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Can New Game Control Schemes Hope To Match the PC Keyboard?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the precision-and-complexity dept.

Input Devices 202

An opinion piece on Gamasutra discusses how, in spite of the fancy new motion control systems that have come to console gaming, the PC's keyboard and mouse setup is still unreplaceable for many titles and genres. Quoting: "With over 100 keys to choose from (back of the box quotation right there), the possibilities are near endless, if you start to think of shift and control functions altering the purpose of keys. It means that, when the developers start to make their game, they don't have to worry about the limitations of the interface, knowing that, if all else fails, they can always assign the compass to K, even if that's a bit of a stretch to all but the pianists. The keyboard is the friend of ambition, and ArmA 2 is the testament to that, in all its surrealist, broken glory. ... It's the same reason RTS games have found a home on the PC for so long, able to use the skills people accumulate moving around windows and clicking on icons to command troops and manipulate their battle lines. Developers taking advantage of what we already know to teach us something we don't is what gaming is all about."

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202 comments

The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (5, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746107)

Control shape is arbitrary, just like the number of possible bindings. Many people use WASD with space for jumping, I use Q and E instead of A and D because it's more comfortable.

What position my hand rests in is entirely up to me, the controls are never too large or too small. And when you consider that the signals are what counts you've got keyboards in all sorts of shapes and sizes, even balls up wierd "gamepads" and the like.

I wouldn't be surprised if pretty soon keyboards start shipping with the CTRL ALT and Shift keys moved to the space between the numbers and the F# keys.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1, Insightful)

ragethehotey (1304253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746167)

When you design games completely open ended and based on the keyboard for RTS games, more often than not it becomes a game of who can master the controls, not who can actually master the game itself. (If you disagree, find me someone over the age of 40 that can play a clickfest game like starcraft well)

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (4, Insightful)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746241)

Learning to input your commands into a game is *part* of the game. It's one of the skill-dependent aspects, just like understanding the strategies is. A different game would have different requirements (for instance, some sort of turn-based Starcraft would rely far less on speed of the player). It's like many other good games; The challenge exists on multiple levels.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (3, Insightful)

pantherace (165052) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746375)

Solution: Don't play Starcraft.

I know 40+ year olds who are good at games like Supreme Commander. (I speak as someone who was in the top 100 of FA, in the months after it launched.) Reason being, not because they click like crazy, but because they are devious. (Old age & Trickery, etc) Where Supreme Commander is slow enough people can use thought, and not have to fight the interface, as with Starcraft.

There are games where you are fighting the interface. It shouldn't be that way, games should have a good interface. If the game requires a clickfest, then the problems are deeper, in it's design. I consider games like that to have flawed designs, if they want to be played by people like me.

I'm sure someone has done something as crazy as 'real-time' chess, or such. Funny how well that game holds up even in the computer game era.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746943)

I am in a UT clan that has at least two members over 50. Both of them are good at the game and regularly dispatch younger players with ease. At 32, I'm actually one of the younger members of the clan.

We get the occasional teen punk who comes in talking shit and ends up getting owned by us "old timers". StarCraft is a slower paced game than UT, so given time I'm sure any gamer over the age of 40 could master the controls.

can you say (1)

patitomr (991495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746177)

<quote><p>I wouldn't be surprised if pretty soon keyboards start shipping with the CTRL ALT and Shift keys moved to the space between the numbers and the F# keys.</p></quote>

Ctrl-C nightmare?

Re:can you say (1)

Krizdo4 (938901) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746469)

Ctrl-C nightmare?

Why?
Hit C with your thumb while one of the other fingers hold F1 (standing in for control)

At least with my hand, it's a more relaxed arrangement.

Re:can you say (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746721)

It does feel more relaxed but the problem is that you have to move your hand away from the normal typing position. With the current layout I can type stuff in all caps relatively easily because my hands are still in the correct position even holding the shift key. With your proposed layout I would have to type with my thumbs which is more awkward. Try typing something while holding F1, you will find it is much harder.

Re:can you say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746763)

I got a dozen tabs of firefox help before i gave up

Re:can you say (1)

Targen (844972) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747373)

With the current layout I can type stuff in all caps relatively easily because my hands are still in the correct position even holding the shift key. With your proposed layout I would have to type with my thumbs which is more awkward.

IT'S A FEATURE, NOT A BUG

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746197)

chinga tu madre

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746547)

Second that, i used Q/A for up/down and C/B for left/right, i remember that being the default binding for some game i had on the sinclair spectrum.
Most games with keyboard control would let you customize the keys, and i never had a joystick for my sinclair so keyboard control was my only option. In fact, the sinclair didn't even have joystick ports by default, you required a third party interface card and there were several different types of such card so virtually every game had a keyboard option and possibly up to 4 different joystick options.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747257)

i used Q/A for up/down...

