controllers, still

The device I discussed previously is still on my drawing board. Two thoughts directly applicable have come to mind. First, for a number of reasons six-key is as good as eight-key given I’m keeping a variety of other buttons. Second, this is probably a ‘one off’ device for me and only for me.

While musing upon it, however, I got to thinking of my xbox 360 controller. I have some problems with that, and working this reminded me of them.

First and foremost, I have a love-hate relationship with first person shooters. Specifically, I get close with the aim fairly quickly. Getting that precise aim, however, is not easy for me. Not using my thumb, anyway. Second, the shape of the device is slightly wrong – my hands ache after a while. Now I know the controller is a change from the first version – it’s smaller and lighter. Oddly, the ‘smaller’ part used to be one of my objections – getting my fingers wrapped are what messed me up as much as anything else.

Still, I’ve been contemplating an alternative. It may actually be viable for marketing. I can tell right off it’s not going to work ‘right’ on the first draft. But when I can afford to make this, I’m going to – I think…

General description: Three components connected by wire. (Eventually I’d prefer to go to two, but to get this as an initial hack… I digress.) The centerbox is what will hold the xbox circuitboard. I’ll keep the center button on it, but everything else moves. Left hand looks almost exactly like a wii nunchuck. A somewhat eggshaped object that has two buttons (remarkably like LT and LB on the 360) and a joystick. Oops, no joystick. It will have a d-pad instead, plus a couple of buttons. In the right hand will be something that looks a lot like a pistol grip. Again we’ve got the RT and RB, and it keeps the four-way button pad with two extra buttons.

I’ve kept the extra buttons on each side somewhat vague. One on each will be the start and back buttons, while the other pair will do what is presently done by clicking the thumbstick. So how do I manage the sticks? Tiltpads (aka tiltboards). A two-axis accelerometer, measuring tilt (in analog value – ie the more tilt the stronger the signal) of the item held.

One minor hurdle — centering. The thumbsticks do so automatically. Since that’s not going to happen with these, I probably need a means of signaling ‘centered’ besides the lack of movement on the screen. (after all, that could just be due to terrain.)

hmmm. Reviewing Adam Thole‘s recent pad I see he’s added a z-axis which would partially replace the ‘click’ of the stick. I’m not sure how you’d manage click and hold, though. Ponder, ponder…

A perfect controller would be functionally invisible – the user would forget they had it. I’m aiming for that result here, I think.

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