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iPhone As a PC Game Controller

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the this-joystick-is-flat dept.

Cellphones 54

TechCrunch has an article about a startup called iMo, which aims to enable control of any PC game using an iPhone or iPod Touch. The idea is to reduce the need for gaming peripherals while you're on the move, and make motion-control available to more players. Quoting: "The system also features onscreen controls for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as not every PC game will benefit from using things like the accelerometer, obviously. This all works via both Bluetooth and WiFi connections between your device and your computer. The plan is to offer iMo in the App Store for $0.99; the first version should be available new in the App Store. And long-term, the company hopes to make it available on other mobile platforms as well, including Android. And ultimately, they'd love to include support for gaming consoles as well, like the aforementioned Wii, the PS3, and the Xbox 360."

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Great... (5, Funny)

Zurd (190663) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441449)

Y'know, I was just thinking. I love PC games, but I wish the controls were worse.

Re:Great... (1)

rock217 (802738) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441681)

if i had a mod point, you would get it

Re:Great... (1)

rant64 (1148751) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442159)

1) Get the most awesome PC game title
2) Get the even more awesome iPhone controller
3) ?!??
4) Lose!

Re:Great... (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442837)

Y'know, I was just thinking. I love PC games, but I wish the controls were worse.

... and if only they could be made 10x more expensive and easier to break.

Re:...mmmmmy preciousssss! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29487629)

I say this is an awesome idea. How many times have you seen a friend get pissed at the game he is playing and throw the controller at the TV or just straight down on the ground?

Instead of just giving him an awkward glance and saying its just a game dude, now you get the joy of watching an iphone shatter into a million pieces. And then you get to make fun of him when he starts crying about it.

Buttons. (1)

Stu1706 (1392693) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441465)

It seems like it would be hard to use the iPhone as a game controller without the feel of the buttons. It might work for something like a wii remote with the motion is the most important thing, but that is not the usual PC game. I don't know if it would be all that useful for most games. Just my opinion though.

Tricky... (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441497)

With a lack of form-factor to be a proper game controller (no side buttons, poor ergonomics) this just appears to be yet another useless app. Although, it might be decent enough for older games or 2d side scrollers...

Re:Tricky... (1)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441973)

I guess you could possibly design a case that would make it more ergonomic as a controller. However, at that point, you could just go buy a new controller rather than another $30 iPhone case.

360 Controller (2, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441509)

The off brand (wired - USB port included at no additional cost!) 360 controller at any big box store is only $15-20. A bluetooth!! rumble PS3 controller is $45. I'd rather (and do!) recycle my controllers from game consoles. Most everyone already has one (even if you don't already have a next-gen console), if only to take to a friend's house/dorm room so everyone can play. The chances you'll lose/break an iphone before you do the same to a real console controller is pretty high.

Re:360 Controller (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29444571)

meh, back when men were men, we used man sized xbox controllers and had to convert them manually! However i only really use it when running console emulators as i prefer kb+mouse for actual pc games, plugging in 4 xbox controllers for 4 way N64 fun is cool though.

ugh (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441511)

what kind of crappy controller it would be without a joystick or tactile buttons

Re:ugh (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442841)

And who wants to use their phone like a controller anyway? Controllers take a lot of abuse, would it be a good idea to use your $300 iPhone with no insurance [macrumors.com] as a video game controller?

Response Time (4, Insightful)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441541)

Even with native iPhone/iTouch apps, the touch response leaves a lot to be desired. I often find myself hitting a button several times before the button actually gets pressed. My fingers aren't fat; I just can't seem to get an immediate response maybe 30% of the time. Gaming --particularly PC gaming-- usually assumes that you are using a keyboard/mouse combination, which (at least in my case) allows me to have a faster reaction than even a wired conventional console controller, and PC games are designed wit this in mind. To use the iPhone as a controller interface for a PC FPS seems like an idea destined for failure if the touchscreen can't be calibrated effectively. Aside from that, it is a cool idea.

Re:Response Time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29444069)

Im not sure your problem is RESPONSE TIME if you find yourself tapping more than once. I find that with my Touch, it responds fantastically to targetting taps using my index finger (which happens to be kind of pointy... I have a slender build and what some call "artist hands"). If I happen to use my thumb, taps are rarely detected. So something about the tap UI makes "fat thumbs" hard to detect.

