Haptic Feedback  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Haptic Feedback  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Are you ready to ... RUMBLE?! https://www.gameskinny.com/4rdpq/are-you-ready-to-rumble https://www.gameskinny.com/4rdpq/are-you-ready-to-rumble Mon, 29 Jan 2018 13:01:07 -0500 Steven Oz

Pokémon Pinball earned generally positive reviews, holding an aggregate average of 81% at GameRankings. This was a simple pinball game with Pokémon branding attached. I bring this up to state that most see this game as a passive aside in the history of the Pokémon franchise. It may well be the case, but I would like to argue that Pokémon Pinball was a technological breakthrough.

Weirdly shaped cartridges were not the norm in the '90s. There were all kinds of GameBoy Color cartridges colors out there: green, red, blue, clear, and mostly gray. You remember the GameBoy Color Camera, with its eye-shaped camera that you could rotate for those late '90s selfies. Well, then there was the "Rumble" cartridge, an oddly shaped cartridge that required an extra battery to make the gimmick work. These chunky games used a rumble technology, or what the industry calls haptic feedback.

Image of rumble cartridges

Currently, nearly every modern video game system includes some form of haptic technology, but this was not always the case. The fist appearance was in Sega's Moto-Cross arcade game. It was the first to feature "vibrotactile feedback," enabling the player to feel the rumble of their motorcycle as it impacted with other vehicles on the screen. From there, several arcade cabinets and pinball games incorporated haptic technology. Since an increasing number of arcade games began integrating haptic feedback into their interfaces, video game consoles were jumping on the trend.

In 1997, Nintendo came out with the "Rumble Pak." Bundled with StarFox 64, the Rumble Pak attached to the N64 controller. The importance of the Rumble Pak led to rumble becoming a gaming industry norm within a single generation. What the rumble cartridge did was to shrink the haptic technology into a more manageable form of gaming on the go.

The science behind it is actually simple. These GameBoy Color cartridges use a type of eccentric rotating mass actuator, consisting of an unbalanced weight connected to a motor shaft. As the shaft rotates, the spinning of this irregular mass causes the actuator, and in turn, the connected game system, to shake and create that distinctive "Brrrzzzzzz." All that was needed to power the rumble feature was a single AAA battery.

This innovation sparked a massive boom in haptic technology, and each console had its own way of adapting it. In the same year as the release of the N64 Rumble Pak, the Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Pro was released. Many newer-generation console controllers and joysticks feature built in feedback devices too, including Sony's "DualShock technology" and Microsoft's "Impulse Trigger technology." 

You might ask yourself why this technology was a breakthrough. Without it, there would not be an HD Rumble in the Nintendo Switch. I mentioned before that traditional rumble uses small motors inside the controllers, while the Joy-Cons use a linear resonant actuator that is very comparable to the hardware found inside Oculus Touch controllers.

In my eyes, Pokémon Pinball and the other games that had these rumble cartridges were precursors and test cases for whether the public wanted this feature. Nintendo loves taking risks on new products. You've seen it time and time again. Recently it was with Nintendo Labo, using DIY cardboard kits to build pre-cut accessories for the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, enabling new modes of play and new games.

Pokémon Pinball was a revolutionary title not for the gameplay but for what it did with haptic technology. It led the way for Nintendo and all other companies on how to incorporate these features into their systems. This sense of realism invites everyone into a new world of entertainment. These examples illustrate the premise that haptic feedback systems have evolved much faster than their visual display counterparts and are, today, delivering impressive peripheral devices that are truly usable by gamers worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Exactly Does TouchSense Haptic Feedback Add to the Switch? https://www.gameskinny.com/pxc0w/what-exactly-does-touchsense-haptic-feedback-add-to-the-switch https://www.gameskinny.com/pxc0w/what-exactly-does-touchsense-haptic-feedback-add-to-the-switch Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:00:01 -0500 Will Dowell

Immersion's TouchSense Haptic Feedback has been a project to revolutionize touchscreen interfaces by providing increased immersion and responsiveness. Nintendo, eager to innovate, has announced that this new technology will be on the Nintendo Switch. And while touchscreen controls are nothing new, Immersion's new technology can bring console quality touchscreen games into the public market.

