Rumble Might Be Rudimentary, But I Still Like It

When the PS3 launched in 2006, the SIXAXIS controller did not have rumble support. It had motion control, but like I just said, no rumble. And I found myself playing more Xbox 360 games.

It wasn't because Xbox 360 games were better. No, it was because Xbox 360 games could be played on a controller with feedback. Even developers making games for the PS3 (Hideo Kojima, for example) lamented the absence of rumble!

Finally in November 2007, the rumbling DualShock 3 controller was released for the PS3, and I found myself drifting back to the PS3. Rumble is important. Force feedback is important. Microsoft's Kinect moving controls does not have traditional force feedback. That's the experience it offers.

The SIXAXIS always felt like there was something missing. But with Kinect, everything is missing, and I do not mean that it in a pejorative sense. That's the point! You are the controller. Players are not restricted by a control pad.

"The thing I was most worried about was the [lack] of haptic feedback, but it's been really interesting how much you can do with visuals and audio," Kudo Tsunoda, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios, tells Edge Magazine. "In many of the games we have, people will crash a vehicle and they'll go totally like this [mimes dodging out of the way]! And even people playing games with a controller, there's always people doing this [mimes driving motion]. They want to be moving. There's natural movements and reactions involved. I've never seen someone doing that from rumble. It's the audiovisual stuff."

"The overwhelming thing we've discovered is that rumble is such a rudimentary form of haptic feedback," Kudo continues. "It's not like a little rumble in your palm is your whole way of interacting with the world — it's not like, oh, I stubbed my toe and I get a little rumble in my palm." He continues. "It's almost laughable the way people hold on to rumble as the holy grail of haptic feedback. We've gone so far past anything that can be done with rumble, or that kind of restrictive thing you have to hold. It's been creatively liberating to work on this stuff."

I bet it has. And it seems like Kudo is happy to go gung-ho into unexplored territory, and he is thinking more about than something that rumbles in your palms. That's great! But, so much of touch is experienced through the hand that it's hard to discount it. Unless Microsoft has figured out a way to provide feedback to my toe when my character stubs it, I'm not yet convinced the control pad with force feedback is "almost laughable".

Rumble Is Rudimentary [Edge]