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"Premium" 3rd party contollers?


rustyjaw
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First some background. I've purchased a number of 3rd party controllers, many of them wireless, and so far I have yet to find one that matches the 1st party controllers in all areas, which is to say they all have had some deficiency that was serious enough that I could not use them. I've tried $70 Logitechs and $20 Pelicans, and many in-between; Interact, MadCatz, and on and on. Some have good sticks, some have good buttons, etc...but none of them can replace the 1st party controller, IME.

 

If you think about it, what component (other than the console itself) is more important than the controller? It's your sole interface with your games. Yet it seems like companies that make 3rd party controllers never fail to skimp and cut corners somewhere. Which is the very opposite of what should happen with the such a critical part of the system.

 

I, for one, would be willing to pay good money for really top-notch controllers. What I'd like to see is a company came out with a premium controller that was manufactured to high specifications, and was lavished with R&D that allowed it to take advantage of the full input range of a given console (or more than one console if possible).

 

Ideally it would have adjustable settings for all moving parts, tension settings for sticks and triggers, button sensitivity. Possibly it could even have modular, swappable sticks, buttons and triggers that had different shapes for different tasks and/or preferences. Along with this, maybe there could be different 'base' controllers in various shapes that could share parts. You could find the shape that fit you best, or buy a few shapes depending on the game.

 

I know this is pie-in-the sky, but I think there's a chance something like this could work and sell. Given that the average age of gamers is now in the late 20's, and probably rising every year, and a lot of gamers spend a heck of a lot of money on their habit, isn't their room for high-end controller (provided they actually worked)?

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Not such a strange idea. You're probably already familair with the Saitek Cyborg joystick, which has been out for years and offers a lot of the user customization you describe.

 

I think a gamepad with similar features would be welcome. Since all my gaming is on the Xbox (or occassionally GBA), I really don't need one -- I'm happy with the "S" controller. A wireless "S" with wireless voice comm on the other hand...

 

-j

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Originally posted by Robot Monkey@Mar 8 2004, 12:00 PM

Not such a strange idea. You're probably already familair with the Saitek Cyborg joystick, which has been out for years and offers a lot of the user customization you describe.

 

I think a gamepad with similar features would be welcome. Since all my gaming is on the Xbox (or occassionally GBA), I really don't need one -- I'm happy with the "S" controller. A wireless "S" with wireless voice comm on the other hand...

 

-j

Yeah, I used to have a cyborg, in fact I think it's still around gathering dust somewhere. Since it was for my Mac, it didn't get a lot of use.

 

I too like the "S" but it has some deficiencies. I notice that the triggers don't engage until they are about 1/5 of the way in. The sticks can hurt my thumbs in some games because of the fairly sharp edge.

 

I'd mostly like a controller with high quality parts and engineering where I can adjust these things to my taste, the modularity thing would be a bonus.

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Ed,

 

From what I've gathered, 3rd party controllers exist primarily for people who don't want to spend the money for 1st party items, and would rather have a cheaper alternative. It's for those who aren't particularly concerned with ergonomics, build quality or design. So that's why you have the piss poor selection (for the most part) that you see everywhere. Poorly shaped, with poor tactility and lots of fluff in the form of arresting colours and flashing LEDs, and not much substance or taste.

 

But it seems like you've tried some very high end ones too, so that may not apply to those.

 

Ideally it would have adjustable settings for all moving parts, tension settings for sticks and triggers, button sensitivity. Possibly it could even have modular, swappable sticks, buttons and triggers that had different shapes for different tasks and/or preferences. Along with this, maybe there could be different 'base' controllers in various shapes that could share parts. You could find the shape that fit you best, or buy a few shapes depending on the game.

 

I would love those features, but I'm seeing the weight add up - big time. The last thing I want is a heavy controller. Heavier controllers mean more fatigue, less ability for your fingers to modulate controls (because your hands are busy with the extra weight) and just more overall clumsiness and unpleasantness. Plus swappable parts (unless built with very tight tolerances) suggest to me lots of Flex in the tactility department. And that's not good. Ideally, I want a controller that feels like it's carved from solid billet, as opposed to a loosey goosey item that squirms and squeaks when you grip it hard ( EDIT: no jokes, please :P ). I find that the XBOX controller S excels in this department. Built like a bank vault.

 

But I do agree that the potential is there, Ed. New business idea! If you build it, I'll be the first in line. :D

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The thing is, though, that when designing controllers other than pads the third-parties can do a great job; take Hori's exceptional Guilty Gear X or Soul Calibur II sticks, for example (actually, their digital Gamecube pad is pretty nice, too).

 

My biggest problem is that they suddenly lose all their bottle when it comes to basic pad design. I've never seen a console joypad that isn't heavily 'inspired' by the official one; third-party Dreamcast pads always looked like really ugly, even bigger versions of the official model (and, to a pad, seemed to always have terrible digital pads on them). PS2 pads always look like poor imitations of the official one, too. Why can't someone ever make a Cube pad that looks more like a PS2 pad, or a PS2 pad with the comfort and size of the large XBox one?

