Wednesday, October 11, 2006

the games we play

There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether games are becoming too complex and inaccessible, especially for people outside the core gamer demographic. Some people feel that games shouldn’t require hours of commitment and high-levels of skill to play. Nintendo has opted to develop content to appeal to people outside what is typically considered the average gamer demo, and has been successful with titles like Brain Age, which has sold over 4 million units to date worldwide. With the growing success of casual games, and products like Guitar Hero and EyeToy, even Microsoft seems to be rethinking their strategy, offering up broader content, like Viva Pinata, and “smaller games” through Xbox Live Arcade. Of course, with only 20% of all game releases accounting for 80% of revenues, and development budgets rising to new heights every year, who wouldn’t want to court the audience of gamers and potential gamers who want to play, but may be intimidated by the investment of time and money many AAA titles require?

What do you think? Do you think games have gotten too complex? What game(s) are you currently playing? What platform(s) are you playing on? How many hours, on average, do you play each week? What kind of player do you consider yourself: hardcore, core, casual, or something else? Is there something, in particular, that makes you want to purchase a new game or game product?

There also seems to be a sea change occurring with regard to how games are distributed. An increasing number of products are being offered for sale as digital downloads. Do you downloaded games? How do you feel about downloading versus purchasing from either a traditional brick and mortar store, or an online store? So many questions… Tell us what you think.


Anonymous said...

I don't have any comments on games. But have some, in general, comments. It seems that Novint doesn't know if it wants to be at the top of the foodchain or the bottom. You've done very nice projects for corporate customers, your working on mini games to accompany the Falcon when/if it's released. Well, I think you need to crawl, walk and then run. Perhaps you can rent Falcons out for a dollar/day, after a security deposit. Or even 4.00/per day if thru a Blockbuster video store. Start small and crawl up the food chain. What did Ted Turner do years ago in Cable TV in Atlanta with his pathic little satellite link. It was a very slow beginning, but "he" lived within his means till the future came to him in a big way. People always want to move ahead, as in video tapes. The only question was beta or vhs and that only a corporate struggle. Do you have legitimate competition. No. It's a no brainer to me, really. Crawl in to your future no if, ands or but's. You are stewing over the wrong issues. The "content/uses" will come knocking at your door in a big way, I'm 100% certain of that!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't really have a comment on the questions you ask. I'd just like you to consider renting/selling your Falcon at Blockbuster Video Stores. It would be convenient for me to get to know your product there. Thank-you

Anonymous said...

I play a lot of video games. Mostly on computer because I feel more in control and I can multimedia easier with it. Currently I play World of Warcraft the most but I play every type of game not just mmo. From call of duty 2, to age of empires, I play most of em. I don't know about using the falcon on a game such as an RTS because im afraid it would be like trying to use game controler, where you can't do things as fast as you would like. But, I have never used the falcon myself so maby it would go well on a game like that. On a second note, The whole downloading thing wouldn't go to well for me. I use satellite dsl at my moms house because phone dsl or cable wont deliver, and downloading anything is a hassle. Also those on regular phone line or no internet at all wouldn't be able to access these games. I doubt I'd rent one though, and I've known stores to rent out games but renting out a something that costs a tone of money would be different.

oneups said...

Well, id have to agree that games are getting complex. i recall when i had my nintendo my mom or dad would sneak a game or two knowing they could easily learn any game, after all there were only two buttons to master. however as time has come and gone controllers need to accomidate deeper games and thus become more complex. its interesting to me how much a controller or input/output device can change a games accessibility. my parents can no longer play most of the games i do on consoles (games like metal gear, or tekken or shadow of the colossus) but when games like time crisis or guitar hero or ace combat come around that have more intuitive controllers they jump right in. its easy, quick and painless. although i like my playstation, im going with the Wii this time around because i like the idea of playing with friends and family regardless of their generation. its easier from everyone to jump in without having to scramble over what button to press.

i consider myself a hardcore gamer only because i play as often as i can, when i can (though college hardly permits it) and pay as much attention as i can to the medium/industry. im more of an avid pc gamer than anything mainly due to the keyboard/mouse combination. i can do more things on one machine and enjoy games on my pc because of the greater amount of controll i get using the mouse. since im a pc gamer i also purchase and download my games when i can, specifically valve games. 3 games for 20 dollars? hell-to-the-yes. episodic content? count me in. Psychonauts on steam? Great! im all for online distrubution and feel its a great way for smaller companies or publishers to distribute their titles when they dont do as well as they could have in retail outlets.

best of luck with the Falcon, i look forward to giving it a try and am just dying to try it out with half life 2. any chance of seeing more video footage or demos online soon?

Novint said...

Thanks to all for your input regarding Novint's plans for the Falcon's release. Your thoughts and ideas are always appreciated.

