Sunday, 11 January 2009

Spending time with the joystick...

Alright first off, this is a rather old blog task XD still studying the banana controller are we? =P Anyway enough of this tomfoolery on my part TO BUSINESS WE SHALL GET!!!

I may be an art student but for some reason I rarely appreciate the design of a console or its controllers, I guess I’ve always been a fan of the games themselves. There is however one instance where I truly looked at a console and gone phwoar, but I’ll get back to that later, although I think I’ve already mentioned it in a previous post =P.

The design of consoles and their accessories have often followed the times, with early home version of pong and the Atari 2600 following the grey plasticy dullness of the 70s and this trend of greyness following through to the 90s with the snes, the megadrive and neo geo only breaking the trend by being molded in black plastic and of course as time went on the consoles changed with the times, now we have the applewii, the shineh3 and the at the moment looking like something from a hippie film 360. The interface controls of these consoles have rarely changed, with there being the on button, bit where you plug in your controller and the place where you input your cartridge/disk. The main differences would be the inclusion of memory card slots.

Now as for controllers, *whistle* they’ve been through the most changes starting off as being a lowly rotary dial to move a stick up and down a screen to the wiimote. It seems that controllers only seem to get more complicated over the years, well I say complicated, more really the number of buttons has increased. Have a look at the Home Version of Pong developed in 1975, a simple setup, like I said one dial, or two in this case because it was a two player game but this was all that was needed back in the day.

The next stage was changing this dial into a stick, or as it was more aptly name THE JOYSTICK! This piece of kit was basically a stick which took over the place of the dial and offered much more in terms of maneuverability, the joystick of the 80s often had one extra button, probably for shooting games, joysticks still live on today but are often used for other things, flying aircraft and for laying the beat down on kids at your local arcade, they are rarely used for mainstream consoles and have been replaced in spirit by the analog stick, I’ll go more into that later.

Next the revolutionary design of the Nintendo entertainment system, the first real joypad, with directional pad, start and select button and the action buttons while only two offered an interesting gaming experience, I have to say I loved this controller when I had one, although I have to say it was bested by the sega mega drive’s controller which offered the same layout but was much more rounded and more comfortable to handle. The next incarnation of the entertainment system the SNES rectified this and also had a rounded controller, although I can’t say much for handling as i’ve never actually owned a snes D:.

Now another controller that came out on the nes tickled my fancy much more, and also began the start of the additional peripherals to play certain games, in this case it’s the first light gun! Or otherwise known as THE ZAPPER, this was a gun shaped controller used for games such as Duck hunt, an amazing piece of kit which lives on today as light guns in arcades much like its joystick ancestor.

Now Next in line for the heritage is *drumroll* the playstation flight controller which introduced to the world THE ANALOG STICK, yes this lil beauty is the joystick in spirit form, well it first came in a package of two, designed for use with flight sim, this dual analog system was them imported over to the playstation, which became the next staple controller, with its four button interface and dpad, stick layout which is the basis for later controllers such as the dreamcast and Xbox.

The next in line for the analog stick awesomeness is the N64 controller, which offered a pressure sensitive control stick which acted more like a digital mouse and offered almost 360 degree movements. However the N64 changed things around a little bit, it had an interesting setup having c buttons and a z button at the back alongside the normal setup, I have to say it was comfortable and on some occasion felt like there were two controllers in my hand as switching to the dpad made it feel like I was changing the controller completely. It also introduced the world to the rumble pack, which was just amazing in how it made the player feel like they were getting hit, a revolutionary trait which has continued in mainstream consoles to this day, to give it that extra edge.

The next set of controllers ranging from the Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube did little to change the experience except maybe update the aesthetic and in the case of the Gamecube change the cbuttons for a cstick. The real update comes in the latest generation of controllers. The main aspect (shown with the gamecube’s wavebird) is the fact all of the latest controllers are wireless, getting rid of that restriction and fear of pulling the console to the floor.

But of course the true innovation is the motion sensor aspect of this gen, while the ps3 has tilt sensors, the wii is where it shines in motion sensor gaming, allowing players to emulate the characters on screen for a more immersive experience.

Ergonomically, I see that controllers have become more suited to the hands, like in holding the Xbox 360 controller, my hand wraps around it neatly making for a comfortable experience, I would say the same for the ps3 but in honest opinion I feel it’s gotten less comfortable than the ps2 controllers, possible due to the new design of the R2 and L2 buttons.

But enough of these controller talk, I want my virtual reality D:

" You can feel your eyes burning already can't you?"

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