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New PC motion controller shows Sony’s missed chance for Playstation Move

Sixense unveiled its Razer Hydra at CES this year, which is a motion controller for the PC platform. This is good news for the industry as motion gaming will meet even broader audience.

Razar Hydra uses an electromagnetic field within a radius of 6 feet to detect the positions of the controllers in both hands, with millimeter accuracy. It also supports an analogue stick on each of the controllers. I had earlier written an article about how having an analogue stick on the Platstation Move controller would have been the right thing (in hopes of getting things right for PS4, of course, as there’s no way Move specs can change). Comments around the web concentrated on the fact that using analogue on the motion controller would be awkward, something which was repeated by Anton Mikhailov himself, and he also mentioned that it would come with added costs.

It is no surprise that they will defend their design choice, but I don’t think those points are valid because:

  • You don’t waggle the controller all the time, most games can get away with a single move controller for basic freedom of motion: Go to a spot, start waggling.
  • You wouldn’t need a navigation controller, reducing overall cost for a standardized move experience
  • Core games would utilize dual Motion controllers, allowing greater gameplay opportunities with both hands perfectly tracked
  • Especially for shooter games, the motion required is minimal
  • Killzone’s official weapon attachment includes the navigation controller on the weapon itself, so you actually do swing the thing around while using the analogue stick, thereby proving that controlling using the analogue stick is feasible with the minimal motion required by pointing and shooting
  • Razer Hydra proves that analogue on the motion controller is effective, having double analouge sticks are even more effective.

While I don’t think Razer Hydra will be as widely accepted or succesful as the Move, it proves that having dual analogue control, while retaining freedom of motion unlike the tech demos for move so far that uses dual wielding, opens up more gaming possibilities than not having it. Since the left hand controller is also motion enabled, gestures that can break the aiming can most easily be done using the left hand controller as seen in the linked video. This is certainly better than having to give all gestures to the aiming hand, as people who oppose using analogue while moving the controller will have to agree by default.

The no camera approach of Razer Hydra obviously doesn’t allow for augmented reality type games, but it does not get affected by room lighting and would probably be resistant to obstruction. I don’t know details on whether it could be affected by / affect existing magnetic fields, but it does seem to work well on the show floor.

My hope is that the next iteration of Move can emrace the ideas proven effective by innovations of competing products.