Video Game Concept Controller

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This is a concept controller idea that was designed for a project. It is by no means a professional quality design, especially with the limited prototype resources, but I still think it turned out fairly well considering.

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Video Game Concept Controller

  1. 1. By Jonathan Delucia, Kevin Hendrix, Mark McCormick, and Christopher Santos
  2. 2. The idea of this controller is to create a more realistic experience of gaming for the user. It is known that a more realistic feel and interactivity during gameplay can create the difference for a game being mediocre to great.The difference from this add-on controller from others on the market is that this controller is interchangeable for RPG and FPS purposes, voice command to direct fellow A.I. comrades, and to eliminate an inventory selection screen allowing the user more time to concentrate on the gameplay.
  3. 3. With the complexity of video games ever increasing, controllers have needed to evolve in order to keep up. Imagine attempting to play games such as Battlefield, Super Smash Bros, or one of the games in the Elder Scrolls series with the original NES controller. This is simply not possible, which is why controller evolution is as important as the evolution of the games themselves, and the two must advance hand in hand.
  4. 4. Designers cannot simply continually add buttons to controllers for a variety of reasons.One limiting factor is space.After all, a player cannot effectively use a controller that is the size of the console itself. The controller must be ergonomic and the buttons must be easily reachable by the player.The standard controller for the original Xbox, which was nicknamed “The Duke”, is a perfect example of a controller that was simply too large for most players to use comfortably.
  5. 5. Another factor in controller design has to do with the limitations of the human mind. Even if a controller is able to fit 30 buttons in a relatively compact space, a person can only remember so many things at once. Players must be able to instinctively know which button to press without having to search for it or actively think about it. One reason the controller for the Atari Jaguar failed was because it simply had too many buttons and many were not intuitive.
  6. 6. In order to deal with these limiting factors, designers must come up with ways to enhance controllers that don’t involve buttons.The easiest way to accomplish this is to use things that come naturally.Two of the things that come most naturally to people are movement and speech. Both of these actions are learned at a very young age and are consistently used throughout life. This controller is designed to use these two mechanics to streamline needlessly complex controls. In turn, the controls will feel much more natural and flow more smoothly than alternative methods. It also has the added benefit of making games feel more immersive and create a better gameplay experience overall.
  7. 7. Matt Barton and Bill Loguidice (2010), scholars of game history, wrote in their article “The History of Defender:The Joys of Difficult Games,” about some of the earliest technologies for controllers, including some insights into the evolution of interface complexity: “every two years we get another button on our controllers,” and “this increase in interface complexity is the result of increased game complexity” (pg. 5). This increasing number of buttons will eventually make controllers impossible to handle; therefore, there must be alternatives. Building on this idea was Eric Schwarz (2011), a graduate in the field of game design, who wrote a piece entitled “Good and Bad Controls: ‘It’s a Feature, not Poor Design,” in which cumbersome layout and this additive cycle are chronicled.
  8. 8. Schwarz notes that three attributes to focus on when developing HCI devices: they must be “logical, consistent, and functional”; additionally, control layouts should be implemented in a manner that is both instinctual while maintaining a natural feel, and when imagining a new controller, the device’s limitations must be considered. It is limitations which most concern this topic, as design cannot continue adding more and more buttons. Schwarz believes that, ultimately, “adaptations of current technology for use in a new and exciting way[s]” is the direction to take when heading into new controller development (n.p.).
  9. 9. The current design innovations came from astute observations of player behavior, as Eric Mickols (2011) writes in “The Evolution of Controllers”; the work notes that “it was a natural evolution of the controller to match…emergent behavior and harness it as another input,” and the first conceptualization was the idea of moving the controller around as a form of input—such as tilting, twisting, and shaking the controller (n.p). The need for creating technology to interpret these movements stems from the increasing confusion and complexity of keyboard controls, increasing numbers of buttons, and the learning curve that is ever increasing as games pack more and more into their palates. It is Mickols’ belief that the next evolution is “a repurposing of old controllers. There are a multitude of ways to use” a controller “for games which simply have not been touched yet” (n.p.). However, the direction for controls has taken a turn with innovation once more.
  10. 10. Stephen Jacobs (2011), who writes for the website Gamasutra, proves that Mickols’ views are only partially correct. In Jacobs’ analysis, “When Motion Controllers and Sound Design Collide,” it is the power of the voice and the body that is going to drive game control of the future.The benefits of voice recognition technology are two- fold: it strengthens the complex input, which is necessitated by the limitations of controllers, and audio controls increase both usability and create metagaming on completely different levels compared to existent designs. Jacobs notes one example as memorizing incantations for casting magic, additional employment of the technology could require accent reproduction for games that rely on disguise (think espionage), or speaking in meter or repeating difficult phrases from memory, and so forth.This increases both the educational opportunities as well as linking the games to reality, which are major goals of successful usability. However, because of lag with voice recognition, the technology will clearly be best used in conjunction with a physical controller for time-critical actions.
