Dueling Analog
or How Polly Came To Hate Modern Gaming Part 62
by Polly

Maybe this piece doesn't have the kind of merit to be referred to as an "Article," and is more likely to appear as a ranty and whiny blog post, but goddammit it's my website and I'll write whatever I want to! When you pay the hosting bill, you can tell me to write about anything you want. If you don't like it, I've made it even easier to access those Final Fantasy Features the kids are all hot and bothered about these days, so just mouse on up there and forget you were even here.

Today I'm going to spend some time bitching, whining, moaning, and complaining (not necessarily in that order) about an issue I've had with gaming for the last two generations of consoles. It's an issue that has all but completely soured me on modern gaming as a whole, diminishing one of my favorite past-times into a trial of frustration and anger nearly every time I boot up a new game that wasn't downloaded from PSN and isn't 2D.

You see, I got a lot of email from some folks out there in Interbutts Land who know I own a fancy-pants PS3 asking why I've never reviewed, let alone mentioned, a lot of the console's more well-known blockbuster hits such as inFamous, Uncharted, and the Resistance games. To those fine folks, I respond honestly today by saying simply that I am unable to play them.

No, there's nothing wrong with my console, and I do in fact own many of the games people write in and ask about. What I mean is that I am physically incapable of playing these games.

Now stop right there for a second and think about how goddamn stupid that sounds. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Good now? Got your answer? Alright good, good!

It probably sounds about as fucking dumb as it should, doesn't it? (I'll still give you half-credit if the penguins gave you the answer.)

"Alright, so how the hell could anyone not be physically able to play games unless they were blind or limbless," I can sense some of you asking yourself. I'll also go ahead and assume that some of you smart-asses also included "stupid" or some derivative form. Well, here's the big poopy, stinky shocker: I'M NEITHER! My eyes are (for the most part) just fine, and I can assure you that I'm actually typing this and not speaking it into some kind of translato-typo machine. God, can you imagine trying to dictate code into voice recognition software? Holy son of a fuck me... Anyway, my limbs are all actually attached and fully functional as are the various appendages that would be required for use of any interactive digital entertainment software.

The problem?

Dual-motherfucking-goddamn-piece-of-shit-ass-gargling Analog Controls.

I fucking HATE them! I can't use them! They should burn in hell! GO FUCK YOURSELF!

My first real experience with Dual-Analog controls that I can remember vividly would be Kill.Switch on PS2. I loved that game (and any of you Gears of War fans out there would be doing yourself a favor by checking it out since it was a chief inspiration in the creation of that game), but even back then the controls consistently got in the way of my enjoyment and frustrated me to no end. I was sorta new'ish to the concept, so I figured that I'd just get better at dealing with it over time, but even after playing through the game three times, I still found myself irritated to the point of shutting off the console every few stages because the aiming drove me fucking batty.

After Kill.Switch, I didn't play many more Dual-Analog required games. At this point in time, I don't think I was making a conscious effort to avoid them like I do now, I was mostly burnt out on gaming as a whole and didn't play much new stuff. Some other games with this configuration I actually do remember playing were the first two Halo games on XBORX. and I only played about halfway through Halo 2 before I gave up, but that's because Halo 2 is a shitty game.

I wouldn't really start bumping into more and more Dual-Analog required games until I started playing around on my friends' XBORX 360s a few years later, and of course when I obtained my PS3 around July of last year. At this time, I did suffer through a few games that I really wanted to play (Bionic Commando and Metal Gear Solid 4 mostly), but this is sorta the time when it really began to sink in that this type of control scheme simply didn't work for me and no matter how much I practiced, I'd never be good at it. The last game I attempted to play with this set up would be inFamous, and I gave up on it about an hour in because I was too damn frustrated to futz with the goddamn controls anymore. inFamous is a FANTASTIC game, I just can not fucking play it! It was at this point that I made the conscious decision to never touch another game that required Dual-Analog controls for more than camera control ever again if I could help it.

Congratulations, Polly! You've pretty much kicked yourself out of modern gaming, because basically any and every game released today uses this very same control set up (because every fucking game released these days is the same fucking game, but whatever!). Be it third-person action game or first-person shooter, you know the fucking drill: You'll move your character with the left stick and aim with the right. I can't believe how easy it sounds every time I write it out or explain it to somebody, but when it's game time I honestly can't wrap my hands nor brain around making this control scheme actually work.

