Sony Gets A Little Too Honest About Its DualShock 4 Prototypes
Sony Computer Entertainment got quite honest on the subject of its DualShock 4 prototypes, revealing how one of them even looked similar to the Xbox 360 controller with regards to layout.
That’s according to Toshimasa Aoki, manager of the company’s product planning department, who revealed that, as expected, Sony played around and experimented with a number of radically different form factors for the PS4 controller.
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“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 prototype designs to the Xbox 360 controller with regards to its analogue stick placement, and explained why the company didn’t end up going that route.
“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 crafted a prototype in which both sticks were at the top of the controller, and this is a layout that Nintendo would later 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 decided to leave that prototype alone due to it clashing with what gamers are used to.
“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 game designer of the upcoming launch title Knack, revealed last month that Sony consulted top FPS designers on the DualShock 4, and their testing provided empirical evidence that having the two joysticks symmetrical 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.”
I find the information here quite interesting, and I like the honesty. Admittedly, I am personally very happy that they kept the analogues symmetrical, as more than looks it is something I’m comfortable with, and I was never properly at home with the Xbox controller’s left analogue stick.
But it all comes down to preference really, and what you’re used to. Others will say differently. That said, both of the next-gen controllers are awesome, and you can check out my full impressions of them from rAge 2013.