Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Whatever Happened To The Joystick?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the please-make-us-another-tie-fighter-title dept.

Classic Games (Games) 421

Ant writes "MSN UK has up an article that looks into the 'downfall' of the joystick: 'Sometimes technology disappears completely, but often it just fades into the background — still existing, still being used and sold and, occasionally, desired, but probably looking wistfully back on past glories. Which neatly described the joystick's steady slide away from its role as THE gaming peripheral to a fondly remembered also ran. But the joystick's tale is a long and convoluted one — and it is worth looking back into its often mysterious and ill-studied history before explaining why it will rise from the ashes like the mythical phoenix.' Seen on ClassicGaming."

cancel ×

421 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What happened to the joystick? (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419892)

It broke after playing the 100m dash in Summer Games.

Re:What happened to the joystick? (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420028)

Yep. The last joystick I owned was one of the popular 'Thrustmaster 3D' joysticks, with the hats and the buttons and so forth. After a particularly intense session of Doom II, it broke. It was the the third one. After that I got a gamepad-type controller and never looked back.

Re:What happened to the joystick? (1)

RicardoGCE (1173519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420192)

I went through about four Atari 2600 joysticks after my dad got me Activision's "Decathlon". Man I miss my Atari.

Re:What happened to the joystick? (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420596)

My lord that game seemed like a marketing strategy to sell more 2600 controllers.

My sister and I learned the best way for us to play that game - sitting on the floor, with the controller being held between the soles of our feet (one foot on the right side, one on the left), leaving hands free to move that controller back and forth like no one's business.

For some reason I also really got the timing for the pole vault down pretty well. I think my score on that would almost match the scores on the rest of the events combined.

Wow, is there anyway to hook a 2600 style controller up to my Mac? I need to get my fix! I do not think my Logitech Precision [logitech.com] is up to the task!

Re:What happened to the joystick? The truth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420232)

It broke after playing the 100m dash in Summer Games.

Yeah, yeah... what you ACTUALLY mean is you broke it trying to get that X rated animation on the Amiga to go faster....!

Re:What happened to the joystick? (2, Informative)

millwall (622730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420262)

The TAC-2 [wikipedia.org] was the only joystick to to make it through a 100 meter relay.

Ahh the nostalgia... TAC-2 was THE joystick.

Re:What happened to the joystick? (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420622)

The TAC-2 [wikipedia.org] was the only joystick to to make it through [Epyx Summer Games] 100 meter relay.

Ahh the nostalgia... TAC-2 was THE joystick.
Bollocks. THIS [rfgeneration.com] was the joystick. 100% leaf switches.

Re:What happened to the joystick? (1)

it0 (567968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420624)

Hah, No match for the Suzo Arcade joystick [wikipedia.org] with reinforced steel inside!

Re:What happened to the joystick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420616)

they became a different kind of toy
http://www.homemade-sex-toys.com/joystick/ [homemade-sex-toys.com]

Its easy (4, Funny)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419926)

The joystick met its Doom

Re:Its easy (1)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420230)

We are talking about the joystick, not the boomstick, buddy!

Re:Its easy (2, Interesting)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420604)

Actually Doom 2 was really the last game the joystick was useful for, due to no mouselook system. Quake was the death of the joystick.

I'd really like a Quake 1 experience in a HL2 engine. With the Reznor soundtrack and all. Mmmmm, grappling hook rocket rape.

Cheers.

Good ones are expensive (5, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419934)

Today's games require dual analog controllers and about 27 buttons. A decent joystick set that has all that functionality does exist - but it's primarily relegated to the flight sim community.

To have dual analog controllers in a large form factor, you'd have to have the joysticks mounted on something sturdy. Recall that back in Atari days, you used your weak hand to stabilize the thing while controlling it with your dominant hand. With two sticks, you'd need a base. And that would be big and not very mobile. And you'd still have to have some design where you could easily press all the buttons without moving your hands. Again, like a flight sim system, but those are very expensive.

So basically, the joystick got shrunk and put on a handheld controller.

Re:Good ones are expensive (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420270)

Today's games require dual analog controllers and about 27 buttons. A decent joystick set that has all that functionality does exist - but it's primarily relegated to the flight sim community.

And that, is why the Wii is selling more games.

Most of us old geezers don't have the manual dexterity to run those damned controllers. Whereas we can whistfully waggle our Wiis nowadays whenever we wish. ;-) ducks

Cheers

Re:Good ones are expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420302)

This is just my guess- the joystick *could* have been redesigned and evolved.