Haptic Feedback's main feature is producing advanced vibrations to simulate touch. This can create immersive and engaging videos or make actions feel more responsive. A major issue for most modern touchscreen gaming is the lack of feedback, which can make a game feel unresponsive. Nintendo can solve this common issue by creating feedback relative to the action performed by the end user. This would simulate a sense of weight with each action, enhancing engagement.

Since this feedback would be through vibration, there could be a more advanced rumble feature used in the Switch's undocked mode. Players could feel the car speeding up in a racing game or the force of an attack in an action game. This would create a new sense of immersion that makes up for the lack of power in the Switch. Other consoles (like PS4 and XB1) have used similar rumble modes in their controllers successfully, so Nintendo's focus on this technology could pay off immensely.

While this is similar to the rumble feature in consoles prior, the key difference is the control a developer has over the hardware. Immersion's technology allows developers to customize the length and intensity of the vibration. For example, the slight vibration the user feels when moving icons, on either iOS or Android smartphones is a type haptic feedback. Immersion has released an app that  highlights the intricacies its technology can perform, so Android users can truly feel the evolution in haptic feedback.

While the PS4 and Xbox One have rumble, the technology cannot be as subtle as the Switch's, due to using only conventional controllers. Touchscreens work best with haptic feedback as it already requires direct contact on a thin surface. Combine this with Immersion's advanced hardware and software, and the Switch has the ability to provide the most immersive rumble technology on console.

The most important piece of information from this announcement, however, was that it confirms that the Nintendo Switch has a touch screen. Nintendo could gain a massive library of indies if it supports the touch screen interface, especially with a launch library so small.

With Nintendo's array of control schemes, developers can create a multitude of games for the system.

 

Battery life still remains the largest concern (and roadblock) with the addition of this new technology. While the technology does not affect the battery life of most phones that use it, the Nintendo Switch is a larger, more complex machine to work with. If Haptic Feedback does negatively affect battery life, Nintendo should allow the feature to be disabled to save battery.

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Nintendo is still shooting toward the future and will take innovation at every step. Hopefully, this leads to the Switch containing numerous unique titles, but only Nintendo can make this system viable in today's market. The Nintendo Switch will be released on March 3rd.

What do you think Nintendo should do with this technology? Let us know in the comments! 

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Could VR be the Tech that Takes Exploration Games to New Lands? https://www.gameskinny.com/1bo5p/could-vr-be-the-tech-that-takes-exploration-games-to-new-lands https://www.gameskinny.com/1bo5p/could-vr-be-the-tech-that-takes-exploration-games-to-new-lands Wed, 28 Dec 2016 03:00:02 -0500 Clayton Reisbeck

Exploration has always been one of my favorite aspects of video games. When done properly, a video game world can have a player itching to learn every aspect of a world and come to know it about as well (and sometimes better) than the world that they actually live in.

Before now, players have been locked to just looking through a window into these worlds. But with the advent of virtual reality, we now have the opportunity to immerse ourselves further into those game worlds. Instead of just looking through a window into the world of a game, we can actually walk around that world, hear the sounds in 360 degrees around us and interact with the world in completely new and novel ways.

I have been able to use VR on only a few occasions but one of the things that I always walk away from the experience thinking is how awesome it was to be standing in that game's world.

The best experiences that are available for virtual reality right now seem to revolve around that exploration aspect of gaming -- or experiencing a world that you can't experience with the technology we already have. Considering this, I feel that VR has a unique opportunity to revitalize the exploration game genre and bring it to new heights around the gaming community.

Games that focus on exploration have been kind of tossed to the wayside in recent years. The closest I feel that we have seen exploration games coming into the limelight are with the newfound "walking simulator" genre. I'm going to focus on my favorite of the genre that I've played, Gone Home.

