October 23rd, 2013, 00:54 Posted By: wraggster
Sony Computer Entertainment experimented with a number of radically different form factors for DualShock 4, including one with a similar layout to Xbox 360's controller, according to Toshimasa Aoki, manager of the company's product planning department.
"At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller," Aoki told GamesBeat.
"We tried out new devices, changing the form factor. We'd start from there and then try to talk to the game teams and tweak toward what the best form would be to have for those new devices. So we made, I don't know, more than 20 prototypes. Some had no buttons, just touch panels. Some were rounded. All this crazy stuff."
Aoki likened one of the prototypes to the Xbox 360 controller, particularly with regard to the placement of its analogue sticks.
"We did test having the analogue sticks on top, since the Xbox has the left side on top [above the D-pad]," he said. "Especially from the shooter teams - we got feedback that that's what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters.
"[But having the two sticks symmetrical on the left and right sides] is kind of in our DNA. The prototype team, myself, and also the management team really felt that having this look is the PlayStation look, and we had to keep that."
Sony also created a prototype with both sticks placed at the top of the controller, a format which Nintendo would adopt for the Wii U Pro controller. "When Nintendo came out with that, we were like, 'Wow, that's just like our prototype!'," Aoki said.
Sony ultimately opted to abandon this prototype as it clashed with the now natural expectations players have when using a game controller.
"If we moved the X up there, it just breaks all the muscle memory," Aoki said. "The right hand mostly goes for both buttons and sticks, but the left hand stays on one or the other and usually doesn't switch around [between the left analogue stick and the D-pad]. That's why it's OK to switch around the left side. But switching the right side really breaks the gamer's experience."
Mark Cerny, lead system architect on the PS4 and designer of upcoming platformer Knack, previously said Sony's testing provided empirical evidence that having two joysticks together, as it has since the first DualShock, worked just as well as offsetting them.
"We made and tested a ridiculously broad style of controllers," Cerny explained, "and we would actually have people play games with them. And the current controller design came out of that. We did indeed conclude that the two joysticks on the same level works perfectly well. That did come out of our testing."
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