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Software Entertainment Games Hardware Technology

Overwatch Director Speaks Out Against Console Mouse/keyboard Adapters (arstechnica.com) 262

Striek quotes a report from Ars Technica: Regardless of where you fall in the long-running debate between keyboard/mouse and analog stick controls, you could historically be relatively sure that everyone on a single platform would be playing with the same control scheme. Recently, though, third-party adapters have started allowing console players to use a mouse and keyboard effectively on dedicated consoles, throwing off the competitive balance in a way that Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan doesn't appreciate. "The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console," Kaplan wrote on the Battle.net forums. "We have contacted both first-party console manufacturers and expressed our concern about the use of mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices. We have lobbied and will continue to lobby for first-party console manufacturers to either disallow mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices or openly and easily support mouse and keyboard for all players," he continued. "I encourage you to reach out to the hardware manufacturers and express your concerns (but please do so in a productive and respectful way)." Kaplan is talking about products like the XIM4, a $125 hub that lets certain USB keyboards and mice work natively with some Xbox One and PS4 games (as well as PS3 and Xbox 360 titles). IoGear's $100 Keymander does much the same thing, claiming to be "compatible with all console games." These devices essentially emulate a standard controller through a combination of hardware and software settings, disguising the keyboard and mouse inputs in a way that makes them hard for a developer to detect. This is a problem in competitive online games like Overwatch, where the quickness and precision of mouse aiming can give a decisive advantage over players using a slower and clunkier analog stick.
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Overwatch Director Speaks Out Against Console Mouse/keyboard Adapters

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  • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:02PM (#53814781) Homepage

    No complaints about PCs using controllers though?

    • Re:No complaints (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:03PM (#53814783)
      Why complain about people handicapping themselves?
      • If the analog stick is "slower and clunkier" than a mouse, at least one obvious solution is a faster and more accurate analog stick.
        • Good luck inventing one.

        • Re:No complaints (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @07:05PM (#53815251)

          Indeed.

          You could have a stick with a good 6 to 12 inches of play in every direction, allowing for a similarly wide range of speed and precision, though you'd still be losing the ability to transition almost instantly from high speed to nearly stationary, which is extremely important when rapid turning and precision aiming are implemented through the same controller.

          So you'd need to also transition from a relative to absolute position tracking on the stick. Of course that rapidly runs into the physical limitations of the joystick's range of motion.

          Of course, with such a huge range of motion you won't be able to mount this thing on a handheld controller anyway, so perhaps some method could be devised to operate it in both "active" and "repositioning" mode - perhaps a "reposition stick button". Or maybe instead we could do away with the dual-axis mechanical stick altogether, and instead put an optical scanner on the underside of the grip - then it could detect motion across a surface, and by picking it up you could easily reposition it without sending any movement signals to the game.

          You know, I'm amazed no one has thought of creating such a precise and convenient input controller before...

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          It's called a trackball. The problem with the analog stick is similar to the problem with the little nub on IBM laptops or trackpads. The area of movement your fingers make have to have a much larger effect on the system than your muscle movements, it amplifies any movement much more due to its limited area of movement without being able to correct for speed. It's a virtual lever with a very tiny distance between fulcrum and effort because you only have ~1cm to work with, any effort is thus going to be crud

      • Re:No complaints (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ramze ( 640788 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @07:00PM (#53815211)

        Perhaps for Overwatch that'd be a bad plan, but there are games designed for controllers that don't map well to mouse and keyboard.

        Try playing the Metroid Prime Trilogy made for the Wii controller on a PC through an emulator w/ just a keyboard and mouse. Heck, even with a pretty standard controller it's clunky... you really need the Wiimote and IR Bar to play it properly.

        3D motion can be handled much faster with controllers or cameras to map to your own 3D motion.

        I propose Overwatch make their own damned controller for PC and console and make a ton of money selling it by billing it as "the best way to play"

        • by flink ( 18449 )

          Try playing the Metroid Prime Trilogy made for the Wii controller on a PC through an emulator w/ just a keyboard and mouse. Heck, even with a pretty standard controller it's clunky... you really need the Wiimote and IR Bar to play it properly.

          Did they drastically alter the input scheme for the Wii re-release or something? The first two were native to the Gamecube and only the last one had a split release on both Wii and GC at launch, IIRC.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        In theory, a controller lets more than one team member play on the same machine, as opposed to having to buy a separate license for each player.

