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Outside The Box Allen Stidham, Carlos Medellin, Garrett Webb, John Owen Assignment 4 Full Sail University
The Vektor controller is a universal, dynamic, modular controller. Utilizing a modular design, a multi-touch sensitive touch screen, movable button hard-points, and rear-facing button positions the design seeks to create an inviting and user-friendly experience for games of all ages and walks of life. Through customization and innovation, Vektor is able to bridge the gap between consoles and the personal computer. Through design focused on usability theory the controller is able to easily learned by a wide audience while retaining the ability to perform complex and revolutionary tasks.
Controllers are perhaps the most intimate connection between a human and a game console. It is the element that allows the player to touch, feel, and manipulate the world that a designer has painstakingly created. The controller has taken many forms over the years. It has evolved from a box with a stick and single button, to a motion sensitive second screen equipped with cameras, gyros, and lightning fast wireless technology. The goal of a controller is to disappear. A controller is efficient when the user never notices that the controller is even in their hands, instead they are able to focus on the game and leave the work up to the device. Functionality and ease of use are essential to achieving this goal. If a user can pickup a controller and start to use it with no prompting or help, then half the battle is won. (“Controllers in video”, 2013)
A controller cannot be all things, but it should be most things. A single controller cannot hope to encompass every possible function, but a solid design offers the ability to create or simulate most functions. The Vektor attempts to do just that. With a modular design, movable button locations, and a powerful touch screen the Vektor has the potential to perform almost any function required of it. The Vektor seeks to be usable by any gamer, no matter their age or play-style. The modular design offers the user the ability to build the controller as they see fit for their current game. The option to use any part of the controller combine or separated allows for freedom of movement and increased support of comfortable control. Moveable button hard-points allow the player to customize the controller to their liking and convenience. The option to add buttons to the bottom of the controller means that a player should never find themselves unable to move and act in concert. And finally the touch screen offers both a window to the designer’s world, and it provides the possibility of infinite customization. Not only do players benefit from the flexibility of the Vektor, but designers are presented with another canvas to create upon which should serve to draw the player further into the game.
The idea for detachable hard points came from looking at a Xbox 360 controller and wondering “what could be done to make this better?” The concept came from a general desire of customization in electronics that most people want. And what better way to customize a controller than to give the player the option of rearranging the hardware to fit their play style? There was an article in Gameinformer magazine titled “Building the perfect controller” by Ben Reeves. Most of the points made in the article were somewhat outlandish but the concept of rearranging button hard points stuck in my head as something that could actually work. I don’t know of anywhere that this concept has been used before in this context. The only example that even comes close are the buttons that can be attached to touchscreen devices like iPads. Those allow the player to set up the controller however they want as long it’s on the touchscreen. These two designs are similar in that they give the player customization options along with convenience. (AliExpress, 2012)
The idea for the touchscreen came from seeing potential in the iPod touch as a gaming peripheral, and from the Nintendo WiiU's controller. The WiiU's controller is possibly best put to use by the new Lego City Undercover. You use the pad for a slew of different things and it really helps the user feel as though the game exists outside of the TV screen. One of the best examples of touchscreens revolutionizing gaming Is in the mobile market, specifically on apple and android devices, that has exploded in the last five years. With games like Angry Birds and Infinity Blade its very clear that touchscreen smartphones are the new Gameboy. Consoles are just now catching up simply and only because of the hardware gap of moving from one console generation to another. The WiiU controller is more or less a tablet and the newly announced PS4 controller has a big track-pad button in the middle. Touchscreen gaming is going to be playing a fairly major role in this next console generation and our controller reflects that idea. (WiiU Daily, 2012)
This concept stems from the Razer Sabertooth controller for the Xbox 360 which has additional buttons on the bottom so the player doesn’t have to move their thumbs off the thumb pads in a tense situation. This concept seems fairly ingenious. Why make players move their fingers that are doing one action when they have others that aren’t doing anything? For our controller we took this concept a step further and put the buttons on the bottom by default to make room for the touchscreen and maximize efficiency of player movement. This function makes it so all the players fingers besides their pinky have a function instead of forcing everything on the thumbs and pointer fingers. (Cox, 2013)