If you haven't checked it out, Gone Home is the story of a girl, Kaitlin, returning home from a trip abroad. Upon returning to her house on a stormy night, Kaitlin finds a note from her sister, Samantha, saying that she is sorry that she isn't there to greet her and that Kaitlin shouldn't go digging around for where she is (but of course, you're going to). From here, you are able to explore the house to find out where Samantha went.

The game does a great job of feeding you information little by little to piece together the story of where your sister went and the story of what your family was up to while you were away. But I think that where this game excels the most is when you have to search the environment to find more clues to that story.

Gone Home is definitely not the most visually stunning game nor action packed in the modern sense, but the exploration and the storytelling, both visual and written, are things that I feel would be right at home in VR. You would be able to walk around this house and actually be in the rooms that you are searching. You would also be able to actually pick up and examine the many objects you come across during your playthrough of the game. What's more, Gone Home's sound is already mixed in stereo, giving you that 360-degree audio immersion, and the short length of the game would also make for a perfect session using VR.

Another game that I feel would benefit from the VR treatment is No Man's Sky. Now, I can already feel the tension in the air as I write this, but hear me out. No Man's Sky is a game where exploration is the main focus. Flying from planet to planet, docking at far-off space stations, landing on and exploring new planets in order to find all the secrets the planet has to offer. It's exploration genre 101.

As we all know, No Man's Sky fell flat for a lot of people (myself included), but I do feel that if there would have been VR support for the game, No Man's Sky may have found a little more longevity.

The ability to actually wander around the planet would definitely lengthen the time spent in-game and may have made the whole exploration mechanic feel much more special than it actually felt through traditional means. Not only that, instead of stumbling across those elements at an almost never-ending rate, finding those large deposits of rare minerals may have felt much more rewarding.

Because VR has the ability to allow for room-scale tracking, the player is forced to slow down their movement and actually look around them. This creates a slower pace at which the game moves. If the pace of the game is slowed down, those moments of finding that needed resource are spread farther apart and allow for more time to actually explore a planet -- a bit like having moments of 'boredom' between excitement. Does this fix the issues with the game, no but it does allow for a refocusing of how the game is played and how the core mechanics work.

While VR can help games that are already on the market, what about games that are still on the horizon? What can VR do to help the genre going forward? A couple companies think that they may have that answer. Axon VR and Tesla Studios are developing haptic suits to allow you to actually feel different things in games.

Let's start with what Tesla Studios is offering. Tesla is developing suits that will be able to connect to a range of devices from VR headsets, to gaming consoles to even phones. In the suits themselves are an array of feedback points that provide low voltage zaps that range in strength to simulate different feelings that you may come across in different virtual situations. Situations like being shot in a game or basic interactions with different things you would find in a game world. From my understanding of their offerings they will also be able to provide some feedback that sync up with different phone alerts.

Next, let's take a look at what Axon VR is offering. Axon is not only providing a suit that will be able to simulate different virtual feelings, they are also developing technology that will be able to tell you how something actually feels in a game world. Things like how rough an object is or the temperature of the object. Their suit also allows for mapping of a player's actual movements that can be transferred to an in-game character. This allows for the deepest level of immersion that I think we could see in games. The ability to actually feel what something would truly feel like is an exciting prospect to me.

So what do both of these offerings mean for the exploration genre? Exploration is about finding new experiences. These technologies allow us to immerse ourselves deeper in a game's world through being able to literally feel that world. Imagine sitting the cockpit of a starship and making the jump to light speed and actually feeling yourself sinking into your captain's chair. I've been dreaming of that feeling ever since I saw a Star Wars movie. That's just scraping the surface though. These technologies open up a whole new world of opportunity in exploration.

Virtual reality is still in it's infancy and it has yet to find that title that has made it the must own item in every gamer's home, but I truly feel that we may see that title in the exploration genre. Its focus on exploring new worlds and interacting with them is something that VR has a unique opportunity to show us. With that in mind, I look forward to seeing the new worlds that VR will take us in the coming years.

What do you think? What games do you think would be helped with VR support? Let me know in the comments!

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