Novint said...

re: downloading and dsl

It's true that downloading games can be rough without a solid broadband connection. Especially for the huge games you can get on sites like Steam. But there are also tons of mini-games you can get that are under 10 MB to download (do a web search with keywords small, game, and download just to see all the sites).

Do you think you'd be interested in playing small downloadable games like these with the Falcon?

Novint said...

re: the Falcon and RTS games

You bring up a good point: would the Falcon be effective for use in a real-time strategy game?

For those who don't know, RTS is a game genre in which the action takes place in real-time (as opposed to being based on taking turns). RTS games also tend to involve warfare of some sort. As such, troop building, resource gathering, and technological growth are keys to success in RTS games.

These also tend to be "hand of god" games, where the user basically looks at the landscape from a bird's-eye view and makes commands by pointing the cursor and clicking. So the user scrolls through the map, chooses locations to build bases and other structures, selects and moves troops, targets enemies, and mounts attacks, all using the mouse.

Since the Falcon has all the "point and click" abilities of the mouse, and much more (the Falcon provides 3-dimensional movement and realistic touch), you could imagine the Falcon performing well in a real-time strategy game.

I think that the Falcon could add some interesting aspects to the RTS genre. Especially when you think about RTS games that allow players to take control of an individual hero for a specified amount of time in the hopes of influencing the battle's outcome.

What do you think? Do you think RTS gamers would be willing to try something new? Would you? Or do you think RTS players are happy with current controls and wouldn't want to take the risk of learning a new interface?

I think about the same question with FPS (first-person shooter)games. Do players want a new way of interacting with the genres they love? Or are they scared they'll lose an "edge" by converting to a new controller (especially if their opponents are using the old controls)?

Novint said...

re: Is the world in need of a new controller? (re: oneups)

You have a good point about the complexity of game controllers. As games themselves have gotten more sophisticated and technical, console controllers have grown amazingly button-filled and doohickey-loaded.

But in spite of all the new triggers and analog sticks, the controllers haven’t really changed much at all in their basic size and shape. No matter how complicated the games have become, the controllers are still essentially two-handed mini-boomerangs. They haven’t exactly *evolved*. They’ve just become two-handed mini-boomerangs with switches and knobs covering every square inch.

Don’t get me wrong: I actually really like my dual shock controller for PS2. Even when I’m using it to play an FPS game like “Black” that requires me to use one analog stick to aim my rifle and the other analog stick to move my body around. The reason I like it is because most every other first-person shooter game I’ve played uses that same configuration. That means I can basically pick up a game like Black and enjoy it right out of the box because I’ve played other games with similar controls.

But is that controller configuration really the best one for a shooting game? I mean, using one stick to aim and another to move around? It’s not exactly common-sense. Especially when I have to push *forward* on the stick to look *up*. It makes no sense, when you stop and think about it. My point is that even though I like my PS2 controller, it probably isn’t the most natural fit for today’s generation of FPS games. And I think fitting the controller to the game is important.

Like you, I remember playing the original NES with its 2-button and d-pad controller configuration. It was perfect in its simplicity—not just because it had so few gizmos, but because it had just the right amount for games like Super Mario and Zelda. The controller was a natural fit for the games.

It seems to me that the idea that “the controller should fit the game” got lost along the way—-as games changed, the controller largely stayed the same. The result is that today’s controllers often aren’t the best fit for the games they’re used with. They work, but they’re not the most intuitive option.

It’s like owning a small car. As you get older, you may find that it doesn’t have the room you need to move all your stuff from place to place. Once you decide you need more room, you don’t try to solve the problem by bolting and welding a bunch of compartments and extra seats onto the outside of the car. If possible, you get a different car, one that suits your particular situation better.

One of our goals is to bring back the idea of fitting the controller to the game. After all, what makes more intuitive sense in a sword-fighting game, for example: using the Falcon to swing (in all directions) a virtual sword you can feel in your hand? Or pressing “x” on a mini-boomerang? While there are definitely gamers that will prefer to just press the X-button on a traditional controller to swing their swords, it seems clear to me that the Falcon is a more common-sense fit for many of the games of its generation.

The Half-Life 2 demo is a prime example. On our version of HL2, when you want to aim your rifle in a specific direction, you just move the Falcon’s handle in that direction. To aim up, you lift the handle up. To look down, you lower the handle downward. It is simply more intuitive than either the mouse or any console controller. Plus the guns have realistic weight, realistic recoil, and if you’re hit with gunfire, the Falcon lurches as though you’ve been struck. For those who want it, the Falcon brings both a high level of realism in gameplay, as well as a high level of common-sense in its controls.

Like you said, a controller has the potential to limit who can play a specific game, and a controller also has the ability to expand the audience. We think the Falcon will broaden the audience to include those who enjoy playing, but who are looking for a controller that is a more natural fit with the games they love.

