Xbox & PC multi-player gaming almost was

Apparently, Microsoft was considering a built in bridge between PC and console multi-player on their exclusive online platform Xbox Live. It would have allowed for PC gamers and console gamers to play with and against each other, something that isn’t happening currently. Why? Well according to Voodoo founder and HP CTO Rahul Sood (,10924.html), it looks like Microsoft ran some test runs to see the project’s viability.

At least once during the test, pitting a group of ranked, competitive console gamers vs some average PC gamers - controller vs mouse and keyboard. The results were predictable: the console gamers got pwned pretty badly, every time, and so Microsoft nixed the project.

Now, assuming Mr Sood’s sources are indeed reliable and this did indeed happenned, I think it’s really a sad thing. There is definitely a marked superiority of mouse and keyboard to controller in SOME games, but not all. On top of that, who know what innovative ways developers might have come up with to level the playing field a bit? Finally, co-op games might not even have needed more than a bit of tweaking since they tend to be PVE. This is something that Microsoft should have left for the devs to decide on, instead of taking the decision from them. What say you? Would you have cared about being able to game with console/PC players? Would it have been a good thing/a bad thing?

Why is keyboard/mouse gaming so much better?

For me, being able to play against PCs wouldn’t be that great, but one thing I’d love, but know will never happen, would be to play against XBoxs with my PS3.

The vast majority though. Racing games are about the only common modern competitive genre that is better with a gamepad. And most other competitive games are first & third person shooters, or games with similar control schemes, which are considerably better with a mouse & keyboard.

There’s nothing they can do that wouldn’t be essentially cheating for the consolers or intentionally gimping the pcers. No amount of innovation is going the change the inherent handicap using a gamepad instead of a mouse is for almost any 3d game. Of course they could just add mouse & keyboard support to the consoles. I’m not why they don’t I’d buy a lot more PS3 games(don’t own an XBox) if they did. It’s not like it’s difficult I managed to program half decent mouse controls in about 3 days when I know virtually nothing of 3d programming and was just blindly going about trial and error until it worked. An experienced developer should be able to spit that out in a couple hours. Or just hook into a preexisting library.

Definitely, I’m surprised this isn’t the case.

Hard to say. I’d be on the PC side so owning people with the controller handicap would get amusing. On the other hand PC releases have enough consolitis issues as is. Having a lot of competitive games playable cross console and PC might make it worse. Or it might make the consolers buy the PC version when they else wise wouldn’t have so they aren’t at a disadvantage and bolster the PC platform such that the major PC releases might end up better polished.

I’ve got a few WAGs, but I think the one that’s the most sensible is that a mouse offers better “resolution.” You can move a mouse across a broad surface that’s pretty proportionally similar to the screen. A gamepad control stick is confined to an extremely small circle, and as such moving the stick 20 degrees up and to the right is very hard to distinguish from moving it 25 degrees up and to the right, which can easily be the difference between targeting an oncoming enemy and missing him entirely.

I’m not saying it’s not possible, and I recognize that FPS games can be played well on consoles, but the mouse allows for much easier precision, which means that mediocre players with a mouse can compete against good players with a gamepad, and good players with a mouse are just going to be that much better.

Considerably more accuracy and speed. Think about it like this: would you want to move your mouse cursor with a gamepad? It would be very awkward and slow right? Hitting that add reply button would likely take several times longer. First and third person shooters are probably the most common competitive genres at the moment. In both cases the controls are almost identical to how you move a mouse around your operating system’s environment. The only difference is instead of moving a little arrow you move the centre of the screen and a targeting reticle. In fact if you are using windows you can use the magnifier(in the ease of access centre) to create a window that controls pretty much exactly like a first person shooter if you look at it to navigate around windows. Playing around with it might help show why a mouse is much better than a gamepad.

Street Fighter 4 wants a word with you.

And frankly, I don’t see what makes a mouse so great in 3rd person shooters either, because most of them don’t rely on the excessive levels of precision that are required in FPS games. Generally they feature some sort of ‘target lock’ mechanism because A) The ‘reticle’ based aiming system used in FPS games just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in 3rd person games and B) many 3rd person games feature meaningful melee combat, which is something that, truthfully, has NEVER really worked in FPS games.

