Gamepad - How It Works (Part 1) - Arcade fever

5/25/2012 5:53:56 PM

The sensitivity of a game controller can make the difference between life and death for your character in game. Simon Handby considers the technology behind buttons.

It is the best for computers and game consoles to use graphic, sound and impressive playing way to create a passionate environment for players. It is amazing illusion but it is easy to be distracted if players can’t instinctively order for games. While the gamepad usually does not gain much attention as game console or computer which they are attached, they are also equally important to gaming experiences – as anyone who had problems with it knows.

Description: Gamepad

As other gaming devices has grown over time, game controllers have changed to fit new game genes, to take advantage of improved technology or even to reduce “Nintendo thumb” symptom or other injuries related to games. Recent years have witnessed an explosion in technology and new gamepad and the coming of handles recognizing hand motion like Xbox Kinect. This month, we will review them.

Arcade fever

Description: A little bit of arcade fever @ PAX 2010

A little bit of arcade fever @ PAX 2010

Game controllers have evolved into specialized units, but most of the first controllers inspired by current control systems. Computer keyboards which originated from typewriters at the end of 19th century and electronic typewriter knocked out them in the mid of 20th century are still the main controller for many PC games. Trackball which is used in some arcade game was first developed by Canadian Navy in 1952.

As a model of all game controllers, joystick has appeared from the infancy of the aircraft. Since the early 20th century, the joystick has worked as a big lever which will pull many kinds of cables managing control surfaces of an aircraft while moving. It is thought that German military developed the first complete electronic joystick, along with controllers used them in the World War II to handle bomber squadrons guided by radio waves. In the 60s, electronic joystick has become popular, controlled aircraft model before they were accepted by game industry then.

Perhaps the most amazing is the first controller developed for entertainment industry is the least common. Light gun, which is used almost exclusively for shooting games, can be traced from original electromechanical arcade system in the middle of the 30s. The first acarde light gun system, 1936 Seeburg Ray-O-Lite, contained a duck as a motion target which has a vacuum without light sensor. Players use the gun to “shoot” a ray of light – if the vacuum doesn’t emit light suddenly, and then they hit the target.

The light gun has worked in several ways, depending on the technology at that time. Initially they shoot light on a sensor, but the development of computer graphics means that games can show many moving targets at the same time on CRT screen. After that the light gun will recognize light on the screen after press the trigger. The screen usually goes dark at the moment the trigger is pressed and each aim will shine till the light gun emit light to display a hit or till there is no target left.


Description: Buttons

The light gun could have been a magic but most of them share something practical with almost every game controllers used to be built – have at least a button. The button is a fundamental part of any handheld controller so it is easily ignored but it is the key to understand one of the most important requirements of the controller: it has to be strong. Game buttons are highlighted, especially with arcade games like Track and Field where players run by pressing alternative buttons as soon as possible. Even on controllers at home, buttons need to be sturdy,

Buttons often move vertically through a hole with a diameter which is slightly larger than the button, though buttons are very strong or long movement can move in an outer tube. Springs give resistant force which increase higher and higher till the button touch a hard stop when the edge preventing them pluck out of the controller. Cheap designs can compress two electric contac when being pushed but high-quality buttons use a micro switch – a lightweight switch. It is incredibly strong and was invented in 1932.

Micro switches are ideal for a game controller; they are small enough to attach directly into or below buttons, with consisten behavior, predictable and extremely reliable, as they are designed to survive after million activities. They are not only used for buttons but also put under 4 points of directional pad (D-pad) or connected with actuators on the leg of joystick to enable them to control orientation. With four dedicated switches to detect up, down, left and right movements, diagonal ones may be recognized when two switches are near and pressed simultaneously.

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