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Sony Develops a Universal Game Console Controller

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the floats-like-a-dreamcast-stings-like-a-wii dept.

Input Devices 62

Go Rumors has discovered that Sony recently applied for a patent on a "universal game console controller." According to the patent filing, the controller "includes a hand-holdable housing and a touch sensitive liquid crystal display (LCD) on the housing. The LCD is caused to present, depending on what type of game console a user has selected, a controller key layout for a first type of game console or a controller key layout for a second type of game console. A key layout includes plural keys selectable by a user to input commands to a game console."

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Seems useful enough... (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208530)

Just don't let MadKatz get any licensing.

Re:Seems useful enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209014)

May I ask why? I'm not at all familiar with Mad Catz, and I saw that they had Xbox 360 controllers last night while looking around.
Are there problems with their controllers I should be aware of?

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209392)

I owned a couple of Mad Catz controllers, both for PlayStation2. One was just average 3rd party fare, whereas the other was actually a very nice remodelled controller in a smaller form factor that I initially much preferred to Sony's official controller.

Unfortunately, they barely saw two month's use before the analogue sticks went out of alignment, with no way to recalibrate them, rendering them useless for most games. Whether their products have improved much in the past 5-6 years, I couldn't say.

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209612)

I had much the same experience with them back during the era of the original Playstation. I have no idea if their controllers have improved either, because I had such a crappy experience with them that I'll never buy their products again.

Looking at their recent designs, it looks like they still have the problem where they try to design controllers that "look cool" instead of ones that are actually comfortable and practical.

Re:Seems useful enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209778)

Thanks for that guys. Guess I'll give Mad Catz a pass then. I'm not a console gamer but a couple of my PC games seem like they might be better played with a controller so I've been looking at my options.

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212328)

I have one Mad Catz controller, and I love it... although it does seem a bit flimsy, and probably won't last much longer. I ran out one day because I needed another PS2 controller for a multiplayer game, and so I bought the cheapest one I could find. I think I paid $8 for it, new. It was styled to look and feel like a 360 controller, but with PS2 button layout, and felt MUCH better than the pretty terrible standard PS2 dualshock.

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

Denjiro (55957) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214842)

If you need a PS style controller for the PC, I've had good look with a pair of Nyko AirFlo EX controllers I bought on Woot a year or so ago. The fan in them is kind of gimicky, but the controllers are pretty comfortable and they've worked with no issues so far.

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209972)

i own 4 Mad Catz for the original xbox, can't fault them, they really have survived the test of time. On this basis I bought a wired Mad Catz controller for the 360, lasted a month before it wore out. The only plus side was I had a 360 pad to tinker/mod (had an old amiga controller perfect for street fighter i modded with the 360 pad). I've got friends who don't rate there equipment these days either now.

Re:Seems useful enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31210938)

I had some very bizarre experiences with Mad Catz controllers and memory cards with my original playstation. After several months of using two Mad Catz controllers and a memory card, all of a sudden I couldn't save or load to the memory card. Every save and load just 'failed'. But when I went back to using my original Sony controller that came with my playstation, the loading would work fine. However, all of a sudden the machine wouldn't recognize more than a single button push at a time from the Sony controller now. It wouldn't even do diagonals, as that was two directions pushed at once.

I had to play my games normally with my Mad Catz controllers then swap in the Sony controller every time I wanted to save or load. It was absolutely bizarre. And when I eventually tried replacing things by buying new Sony or 3rd party peripherals, none of them would work on my playstation anymore. I can't tell you if it's true that the Mad Catz controllers caused this whole thing, but that's what the Sony reps on the phone told me when I later called them.

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

Denjiro (55957) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214822)

I've had two of their PS2 controllers. They were nice ergonomically. And the ability to force the use of analog sticks in games without analog stick support, such as with many PS1 RPGs was nice. But they wore out way to fast. On both controllers I had the analog sticks develop dead spots in around 2 to 3 months.

Re:Seems useful enough... (1)

lidocaineus (661282) | more than 4 years ago | (#31222326)

It depends. If they want to, they can make something that no other manufacturer can touch outside of individuals making their own. The SF4 Tournament Edition stick [kotaku.com] is often heralded as the BEST stick you can buy, as it uses Sanwa parts and is laid out in a very logical manner... not to mention it's user moddable.

