Cliffy B Clamors for Simpler Controllers

Cliffy B Clamors for Simpler Controllers

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Epic Games Lead Game Designer Cliff Bleszinski is hoping for "fewer buttons on the controller" of the next iteration of the Xbox console.

"This is purely me speculating in my own realm of game development, but if you look at a controller right now it looks like an alien spaceship," complained Cliffy B.

With over a dozen buttons, the typical gaming controller can be seen as intimidating by newcomers. Besides reducing the button count, Cliffy B believes including other input devices will open opportunities.

"I think you could do things with a built-in camera or a little motion sensitivity. You look at the Wii controller with less buttons - they added functionality by doing waggle. Not a lot of games use the waggle well, but Super Mario Galaxy for example uses it perfectly. Zak and Wiki uses it rather well," he said. "There are other ways of providing interactivity without having every single finger doing something at once on a friggin' controller."

Motion cameras seem to be one solution Cliffy and his colleagues seem to be especially excited about. He explained, "I've seen some prototype camera stuff that some friends are working on that can actually tell the depth of the world around the player, and can track individual finger movements and stuff like that. That's exciting stuff, and I think that's where it all needs to start going towards."

Source: Computer and Videogames

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Yes, that's just what we need. Controllers for idiots.

What we need to do is go back to NES contoller. I'm sure that would work great with Gears of War.

I thought he wasn't called Cliffy B anymore? Isn't he called Clarice or something now?

A good idea but I think more developers need to prove that they can use the 'less is more' approach well. Look at the Wii, like Clarice said, only a handful of games have used the Wii-mote well. I think Lionhead are along the right lines with the control system for Fable 2 but I'm still not convinced that less buttons is a good idea.

More input devices is a good idea though, more consoles should have the option to use a keyboard and mouse, simply because I'd like to play an RTS on occasion.

Does anybody even listen to this idiot's comments anymore?

I haven't been impressed with the less is more context sensitive controls in the past( poor Niko don't know how many times he jumped to his death when I meant to do something else).

I see the only natural evolution is all games ship with their own custom controllers ie Steel Battalion - http://www.golem.de/0212/23214-steel%20battalion%20controller.jpg ... or not, still one of the coolest peripherals ever though.

Although it's been getting a lot of mixed reviews I am interested in trying Too Humans control scheme out. For those unfamiliar Too Human plays with both control sticks( for you older gamers think Robotron) where one is used for movement and the other to attack.

That t-shirt is hilarious. That's all I have to say about that.

just because a controller has 10 plus buttons doesn't mean you have to use them. duh.

Say what you will about current controllers, so long as it's more user-friendly than the Jaguar controller I'm happy.

Cliffy B certainly likes to make "statements"

Am I the only one who wishes they could punch their monitor and have him feel it in his face? Who needs fewer buttons when you can just map every function to A like he did with Gears of War? You could've played that with an Atari 2600 controller.

Is he counting the Start, Select and Guide button in that total of 12?

I don't know that anyone really wants to design for people who find current controllers to be "intimidating". Two joysticks, one d-pad, four buttons and four shoulder buttons... Not exactly complicated there, Cliffy. It's usually not a good idea to take away options, as opposed to adding.

While we're on the subject, how about we start streamlining keyboards too? I mean, who honestly needs all those buttons when playing Half-Life? Does anyone really need the # key? Simple wastage I tells ya. And maybe we should include a mechanical arm to wipe our arses for us too. Cos y'know, we're obviously a simple lot if Cliffy B says so...

Consoles need lots of buttons as games become more advanced, and all are comfortably positioned within reach, unlike a PC which could do with simpler controls

You look at the Wii controller with less buttons - they added functionality by doing waggle. Not a lot of games use the waggle well

Exactly. It's a gimmick. A not entirely successful gimmick either. And by successful I don't mean the amount of units sold for the novelty to casual people who don't know better, I'm talking about variety and longevity.

The hula-hoop sold a lot too when it first came out, but like the Wii it's a bit of a one trick pony.

Let's see how they can shoe-horn this unwieldy control scheme into a genre that doesn't involve shooting something or pretending this large piece of tofu is a racket or a bat or, erm, hmmm. Nope that's pretty much it.

If I have to imagine that a white rectangle is a club, then I have the capacity to imagine that this dual-stick buttonathon is something else too. And it doesn't involve me elbowing my partner or throwing things through my tv. Sooooo...

It seems odd to me that some posters are taking this Cliffy character's comments as a personal insult. This line of thinking seems geared towards the casual gamer market- all the people out there who think that "two joysticks, one d-pad, four buttons and four shoulder buttons" are too much to keep track of while, for example, some digital bastard with a rapier is carving their little bloke up onscreen. After years of only gaming on the PC I attempted to play Halo on my mate's X-box, and I was useless.

Current-gen control pads *are* confusing and/or intimidating if you're new to gaming (or even just to console gaming). All those buttons and joysticks *are* hard to keep track of if you haven't had a reasonable amount of practice. Yahtzee made some relevant points on this subject in his Peggle review- hand your mum a PS2 controller and (if she's anything like mine) she'll take 10 minutes to find her way out of the menu screen, assuming she hasn't found an excuse to go and do something else in the interim, and will get killed by the first opponent. Stick her in front of Wii Sports and she'll be fine, with a significant chance that she'll actually enjoy the experience.