  11. 11. The design of this controller is aimed at presenting the modern player with a brand new and innovative way of playing both RPG and FPS games, among other genres, in a way that is both immersive and interactive. Where the controls themselves reflect real skills in life—dexterity, reflex, building muscle memory, hand eye coordination, balance, and via the speech controls, memory and cognitive response time. Therefore, the design both harnesses the gamers mind and body while eliminating the ever growing repertoire of buttons.The controller can only get so big and complicated before gamers start demanding faster HCI devices and more intuitive controls and layouts.Thus, the guns and belt will work in tandem with accessories (such as the sword attachment) to accommodate various other genres.
  12. 12. As Katherine Isbister notes in her text Game Usability, usability theory for games is grounded in two distinct areas: good “Usability Heuristics,” and sound “design practices”; furthermore, and ultimately, the purpose is to make the “user interface…easy to learn, fluent to use, and…[assure] that it supports the interactions that are typical for the game…”. Therefore, and clearly, the testing methodology employed for this project should judiciously concretize heuristics as developed and built upon by Nielsen, and his two colleagues Burgoyne and Faber: for example, a studious observation for the Four Fun Keys.
  13. 13. Movement in all games can be accomplished by simply placing one foot forward to move the character forward, diagonally back and left will cause the character to retreat to the left while facing forward—placing both feet in a direction outside the center play area will engage the sprint in that direction, while returning to the center will return to a stop. Saying “pause” will pause any game, or “save” to save the game if this is applicable by the games rules (if the player is in a state in which the game will allow for a save to take place.)
  14. 14.  Throw lethal: throwing gesture using your right hand.  Throw tactical: same as lethal but using your left hand.  Crouch: enter a half crouching stance  Prone: lower to one knee  Knife: swipe either hand horizontally.  Jump: jump in place.
  15. 15.  “Lethal”: equips lethal grenade type  “Tactical”: equips the tactical grenade types  “Sprint”: will cause the character to run without having to move both feet  Saying the name of the killstreak will use that kill streak reward (as the player may only have three at any given time and the player selects those three, they will already know the names.
  16. 16.  Weapon select: Extend both arms in the direction of the desired weapon slot.  Crouch in cover: enter a half crouch stance.  “Pistol”: will equip the weapon in the pistol slot.  “Prime”: will equip the weapon in the right slot.  “Secondary”: will equip the weapon in the left slot.  “Nade”: will equip the grenade.
  17. 17. Blocking, attacking, casting/charging can be done with gesture as well, requiring the player to sheath the left sword, the belt includes a holder on either side to place the controller in while the blade attachment is connected.  Sneak/crouch: half crouch stance  Jump: Jump in place  Blocking: Left hand held in front of you as if you were holding a shield.  Attacking: slashing the sword horizontally for quick attacks, vertically for heavy.  Casting: hold your hand out in front of you as you would prepare to catch a ball.
  18. 18.  Shouts and powers can also be voice activated., simply speak the name of the shout/power.  “Wait”= waiting and sleeping  An alternative to selecting items will utilize key words representing equipment, spells, powers, and items. If the player knows the name of what they are looking for, all they must do is say the name of the item and the sytem will equip/use/select that item.
  19. 19. Throughout each phase, individuals will be asked to explain their thoughts and actions as they proceed through the tests.This will give extra insight into the thinking process of potential players and allow the controller to be fine tuned towards the users even more. The testing procedure will consist of several phases.The first phase will be the comfort and the tangibility of the devices. We must make sure that the devices are easy to use, comfortable for the user, button placement is correct, and the controllers are not too complicated for all users, casual or hardcore.
  20. 20. The second phase will consist of responsiveness of the controller and the effectiveness of the voice command feature.The voice command will be tested first. Second will the sword attachment.The third will be the gun attachment.And fourth will be the waist attachment. The third phase is feedback from the users.We will take the feedback from the users and try to see what needs improvement and what needs to be discarded overall. After the data is collected, we will need to see the expenses of adjusting the controller to the tester’s feedback.
  21. 21. The fourth is to reintroduce the finalized product to the testers. After all the adjustments and the feedback taken into consideration, the controllers will then are brought back to the testers to see if we did indeed make the proper adjustments to the controller.After the approval, we will run another test to individuals that have not used the device to gather additional reactions and feedback.
  22. 22. Further testing will be conducted in specific games to tweak the technology. One game that will be used for testing is Left 4 Dead. Like Call of Duty, the player has the option to control the A.I. comrades throughout the game. Because there are hordes of the undead that relentlessly attack the user, this is the perfect opportunity to see where the responsiveness of the voice command system is.Also, because this is an FPS, the gun attachment will be put through trials to see the effectiveness: if the design is user friendly and to determine the comfort of the attachment. The last game that will be use to test the controller is Skyrim. Because there are multiple weapons in the game, this will allow testing of both the controller’s changeable attachments. And because this is not a FPS, this game will heavily test the sword attachment; however, it is the voice recognition that will be truly tried during this testing.