IMHO, it stems from Nintendo's decision to go with the pad for the NES. I know that- in the US at least- they wanted to differentiate it from the previous generation of consoles that retailers got burned with when the market crashed. To this end, they tried to make it look different- video-style loading and so on.

My gut reaction is that this is possibly why they went with a flat controller pad. AFAIK, they also went with the pad in Japan, and I don't know if the above commercial reasons applied or not. If not, then this argument is redundant- but whether or not it it was originally caused by Nintendo being intentionally different, the NES's success in Japan and the US ultimately led to flat-pad-style controller gaming taking over and becoming the "default" method of control.

Because of this, gaming evolved along "controller" lines, so that modern games probably couldn't be played that well with anything resembling a traditional joystick, even if they put on more buttons. BUT had the joystick remained the dominant form of controller, gaming might have evolved slightly differently, and new forms of joystick would have come along (just like the controller changed over the years). We'd still have had modern games- slightly different in style, possibly, because you can't just map controller-style gameplay onto a joystick.

But to get to the point, IMHO there was nothing inherent in joystick-style control that meant it was an eventual dead-end, that it couldn't have evolved to more modern styles of gameplay. It probably could have... it basically just went out of fashion, and the new generation of players were more used to controllers.

Just like I'll *never* feel as comfortable with a controller as with a joystick, they'll always feel the opposite.

Re:Good ones are expensive (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420446)

Did you ever actually use some of the pre-gamepad joysticks? I expanded on the issues in this thread [slashdot.org] , but the problem can be summed up in one word: TORQUE.

There's nothing more "fun" than fighting one's self for stability of the controller. Some of the controllers were extremely hard on the wrists and caused tiring rather quickly. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the console joysticks were unnatural control devices. When playing my classic game machines, I often do things like hold the joystick sideways in an attempt to find a better grip. (Or at least get gravity on my side. ;))

Joysticks always worked best in an arcade environment where the rotational forces were absorbed by the heavy machines rather than your hands.

Re:Good ones are expensive (5, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420638)

As far as I'm concerned, the Joystick did evolve, into what you called an Analog stick. Now every Playstation/XBox on the planet has two joysticks for every controller and the Wii has one on a "dongle thing."

Re:Good ones are expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420606)

The funny thing is I'd wish I could find a gamepad with enough buttons to play some old Intellivision and Colecovision games. I certainly wish I could find something like the Colecovision super action controller.

Competition pro remake (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419938)

Some company makes a "remake" of the famous Competition Pro joystick (complete with micro-switches and all) that has a USB connector.

Re:Competition pro remake (1)

Mushdot (943219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420388)

My mate has got one at work, for, erm, 'lunchtime' C64 gaming sessions :-)

For my home computing days (Spectrum) I was always a keyboard man and I still tend to prefer playing with a keyboard if possible when playing emulated games. Console controllers I'm fine with, but I've never felt 100% comfortable using a joystick.

Joysticks (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419940)

There have been very few games where I actually enjoyed using a joystick, and all of those were (space) flight simulators. How many of those have come out the past couple of years? Heck, the last one I recall using a joystick with was Tachyon: The Fringe, and that was only up to the point where I found that when using the mouse the ships could turn infinitely fast.

Re:Joysticks (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420018)

I think the controller's functionality is game-dependent.

I remember some of the first Star Wars arcade games had a controller that was not unlike a dualshock (except mounted on a pivot)

Re:Joysticks (3, Insightful)

GenKreton (884088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420106)

Ever play one of the MechWarriors or similar giant bipedal war machine robot games? I found joysticks rocked for those, as well.

Unfortunately I game so little know, I hardly knew joysticks were out of style...

Joysticks are everywhere. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22419952)

Doesn't each XBox 360 and PS3 controller have *TWO* joysticks on them??

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420012)

Doesn't each XBox 360 and PS3 controller have *TWO* joysticks on them??

Arguably, they're not joysticks per se.

A joystick was held in your entire hand, those little thumb-twiddlers are just operated with your thumbs in (in my experience) the most hand-cramping configuration you can imagine. I find them almost unusable.

A true joystick is much bigger, and is grasped in your entire hand -- usually, fairly comfortably. It is very different from what you see on a modern controller.

Cheers

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (5, Funny)

Lust (14189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420144)

> A true joystick is much bigger, and is grasped in your entire hand -- usually, fairly comfortably.

That's what she said.

