, I'm happy.
posted by octothorpe at 7:18 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's a matter of the right tool for the right job. I wouldn't want to play Street Fighter, Mega Man, or Resident Evil 2 with a mouse, and I wouldn't want to play Borderlands, Warcraft, or Resident Evil 4 with a controller.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:22 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's the type of games I play, but I've never seen the point of anything else.

Mouse/keyboard is the One True Way for FPSs and MMOs.

Racing and flight games both benefit immensely from analog control. I'd love a nice wheel with force feedback and pedals and a shifter, but those are expensive and bulky, and an XBox 360-style controller or the Steam Controller does just fine.
posted by Foosnark at 7:28 AM on October 24, 2015


A keyboard and mouse are phenomenal but playing games on them destroys my hands and wrists. I'll occasionally get the urge to play an RTS or FPS only to end up regretting it a couple hours later.

One day I'll master how to play with my ergo keyboard and trackball at 75% the level of control.
posted by EsotericAlgorithm at 7:29 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really is dependent on the type of games you play. First person shooters, turn-based strategy games, and point-and-click graphic adventure games were designed for them, but trying to use a keyboard and mouse for literally any other genre is like trying to eat a bowl of soup with a sword and shield. Platform games especially, both 2D and 3D... while I wouldn't describe playing those with a keyboard as literally the worst experience in my entire life, it's certainly not great! (on preview, what Pope Guilty said)

The XBox360 controller is good, but I don't like a couple things about it, particularly how the shoulder triggers aren't mappable for most older games unless you engage in some kind of trickery. Logitech gamepads always seem to work best for me. The Logitech F310 is currently what I use for everything, and I think it's fantastic.
posted by branduno at 7:31 AM on October 24, 2015


I've always hated platform games which probably has much to do with being forced to use a controller to play them.
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh sorry, but about all of these bizarre half-formed experimentations in the links! They are fascinating. It's like they were all designed by people who had never heard, or pretended they never heard, of the SNES and Playstation, and just comedically scratched their heads and going Howwwww would I control a "video" game?? Maybe if I make the keyboard two round keyboards? Maybe if I put a rubber ball to grip on the side of a controller?

Q: "Why did you make the Razer Nostromo, which no human hand can hold?"
A: "No one tried to stop me, apparently!"
posted by branduno at 7:41 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I should have noted in the OP: these controllers were invariably designed to somehow improve FPS play in particular. The SpaceOrb was put out when Descent was a hot game and it seemed like games with "six degrees of freedom" were supposed to be the future. Then a whole generation of console-tuned shooters came along where they designed vertical spaces right out of the games! That's one way to solve the problem I guess.

Only now are we getting some new Descent style games like Sublevel Zero and Descent Underground.
posted by selfnoise at 7:44 AM on October 24, 2015


The best controller is the one software is written to work with.

For better or worse, that's usually the mouse and keyboard.

We're lucky the wired Xbox 360 controller had USB and Windows support out of the box and a not-too-crazy button layout, because otherwise I'm pretty sure we'd still be in the late-90s era where you have to map each button by hand for each game. It gets especially bad when games try to tell you what to do with onscreen text but the game only knows your controller buttons as BUTTON_0 through BUTTON_12.

And I guess that means PC controller designers are best off cloning the most popular console controllers. And console controllers are best off being evolutionary additions to the SNES/PSX style controller.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:44 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I wish the 360 had a better DPAD. I'm probably going to buy a SNES-clone controller next time I need to pad out an Amazon order.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:46 AM on October 24, 2015


The Xbox One d-pad is vastly better than the 360s. Number one reason I bought one.
posted by selfnoise at 7:50 AM on October 24, 2015


The Novint Falcon looks like it's grabbing the gun and yelling DO IT JUST FUCKING DO IT
posted by dudekiller at 7:52 AM on October 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


So what's the verdict on the Steam controller? Crazy? Genius? Crazy genius?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:55 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The SpaceOrb was put out when Descent was a hot game and it seemed like games with "six degrees of freedom" were supposed to be the future

That is pretty neat, actually. I was flippant about the SpaceOrb just now, but it does seem cool how you could use it to move, turn, and strafe all with the same input.

I wish the 360 had a better DPAD

That's another thing I dislike about the 360 controller. I think the Logitech D-pad is better, but not perfect. Some SNES-clone probably is the way to go for some things.

