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Topic: No real buttons seems likely. Your thoughts?

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McGruber

I think many of us breathed a sigh of relief today when we found out the recent "leaked" NX controllers were fakes. But, I think other than the atrocious form factor, everyone's biggest gripe was the lack of face buttons.

The actual NX controller may not have physical buttons, or at least the ones we are used to. And I think we need to prepare ourselves for that (imo sad) reality, and discuss.

There are two very strong indicators that this is indeed happening.

1. Patents
2. Secondhand knowledge from credible sources.

We all saw the patents that those fake NX controllers were based on. So clearly we know the thought at the very least crossed Nintendo's mind.

But the more damning evidence is Andy McNamara confirming that at least one official devkit does in fact have a controller with a touch screen and very few buttons. You can see him mention this at the 52:00 mark in the video below. Basically he thought the fake was real because he had been hearing from a developer that their devkit was a touch screen controller with no face buttons. He's not the first "insider" to say this, but as the chief editior of Game Informer, he is the most credible.

I'm really curious to know how other Nintendo fans feel about this! Do you love/hate the concept, and what buttons do you expect to see when Nintendo finally unveils NX?

Edited on by McGruber

McGruber

Nintendo Network ID: McGruber

DefHalan

I expect buttons. If they are really making a GamePad 2.0 then it should at least match the GamePad functionality wise. If some Dev kits had fewer buttons, it was probably during earlier testing and not the final product. I really don't expect a GamePad 2.0, I would expect a new controller but the system supporting the GamePad as optional. That is, if this is all for a Home Console. It could be something else.

People keep saying the Xbox One doesn't have Backwards Compatibility.
I don't think they know what Backwards Compatibility means...

3DS Friend Code: 2621-2786-9784 | Nintendo Network ID: DefHalan

McGruber

@DefHalan: Well I hope you are right. I liked the Gamepad, it just felt too large for me. I also didn't like the analog sticks, and prefer the ones used on PS4. I really hope the new console controller has EVERY button the gamepad does, but I can't help but think it won't.

Now, I will say I am much more open to these virtual buttons on a mobile device. I think for mobile games all I really need are the duel analogs sticks to be happy. To me it's clear that they are doing some type of hybrid and that whatever mobile device they release will also double as a home console controller. I just really hope there is another controller like a Pro or even Gamepad at this point that I can use for TV play.

McGruber

Nintendo Network ID: McGruber

DefHalan

@McGruber: I never found the GamePad to be too large. My only issue with it is the Analog sticks felt too far from the buttons or D-Pad. When I would get use to using the d-pad and buttons only, it was difficult to get use to using the analog sticks again. They just sit too high up and my hands want to rest a bit lower.

People keep saying the Xbox One doesn't have Backwards Compatibility.
I don't think they know what Backwards Compatibility means...

3DS Friend Code: 2621-2786-9784 | Nintendo Network ID: DefHalan

VelvetElvis

Nintendo is in a tough spot. If they want to make their past library a key pillar of the NX, they need some sort of set up that — at least in one of its forms — accommodates two screens. At the same time, they need to distance themselves from the Wii U's screen-bearing GamePad, and their company mantra relies heavily on "doing something different," for lack of a better phrase. Taking all those in mind, I can see some form of what we consider fundamental user input changing with the NX.

If the controller or system lacks traditional buttons, I'll be wary. Though I enjoy touch controls for touch-based games and ancillary functions, I've yet to be convinced they can work for many of the tactile, action-oriented games that make up Nintendo's library. Everybody chants "haptic feedback," "haptic feedback," "haptic feedback," but it'd have to be some sort of revelatory feedback for purely touch-based buttons to convince me. That said, this is the company that brought us the Wii Remote and glasses-free 3D, so if anyone can pull it off, it's Nintendo.

So that's my grounded, "wait-and-see" reality. But let's wildly speculate just for giggles. Though I suspected that the recent NX controller fake was just that, the fury following it did get me thinking. Here are two ways I could see Nintendo pulling off a controller like that (which does reflect their patent involving only "two operation sticks" obstructing a free-form display, which we know Nintendo and Sharp are in bed together on).