Slashvertisement (1)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441609)

Who would ever need a PC game controller while 'on the move'? In the only case I can think of (LAN parties), you'd probably want a proper game controller, anyway.

Oh boy! (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441679)

Gee, I hope Apple's cool with us using their equipment like this.

Alread done on Android.. yaaawwwwwwnnnnn (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29441751)

Another post hyping up iphone. The "there is an app for that" applies to, you know, fucking other platfors too.

Don't want to spoil the party, but for those on a better and not hyped-up platform, looking for similar (but better) functionality (though I don't see any real purpose of this) can check this out - http://www.gmote.org/ [gmote.org]

Re:Alread done on Android.. yaaawwwwwwnnnnn (3, Insightful)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441805)

I guess its time for "alreadyonadnroid" (or "alradyon" tag. Just to stop this iphone bullshit.

I thought /. was different than gizmodo. *sigh*

Re:Alread done on Android.. yaaawwwwwwnnnnn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29444155)

I guess its time for "alreadyonadnroid" (or "alradyon" tag. Just to stop this iphone bullshit.

What 'bullshit' is it going to stop? "Oh, it was already on Android. I'll just get rid of my iPhone and sell my Android phone!" A tag like 'AlreadyOnAndroid' doesn't do a lick of good. It's a cell phone, not a web browser.

Lots of people browsing this site have iPhones, and they number a good deal more than those with Android phones. Slashdot (as well as Gizmodo) are bound to get more stories as a result. Both sites are ad-supported. It's not about Slashdot trying to sell iPhones, it's about Slashdot selling ads to people with iPhones. The best part? The people that come in and cry 'Hype!!' are selling ads for Slashdot, too.

Try jerking your brain before your knee. You're feeding your own problem.

Re:Alread done on Android.. yaaawwwwwwnnnnn (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#29444363)

I had hoped the iPhone was old by now but no, the hype continues on. The Force is strong in this one.

Re:Alread done on Android.. yaaawwwwwwnnnnn (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29443735)

I find those adverts more amusing if you take them for what they really mean.
"Want to share a photo with a shake?"..."We'll charge you for that"
"Want to search for taxi companies?"..."We'll charge you for that too"

I thought they had reached a marketing high when they touted cut+paste, but now their advertising slogan is "want to do something on the phone you already paid for...We'll charge you for that!". I mean the same can be said for any platform but the specifics they use in are particularly trivial, and they sign off saying "only on the iphone".

I also used to do this on my cheap phone (£15) using anyremote [sourceforge.net] that works on any phone that runs java

Re:Alread done on Android.. yaaawwwwwwnnnnn (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#29443983)

The iPhone has been adopted by the masses. You're going to hear a lot about it. Boo hoo.

Coming to Linux in 2048! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29441779)

The Linux version is RightAroundTheCorner!(tm). You'll be able to play such amazing games as Tux Racer using your iPhone as a controller!

PC Games? What PC Games? (-1, Troll)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441787)

What games are selling for the PC that could possibly have a use for a controller like this?

Wait shorten that, What PC Games are even selling?

I can't see upcoming Blizzard or Valve titles needing anything like this - which are the only two PC Developers I can swear by, because just about everyone else makes a better version for the PS3 or 360.

Re:PC Games? What PC Games? (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442061)

Wow that didn't take long for the "LOLZ @ PC GAMEZ" comment to show up. Typical.

Back on topic: How can a device with no feedback whatsoever be useful on a PC? A keyboard would be superior then this in pretty much every single way except maybe motion. And even that I'm not sold on.

Re:PC Games? What PC Games? (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442181)

Which is exactly my point. If they made Wii games for the PC - I'd be all for it. But they don't. So in every situation I can think of, a Keyboard and mouse combination trumps on top.

Except for perhaps Racing games, which have all but died off on PC's.

Re:PC Games? What PC Games? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#29444561)

Speaking from long experience, racing games aren't really worth playing without a force feedback wheel. I have driven at speed on and off pavement on occasion and the experience is night and day (especially for dirt simulation.) Nothing really comes close to getting out in the real world, but having a good force feedback wheel is about as close as it gets (Without motion simulation... $$$)

You know what would be a cool iPhone/iPod accessory? A car stereo with no other interface. It could have communications equipment, media ports, what have you. You know what would be dumb? Using either to control traditional PC games.