Anonymous said...

I guess I would use a falcon in an rts or FPS. BUT, when you play in TWL matches for call of duty or in rts games online, speed is a factor. I would gladly and happily play with a falcon in an fps game with all the feeling and touches, but I don't know if it would allow me to react as fast as those using a mouse. For example, I wouldn't want it to end up like someone playing COD2 with a controller, compared to someone with a mouse, where the mouse is faster and more accurate to use, or so it seems.

Novint said...

re: Falcon vs. the mouse-- speed and accuracy

Gamers who play in settings such as the TeamWarfare Leagues are often curious about the Falcon's performance in terms of speed and precision. They want to know if they will still be able to play at a high competitive level using the Falcon instead of a mouse.

So, can a Falcon user respond as fast as someone using a mouse?

So far, all indications are that Falcon-users can respond in-game as quickly as those using a mouse. In other words, feedback so far is that Falcon-users *do not* lose any speed or quickness when reacting within a game.

We're basing this on our experience using the Falcon in Half Life 2. For example, one of the things we control is viewpoint (hence weapon aiming). We set up our system so that you can do very fine camera control in the center of the Falcon's workspace and that you slew the camera quickly when you are near the periphery of the workspace. We have worked hard to make this a very smooth and natural transition. People who have tried the Falcon and HL2 at shows have praised this natural camera/aiming control, including people associated with developing first-person shooter games.

The Falcon is, of course, a new and innovative product and we have by no means learned everything that we can in terms of controlling existing FPS games. But the feedback so far is very encouraging. If possible, we'd love to show you the device at one of our demos so you can see what you think.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see it, coming to Florida anytime soon? near tampa or something?

Anonymous said...

Users Game:
Perhaps, once you get the Falcon on the market a game of ideas submitted by users could be created. Has that ever been tried before? With the exspense of game design it would have to be a simple game. Seems it would be the making of a very lively blog type of board. If you could get a sponser like AMD (Advanced Micodevices) or Nvidea maybe it could be feasable. Just a thought, FWIW.

Novint said...

We haven't announced any plans to be in Florida to date, but we'll keep you updated via our website and this blog.

Novint said...

re: User's Game

We've considered ideas like this, and definitely agree it would make for a rollicking discussion :-). In general, harnessing the creativity of interested parties could only be good for the Falcon.

Anonymous said...

In contemplating your questions a question comes to my mind and that is, does the complexity and the particular level of skill needed to play a certain group or category of games, will this factor have any bearing on the size, design or physical properties of the Falcon ?
Additionally, has the company chosen a company to manufacture the Falcon? And..
has the company chosen a software company who will make the investment to integrate the Novint technology into their graphics and content?

Anonymous said...

I see Novint will be exhibiting at the 2007 CES show. Can you give us and idea of what is in store for attendees??

Can you give us an update on the Falcon's release date?


Novint said...

re: Does the complexity and the particular level of skill needed to play a certain group or category of games, will this factor have any bearing on the size, design or physical properties of the Falcon ?

If I'm understanding the question correctly, I believe you're asking whether we will release Falcons in different sizes/shapes depending on the game.

It is true that 3D touch controllers can be made in many sizes -- some with tiny workspaces and others that could provide a user with full body movement. Of course, in general, the larger the workspace (the area in which you can feel things), the more expensive the device.

We feel that the Falcon, as currently designed, offers the best balance of size and affordability for consumer applications. While the Falcon may indeed have different "looks" throughout its lifetime, we have not currently released any plans to create larger or smaller Falcons for specific games.

Novint said...

re: upcoming announcements

We're glad you heard about the Falcon's upcoming CES appearance. This will be an opportunity to provide some hands-on time with the types of applications we plan to make available at launch. If possible, please come check it out.

As far as upcoming announcements regarding manufacturing partners, release dates, developer partners, etc. please stay tuned, either to our website or this forum.

tms said...

I used to play every game under the sun, but then we had kids and suddenly i had no time for myself, basically the only game i play these days is Americas Army. I think the controller would be the ideal accessory for AA. AA is not your run of the mill FPS, it requires a lot of teamwork, and is trying to portray a realistic experience. In certain instances it succeeds in others it fails. This controller could be integrated into it and take it a notch further. The military use a customised version of this to do training and a controller like this might even find great sales in that camp.

Anyway roll on 2007, i am eager to try this one out

Anonymous said...

Your announced partnering with VTech is very exciting. They do appear to be a perfect fit with Novint. Are there anymore details about this partnership that you can speak too?

Novint said...

re: America's Army

First of all, I can definitely relate to not having enough time to play games.

As far as America's Army is concerned, we agree that the Falcon's ability to add realistic touch (in this case, adding weight and recoil to rifles and other weapons, as well as adding sophisticated force feedback simulating injury from gunfire) would be ideal for a game like AA. Not only could it increase the entertainment value of games in that genre, but also their usefulness as training tools.