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420440)

>> A true joystick is much bigger, and is grasped in your entire hand -- usually, fairly comfortably.
>That's what he said.

There fixed that typo for most nerds on here! :)

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420472)

> > A true joystick is much bigger, and is grasped in your entire hand -- usually, fairly comfortably.

> That's what she said.

Such tiny, tiny hands.

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420184)

I disagree.

I don't think it's the size of the joystick that counts - it's how many frags you can get with it ;)

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420194)

The XBox (and 360) and Gamecube controllers recognized that the analog stick was the primary directional input, and placed the left stick in the natural thumb position, while the d-pad is moved down out of the way. For some reason, the Playstation controller has not recognized this, and places both of it's sticks in difficult to reach spots.

On the Wii, the analog stick is the primary control on the nunchuck, so it is also positioned comfortably. Wii's "Classic Controller" appears to fall for the same trap as the Playstation, and the sticks look like they'd be awful to use (I haven't actually tried a Classic Controller, so I can't say for sure. I'm happy enough using the gamecube ones)

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420300)

/agree. I personally have always found the Playstation DualShock design to be one of the most uncomfortable controllers ever conceived...true, the original Xbox controller sucked, but that was rather quickly fixed. For some reason, Sony insists on sticking with a design that causes your hands to hurt after a very short period of time.

Why the hell is this thing such a popular controller? It feels entirely unnatural.

Re:Joysticks are everywhere. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420576)

Wii's "Classic Controller" appears to fall for the same trap as the Playstation

In the case of the Wii Classic Controller, it's not a mistake. The Classic Controller is intended to support dpad games for systems like the NES, SNES, Genesis, and Turbografix. The analog sticks are secondary controllers and mostly exist to support N64 games. For those games, the Gamecube controller may be a better option.

Basically, the Classic Controller is a recreation of the perfect DPad controller (i.e. the SNES controller) with modern controls tacked on.

FTA, but what about N64 (3, Insightful)

DrWho520 (655973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420136)

These thumbsticks bear stronger consideration - although they are reduced to joystick nubs - these have been integral to joypads since the original PlayStation...
As I recall, my N64 had a thumbstick smack in the middle of the controller before the Sony Dualshocks (or pre Dualshocks, if they had no vibe.) Am I remembering this incorrectly? In additon, I found the article to be a bit pedantic and with littel substance. No mention of force feedback or joystick hats, which are the real progenitors of modern day thumbsticks.

Re:FTA, but what about N64 (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420326)

Yes you remember correctly. I have one and a USB convertor to use with N64 emulators.

The joystick is alive and well. (1, Redundant)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419958)

The controllers on my PS2 and my Xbox 360 each have two joysticks that you can move with a thumb instead of using your whole hand. One usually controls movement, and the other the camera.

Re:The joystick is alive and well. (5, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420160)

I've always considered those thumbsticks. When I hear joystick I look back fondly at the days of Tie Fighter or Falcon 3.0 where you grasped the joystick with your entire hand and it had multiple buttons built in on it and on the base. I really felt like I was controlling the aircraft when using a joystick. Nowadays when using thumbsticks I usually have to configure the game to inverse the Y-axis, something that seems so obvious to me since I grew up using joysticks but it must not be that common anymore.

Thumbsticks (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420238)

Yes, they aren't big enough to be proper joysticks, but they serve the same function. Besides, could you imagine implementing the equivalent of a NES Advantage [wikipedia.org] stick for the PS3 or the Xbox 360?

It was due to a change in the gaming habits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22419968)

People went from playing adventure games to first person shooters like Doom.

Re:It was due to a change in the gaming habits (1)

eMartin (210973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420152)

Personally, I'd rather play those adventure games with a gamepad anyway, so it's not really the games that did it.

It's just that a better controller came along.

I do have a joystick for flight sims, but I can't think of anything else I'd want to use it for.

Re:It was due to a change in the gaming habits (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420282)

The joystick was as good as dead from the days of the NES, and there were no FPSs on consoles back then.

I still have both of mine (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419972)

Right next to the paddles and the rest of the Atari 2600 gear.

Re:I still have both of mine (2, Funny)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420242)

Oh gosh, mine are long gone. They were pretty worn out from RealSports Baseball and trying to time the jumps over the crocodiles in Pitfall. I had totally forgotten about the EVIL paddles. Why is it that they all seemed to develop that "stuttering" motion after a few uses? I hated using them because whatever you were trying to control with them never moved smoothly across the screen, so you'd end up overcompensating since you weren't sure where things were going to go.