Re:PC Games? What PC Games? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29445771)

If they made Wii games for the PC - I'd be all for it.

The wiimote is a bluetooth remote too. I use mine just as a gimmick to show my friends but its pretty shitty for real use.

Re:PC Games? What PC Games? (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29456837)

A keyboard would be superior then this in pretty much every single way except maybe motion.

Players 2 through 4 can't use a keyboard. Well they can, but then you have to either 1. be really careful to assign non-overlapping layouts, or 2. buy a separate gaming PC for each house guest who doesn't own one that he can dismantle and carry in.

Re:PC Games? What PC Games? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29444907)

Wow - modded to -1 trolling and +4 interesting for saying the same thing. Never had that happen before. Probably because I asked what PC games are selling.

I just don't see any good titles -JUST- for PC these days. I mean, all the titles that Steam advertises to me are A month or Two old games that have been ported from the 360, or they're MMO's. No MMO would work well with an IPhone Interface, least not the half dozen I've played.

So - to reiterate, what good would this IPhone app serve?

Are they creating the interface in the hopes that games will follow? Or do they plan on making PC games themselves to use this interface?

I don't mind the idea of them trying, but unless they get some developers to pick it up off the ground (Like how Nintendo had its developers make Mario Kart Racing)
then I don't see this app going very far.

Great... (1)

thered2001 (1257950) | more than 5 years ago | (#29441885)

Now we'll have to cope with people throwing their iPhones around. No straps to tether them to your wrist.

This is boring. N900 does it better (0, Flamebait)

xynopsis (224788) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442133)

here [youtube.com]

The sheer brilliance (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442599)

Brilliant! Because what I've always wanted in a video game controller is to take the elegant simplicity of the Wii Remote, lag it more, make all the buttons non-tactile, make it incredibly more fragile, have phone calls come in and screw up my game, and sell it for ten to twenty times the cost! Per controller!

Great Idea (1)

kneemoe (1042818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442665)

The lack of physical buttons is so frustraiting that there are attempts to create an add on (like icontrolpad.com that seems to have stalled out) yet somehow this is a good idea? I realize at least half the draw is the accelerometer, but what games are they targetting there?
I'm really missing the point of this idea/app.

FAIL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29442737)

HAHAHA what a stupid idea. Apple fails again!

Re:FAIL (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29442823)

and you fail at intelligence. Apple has nothing to do with this.

Given all the Marble Madness clones on iPhone... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442799)

I've always wanted to know what it would be like to actually play Marble Madness with an iPhone. Even Jailbroken, there's no decent MAME port for the iPhone.

Yuck. (1)

xxuserxx (1341131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29442893)

The last thing I want to do is give my iPhone more access to my PC. The only reason I have one is because the executives at my company absolutley had to have one and I am stuck supporting them. They have so many issues with Active Sync and Exchange. You cant even use the push feature unless your ok with 2 hour battery time. The day I use the iPhone for a controller for my PC is the day I replace IE with Safari. However I am very open to using a Wiimote. I have seen a few cool demos on PC.

Re:Yuck. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29443167)

lol, you're dumb

Re:Yuck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29444523)

The last thing I want to do is give my iPhone more access to my PC. The only reason I have one is because the executives at my company absolutley had to have one and I am stuck supporting them. They have so many issues with Active Sync and Exchange. You cant even use the push feature unless your ok with 2 hour battery time. The day I use the iPhone for a controller for my PC is the day I replace IE with Safari. However I am very open to using a Wiimote. I have seen a few cool demos on PC.

Look brother, Apple can fuck off and die for all I care, but the last thing you want to do is to use IE -- period.

Mouse (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#29443305)

I wouldn't mind a mouse app, just have it emulate what the Mac does.

I actually have my computer hooked up to a TV and it'd be nice to not have to drag the actual mouse over. Oh it'd also have to be free because I don't care that much.

Re:Mouse (1)

EMeta (860558) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446845)

Well, it's not free, but it is cheap. AirMouse is an iPhone/iPT app that does the mouse thing over wifi. It's not perfect, but it works.