(On preview) The Xbox One d-pad is vastly better than the 360s

Oh! Or that.
posted by branduno at 7:56 AM on October 24, 2015


Never Forget: The 18-Button OpenOffice Mouse, later rebranded as the WarMouse.
posted by schmod at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I wish the 360 had a better DPAD. I'm probably going to buy a SNES-clone controller next time I need to pad out an Amazon order.

I have a 360 controller and the d-pad drives me bonkers. I got Street Fighter IV in the Humble Bundle and I've been trying to learn Ryu's moves, and the way the 360 controller's d-pad works, it's really goddamned hard to, for example, do a Dragon Punch (toward, away, toward+punch) without the controller registering an up or down input and breaking the sequence to jump or duck instead. If the One's controller d-pad is better, that might not be the worst idea.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2015


Were it not for the lack of tactile feedback, a couple of cameras watching the user's hands with CV software would probably be a neat controller. I guess you could rig up some gloves with haptic motors or whatever and maybe infrared LEDs on fingertips/joints to help the software track your hands.

But at this point, it's becoming a clunkier Microsoft Kinect/PixelSense cargo cult project. And if floating your hands in space was a great interface, you'd see more theramins.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:04 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Were it not for the lack of tactile feedback, a couple of cameras watching the user's hands with CV software would probably be a neat controller.

Soft buttons are the devil and why I don't care about the Steam controller.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:05 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I almost bought a Razer Nostromo, because even with like a folded up hand towel for a wrist-rest, gaming on a laptop keyboard makes my whole left arm useless, painful spaghetti after way too short a time.
Thing's basically a WASD keypad with some extra junk. I didn't buy it, because it still needs to rest on a flat surface, which the top of my thigh will just never be.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:09 AM on October 24, 2015


I had the SpaceOrb and it was a great concept ruined by poor execution. The rubber ball control worked as advertised, but was so stiff that it was exhausting to use and surprisingly difficult to control. I still wonder if the concept is worth revisiting.
posted by Eddie Mars at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best controller is a bot.
posted by srboisvert at 8:28 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best controller is the one software is written to work with. ... For better or worse, that's usually the mouse and keyboard.

For games native to the PC, sure, but those are a distinct minority these days. The ones that perplex me are when developers/publishers spend time and money to remove already-functional controller support from pc ports (mass effect).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:37 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


For those who may have missed it, John Siracusa's epic podcast review of game controllers, part 1, Pinching the Harmonica
posted by ccaajj aka chrispy at 8:38 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand mouse+KB zealotry. Different kinds of games are just more appropriate with different control schemes. FPS with a controller can fuck right off though.

I have a little test for the D-pad on any new controller I call the "Contra test". That is, if I can play Contra (the original, baby) on it without dying horribly, it's a good D-pad. Doing well at the game involves a whole lot of ducking under bullets, and if the pad's touchy or glitchy in any way, I tend to get multiple facefuls of pixel. (Most pads I've tried fail spectacularly, including the XB360, as did some $5 SNES knockoffs. Authentic SNES pad works great though, of course.)
posted by neckro23 at 8:40 AM on October 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh my god that OpenOffice mouse. That is just perfect in so many ways.

I can't recommend enough the experience of trying to build your own weirdo controller or keyboard. It's not that difficult or expensive, and it's really fun to watch your own most brilliant ideas instantly disintegrate in the harsh light of reality.
posted by phooky at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mister Moofoo I almost bought a Razer Nostromo, because even with like a folded up hand towel for a wrist-rest, gaming on a laptop keyboard makes my whole left arm useless, painful spaghetti after way too short a time. Thing's basically a WASD keypad with some extra junk. I didn't buy it, because it still needs to rest on a flat surface, which the top of my thigh will just never be.

Yes, laying flat it's awful. But I built a cardboard cradle for my Nostromo, so that it sits against my thigh at the perfect angle for my wrist, and now my left hand is happy basically all the time.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:00 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm so dyspraxic I have terrible troubles with video game controllers, like, neuroconceptually. We got an Xbox One with a Kinect, and that first weekend I played so much Fruit Ninja with the damn Kinect that I got up Monday morning with my damn shoulders feeling like I'd been splitting wood all weekend.
posted by KathrynT at 9:17 AM on October 24, 2015


So, mostly I prefer keyboard/mouse, but there are some games where I just actively don't like how the game plays that way. Assassin's Creed was clearly made for a controller, IMO, though I'm still working on completing the first game so later ones might get better. But there are also games like Binding of Isaac where some people obviously love the keyboard, but I just can't do it. I had a cheap Logitech controller for ages and ages which was okay, but now I've upgraded to an Xbox One controller. I have no idea why they talk in the Engadget review about the One looking like a knockoff of the 360; I really liked it much better, and I have been wondering if, having tried both, a lot of the 360 partisans are people who have larger hands, and I wonder if the Elite is going to wind up being bigger than the One.