No, seriously, look at my aiming in this video. It's fucking pitiful! Good thing I can just use the zip kick to deal with almost any and all opposition!

Simple "half-serious" solution: EVERY GAME SHOULD HAVE A BIONIC ARM!

I'll openly admit that I absolutely fucking suck at trying to actually use controls like these. I'm not going to make excuses! It in no way feels natural to me at all like I'm sure it does to so many others. How the fuck do you even shoot with any decent amount of accuracy using controls set up like this? You're always on the move, and trying to ease an analog stick around for precision aiming really feels impossible. Your impulse is almost always to shove the little fucker over as far as it'll go and overshoot your target or end up staring at the fucking ground. Even when you feel like you've got a tiny bit of grasp on the concept, you then have to factor in the recoil of firing and re-position your reticle on the fly and THIS SHIT ONLY MAKES MY FUCKING HEAD AND HANDS HURT! SON OF A BITCH!

Some games offer a "Southpaw" configuration, and though I am left-handed, this configuration only makes matters worse. Southpaw configurations have movement relegated to the right stick and aiming to the left. This doesn't work, because all my life I've had it engrained into my feeble little brain that any movement of my on screen avatar is handled by the left side of the gamepad, and actions are taken with the right side. It only succeeds in becoming an even more confusing mess for me.

This is honestly a concept of movement and aiming that my hands and brain will never figure out because I am somehow too goddamn stupid! I've tried everything I can think of from tweaking sensitivities, to bouncing between inverted and standard aiming and camera movement. Even when I think I've got it right and drilled the controls into my head for ten minutes straight, the instant ANYTHING starts happening on the screen, my hands automatically do the exact opposite of what I was trying to learn only a few moments earlier. Changing the controls again only changes the way in which my brain will get the movements wrong AGAIN!

The worst part of this shit becoming so generally accepted is that now they're implementing it on consoles THAT DON'T EVEN HAVE A SECOND GOD DAMN ANALOG STICK! WHAT THE FUCK?

I don't see a second analog stick there, do you? Well, if you're unfamiliar with how they're doing it on this damn thing, let me explain it. See that little nub thingy there on the bottom left? That's what you'll typically use to move your character. So what about aiming? Surely they wouldn't do something so dumb as making it the D-Pad or anything else that stupid, right? (Though a lot of games like Monster Hunter and Phantasy Star Portable 1/2 let you direct the camera in this fashion.) No, they're not that stupid. They're even stupider than you could possibly imagine.

Without a second analog stick what the hell are you supposed to do then? Maybe you're just blocking it out, because you don't think anybody could possibly be that brainless, but odds are that the configuration you're thinking about is what they actually do.

What these bastards want you to do is use the FACE BUTTONS to aim. Now, if you've never played a game like this before, I want you to just stop and think about that for a few moments.

Buttons....digital in nature...being used to control the movement of a camera and aiming in a 3D environment... tap tap... tap tap tap..... tappity tap tap.... tap tap...FUCK I KEEP OVERSHOOTING IT!

If the first two words that came to your mind when you heard the words "face buttons to aim" weren't "fucking" and "stupid", then congratulations!

Resistance, Syphon Filter, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and a veritable pantheon of others...these are just a few of the great PSP games that get completely ruined for me by this horribly imprecise, and most importantly, uncomfortable set up. It's true that I did suffer through the entirety of Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, 100%'ing it in the process, but by the time I did, my hands and wrists were so fucking wrecked and my head hurt so much, that I didn't even want to go on and finish playing Logan's Shadow. And fuck, you bet your ass I seriously want to play Peace Walker, but just knowing the pain that my hands and poor head are in for should I decide to has been enough for me to balk at every opportunity to buy it. None of the control schemes offered in the demo worked well enough for me to know I wouldn't get frustrated.

I'm not saying I'm not whining. I'm not saying I don't fucking suck at videogames now because of my inability to adapt to this nonsense, but I'll guarantee that I'm not the only one out there that feels that this whole Dual-Analog setup is a gigantic load of malarkey.

But for all this bitching or just making excuses for my own being shitty at videogames, I sure haven't provided any serious suggestions to developers on any ways to fix my problem, have I? It's about OPTIONS, man! OPTIONS! I mean, hell, if I'm just gonna sit here and spin in circles with anger and hatred spilling from every possible orifice of my body without offering any type of sensible resolution to anything, I might as well just join the fucking Tea Party, right? I'd also have to pretend I'm a real grassroots organization not funded by fringe right-wing money tanks, but HEY HEY WE ARE VEERING WAY OFF TOPIC HERE HA HA!

