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Non-binary Keyboards

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It's still a separate game pad though, not a keyboard. Although the fact that they're using cherry switches is pretty cool. Sets a precedent, at least.

 

Edit: Yea, it's not doing well, either.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aimpad/aimpadtm-pc-gaming-analog-keyboard

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It's still a separate game pad though, not a keyboard. Although the fact that they're using cherry switches is pretty cool. Sets a precedent, at least.

 

Edit: Yea, it's not doing well, either.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aimpad/aimpadtm-pc-gaming-analog-keyboard

 

Honestly, I don't want my typing keys to have linear resistance, and I'm pretty sure that the engineering problem of having keys that can switch between linear and buckling resistance is more trouble than it's worth. If I want analog input from my keyboard, I want it to be from keys/sticks set a little to the left of my standard keyset.

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It's still a separate game pad though, not a keyboard. Although the fact that they're using cherry switches is pretty cool. Sets a precedent, at least.

 

Edit: Yea, it's not doing well, either.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aimpad/aimpadtm-pc-gaming-analog-keyboard

i was about to mention that i had seen a kickstarter for a analog keypad thingy a while back but there it is. >.>

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Honestly, I don't want my typing keys to have linear resistance, and I'm pretty sure that the engineering problem of having keys that can switch between linear and buckling resistance is more trouble than it's worth. If I want analog input from my keyboard, I want it to be from keys/sticks set a little to the left of my standard keyset.

Then you're in luck, Logitech makes exactly that.

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I don't see a switch being necessary. Just do a mouse dpi thing. Have it sensitivity based for actually sending inputs. There's no issue with typing in fields otherwise because keyboard drivers with the OS and programs already work out what keys are bound for and other restrictions. As an example I present you can't type and steer at the same time with a digital keyboard in World of Tanks. Once you open the chat you lose the steering functionality until you exit it. In other MMO games, same deal, you may use keys to move until you press the keyboard shortcut or click in the chat to activate it and bring it to the fore.

The most complicated aspect would be ensuring sensitivity after the millions of key strokes which the hardcore users will be performing. I don't know about you all but I do literally millions per year at home (whatpulse) and that doesn't include work. The technology already exists for analog and sensitivity detection, it's just a matter of finding a way to properly implement it for what would be the target audience, those who want to play driving and flying games on the computer but don't want to have to fiddle with controllers, game pads or other set ups. The hardcore sim nuts would still buy the specialty hardware. It's hardcore computer users and frequent gamers which would use this. The only real issue beyond that is whether games need to be specially programmed to recognize sensitivity in keyboards or if drivers can be manipulated in some way to make programs which use it in other accessories also enable it here.

Just seems like something which initially would be viewed more as a novelty and only with significant time really grow in market share. That is why I imagine it hasn't really been done yet. Space sims, flight sims, haven't really been that big in sales for PCs but do appear to be growing in popularity. Consoles are still the gaming medium of choice as well. Given time I'm sure something more complete in this aspect will come out.

Edit

Just asked someone I know who works as an engineer said it could work but the impractical part is the analog output required for each key.

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There is almost zero need for this kind of device. Just use a gamepad.

 

With this kind of device there would be almost zero need for a gamepad.

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Thing is, why would any venture invest in a project which not only takes a market which is already saturated with products, but also offer basically no difference over the existing ones?

That would be a colossal waste of money and time. I would understand if there were markket for analog keyboards for work environment, since you could eventually dominate that segment at least, but a far as i know the request is non-existant.

Also, you would be developing something that:

- most hardcore gamers won't buy because they have a gamepad

- most casual gamers won't buy because they don't care or cannot understand te potential benefit

- a lot of low end users won't be able to afford either becaus of lack of disposable income or because their hardware not supporting the interface system.

Let's not talk about the fact that you'd have to tailor it to different OS possibly since it could require a special interaction interface (wild guess here).

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I'm certain it would innovate PC gaming. It'd quickly become a popular tool amongst professional shooter players and, since sheep always buy what the professionals buy, in more distant future, after going mainstream, many games would have awesome new features supporting that kind of keyboards. The fact huge open world games with many different kinds of gameplay (see GTA) are gaining more and more popularity amplifies the potential of such a product. Precise input is important, it's the reason why gamepads have analogpads and even trackpads nowadays and also why we prefer playing with mice to analog sticks.