Anyway, keyboards aren't perfect. The WADS control scheme has, to me, one fatal flaw: they generally expect you to use WADS with your middle finger on the W. I don't do that, which tends to make the reaches for a lot of the default controls aside from movement weird. The reason I don't do that is because I am a basically-lifelong (like since elementary school) touch-typist, and I haven't owned a keyboard in years that had the home row bumps anywhere but F and J. WADS controls the traditional way would have required that I put my hand in a position where I have literally no idea where it is on the keyboard without looking. The result is usually that I just move some things around for the other controls, but--basically, while a keyboard is great for having a lot of keys, the way that games use that keyboard layout is sometimes not nearly as intuitive as using a controller where everything you could conceivably press is right there and you don't have to look at it.
posted by Sequence at 9:27 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Soft buttons are the devil and why I don't care about the Steam controller.

It has regular buttons. You're probably thinking of one of the prototype modules.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:29 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


We already have the ideal controller for PC games: keyboard and mouse.

FWIW, Splatoon's use of the Wii U controller's motion detector to control the camera and aiming is so pleasant to use that I think it actually surpasses keyboard + mouse for me. Admittedly, before Splatoon I hadn't played an FPS since like 2003, and keyboard + mouse controls might have improved since then.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:40 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


So what's the verdict on the Steam controller? Crazy? Genius? Crazy genius?

Slightly crazy, slightly genius, but not earth-shattering.

Someone who was already sold on the idea of PC gaming on the couch might be pleased by it, but I don't see it winning many converts.

For games that you would already play with an XBox 360 controller, the Steam Controller is mostly better. For games you wouldn't, it's not.
posted by Foosnark at 10:00 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't get why the Xbox controllers seem designed so the grip fits perfectly in your hands with your index fingers resting naturally on the analog triggers (just like holding a pair of guns) and then - PSYCH! - you're actually supposed to rotate it into a less-comfortable position, put your index fingers on the bumper switches, and pull the analog triggers with your middle fingers.

Also Dark Souls is easier with a keyboard and mouse than it is with a controller. The better camera control would feel like cheating in a few places except that every possible cheat feels like fair game in Dark Souls.
posted by straight at 10:32 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a little test for the D-pad on any new controller I call the "Contra test". That is, if I can play Contra (the original, baby) on it without dying horribly, it's a good D-pad. Doing well at the game involves a whole lot of ducking under bullets, and if the pad's touchy or glitchy in any way, I tend to get multiple facefuls of pixel. (Most pads I've tried fail spectacularly, including the XB360, as did some $5 SNES knockoffs. Authentic SNES pad works great though, of course.)

From personal experience I can report that the Wiimote and the 1st gen Dual Shock both perform admirably at this test.

It has regular buttons. You're probably thinking of one of the prototype modules.

The last time I was looking at the Steam controller, it had no d-pad and there was the idea that you'd press particular parts of the thumb touchpads to activate d-pad buttons, so if so then yeah, I'm out of date.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:54 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]



I have a 360 controller and the d-pad drives me bonkers. I got Street Fighter IV in the Humble Bundle and I've been trying to learn Ryu's moves, and the way the 360 controller's d-pad works, it's really goddamned hard to, for example, do a Dragon Punch (toward, away, toward+punch) without the controller registering an up or down input and breaking the sequence to jump or duck instead. If the One's controller d-pad is better, that might not be the worst idea.


I've met a few Street Fighter Pros, and they all hate using gamepads at all because even good ones have trouble recognizing SF's very particular stick movements. With one or two exceptions, the pros all only play with fightsticks. The socket for the fightstick is designed to understand diagonal and quarter turn inputs without a gamepad's wonky interpolation of a down input and a right input as "I thiiiiiink you're inputting a diagonal?"