Oblig (0, Flamebait)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208540)

And I suppose even that will come laden with DRM, so that it can only be used with the console you purchased it with.

You want to go over your friends house and play 2up, you'll have to buy another controller.

The haptic hell waits for them ... (4, Insightful)

Kong the Medium (232629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208544)

Everbody says the same about these newly fangled "touch"screens and their inputschemes: Give me back my haptic feedback.

As long as the screen does not press back I will suck at the input. I need some input from my fingertips to show me that I am over "the" or at least "a" button. If it's on a screen I have to look at the screen to see if my fingers are positioned correctly.

DO NOT WANT!

Don't get me started on Sony last "new" input scheme, the Sixxaxis. In theory it's great, in reality the missing "weight" feedback destroys every immersion and fun in using the controller like e.g. a valve or a steering wheel.

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31208602)

Playstations are designed for nigger fingers.

X-Boxes are designed for pan-Aryanists.

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (1)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208612)

Agreed. I've got a jailbroken iPhone but when I got it, the various retro emulators were USELESS because of the control scheme. I can't enjoy a game if I'm constantly looking away from it to make sure my fingers are over the right buttons.

The day they made a homebrew Bluetooth stack and started added Wiimote support to the emulators was the day retro games (other than RPGs) became playable.

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (1)

Raumkraut (518382) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209226)

Maybe this would interest you: http://icontrolpad.com/ [icontrolpad.com]

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (2, Interesting)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208788)

I agree.

Here's a blue-sky idea that could help.

Ferrofluid touch interface
http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Ferrofluid_20touch_20interface [halfbakery.com]

Another idea that could help is having analog buttons and joysticks with tiny OLEDs mounted on the keys/buttons/sticks (like the Optimus keyboard). Perhaps even the physicals components could be reconfigurable like the Rubik cube.

Also wonder if it would be possible to build constructive interference with several piezo sensors to generate feedback

Anyway, here's to ideas and inventions
[everything here is public domain]

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31208880)

Everbody says the same about these newly fangled "touch"screens and their inputschemes: Give me back my haptic feedback.

You want the rootkit on that for just one dollar extra, sir?

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209316)

I'm one of those people most touchscreens have a very difficult time reading.
If my controller is touchscreen based, I might as well give up gaming entirely.

Re:The haptic hell waits for them ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209354)

THEN DO NOT BUY!

God no (4, Insightful)

Tromad (1741656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208546)

Sony controllers have the worst layout, with the analog sticks in a horrible position, with a form meant for girly hands. They should just give up and use the 360 controller and replace the d-pad with the one from the NES, and there you go, the perfect console controller.

Re:God no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31208654)

Some games are more suited for the ps controller, some for the xbox one.
Troll.

Re:God no (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208680)

The only appreciable difference between the PS3 controller and the 360 controller is that the analog/digital location is switched. I do agree, though, that the 360 controller d-pad should be replaced with a Nintendo one. The current one feels about as awkward as the d-pad from the NES Max controller.

Re:God no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209642)

And since the left analog control is more often the primary control for the left hand, the PS3 controller's layout makes no sense. The XBox and Gamecube controllers got it right by putting the left analog stick under your thumb's rest position.

Re:God no (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31225522)

I like the Sixaxis, simply becasue ive been using that layout since PS1 and its comfortable to me, but when i first held the Xbox 360 controller, i said to myself "this is the final evolution of the form, anything else we add onto it will be tangential." I DO miss the on-controller screen from Dreamcast though, that was a stroke of genius.

Not Girly Hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209026)

As with pretty well evetyhing to come out of Sony (except for PRO Gear), they are made for Japanese Hands.

Re:God no (1)

soupd (1099379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210006)

I couldn't disagree more, I'm 6'2" with fairly big hands and the PlayStation controllers is way more comfortable, both for short and long-term play, than the 360 one. Though I guess if you have short thumbs for the thumbs sticks then it may be more of a problem.

Re:God no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31210630)

Agreed. The 360 controller always felt awkward to me, just too big with my thumb always strethching to reach a button. But with the PS controllers, it's been just like the previous systems (NES/SNES/N64/Jaguar/NEOGEO) controllers that i can put in my hands and forget about. Those are very similar to typing on a keyboard: place hands and forget. All those controllers seem to work from muscle memory only, but with the XBOX controllers (even the S) I ALWAYS had to look down at the controller to find a button. Oh, and my hands are huge.