As an emacs user, I prefer to write movements as elisp expressions which I then evaluate with Ctrl-x Ctrl-e.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28747445)

Good luck at being effective in a FPS with that kind of setup.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (2, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746751)

Control shape is arbitrary, just like the number of possible bindings. Many people use WASD with space for jumping, I use Q and E instead of A and D because it's more comfortable.

What position my hand rests in is entirely up to me, the controls are never too large or too small.

Absolutely. I'm always a little confused at first by people that claim things about a key being "a bit of a stretch to all but the pianists" because my primary control keys are in the middle of the keyboard (TFHV), and not off to the side like the normal WASD or your QWES. I never did understand why those keys were used, other than someone not thinking of taking the keyboard and moving it a few inches to the left. It's a rare desk that doesn't have the room for it. (At the time that the current primary control schemes became prevalent, notebook computers weren't terribly common in gaming, so weren't a factor in determining popularity.)

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747001)

I think that's more to do with "touch typing" than anything else. With WASD your left hand is pretty much already in position for typing once you bring your right hand over from the mouse.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747203)

If that was true why the **** would they choose wasd? Touch typing default position is with the index finger on the F making esdf much more "normal" (incidentally, I use esdf) - also esdf has the added bonus of more keys surrounding your hand giving you more buttons to panic with.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (2, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747699)

WASD also keeps you nearby to the traditional "alter function" keys - Shift for running/walking, ctrl/alt for strafing or "sneaking", tab for weapon or preassigned group cycling, etc.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

WCLPeter (202497) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747761)

If that was true why the **** would they choose wasd?

Because few people have really flexible hands. Using WASD allows the pinky to hit the control and shift keys, which are the "sprint" and "crouch" commands in many games, without taking your fingers off of the movement keys.

Touch typing default position is with the index finger on the F making esdf much more "normal" (incidentally, I use esdf)

Congratulations on having flexible hands. However if I, and many people I know, were to use ESDF, everytime we wanted to sprint or crouch our fingers would come off the movement keys; kind of defeats the purpose of using ESDF.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747089)

It's more natural to stretch out a finger than to curl one back and press a key with the end of it. WASD is more based on the home keys. W and E both require that you move your finger to the side, though, which is not good for it. The arrow keys should have been on the left side of the keyboard, and would have been if we had imagined the mouse sooner.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747659)

WASD was chosen because the first games which used it were before the mouse was popular. Think AppleII and so forth.

Add in multi-player support on a single keyboard, and there you go.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746941)

Yeah I've gone to WASD but I wished game makers standardized on ESDF instead since it means there are more keys around the "triangle" you can use.

ESDF indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28747369)

Why the guys at id or wherever chose WASD over ESDF is something I will never understand.

With ESDF your hand remain on the typing home row all the time which makes chatting and finding the keys in case your hand left for the F or Escape keys much faster and easier. Also you have more keys available to your left free to bind to whatever gun you like.

Re:The reason the keyboard is popular is simple (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747443)

Not to mention the F key on most keyboards has the little touch-type bump to help you make sure you're on it.

i love the keyboard and mouse (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746129)

I just wish it were taken seriously. Nowadays games are developed for console first, then ported to PC after many months, sometimes never. Even then, the ported games often have incredibly poor controls for moving, camera, and other things. PC gaming should be given the respect it deserves across all genres, not just RTS.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746293)

Depends on the game of course.

But this is the rebuttal from a PC gamer that switched to consoles.

I don't have to upgrade my hardware.

For example, I bought Warhammer: AoR: My computer met the minimum specs. But it ran like a piece of dog crap tossed in to the wind. So I upgraded, spent $150 on the best video card I could find on NewEgg. That didn't work, so I went and upgraded to an Athlon 2.4 (the last, best hope for single core people on an AM2 with non-upgradeable BIOS).

None of this helped. Everything went really well until I'd go to take a keep. PVP was pretty decent, unless it has tons of pew pew effects. When it came to keep taking I just couldn't hang, a new frame every 10 seconds for the keeps really close to OPFOR's main city, being MT that pretty much shelved me, I rolled back into a door blocker.

It turns out, that most of the code was written to take advantage of dual core.

That pretty much told me to stop upgrading my equipment and just start buying consoles, where everyone is on the same playing field.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28747343)

And because you have only, like what, 2 or 4 buttons on a console game controller the games are all dumbed down to work within those constraints. They are further dumbed down to make them accessible to the braindead mainstream console gaming masses. By the time a PC version gets made, it's too late and the game has already been so crippled that it would require serious amounts of redevelopment to make it anything more than a joke to PC gamers.