I guess I'm just bitter that I could never get past level 9 playing Kaboom! [gamespot.com]

Joystick past usefulness (1)

FlatLine84 (1084689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419980)

I remember my first joystick I got, a Gravis 3 button job. It came with Commander Keen 4. I played that thing for hours, and that joystick was awesome, but I soon realized, the only place for a joystick was flight sims.... I even tried using the joystick again for look in Half-Life for the heck of it, that went horribly....

Re:Joystick past usefulness (1)

slobarnuts (666254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420020)

Thanks for reminding me of Commander Keen and the hours of homework I skipped to play it.

Re:Joystick past usefulness (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420096)

I remember my first joystick I got, a Gravis 3 button job.

The Gravis gamepads were awesome; they were ubiquitous during the early 90's. The thing that killed them was when FPSes started having 3 dimensions instead of 2.

Re:Joystick past usefulness (1)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420170)

i loved my gravis gamepad and the countless keen4 shareware hours that came with it...

local BC company too, dead now :(

Flight Sims (4, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419998)

Joysticks were always a niche peripheral really - keyboard/mouse is much better for FPS, and though fighting games use joysticks in the arcade, it's a lot easier to combo with a digital pad (dammit Melty Blood, I pushed down three times, why isn't your dead zone large enough to notice?). I think what the decline in joysticks really shows is the decline in first-person flight sim-esque games - remember when X-Wing/TIE fighter/etc. was the big thing to play? What happened to those days? The last decent game of that sort I remember was Star Trek Bridge Commander, and I'll bet many people played through the whole campaign without even noticing the ability to control the Enterprise flight-sim style. It's a shame, because it seems like one of the genres that would really benefit a lot from modern graphics. So, what happened to it?

Exactly! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420196)

I've got my old sidewinder pro force feedback stick still and I'd love to play some decent flightsim or spacesim with it again.

I tried looking for a decent "fun" jet combat flightsim again the other day and the choice is next to nothing nowadays whereas years ago there years to be tons - the Jayne's series, TFX/EF2000 etc. and prior to that my favourite of all time, Dogfight on the Atari ST.

Outside of flightsims mechwarrior worked well as did the X-Wing and Tie-Fighter series.

The real problem is lack of games, Microsoft Flight Sim seems to dominate, but I wasn't keen on it, I wanted a quick and dirty action flight sim!

Ironically, with Over G, Ace Combat 6, Blazing Angels I've found the 360 a better place for flight sims nowadays but I'd much rather be dogfighting with a joystick than a pair of thumbsticks!

Re:Exactly! (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420394)

Whatever did happen to the spacesim genre it was there until like 2001 than poof!

Re:Exactly! (1)

Dark_MadMax666 (907288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420548)

It was decided by executives that the genre is too niche and not worth it (same about flightsim genre as well) . I hope once it becomes cheaper to produce modern games(e.g. 3d engines become cheap and ubiquitous) and publish them (this is already happening with online distribution) we will see resurrection of quality PC gaming (e.g. not Sims # N, another mindless console port or yet another RTS with all the same things you could see in C&C)

Re:Exactly! (3, Informative)

Araneas (175181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420654)

FlightGear - Linux and Windows, great modelling and strong developer community. Speech and beer free too. http://www.flightgear.org/ [flightgear.org]

Re:Flight Sims (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420324)

*sigh*

There was a time when Joystick's weren't a niche peripheral. This was a time before the FPS had been invented. You are clearly too young to remember Sensible Soccer, IK+, Bruce Lee, Spy Vs. Spy, School Daze, Everyone's a Wally, Super Cars II, ...

Man, I miss those days. God bless emulators and my USB competition pro :D

Re:Flight Sims (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420470)

Actually I do remember a few of those - and can't think of any that are better to control with a joystick than a pad.

Re:Flight Sims (4, Informative)

zeoslap (190553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420352)

See it wasn't a niche peripheral, you're showing your age, or lack of it. On the C64, Amiga, Sinclair Spectrum etc in the 80s the joystick was THE way to control things.

Re:Flight Sims (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420480)

It is easy to spot the guy trying to fly with a mouse in BF1942. He is the burning wreck on the ground.