I would -hate- to play a game like Bayonetta with a mouse and keyboard. I cringe at the idea of playing something like VO:OT on a PC.

I’m going to knock this argument back at you - I think it’s ONLY FPS games where the mouse/keyboard combination has a meaningful advantage - unless you’re talking about games like RTSs where the primary means of interacting with the game is moving a pointer, or games that require a HUGE number of individual command options (MMOs, serious, non-arcadey flight sims). And in fact, I would give advantage: Game Pad to most other genres. So it’s doubly a shame that MS allowed that disparity to rule the market.

Doesn’t matter to me. The pool of people to play online on the 360 is very large indeed, so it’s not a big deal. Besides, the PC types would always be going on about consolitis, even more than they do now.

I don’t have the numbers, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if FPSes are far and away the lion’s share of multiplayer gaming on X-Box Live. There are scant few RTSes on consoles, and offhand I can’t think of any third person multiplayer games; certainly Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Bayonetta, Grand Theft Auto, etc. aren’t multiplayer games. It’s only when you get into FPSes that you start seeing a lot of multiplayer: Halo, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Left 4 Dead, and so on. It’s really not a shock that FPS gaming influences Microsoft’s decisions.

And citing the auto-aimer as a reason third-person shooters aren’t so difficult on consoles? That’s just a crutch to make up for the imprecision of gamepads, and the same games on the PC don’t need it. But otherwise, I’d agree; I’ve tried playing melee-heavy games on PC, including fighting games, and it’s a real pain in the ass.

I disagree; That’s a design decision. The focus in the games is on where you place your character, and on rapid movement and evasion, and dealing with multiple opponents at once rather than on precise aiming. Asserting that target lock is a crutch is akin to saying that health regen is a crutch to make up for the sluggish movement speed in cover based shooters. It’s just silly. When it doesn’t matter where your bullets hit, or if half your attacks are melee anyway, precision mouse targetting is no longer a feature.

Of course, unlike the consoles, PC gamers have a choice in terms of input devices. I play left4dead on Pc with mouse + keyboard. I also play Dirt2 on Pc, but with a gamepad.

I’ll also disagree with the third person shooter/action game opinion that game pads fit it best. One big aspect of those games involves looking around. Take AC, for example, were you need to look at where you’re going, where your pursuing enemies are, then back to where you need to jump to.

I found the controller to be slow and inaccurate, and was able to navigate with the mouse a lot better. Same for Sands of Time.

Touche. I always forget about fighting games. To many bad memories of an older brother kicking my ass in reality for beating him too “cheaply” in the game :smiley:

Third person shooters control, or at least can control, exactly like a first person shooter. Only with the camera zoomed out a bit. In fact the third person orbital camera controls are, in my opinion, the single best control scheme for most third person games. But they still require a mouse the be truly great.

I disagree. There’s, in fact, one single game that can argue the mouse favour of many different genres. Dungeons and Dragons Online. This game is, of all the 3d games I’ve played, the game with the single best controls. It is depending on the quest and play style:
A 3d platformer, whose controls alone make it a better platformer than any 3d Mario game I’ve played. After playing a game like this I can hardly stand console platformers. Struggling against the damned uncooperative camera - simply because the gamepad is insufficient to properly control the camera and the character’s movement is based on the camera angle. I don’t understand how someone can say mice are better for the FPS but not for a 3d platformer. You’re largely doing the same moves. Instead of aiming your gun at a target you’re aiming your camera at a platform. It requires the same precision, if the platforming is at all difficult, and if the platforms are moving at all may require the same speed as a shooter.