It's also a myth that console gamers don't have to upgrade. Every time a new console comes out, you are upgrading. Every time a new peripheral comes out (ie. guitar hero, rock band, ddr, anything to do with wii controller), you are upgrading. When your PS3/360 runs out of hard drive space and you replace it, you are upgrading. When you pay for All to play games on the equivalent of yesteryear's PC hardware or worse when you consider the hardware in the PS3/360 is already about 3-4 generations behind.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747517)

It turns out PC games have recommended specifications on them. It also turns out that PC games have an active community. Had you bothered to utilize these two things with help in your trouble shooting, you wouldn't have ran into this problem. Besides, socket AM2 fully supports dual-core processors and it's a wonder why you didn't get one in the first place. Any person who claims to be a PC gamer at any point and doesn't know these things is either outright lying or just really ignorant.

Honestly, minimum requirements are terrible to follow. Yes, the game will run, but even on the lowest settings it won't be smooth. It's what their bosses want them to support. So they have to make sure it works with that hardware.

Secondly, while I guess it's possible, I do highly doubt that your motherboard didn't support dual-core CPU's. It's not like it was exactly new technology at the time.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746309)

I'm not a gamer so maybe I'm missing something here, but why couldn't game consoles support the regular keyboard and mouse in addition to the controller? It sure would make porting PC games to consoles easier, or the player could be given both options. Seems like the best of both worlds, no?

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746385)

I'm not a gamer so maybe I'm missing something here, but why couldn't game consoles support the regular keyboard and mouse in addition to the controller? It sure would make porting PC games to consoles easier, or the player could be given both options. Seems like the best of both worlds, no?

Most console developers have waged a war to disassociate the fact that a console is basically a glorified, locked down personal computer. The current generation support keyboards (for text input), but go out of their way to ensure that they serve no other function in games.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746399)

As a rule, they do, they just almost never get used. Similarly, console controllers generally work with PCs, you just rarely find a game taking advantage of them.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746525)

Almost any modern game that is cross platform with the consoles usually includes the ability to use a gamepad, mapped out exactly how it is on a console.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747299)

Almost any modern game that is cross platform with the consoles usually includes the ability to use a gamepad

As I understand SanityInAnarchy's complaint it's that not enough games are "cross platform with the consoles". Either they're PC games designed for the keyboard or they're console games released on one, two, or three consoles and no PC. For example, what's the closest thing to Mario Party or Super Smash Bros. on a PC?

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747431)

With increased presence of gamepad use on PC, you will see more games that support that style of gameplay control. Also, those are both 'social' type games, which isnt PC's strength. Its called 'personal' for a reason. I get what you are saying, i just think you used bad examples.

Then what is a social computer? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747591)

Also, those are both 'social' type games, which isnt PC's strength. Its called 'personal' for a reason.

Your comment implies the existence of a "social computer". What kind of "social computer" were you thinking about, and how can indie developers make games for it?

Re:Then what is a social computer? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747667)

Also, those are both 'social' type games, which isnt PC's strength. Its called 'personal' for a reason.

Your comment implies the existence of a "social computer". What kind of "social computer" were you thinking about, and how can indie developers make games for it?

I was merely implying that PCs are generally designed with one user at time in mind, its a 'personal' experience. Game consoles are the 'social' computer.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746519)

THe momentum is swinging the OTHER way. ALOT of PC games come with gamepad support now, especially the Xbox360 controller. I have the $20 MS wireless receiver that lets you use your Xbox wireless peripherals on PC. Its nice sometimes to lean back in the chair and chill. I played Ghostbusters on PC with it, Battlestations:Pacific too. I would never dream of using it in TF2 though, even though it fully supports it.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746727)

The keyboard and mouse do just seem to work better than a gamepad. At a LAN one of my friends who has a 360 (and thrashes everybody else when playing on it) tried using a 360 controller to play halo 1 on the PC. It did not take long for him to go back to the mouse because it was significantly inferior and this is with a player who spent most of his time playing with a 360. I am surprised that they have not been able to make a controller which works better. If you think about a mouse it was never designed for playing games, even gaming mice are just a better version of a standard mouse, they have exactly the same principle they are just more accurate and tend to have more buttons.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747317)

The keyboard and mouse do just seem to work better than a gamepad. At a LAN

But what if you only have one gaming PC or one copy of a game available? Then you had better hope that the game supports gamepads and split-screen; unfortunately, few PC games do.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747561)

I'm not a huge gamer, but I have this terrible prejudice that a mouse provides excessive precision -- that is, the level of hand eye coordination required to use a thumb-stick style controller is a lot more comparable to the level of hand eye coordination required to actually shoot a gun.

