The Po!nt game controller and VR

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First of all, it is an honour to get invited to post and share some thoughts here. I am hoping to be contributing some insights and elaborate on my view on VR and AR and the needed input devices.

As you might read in the bio, I am the creator of the Po!nt game controller and Co-Founder of the Dutch start-up TreeTech. We have been developing our game controller for First Person Shooters in mind and took quite a different approach by moving the controls to the bottom side of the device, where you can use fingers to control (through WADS key layout and a trackpad) instead of your thumbs. This translates to a much higher accuracy then any standard “thumb driven” device can deliver.
One of the main reasons for that has to do with muscle memory and the way your visual cortex “understands” pointing with your fingers. Did you ever point at something with your thumbs?

Of course there is a learning curve in using this way of controlling, however our so called “tactile senses” have no problems in adapting to this in most cases. As a former low vision specialist having worked with visually impaired clients for over 10 years this is something which adapts rather fast.  And heightened senses don’t have anything to do with that, people who get visually impaired later in life do not have those either.

Developing a game controller only for first person shooters though would have been a small focus. So instead we started looking at how we could implement as many as possible game control options into a controller; give it the precision of mouse and keyboard, add button layouts to support a variety of games and genres and still be a usable controller. We only could end up with a modular controller at that po!nt.

The next image shows the dimension and shape of the controller. The so called “Po!nt plates” are all interchangeable and will be offering different lay-outs, which can be mounted in the device and even rotate to fit the most optimal position of the hands. The shape might seem odd, yet when holding it and using it, this will really start making sense. The rounded shape is not really a grip but more of a balancing point where you can interact with all controls without stretching.

10ks

This way we can adapt to any game or genre by simply changing the button layout or the needed joysticks, D-pads and track pads. You can even change it into the classic controllers already out there if you prefer to have that amongst your layouts.

 

 

 

But how does VR fit into this? 

When we started developing, virtual reality was not really a priority. Our main focus was bringing a precise controller to pc and console. However, after trying some VR glasses and talking to developers there is room for improvement here as well. Of course there are great alternatives already, but there is (apart from mouse and keyboard) not an input device as accurate as we hope to deliver AND still can sit or stand without the need of swinging your arms around.

One of my more personal annoyances is the directional movement being done by turning your head. This makes it less immersive in my humble opinion. Moving a crosshair with your head is natural in a F-16, but in a shooter or other first or third person surrounding just doesn’t cut it.

With the Po!nt controller one could use the mouse and keyboard for moving and directing a crosshair if needed while there are even controls left in abundance on top (joysticks,buttons or trackpads) to even simulate arm and hand movement if that would be needed.

True that this could be done in a lot of ways, but our option is the only one where you can have a lazy evening on the couch while doing so



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