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With this kind of device there would be almost zero need for a gamepad.

 

Meh, debatable. I'm sure the guys behind the Wiimote and Kinect thought the same thing...

 

Fact of the matter is, gamepads are pretty established and do a pretty good job in their space. You'll have to do a lot more than provide an expensive analog keyboard to de-throne the gamepad in its home territory.

 

All this blather about it being desired forgets something. In order for this to work games would have to support it. Right there you have a pretty big chicken-and-egg problem because contrary to a certain movie, Build It And They Will Come is rarely true.

 

Most current shooter games are not engineered to handle directional input as being anything other than on/off. Even the ones with gamepad support don't function in the way you think. You press left, the game accelerates your movement up to a given maximum speed or maybe it just starts moving you at that maximum speed (The latter is more likely since it's less work to implement). The stop pressing left, you stop moving.

 

This analog keyboard idea is cute, but not much more than that due to the metric shit-ton of work that would have to be done to support it due to it being, essentially, a brand new form in input device.

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I mean how difficult can it be to make one of those?

It's much easier than you think, the only problem is keeping the keyboard small, what you could do is hack together a Xbox controller with it's triggers and the keyboard arrow keys to make something similiar to what you're saying. It would be confusing at first but shouldn't be too hard. Also your arrows keys would activate on the slightest touch unless you said you had to press them down all the way for windows to interpret the keys.

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Meh, debatable. I'm sure the guys behind the Wiimote and Kinect thought the same thing...

 

Fact of the matter is, gamepads are pretty established and do a pretty good job in their space. You'll have to do a lot more than provide an expensive analog keyboard to de-throne the gamepad in its home territory.

 

All this blather about it being desired forgets something. In order for this to work games would have to support it. Right there you have a pretty big chicken-and-egg problem because contrary to a certain movie, Build It And They Will Come is rarely true.

 

Most current shooter games are not engineered to handle directional input as being anything other than on/off. Even the ones with gamepad support don't function in the way you think. You press left, the game accelerates your movement up to a given maximum speed or maybe it just starts moving you at that maximum speed (The latter is more likely since it's less work to implement). The stop pressing left, you stop moving.

 

This analog keyboard idea is cute, but not much more than that due to the metric shit-ton of work that would have to be done to support it due to it being, essentially, a brand new form in input device.

 

I'm pretty sure you will not run into any problems with games that have joystick/gamepad support, because the game shouldn't care how the non-binary input is generated, whether you press a key, tilt an analog stick or joystick or whatever doesn't matter, because it sends all the same signals to the game, it won't be able to tell the difference.

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The way I would do it is replace the spring in the keyboard with a string pot/spring.  Use a secondary USB cable for the "gamepad".  Existing switches stay for traditional keyboard.

 

The problem I have is that the gamepad joystick uses my thumb and allows for my fingers to be used for other functions.  Wasd still takes up multiple fingers.

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I'm certain it would innovate PC gaming. It'd quickly become a popular tool amongst professional shooter players and, since sheep always buy what the professionals buy, in more distant future, after going mainstream, many games would have awesome new features supporting that kind of keyboards. The fact huge open world games with many different kinds of gameplay (see GTA) are gaining more and more popularity amplifies the potential of such a product. Precise input is important, it's the reason why gamepads have analogpads and even trackpads nowadays and also why we prefer playing with mice to analog sticks.

But all that you describe can be achieved with a gamepad already. So exactly what would a non binary keyboard offer over those? Market-wise, nothing...
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But all that you describe can be achieved with a gamepad already. So exactly what would a non binary keyboard offer over those? Market-wise, nothing...

 

Show me how you intend to operate a gamepad and a mouse at the same time.

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But all that you describe can be achieved with a gamepad already. So exactly what would a non binary keyboard offer over those? Market-wise, nothing...

 

The fact that you have access to both non binary and binary input on a single keyboard would be highly beneficial in terms of convenience.

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I don't think you can say most hardcore gamers either do or do not have have a gamepad with any certainty. Most hardcore gamers just play a lot of games and not necessarily of the sort which perform better with them. Further there are a lot of play4fun frequent gamers out there who may not care to shell out cash for a gamepad. There's those of us who don't want yet another accessory because every damned thing eats up USB ports. Market share could come out of those with broken gamepads and broken keyboards.