They're expensive, sadly, so it may not be in your best interests to get one unless you really love the game. But give it some thought if you think you're going to invest some time into it.
posted by shmegegge at 11:01 AM on October 24, 2015


The Holy Grail really is The One-Button Controller, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2015


Yeah, I find SFIV fun but I don't see myself ever being hardcore enough (or, frankly, ever again having reflexes fast enough) to justify an actual stick setup.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2015


When our family had an Apple II+, we had this great joystick for it--probably built in someone's garage, but a cool little self-centering joystick and two big industrial red buttons housed in a plastic box about twice the size of one of those disposable cameras you'd see at weddings in the '90s.

When that joystick eventually broke (and replacing it was cost prohibitive for me at the time), it fell to my Koala Pad, a primitive drawing tablet. Although it could function as a controller for games (barely), it wasn't really designed to.

If you touched in the middle of the pad with your finger, your character would stay still; if you let go (touching nothing) your character would run to the left and up; if you touched on the far right of the pad, your character would run right. I was eventually able to use it for games, but it drove my friends nuts. If I could go back in time, I'd send my then-self a new joystick.
/Give-me-five-bees-for-a-quarter-we'd-say
posted by blueberry at 11:21 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


One button? What games do you play? Everyone knows the most advanced game out there is Progress Quest, using the advanced zero-button UI.
posted by fragmede at 11:53 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I was living at my parents place I really liked playing games in a comfy chair, leaning back, with my feet up. However, I had to play XBox games for that. I'd love a way to play PC games in that state. I'm skeptical of the Steam controller though. I've long wondered about a keyboard on my lap + trackball.

The other thing I'm weird is, when I play several types of games I prefer using a joystick for movement, driving and melee combat. So I wind up shooting with my right hand on a mouse, and controlling the game with my left. So I tried getting a Logitech G13 so I could use a joystick but have keys. It...didn't work. Most games won't take its joystick as movement, and it isn't comfortable resting your finger on it anyway. Also, while the software for mapping the keys is great, there are so many of them I could never remember what I'd mapped where. I should have gotten on Orbweaver, but they don't have a true joystick, just a 4-way switch. Still, waste of money, should have returned it.
posted by Canageek at 12:26 PM on October 24, 2015


I bought the SpaceOrb specifically to play Descent at LAN parties with friends, but returned it after one night of play. Interesting in concept but like Eddie Mars I found it really difficult to control. In particular getting it to distinguish between a "slide" vs. "turn" on any particular axis was problematic.
posted by microscone at 12:49 PM on October 24, 2015


I basically quit playing games on my computer when I stopped being able to plug an Atari-compatible joystick into my C64 or Amiga. Every time I try to play something it's a painful world of trying to make my right index finger click a mouse (RSI means I can't do that without pain) or twisting my hand awkwardly around one so my middle finger hits the LMB, or of fiddling with controller drivers and key mappers on my Mac.

I'd be okay wih strategy or adventure games on my Mac, except they almost always fail to work with my Wacom tablet and I have to dig out the stupid mouse again.

So I just end up in the living room, slouched in a comfortable chair, playing something designed for a control interface that's actually designed for casual use. I have still never found anything superior to the Playstation controller. The PS4 controller is a little weird, with the huge useless touchpad in the middle and the tiny screenshot/selection buttons next to it, but it's otherwise simply the best one I've ever found.
posted by egypturnash at 12:51 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been a keyboard and mouse guy forever but Rocket League made me buy an X-Box controller. I am not regretting the purchase.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:45 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there was a way to sensibly map camera control onto the PS4 pad's gyro, like in Splatoon, then I'd have my perfect controller. Unfortunately all my attempts so far have been hilariously unsuccessful.
posted by these are science wands at 1:51 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a way you can use the Steam controller's gyro to FPS aim. I have heard some people trying it out, but since I don't have a steam controller I can't tell you how well it works.
posted by selfnoise at 2:04 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Q A O P Space, amirite? 'cos who needs more than two dimensions?
posted by scruss at 2:05 PM on October 24, 2015


scruss: "Q A O P Space"

I can almost hear the jump sound from Chuckie Egg.

We wore out the space bar and had to start using M.
posted by these are science wands at 2:07 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I won a Spaceorb once (thanks, random Forsaken tournament at a LAN party!) and yes, while it does seem like a great idea in theory, it was mostly junk. I played the vast majority of my Descent with either a keyboard (no mouse) or a Sidewinder 3D Pro., and I'd still take both options over a Spaceorb any day.