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A wireless "S" with wireless voice comm

This would be my controller of choice as well. Anything more than this would be excessive for my personal tastes, but I can see where a controller with more user adjustments would have its niche. I would be wary of the durability issues that might possibly arise with such a controller, especially given the history of cutting corners by 3rd party manufacturers mentioned earlier.

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It's for those who aren't particularly concerned with ergonomics, build quality or design.

 

Exactly, I think that there could be a market for high quality controllers, kind of like Apple proved there was a market for high quality MP3 players, that could be a success even if they cost more.

 

I would love those features, but I'm seeing the weight add up - big time. The last thing I want is a heavy controller. Heavier controllers mean more fatigue, less ability for your fingers to modulate controls (because your hands are busy with the extra weight) and just more overall clumsiness and unpleasantness.

 

I don't think that weight would be a major issue, unless it's wireless too. The Logictech wireless controller has 4 AA batteries in it, which adds a lot of weight, but I didn't have any problem with the weight, just the sticks and ergonomics of it.

 

Plus swappable parts (unless built with very tight tolerances) suggest to me lots of Flex in the tactility department. And that's not good. Ideally, I want a controller that feels like it's carved from solid billet, as opposed to a loosey goosey item that squirms and squeaks when you grip it hard ( EDIT: no jokes, please :P ). I find that the XBOX controller S excels in this department. Built like a bank vault.

 

I think if the controller is well made, flex shouldn't be an issue, this is why I'm focusing on the 'premium' aspect, where you pay more to get higher quality. I'd be happy to do so. The most useful form of swapability, to me, is replaceable sticks...different shapes for different games.

 

In any event, I consider the swappable parts to be a secondary request, more important than that is tunability, so I can make adjustments to tension and throw, etc.

 

The main thing is I'm tired of not having options for high-quality Pad controllers. The one's that exist positively suck, they are sloppily put together and lazily engineered or so different from what you're used to that you have to adjust everything about how you play (Logitech).

 

I don't mind if they model them after the 1st party ones, in fact this might even be better. I just want one's the are engineered carefully, so when I pull in on the trigger it immediately sends a signal to the Xbox, or if I move the stick the same thing happens, and if I can adjust these tolerances, so much the better.

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Originally posted by FreakTornado@Mar 9 2004, 01:51 PM

... I just want one's the are engineered carefully, so when I pull in on the trigger it immediately sends a signal to the Xbox, or if I move the stick the same thing happens, and if I can adjust these tolerances, so much the better.

I can take my Colt to a gunsmith to replace the trigger, smooth out the action, give it a lighter draw and so on. I wonder that there is nothing comparable for controllers.

 

-j

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Originally posted by Robot Monkey+Mar 9 2004, 02:13 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Robot Monkey @ Mar 9 2004, 02:13 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-FreakTornado@Mar 9 2004, 01:51 PM

... I just want one's the are engineered carefully, so when I pull in on the trigger it immediately sends a signal to the Xbox, or if I move the stick the same thing happens, and if I can adjust these tolerances, so much the better.

I can take my Colt to a gunsmith to replace the trigger, smooth out the action, give it a lighter draw and so on. I wonder that there is nothing comparable for controllers.

 

-j [/b]

If we had as many people who care about game controllers as we do about guns then, yeah. :D

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I actually have a third party controller that I like. It's the Pelican "Stealth" for the PS2. The L2/R2 buttons are in a comfortable location under the controller. However, all of the L/R buttons feel a bit cheap and are the weakest part of the controller. The analog sticks and face buttons are solid. The finish on it is oddly silky and the controller would feel "premium" if not for the plastic used in the L/R buttons. This controller is much more responsive than any other 3rd party controller I've owned but still lags slightly behind the real thing. However, the main reason I got it is because it has a built-in passthrough for a set of headphones. After a few too many times of getting bitched at by my fiance for playing Dynasty Warriors loud at 4AM, this was a much needed feature. I think third party controllers have a good opportunity to fill niches with well thought out features. The problem is that most features are rubbish......do I really need a controller with built in fans to keep my hands cool?

 

After a bit of thought, I don't think third party controllers will ever match the quality of the real thing, at least not for the standard control pads. It's all economy of scale. The console manufacturers have guarenteed production of 1 controller for every system they ship, as well as the lion's share of the second controller market I would assume. They have a lot more money to pour into R&D as well as the motivation to do so. The differences in materials quality between a standard Xbox controller and a third party one are absolutely immense. Also, third parties have to sell their controllers for a bit less, but also need a higher profit margin since it's their main line of business.

 

Even at high costs it may be tough to get a true premium controller. The Steel Battalion controller essentially costs $150, but the build quality on it is crap(other than the pedals, which are good). In contrast, I have a Sony dual flight stick for PS1 that I picked up for $10 at a pawn shop and the quality on it is twice what the SB controller is. I don't know much about the flightstick and I have no games that can use it other than analog(Ace Combat 4 does not recognize it), but I imagine it retailed for around $50.

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