Keyboard and Mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29443551)

I've always wanted an app that turned the phone into a mousepad/keyboard. I have a computer in my basement connected to a flat screen tv upstairs. The box runs XBMC and makes a wonderful media server. Right now I VNC into the computer to control it, but the lag is kinda annoying. Just a straight up controller would be a great help and worth a few dollars for me.

Does anyone know if this already exists? Bonus points if it will be ported over to WebOS!

Re:Keyboard and Mouse (1)

kneemoe (1042818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29454559)

Air Mouse Pro in the app store for iPhone, there's the gmote for android based phones (and maybe windows mobile?) I think both of these are stripped down vnc services. the air mouse is great, it turns the iPhone screen into one big track pad, or you can rotate it and up pops a keyboard, best app I've bought yet.

Reduce the peripherals? (2, Interesting)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29443683)

You mean like a keyboard and mouse? It's not like people are really packing full sized joysticks or race pedals to play Counterstrike. This seems cool and all from a geeky perspective but the case I use to carry my gaming notebook has AMPLE room for an external mouse and why would I substitute the iPhone for it?

Don't get me wrong this is kind of cool from an academic point of view but I can't really see anyone finding this preferable over the built in keyboard and wireless mouse.

been around for over 6 mos (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 5 years ago | (#29444773)

Old news there are plenty of apps in the store that have been doing this for close to a year now.

And you thought that broken TV's were bad (1)

Ustice (788261) | more than 5 years ago | (#29445015)

I'm remembering all of those TVs that are broken from flung Wiimotes. Imagine the pain when someone flings there iphone into their monitor.

WinMo had it first (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29445115)

GRemote [gbmsoftware.com] on Windows Mobile (*shocker*) did it first. Air mouse over bluetooth or wifi, anyone? Click and drag works, on screen scrollwheel works, everything is rebindable. Also works as touchpad, joystick, and game wheel for racing games.

It can be used exactly like the wiimote is used for menus except there is more than one interface you can use depending on what you're trying to control. For example, one that prominently displays media play/pause buttons.

On my HTC Fuze, it feels like a very solid, very capable remote and air mouse. Works with all games, apps, and of course also the Windows desktop.

This may have potential, actually... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#29445451)

If there were many split-screen PC games.

Instead of being used for real time control (face it - the latency will suck), it can be used to offload some display and controls elsewhere.

Think of it as a per-person "screen". Each player would have a compatible device connected via WiFi. Stuff that the player should know, but remain hidden from everyone else can be displayed on these little screens, and input taken from them.

This might work very well for an RTS type game.

If we allow consoles to use it, which have many split-screen games, racing games can use it to show your position on the track without telling everyone else, as well as stuff like powerups and cheats (a la Mario Kart).

BUt that's only for a small subset of multiplayer games that support split-screen and have the need to show player-private data without letting everyone else in. As a regular controller, it would suck, but as one with a per-person display, it may have potential.

Nintendo already dunnit (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29456529)

Instead of being used for real time control (face it - the latency will suck), it can be used to offload some display and controls elsewhere.

Nintendo tried that with GameCube + Game Boy Advance, and then with Wii + DS. I don't seem to remember it going over very well.

BUt that's only for a small subset of multiplayer games that support split-screen

I've always wondered why there aren't more split-screen or Smash Bros. style shared-screen games for PC. USB hubs and gamepads have existed for a decade, and any new TV has VGA and HDMI inputs to display a PC picture. What's holding up HTPC gaming now?

x-plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446449)

laminar research has a x-plane remote app.
works nicely if you want to fly a few rounds on your laptop instead of using your mousepad.

who cares (1)

grouchyDude (322842) | more than 5 years ago | (#29448921)

this is significant news? sheesh!

I definitely see potential in an app such as this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29453281)

I don't understand why everyone looks at this as a bad idea. Sure this may not be the best idea for playing Team Fortress on, or trying to beat the end level of Crysis, but why wouldn't it work for a game like Street Fighter 4, where the developer could devote more of the hardware resources to increase response time of detected button presses and movement inputs. It would probably also work well for a board game or trivia game, where it could act like a buzzer or dice roller. I can see usefulness in an app like this.

Compatibility... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#29453431)

Doesn't the 360 use a modified-for-microsoft bluetooth stack that would make it a little difficult to make this work on an iPhone?

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