Novint said...

re: VTech

Thank you for the comment about VTech, our manufacturing partner. Unfortunately, I don't have any information beyond what was contained in the press release. But we'll do our best to keep you updated.

RAStemen said...

In regards to your question as to whether games have become too complex I must say no. I believe that the growing complexity in games is at least in part a function of the amount of time gamers have spent with them. With the first generations of people who’ve been able to play games since childhood reaching maturity it seems only natural that their entertainment grows with them. Also, games are growing as an art form—just look at how far movies have come in their century or so of existence.
Personally however I play all sorts of games, but would be primarily interested in using the Falcon in FPS’s to enhance their level of immersion.
Unfortunately it seems, at least to me, that your product is going to be a hard sell unless you can convince gamers that it will not detract from their ability to play games, but only enhance it. For example, using the Falcon may make it more fun to play an FPS game such as half-life 2 in single player mode. However, in multiplayer where speed and accuracy are the ultimate road to success the Falcon may prove lacking. I say this simply because there is an inherent inaccuracy in aiming devices that operate on relative position (joysticks, and ?the Falcon?) rather than absolute motion (computer mouse). The inaccuracy, I believe, is caused by the fact that for every one on-screen motion the user must make two physical motions. For example: in order to move the cursor to the left you must move the handle left and then move it to the right (while the cursor continues left more slowly) to stop it. While you cannot eliminate the return motion of the user’s hand, you could eliminate the residual return motion by adding a “motion choke” button to the handle. While said button is depressed the Falcon would not transmit user motion data—you could even make the button analogue, allowing for partial “choking” for increased accuracy even at the edges of the controller’s range of motion. The only disadvantage I could see to including such a button would be that it would increase the complexity of the attachments that the user hold.

I hope you at Novint at least consider this idea as a possibility in future iterations of the Falcon. Thanks!

jeunesang said...

I consider myself to be a hardcore gamer, although I don't play them as much as other hardcore gamers do. My justification is that I spend a good bit of time and energy outside of games doing the things that will one day make me a better game developer. I am currently working on finishing my undergrad degree and working part-time doing [serious] game development among other things at the distance education at my school.

Games I am currently playing:
Final Fantasy XII mainly (about 10 hours a week since release day)
and sporadically playing:
Dirge of Cerberus: FFVII
Alien Hominid
Guild Wars
Mario Kart Double Dash
Xenosaga III
Resident Evil 4

As for what I look for in games, it basically boils down to a few things:
Strong Story

A game need not include all of those to be awesome. Take Super Smash Bros Melee for instance, not much of a story there. However it is very innovative and extremely fun.

As for platforms I currently own/use:
NES (yeah I still play it)

Platforms I intend on buying soon and why:
Wii: Although I preferred the title "Revolution" I'll get over the lame new name. Great games, innovation, tons of fun, and unbeatable price.
Nintendo DS: I haven't been much of a mobile gamer, but with games like FFIII, Starfox, Metriod Prime, and Mario Kart I think I can get used to it. And again, nintendo has very innovative hardware.

On the PS3: I think it is utterly pathetic at this point, although I have yet to play it. The launch titles do not excite me in the least bit. I see it as wasting $600 on a slightly souped-up XBox360. However, that will probably change once they fix the hardware and some decent titles come out for it. I'll strongly consider buying it when MGS4 and FFXIII's come out for it.

On buying from stores or online:
I have currently bought every game I own from the store. I think I like having it on a "permanent" medium that comes with an instruction book that has cool art. On the other hand, I think that online distribution (like Steam) is the way to go. As a developer it makes so much sense to make games and distribute them online because that cuts out a lot of risk factor with the publisher.

On casual vs. hardcore games. I think casual games are quickly becoming the best. Due to the production costs of Next-Gen games it's nearly impossible for them to innovate. I don't blame them a bit for wanting to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, but they pretty much have to do what they know will make money. It is too much of a liability for companies not to milk their franchises and add few new features. Indie and casual games will be the primary innovators of the next gen.

One last thing for the Novint folks: I was very impressed with hands on demo at SIGGRAPH this year and I'd like to know if I can purchase a Falcon and developer software now to start working on an Indie project of my own.
->drop me a line

Novint said...

re: have games become too complex?

I want to tell you a story. One day, I started playing a game. This game required me to do a bunch of pretty complicated things. For instance, I had to shoot some people, organize some gang members, tag some walls in rival territory, and steal a car, all while avoiding the cops patrolling the area. Sound difficult enough? It sure was for me. Then I realized that this was only the beginning. There was more to the game than just that. Much more.

