Controller, hands on, hands off!

Game controller race between the 3 big game companies and the traditional control that we may have missed.

E3 2009 is very exciting. We see all the big boys in gaming industry battle for control with Nintendo as the father of all. With project Natal by Microsoft and the prototype wand controller by Sony, Nintendo sure in tough ground now. Every body is going to the non traditional controllers for all the next gen consoles. Sure we have seen many demo of how things may work but something just cannot go further than the true sense of control. All of these control need a lot of space, not a kind solution for crammed apartments.

Let's look into history for 1 moment. When Wii 1st came about, both Microsoft and Sony unofficially comment "Gamers don't want motion controls." Yet let's see how that statement have change today. Nintendo have made big killing using motion control. Microsoft and Sony sense that this control type is working, but instead of running for the ball game they both made changes so that both new controls would be different from Wii's.

In depth analysis of both Sony's motion wand and Microsoft's project Natal shows that both control have their limitation and it is portrait in very obvious manner.

Starting with Project Natal. Wow... the demo with Milo sure shock the world, but after seeing demo on this website prove that what Sony's Koller comment on Gamasutra has a very obvious point. Here is what Koller quote was

"depth issues on the Z axis" and "Microsoft's [solution] is going to have issues with shooting games, for example"

If we strip off all the technology and went back to the core of gaming we will see the main issue here is mimicking real live experiences. Holding a gun for example, we still need to pull the trigger, we still need to move forward, backward and sideways. The early stage of Project Natal made these gestures seem counter intuitive.

Another example is driving. Who would like to hold the steering position on mid air without a real steering. For me I rather get a real steering. We can feel the bumps and groove of the pavement, we will know if we scratch the car from the side or hit it from the rear. How will the game know if we want to accelerate full or partially with Natal?

Motion wand by Sony is both exciting and cool. But the approach is not as straight forward as Wii's. You need Eye toy and both wands to get the full experience. For most gamers buying 3 more controllers just to play a game is totally out of the question. Only hardcore and the more able will find these controllers obtainable.

These limitation for both console doesn't mean the end for motion base control. We are just at the dawn of the "next-next gen controller."

Real time strategy (RTS) is made possible using Sony's wand but not quite sure how it will work with Natal. Looking back on the last few RTS both on Xbox 360 and PS3, make me think that "what crap are they giving use now." Both console show poor replicas of the great RTS on PC. Nintendo have that pointing problem solved ages ago. But why Wii never get RTS into motion? That still remain an unanswered question.

Let's not forget about our portable consoles. Nintendo DS (NDS) and PlayStation Portable (PSP) have been entertaining us on the go. NDS have gave us tons of crap and tons of gold too. The good 1s is really remarkable. Totally better than most games on PSP. But when it comes to RTS only 1 game made the mark on NDS. Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings sure shade a light and become the standard of RTS on portable console. Sure RTS on NDS is better played with the touch screen, but how about on a far superior console like PSP?

This left us with control once again.

What made RTS attractive on the PC is that everyone can play it regardless of skills. It is both easy to learn but hard to master.

The questions remain like these

  • Who want DotA on PSP?
  • Starcraft on PSP anyone?
  • Kirov reporting (Red Alert) on PSP?

These questions have been in my head and finally resolved with a possible solution. But it is better so show you how than to just tell. Wait for my next post where the show begins.

[This post can also be found at and Facebook]

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