Re:God no (1)

V50 (248015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211938)

*Shrug* I personally prefer the PS3 controller (own both systems). The 360 controller still seems big and bulky to me, and the d-pad is pretty much worthless.

The 360 one probably has a better layout, in theory, but for some reason (the two above don't fully answer it), I still prefer the PS3 controller. Not by a huge margin, but, yeah...

Re:God no (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214174)

Everybody likes the same thing, huh? I much prefer the symmetrical layout and flatter profile of the PS3 controller. I just wish Sony would fix the rubbery triggers (and MS would fix the damn D-pad).

What really annoys me, though, is that the aftermarket controllers all try to use the same basic design of the official controller. Why are there so few XBox-like controllers for the PS3, and so few PS-like controllers for the XBox? Surely such a crowded market would welcome another niche. Or, is the design of the controller so easily recognizable, that people would pass by them, thinking they were for the wrong system?

Such is life in the console market. There's few to no choices, which is why I own one of everything.

Re:God no (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31225532)

Go out and buy the $5 trigger addons for Sixaxis, SOOOOOOOO worth it.

BluePad (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208552)

Coming Q4, 2010

Useless (2, Interesting)

DeKO (671377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208554)

Somehow I doubt the LCD could stand the amount of pressure a typical controller button receives. And who would be able to play without feeling the button? I don't want to have to look at the controller only to make sure my finger is over the correct button.

Re:Useless (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208750)

Well, the iPhone has already demonstrated how that would work (answer:not very well).

Nice idea but I think it'll suck (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208638)

Part of the problem is tactile feedback, since you need to locate buttons by touch during a game. However I think durability might be an issue. People tend to be hard on their game controllers and I can't see a touch screen holding up to the same kind of abuse as buttons.

I like the idea of a reconfigurable controller, I don't don't think we have good tech for it yet.

Awful (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31208652)

As someone else mentioned, Sony should have no say in controllers because their controller is a piece of junk. It was a terrible design in 1994, it is still terrible. Goddamn analogs in the middle, the split d-pad, the weird symbols rather than letters or numbers... the thing just sucks.

As a contrast: if it weren't for the d-pad, I'd say the Xbox 360 is possibly the finest gamepad ever.

But I must say that even the best gamepads are not good enough. No console comes with a truly good controller; in fact, only one console ever did: SNK's almighty, eternal, venerable, insanely expensive NEO FUCKIN' GEO! Because that's how games ought to be played: with beautiful, solid, precise, arcade-style devices that won't leave your goddamn thumbs aching at the end of the day!

Anyone who can afford to, get an arcade-style joystick for your system of choice. They tend to be expensive, true; but if you are into fighting games, 2D platformers, anything old school -- hell yes, it will be worth it!

Re:Awful (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208800)

I think a keyboard actually comes pretty close to an arcade stick for precision because you operate each button with a different finger on it too.

Until you get to 2 players (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209122)

Until you get to 2 players. Numerous arcade games have two joysticks and two sets of buttons on the control panel, allowing two to four players per machine. Most PC keyboards can't handle the number of simultaneous keypresses that sharing a keyboard would require.

Re:Until you get to 2 players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212392)

Couldn't you solve this by plugging in a second keyboard? Most (all?) new ones are plugged in via USB, so it's not like there'd be a shortage of PS/2 inputs...

Re:Until you get to 2 players (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212792)

Couldn't you solve this by plugging in a second keyboard?

When you plug in multiple keyboards, you have the expectation of being able to assign WASD on each keyboard to control each player's character. But DirectX combines keypress events from all keyboards into one virtual device before passing them to the application. It does the same thing with mouse movements. Some versions of Windows have a "Raw Input API" that distinguishes among multiple keyboards, but Microsoft doesn't promote it to the extent it does DirectInput and XInput. I have a couple conspiracy theories about why: Microsoft wants to sell more Xbox 360 gamepads for use with PC games, or Microsoft wants to sell more copies of Windows on which to play games that need a separate PC per player. Besides, it's a lot harder to fit multiple full-size PC keyboards around one monitor than two arcade-style joysticks around one monitor.