1) It could be a case of "what you see is what you get," and there are no more traditional face buttons. But if those two "operation sticks" are not traditional analogs, then that opens up some possibilities. If one or more of those sticks can function as both a traditional analog or circle pad style input and one or more of them can also function as something like the microswitched control stick on the Neo Geo Pocket (a clicky, precise directional movement), then that could allow for movement on one stick and the equivalent of four-to-eight accurate inputs on the other.

Perhaps, mechanically, both sticks can somehow operate as either or, that gives you the option to combine digital-like control and analog control. Let's say both are clickable, so there's two inputs. Scroll-wheel-like shoulder buttons also seem likely, so there's another, plus a full touchscreen surface for less precise input (menus, maps, item switching, etc.). Then there's always the possibility of moving many of the controls to the back of the system (i.e. maybe two scrollable shoulders and four triggers, or more touch inputs in the system shell). This is all very unlikely — I mean, it's way out there, and I don't see much justifiable reason for it — but swingable, especially with a late-game addition such as a tiny C-stick nub or even two transparent face buttons.

2) A case of "there is much more than what you see." Let's say Nintendo partners with Tactus for transparent physical buttons that rise up from the touchscreen, as many have speculated. Tactus has been displaying this tech in working form since at least 2012, so it's feasible that a consumer device in late 2016 or early 2017 could roll it out in an affordable, working format. There's also been speculation about Nintendo being cited on Tactus patents, but it seems pretty flimsy at this point.

That said, a dynamic surface not only solves the tactile issue, but it could have real utility for gaming — imagine a game in which the buttons simply "grow" from the screen as you need them, and can perhaps be uniquely labeled to tailor to each game (with text or different colors or icons rather than arbitrary "A," "B," "X," etc.). So you have a tutorial and you walk along until you need to jump across a gap, at which point the jump button appears from the screen. Moreover, you'd only ever have the buttons you need for each game. As someone who likes a minimalist UI, this idea appeals to me.

I could see the NX's screen employing this tech in a limited fashion as a cost-saving measure, so that the Tactus membrane doesn't extend across the entire screen, but is limited to portions around the two sticks, where buttons would be accessible, and of course, only a limited number of buttons would ultimately be available (perhaps in a shape similar to the GameCube's "beans").

Still absolutely wild speculation, but I'd be much more curious — and much more on board — if it were something like this. If it happened, it would give the controller a pretty big "wow" factor and continue to separate Nintendo from the pack, but it wouldn't be a control "gimmick" (how I loathe the word) that made it prohibitive for folks to port over existing games, as has been a problem in the past.

And yet, this is Nintendo we're dealing with. It could very well be something that none of us speculators have even dipped our toes into yet. That's what makes it interesting.

Edited on by VelvetElvis

VelvetElvis

MysteryMan23

Hold on a moment. McNamara never confirmed that the controller had no face buttons; he says so in this video and he says so on Twitter. For all we know, the dev could have been yanking his chain, or trying to throw him off the trail.

He may be a credible source, but that doesn't mean his information is always credible. And in this case, I feel that this information can be safely dismissed in lieu of proper info.

Though, if this is true, I have faith that Nintendo's controller will have, instead of the expected face buttons, an alternative that works just as well, if not better. But that's just me.

Edited on by MysteryMan23

Nintendo Network ID: GamerDude23

NinChocolate

If Nintendo wasn't the business that develops Mario games I'd be worried about the interface. I've no worries. whatever they come up with, it'll control as well as it always has

NinChocolate

MysteryMan23

@NinChocolate: I agree. Suffice it to say that if they can't make Mario work without face buttons, the controller will have face buttons, guaranteed.

Edited on by MysteryMan23

Nintendo Network ID: GamerDude23

DefHalan

Whitewatermoose wrote:

One thing I always wondered, why do we need so many buttons. I personally don't believe we need that many. I think two front buttons and two or four triggers is plenty. I don't know, I am old school, and I rarely am a gamer. Madden for instance, why do we need 8 buttons plus the sticks? It seems to me that you could simplify most games.

I just wonder if less buttons is the future. I just wonder if you all think that too?