(Of course, if the game is simulating operating a vehicle that has a screen in it, a mouse is fair game)

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747703)

I think you are bending the reality to fit your perception. Mouse and joysticks have completely different schemes. Thumbsticks will always come back and return to 0 state, dead center. A mouse will never auto-center. Because of this you are always auto correcting and fighting the resistance in the stick vs the ability with a mouse to easily plant your aim in one spot. With joysticks, precision is much harder to acheive and maintain.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747765)

Wha? You have described one of the big reasons that mice provide too much precision, which is what I was complaining about.

I guess I didn't word it very well.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746641)

There are two reasons:

1. Console manufacturers don't want the device to be looked at as a PC, so they don't push keyboard + mouse type input devices.

2. For a lot of games, a keyboard + mouse would give such a huge advantage over the gamepad that it is considered unfair for the other players. There was a company that made (or attempted to make) a mouse or some type of controller for the xbox that would work with Halo 3, but IIRC the Halo developers and Microsoft wouldn't allow it to be as accurate as a mouse should be (API level etc). I'm really fuzzy on the details of this so I may have something wrong in this example though...

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28747163)

Keyboard and mouse only works if you are sitting at a desk, or other flat surface.

People generally don't play console games sitting at a desk.

Do you love four keyboards and mice? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747267)

but why couldn't game consoles support the regular keyboard and mouse in addition to the controller?

For two reasons:

  • The control APIs on consoles allow players to plug in four distinct gamepads. I don't believe they allow players to plug in four distinct keyboards and four distinct mice through USB hubs.
  • Microsoft declines to digitally sign any game that uses the keyboard for anything but text entry.

The Reason Appears To Be This (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747469)

No console is developed with mouse and keyboard support in mind first. It's developed with a controller (gamepad or whatever you want to call it). All consoles usually come with at least one of these controllers.

So now imagine you're developing a game for the console. What control scheme will you develop for primarily? One that's standard with that console, or one that usable, but not everyone will have? In the end, it does boil down to trying to cater to the larger market share. Yes, some people do have a keyboard for their console, but they are probably the large minority. I'm not even sure if any consoles actually support mice for normal console use (this does not include turning your PS3 into a home PC).

I understand that consoles these days have USB inputs so that you can just nab your keyboard from your PC and plug it in, but most people will not do that. It's just inconvenient.

Re:The Reason Appears To Be This (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747567)

Oh, I forgot to add that if you have online components to your game and people are playing competitively let's say... for an FPS, the guy having the keyboard and mouse setup will probably dominate easily.

Re:i love the keyboard and mouse (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746981)

Try Sangband or any other roguelike. 90% of the keyboard has some function assigned to it :p

Arma 2 (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746181)

I happen to play that game. It's a really nice simulation. Just like falcon 4 is. But I consider both pieces of software not to be games. A game is, Mario. A game is something with a small learning curve (chess, mario) to get you going. A good game has some depth and will provide you with a challenge along the way (chess, mario) so you can learn new stuf. Neither falcon nor arma 2 have this. Before you'll have any succes in these simulations you'll have to invest considerably. Hence, number 1 complain for Arma is the interface.... Number 2 are the bugs. Having that said, I think good games (read again, games...) 9 out of 10 times need a lot less keys. A controller certainly has it's advantages. Less stress on your fingers/wrisk (i probably spell that wrong), more natural feeling, less buttons: so easier to learn. Take the mouse for example, 2, 3 (maybe 7) buttons... Easy to comprehend, just move it and your set. It's in no way comparible to a keyboard, that at the very least takes a year to be comfortable with it. To type fast... Most people can't type blind after a year... A simple xbox (or playstation or snes) controller on the other hand is something you can actually master in 2 weeks. It's like comparing kung fu with the full contact Sanda. It takes years to master kung fu, and when you do, yes... you will have a good chance against someone doing Sanda. But when you learn Sanda, you can become a serieus problem for anyone not trained in martial arts in a matter of months. After a year, you should be quite good and win in a fight from anyone who has been training wu-shu for 5 years or less. So in the end, it's the applications that matters. And in my oppinion, simulations are fun. But they are not games. If it takes more than 20 keys to steer the software, it probably isn't a game.

Re:Arma 2 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746567)

Get a dictionary, numbnuts.

Re:Arma 2 (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747111)

game [reference.com]
noun, adjective, gamer, gamest, verb, gamed, gaming.
-noun
1. an amusement or pastime: children's games.

An amusement or pastime? A simulator game qualifies.

We're speaking English here. Come on and join the big parade, so you too can participate in our discussion. On second thought, please also discover paragraph breaks first.

Re:Arma 2 (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747213)

Taking the developmental psych research instead of the dictionary, a game is "play with rules".
Obviously the simulator has rules which are imposed by the software. A good simulator has rules that closely approximate the real world. So I think santax's argument is that the simulator isn't "play". Something I would debate strongly.