Meh, debatable. I'm sure the guys behind the Wiimote and Kinect thought the same thing...

I intentionally did a "nou" sort of response because you're dismissing it like tablets were dismissed. I myself dismissed tablets as well but the combined functionality could give it a market easily particularly since it would probably be priced similar to other gaming keyboards.

 

Fact of the matter is, gamepads are pretty established and do a pretty good job in their space. You'll have to do a lot more than provide an expensive analog keyboard to de-throne the gamepad in its home territory.

I don't see this competing with gamepads so much as traditional and other gaming keyboards. As I said earlier, sim nuts will stick to the specialized. This is a multifunctional accessories for convenience and ease of use.

 

All this blather about it being desired forgets something. In order for this to work games would have to support it. Right there you have a pretty big chicken-and-egg problem because contrary to a certain movie, Build It And They Will Come is rarely true.

Indeed, many games reference actual controller names and things of the sort. It would take tinkering with device drives and I'm not familiar with whether there's a simple element in programs asking if it utilizes gamepad pressure sensitive input or if it seeks for a general description for it. Presumably both are in practice but that isn't my area. In the immediate future it might well be stuck with you being restricted by the control type (gamepad, keyboard) that same games restrict you to or based on. Before a launch, while in development, major companies do announce these things and work in conjunction with others who might utilize their new technology in order to ensure a market. Hell even the occulus rift had support added to games when it cost well over a thousand per dev kit. I think this would be a big hurdle but could be overcome rather painlessly if done right.

 

Most current shooter games are not engineered to handle directional input as being anything other than on/off. Even the ones with gamepad support don't function in the way you think. You press left, the game accelerates your movement up to a given maximum speed or maybe it just starts moving you at that maximum speed (The latter is more likely since it's less work to implement). The stop pressing left, you stop moving.

Yes but a keyboard of this sort could provide the option for that sort of depth right down to how hard you throw a grenade or how fast you run (thus doing away with your personal need for walk and sprint and freeing up that comfortable real estate for other uses). What this would do is provide the same functionality as a gamepad for games which do support pressure sensitivity.
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I can think of a whole heap of monetary reasons as to why this isn't worth the trouble if you have to deal with OS shenanigans, the gaming industry in general and so on. The sheer amount of lobbying you'd have to do alone in such a situation could break any budget a small company comes up with, so those guys are probably out. Then you'd have to talk to one of the big boys in the business and tell them why they have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a potential product that there is virtually no demand for on the market, while their regular stuff sells like hotcakes.

 

The thing that sets most of the weird stuff game companies will support apart from this keyboard is that those products are dream products of the designers to begin with or something you can support with one line of code. Nobody in the universe uses the Oculus Rift yet but the game developers support it because if/when it breaks through, every game ever made needs this feature anyway. It's fucking VR, the wet dream of everyone who ever enjoyed technology in the last 40 years and the potential is worth the small cost. The only thing bigger than this is a proper holodeck out of Star Trek. But trying to sell game developers/Microsoft/Apple on "yeah, you can throw grenades more accurately or turn your car more precisely" when 99,99% of the gaming market is satisfied with the current devices is hard.

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Why'd you need to convince apple/microsoft/game devs?

 

Because, games would need to support this analog keyboard device explicitly in order for it to not be anything more than a gamepad with keys instead of nubs.

 

When it comes to analog input supports games basically currently support, to a greater or lesser extent, analog input three axis (X, Y and Z). An analog keyboard would be able to provide analog input in as many axis as you can press keys. That's at least 3, but quite possibly more if you can press that many keys.

 

However, given that most games only really need analog input in 3 axis at most, it makes the whole idea behind this analog keyboard a little "Why bother". I'm guessing this is why the kickstarter project linked to earlier in this post was for a small block of keys rather than a whole keyboard. It would be needless overkill to build a whole keyboard with analog keys given that you would most likely never be using more than 3 keys at once in a given moment.

 

However, what I said in one of my above posts also still stands. Just because you have a device that provides analog input doesn't mean it just magically works in a game. The developers actually have to code their game to handle analog input data.

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in order for it to not be anything more than a gamepad with keys instead of nubs.

 

But that's exactly what it is and how it functions...

 

 

 

E:

WASDQE keys would be more than enough.

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