Only now are we getting some new Descent style games like Sublevel Zero and Descent Underground.

I've been playing both of these recently. Descent Underground is still in early access and thus quite unfinished, but it does a pretty good job of actually feeling like Descent, though something about the hit detection still feels off, like ships are either too difficult to hit or absorb too much damage. Sublevel Zero, though, is a real revelation: how have we not gotten a roguelike Descent until now? The vague 8-bit look to everything actually helps to make it look more like classic Descent than Descent Underground does, and having to avoid dying gives the game that extra tension that classic single-player Descent always evoked for me. It's different enough from Descent Underground that the two co-exist quite happily.
posted by chrominance at 2:16 PM on October 24, 2015


I have a vague recollection about the Space Orb being able to bypass Descent's limit on turning rate, that you could change your heading as fast as the device would move, whereas other control methods would be limited to a certain angle per rendered frame or whatever they measure turn rate in.

Was that actually a thing, or am I misremembering?
posted by radwolf76 at 2:48 PM on October 24, 2015


The last time I was looking at the Steam controller, it had no d-pad and there was the idea that you'd press particular parts of the thumb touchpads to activate d-pad buttons, so if so then yeah, I'm out of date.

That's pretty much how it is. Both the left and right touchpads can be assigned to d-pad buttons, or other buttons, or whatever -- either on click or on touch. Or they can be analog sticks, or can emulate mouse/trackball. And the outer edges also can trigger additional things (like holding down Shift to run). But there's an actual thumb stick and the usual A/B/X/Y buttons as well.
posted by Foosnark at 4:12 PM on October 24, 2015


a Dragon Punch (toward, away, toward+punch)

I think I found your problem, Pope Guilty. The command is toward, down, down-forward, like you press forward and then do two thirds of a hadoken. SF4 is actually really generous with input corrections — you can press down-forward and just move your thumb to down and back to down-forward and that'll work.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:18 PM on October 24, 2015


the ideal input device is a keyboard and the ideal game is Zork
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:27 PM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think either I'm confused or you are- we're talking about the fast, rising uppercut, right? The input in the game's command list is a z on the stick. Nothing about down.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:32 PM on October 24, 2015


Are you talking about a Shoryuken? It is indeed Forward, Down, Down-Forward+Punch as DoctorFedora suggests. Not sure what the Z means.
posted by selfnoise at 5:37 PM on October 24, 2015


My favorite combo was an Ideazon Fang and the Microsoft Sidewinder Mouse.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:59 PM on October 24, 2015


Now that I look at it (and hey, I can do the Shoryuken pretty much at will on the 360 controller now that I know how to actually do it!), it looks like the input in the command list would be useful if you are using a stick, since toward, down, down-toward would be a z-shaped pattern if you followed the direction the top of the stick moved in as you did it. I have no idea why it doesn't just look like this.

This is what the command list in the game says is the input to do a Dragon Punch.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:16 PM on October 24, 2015


Keyboard + Mouse is useless for couch play on a TV. Assuming wireless mouse and keyboard (because why would you punish yourself with wires draped over your legs), you end up putting the mouse on the arm of the chair or sofa and the keyboard in your lap.

The keyboard is now in an odd position for you, forcing you pull your elbow in and raise one shoulder to use it. The mouse sensor is unhappy too: it's on fabric or leather or something, probably getting clogged with cat hair, and possibly on a curved surface as well. It frequently falls off if you take your hand off it for a moment.

THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES. The extra distance between you and the PC means your wireless devices aren't always managing to transmit properly. Sometimes there's an obstruction between the devices and the PC. Sometimes that obstruction is you.

APOCALYPSE! You want to get up and get a drink. Now you're looking for someplace to toss aside the keyboard, but the cat is sleeping on the sofa next to you and the coffee table already has junk on it and there just isn't room. You're screwed! Buried alive underneath your poor choice of controllers! Unless you solve this issue you will die here from from dehydration, and someday soon a paramedic is going to be standing over your dessicated, partially cat-devoured corpse saying 'this is why you use a gamepad'. His partner nods sagely.
posted by um at 6:41 PM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


We all know who came up with the OpenOffice/Warmouse, right? (Hint: not OpenOffice.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:17 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Q A O P Space, amirite?