Re:Awful (0, Redundant)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209474)

I'm always curious about the high praise for 360 controllers. First of all, I'm not that keen on the shoulder button arrangement, but that is a minor gripe. For me the issue was always the analogue sticks. I find that they feel rather loose, providing little to no resistance and I therefore find fine control tricky (of course, a balance is required here – analogue sticks that are too stiff are even worse).

But, since I seem to be the only one I know who has this issue, maybe my experience has been tainted by the store demo models, which to date is the only means by which I have played a 360. It's reasonable to suspect that these controllers have been somewhat overused and abused, and the quality of the sticks may have diminished because of this. If so, it seems somewhat ironic to me that I may have been (unfairly) dissuaded from purchasing a 360 due to the substandard experience offered by the units installed to promote it.

Re:Awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31209512)

The analog sticks are more loose than the PS3's (which I find to be too tight), but the real problem is the absolutely awful d-pad. The weakness of Sony's d-pad is the relatively large separation between the buttons, but Microsoft's d-pad is not even a true d-pad; it's basically just another analog stick. If that abomination were to be switched out for a true d-pad then the Xbox 360 controller would become the best out there.

Re:Awful (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212772)

The 360 analog sticks do seem to require a lighter touch than the PS3 controllers.

I own all three consoles, but I prefer my 360 for the controller, Xbox live, and achievements (it's a Pavlovian thing, sue me). I have one of the 40gb PS3 controllers with no rumble, which makes the controller feel too lightweight and flimsy to me. I've been thinking up picking up a new one, but I just don't play all that many PS3 games. Generally, the 360 just feels better ergonomically to me. I'm just praying MS is smart enough to leave the controller alone for their next console, except for perhaps improving the d-pad that many seem to hate, which I've never minded, but then again, I rarely use.

I don't hate the PS3 controller or anything... it's just doesn't feel quite as good to me. But honestly, I've had no problems switching back and forth between the two. It only takes a few hours before you forget about a new controller unless it's got really glaring flaws, and I wouldn't say that of any of the current-gen controllers.

Re:Awful (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209814)

Anyone who can afford to, get an arcade-style joystick for your system of choice. They tend to be expensive, true; but if you are into fighting games, 2D platformers, anything old school -- hell yes, it will be worth it!

I have to disagree. I've been gaming for a lot of years on a lot of different systems and, in my experience, if you're not playing a flight simulator or something with similar control scheme, a decent d-pad will beat a full-size joystick every time. Nintendo's unified "cross" pad being the best of breed, Sony's bastardized split-design next, with the horrible, horrible 360 pad in 30th place. The stick is ideal for games where you need the ability to move both quickly and precisely (say, to whip to the left and shoot the damn torpedo coming at you) with both hands, but not so much on platformers, for instance, where you want to move precisely before jumping to the next spinning, fiery climbable wall while some demonic dream-dad is throwing knives at you.

Re:Awful (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31217226)

The stick is ideal for games where you need the ability to move both quickly and precisely (say, to whip to the left and shoot the damn torpedo coming at you) with both hands, but not so much on platformers, for instance, where you want to move precisely before jumping to the next spinning, fiery climbable wall while some demonic dream-dad is throwing knives at you.

I played it on PC, with WSAD for movement, and it was still a pain.

-:sigma.SB

P.S. You forgot to mention that the knives were on fire, too.

Re:Awful (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31218858)

Ugh. I feel your pain. Never been a fan of WASD for platformers either, but let's be honest: The Meat Circus is Nightmare Fuel-squared. It would be a pain with a direct perfect neural interface.

Re:Awful (3, Informative)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210436)

As someone else mentioned, Sony should have no say in controllers because their controller is a piece of junk. It was a terrible design in 1994, it is still terrible.

Well, the original ps1 controller was essentially a snes pad with l2 and r2 buttons also. the shapes instead of letters is probably to avoid lawsuits from nintendo.