Modern shooters really take advantage of all the buttons, with some buttons doing multiple functions. I would find it difficult to play many shooters with less buttons, unless they were designed around that controller. If Nintendo doesn't have enough buttons, that is just another reason for those games to skip the system.

Even playing Doom on Playstation 1 is difficult, they make due, but it is pretty difficult on a PS1 controller.

People keep saying the Xbox One doesn't have Backwards Compatibility.
I don't think they know what Backwards Compatibility means...

3DS Friend Code: 2621-2786-9784 | Nintendo Network ID: DefHalan

DjLewe78

It's a very tricky one this.
It's very easy to just bring out a jazzed up pro pad out and keep everyone happy.
But this is Nintendo.
Remember the NES pad, that was Nintendos invention, same as the SNES, N64, Gamecube, WII, and of course WIIU.
Nintendo always was the best controller inventors but then Sony and Microsoft bought their pads out (obviously taking the best elements from Nintendo pads) and just left them really. There's been no real innovation from them, and there rise in popularity makes us forget what Nintendo actually does and that is give us new ways to play.
That's why I love them.
Now if Nintendo has been working on a pad with no physical buttons, and they have tested it thourghly, then I trust them 100%.
They can't help it if people don't appreciate that but I think if they just rolled over and gave us a PS4 with a pro pad they won't sell squat. And even worse, lose who they are!

Edited on by Jazzer94

1 up !

skywake

@Whitewatermoose:
Good game design will use less buttons but there are some games that need them. For example Smash Bros when you use a simpler control scheme with less buttons. Jump moves from its own buttons to being combined with up. It's a similar deal with smash attacks which have to be done manually if you lose the second stick. Or grab/shield which on the 3DS version become the same button. I'd rather have the full set of controls.

Same deal with a game like Twilight Princess which I'm playing currently on the Wii U. Most of those buttons I wouldn't want to go. Lets say it's just two sticks, two shoulder buttons and A/B. So the left stick is for movement and lets map Midna to the left trigger. Lets also make A and B behave the same. B being attack and A being a context sensitive button. Which I guess means that R is your item slot. I suppose then you can select your item through a radial menu on the right stick. Would this work? Yes. But it'd be a lot more fiddling around in menus. And don't get me started on Wolf-Link's controls or dungeons that require the use of multiple items at once....

Some good Aussie musics: King Gizzard, Pond, TFS
"Don't stir the pot" is a nice way of saying "they're too dumb to reason with"

CM30

Hell no. I've seen enough games with bad touch screen controls to last a life time, and the idea doesn't really work with a lot of game genres. For example, could you easily enjoy a platformer without buttons? Not really, especially not a fast paced, difficult one. Same with a first person shooter, a fighting game as mentioned above, etc.

Heck, stuff like the Mario & Luigi giant battles didn't work well enough for my tastes (due to touch screen controls), and those were designed for them.

If there are no buttons, then there has to be an alternate controller. No alt controller? Then I'm not buying the system.

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Therad

@skywake: But how many of those functions really needs to be mapped to buttons? I haven't played TP, but the most important stuff to map to buttons in a Zelda game should be stuff that is used in combat, becuase buttons can be found quick.

If they would simplify the cotroller with lesser buttons, they could map the rest to the touchscreen. It isn't like you can reach every button on the current controllers, and it just seems smart to have lesser used controls mapped to a screen which can give visual clues. Not saying we should ditch all, but 4 shoulder butons, 4 face buttons, d-pad, - and +, are they all necessary?

Therad

skywake

@Therad: Why remove them though? In some games none are needed and in others you need some. Other need some but not necessarily the same ones. For others it's a "nice to have". But they're virtually a zero cost addition so why not?

The only reason this is being suggested is mobile. They only keep volume, power and maybe a home button. But phones are not designed for games! They're designed for website navigation, photos, text and so on. For 90%+ of phone users they'd never use dedicated buttons anyways.

I'd personally like a few buttons on my phone. Not for games but, I'd like play and skip buttons. For a game controller? The SNES setup should be the absolute minimum....