I also had to make sure I ate food regularly to keep my energy up. That meant going to actual restaurants sprinkled throughout the environment. I also had to make sure the food was pretty healthy so I didn’t get out of shape (no pizza for me). Speaking of my physique, I also had to exercise at the gym on a treadmill regularly or I got soft (there was a meter that showed my pudginess). Plus I needed some new clothes in a big way. I knew this because every time I walked by folks on the sidewalk, they’d give me some side comments about how I looked messed-up (my reputation meter was low). On that same note, I couldn’t get a date (a game requirement) because I needed to get my hair tightened-up at one of the many barber shops in the city. In short, there was a lot to do in this game. I’m surprised there wasn’t a “breathe” button, in fact.

For those who don’t know, I’m describing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for PlayStation 2. I know that many would disagree, but I thought this game was way too complex. It’s not that I couldn’t understand the game. Everything was quite clear. It wasn’t even that the tasks were too hard. They were actually pretty straightforward. My problem with the game was that it was *unnecessarily* complex. In other words, the additional complexities (eating, exercising, learning to ride a bicycle, etc.) didn’t add anything good to the game for me. In fact, they made the game less fun.

The games that came before San Andreas (GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City) were great games, and they didn’t have any of these features. Your character in these games could complete all of his bodily functions without the user having to press a single button. I liked this. It was fun. I don’t want to think about my hair when I’m playing the role of a gangster. I just want to be able to trust that my hair looks good even though I’m driving a convertible full of money away from a bank heist at 100 mph. In fact, if I wanted to worry about exercise, eating right, improving my poor fashion, and getting a hair cut so someone will date me, I’d turn off the game system and assume the role of “me”.

My point is that games *can* be too complex sometimes. I personally believe that developers sometimes add unnecessary features to a game just to prolong the life of a franchise. Many of the sports titles come to mind. Right now, you can go buy the 15th sequel to a football franchise where the only real change is that there are 200 new plays you can call on offense and defense. My problem here is that I only actually use about 10 of the 1,000 plays that are already at my disposal. Do I really need 200 more that I won’t use? Sure, it’s cool that they’re in my playbook, but they basically just get in my way as I try and find the plays I can actually run successfully.

People may be thinking, “Yeah, but you’re not a *real* gamer.” This is true. I wouldn’t fall into the “hardcore” gamer crowd. But I would also say that there are many, many, many others just like me. People who want to play but don’t have the time and/or patience to spend days learning to play a game. Sometimes, we just want to play. Not because the game is groundbreaking, or because it pushes some boundary, or because it’s an example of the beauty of game artistry. Sometimes we want to play just because it’s fun.

Now that I’ve said all this, I believe that complex games have their place, and that some of the increases in complexity are wonderful. I agree that games have increased in complexity, in part, to accommodate gamers who have outgrown the games they played as kids. Like many of you, I played games growing up, and I can definitely appreciate the ways that games have become more sophisticated over the years. Not only have the sights and sounds become almost lifelike, but the game play and the subject matter have deepened at the same time. This is obviously helped along by advances in technology, but it is also a result of a maturation of game design as an art form, like someone mentioned in a prior post. It has progressed so quickly that now there are games that have become as nuanced and even as beautiful as some of our best-loved films. Gaming has truly come a long way.

One day, when I was feeling nostalgic, I tried to “go back” to the days when games were very simple. A few months ago, I went out and bought one of those Atari joystick/gaming-systems that plug directly into your TV. For those who don’t know about them, these $15 joysticks contain 10 nostalgic games built right in, allowing you to re-live the glory days when you’d try and bust all the bricks of your jail cell in “Breakout”. I was so excited about having those old games -- Asteroids, Centipede, Adventure, Pong, Missile Command, Breakout, Yars' Revenge – I couldn’t wait to play it when it arrived.

The truth is, it was fun and brought back great memories ... for about half an hour. After that, it was downright mind-numbing. After all, how many times can you really find the invisible dot in “Adventure” before you’re ready to jump into the stomach of a duck-dragon out of sheer boredom? For me (and this is just one person’s opinion), I needed something more than that. The bottom line is this: as much as I loved games like Pitfall, Defender, and Keystone Kapers (remember Harry Hooligan?), there is no way I would want to go back to the way things were in the Atari days.

So I guess I’m saying there is a balance. Complex games are good, but the only problem is that some of these complexities are demanded by only one group of gamers. These complexities keep that group satisfied, but they may alienate another group of less-vocal gamers. These gamers—and there are many of them—may want to have a simple, quick, and fun experience. I feel this is a demand that developers should hear as well.

Where does the Falcon fit in? The Falcon, in my opinion, gives us the best of both worlds. It has the potential to simplify game play through its intuitive “pick it up and touch” interface, but its sophisticated force feedback can also create some unique, immersive, and complicated interactions between the player and the environment. I’m biased, but I think it has the potential to please gamers in all camps.

Novint said...

re: the sensitivity of the Falcon (response to rastemen)

Thanks for your comment, Rastemen.