The inspiration for this came from the Wii’s nun-chuck controller. The original concept was to have two controllers synced together but it was refined into one controller that can be separated into two sections that communicate with each other wirelessly. This concept allows the controller to be used for both motion control and stationary games. The best example of this concept used in the real world is the Wii’s nun-chuck controller as mentioned above. The Wii remote by itself allowed for basic control of most all games but the additional piece made it easier for players to use. However the biggest issue with nun- chuck design was it’s failing in regards to more “hardcore” Nintendo games like Legend of Zelda Skyward sword or Super Smash Bros. To play these games it was almost required for the player to purchase the “classic controller” for the Wii which resembled an old NES controller. Our controller addresses this issue by making the main controller perform both these functions. Upon further investigation this design has been considered by Sony for their “move” controller in this exact context but has never been used as of yet. (Amazon, 2007)
Touch Screen Right Bumper Left Bumper Left Control Stick Right Control Stick D-Pad Start Button Power Button Back Button Home Button
Right/Left BumpersRight TriggerLeft Trigger X Button A Button Y Button B Button Interchangeable Buttons
Left Control stick Right Control stick D-Pad Start Button Power Button Home Button Back Button Right Bumper Left Bumper 6-Point Connectors
Central Physical Command Back Button Power Button Start Button Home Button
Control Stick D-Pad B Button A Button Left Trigger 6-Point Connection Input Left Bumper
“If the game will cater more towards expert users, it may be worthwhile to sacrifice some simplicity and learnability in favor of more efficient controls.” (Gilnert, 2009) This controller will aid the player in many ways, such as an ergonomic feel that gives the player many choices on how the layout of controller could be. With the different layout options for the controller, the player can find a sweet spot for comfort-ability and precision. Also, having the buttons on the bottom of the controller gives great advantage with control, as the player will not have to take his/her thumbs away from the joysticks and have full control of the character at all times. The touchscreen is an alternative for the way the player can interact with objects in the game. With its smaller display the player can more accurately pinpoint objects on screen and not have to move a great distance from joystick and screen.
“Game controls should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. This seems straightforward on the surface, as people only have so many fingers which they can only move at a certain speed. ” (Gilnert, 2009) Not every Wii game plays with the Classic Controller or a GameCube controller as an option. If we wanted our controller to be sold, we can’t leave out a group of people. That’s where the option to separate our controller comes in. The controller separated acts like a Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination. The only problem I can think of is that it can’t play a Wii game can only use the Wii Remote as a controller. Other than that, this universal controller would be open for any console including most Wii games.
“A commonly stated rule-of-thumb is that if your player doesn't understand the basics of your interface in two minutes, he'll stop playing your game. Therefore, good usability is critical to game success.” (Stafford, S., Preisz, E., &Greenwood-Eriskson, 2010) The concept of detachable button hard points is fairly simple. Give the player the option to customize a controller to their liking based on physical button rearrangement. The hard points are the two joysticks, the directional pad, and “A,B,X,Y” button cluster. These four hard points can be removed from the game pad and then placed in any one of the now empty slots based on player preference. This is advantageous over current controllers because it allows the player to tailor their experience to themselves. This isn’t innovative or groundbreaking technology to sell a console, this is a feature that after used a few times won’t be thought of much. This is simply giving the player preferences and choice in their controller to suit their play style.
“Interface designs that allow tasks to be performed on- handed can offer a substantial benefit of freeing a hand for the variety of physical and attentional demands common to mobile activities.” (Parhi, Karlson & Bederson, 2006) The addition of a touch screen to the controller will allow for a wide range of features and mechanics that have previously not been possible on traditional controllers. It also will allow for features that are normally to bulky for practical use to implemented such as a full QWERTY keyboard. The touch screen will allow users to quickly and efficiently navigate the console’s menus. The touch screen will allow for implementation of advanced touch screen mechanics. For example, lock picking in an RPG could be accomplished by manipulating tools on the touch screen. Vital data can be displayed on the controller ‘s screen reducing clutter on the main display and essentially removing the fourth wall allowing the player to become more fully immersed. The player will also be able to perform menial tasks on the touch screen using one hand, while the other hand controls movement. This allows the player to not break flow while needing to perform tasks not specific to their current objective.