You seem to have misspelled Q W O P.
posted by fragmede at 10:26 PM on October 24, 2015


Anybody else ever play racing games with the NeGcon? It was awesome. It had analog buttons before they were a thing on consoles, and the twisting action was such a better way to steer than an analog stick. It was the best way to play Gran Turismo on the PlayStation 1.
posted by drklahn at 10:44 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Keyboard + Mouse is useless for couch play on a TV. Assuming wireless mouse and keyboard (because why would you punish yourself with wires draped over your legs), you end up putting the mouse on the arm of the chair or sofa and the keyboard in your lap.

I've played from the couch plenty of times. Keyboard + Mouse on a lap desk (which apparently haven't been invented on your universe), usb extension cable routed to one side so it's not on my legs. Your scenario also ignores that console controllers also have wires, or may be wireless while somehow not having the same downsides as wireless K+M.

It's weird how some of you guys go to such mental gymnastics to claim that K+M gaming is impossible from the couch. I've done it plenty of times. It's no biggie. I have an Xbox controller too, for games where it's more comfortable to use.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:18 AM on October 25, 2015


Indeed, Fleebnork, keyboard + mouse on a lap desk with a good wireless keyboard and mouse makes easy chair gaming amazing.
posted by xedrik at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2015


Couple things I'd like to throw in here, especially about certain control interfaces and their non-gaming functions.

SpaceOrb: better suited as a CAD tool, for the ability to articulate an object in 3 dimensions. Several engineers I know live by these devices, as they mean they can twist, tilt, zoom from a single control device.

Razer Nostromo and the similar Logitech G13: an excellent tool for live video switching/control, or as a video editing tool where the keys are mapped macro/functions used repetatively and often. So much better than having to map a standard keyboard or use keyboard shortcuts (that often require holding down multiple keys). Set up one key to do one thing, done and done.

Of course, I am also an avid MIDI controller freak, and I love having a canvas of buttons and knobs and sliders to play with and customize and tweak. But then again, I deal with these kinds of devices every day. Ever played with a video switcher or router? Yeah, most of them you have to map every button to a specific function, other wise it's just a big pretty board full of blinking lights and not much use. But that's the point of professional gear. It can be adapted to your use, not forcing you to adapt to it. Unfortunately, muscle memory is a wonderful heuristic device that many people rely on to use any tool they have to use, and the standard mouse and keyboard (or game controller) is so ubiquitous that learning new muscle memory patterns takes practice and patience (something we are socially trained to be disinclined to doing).

I personally prefer a controller for a lot of FPS or console-to-PC ports. I play GTA:V with my Xbox 360 controller connected to my PC (haven't gotten used to the XBoxOne controller yet, but will likely have to when my 360 controller dies, as they always do). But for non-twitch based games, I really like either a keyboard and trackpad/trackball. My biggest gripe about using a mouse is having to pick it up constantly (yes, I know, I'm not using it "right", which is apparent). I use a thumb-trackball most of the time, though I really miss my Logitech Turbo Mouse Pro (with it's giant blue ball of doom). Of course, I love my Apple Magic Trackpad, but would never even think of trying to use that for precision gaming. Right tool for the job and all that, again.




Last bit, but my favorite:
The Namco NegCon controller. A very unique controller for it's time, one of the first with an "analogue" like twisting motion, which made it very useful for precise turning on early PS1 and PS2 games (like the much missed Wipeout series of games, my personal favorite). It also featured two special buttons that were fully analog (meaning that the input was based upon how far in you pushed them, making them great as "gas" and "brakes", versus simply having them be "on" or "off", you could adjust how much acceleration or braking you applied). All of these features combined, when playing Wipeout (up to Wipeout Fusion) meant that you could hold a curve way better than anyone using a regular controller (even the PS2 controller had less analog accuracy). I went through three of them between 1997 and 2006 (and finding that 3rd one in a working condition was a rare find).
posted by daq at 12:57 PM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


No love for the Colecovision controller?
posted by Chrysostom at 2:15 PM on October 25, 2015


Soul Calibur with the Fishing Controller

n-thing the NegCon. I was a sad puppy the day work asked for it back. Although I was still better at Wipeout with the vanilla pad.

...and now I have Chemical Beats on the internal jukebox.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:03 AM on October 26, 2015


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