First, I should say that actually trying the Falcon is the only way to truly appreciate and understand its capabilities, as well as to accurately compare it to other controllers. I can write about it all I want, but in the end, the most powerful explanation of the Falcon's capabilities is always an actual demonstration. I hope it's possible to show you the device at some point before it's released. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

As I mentioned in some other posts (see a post above for more detail), the Falcon does have many advantages over other devices, including mice. As an example, some experienced FPS folks (including some at Valve) have commented on how easy and intuitive the Falcon is to use for pointing/shooting. Another advantage over the mouse is that you *never* need to "pick it up" in order to slew over far enough (something that takes time and can get you killed in any real FPS event.) As far as sensitivity, our technology has been used in surgery trainers by doctors, and these physicians have given it high marks for both realism and control.

Also, just for clarification, mice are relative positon devices (with a mouse, you have no inherent
data telling you where it is in the real world). On the other hand, the Falcon is an absolute position device. This is another advantage as well.

Novint said...

re: jeunesang

Thank you for your comments. Best of luck with your degree, and we'll be in touch regarding game-development opportunities.

On that note, we are still interested in hearing from game developers who want to create Falcon-ready titles. Please contact us at this venue or for details.

RAStemen said...

I've got a quick question. About how many staff members are actively posting on the forums? How big is Novint, by the way?

Anyhow, I went back and reread my comment (thanks very much for the response to it by the way) and I feel like the tone came off as somewhat critical and pessimistic, which is not what I had intended. I just want to clarify that I very much support your work it developing a haptics device that is affordable to the average computer gamer. Heck, my career goal is to get into the haptics industry and make devices that can be used by the masses… I even submitted a job application to Novint for a Co-op position (though I assume that Novint doesn’t have a Co-op program since I never heard back from the company). So what I’m trying to say is that, at this point, all I can do to further my hopes for haptics in the mainstream is to support the companies that have similar goals. Thus, I plan on buying a Falcon regardless of the games that support it at launch…

I am very pleased to hear that the Falcon has been used in surgery trainers by doctors. It seems to me that technology that first appears in specific applications in the medical and defense industries tends to find its way into applications for the general public over time. So I’d be very interested to hear if you sell any to the defense industry.

Additionally, I was wondering Novint staff members have any young children that have used the Falcon. I think it would be interesting to see if children could become adept with the Falcon quicker than they become adept with a mouse.

Lastly, despite my waxing philosophical about how games are becoming more complex and that’s a good thing (see my first post), I think the Novint poster made a good point when he/she said there is a happy medium. I imagine there really are many more casual gamers than hardcore ones, evident through the fact that The Sims is the best selling computer game of all time. In fact, check out the list at this website and just count how many of these games could be called “casual”. But, going back to the more mature industry of Movies, we find all kinds of quality movies being made… I guess the most that we can hope for is similar quality and variety in games.

Anonymous said...

modders will do a lot of that work, but having it professionaly done by a game developer is nice to. Just get the products out please I want to freaking buy it, and I haven't even used it!

tomisinsaigon said...

I have to say it's a little hard to understand exactly how The Falcon works. A short video, if not some other form of multimedia presentation, would seem to help a lot.

Right now I am somewhat addicted to Google Earth. It would be interesting to be able to feel the bristle of the Redwoods beneath my hand or the sensation of rubbing the skyline of metropolitan New York City.

In this vein, you should create a RTS called 'Hand of God' which would be modeled after something like 'Civilization'. The cursor would be a large hand which could reach down and mold the earth like clay. Pounding down to create a lake. Pulling up to create a mountain. Dragging your finger to make rivers and valleys. Squeezing a cloud to make it rain. Etc. The whole time making sure not to harm in any way your 'Adam & Eve tribe' who must grow and prosper into a full civilization. The civilization which inevitably splinters into heathenistic factions who create their own rival gods who are intent upon destroying your people. And so you protect them as you can until they discover the atom bomb and other advanced weapons which are more powerful than you, demonstrated by the fact that their first use of the bomb is to destroy the first rival god that appoaches their nation. Soon thereafter when you are the only god left, it is realized that any god who has such power is too great a threat to be allowed to exist and all that is left is your decision whether or not to destroy your people before they destroy you (if you can). The end.

For a sequel you apply the game's mechanics to Google Earth. It's the largest massively multiplayer online game EVER! Woot!

1) What kind of textures can be felt with The Falcon? Can it simulate the feel of water? Fluff?
2) Can The Falcon inflict pain? Have you tested this?

