Browsed Slashdot this morning, and saw a post about CVG’s interview with Halo Wars’ lead desiner, Graeme Devine, who “claimed that the controls are actually better than those of a PC RTS.” You’re kidding, right? Has Graeme ever tried to use an Xbox controller to control their PC desktop? Because you’ll be doing the same click and drag “box-selecting” of units/icons, moving the screen/windows around, and otherwise frustrating yourself. Apparently the controls are “geared more toward broad tactical strokes than intensive small-group micromanagement.” Well, that’s comparing apples to oranges, gentlemen. They didn’t develop a control interface better than those of a PC RTS, they just created one that tries to avoid the inherent limitations of a control stick for this type of game. How about trying that same interface on a keyboard and mouse? I bet it works even better.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there is no use for an analog control stick. Far from it. I’m just calling Graeme Devine out in this case. In actuality, I’ve always wanted to see a kind of hybrid between the mouse and game controller. I’m talking about a Wii-mote analog stick in one hand and a mouse in the other. To me that’s a combination of the two most accurate analog human interface devices in computer history. With the added power of the Wii-mote’s motion sensor we’d reach a whole new level of control. Not only could that kind of control benefit Halo Wars, think about what it could do for other game genres? (You listening, FPS-fanatics? Eh, who am I kidding, that’s all I was thinking about too…)
Of course, no one has asked me to try out Halo Wars’ new PC-trouncing controls, so what do I know? Well, for one thing, that I’ve never found gestures to be an effective replacement for an interface. Maybe as an added feature to assist human control, but never as the entire interface. If they’ve done it, more power to them, but my Skept-o-matic is buzzing.