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How Controlling Are Controllers?

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I remember a while ago reading an interesting piece on the home page of Penny Arcade. Tycho was talking about a conversation he had with a developer and the issues with allowing players on the PC to play with other players over the Playstation Network or X-Box Live. It essentially boiled down to certain movements taking time. The mouse moving along a 2-D surface enhances human reaction because the user is able to make turns faster. The mouse and keyboard will always that that advantage over a regular joystick. (Photo: Courtesy Flickr user artwork_rebel)

Reading that post, however, got me thinking. At least when it comes to first person shooters, is the mouse and keyboard combination the absolute best configuration out there? Over the years, we’ve seen controllers evolve. More buttons, less buttons, buttons moved her and there, one joystick and a D-pad, two joysticks, pressure sensitive triggers, motion controls, the list grows. The keyboard and mouse combination has remained fundamentally unchanged. Sure, you’ll see more ergonomic controllers and keyboards, but in the actually it’s still one hand controlling an X-Y axis of movement, while the other controls the X-Z axis. Is there anything that can be improved on this?

Theoretically, sure it can. The hand that controls the X-Z axis (character movement, as opposed to aim) is pressing buttons that function on a Yes or No command system. Is the W button being pressed? If yes, move forward 100%. If no, move forward 0%. That’s awesome when all you do is sprint full speed, but it can be pretty obnoxious when what you REALLY want to do is move in a stealthy manner around a corner. Assassin’s Creed comes to mind when I think of how the ability to control movement on a gradual scale would be useful.

It’s a tough question to tackle because it also comes down to if the benefits would outweigh the physical costs of added peripherals. In the end, the keyboard and mouse make easy tools for PC gaming because they are already essentials for computing and controls can easily be mapped. What improvements do you guys think can be made for PC gaming?

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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