And in THAT vein, here's another suggestion: You know the moment when you get a cut and as you look down at your palm there's a split second when you can consciencly acknowledge the wound before the pain actually hits? Is it just me? Well, if you guys can successfully replicate that (painless) feeling, I'm sure it would be the best marketing gimmick you guys could ever have.
Right alongside your Half-Life 2 demo would be a lone Falcon next to a screen with the word CUT! in big red letters (and maybe also SHOCK! if that's possible) below the title: Test Your Endurance!!! (or something similar). As soon as that first person jumps back and looks at their hand in shocked disbelief, you'll know that every teenage boy in the room is going to want to take one of these home to try on his friends.

Novint said...

re: rastemen

Hey again, rastemen. You didn't sound overly-critical at all -- you asked great questions, in fact. This is definitely the right forum for discussing the Falcon's performance. I hope my response didn't seem defensive.

I'm going to address in separate posts some of the other points you brought up.

Novint said...

re: Kids and the Falcon

Rastemen brought up an excellent question regarding kids: what has been their response to touch technology?

Many children, both in school settings and at home, have had the opportunity to try our technology, and this is what we've found:

1. Kids "get it" right away.

When it comes to our technology, kids don't usually need any explanation (not that they're listening half the time anyway). Almost without exception, they seem to know exactly what the device does the moment they use it for the first time.

2. A kid's first response is usually to smile and laugh.

Adults (even the most cynical)often have this response too, but there's nothing like a kid's joy at trying something fun.

3. Kids think it's easy to use.

Maybe it's because they can't keep their little paws to themselves, but kids tend to just grab the Falcon-handle and get to work -- exactly the right thing to do.

4. The kids who try it want it to be part of everything they do on a computer.

From gaming to their myspace page, kids often wish the Falcon was part of their everyday experience with their computers. That includes their schooling -- many students have wanted our technology for classroom use as well.

In short, demonstrating our technology for kids is always gratifying. It's also good for product development -- a kid won't hesitate to tell you if they don't like something :-)

Novint said...

re: most popular games ever

In a prior post, rastemen referenced a list of the most popular games( It is hard to say how accurate this list is, but I thought I'd post a portion of it here:

Top PC games

1) The Sims - 16 million
2) Half-Life - 8 million
3) Myst - 7 million

Chessmaster - 4 million
DOOM - 2.9 million
Civilization III - 2 million
Quake - 1.8 million
Zoo Tycoon - 1 million
Age of Mythology - 1 million
Neverwinter Nights - 1 million
Return to Castle Wolfenstein - 1 million
Deus Ex - 500,000
Halo - 500,000
The Secret of Monkey Island 2 - 500,000

There are other games that should probably be here (Diablo, Warcraft, etc.) but the list is interesting regardless. Action titles, puzzle-solvers, real-time strategy games... it's a pretty diverse line-up. It goes to show you that there are many types of gamers out there.

Probable Shareholder said...

I am really excited about the Falcon release. I'm not much of a gamer, but I am looking forward to my kids experiencing it. I think this device could be great for children's games and educational software. Can you tell me if any of the packaged mini-games will be appropriate for children?

I understand Novint is focusing on the gaming market first. But I am really interested in using the Falcon for 3D modeling. At ZbrushCentral, someone posted that "representatives from Pixologic are already talking to Novint about including support for their device in ZBrush". Can you confirm/comment on this? Any other
Graphic App support planned?

Finally, in the FiringSquad Interview, Antonia Chappell stated, "Novint is very invested in working with third-party developers to create touch-enabled games and we intend to license our technology to increase the availability of content". Does this mean game developers will need to pay to support the falcon and thus "distinguish their products"?
Thanks in advance

Novint said...

re: probable shareholder

Thank you for your questions and comments.

Unfortunately, as we are a publicly-traded company, the SEC places several restrictions on the business-related discussions we're able to have in a forum like this. I'll comment on what I can.

What I can say is that a large number of the mini-games shipping with the Falcon will, indeed, be suitable for children (as well as adults). Please stay tuned for more information on the actual games that will be included at launch-- I think you'll be pleased.

Also, if you are affiliated with an interested game developer, please contact us at, and we will provide specific information on our third-party developer program.

Novint said...

re: developer program info

Novint intends to release specifics on our developers program early next year, but as a general rule, we want others to be able to create applications, mods, and tie-ins to existing or new applications using our technology.

We want to minimize up-front costs for developers to support growth in a variety of areas. The more games and software out there, the more devices we will sell. The more devices we sell, the more reason for people to create games and software and drive content. Our goal is for our 3D touch technology to become one of the few technologies we will see in our lifetime that fundamentally changes computing.

The Novint Falcon's name comes from the fact that the falcon is the predator of the mouse. Our vision is that our technology will become ubiquitous across computing, and beyond what our technology can do in gaming alone, we want there to be a Falcon on every desktop. Like I mentioned, we'll release details on our developers program early 2007, but it will be designed with these goals in mind.

Anonymous said...

A comparison of the Falcon experience and the experience portrayed in Aldous Huxley's, The Doors of Perception, would seem to be a fair comparison. The opening of the "sensory gates", so to speak.