    • The console version of overwatch actually has built-in aim assist, because of the fast-paced nature of the game since it's balanced for use with controllers.

      The PC version has no such assists, so if a PC user is playing on a console, they'll be even better.

      • So the usual console aimbot? Blah.

    • That actually falls under his second condition: "... openly and easily support [all controller types] for all players." On PC all controller types are supported, including gamepad and mouse+keyboard. Everyone knows this, and everyone has that choice. Thus, it's fair.

      On console the assumption is that you're playing with a controller. Until Playstation/Xbone openly support plugging in mouse/keyboard, he wants them either banned, or support added.

      The joke's on him though, the PS4 openly supports keyboards.

      • I forget what game it was, but some company built their clients and servers so PC and console could play their FPS together. People with mice destroyed console players, so they abandoned that goal, and it has been ever thus since.

        I had both the console and PC versions of Max Payne, and playing the console version felt like assembling a ship in a bottle: clumsily and with tongs.

        It hasn't changed and there will be an elite class of destroyers who use something else.

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        The joke's on him though, the PS4 openly supports keyboards. Mouse? I don't know. I haven't tried.

        I hope it supports mice, as otherwise the official mouse+keyboard pack from Sony would likely result in complaints.

    • Read Summary Again (Score:5, Informative)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:11PM (#53814855)

      It must be "can't even be arsed to read teh fucking summary" day on Slashdot!

      They said the EITHER want to block those products working, OR have open development support paths so that EVERYONE can use keyboard/mice with support from developers.

      You know, exactly like it is on the PC????????

      Jesus.

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:16PM (#53814879) Journal

        Where's the outrage in that? Clearly he wanted to keep those filthy console peasants from touching the mouse and keyboard of their glorious PC ovlerlords! Help, help, I'm being oppressed!

        Bah, you and your rational interpretation.

      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        It must be "can't even be arsed to read teh fucking summary" day on Slashdot!

        Obligatory, "You must be new here."

      • PS players already have official support for mouse and keyboard.

        Xbox players are the issue. Until Blizzard can convince MS to allow official mouse and keyboard support, Blizzard's stance will be that it fractures the player base, is unfair, etc. It's going to take a LOT of bitching / bribing to get MS to officially provide mouse and keyboard support on Xbox. Probably more than Blizzard thinks is worthwhile.

        The goal here is to allow official mouse and keyboard support that Blizzard can detect. This way c

    • Re:No complaints (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:20PM (#53814911)

      No, because a keyboard & mouse is a far superior for playing an FPS than a controller. I'm not sure how anyone can consider that a topic of debate as the summery implies. A keyboard and mouse allows you to independently move and aim with greater ease and higher precision than a controller. The issue here would be that people using a keyboard & mouse against console gamer using a controller puts the controller users at a severe disadvantage.

  • tech. that's what we do, right?
  • Nobody prefers controlling an FPS with thumbsticks. It is the compromise you make because you want to play on a couch.
    • That's not necessarily true. I find it harder to make sudden but precise movements with a mouse than I do with a thumbstick. I'm aware in the minority, but that doesn't mean you get to pretend I don't exist at all.
    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      It is the compromise you make because you want to play on a couch.

      I have a cheap lap-resting platform where I have my keyboard and mouse for playing FPSes on the couch using my console with my XIM4. No compromise needed.

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Nobody prefers controlling an FPS with thumbsticks. It is the compromise you make because you want to play on a couch.

      Thanks - I'm slowly losing motor-control, and very much prefer controllers over mice.

  • I am not a serious gamer, so it comes as a surprise or even a shock to me.

    30 years ago I used to play the console game "The Digger" by Windmill Software [digger.org]. Using the arrow keys on the keyboard was so painful, I wished for a joystick. After being a Rip van Winkle for this long, I see the claim keyboard has an unfair advantage and am shocked by it.

    • No one is aiming using a keyboard. For that there is a mouse, and when the aim of the game is to move a point to a very specific position on the screen there is nothing to compare with a device that directly translates lateral movement with virtual movement, and certainly not a device that translates angle to acceleration.

    • Not *so* much the keyboard that is the advantage. Though, I think the access to 5x the number of keys could make it an advantage. I think the real advantage here is mouse control of the camera view.

    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

      I see the claim keyboard has an unfair advantage and am shocked by it.

      So you haven't played a computer game since the mouse was invented?

      A joystick is probably a superior input device for navigating/player movement, but is infuriating to aim with compared with a mouse. I'm not saying anything about the superiority of consoles vs computer gaming, I enjoy both, but there is no argument that a mouse is better for aiming in a FPS.