Mass Effect 3 wouldn’t play any different than with a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 controller except the bumper buttons, control pad, and Y button won’t be used for shortcuts. The touchpad can be used for shortcuts for Shepard and his or her squad mate’s powers. With the multi-touch ability of the touch pad, the player is able to quickly select up to three powers from Shepard and his or her two squad mates at the same time without being pulled out of combat. The touchpad could also be mapped to reload Shepard’s gun or to use the Unity ability if any of Shepard’s squad mates lose all of their health. Lastly, the touchpad can be used as a quick selection for Shepard’s guns. Holding the X button switches Shepard’s gun with a random one he or she is holding and holding down the LB button takes the player out of the fight for a bit, but putting shortcuts on the touchpad for the guns allows to player to not be taken out of the fight and the gun would be the player’s choice. The player is free to separate the controller to allow comfort for the player, but the game wouldn’t play any different than if the controller was together. (Meyer, 2012) Genre: Shooter Mass Effect 3
Gun Selection ( Holding Left Bumper) Power Selection (Holding Right Bumper) Move Shepard (Left Stick) Move the Camera (Right Stick) Move Shepard’s Squad (Control Pad) Power Button Quick Save (Back Button) Menu (Start Button) Home Button
Power Selection (Holding Right Bumper) Gun Selection (Holding Left Bumper) Aim (Holding Left Trigger) Shoot (Holding or Pressing Right Trigger) Sprint (Hold A) Melee (Press for Light Melee Attack) (Hold for Strong Melee Attack) Reload (Press X) Switch Guns (Hold X)
Like Mass Effect 3, Fable II wouldn’t play any different on this controller than it would on the Xbox 360. The game would also play the same if the controller is separated or not. The key is always the touchpad. Arrows are present on the sides of the touchpad to quickly select which shortcut area the player would like to be in. The RT button is used to absorb the experience points and to select spells. On this controller, the spell selection is done through the touchpad. The player can select up to four spells and quickly choose which one to cast in the middle of battle on the touchpad without putting the player in danger. Players drink potions either from the menu or from the control pad, but on this controller, the shortcut is pulled from the pad and placed on the touchpad. The player can select whether they want their character to drink a health potion, eat food, or drink a potion that would alter their character’s appearance and/or morality. When talking to people, the touchpad changes from combat to social interaction. It splits into an X shaped box. The top and bottom areas determine whether the player wants to harm or not harm the innocents. The sides of the touchpad show two emotions to perform with the left being evil and the right being good. When the right bumper is held down, the touchpad is transformed and holds four random good emotions and, when either arrow is pushed, four random evil emotions appear. These would change when cycled through or when used. (Scott, 2008) Genre: Role-Playing Game Fable 2
First Person (Left Bumper) Expression Wheel (Hold Right Bumper) Movement (Left Stick) Pause Menu (Start Button) Power Button Home Button Camera (Right Stick)
Expression Wheel (Hold Right Bumper) First Person (Left Bumper) Absorb Experience Points (Hold Right Trigger) Look-At/Target Lock (Left Trigger) Melee Attack (X Button) Interact/Sprint/Sheath Weapon/Roll (Press A for Interact, Sheathing the Weapon, and Rolling) (Hold A to Spring) Ranged Attack (Y Button) Magic (Press B to Use) (Hold B for Level of Magic)
This game would play a little different with this controller. When connected, the controller would play like the Classic and GameCube controller options. The touchpad would only be used for one thing and one thing only: Special Jutsus. When the bar is filled, the touch screen would flash, signaling the player to press the touchpad and activate their special power. When the controller is separated, it takes both of the Wii Remote and nunchuck options. The touchpad would still work in the same way as if the controllers were together, but now the player has the option of shaking one of the two controllers to activate the Special Jutsu skill. For both connected and separate mode, the buttons are the same; it’s only the shaking function for the separate mode that’s different. (Gutierrez, 2009) Genre: Fighting Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution
Sidestep or Substitution Jutsu (Left and Right Bumper) Movement (Left Stick) Deflect Projectiles (Right Stick) Pause Menu (Start Button) Power Button Home Button
Switch Enemies in Multiplayer Reset Characters in Training Mode (Left and Right Triggers) Sidestep or Substitution Jutsu (Left and Right Bumpers) Special Jutsu (X Button) Throw (Y Button) Weak Attack (B Button) Strong Attack (A Button)
Special Jutsu (Shake Either Controller) (Touch the touchpad)
Testing will be performed one tester at a time in a closed environment. No testers will have any contact with each other until the test is complete. Before entering the testing room, the tester will be asked to speak any thoughts they have about the controller out loud. The tester will be handed the controller prototype as they enter the room. They will be allowed to sit in a comfortable chair and situated in front of an unpowered television to simulate a proper gaming environment. They will be asked to fully explore the controller for one minute and learn the location of the controls. They will then be asked to imagine playing any game with the controller. They will be instructed to attempt to utilize the controls to and speak any thoughts, concerns, or recommendations that they have. After the tester has had sufficient time, a few minutes, to imagine game play and test the controller, they will be handed the survey, asked to read the questions completely, circle their answers, alert the test proctor. While the tester the is completing the survey, the proctor will leave the room. Once the tester has completed the survey, the proctor will collect the survey and administer the interview and take comprehensive notes on the testers answers. Once the interview is complete, the test is concluded and any additional testers being in the testing process. At the conclusion of the usability test all data will be compiled and thoroughly examined.
