Friday, October 07, 2005

Control the Chaos: Part I

Controllers are among a few essentials to a gaming experience. A controller and how it is set up can make or break a game. When researching for this topic I found so much stuff I will have to split it into two articles. In this one I will explain different types of controls for game controllers.
  • Joystick. The joystick is just about the most recognized gaming controls around. The benefits include being easy to learn and use. It's great for both 2D and 3D controlling. I'm sure this control doesn't need much more explaining.
  • D-Pad. This is the cousin of the joystick. Practically the same, it differs only in appearance (there is no grippable piece in the center) and a little in function (most d-pads are 8-directional).
  • Button. This is also a very much recognized control. It serves to activate certain modes of play, fire a weapon, jump, pick something up, etc. It can also have certain effects when held down, such as an accelerator in a racing game.
  • Trigger. A close relative of the button (in that it is one), the difference is in how it is used. It is either pressed by the index or middle fingers, and is usually associated with weapon firing.
  • Keyboard. The only thing that sets this apart from a bunch of buttons is text entry. We all know how nightmarish it is to enter names into hiscores with two buttons.
  • Mouse. Somewhat similar to a joystick, except its movement is constant (no boundaries). If you can't reach that far, pick it up and move it toward you.
  • Throttle. This is essentially a single-axis joystick. It is normally used with speed, usually of air or spacecrafts.
  • Switch. Yes, it is different from the button. Switches are either in two states, on or off, and they don't require holding down by a finger, unlike the button. Switches also come in 3-state and 4-state varieties.
  • Scroll Wheel. This is most commonly found on mice and non-gaming devices (mp3-players, radios, etc.). It is usually used in the same way as a throttle or to scroll through a list.
  • Microphone. Used to detect claps and voice commands. The Nintendo DS has one of these, but it still isn't too common.
  • Touch Screen. Another DS control. This is mostly used for PDAs and tablet PCs in place of a mouse.
Now for some fun. These controls were all tested at one time or another, even though they sound rediculous.
  • Brain Band. Atari actually tried it, and it even worked! Unfortunately, it picked up muscle control as well, so most players played the game just by scrunching their facial features, leading to massive headaches. It never got out of the lab.
  • Eye Tracker. This is another Atari flop: watch where the player looks and use that as input. Unfortunately, the computers were too slow back then to make it feasible, and the computers got too confused anyway.
  • Bike. This has actually been used! On the special features of the movie Super Size Me, the guy goes to a school with a successful exercise program and finds these awesome stationary bikes hooked up to a PS2. Two kids are peddling hard as they battle it out in a motocross race. Pretty cool.
  • Virtual Reality Glove. This actually got on the market, but failed horribly, because the sensors pretty much sucked back then. This looks like it might make a comeback, though.
Anything I forgot?


Blogger Mr. Levingston said...

wo-oah! thats awsome!! some of these things should try making comebacks!! some of them might work alot better with todays technology! especially the brain band, and virtual reality glove...

Saturday, October 08, 2005 4:50:00 AM PST  

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