      • True, almost all the games I played were arcade games, and I have never played a first person shooter.
      • A zillion years ago, using a joystick was awful. They were digital devices, not analog, so they'd be move or stop. I only tried using them with flight simulators instead of games that needed aiming. But it was awful. I assume they got better but I always regretted the loss of $15 there. I just never got used to those sorts of controls. Meanwhile I've used a mouse since the eighties and I know how to use it. Gaming console controllers just are not very ergonomic (unless you have tiny hands). The butt

        • Even at the dawn of PC time, some systems (Apple II) supported analog joysticks. Early consoles were lucky to have 8 position 'joy sticks'.

          • And they were awful because they were basically just 8 switches, making them very difficult to use for fine control. The mouse is still digital but it's fine grained enough that it is very handy as an analog approximation, and cheaper than the better joysticks that eventually emerged.

            Personally, I think tiny trackball on a controller would have worked well, better overall control while still being usable on the couch or sitting on the living room floor. Takes a few days to get used to perhaps, but controll

    • Umm, you're not even a casual gamer. This is how FPSes have been played for over 20 years:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by boondaburrah ( 1748490 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:10PM (#53814847)

    Controller adapters should absolutely /not/ be banned, since they'll take assistive devices out with them. That, and I have friends who play xbox fighting games with mouse/keyboard because they're hardcore pc players, and I play all my xbox games with a Dualshock 2 -> xbox360 adapter.

    The best move here is to add keyboard and mouse support, and separate matchmaking by device type used.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      Controller adapters should absolutely /not/ be banned, since

      Actually, you don't even need a reason!
      Why is it that someone thinks they can have a say over my console? For what reason??

      It's like a farmer decides to reach out and ban sporks because they do not combine fork and spoon functionality well and may cause us to incorrectly eat some of the produced food. (or substitute a car analogy...)

  • I'm ALL FOR mouse controls on consoles!

    Why? I want the design for mouse to be something at the forefront for developers, alongside controller support.

    For the past half-decade or so, UI developers for cross-platform projects really seemed to give mouse/keyboard users a raw deal over interfaces, acting as though everything was just emulating a joystick, with horrible positive/negative acceleration logic, capping allowed movement per second, etc. Really bad controls on their ports to mouse-based systems.

    Both

    • ports suck and paided emulation systems suck.

      Porting an joystick or gamepad / touch UI to pc sucks.

      Also when you do that on top of a pained emulation system that does less then the free emulation system that came years before it and is loaded with DLC is an train wreck.

  • I really wish Battle.net would embrace cross play in general. It's so frustrating to not be able to play with my Xbox Friends or vice versa even if they want to play at a *disadvantage*. B.net claims they don't allow Xbox and PC cross play because it wouldn't be fair to the console players but that should be a choice the console players are willing to make.

    I have an Xbox One Controller adapter for my PC and sometimes play Overwatch with it. It's not ideal but I still have fun. They should tune the game

  • Always wanted and excuse to use that term. Finally found one.

  • XIM has been around for years. I was rocking a XIM3 on my Xbox 360 seven years ago.

  • The xBox Elite controller costs approximately the same price as one of these adapters and a cheap keyboard and mouse, and offers an advantage to the player using it. To elaborate, it lets you activate some of the face buttons using paddles, so you don't have to take your thumbs off the sticks.
    • Having easier access to a few buttons is handy, but it's nothing compared to the radical increase in aiming speed and precision allowed by the mouse. Especially when the game input is designed under the assumption that those buttons will be harder to hit.

  • He doesn't get to decide how I play the game I bought, ESPECIALLY if the exact same functionality is available on another platform the same game is on.

    They decided to make an FPS game for a sub-optimal controller configuration. Don't bitch when people try to fix the short comings.

  • Regardless of whether something is called a "game" or a "sport" - it's most fun when played against opponents with a not-too-far-off skill level. So if you play an "online"-game against some stranger a reasonable server will match you with an opponent of similar strength, and it totally doesn't matter whether that strength is achieved by quicker fingers or some more suitable input device. Why should you bother whether you are matched against some clumsy person using a great keyboard or against a grandmaster
    • The best, most satisfying, games are the ones where your skill matches that of your opponent. They last for a while, they need you to shift your tactics a few times during the battle, just to stay that inch ahead and it's satisfying as all hell when you eventually beat him. And you don't even feel like trash talking because he did put up a good fight, hell, even losing can be satisfying if your opponent eventually tells you that it was a great fight and he appreciates your effort.