The only way that a flight simulator isn't a game or play is if one were a professional pilot or trainee and were doing it as part of your job duties.

The reason... (5, Interesting)

MonkeyINAbaG (705327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746211)

that the keyboard is so hard to match is that it has been used and refined by humanity for such a very long time, compared to other interfaces. Think about it, the alphanumeric keyboard even predates the steering wheel by about 20 years!

Re:The reason... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747169)

..Unless you take into account the ship's wheel, an invention going back to around 1700, 170 years before the typewriter.

Re:The reason... (1)

MonkeyINAbaG (705327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747223)

..Unless you take into account the ship's wheel, an invention going back to around 1700, 170 years before the typewriter.

Now now man! Keep in context here! I have NEVER NEVER plugged a ship's wheel into a gaming console!

Re:The reason... (1)

MonkeyINAbaG (705327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747239)

..Unless you take into account the ship's wheel, an invention going back to around 1700, 170 years before the typewriter.

Now now man! Keep in context here! I have NEVER NEVER plugged a ship's wheel into a gaming console!

Besides, we ALL know that the early ships were steered by PADDLES!

Re:The reason... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747629)

..Unless you take into account the ship's wheel, an invention going back to around 1700, 170 years before the typewriter.

But keyboard instruments can trace their roots back to the 3d century BC. Keyboard instrument [wikipedia.org]

Re:The reason... (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747549)

The keyboard hasn't really been refined, it's largely the same as it's always been. It's designed for typing, not gaming. This maybe helps explain the decline of PC gaming in favour of consoles: to most people, controllers are easy to use whilst WASD is awkward as fuck to anyone who doesn't have spidery fingers.

Middle ground, jeez! (1)

scott_karana (841914) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746239)

We seriously need to find a middle ground for this issue. And by middle-ground, of course, I mean improving the keyboard and leaving controllers in the dust!
Touch sensitivity is such a great feature that gaming keyboards should include it.

unreplaceable? (4, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746255)

"keyboard and mouse setup is still unreplaceable"

Is "unreplaceable" even a word? Try "irreplaceable".

Re:unreplaceable? (5, Funny)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746275)

"keyboard and mouse setup is still unreplaceable"

Is "unreplaceable" even a word? Try "irreplaceable".

Of course it's a word, Slashdot's editors would have changed it when they proofread the article otherwise. Duh.

Re:unreplaceable? (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746621)

unreplaceable

adjective
impossible to replace; "irreplaceable antiques" [syn: irreplaceable] [ant: replaceable]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/unreplaceable [reference.com]

Re:unreplaceable? (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746723)

I'd suggest limiting yourself to more established dictionaries (e.g. Merriam Webster, OED, etc.). dictionary.reference.com is multi-source and pulls in every neologism, no matter how inane, from every two bit dictionary on the planet.

Re:unreplaceable? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747331)

It is in many online dictionaries:
For example: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/unreplaceable [thefreedictionary.com]
now it very well might be technically not a word, but I see no reason to care about that.

Re:unreplaceable? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747575)

now it very well might be technically not a word, but I see no reason to care about that.

Well, I do, which is I why I commented. If I replied to every topic I didn't care about to say so, I would be very busy.

Re:unreplaceable? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747625)

Well it seems pretty arbitrary to just allow some group of people to decide what strings of characters are words and which are not. and irreplaceable really just make the language more complicated while the combining of the un prefix to the word just makes logical scene.

Well, can PC keyboards match console controllers? (4, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746263)

There are genres for which the PC keyboard will always be stronger -- those that require a massive variety of command input, such as RTS games.

But for many simple console games, like platformers, will a keyboard ever catch up to the simple elegance of a game controller? I mean, anyone who has played console games on emulators should know that no keyboard mapping is going to feel as comfortable as something like a good old dual-shock controller for quick, repetitive presses of a few buttons. (My knuckle joints kill me after some games on an emulator.)

So why this idea that any one solution is always better? Different games have different control requirements, and different input devices shape different kinds of gameplay. None is "superior" to the other, and you'll never get a keyboard to give you the same kind of game play as a DDR machine or Wii Tennis.

So why the e-penis contest?

Re:Well, can PC keyboards match console controller (1)

chammy (1096007) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746315)

A long time ago I used to play a lot of SNES games under emulation. Since I frequently played with my brother, I mapped T,F,G,H to the dpad and D,S,A,Z,X,C to the buttons. It sounds really cramped but it was the best way to give my brother space to play too.

Eventually, I put together a spliced SNES pad that would run off the parallel port on my PC. To my surprise, I found that I actually preferred my cramped keyboard mapping over using the real controller!

In the end, I think people will prefer what you learned in the first place. I know lots of console gamers that migrated to the PC that still use their gamepads for FPS games.

