Over the next couple of months I'm going to be blogging mainly on the topic of what I like to call Physical Technical Art, the tangible side of games development. 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 focuses its solutions.
A great example of this 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.