Derrick said...

Hey all, i've been following the blog ever since it opened up and checking the website constantly. But I have to ask, is there going to be betta testing and if so how can you qualify?

Track said...

sure is quiet...a little....too quiet.

But quiet or not, I still can't wait to get my hands on a device and a dev kit. I'm really interested in seeing what could be done to make an interface device for the visually impaired, but in a way that could also extend the end user experience for any user...I'm thinking something like TeXML (Texture Markup Language), could be used to describe either a specific texture or a map of textures and basic 3D primitives, sort of like the old image maps from times before Flash showed up everywhere. Heck, for that matter, TeXML descriptors wrapped in with components of a flash object wouldn't be that difficult to add in.

Would also be interesting to develop a general-purpose OpenGL intercept you could basically drop a dll in the working directory of any OpenGL-based game to attempt some basic texture interpretation...the falcon could still look like a standard mouse to the game, but use the opengl filters to inject texture/shape data into the communication stream to the falcon...downside there, of course, is the performance hit to interpretation and injection on top of existing render calls...much more efficient to build it in as a selectable option over a game's core engine.

Sometimes I ramble. Any further info on timeline or process for getting a dev kit? Maybe some initial protocol documentation or sample libraries?

Anonymous said...

Haptic websites:
Is there anything you can tell us about the likelyhood, in general, of haptic websites. Thank-you.

Derrick said...

What about a beta version were a selected few can tryout the product?

Novint said...

re: Haptic websites

Great question.

Haptic websites are certainly possible, and in my opinion, will likely be a reality eventually. I think we will begin to see touchable websites once haptic devices (like the Falcon) become a larger part of people's everyday computing experience.

Once folks get used to being able to interact with virtual objects using their sense of touch, they may start demanding it from more and more of their online experiences.

Also, if computer desktops ever become touchable (imagine opening your My Documents folder by literally opening it), this may push this type of interaction to the online world.

Novint said...

re: derrick

We currently show early versions of the Falcon at major conferences (CES and GDC, for instance), but have not announced a beta testing program at this time.

If you are a game developer interested in creating content for the Falcon, however, please email for information about our developer program.

Anonymous said...

A game idea called Magic Hand or Mr. Fingers. Anyway the icon or cursor looks like a white glove. The fingers on it move and feel according to and depending on the object that it contacts. Maybe it changes color with sensation, or sounds accompany certain experiences. The "Hand" has as a curious, simple, accident prone nature as it stumbles thru a troublesome world. I can only imagine the possibilities of situations. It seems perfectly suited to your technology.

Anonymous said...

And if "Magic Hand" is a success than "Super Hand"--with a "H" logo on it -- would be a great second act!

Anonymous said...


At release of the Novint Falcon it should have support for as many games as possible. Do you have somebody at Novint creating mods so that the Novint Falcon will work with the most played games of today?

Create the most informational and exciting video possible about the Novint Falcon, for gamers. Release it to the public on Youtube. Continue to make new informational videos of the Novint Falcon being played on a new game every so often until the product is actually released.

If the product is known about, has lots of support and is a genuinely good idea, then it will be successful. What are the current roadblocks holding it back from release?

Anonymous said...

I think a Spiderman game would be fun. It would be well suited for haptics. Probably anything insect related would work well with haptics, because of their touchy/feely nature, i.e. from what I understand many ants species are blind.

Anonymous said...

This company like many other tech companies is headed in the right direction but...

Yes I own one of the 5000 of this product and will be experimenting with it in 3d next week.

But whats the biggest problem with new technology??

Support and compatibility.

Can I use this damned thing with my software.

The whole point in buying this device is so I can play my choice of games with it and get force feedback.


My opinion is they should hire more programmers and do some partnerships..with other software companies.

As long as they hold the patent they are good.

My opinion on this product is.

I should be getting force feedback on every thing on my system AND Use it on any of my games.

When I click and move a window I should feel the weight of it.

When I browse over icons I should feel somekind of texture. ANYTHING?

But it doesnt work like that and I am disappointed.

Why not just make a simple program which can add feedback to my other games..and system???

Didnt really like the games that came with the Device.

Yeah they sucked.

Your company should stay focused on the tech and let the game developers do what they do best.

I also advise making a simular, smaller and cheaper device which could boost sales.

Alot of people see this thing and and think its too pricey.

Thats the first thing people say when they see mine.

Gee.. how much did that thing cost?

Time will tell if it was a waste of good technology.


I would have at least made sure the damned thing vibrated when I played other games before I released the product.

Come on.. get some investors.. raise some money.. Do some partnerships.. develope some new products that make this thing compatible..Take a larger market share.... Make some good money and have fun doing it.

Have a nice day everyone.
Mark Anthony Bartholomew