Anyway, the reason I've yet to even mention a solution is because the solution is so god damned simple that it's positively ridiculous that nobody in the industry has implemented it yet. It's not fucking rocket science and the obviousness (is that even a word?) of my solution may be enough to melt your eyeballs out of your stupid head. A fucking third grader would look at it and go "Well duuuuuuhhh" if kids still said "duh" these days...

Console developers, are you still with me? Paying attention? Are you sitting down? Are you strapped in tight enough so that when what I'm about to reveal to you rocks your fucking foundation to its very core that you don't fall out of your chair and split your freaking head open? Alright then, carefully scroll down until the full picture is within view...


There, I said it so you don't have to, and also because I love praising myself. Preferably in a mirror (sometimes naked and in the perfect candle light), but my reflection in the monitor shall suffice for now.

Seriously, why has no first-party thought of this, or better yet, just implemented it? Your goddamn consoles are practically gimpy PCs already, and you're trying to make them more and more like PCs with each new iteration featuring shitty web browsers and media applications anyway. Do you really think anybody wants to navigate a website with a shitty gamepad and barely functional browser? Who wants to use a web browser on their goddamn console anyway? NOBODY! But that's neither here nor there. (Ignore the fact that I did this on the Dreamcast for 9 months...)

The bottom line is that there's no reason that keyboard and mouse controls couldn't be an option for damn near every game being released today. Hell, most of these games end up coming out for PC at some point anyway, except for the obvious first-party franchises. The added bonus here could be that since console to PC ports typically suck shit, with controls being only one reason, you could at least make the game playable if the home console version initially featured a set of keyboard and mouse controls to work with and adapt from.

Dual analog sticks will never have the precision aiming that a mouse can deliver, nor will they be anywhere as responsive to reflex no matter how high you've set your sensitivity. I don't give a damn how good you are at Halo, Call of Duty, or Gears of War, somebody with a mouse is going to out-aim you, and more than likely, be much quicker about it. I can aim fucking better with a goddamn track ball, and I did so for about three years playing various iterations of Quake and plenty of Halo: CE on PC to prove that just about anything can be better than Dual-Analog nonsense.

So, what's the deal? I know Sony and Microsoft absolutely love milking their userbases for cash with loads of various useless accessories (fucking FACE PLATES? Are you kidding me?). You don't think that there are maaaaany of us out here who would easily shell out $60-80 for the convenience of actually being able to play a game and not feel like a freaking jackass while trying to do it?

I am fully-aware that some third-party solutions exist, but none of them honestly seem to hit the mark. They're either complete scams or just buggy and unresponsive enough to not be worth the ridiculous prices the creators are asking for them. I've actually had my hands on two of them and seen video of a few others in action and the level that these things need to be at simply hasn't been attained yet. However, what if we got the minds behind complete wastes of everybody's time and money like Kinect working on an idea like thi--

Okay, what the fuck am I even saying? I have to just stop myself here before I look like an even bigger fool than I already do. It takes some kind of ingenious brain power capable of creating new controller-less, motion-sensing devices to create a fucking KEYBOARD AND MOUSE? WHAT THE FUCK! NO IT DOES NOT! THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS! SUCK MY DICK!

Or hey, how about even this! What if, say, somebody made a device where you were still able to move with a left joystick, and instead of a right joystick for aiming, you were a bit more involved and were able to... I dunno... maybe point at the screen or something! Man, that'd be the motherfuckin' money, yo! Someone should SERIOUSLY get right on that...

Unfortunately, the gaming public has spoken loudly and proudly, "we're totally happy with controls that are absolute garbage and aren't as precise as they should be." They've voted with their millions of dollars, while I count for only one of the potential aforementioned $60-80 sales that a peripheral keyboard and mouse combo might garner.

So, with that said, while my friends and all of you out there can sit back and somehow have the mental capacity and physical dexterity to handle modern games I'd love to be enjoying like inFamous, Uncharted, Gears of War, and Halo: Reach without being irritated by the controls, I'll just be over here totally using that PS3 to its fullest potential waiting on Hard Corps: Uprising and Bionic Commando: Re-Armed 2. I don't doubt that I'll be having just as much fun, but I'll be wishing I could be having even more fun once I've played those thirteen times over.

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