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Main article: Game controller

Topics from 1 to 4 | in all: 4

SNES controller for Switch shows up in FCC filing, hinting at SNES games for Nintendo Online

15:28 | 13 August

Nintendo looks set to release wireless SNES controllers for the Nintendo Switch, which likely means it’ll also be bringing classic SNES titles to its Nintendo Online virtual gaming library. The news comes via an FCC filing (hat tip to Eurogamer) , which includes a diagram of what looks very clearly to be the backside of a Super Nintendo-style wireless controller.

The diagram includes a model number that uses the ‘HAC’ code that Nintendo employs to designate Switch accessories, and past history suggests that the arrival of retro-inspired hardware for the Switch also means throwback games are on their way. Nintendo launched wireless NES controllers for the Nintendo Switch in September, and they arrived alongside NES games delivered via Nintendo Online as free perks for subscribers.

The FCC filing is more or less concrete proof that Nintendo intends to release something, but the rest is speculation (if very likely, informed speculation) at this point. Still, it seems inevitable that Nintendo bring its SNES library to the Switch, especially since it did so for the Wii Virtual Console before.



The SteelSeries Arctis Pro lineup is a new high-water mark in comfort and quality

18:09 | 30 March

SteelSeries has two new Arctis Pro gaming headsets out, and they pack a lot of tech and versatility into a comfortable, visually attractive package. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless and Arctis Pro + GameDAC are both incredibly capable headsets that deliver terrific sound, and depending on your system needs, should probably be your first choice when looking for new gaming audio gear.

The Arctis Pro Wireless is, true to its name, wire-free, but also promises lossless 2.4GHz transmission to ensure lag-free audio, too – a must for competitive gaming. The combination of the wireless functionality, the long-wearing comfort of the suspension system headband and the included transmitter base that can hold and charge a swappable battery as well as display all key information on an OLED readout makes this a standout choice.

There are some limitations, however – compatibility is limited to either PS4 or PC for this one, for instance. The wired Arctis Pro (without GameDAC) is compatible with the Xbox One, but both the wireless version and the version that connected to the wired DAC will only work with either Sony’s latest consoles or with a Windows or Mac-based gaming PC.

I’m a bit saddened by that since I’m a big fan of PUBG on Xbox, and also lately of Sea of Thieves, but I also do regularly play PS4 and PC games, and the Arctis Pro Wireless is my weapon of choice now when using either, either for multiplayer or single player games. The wearability and sound quality (which includes DTS X 7.1 surround on PC) is so good that I’ll often opt to use them in place of my actual 5.1 physical surround system, even when I don’t need to chat with anyone.

Other options, like the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Headset, offer different advantages including more easily accessible fine-tune control over soundscape, balance of chat and game audio and other features, but the SteelSeries offers a less complicated out-of-box experience, and better all-day wearability thanks to taking cues from athletic wear for its materials and design.

The GameDAC option additionally has Hi-Res Audio certificate, which is good if you’re looking to stream FLAC files or high-res audio from services like Tidal. The DAC itself also makes all audio sound better overall, and gives you more equalization options from the physical controller .

The main thing to consider with the Arctis Pro + DAC ($249.99) and the Arctis Pro Wireless ($329.99) is the cost. They’re both quite expensive relative to the overall SteelSeries lineup and those of competitors, too. But in this case, cost really is reflective of quality – channel separation and surround virtualization is excellent on these headsets, and the mic sounds great to other players I talked to as well. Plus, the Pro Wireless can connect to both Bluetooth and the 2.4GHz transmitter simultaneously, so you can use it with your phone as well as your console, and the retractable mic keeps things looking fairly stylish, too.



Oculus Pushes Back Touch Controller Launch To Second Half Of 2016

21:38 | 31 December

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Sometimes timing creeps up on you and you have to move things back. It’s an ugly reality for hardware creators, but it happens.

Today, Oculus announced that its Touch controllers will be shipping in the second half of 2016 instead of immediately with the Rift, which is still coming in Q1 2016 with preorders coming “soon.”

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey tweeted a link to a blog post from the company, positioning things around the importance of “getting it right” rather than merely getting it out there:

The design and capabilities of Touch will flow through to future generations of hardware – setting the right bar is important.

— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) December 31, 2015

As we wrote in June, the Touch controller, known as the “Half Moon” prototype, will let you pick up objects, fire a gun, or point at things while in a virtual reality experience with the Rift.

Here’s the full post:

On the path to perfecting Touch, we’ve decided that we need more time before release, and we’ll now be shipping Touch in the second half of 2016. Pre-orders will open a few months prior to launch.

Rift remains on schedule to ship in Q1 with pre-orders launching very soon.

On Touch hardware, we’ve made significant advances in ergonomics, and we’re implementing many changes that make Touch even more comfortable, reliable, and natural. We’re also implementing changes that improve hand pose recognition.

We’re also outputting larger numbers of pre-production runs, which means we can get a lot more Touch hardware in the hands of developers who need it.