Edited on by skywake

Some good Aussie musics: King Gizzard, Pond, TFS
"Don't stir the pot" is a nice way of saying "they're too dumb to reason with"

Therad

@skywake: I can see multiple reasons (assuming someone would do something similiar to the patent) :

  • to save space on the controller = more screen estate
  • the other is that it would seem easier and lure in people that think a gazillion buttons is to much.
  • visual feedback. You see an icon or text.

I don't agree with the snes setup. We need analog!
Seriously, to have the same amount as the snes, you really need just 4 shoulder buttons, and 2 face buttons + the usual analogs. I don't see select and start to be necessary, especially if it would have a touchscreen.

Therad

MysteryMan23

After giving it some thought, I've come to the conclusion that Nintendo is actually highly unlikely to get rid of physical buttons for the NX.

Let's start with the proposed alternative, touchscreen buttons. They may work fine for phones, where you'd be looking at the buttons anyways, but they generally lack good haptic feedback. This would be problematic for situations where you're not looking at the buttons. These situations are many, ranging from driving cars to, of course, playing video games; this would be especially problematic for Super Mario, since you need to stay focused on the on-screen action at all times.

Now, as I've stated earlier, the NX controller absolutely WILL be able to handle a Super Mario game; Nintendo wouldn't even bother with it otherwise. And a controller that doesn't have good buttons would be very, very bad for playing Super Mario.

So, this leaves two possibilities: physical buttons, or touchscreen buttons that have the problems with touchscreen buttons fixed. Let's consider the latter.

There are a number of technologies that can make touchscreen buttons viable for gaming, but the most viable option, given its presence in the market, is haptics. And I'm not talking the kind of haptics that vibrate. I'm talking those where you can actually feel the button presses.

Now, these haptics are still quite new, and rather expensive, I believe. Considering what happened with the Wii U Gamepad's price, and the problems that caused, I imagine Nintendo would want to steer clear of overly expensive technology; thus, these haptics would be out of the question. And it's highly unlikely Nintendo would consider more basic haptic feedback technologies, as these still aren't up to snuff compared to physical buttons.

Thus, since the technologies to make touchscreen buttons actually work for gaming are currently too expensive, we can conclude that the NX controller will most likely have real physical buttons, QED.

Edited on by MysteryMan23

Nintendo Network ID: GamerDude23

DefHalan

@skywake: I want more buttons for my phone too. That is one reason why I prefer android over iPhone and why I have stuck with my Galaxy S5. I don't like how minimal the iPhone is, makes things a lot more complicated for things that are easy on my Galaxy S5. Also the touch screen Home Bar that some androids have instead of buttons gets annoying with how it disappears and then you have to slide it out but sometimes that slide doesn't work because your phone thinks it is an action for the app you are in. Buttons all the way lol

People keep saying the Xbox One doesn't have Backwards Compatibility.
I don't think they know what Backwards Compatibility means...

3DS Friend Code: 2621-2786-9784 | Nintendo Network ID: DefHalan

skywake

@Therad:
SNES replication as a minimum IMO. Left analog as a next step which is what the 3DS has, then the right. L2 and R2 are next on the list but at that point I'm not fussed.

Yes Start/Select can be done with a touch screen but you can also place them anywhere. They're like the menu buttons on an android device. I don't think they're going to limit the design much. And no, I don't think L2 and R2 can replace x and y... But that might be my "SNES kid bias" showing!

Edited on by skywake

Some good Aussie musics: King Gizzard, Pond, TFS
"Don't stir the pot" is a nice way of saying "they're too dumb to reason with"

LemonSlice

I hope the reactions to the leak make Nintendo rethink about what they're doing and add real buttons, but I'm terribly afraid that what we saw is what we'll get. It's not just "not right" as a controller ( the WiiU gamepad is vastly superior), but I also don't see myself playing the thing outside the house, where I do most of my handheld gaming.

I know most of you don't believe in the leak, and I wish I too could prolong my hopes, but sadly I feel pretty much defeated on the front. Well, at least I'm not being forced to abandon the lovely 3DS. And maybe Nintendo does something in the future that is going to kick ass again.

Edited on by LemonSlice

LemonSlice

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