Re:Well, can PC keyboards match console controller (2, Insightful)

TheCowSaysMooNotBoo (997535) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746383)

Not necessarily true. I've come to a point where it doesn't matter that I use a keyboard or a xbox controller. It's all a matter of getting used to the input device I think.

Boop, boop, boop, boop, boop... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747329)

Since I frequently played with my brother, I mapped T,F,G,H to the dpad and D,S,A,Z,X,C to the buttons. It sounds really cramped but it was the best way to give my brother space to play too.

Unlike a PC keyboard, a gamepad doesn't have limitations on how many buttons can be pressed simultaneously between the two players or (with a USB hub) among the four players.

Re:Boop, boop, boop, boop, boop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28747639)

Only cheap, non-gaming keyboards have that limitation.

Re:Boop, boop, boop, boop, boop... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747685)

Only cheap, non-gaming keyboards have that limitation.

The keyboard that comes with a PC is a non-gaming keyboard. The controller that comes with a console is a gaming controller.

But even gaming keyboards still have an operating-system-enforced limitation of not being able to detect which of several USB keyboards produced a given key-down or key-up event. DirectX separates out keypress events to separate objects representing gamepad devices, but it funnels all keypresses into one virtual keyboard device. So you can't bind "player 1 fire" to "keyboard 1 left control" and "player 2 fire" to "keyboard 2 left control".

Re:Well, can PC keyboards match console controller (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746533)

Well, for me Keyboard + Mouse is superior.

I used to play lots of console games - back in the SNES/Genesis/PS1/N64 era. Then I took a hiatus and became a PC gamer, because I discovered I loved RTS's like TA. Now that I've been using my keyboard and mouse for so long, I find the new controllers quite awkward. I'm not bad with them, but I'm way better with my Keyboard and Mouse. Even games where you'd shudder to use a keyboard (ResEvil 4? Most emus?), I do better with my keyboard and mouse.

I've been making a point to try Overlord (since I have that game on PC) with both keyboard + mouse, and controller. It's more work to use the controller, so I must still be building neural circuits. There's also no easy way to spin around instantly to look at something.

Next up is Assassin's Creed. But first I'll finish Overlord, and give my brain time to figure stuff out. Then I'll decide which I like more. (Right now, leaning towards keyboard + mouse)

Re:Well, can PC keyboards match console controller (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747351)

Even games where you'd shudder to use a keyboard (ResEvil 4? Most emus?), I do better with my keyboard and mouse.

If you use a keyboard, what does player 2 use? A whole another computer?

Re:Well, can PC keyboards match console controller (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746619)

Quite dead on.

There are games that are unplayable with a keyboard. Likewise, there are games that are unplayable without. But it's even less the keyboard, more the mouse, that I miss in console games. Keyboard/mouse input is, at least in my opinion, superior in games where pointing and clicking is a sizable part of the game. Whether you point and click on an interface, as in a RTS, or whether you "point" your crosshair and "click" to fire as in a FPS. I just can't get into controling a FPS game with a console controller.

Likewise, playing a platformer or a racing game with mouse/keyboard is a nightmare to say the least. Use the right input device for the right game, why bother asking what input is superior? None is in every aspect and for every game.

Re:Well, can PC keyboards match console controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746679)

"anyone who has played console games on emulators should know that no keyboard mapping is going to feel as comfortable as something like a good old dual-shock controller for quick"

I beg to differ, most console games are so simple it doesn't matter if you use a controller or the keyboard, the only games I use gamepads for are fighting games, almost every other game can be played just as well with a keyboard. The secret is in the mappings.

Most people don't spend much time figuring out how to setup their keybindings and due to lazyness go back to the controller.

I've been playing street fighter 4 online with only a keyboard, there's pluses to using the keyboard, for instance in Street fighter 4, I can do moves that other people can't with ease due to the accuracy of the keyboard, I can also get away with not doing moves the correct way and still have them fire all because of keyboard use.

Truth is most people who don't use keyboard are lazy, whenever I hear someone whine about PC keyboards I think about how crappy they are at games.

Real gamers game everywhere, PC, console, whatever they don't go "oh the controller is x times better!", for most games it doesn't matter whether you use keyboard or controller, especially when you are doing emulation of old retro console games.

Left Control of the first vs. second keyboard? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747363)

Most people don't spend much time figuring out how to setup their keybindings

How much time do you expect people to spend? Say I have two keyboards plugged into a PC, one for player 1 and one for player 2. I've looked for PC games and never found any that support mapping player 1 fire to Left Control of the first keyboard and player 2 fire to Left Control of the second keyboard. Did I just not look hard enough?

