Posts Tagged iControlPad
Vertex Blaster is a twin-stick shooter with vector-inspired graphics that takes place on a 3D spherical planet. While many twin-stick shooters have involved elements like these, few games have had the kind of remote device control options that this game does.
The game supports two primary methods of remote control. First, it supports the Joypad app for connecting using an iPhone or iPod touch to control a version of the game running on the iPad. By going into the options and clicking to connect Joypad when the app is running on the device of choice, the Joypad layout changes to a dual-stick layout with buttons for deploying decoys and bombs.
Second, it supports the iControlPad and its dual analog sticks for real twin-stick shooter action on iOS. This is the first known game to support the iControlPad’s “Special Packet Mode” for allowing the dual joysticks to work over Bluetooth. The official forums note that A+X+Start must be held down in order for this mode to start up. Support for this device means that iPhones and iPod touches have a game that can be played with remote controls, instead of being used as a remote control. As an aside, the iControlPad now supports iCade games starting with its 2.0 firmware update.
Vertex Blaster itself features three modes: a standard high scoring Arcade mode where the player has three lives, but two other modes that mix things up a bit. The Survival mode has players aiming to just try and survive as long as possible, with no particular points goal. Meteor Shower mode has players trying to defend three towers from enemies and large falling meteors, and there is a repair gun available to repair the damage done to the towers, though using the repair gun on meteors will make them bigger!
Vertex Blaster should be particularly appealing to those looking to test out Joypad and their iControlPads, and is a universal app to boot. The game does feature customizable virtual controls for when remote play is not an option, of course. The game also features the obligatory Game Center support for leaderboards and achievements, and is available for $0.99.
Released: 2011-01-12 :: Category: Utilities
When it comes to iOS gaming, the biggest complaint that continues to come up is the lack of physical controls. While veteran iOS gamers have gotten used to virtual controls, games still often suffer from not having actual physical buttons and joysticks to use. While an iOS device that actually has physical gameplay buttons on it is unlikely to ever appear, some people and manufacturers are looking to provide physical controls to gamers on touchscreen devices, either by facsimile physical joysticks, or through external accessories to provide actual physical controls to games.
First up is the Fling Joystick from Ten One Design. Designed to simulate an analog joystick on a touch screen, primarily the iPad (it appears to be designed for the wider bezel of the iPad, and might not work as well on the iPhone and iPod touch), that you stick on the iPad screen, and works to simulate a physical controller’s analog joystick. The product claims to leave no residue on the iPad, and to increase your accuracy in games that simulate analog joysticks. You can buy both a single Fling joystick, or buy a 2-pack for dual-stick shooters. The joysticks appear to be designed for iPad-only games, but some games running in 2X mode appear to work, such as Secret of Mana, according to the publicly-edited compatibility list. Some games may not work as well due to the way their joysticks work or how they’re positioned, so it may be a bit of a crapshoot depending on the games you want to play. The Fling is available now, and it will run you $19.99 for a single unit, and $29.99 for a pair.
A second virtual joystick option is the JOYSTICK-IT, exclusively from ThinkGeek. It appears to work similarly to the Fling, simulating a joystick on a touch screen, but it has a different design, more similar to an arcade joystick than a controller thumbpad. However, it still appears to work as an analog joystick for 3D games and dual-stick shooters – it would be curious to see a joystick work to simulate a digital joystick, if it was at all possible. While the JOYSTICk-IT is more expensive than the Fling, running $24.99 for one and $39.99 for a set of two, the shape could be preferable for some people, and give a more arcade-like experience.
Also coming from ThinkGeek and ION Audio is the iCADE. This was originally a joke product from ThinkGeek on April Fool’s Day, but similar to products like the Tauntaun sleeping bag going from joke to real product, the iCADE is soon to be real as well. This lets you dock the iPad into a miniature arcade cabinet, that features an arcade-style joystick and 8 buttons, for any various configuration of games. The iCade connects to the iPad via Bluetooth, and claims to offer support via an API for other apps to support it. iCADE will support Asteroids and other Atari arcade games at launch, though. It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts to a device like this, and if it’s allowed, although external game controllers have been theoretically allowable since iOS 3.0, as long as they’re Apple-approved devices, but no company has gotten on releasing one. There’s theoretically no reason why a Bluetooth controller shouldn’t be allowed, as a dock accessory would have to work through its own API as well. The iCADE is still in development, and is “Coming Soon” – but here’s hoping for April 1st just for the sake of irony.
