Off To The Races
I have been thinking about all the flash and sizzle that people hype, and how little of it is actually worthwhile. For instance, people have been talking about Force Feedback controllers for years now, and even though Iíve had and used them, I still donít get what all the fluff is about. A vibrating joystick does nothing to immerse me in the world of MechWarrior. All it really seems to do is screw up my aim whenever it activates. I love, absolutely love my Logitech WingMan RumblePad, but it sure ainít for the vibration effects. About the only controller Iíve used that seemed to add value (ever so slight) was the ACT Labs driving wheel. But the vibration only really worked on the wheel and it ended up shaking my desk more than it did me. The pedals did not pulse and shake when you hammered down on them either. Same basic idea with the MS wheel. Great wheels, but hey, I have only my trusty analog wheel from Thrustmaster, which has the analog F1 style shifters on the back. First wheel I got sometime ago, and nothing else is as simple and effective for driving games.
Iíve checked out those new iFeel mice, and again, they really donít do anything but screw up my shot-aiming and make my hand feel numb after hours of Q3A and UT sessions. Even on my beloved Sega Dreamcast, the jump packs do little to add to the gaming experience. Really, when I crank up POD Speedzone, the little effects do nothing useful at all. Same thing with fighting games. The reality does not live up to the hype at all with these devices. Do any of you actually think force feedback is all that?
More Hardware Thoughts
I donít particularly care for wireless keyboards, mice and controllers. When I used to test hardware, I had two pointing devices on two computers in the same room and they kept interfering with each other. What a pain that was! One would move, the other would stall and when the batteries wore down, it would get even worse. I was glad to get those things off the machine and plug regular corded products back in.
Wireless keyboards can be annoying too. Iím a wicked fast typist (took 2 years in high school so I could meet chicks) and the things canít keep up with me and stay accurate at the same time, especially if you use the microwave, turn on the vacuum or some such thing. Even if you type slowly, the lag on wireless devices is still noticeable. We have a cordless 2.4 ghz phone for Ďconvenienceí and believe it or not, that thing interferes too. I always fall back to the corded phones. They sound so much clearer and never cut-out. If your phone cuts out every now and then, imagine what it might be like for wireless devices on your computer? Wireless networks? You probably have to do a lot more CRC checking to ensure data integrity, and that can slow things down. Not to mention that if it is wireless, some Radio Shack jockey may be listening in with his $49.99 wavelength scanner. Throw on your wireless headphones to listen to music and maybe little Radio Shack boy will start piping satanic messages into the audio stream and the next thing you know it, youíve sacrificed your kid sisterís Barbie doll to the all-powerful Beastie Boys! Yeah, security is a concern too, but putting the smack down on Barbie is no small potato.
There are tons of other hardware issues that bug me. Iím getting sick of specialty hardware. I like games like Comanche 4 and Mech Warrior 4 that work great with WASD and the mouse. They make it so darn easy compared to the old days. Iím tired of all the Dolby 5.1 sound hype on the PC. How many games do you know of that really take advantage of Dolby sound? Heck, I still have my Aureal SQ2500 (and two Diamond MX 300ís) cranking out in Stereo x 2 and it sounds awesome. 4.1 kicks total tail, even if it is not positional sound. Immersive enough for me, and a whole lot cheaper than these 5.1 setups. I donít want to have to rip out my Ultra ATA for Serial ATA. I still want a dedicated port for the printer because I donít want to suck up USB bandwidth and take the performance hit with cross-directed traffic. Iím tired of all these new connectors. If they would just spend more time making our existing hardware work the way it was supposed to, Iíd be a lot happier.