There will be a huge amount of ground-breaking new content launching alongside Touch. We shared a handful of early previews at Oculus Connect 2 in September, but we can’t wait to show you what’s coming next.

The feedback on Touch has been incredibly positive, and we know this new timeline will produce an even better product, one that will set the bar for VR input. We appreciate your patience and promise Touch will be worth the wait.

Preorders will open a few months before the Touch controllers are slated to ship.



Hands On With PlayStation’s Virtual Reality Headset

22:02 | 23 April

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Playstation Project Morpheus VR Headset

Earlier this week, I had a chance to meet with Playstation R&D senior director Richard Marks for a hands-on demo with Project Morpheus, Sony’s attempt at making a virtual reality headset.

I got to try two demos during my time with the headset. The first was a simple intro experience, giving you a fun scene to look at that reacted based on your gaze. It then moved on to a scene that was more of a fun loop of input and sensory experiments than a game, taking advantage of the DualShock 4 controller’s motion sensing and touchpad to interact with PlayStation’s cute robots more directly.

One of the fun things Sony’s experimenting with is positional audio — when you move objects around that generate sound, like an in-game cell phone, the sound moves around in your headphones.

Sony clearly understand the importance of sound when immersing a player in a scene.

The second demo felt more like a traditional game experience. In the first scene, an intimidating dude with a blowtorch makes obscene threats that serve as reactions to where you look in the shady garage you seem to be trapped in. In the following flashback sequence, you use the PlayStation Move controllers (which look like Wii controllers, but with colorful orbs on top so the camera can track them) to interact with the drawers on a fancy old-fashioned desk. Inside the drawers, you find magazines and a gun, and when you solve a quick puzzle, the scene turns into the most immersive arcade shooter I’ve ever played.

You play this segment standing up, but quickly realize that leaves you vulnerable to gunfire. As enemies poured into the room I dropped behind the desk, and instead of pressing a button to move in and out of cover, I could peak up to see if enemies were exposed. There wasn’t a visible crosshair in the demo — instead, you really have to aim down the sight of your handgun.

Unlike its competitors, which require a high-end computer or have you drop-in your phone, Sony’s headset is powered by the PS4. The latest PlayStation is essentially a mid-tier gaming PC from 2013, so based on my time with Oculus dev kits I guessed going into the demo that performance might be an issue — in every VR demo I’ve gotten to this point, the headset was connected to a PC with a GPU notably faster than that in Sony’s console. In VR, low frame rates or inconsistent tracking can make you nauseous, so I’d definitely notice if the PS4 wasn’t able to handle it.

The headset is bulky, but distributes its weight comfortably around the top of your head. You can also use any headphones you’d like.

It turns out that with clever lighting and smaller environments, the PS4 doesn’t have trouble rendering VR experiences that look like modern games without stutters. And whereas those watching someone play a game in Oculus either can’t see what the player is looking at, or it’s shown on your monitor as the same split image sent to the headset, Sony actually renders a version of what the player is looking at on the TV the PS4 is connected to as a full-screen image.

The first demo I played was even rendering at 120 frames per second in the headset — way past what you see on VR demos powered by phones or on older Oculus dev kits. I have a feeling we won’t get huge open worlds in the first generation of games made for Project Morpheus, but Sony’s first-party studios show the console can handle VR. This smooth rendering, combined with head tracking from the PlayStation 4’s camera, led to an experience with few moments where my movement didn’t line up perfectly with what I saw in the headset.

I can see how it looks, but you don’t feel like an absolute dork as you play.

As fellow TechCruncher Greg Kumparak noted a year ago, the fact that PlayStation’s been working on its Move controllers for more than half a decade gives it a huge leg up in terms of providing immersive control. While Valve and HTC’s headset also has motion-sensing controllers for each hand that work rather well, the Oculus developer community relies on an assortment of different control schemes, from controllers to cameras watching your hands. Sony’s going to be able to cut through the confusion and offer a standard package that developers can build for, saving time and resources.

On the other hand, Oculus’s focus on seated gameplay means the wire strapped to your headset doesn’t get in your way. Like the HTC Vive, Project Morpheus lets you stand up and move around (in a limited space, mind you), and that means that tripping over the wire is a potential issue. Dr. Marks had to hold it aloft to keep it out of my way, and in a demo of the Vive, I had to wear a harness to keep its cable away. I don’t think this is a huge hurdle for either device, but “fell down while in VR” might become the new “threw a Wii-mote through the TV.”

With more than 20 million PS4s already in people’s homes, Sony has a larger addressable market than competitors relying on on PC gamers with high-end machines.  I think Sony has nailed the headset and software experience with Morpheus, cutting out a lot of the frustrations involved with headsets currently on the market. The biggest factor to watch for now is content — if Sony can line up interesting games, Morpheus could be the device that convinces millions they need VR in their living room when it launches next year.



Leap Motion Is Bringing Hand Tracking To The OSVR Headset In May

16:00 | 25 March

The open-source OSVR virtual reality headset is getting one of its first peripherals in the form of an optional faceplate that brings hand tracking to virtual reality projects via an embedded camera.

