PS3 Mouse

By Shamus
on Sep 25, 2008
Filed under:
Video Games

As a follow-up to my suggestion on how to accommodate FPS fans like myself on the console, a reader sent in a link to this. It’s basically the left half of a Dual Shock controller, attached to a mousing surface. The right hand holds a mouse, which has the four buttons on the side, right under the thumb. The mouse buttons are actually R1 and R2.

Interesting.

My own observations on this:

  1. First off, all of those wires need to go. They’re going to get in the way. It’s one thing when the mouse has the cord laying along the top of a desk or a keyboard drawer, it’s quite another when it’s coiled up in your lap.
  2. The four buttons are reachable, but they’re also going to be prone to inadvertent pushing. Vigorous use is going to fatigue the thumb, because of the way it’s going to need to bend. They also seem to be crowded a bit to fit in the allotted space. Quicktime events are going to be harder. Obviously you won’t be using this thing to play a platforming game.
  3. I’m not sure how well it’s going to work to have the mouse board on your lap like this. It’s not as stable as a desk, it’s not at the right height, and your hands are going to be close together. Will any of these changes lead to cramping or fatigue after half an hour? It’s hard to tell short of trying it yourself.
  4. And of course, games must support a mouse for this to be of any use. I’m not sure how many games there are that fit that criteria. To a certain extent mice and trackballs suffer from a chicken-and-egg problem on the consoles. Nobody has them because games don’t support them, and games don’t support them because… etc. I think it would take a push from Sony to give this thing any traction. But they wisely spent their efforts on sixaxis instead. *Cough*.
  5. While better than a mouse + keyboard, I’m still not sure this meets the “sitting on the couch with your buddies” test. Is this something you want in your lap? Something you want to pass around? Something you want to pay $50 for?

Even with my loathing for FPS gameplay using a thumbstick, I’m still not excited about this just yet. I’ll see if it catches on first. (Thus exacerbating the chicken / egg problem. If people like me don’t buy this thing, who will?)

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From the Archives:

  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I really couldn’t think of any games that would support it. Unreal Tournament?

  2. maehara says:

    I’ve had reasonable success playing Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3 with this baby: Logitech Mediaboard Pro. The touchpad needs to be about twice the size for it to be really comfortable, but to me it still beats the standard controller…

  3. JT says:

    There’s also this one for the XBox 360, but it’s an adapter/pass-through that lets you connect any mouse+keyboard to it for use with the 360. I’m tempted, as I learn the FPS-on-thumbstick ropes with Halo, Halo 2, & Shadowrun, but right now $90 is to rich for my blood.

  4. Eric says:

    From my understanding, a mouse and keyboard will work with any of the games. the system adjusts the controls for you.

  5. Cybron says:

    I hate side mouse buttons of all kinds. I always push them on accident. Such a setup would ruin me.

  6. Kevin says:

    That article (the one with the controller) cracked me up.

    “Oh noes! if you buy a mouse for your PS3, MY PS3 will turn into a computer! Woe is me!”

  7. Eric says:

    It does say in the article that it may be wireless. If it’s going to be for the ps3, I can’t see the reason why it wouldn’t be bluetooth.

    The biggest question in my mind is are they going to get rid of aim assist, and are we finally going to have balanced console vs. pc FPS. Yes I know that was two questions.

  8. Nilus says:

    Wow the 360 adapter is nice. But for 90 bucks I would want something that does not require you to have to plug in and then unplug a controller first. I don’t even know anyone who owns a wired 360 controller. Honestly for 90 dollars I would hope the thing itself was wireless.

  9. TheEggplant says:

    Firstly, the FragFX works with all games. The software allows the mouse to emulate the right thumbstick.
    Second, the original model has been discontinued and is difficult to find. Version 2 is done according to the manufacturers website. (http://www.splitfish.com/index.cfm) Hopefully it be for sell soon.
    Let me be clear I haven’t used this product yet as I was waiting for v2 to come out so I can’t testify to the comfort level, but I do use my mouse in my lap on a board frequently so I don’t foresee this as a problem.
    @Eric
    If you’re talking about the PS3 then no. A usb mouse and keyboard will work for web and menu navigation, but games have to be made specifically to use them. UT3 is the only one right now.
    Lastly the XFPS Sniper is available right now for both PS3 and 360. You have to plug a wired 360 controller to make that model work. I don’t know how the PS3 one functions. As mentioned above $90 seems pretty pricey for a pass through.
    If it offers the progamability it claims and works with my Fang Gamepad I’d probably buy one though.

  10. Primogenitor says:

    What about the Wii-mote? Just off-hand, but couldnt that be used like a mouse (x-y plane, two/three buttons)? Any FPS Wii games that use it as such? I know its relatively innacurate compared to a mouse but…

  11. Joe says:

    There’s always the possibility that a game wouldn’t need to explicitly support this sort of thing. (of course, it may be that Sony anticipated a need for something like this in FPS games, and abstracted the pointer interface in the API they expose for developers sufficiently well that it’d just work)

    There are fundamentally three types of pointers (well, probably more, but three basic types I can think of at the moment) Touchscreens and tablets and digitizers are actual absolute coordinate pointing devices. working with those would probably be significantly difficult. And a multi-touch input pointing device would probably be *really* difficult. That aside, the second type is a joystick/thumbstick. It provides input in the form of an X/Y vector. The console then moves the pointer in a rate and direction analogous to the vector. The third type is a mouse/touchpad, which supplies a number of quanta moved in X and Y.