  23. 23. The original design of the controller had some difficulties with comfort and making efficient use of the buttons; primarily the bumper buttons. Originally, the bumper buttons were seated on the hammer of the pistol. For the particular prototype we had to work with, though it was aesthetically and idealistically sound, this was a ridiculous way to hold the weapon. Having the thumb held up the entire time caused for too much strain and made holding the weapon increasingly difficult over just a short time. Additionally, the two buttons that initially rested on the inner most side of the grip were clumsy and there was concern that the buttons would be accidentally pressed; furthermore, the placement would prevent the wielder from gripping tightly when intense action-heavy sequences were being played.
  24. 24. While using the sword attachment, three problems were pointed out by the tester. Firstly, he suggested that the attachment made the overall controller too heavy for prolonged play. Secondly, the chamber slide would not be able to slide back into place when the sword was attached as it attaches in the path of the slide. Finally, the motion needed to slice in pace with the character required a substantial amount of dexterity and energy exertion especially in regards to hack and slash shooter games such as Devil MayCry or Legion. The weapon was simply too heavy and mimicking slash for slash is a heavy request for gamers to use.
  25. 25. The bumper buttons have been relocated from the hammer to the side of the grip just above the other buttons.This new location is congruent with the correct manner in which one would hold a firearm this size, deepening the experience by imprinting realistic posture. Furthermore, the bumper is no longer a button, a cradle design will be implemented onto a sliding mechanism to both allow the player to rest their thumb while not using the button and to make it possible for the bumper button to be slid up or down depending on the preference of the wielder.
  26. 26. The two buttons on the inner side of the grip have been replaced, as these buttons were raised from the device they were intrusive to finger placement and distracted the wielder by forcing them to focus on not accidentally pressing them instead of immersing themselves in the experience. The new design elongates the buttons so that they begin in the grooves and bend around the grip.Additionally, they are recessed and made narrower so that the fingers may comfortably rest upon them without worrying about pressing them in accidentally. Further precautions were taken by placing pressure plates beneath the buttons that “push back,” requiring the wielder press intentionally harder.
  27. 27. Solving the weight issue should be obvious, the sword and gun both need to be made lighter. Removing the metal brace within the blade and replacing it with a lighter material would and the gun could be made slightly smaller while removing the rotating chamber and replacing it with a stationary chamber would reduce the extra parts needed to make the chamber rotate—making the weapon more confortable and reducing cost of manufacturing. The slide must be redesigned to allow it to move back into place when the blade is attached, to do that, all we needed to do was cut a slit down the middle of the chamber—this simultaneously resolved that issue while making the overall product slightly lighter.
  28. 28. The final improvement was focused on the Kinect’s detection of the blade and the motion, more specifically the speed of what triggered an attack and what was just idle movement.To keep up with the character slashing, the device will recognize slashing upward as an attack if the motion is fast enough. Casually lifting the weapon will simply raise the sword without accidentally attacking, which would leave them open for an attack when they intended to stop and ready a block.
  29. 29. By implementing the user feedback that was gathered throughout the testing phases, the controllers are able to be further developed with comfort and usability in mind.With a lighter controller which features a more ergonomic design, it becomes much more enjoyable and easier for players to use. It also allows for extended gameplay due to reduced fatigue and hand cramping.Overall, this will create a more refined and polished product to be delivered to the public.
  30. 30. This add on controller design is going to change the way the world plays video games. It will make every moment of the game feel more realistic than ever before.This will be used in conjunction with the Xbox 360 Kinect and will be compatible with almost all FPS and RPG platforms.The wireless design makes the controller even better because there is less of a chance for players to trip during use. Although it may seem more complex, it is simple enough that anyone can enjoy this experience.
  31. 31. This device should be sold on its own but advertised heavily in conjunction with the Kinect. As technology evolves, this controller design could become even better. For example, if the Kinect featured extra sensors that were able to detect body heat and controller motion independently from body motion. This would allow the controller to have fewer or virtually no buttons as it would be almost fully controlled through the sensors and give it a more realistic feel. It is recommended that patches and compatibility updates be accessible for free to users to ensure the best gaming experience. Customizable skins could also be featured as an additional accessory for those who wish to enhance the appearance. If the controller enjoys a successful launch for the Xbox 360 console, it could eventually be converted to the Playstation 3 console as well.
  32. 32. • Barton M. & Loguidice B. (2009). The History of Defender:The Joys of Difficult Games. Retrieved on January 26th, 2012 from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4078/the_history_of_defender_the_joys_.php • Mickols, E. (2011). The Evolution of Controllers. Retrieved on January 26th, 2012 from http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/EricMickols/20111005/8599/The_Evolution_of_Controller s.php • Schwarz, E. (2011). Good and Bad Controls: “It’s a feature, not poor design!”. Retrieved on January 26th, 2012 from http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/EricSchwarz/20110919/8407/Good_and_bad_controls_qu otits_a_feature_not_poor_designquot.php
  33. 33. • Jacobs, S. (2011). When Motion Controllers and Sound Design Collide. Retrieved on January 26th, 2012 from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/38070/When_Motion_Controllers_And_Sound_Desi gn_Collide.php • Norman, D. (2002). The Design of EverydayThings. NewYork: Basic Books. • Isbister, K. & Schaffer, N. (2008). Game Usability. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann

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