Powered by Leap Motion‘s sensors and software, the add-on will support projects that previously took built on the Leap Motion SDK using the company’s Controller. It’ll also let developers pass video from the camera on to the display, making it easier to give users some idea of the space around them while still wearing the headset.

Taking advantage of the headset’s internal USB ports, the faceplate slots into the headset seamlessly. The only indication of the sensor’s presence are the three red lights that show up when the headset is powered on.

The faceplate will be available from Razer’s store for the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit when the headset goes up for pre-order in May. Though Leap Motion declined to mention its launch price, it will likely fall somewhere in the $80-100 range as its Controller and bundles.

Given the OSVR’s $199 price tag, grabbing both will probably cost less than purchasing a $350 Oculus Rift developer kit and Leap Motion’s controller and headset mount if you’ve got an idea for a VR experience that could benefit from precision hand gestures. On the other hand, the Rift’s display supports a 75hz refresh rate compared to the OSVR’s 60, so those prone to motion sickness should probably go the Oculus route.

Featured Image: Leap Motion



PS4 Remote Play Shines On The Xperia Z3 With The DualShock 4 Game Control Mount

20:15 | 19 January

The PlayStation 4 is a platform that keeps giving, thanks to frequent software updates from Sony. Remote Play for Xperia mobile devices is one such gift, and it works very well on the Xperia Z3, Sony’s latest flagship smartphone. The Remote Play app is available now via the Google Play Store for compatible Xperia devices, and anyone who as both one of those and a PS4 at home should grab it.

Sony’s official Game Control Mount accessory for the DualShock 4 controller makes the overall package even more appealing, turning an Xperia mobile device into a full-fledged in-home mobile gaming console. That both the PS4 and Xperia need to be on the same Wi-Fi network means you can’t venture further than your wireless LAN coverage, but it’s still a great solution for gaming around the house without taking up the primary TV, for just lazing around in bed for a sick day of gaming, or for any other use case where you might ordinarily be forced to sit around and stare at a blank wall or just browse Twitter on your phone while waiting for something else to happen.

The potential existing audience for PS4 Remote play on Android is currently probably pretty slim, since you need to own a PS4 and an Xperia device, but the experience is smooth and very satisfying, and likely something that dedicated gamers will be eager to get their hands on. I had a Vita primarily for this very purpose before now, but if I was in the market for a new Android phone, I’d probably take a long hard look at Sony’s Xperia offerings now that Remote Play is available, since it honestly provides a better remote gaming experience than does Sony’s dedicated mobile console.

The Game Control Mount retails for around $40, but it’s worth it if you’re looking to get the best possible Remote Play experience out of your Xperia device and the PS4. Plus, if you already have both those devices, it’s a lot cheaper than a Vita.



Nod Gesture Control Ring Is Designed For Continual Wear, Starts Selling Today For $149

17:00 | 29 April
Nod_Glamour shot Gesture control devices are a big new area of interest among hardware startups, and a Bluetooth-enabled ring that makes it possible to control connected devices with a wave of your hand is nothing new. But the Nod is different from many of the other solutions out there we’ve seen, in that it’s already in the advanced prototype phase, has serious high-profile VC backing, and in that… Read More


Oculus Rift And Thalmic’s Myo Armband Are A Match Made In Heaven, Say Founders And Investors

18:27 | 5 February
Total video game immersion might not be as far away as you think: The Oculus Rift is a huge step in the right direction, and it may have an optimal bedfellow in Thalmic’s Myo armband, the gesture control wearable that picks up on electrical impulses from your arm to deliver fine-tuned control over connected devices. While the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset can track head movements, and even now sense when you move forward or pull back, it still requires that you use a physical controller in most cases, which tends to dampen the realism to a degree. You’re not actually going to reach for that ladder run when climbing in-game, for instance, or grip that stock when you’re taking aim with your assault rifle. Oculus Rift and Myo are such a natural fit that it hasn’t escaped the notice of its investors. Spark Capital has a stake in both companies, and that’s no coincidence: A source close to the firm tells me that they considered the possible cross-device potential when they made their investment in each company, both of which were announced in June last year. Myo is marketing its devices as a much more broadly focused input mechanism, but the gaming segment is the fatted pig ready for market for investors, we’re told. The Oculus/Myo team-up isn’t just speculative, either. An email from Myo founder and CEO Stephen Lake confirms that indeed, development efforts are underway to link up the two pieces of hardware. “There are projects using both Myo + Rift,” he explained via email. “For example, there are developers in our Alpha program integrating both with Unity for various games. I think it’s a badass use case.” For Oculus Rift, the key to success appears to depend at least in part on the headset’s ability to provide a convincing simulation of reality. Disconnects between what users are seeing in-game what they think they should be able to do in terms of character control and in-world interaction. For Myo, the big hurdle will be demonstrating a focused consumer use case that appeals to a big enough segment of the consumer market. In other words, Myo hooking up with the Rift is like chocolate meeting peanut butter, and it’ll be interesting to see how deep that relationship eventually goes.

Topics from 1 to 4 | in all: 4

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