Same with the xbox360 controller, it has x/y a/b but the colours and positions of the letters are different in order to be lawsuit friendly

But I must say that even the best gamepads are not good enough. No console comes with a truly good controller; in fact, only one console ever did: SNK's almighty, eternal, venerable, insanely expensive NEO FUCKIN' GEO!

neo geo controller was a lovely piece of kit, finest you could straight up buy, but I highly recommend fabricating your own with arcade parts, all of the non usb/bluetooth controllers work basically identically, a parallel to serial converter (exceptions: mega drive, master system, c64, neogeo) which you can implement with any microcontroller easily these days, attach a few different connector endings and have switches attached to the micro for selection of what controller standard to use.

I made a jamma to snes connector because I was tired of wiring 14+ wires all the way just for a single controller, serial cuts that to five. (and I can now use custom arcade controller on snes)

Sony makes a reconfigurable controller (1)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208700)

...And the D-pad will still suck harbles. /I'm looking at you too, Xbox360

Wii's concept controllers... (3, Insightful)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208702)

When Nintendo announced their new console, they hinted that the way we use the controller will surprise us. Various amateur 3D concepts popped up around the net, and most of them displayed a Nintendo controller with a touch-controlled LCD display, controls would change depending on the game.

Now we see Sony applying for a patent on the very same idea, a bunch of amateurs came up with in their free time few years ago.

Obvious patent is obvious.

TV remote controller (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209000)

Not to mention that this has been done with TV controllers for, what, years ?...
I already had an application to turn Palm PDAs into such controllers back in 2000.

Re:Wii's concept controllers... (1)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209644)

>> Obvious patent is obvious.

And wouldn't there already be prior art, considering you can use the DS to control some Wii games in this manner already?

Sony? No. (0, Troll)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31208792)

Start with Sony, and that's all I need to know.

You can't patent something so obvious, can you? (2, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209048)

In fact, plenty of phone emulators and games have on-screen controllers that do this already.

mistitled (2, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31209592)

Wouldn't this be better titled "in another desperate attempt to control a marketplace, Sony is developing new controller which they will tout as 'universal' but in actuality will be used by less than 5% of their own console's owners because it sucks so bad"

Re:mistitled (1)

soupd (1099379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210018)

Damn right cos if you want to get more out of the PS3 you have to buy Sony HDDs, Sony memory and Sony bluetooth remote/headsets. Oh wait, no you don't, you can use anything you like.

Bad Title (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210306)

I read "universal" as "works on all consoles." In which case, all modern controllers could already be considered universal. They all use USB and Bluetooth.

Re:Bad Title (1)

soupd (1099379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210354)

Are you sure? I know the PS3 controller is bluetooth but as far as I know the 360 controller uses a proprietary wireless technology. Furthermore, just because something connects over bluetooth or USB that does not mean a standard bluetooth or USB profile is being used.

Re:Bad Title (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210990)

360 uses a microsoft-rebadged form of bluetooth

Re:Bad Title (1)

soupd (1099379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211064)

Any idea why? I'd like to use the PS3 controller with the 360, likewise I have friends who'd like to do the opposite. Given there are more similarities than differences, the fact you can't is somewhat annoying.

Re:Bad Title (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31225566)

Money.....i mean really its that simple. Why let johnny use his Xbox controller on his PC that has bluetooth when we can charge him $20 for an official MS branded dongle? Microsoft lost their ass on Xbox 1, so they nickel and dime the shit out of you for everything on Xbox360.

RandomTitle (1)

Smoothsmith (1287510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31210408)

I think a multi-play controller in general is a good idea, except I think they should just make it so all controllers work with everything. As for one I think it's retarded how despite the xbox controller & ps3 controller both having x, circle, triangle, square, r1/r2, l1/l2, dpad & 2 analog sticks they for no apparent reason 'Can't" work with the other console. Well obviously you'd need a bluetooth dongle for the ps3 ones with xbox but yeah...standard buttons should work together.. That way I could use the ps3 controller with xbox which would make me very happy, as playstations have the analog sticks right where they should be, as I can't imagine why you'd possibly want left thumb up high & right down low...wtf? Touch screen display though, eww, lack of feedback just slows things down :( I always find it silly how a touch keyboard for example is harder to 'Touch' type than a normal one :D Oh & whoever said the lightness was annoying, had a console party last night & every xbox360-er who used my ps3 commented how nice it was having a light controller lol :P

Sony patents bad idea (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213114)

Good news for owners of the other consoles.

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