This is the market that Cliffy seems to think (rightly in my opinion) has been left behind by the other console companies. If somebody from Sony or Microsoft came out to my branch of Toys'r'us in December either of the last two years they'd see the size of the market they're excluding by only making kit for existing gamers. The gaming market would risk ending up like the western comic market, and nobody wants that.

-Nick

Xiado:
Consoles need lots of buttons as games become more advanced, and all are comfortably positioned within reach, unlike a PC which could do with simpler controls

Controls for PC are simple and very effective, its just that a keyboard is for other things than just gaming.

Like quickly typing this post.

Xiado:
Consoles need lots of buttons as games become more advanced, and all are comfortably positioned within reach, unlike a PC which could do with simpler controls

Made me laugh, a PC isn't primarily for gaming however, a mouse beats a joystick any day and I'd rather feel like the developer thought I had the mental capacity to press '3' to get out my rifle instead of mashing R2 to cycle through my pistol, knife, grenades, sniper rifle, slightly older rifle and tranquilizer pistol.

People always say having more buttons is bad for some reason, however we can actually type during online gaming and no matter what anyone says you cannot type effectively with an onscreen keyboard. And going back to the point above, I'd rather press '5' to get the exact weapon I want and need at that particular point in time rather then pressing A or whatever 5 times to the same effect.

And for a quotable quote on the article 'Cliffy B, making console tards more retarded'

VonBlade:

You look at the Wii controller with less buttons - they added functionality by doing waggle. Not a lot of games use the waggle well

Exactly. It's a gimmick. A not entirely successful gimmick either. And by successful I don't mean the amount of units sold for the novelty to casual people who don't know better, I'm talking about variety and longevity.

The hula-hoop sold a lot too when it first came out, but like the Wii it's a bit of a one trick pony.

Right, because no one plays with a hula hoop anymore . . . 1. It's not like there are records of ancient Greeks using them for exercise . . . 2. Christ, they don't even have an international holiday (that was two days ago.) 3.

PedroSteckecilo:
Cliffy B certainly likes to make "statements"

Yes. But he doesn't like making seance. Really, he should just stick to designing games and keep quiet.

ah yes, simpler controllers to allow for yet more dumbed-down PC games as a result.

Honestly, as a would-be game designer, and having examined multiple pads closely, I think the 360 Wireless/Dualshock 3 are the pinnacle of standard console pad design. Any more is excessive, any less is not enough for modern games. More buttons can be gained by "shifting", the Assassin's Creed approach (holding a shoulder-button changes the functions of all face buttons). Complexity can be reduced by simplifying the gameplay, and not requiring the use of the second analogue stick. In fact, that's already true - casual gamers playing GTA4 will never even think to adjust the camera unless explicitly told.

Pads LOOK complex. But the number of buttons is not an obstruction to good game design. The few who dislike modern controllers are outnumbered by the many who appreciate them and who have adapted to them.

The Wiimote is not popular because it excessively reduced it's button count. It's good because of the motion-sensitivity, single handedness, and the wide range of functions it's usable for. It's also because of the good game design behind it; without Wii Sports setting a precedent, the Wii would have never got anywhere.

Disclaimer: I am a Wii owner, and do not own either a 360 or a PS3. I do however play the 360 fairly frequently.

The problem with simplified controllers is that they only actually simplify things if the game itself is relatively simple. If you can only move and jump, then you only need the d-pad and a single button. But once the game is more complex, and gives you more actions than you have buttons, then the "simplified" controller just ends up pushing the complexity somewhere else. You either:

1) Start using menus to select actions, but that's no good in an fast paced game, so maybe you can let the player pick which of the six actions available they want assigned to the two buttons you've permitted them. Only now they have to remember what they assigned where and it keeps changing and is no longer simple. The system can be handy, but it's certainly no friendlier to new players.
2) Context sensitive actions. Which is a great way of allowing an unlimited variety of actions with simple controls. Except when you don't know what action is going to happen, or when you get two context areas too close and suddenly every time you try to vault the railing you end up taking cover instead. Can be great, but can be very fiddly. For example, in SSBB, if playing with the Nunchuck Only control, up is jump... and enter doors. So if you're standing by a door you can jump.
3) Combos. A way of giving the player "virtual" buttons in a way, by making it so that A+B performs a different action from either A or B. Only now you can't do the A+B move without accidentally doing A or B instead because you didn't get the timing quite right. Plus how is remembering X different combos for the limited buttons you have any easier than just remembering the unique actions of X different buttons. Another SSBB example, with a GC controller, you can throw with Z. Otherwise you have to use a two button combo to get rid of items. I know players who avoid picking up bombs at all because of the unreliability of throwing them.
4) Motion controls. Great for pointing at things, natural body movements, and waggling. Not always so great for accurate and responsive controls. Several games that have you swing the controls to attack, such as Okami on the Wii, received complaints that more conventional controls would have been simpler. And games that have you draw symbols to perform actions (Black and White, Okami, SSX Blur) are all too often too picky about drawing the symbol just right, lest they confuse if for a different symbol.

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In short, if you only need three actions, just use three buttons on the controller. But once you have more actions than buttons, too often simpler controllers would result in control systems that are more complex and difficult to learn overall.

karpiel:
ah yes, simpler controllers to allow for yet more dumbed-down PC games as a result.

I don't think the PC staple that is the keyboard and mouse will disappear anytime soon. Most likely, he's referring to a console controller dumbing-down.

Reading these posts makes me want to throw away my consoles and my PC.

Why does liking games turn so many otherwise smart people into silly children?

 

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