Over the next couple of posts I'm going to be writing mainly on the topic of the emerging field of Physical Technical Art. So… what does that mean you say? Game Development in most parts is a software exercise; once concept art and motion capture has been digitized the remainder of production is mainly dedicated to DCC’s, Assets Pipelines and Code. Development can be fraught with unforeseen hurdles and challenges, some of these problems require a team to think outside the software box and this is where Physical Technical Art implements a solutions. In addition to solving hardware problems Physical Technical Art also aims to improve the human-computer interface (NUI), human to human interface and game interaction methods through the use of technology.
A great example of a hardware solution is the XBox 360 Controller Monitor. This custom hardware enables the capture of the controller’s inputs (buttons and joysticks) and then displays the values on a small board. This board is then framed with the vision from the game and filmed, giving the reviewer a clear connection between the input and the time taken for it to be displayed on screen.
The following video is a Tear Down of this hardware, a brief overview of the electronics used and how it captures and displays its data:
Xbox 360 Controller Monitor (Tear Down)
Latency is an important concern when developing a game, it changes how the game is played and if it's too high the user may get frustrated ruining the experience. The Xbox 360 Controller monitor is a practical and simple solution to this important focus. Yes, input latency can be calculated within the devkit; but having a hardware solution ensures no overheads and enables testing for unprofileable games.
If you use something like this or any other physical solutions in your studios, I would love to hear about it. You can contact me via the contacts tab or just leave a comment.