However, most of these control options are designed for the iPad and other tablet devices – for gamers on the iPhone and iPod touch, their physical control options are more limited. One of the most intriguing physical control options for these smaller devices is the iControlPad from Craig Rothwell, who has worked on the Open Pandora handheld. This device communicates over Bluetooth, and offers support with a variety of different protocols, though it will work as a Bluetooth keyboard in its most basic mode, with the d-pad, 4 face buttons, and 2 rear buttons each mapped to a keyboard keypress. The iControlPad isn’t just a gamepad either – it has a built-in 1350 mAh battery that supports a generic USB output so you can charge a variety of phones and devices with it. iControlPad is also future-proof, as it uses a clamp system to support a variety of phones – including iPhone and iPod touch sized devices, and smaller Android phones. A larger clamp set is in the works to support larger phones like the Samsung Galaxy S line.
Unfortunately, the iControlPad might be of limited use for non-jailbroken iOS users. According to Craig Rothwell, one of the designers of the iControlPad, the odds that Apple would allow support for the profiles that support the analog joysticks are low, though if apps can use keyboard input as game commands, the iControlPad could be supported through that. Considering that a device like the iCADE exists and offers similar Bluetooth control, there is a chance that games could actually support it in the legitimate App Store, if Apple approved it, though Craig Rothwell has said before that Apple would not approve apps that support the iControlPad’s API. He and the rest of the iControlPad team have been in touch with some iOS developers about implementing the iControlPad into their apps, though these would likely be jailbroken-only apps. Android apps are more in luck; due to the OS’s less restrictive policies, many apps already support Bluetooth gamepads, and so they would be able to easily support the iControlPad. The iControlPad is currently in production, and the first batch of units should be shipping out in the next month.
It will be interesting to see if any of these devices catch on in any meaningful way, or if they’ll just be devices for gaming enthusiasts looking to simulate the feel of gaming controls on their touch screen devices in any way. As some of these devices start to ship out to customers and as new controller solutions are potentially announced, we’ll have the latest news and impressions of these devices.
A stylus? Psh, get rid of it. A physical keyboard? Nah, no need for that either. Tactile feedback is a thing of the past, all we need is a big glass touch screen…right? Well that’s what Apple would have you believe anyway, a theory that is further being cemented with their upcoming release of the iPad. On a basic level it seems to be very true, we’re able to text, surf the web, take photos, all without any physical buttons or keys. What about high level gaming though, is that a different story? If you’d asked me 3 years ago I would’ve said “there’s no way for it to be done. We’re humans, touch is one of our basic senses, we need it.” Over the past several months though with games like N.O.V.A and Need For Speed Shift, or even classic ports like Wolfenstein, I’ve become more of a believer in the future. Not everyone is so ready to give up on game controllers, one such company being iControlPad.
The iControlPad has been in beta testing and undergoing redesigns since last May but as of February 18th the company has stated mass production has begun. The iControlPad can already be used with classic game emulators and the company is seeding a SDK to anyone interested in supporting the device. Two models are to be made, one with a built-in battery pack, one without. Based on early videos and screen shots the controls appear to work flawlessly with no lag at all. Here’s the catch, and it’s a big one, the iControlPad only works on phones that are Jailbroken. I’m not sure exactly why that is since we know iPhone 3.0 does support accessory plugin’s but it’s very clear that it must be Jailbroken. There are a couple of hints on the site that indicate they may be working on standard OS supported version but there certainly aren’t any promises made. All hope is not lost though for those who wish to keep their iPhones pure and sacred, the Game Bone Pro is coming.
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