What's this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746381)

...they can always assign the compass to K...

but i'm left-handed you insensitive clods

I hate controllers/consoles (1)

makemine (1601005) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746389)

Beeing a passionate gamer i hate controllers/consoles for what they have done to gaming: dumbing games down, resulting in awfully bad user interfaces. especially deep menu trees are a sign of console limitations: unbearable at the pc. e.g.: bethestas fallout 3 pipboy stat / item/ quest management. while the idea is nice, the usability is bothering. for fps there will never be a competitive use for controllers. i really think that gamedevs need to develop multiple user interfaces if they really want to release games for multiple platforms (which i understand for economical reasons). dumbed down interfaces due to consoles are cutting the game experience.

Re:I hate controllers/consoles (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746545)

I agree that GUIs are often dumbed down for controllers - but sometimes GUIs just blow.

I've been playing a lot of TF2 lately, and it can be quite annoying. If the server flips levels, or a new round starts, or you get bumped to another character, whatever you were doing gets closed. That means you can be trying to equip a Sandman, and have to do it two or three times because of interruptions. Obviously it depends on the server, and also your luck/timing.

One time I was trying to alter mouse sensitivity, and it kept kicking me out of the console. Once I got the sensitivity set right, I didn't have to do it again - but it was annoying while I was attempting it.

I'm also annoyed by the complete lies the server list tells. Wrong map, wrong number of players, etc.; I wish there was a way to exclude servers from further searches.

I suppose I'm more annoyed by clunky interfaces than dumbed down ones.

Re:I hate controllers/consoles (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747691)

Note that TF2 is in fact a console game.

Yeah, its "primarily" a PC game, but the interface had to be dumbed down in the same general way that all console interfaces have been.

NES (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746401)

I would argue the opposite, that perhaps the NES (or, to stretch it, perhaps the SNES) is the best "control scheme" for MOST games. Any action you want to do is confined to only a few buttons. Compare this to Fable on the Xbox, which in my opinion the controls were a complete mess due to the complexity. Having a hundred functions tied to a hundred keys is useless because only the extremely hard-core will remember them. However, I will agree that for RTS there is no substitute for a mouse and keyboard.

Keyboard/Mouse (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746559)

Yes, keyboard/mouse are far better for some kinds of games... I tried C&C on the xbox and found it virtually unplayable with the control pad, and FPS games really need the immediacy of a mouse rather than the slow gradual (by comparison) movement of a control pad.

But for everything else a console is so much more convenient, you have fixed hardware and a guarantee that a game you purchase will run with no fuss...

All the modern consoles support USB, and most new keyboards and mice are also USB... So why don't more games support this as a possible control method? Most console games also have PC versions, or are direct ports of PC games so adding keyboard/mouse support wouldn't even be much of a burden.

2 Mice 1 PC? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747415)

FPS games really need the immediacy of a mouse rather than the slow gradual (by comparison) movement of a control pad.

Casual shooters like Wii Play take advantage of the immediacy of a Wii Remote's pointer. They also take advantage of the multiplayer capability of the Wii Remote rather than the lonely (by comparison) connection of a mouse. If you have two USB mice connected to a PC, and players 1 and 2 move them in opposite directions, what does a game see?

you have fixed hardware and a guarantee that a game you purchase will run with no fuss...

You also have no way to mod console games, except possibly through a built-in map editor (e.g. Tony Hawk series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl).

All the modern consoles support USB, and most new keyboards and mice are also USB... So why don't more games support this as a possible control method?

Someone else asked the same question, and I answered it in this comment [slashdot.org].

Don't see it (1)

RaymondKurzweil (1506023) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746603)

Sorry, in my experience I just don't see these new "Keyboard/Mouse" setups overtaking the established technology like WiiMotes and Light Pens.

Sorry, just don't see it. And I'm a futurist and MIT's Distinguished Inventor of the Year 1998, so I know that of which I speak.

FPS games (1)

Spewns (1599743) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746673)

There is nothing that even begins to come close to mouse/keyboard for First-Person Shooters. Back when I gamed a lot, Counter-Strike essentially ruined N64 classics like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark for me. It's one of those genres quick to point out how utterly inferior and clumsy console controllers can be.

Re:FPS games (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747211)

I find that GoldenEye works quite well due to a few quirks.

Enemies are rarely very high above or down below you so you don't waste much time aiming up or down; just turn left or right. There was lots of areas you could snipe from but NPCs wouldn't shoot through (fenced balconies, etc.).

Multiplayer was slower. There was always a pause between damage taken so just because someone has a machinegun, it didn't do that much more damage than a pistol (though it did let you be a badass and spray bullets everywhere).

So for GoldenEye, it worked. Perfect Dark changed those two things and the clumsiness of the controller became more apparent.

Keyboards aren't optimal. (3, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746767)

If the keyboard is better than a controller because it has a hundred keys, then would a new device with 200 keys be even better? Of course not.