    It *shouldn’t* be all that hard to build a translation layer that counts quanta moved per time and converts it to an X/Y vector. It’s kind of annoying to *have* to do that, since the console will then reverse the operation and convert the vector back into a number of X/Y quanta to move the pointer,

    In theory, it should be possible to make this work very smoothly. In practice, you’re going to be limited by the granularity that the system expects from the vector the controller is sending it. It may be that Sony built the PS3 with the assumptions that the analog inputs would be driven by a thumb on top of a short stick, in which case all you really need is slightly more granularity than up/off/down+right/off/left. However, I suspect they built a lot of granularity in there. I know on my 360, I’ve used a steering wheel + pedals controller which has a whole *lot* of granularity in its analog controls.

    Anyhow, it may not be as much of a chicken & egg problem as you thought. It may well be that games don’t absolutely *have* to be coded for a mouselike input dev. Although, it may be that some of the hacks to make an FPS playable with thumbsticks (auto-aim and such) would be annoying with a mouse…

  12. The Lone Duck says:

    A bigger priority on peripherals for me is a keyboard. The only way a mouse maight game traction is for some art/desining game. For example, if Little Big Planet supports mouse use in creating levels, that might spur some mouse sales. But the couch-sitting FPS market does not like change. R&D on new control mechanics seems like a waste of money, in consideration of the total market. Hate to say this, but I think you’re on your own, Shamus.

  13. Factoid says:

    @Primogenitor: yeah, most Wii FPS setups use the remote as a pointing device for shooting. You use the nunchuck analog stick for back/forward/strafe and to turn you point the remote at the far edge of the screen and you’ll turn that direction.

    It works great in metroid Prime 3, but it sucks terribly in Red Steel. I’m hopeful that the wii motion plus thingy will improve that somewhat. Doing some sort of hand gesture to pull a quick 180 would be a great feature but the current implementation isn’t accurate enough.

  14. Morzas says:

    I just used a wireless USB keyboard + mouse when my brother let me borrow his PS3. Worked great in UT3, but that was about the only game that let me use it.

  15. Eric says:

    wii games have to be programed to utilize the motion plus add-on. The reason I know is because Lucasarts put out a lightsaber game and found out that motion plus was coming out and were pissed at nintendo for not saying anything.

  16. eloj says:

    I have the FragFX and it works with every game, no special support needed. It also works very very well. The only thing is that you don’t always get the exact immediate response when turning, likely because unlike the PC, some console games seems to actually limit how fast you’re allowed to turn. Not a real problem though, but you can tell in most games that it’s not a ‘real mouse’.

    There was talk about a wireless version, but I’ve never seen it sold, don’t know it it was ever produced.

    I’ve already talked about it in an earlier post, so I won’t repeat myself, but I consider it a must-have if you’re gonna play FPS-style games.

    I recently played through Uncharted (on hard no less) using the fragfx. I could never have done that with the normal controller, never.

  17. Ericc says:

    What I think might work really well (and this is a proven concept) is to have two independent controllers linked by a cord…kinda like the Wii-mote and nun-chuk.

    Sony/Microsoft/anyone should come up with a mouse/trackball that can be used on a surface or not with a grouping of buttons that fit the way peoples’ hands rest (slightly curved). The other controller would have the analog and directional sticks along with the trigger/bumpers.

    I dunno. Maybe that’s too obvious.

  18. Rekres says:

    One step forward (trackball as part of controller)…

    Three steps backward (mouse and pad)?!?

  19. evilmrhenry says:

    Nilus, there’s actually a good reason for that: Microsoft put a crypto system in the 360 controllers, and are more-or-less forbidding 3rd-party controllers. (For your protection, of course…) I didn’t know there was any way around it, but piggybacking off an existing controller seems logical.

  20. Steve C says:

    I was trying to imagine what you were describing since the picture was failing to load, and then I had a brain fart for a completely different controller. Touchpads have been mentioned before, but imagine a PS3 controller as a baseline and a touchpad that comes up from the center of the controller and then angles so it’s suspended up and over your hand. It would become a double decker controller with your left thumb between the layers. As the touchpad is above you would stroke the underside of the plastic with your thumb rather than push down on it like a normal touchpad.

    Another location for a touchpad could be underneath the controller in the center. Either one of your ring fingers would be available to operate it.

  21. Eric says:

    http://playstationlifestyle.net/2008/06/18/break-apart-ps3-controller-in-video/

    This I think is a step down the right path. watch this shorty video.

  22. ElArabDeMagnifico says:

    It emulates an analog stick, you turn in-game sensitivity to the highest setting, and then the FFX controller to the lowest. It’s tricking the PS3.

    btw, surprisingly those Mouse Buttons aren’t the most annoying thing about the controller, it’s the bloody D-Pad. Weapon switching be damned with that thing.

  23. Johann Lo says:

    I’m one of the unfortunate suckers who bought one thinking it looked like a good idea.

    It might still be a good idea but the implmentation is horrid.

    The sensitivty is foobared, it feels like using a mouse to control a thumbstick, thats about the best analogy I can think of. Its basically useless in that regard. Tried it with several PS3 FPSs and they all control like a$$. No amount of tweaking or firmware updates could fix this.

    The build quality is atrocious. Out of the box my RMB is actually a bit ‘sticky’. Even without the stickiness its flimsy and theres far too much give in the buttons.

    Finally you have to sit with your legs close together like a nun because its just too narrow.

    Good idea, terrible execution.

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