The Novint Falcon is a USB haptic device intended to replace the mouse in video games and other applications. Its primary function for video games is to provide incredibly accurate control and an immersive, tactile experience. The grip of the Falcon is interchangeable; Novint has created multiple grips for varying applications. The pistol grip, however, remains the most useful for games.
The Falcon is a cone-shaped device with three robotic arms that can be moved independently. This provides a full three dimensions of movement.The sensors in the Falcon can keep track of the location of the handle to sub-millimeter resolution.
In addition to acting as an input device, the Falcon also provides force feedback in any direction. Weapon recoil, nearby explosions, and even actions such as jumping or crouching can cause force feedback. Certain games, such as the Penumbra series, even let you feel the bump-mapped textures using the Falcon. The motors inside the Falcon are updated 1000 times per second.
Some games even take physics interactions a step further using the feedback capabilities of the Falcon. For example, in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, picking up a physics prop, such as a soda can, will cause a slight downwards force on the Falcon, simulating the weight of the can. Picking up a heavy boulder with the aid of the Gravity Gun, on the other hand, will cause the Falcon to exert a large downwards force. (Force settings are typically user-adjustable allowing users to choose between entertainingly extreme and playably mild.)
The various handles for the Falcon mostly feature the same four buttons: the Novint logo ("N"), an inverted triangle ("V"), a lightning bolt ("N"), and a plus symbol ("T"). Due to the variety of shape available for the different handles, some buttons may take on different forms; for instance, the Novint logo button on the pistol grip is the trigger.
For most first-person games such as Team Fortress 2 or Portal, the player controls his or her avatar's view by moving the Falcon left, right, up, and down, much like a mouse. The view will turn as fast as the player can nudge the handle in a given direction. Instead of just stopping when the player moves the handle to the limit (as far in any direction as the device will allow), the handle will "spring" back slightly towards the center. This allows control similar to that of an analog stick, but more precise. The Novint logo (or trigger, in the case of the pistol grip) is the "fire" button, and the other three buttons are bound by default to actions such as "alt-fire," "switch weapon," or "reload," but these can usually be remapped to whatever the player prefers.
Novint is looking to add support to more games in the future, such Battlefield 2142, World of Warcraft, Left 4 Dead 2, and Need For Speed: ProStreet. For games that don't natively include support for the Falcon, Novint shoehorns in functionality using its F-Gen software. F-Gen also allows users to play any game using the Falcon, using it basically like a mouse (no force feedback, etc.).
The games attached to this page all feature native Falcon support. Other games that have mods or additional drivers to add Falcon support include: