More Controller Thoughts

We’re all familiar with soft keys for games (i.e. Zelda buttons change functionality on screen given certain scenarios). What if the buttons on the controller changed themselves with a mini digital display? The Optimus Keyboard does just that and is definitely something that could be used for the Revolution (especially for playing various console games).

[Thanks Aadil]


  1. you could be on to something…

    they just proved that the company Emagin has some connection to nintendo, and they make oled displays, tiny ones, this could be something to keep in mind…

  2. but then again, these tiny screens are very expencive, the controller would cost alot of money

  3. not for nintendo, buying in major bulk. Would be a great way to stop crappy 3rd party controllers, me thinks!

  4. I read somewhere that Nintendo wanted to change the way games play games, and the fixed points, like the hud…
    So this could be it? xD

  5. Very interesting…I heard about that keyboard, but didn’t make the connectio to the Rev….
    I don’t think this’ll be the big innovation of the Revolution, but it could be part of it….
    And btw that keyboard is soooo sexy !!
    I want one ! Even for the price they it is going to cost…I don’t care…me wants 😀 (if I only HAD the money 😉 )

  6. Who wants to be looking at their controller when they play nintendo?

  7. Steve,

    Excellent point. You are exactly right and I appreciate your simple question as we tend to over analyze and dig deep for answers.

  8. I recently read an interview with the guy behind the optimus keyboard (I can’t find the link) and he said that when that keyboard is released a price tag of $200 is very optimistic, whereas $300 is more likely.

    It’s the OLEM displays that do it, or rather the sheer number of them. The keyboard has a bunch of extra keys as wells for the Cyrillic alphabet: there’s no point getting the thing to change language if the alphabet won’t fit on it!

    This would be great in video games, and I for one am salivating furiously at the prospect of setting one down on my desk, but for now I think this will be a luxury for PC gamers.

    And as steve says, why would you be looking at the controller? A good point, and one which reminds me of Sega’s VMU. Great system, and a fantastic innovation, but one that didn’t work for them as well as it should.

    I’d love a context sensitive controller (and it would be REALLY useful for those old school games and the backwards compatability with the GC), but I think this is more of a wish list item for now.

  9. I agree that the keyboard is a very cool little item. But I have to raise a problem I have with the general idea of keys which are capable of completely changing their look based on their function in specific software applications.

    I think the makers of the Optimus keyboard can actually learn a thing or two from Nintendo.

    Instead of changing the ‘L’ key to the ‘fire’ key in Doom (obviously I’m not a big PC gamer) with an icon of a gun, leave it as an ‘L’ but make the key glow bright red. Make the directional keys green, the strafe key blue etc etc and make all the ‘dead’ keys black. If you ever have to look at your controller/keyboard in a game you want it to be a quick glance. I.e. the SNES, N64 and GC controller (and remember playing Street Fighter at the arcade?).

    A letter of the alphabet or a digit is an icon just the same as a pixel drawing of a gun is, so it really isn’t making things that much easier because you still have to recognise a shape. So why change the icons we all pretty much know by heart to something completely different so we can keep looking down at our keyboard to relearn our key positioning in each application?

    Not to mention the fact that the icons that appear on the keyboard will vary in quality depending on the software developer… If Rockstar Games draws an icon of a gun that sort of looks like a stick you won’t find that anywhere as quickly as you will the key that’s glowing red.

    Look it’s late here and I might not be making much sense. But basically my point is that we all know green means go and red means stop without the need for the words or an icon to accompany them.

    Alas, I’m not completely against the changeable icon keys idea. I think an extra row of function keys with the OLED technology would be amazingly valuable in applications like Photoshop , Illustrator, MS Word or Excel but obviously you need your normal alpha numeric keys in these applications too and they should remain constant.

    A keyboard with a bunch of LEDs and, say, 12 OLED keys is going to be much cheaper than one with 120 OLED keys and just as, if not more, effective.

    phew… I think I’ve said enough.

  10. Steve, I agree with you, but if you look at the link there is a picture for a Quake layout that does what your saying (blacks out useless keys and highlets bound keys) Any good software would also have a “default” state that one could use if the provided graphics are annoying or unhelpful so crappy graphics could be over-ridden if they cause problems.

  11. Yep, and hopefully the keyboard will allow custom icons, that way you can choose or create icons more familiar to you. But anyway, this is a Nintendo blog, I apologise for the tangent.

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