      It's way different if you r

  • I don't play console games, so maybe I have the wrong perspective on this; however, I think this is a really wrong-headed approach. As far as I can tell, a developer is unhappy because it's possible to buy hardware that really improves a user's experience when they play the developer's game. The game developer, upset that some users have an advantage, wants everybody to get the poorest least-common-denominator user experience. Although the goal is laudable because everybody in a competitive game should have

    • The cure is none because you cannot in any way determine whether the people actually play "by the rules" and use controllers, or whether they somehow managed to rig a KB/Mouse set to act as if they did use a controller.

      The only sensible move is to simply allow them.

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:41PM (#53815073)

    Mandate QWOP [foddy.net] style controls for all players on all platforms.

  • ...is a joke. (For the record, I'm just fine with the 'allow all extra peripherals by default'.)

    Your controller choice is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other factors and exploits that can happen over the 'untameable' Internet that controller choice is lost in the crowd.

    If you're that worried about 'competitive gaming' then you should do it like all competitive sports. In person, supervised, with referees making sure you're following the rules.

  • On Playstations, for example, most third party controllers disconnect every few minutes because they fail the encryption heartbeat challenges. Or is this only a problem on Xbox consoles?
    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      My xim4 requires the connection of a real Playstation controller in order to operate. Hence, no issue.

  • Playing FPS games with a controller is about as bad as playing third person platformers with keyboard and mouse. Yes, either is possible, but don't expect to ever be as good as someone using the "right" input device.

    And bluntly, if you want to play "competitively", stop whining about getting a leg up to cater to your inefficient input so you don't have to get used to using a sensible one. If you're just trying to play for fun, go ahead, play with whatever and however you please, but if you want to compete,

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

      Playing FPS games with a controller is about as bad as playing third person platformers with keyboard and mouse.

      What's wrong with playing platformers with a keyboard & mouse?

      • To me it just feels weird. Especially if you have like 5 different jumps/attacks/actions that you want to execute while whirling around that just BEG to have about as many conveniently positioned buttons to press. That most of these games are designed to be played with a controller sure doesn't help either to make playing them with KB/M easy.

        It's way more sensibly doable than playing FPS games with a controller, though.

  • ...you shouldn't gimp your games with shit controllers?

  • no shit really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by indy_Muad'Dib ( 869913 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @10:33PM (#53816455) Homepage

    the industry learned that back during the closed beta of BF3 when xbox and PC could play on the same servers and the PC players wrecked the absolute shit out of the console players in every match.

    • Re:no shit really? (Score:4, Informative)

      by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @09:27AM (#53818179)

      I remember playing BF3 with my older brother on his XBox when I visited him, while I had BF3 on the PC. The game played completely different: In the metro station map, on PC, players could barely ever capture the first flag without precise coordination and vision occlusion like smokes because if they popped their head up they'd get wrecked. On XBox, everyone just sprinted for the flag and it was a close range melee fest with flag captures usually being quite easy regardless of how well the defensive positions were set up.

      In short, on the PC the defenders had a heavy advantage where on XBox the attackers had a heavy advantage, and it showed in the win rate from those sides. This was entirely due to control scheme.

  • by Cmdln Daco ( 1183119 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @01:01AM (#53816965)

    Easy Solution:

    Delete the Leaderboards.

    Then balance doesn't matter.

    People who have a problem with this can get a Special-Ed version of the game that only displays a leaderboard, with their name on top.

  • Overwatch director to hardware manufacturers; "Please stop making money so we can make more money".

  • Well, some players can't play a shooter with a joypad if their life depended on it. These are more likely the people who (also) buy such adaptors. I have a fragfx and a another 'mouse' for the PS3 to play shooters, as I just cannot get a handle on using the controller. And I do want to play such games on a console, so I have to resort to using controllers like that.
    And to be honest, I've seen more than enough people playing with controllers who are much better than people with their KB/M combo.
    But there is

  • So people with these devices get an advantage. So what?

    Players with TVs that have low processing latency have an advantage.

    Players with a fast and stable Internet connection have an advantage.

    Players living closer to the hosting servers probably have an advantage.

    Players jacked up on caffeine probably have an advantage.

    There are many factors that can influence your success in a multiplayer FPS. Let's not pretend that forcing console players to use a first-party controller makes everything fair.

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