Re:Flight Sims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420528)

No, sorry. They joystick is still the prime controller for fighting games. It has been since the Street Fighter days, and continues to be in today's competitive scene. There is a reason why people still pay up to $100 (or more) for Hori Real Arcade Pro Sticks, and there even is an underground custom joystick market. Yes, pads and even keyboards (for the niche doujin games) have a presence, but at the end of the day the joystick still is the most adept input device when there are high execution requirements. I still use only the keyboard for Eternal Fighter Zero, but for any other fighing game, I find the joystick preferrable. Even Melty Blood has adapted to joysick use with Act Cadenza.

Very few pads can really compare to a good joysick. The main example is the Sega Saturn pad.

You are still doing Heat Activate with 222D? Sounds like you are playing an outdated version.

- Seiken

It's still hanging there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420004)

I for one am stroking my wookie daily!

What happened to the Joystick? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420010)

It was an inferior control device for home consoles. The joystick is only an effective controller when it's properly secured into a solid base. e.g. An arcade machine. When translated to home use, it tended to be detached from a solid base and thus suffered. The 2600 CX40s used a wide base to attempt to combat this problem, but a player still applied torque to his own hands when using the joystick. The CX24 Prolines that were included with the Atari 7800 were that much worse. It was physically straining to use the joysticks properly due to the narrow base.

The only company that produced a worse home joystick was Coleco. Their joystick was so small, you needed to palm it to use it. Palming the stick resulted in even MORE torque, thus making gaming very tiring despite the wide base.

At the end of the day, the gamepad was a superior control device for home consoles. It met the needs of the average game better, thus relegating joysticks to arcade and flight-sim use only.

Virtua Stick High Grade (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420076)

The joystick is only an effective controller when it's properly secured into a solid base. e.g. An arcade machine. When translated to home use, it tended to be detached from a solid base and thus suffered.
Don't sticks like the Virtua Stick High Grade come with a solid base?

Re:Virtua Stick High Grade (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420268)

Sure. The NES Advantage was another controller with a solid base. (And quite popular in its time.) The problem was that creating a solid base for an arcade-style joystick was an expensive proposition. Expensive enough to where shipping such large contraptions with a game console was prohibitive. Thus console joysticks were the much weaker variety seen in the Ataris and Colecovision. (And Videopacs for all you Europeans out there. ;))

These inexpensive joysticks tended to suffer from mechanical wear due to the stresses imposed on them. In some cases, the sticks were so cheap they would practically disintegrate. (e.g. The 5200 control sticks would lose their boot regularly, the only thing that was centering the analog stick.)

Beyond the expense, there was also the issue of finding a proper surface to use. Most consoles were played from the couch in the living room or family room. Finding a place to solidly plant these sticks was difficult for the average person. They could place the contraption on their lap, but it could easily slide off from the forces applied to it. (Thus necessitating that the player keep a firm hold on both the stick and the buttons.)

Thus it ended up being cheaper and more reliable to ship gamepads with consoles rather than monstrous arcade sticks. By the SNES generation, arcade stick sales had dropped substantially and would never recover.

As an aside... (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420112)

...TFA makes a rather grievous error when it refers to the "Nintendo joypad". The joypad was an early attempt at combining both control methods. e.g. The Atari CX78 was a joypad:

http://www.atariage.com/controller_page.html?SystemID=7800&ControllerID=24 [atariage.com]

The NES controller was properly referred to as a gamepad. Modern controllers blur the distinction by having both DPad controls as well as thumbstick controls.

Re:What happened to the Joystick? (1)

blu3 b0y (908852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420156)

The NES Advantage joystick solved the problem by having a heavy wide base (approx. 6" x 8" or 15cm x 20cm) and a joystick with very little physical resistance to movement. You just put the thing on the floor, table, or your lap and you could use the joystick just like the ones attached to the arcade machines. It was even wedge-shaped so the whole thing tilted towards the player, like the arcade machine. The buttons were big and easy to hit and came with the most wonderful tunable rapid repeat settings. Contra sure was easier with auto-fire at maximum rate...

Whatever Happened To The Joystick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420030)

Not sure what this article is saying. On home consoles, the joystick was gone from the time of the NES, long before the Playstation. And I don't know of any games that "required" its use. The gamepad from the start was a complete replacement for joysticks on home consoles. It also makes no mention of the fact that joysticks remain the standard input device in actual arcade games.

Re:Whatever Happened To The Joystick? (1)

basscomm (122302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420344)

On home consoles, the joystick was gone from the time of the NES


Maybe as a pack in, but the NES Advantage [wikipedia.org] was always (and still is) my controller of choice for that system. The Super NES also had a version [wikipedia.org] , but it had such a brain-dead button layout that I didn't get a lot of use out of it.

answer (1)

CaPn Corelian (575148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420038)

Was shrunk and included within a more complete input set: the game pad.

It was inevitable, really (1, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420042)

The day they started flying planes with joysticks, the gamers were done with them. No sharing of our l33t technologies man !

OSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420048)

The great thing about open source software is that much of it still supports superior input devices such as the joystick. Proprietary, closed source software, like the vast majority of games out there, cannot be similarly extended to support such hardware; another thing in the long list of ways in which closed source, proprietary software is inferior.

Joysticks? (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420072)

What about the controller for the ColecoVision [wikipedia.org] ? Now THAT was a controller!

Now get off my lawn!

Re:Joysticks? (1)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420534)

What about the controller for the ColecoVision? Now THAT was a controller!

... ... ... that breaks easily, unfortunately. I got a couple of those going unused because broken. I guess I should open them up and see if I could fix it....

Hmmm... maybe I should...

Ok, you just ruined my weekend, and this is valentine's day... the wife is gonna complain :-(

Re:Joysticks? (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420612)

Ok, you just ruined my weekend, and this is valentine's day... the wife is gonna complain :-(
What? What better Valentine's day gift?
Honey I know you're mad and I know I spent all Valentine's Weekend in the shed... but, look! The ColecoVision works again!

You're right... I'm sorry man...

article incorrect (1)

hellfish006 (1000936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420080)

Does anyone else notice that this article makes it seem as though the Playstion was the first console with a thumbstick, when in fact it was the N64. Sony redid their controller after seeing how popular it was. Which seems vaguely familiar.... dual shock 3???

Re:article incorrect (1)

lucifig (255388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420332)

There was an NES aftermarket item that could clip to the controller and had a screw in nub thing so you could control the D-Pad thumbstick style. It was actually quite handy as well as dulling the hard rigid edges of the original NES controller.

Re:article incorrect (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420402)

I've got a gamepad for the PC with a little stick you can screw in to the d-pad to use like this. Unfortunately, the screwhole ends up being a sharp edge that makes the pad a little hard on the thumb when using it without the stick.

Just as Uranus was renamed to Urectum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420100)

...to avoid cheesy geek-innuendos, the 'joystick' became the 'joypad nubbin-stick'. Yeah, thanks.
At least obselesence has finally freed us of all those 'floppy' jokes.

NES. (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420114)

Qutie simply, the hugeness that was the NES killed the joystick. Gamers found that these controllers gave a better way to to play, even with the nasty "nintendo thumb" that everyone got.

I blame IBM. (4, Insightful)

iansmith (444117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420138)

The IBM PC had no joystick ports and as it became the dominant gaming platform over machines from Commodore and Atari the inexpensive, simple 8-way joystick was abandoned to be replaced by expensive sound cards and complicated joysticks.

I find it sad that entire genres of gaming became extinct with it.

Only now are flash games reviving the idea of simple, but fun games.

It's funny that in 2008 there are tons of games being developed that play with.... a keyboard!

ASDF!

Re:I blame IBM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420330)

It's funny that in 2008 there are tons of games being developed that play with.... a keyboard!

Yeah strange that!! Still I guess if you want to program using toggle switches then that's your call... !

Fighting Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420142)

Hori [www.hori.jp] still makes some good ones for fighting games expensive though. I own a few "Joysticks" for fighting games. An Intec with programmable features gives a cheap advantage somewhat. I feel that advantage has weakened my skill set for the arcade. Really need to get back to the arcades but Fighting games just aren't as popular now as they use to be. I blame RPG's and First/Third Person shooters. Below is a Samurai Sprits 6 Comp. I love this game and own it for the PS2 Part1 [youtube.com] Part2 [youtube.com] Part3 [youtube.com] Part4 [youtube.com]

X-Arcade, anyone? (3, Informative)

Ewann (209481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420162)

I for one love my X-Arcade joystick [x-arcade.com] (link warning: some video game sounds present). Nothing makes for a better MAME experience short of building an entire MAME cabinet.

Re:X-Arcade, anyone? (2, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420266)

I'd very much disagree. I don't like the feeling of the X-Arcade's stick at all, and the buttons are uncomfortably placed.

I'd much rather have a Hori Real Arcade, or one of their similar sticks. The Dreamcast arcade stick was an absolute masterpiece, and works just fine when set up in MAME via the relevant pad converter.