It’s also a 3rd person shooter for anyone who uses bows and spells and doesn’t target cast. And since target casting doesn’t lead the target and doesn’t aim AOE spells to their best effect that makes it a 3rd person shooter for any good player. In fact some gamers do play the game with a gamepad and it’s almost painful to watch them. Platforming or aiming they’re slow and inaccurate. There’s a low level quest where it’s especially noticeable who uses a mouse and who doesn’t. You have to make a series of jumps turning about 45° each jump. The competent mouse user jumps flicks their wrist and jumps again for each jump and can pass the obstacle of 5 or so jumps in about 40 seconds their first time though and around 10 seconds if they’ve done the quest a few times. The gamepad user on the other hand take seemingly forever. And it’s just painful to watch them. After their jump you can watch as the character slowly turns to get the angle down doing in a couple seconds what a mouse can do almost instantly. You know they’re using a gamepad or joystick because a mouse user’s character never turns that smoothly. It’s jerky but fast and precise. Rather than the slow and methodical gamepad.

It’s also a 3rd person button masher for any melee character. And here is where the mouse is least useful. It’s still better than a gamepad could be though. For picking which specific target you want to hit in a large melee with dozens of kobalds on you the mouse cannot be beat.

Interestingly I think a mouse & a joystick would actually be better then a mouse & keyboard. A joystick to move your character based on the camera’s facing and a mouse to position the camera. But a mouse & a keyboard is still miles ahead of a 2 joysticks.

Most genres? Like what? I’d concede racing games certainly. And most 2d action games. Especially 2d platformers like the NES & SNES Metroids and Marios and scrolling shooters like R-Type. But those aren’t hugely popular genres nowadays. Especially for competitive games.

I do take a somewhat different perspective on this than most people. Controls are, to me, the single most important element in any game. If the controls are not at least decent I’m like to give up on a game no matter how spectacular it might else wise be. And it had better be fucking excellent for me to put up with controls that are only decent. I recently gave up on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for it’s bad controls. The jumping was jerky and erratic. And most importantly the camera moved on it’s own to try to recenter itself behind you as you move. This is true of most console games but should not be so for the damned PC port. And is individually enough to make the game unplayable to me. The terrible fixed camera QTE boss battles didn’t help any though.

Honestly, I fail to see how any of this is relevant.

Grand Theft Auto on the PC doesn’t have an auto-aimer, because it doesn’t need one for the player to be effective.

Grand Theft Auto on the X-Box has an auto-aimer, because it needs one for the player to be effective.

If it were a design design implemented for the reasons you state, why wouldn’t it be in both versions?

Do not want. In this case, locking it down and not giving people a choice in how they want to control themselves and keeping it controller only is a good thing. If it were the ground floor of the Xbox 360’s life, we could make an argument for it. It’s already too far along now, though.

Dammit, design decision.

You stated that it would be a bad thing, but not why.

Back on the Draogn Age forums there’s a new thread everyday of some poor console owner (Ps3) begging Bioware to allow for mouse + keyboard controls on the PS3.

I think there is a demand there.

Okay, first off, I don’t think we’re even talking about the same thing. I haven’t played GTA in a LONG time, so I don’t know for sure, but:

Autoaim - some sort of correction mechanism to compensate for control inaccuracy. It does not give 100% accuracy, and can be disrupted by targets moving rapidly/etc.

Target lock - a control scheme wherein the concept of “aiming” goes away entirely. As long as an attack is in range and not blocked by terrain or defended in some way, it hits. No argument. There may be potential for the enemy to dodge in the time between the attack being launched and the time it hits, but there may not.

The former is a crutch. The latter is a decision that aiming is not important to the game. Bayonetta doesn’t miss when she shoots something unless there’s something in the way. Target lock isn’t a means of assisting the player in shooting, it’s a means of the player telling the game “this is the enemy I want to attack” - aiming doesn’t enter in.

Oh, yeah, we’re not talking about the same thing. I think target lock can still be an aid to cope with imprecise controls, but it’s definitely a deeper mechanic than a simple autoaim.

Well, outside of being lame and needing a coffee table and some room for a keyboard and a mouse, there’s also having a controller scheme that’s been out since the beginning and then throwing something in that has a marked advantage is lame. Like I said, if it were the beginning of the console’s lifespan, or it were about to be released, maybe.

Seriously. Dudes could lose their Mountain Dew sponsorship.

I thought the PS3 did support KB+M. I remember cliffyb talking about it.

The hardware does, but games don’t.