Tester 1Tester 2Tester 3 GenderMale Female Age Hours of Gaming A Week Gaming Experience Avid Console Gamer Casual GamerHardcore PC Gamer
QuestionsTester 1Tester 2Tester 3 Was the controller comfortable? Yes Does this controller feel awkward in any way? NoSomewhat How long do you believe you could comfortably use the controller? For as long as you like For an extended play session For as long as you like Rate your ease of learning they layout of the controller Easy to learn Was it easy to learn and remember the positions of the buttons on the controller? Somewhat Were the back buttons easy to reach and press? YesNoYes
QuestionsTester 1Tester 2Tester 3 Would you want all the buttons to be modular and attachable to different parts of the controller? YesNoYes Given the option, how often do you think you would use the touch screen on the controller? All the timePretty often Do you think that you would be able to easily use the entire screen of the touchscreen with its current size? YesNoYes Would this controller be targeted for hardcore or casual games? HardcoreBoth
QuestionsTester 1Tester 2Tester 3 Which age group would this controller be best used for? Do you think this controller would work well with any genre of game? Most Yes Would you choose this controller over the stock controller for your favorite console? YesNoYes
QuestionsTester 1Tester 2Tester 3 On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the overall design of the controller, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Would you please explain your rating? 7: More iteration would be needed for a higher score. I would have to work to adapt to the controller. 7: I like the arrangement, but stock controllers are what I am used to. The screen is great. 8: It might be difficult to learn the layout, but once I did the controller would rock. What were your first thoughts about the physical features of the controller? The modular design and possibilities were immediately evident. Pretty cool, very impressive.Arcade style joysticks that are level with each other is a great design. What do you like best about the controller and why? The options for movement control with the current design is amazing. The versatility is great.Seems like the controller would be very backwards and forwards compatible. Is there anything about the controller that you would change or get rid of? I would move the eject buttons. I really don’t think so. It’s very functional without being too busy. The option to add even more buttons would be great. Did anything on the controller feel redundant or superfluous? If yes, please explain. Having two eject buttons seems kind of redundant. I would rather just one. Not that I can think of.Everything seemed quite functional and useful. Should the side controllers be wider, smaller, longer, shorter, or are they just right? They are just right.The padding is perfect.The controller feels good in my hand.
QuestionsTester 1Tester 2Tester 3 Which console do you believe this controller would work best with and why? WiiU for sure. I love the smaller screen! Any console would be great with this controller. I think this could be used for just about any console, but I think I would even love using this one with the computer. I have never really like controllers for the PC! How does this controller compare to other game controllers you’ve used before? This controller improves on current elements and adds some fresh ideas. The controller seems to have the best of all worlds. Looks and feels like it would belong with just about any console. Which genre of games do you believe this controller would work best with and why? Fighting: With that many buttons and that much control of customization, it would be an amazing experience. Action Adventure would be perfect. RPG’s could really make good use of the screen. Is there any genre of game you would NOT want to use this controller with? If yes, please explain. A free-roaming MMO might be difficult to play. With this many options, people might get lost in them. A very complex RPG might be difficult. The controller might get too complex. Social games. Touch keyboards aren’t that much fun. How did you feel about the touch screen? Do you believe this could add to your level of control? If yes, how would it? With all the possibilities it offers, it totally elevates the control options. I like the touch screen, it gives me more options. With some customization it would make the controller feel more like my own creation. The touch screen is great. I can think of so many things I would like to have on the screen.
A tilt or rotate function added to the screen of the controller would allow for even easier viewing and use of the touch screen. Care should be taken with the placement of the power button. The current position on the prototype would allow the button to be pressed much to easily. The eject buttons should be moved farther up the controller wings and should be reduced in size to prevent accidental presses. The addition of a camera would make this controller the complete package. A little more space between the d-pad and the joysticks would be excellent. The option to add more buttons to the controller would expand the possibilities exponentially. A browser launch button as an additional button option would be very handy.
Vektor is the next step in the evolution of the console controller. It not only draws from its predecessors, but it innovates and refreshes features lost in the controllers of today’s market. The combination of a touch screen, modular design, movable buttons, and support of rear-mounted input allows for an almost endless array of customization. The controller was well received by the testers. It is intuitive, creative, and easy to learn but hard to master. Vektor has the potential to bridge the large gap between the unique console systems and travel into the greatly uncharted waters of the PC controller market. With iteration the end product can only improve and adapt to the widely expanding demands of today’s games. When a controller ceases to be a burdensome device in a player’s hand, and becomes a window and outlet for communication with another world, the design has succeed and reached it’s pinnacle. The Vektor is a solid foundation which could be shaped and crafted to fit this mold.
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