Re:X-Arcade, anyone? (1)

Ewann (209481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420310)

Interesting. I'll have to check out the Hori. I loved my Dreamcast but never had the arcade stick for it.

Last I checked it's still around (1)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420226)

Each of my PS2 controllers has 2 joysticks, and the nunchuk controller for my Wii has one as well.

I guess some would argue that because they're thumb operated they don't count as joysticks (the article refers to them as "thumbsticks"). I disagree with that. We had an Atari 2600 30 years ago (actually, I still have it) and when I played it I'd hold the controller so my right thumb would be on top of the stick (the way thumbsticks are used today) and my left thumb would press the fire button. Since those sticks were just 8 way digital sticks you didn't need the fine control that the analog sticks take today.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as there's a version of Robotron 2084 out there, there will be a need for joysticks. Now please excuse me while I chase some kids off my lawn.

Sticks still used for fighting games (1)

Catlord (305320) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420252)

I still have a whole box of old joysticks for my Commie 64 just collecting dust in the attic. It's a shame that that the traditional stick is essentially gone from gaming these days. Right now the only modern application of the arcade-style joystick is for use in competitive fighting games (such as Tekken, Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur, etc..) Since I play these games daily, I have an array of various traditional arcade joysticks I've built myself or imported from different countries. Console pads are cool, however sticks offer precise full-hand and wrist articulation, whereas pad controls rely solely on the thumb.

Donotwant (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420260)

Seriously, it's a big freaking lever instead of the grouping of buttons that take less force and less maneuvering to manipulate. Why in the world would I want my whole hand to move a joystick and inch to the right when I can just slide my thumb over a quarter inch to get the same effect?

And no, it's not a matter of laziness but rather an ergonomic advantage in playing a game. It's the same reason I like keyboard/mouse; I can go from a full run to back peddling on a FPS by simply pressing a key instead of having to reposition my thumb over another button, or worse in the joysticks case of having to reposition my entire hand by two inches.

Flight sims (1)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420280)

Yeah I know the first I reach for when I play a flight sim is my keyboard and mouse. Why those stupid real life pilots prefer old fashion sticks and yokes is beyond me.

Actually a more valid complaint from old gamers like me is how in the hell people play FPSs with joysticks, i.e. those analogy thumb sticks on consoles.

What's funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420322)

...is that way back in 1979 when it became available, the Intellivision was slammed for having a game pad instead of a full joystick like the 2600, now it's the norm.

I have a nice collection of obsolete equipment... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420340)

Saitek Cyborg 2000: bought in 2002 for £28

Saitek Cyborg Evo: bought in 2005 for £25

Saitek X53 Pro: bought in 2007

Easily the best (and most expensive!) is the X53 Pro. Comes with a throttle with as many buttons as the stick itself. £240 and worth every penny.

Who cares? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420412)

They're in the same place as the buggy whip, hand cranked Ditto machines, wire voice recorders, the Zune and the Underwood typewriter.

Let it go. Move on.

I use my joystick daily (1)

BrunBoot13 (787805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420428)

Ever try to fly a chopper with a mouse or keyboard? Or dogfight in a Spitfire without a rudder? Anyone who flies regularly in PC games probably uses a joystick. I use a joystick in the Battlefield series (BF1942, BF Vietnam, BF2, BF2142), in flight sims (Falcon 4.0), space sims (Freespace series) and the Mech Warrior series, where having a rudder is enormously important. Unless all of these kinds of games disappear, there will always be a market for joysticks.

my use of joysticks (1)

marvelouspatric (1112793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420452)

i never really cared for joysticks for platformers. but, i loved them for fighting games. street fighter, mortal kombat, and even the soul caliber series just feel better with a joystick. i never knew anyone who could do that crazy 360 move with Zangief without a joystick (or ripping a hole in their thumb).

Still exists (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420454)

Joysticks are still around. There are two of them on my Playstation 2 controller. They're smaller than they used to be but that's just evolution.

Not so fond Amiga memories (1)

orb_nsc (819661) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420456)

I'll always remember my frustrations using the joystick on the Amiga. Here I had an advanced system that played beautiful games with some decent amount of depth, and I only get ONE button on the joystick, like I was still using a Vic-20. Inevitably that meant that the button was "fire" and you had to press up to jump. So no control while jumping, and it was easy to jump when you didn't want to. Shadow of the Beast, Blues Brothers, Zool, all games that made me give up in frustration about about 20 minutes thanks to the archaic Amiga joystick.

