#1 Posted by MarkM (288 posts) -

Directional pad. Buttons. Does there exist a superior paradigm?

The new hardware generation is here, and we are using the same controller concept that has remained in use since I started playing video games as a kid.

The key to this whole question is what kind of interface do you really need to propel a character or camera view through space? Is there a better method than D-Pad Right?

Today the Directional Pad has been relegated to another set of buttons. Usually used for quick spells, items, grenades, weapon swap, etc.

Although we now use an analog thumb stick as standard, it is still a Directional Pad with more directions.

PROPOSAL!

The D-Pad is eternal. It will never die. We will always demand some form of physical interface with a directional pad to indicate movement though 3D space. There is no better conceptual form than the D-Pad.

It is a symbolic representation of the 2 dimensional plane, as is the analog stick. This is fundamental to the origin of video games as 2 dimensional representation was the original method of drawing graphics in real time.

With 3D spatial game worlds, the analog stick filled in the needed extra directions but it still represents a 2 dimensional plane.

There is no way to make a device interface that is a representation of 3D space. Not a tactile interface that you can hold. No, a sphere wouldn't do it nor would wand. Notice the Move controller had a little D-Pad accessory which was also a total piece of shit and was utilized in zero games.

There is little iteration that can be done on the directional pad because it is not an invention, it is an idea. It is an idea expressed through symbolism, the cross. The D-pad in fact can be used in a prototypical manner as a symbol to communicate an idea in the same way a letter in the alphabet along with other letters can form a word. This is seen all the time in fighting games in how they communicate moves and combos.

Finally consider that there is no better controller than the Dual Shock and the Xbox one also sucks.

#2 Posted by JZ (2125 posts) -

Yes

#3 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3855 posts) -

I think as far as a controller goes, yeah the d-pad (and analogue stick if we're grouping those) is as good as you can get. There's just better or worse versions of those.

#4 Edited by Blu3V3nom07 (4191 posts) -
@markm said:

Finally consider that there is no better controller than the Dual Shock and the Xbox one also sucks.

Fucking patents. How do they work?

#5 Posted by Veektarius (4768 posts) -

I hate d-pads and hated them even on the NES.

#6 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

Read the book Ready Player One. They enter a virtual world with a headset that the Oculus Rift is comparable to. They also use motion sensing, haptic gloves.

Such gloves would eventually be the way to go. Even if the Kinect eventually became super exact in its motion tracking, it could never give you the sense of actually picking something up. But haptic gloves could do that. That is what I am hoping for twenty years from now.

#7 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

@mcghee: we have seen a step in that direction with the triggers in xbone, if I'm not mistaken.

To me that's the best controller to date (at least in theory, by now), the controller is actually the only thing I like from xbone.

#8 Posted by Andorski (5268 posts) -

Fuck you guys.

#9 Posted by Omelet_Pants (165 posts) -

I love the D-Pad, but I know that there are a lot of people who prefer keyboard + mouse. Btw, I prefer Xbox controller over Dualshock, and it's not even close.

#10 Edited by TheSquarePear (168 posts) -

They should replace the shoulder buttons with analog sticks so I can press buttons and d-pad with by thumbs while controlling the camera with my index fingers.

At least the new FFB triggers sounds cool.

#11 Posted by MideonNViscera (2257 posts) -

I don't see how there could be a better way. Even different ways (analog sticks, arcade sticks, wasd on keyboard) are still the same thing. The d-pad/stick idea covers movement of characters and cursors on menus and any time you need to move anything at all in any game. Except Divekick.

#12 Edited by Rebel_Scum (682 posts) -
That is all

#13 Posted by Chibithor (574 posts) -

It is, but only for it's purpose, digital movement. Most 3D games benefit from an analog stick not because they're 3D, but because you want to move in ways the d-pad doesn't allow, which can apply to 2D games as well. But if 4 or 8 directions is all you want, it's perfection.

#14 Posted by xyzygy (9943 posts) -

The only thing I use d-pads for instead of the stick is menu selection and inventory stuff. That's all it's good for so it doesn't matter how "good" a d-pad is to me because I'm not really using it that much.

#15 Edited by xyzygy (9943 posts) -

The only thing I use d-pads for instead of the stick is menu selection and inventory stuff. That's all it's good for so it doesn't matter how "good" a d-pad is to me because I'm not really using it that much.

#16 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@trylks said:

@mcghee: we have seen a step in that direction with the triggers in xbone, if I'm not mistaken.

To me that's the best controller to date (at least in theory, by now), the controller is actually the only thing I like from xbone.

But if you listen to the latest podcast, Jeff says that it is just a rumble on each of the triggers, not a programmable tension or feedback.

#17 Edited by audioBusting (1503 posts) -

Master gamers don't use no d-pads! #eSports

Different input methods are good at different things. D-pad + buttons is a good all-around controller but it's not flawless, because all input methods still depend on our human senses in the end. Analog sticks are not just a d-pad with more theoretical buttons -- they allow for intuitive analog tracking movements that digital buttons cannot. If they are just that, a d-pad can be said to be just four buttons arranged in a cross (so I might say that WASD+keyboard buttons is conceptually flawless too). When it comes to video games straight-up usability design doesn't quite apply all the time, but I don't believe that any input can be conceptually flawless.

#18 Edited by MarkM (288 posts) -
#19 Edited by MarkM (288 posts) -

I hate d-pads and hated them even on the NES.

You're a crazy person saying crazy things.

#20 Edited by believer258 (11785 posts) -

Always felt like the PS3 controller was too light and plasticy. Its only advantage over the 360 controller is the D-Pad; everything else about it doesn't feel as good to me.

Meanwhile, an analog stick is not just a D-Pad. It has a much larger number of directions, changes functions depending on how far you press it, and can count as a button. 2D games and menus greatly benefit from a good D-Pad, but anything else is better on a stick.

Keyboard and mouse is in an entirely different league.

#21 Edited by Rebel_Scum (682 posts) -
#22 Posted by MarkM (288 posts) -

Just kidding. I never had a Master System though. Look at that fucking D-pad. Wat?

#23 Posted by ChaosDent (234 posts) -

Control methods exist, and games are designed to take advantage of them. It doesn't work the other way around! Often, a game designed for one control method can be ported to another, but will lose fidelity. A + pad and buttons are the perfect controls for a Mario or Final Fantasy game, but it is pretty bad with Arkaonid, Rampart or Angry Birds. At the same time, try playing Mario with a paddle, trackball or touchscreen. There isn't a perfect control scheme for every possible kind of game.

#24 Posted by Scroll (594 posts) -

@mcghee: The demos only featured rumble but it has apparently been said that more can be done with the trigger functions.

#25 Posted by Bell_End (1208 posts) -

did you know that the D in Dpad stands for David and is named after the guy that invented it David Pad - Dpad

#26 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

@mcghee: thanks for the info. That sucks on the improvement side, but it's good on the standardization side. With that I mean it's not something I'll miss when playing in my platform of choice for the next gen.