The keyboard and controller serve two different, but related purposes. The keyboard is an immobile device that is placed on a surface. It is worked on. A controller is held. Both have different optimal configurations, a reflection of their different purposes. Certainly, some games benefit from keyboard control, just as some games benefit from controller control. Comparing the two, as if they were competing entries for the same role, is silly.

Nethack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28746913)

Nethack is a much better example of a game built around keyboard control than America's Army.

Any love for the old joystick? (1)

ryl000 (954356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28746995)

Especially for flight sims... thinking back to X-Wing and TIE Fighter, I don't think I could have survived all those dogfights with either a keyboard/mouse or a console controller...

Re:Any love for the old joystick? (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747149)

Especially for flight sims... thinking back to X-Wing and TIE Fighter, I don't think I could have survived all those dogfights with either a keyboard/mouse or a console controller...

I'm with you. I wish there would be support for something like the Wii nunchuck to replace WASD. Analog sticks for aiming are highly suboptimal compared to a direct pointing device like a mouse (or Wiimote IR pointer), but analog sticks are great for movement.

Re:Any love for the old joystick? (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747167)

I have my CH gear just waiting for when they make a game that can use them. Last one they were any good on for me was Battlefield: Vietnam.

Only geeks play at their desks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28747047)

So how well do PC RTSs sell? Except for Starcraft and Warcraft not really well. People nowadays can play on a big screen TV with surround sound from a sofa or a recliner and keyboard and especially mouse don't fit into this setup. So unless you are Blizzard your keyboard controlled game is to be found in bargain bins or bundled with add-on cards.

Mouse is more important than the keyboard (1)

lalena (1221394) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747283)

Modern controllers can now have 20 or more "buttons" if you count each joystick direction as a button (think WASD). While less than 100, it is still a lot. What the controller can't duplicate for me is what I can do with a mouse in a FPS or RTS game. A joystick or WASD takes way to long to move/aim in a First-Person Shooter, and nothing can compare with the ability to select multiple units in a Real-Time Strategy by simply clicking and dragging with a mouse.Sure there are shortcuts to select all on the screen or all units of a particular type, but you can't duplicate the drag & drop of a mouse.
So a controller can't always beat a mouse & keyboard, but that doesn't mean we can't do better. A prefer a light gun (with real aiming like an arcade, not Wii style) over a mouse for shooting games. But Area 51 and modern FPS games aren't exactly the same thing. In Area 51 all you do is shoot and reload. Knifing someone in the back with a light gun isn't really realistic, and what about tools for the "Engineer" class. Custom controllers could be made (a wrench controller just for the engineer that was similar to a Wiimote) where you have to put down the gun and take the wrench out of your belt to make a repair. This is more realistic and could be better, but the cost makes this an unacceptable solution. Besides, someone third party would make a combined gun/wrench controller with lots of buttons so that you don't need to put the gun down, giving them an unfair advantage.
I think up until now, cost has been the biggest obstacle to making game customized controllers that can outperform a mouse & keyboard. Nintendo with the balance board and other gadgets has shown that maybe people would be willing to buy extra controllers. Mad Catz offered a special Street Fighter IV controller for $150 and wasn't able to keep them in stock for months. Would people pay for a custom Warcraft controller? What would it look like and how could it be better? I don't know, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be better than a mouse & keyboard.

Touch+motion+speech (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747617)

Touch like multi-touch on a screen that's placed to be most ergonomic (I'm thinking slanted at a 30-50 degree angle, a bit in front and above my lap would be great for me), would be FANTASTIC for an RTS - I can very easily imagine how the interface would work and be very powerful.

Motion - as in "motion at the level of the almost certainly fake Natal promo videos" where it captures and maps your body with great fidelity to movement and minimal lag - would be great for lots of current kinds of games (sports, dancing, silly mini-games, certain platformers, etc.) and could certainly lead to quite a bit of new and interesting stuff.

Speech - if it were good (MUCH better than today's consumer-grade efforts) not as an integral control scheme, but as an addition to the already extant controls, could be very interesting. I'd get a kick out of RPGs where, when I call someone over a phone or through some kind of communicator device, I have to actually talk to them, or if we're in combat I can yell "Watch out!" or some other warning to get the attention of someone I'm allied with.

Personally, I think that if we can find GOOD new control schemes (and I'm cautiously excited about some of the motion stuff coming up) there can be a lot of new avenues opened up in gaming. Keyboard + mouse is pretty simple and easy to use - but there are lots of interesting game ideas that cannot be done on it (or done well on it), or gamepads, or any currently existing interface.

iMac Wheel (1)

pingveno (708857) | more than 4 years ago | (#28747661)

Personally, I prefer the simplicity and elegance of the MacBook Wheel. No keyboard, just a scroll wheel and a mouse.

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