Obligatory Explanation per Cyanide and Happiness (1)

Demodian (658895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420516)

I think they explained it well. http://www.explosm.net/comics/1087/ [explosm.net]

What happened was... (4, Interesting)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420526)

It got too expensive. I recently looked into purchasing an USB arcade joystick for use with 2D fighter games, and the only ones worth looking at (X-Arcade, Hori) cost about $100, for a single controller. In comparison, a new PS2 can be had now for $130. $100 is just too much to shell out for a gaming peripheral.

Lack of games (4, Insightful)

ThePyro (645161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420544)

Joysticks have gone out of style because we haven't had a new Descent game in almost a decade. Similarly, the last great space combat sim was Freespace 2. There are probably some chicken-and-egg issues as well. You don't buy a joystick if you haven't a game to go with it, and you don't buy appropriate games if you don't have a joystick.

hand functionality (1)

jdwclemson (953895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420572)

What would you rather do? Control a single element with my entire hand or control 5+ things with that same hand? With all the buttons we have on top of and below the controller these days,you have a lot more to do with that one hand. There are the old joysticks that have multiple triggers and buttons on top, but there is no way you can pull off the kind of sensitivity you need for a first person shooter, and few other games that are suitable other than flight sims. Even if somebody did reinvent the joystick to work great with a particular game, it probably would ONLY work well for that one game. The lesson we have all learned from the most popular interface tools is keep it simple! Mouse and Keyboard, wiimote, the Playstation controller, all accept this fact, and thats why they are hard to beat.

Death of the casual flight sim (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420598)

I'm saying casual now, not the hardcore. I know there are plenty of hardcore sim fans out there. But it seems like the casual market has really gone to crap. Space Sims are fairly dead. The X-Wing series had a great run, through TIE Fighter and X-Wing Alliance. LucasArts wants nothing more to do with it. The last good Wing Commander was II, I was impressed by the FMV's of III and IV but they really weren't very good as games, the hardware wasn't up to the task of pushing polygonal models and the ship designs looked like fried ass. There are some shareware space sims out there but again, they just don't feel like proper space shooters.

As far as atmospheric sims went, Comanche Overkill had a lot of promise. The game had no plot going for it at all, it was just crazy encounters in barren canyons but holy shit, that was fun! Flying through those voxel canyons, the controls were sharp and things felt convincing. The sequels dropped the ball here.

The last great casual fight sim I've played was Crimson Skies. Good joystick support, great plot, excellent voice acting, quite enjoyable. The X-Box sequel ruined the whole feel.

I've seen some of the other arcadey sims that have come out but they don't feel right, all of these titles end up being a 6/10 or 7/10, real meh material. I played the demos for the WWII flight sims on 360 and they're just more 6/10's. I think that proper casual flight sims have basically gone the way of the adventure game.

Happy Memories (5, Funny)

kieran (20691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420640)

I was at some sort of huge fair along with my air cadet squadrons one summer many moons ago, and one of the other squadrons in attendence had brought along a 3/4 scale model spitfire, you could sit in it and everything.

There was a breakfast television crew wandering around filming and some hot blonde TV presenter was being shown said spitfire and helped to climb into it. Upon trying to sit down down in the cockpit she suddenly finds her way impeded and asks the cadet sergeant "Oops! What's this between my legs?"

Cadet Sergeant, with big grin: "That's the joy stick". Cue red-faced presenter and much laughter.

I don't think that bit ever made it on the telly...

Fine motor control and accuracy (4, Interesting)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420644)

There's something to be said about the fine motor control that the fingers are capable of that can't be easily replicated by the entire arm. Joysticks require a steady hand and a working surface you can rest your arms on so they don't tire, while the smaller analog sticks of today only require the thumbs to rest on them. They're best used in situations that simulate Joysticks in real life, such as in flying simulators. They don't translate nearly as well to the (mostly) 2D movement in an FPS as a simple crosspad does because most movement in those environments don't require analog sensitivity. A joystick requires much more of a response to achieve the same results.

That being said, the immersive qualities of holding the joystick while leading an enemy target is much greater than the simple twitch movements that most games rely on today, as well as improved dexterity when using both large and small muscle groups at the same time (see also: autoaim). If anything replaced the joystick it's the mouse, not the analog stick. It's much more comfortable to use, requires less effort to achieve the same sensitivity, and is much more ubiquitous (imagine trying to use a joystick to move the Windows mouse).
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>