Sunday, September 14, 2008

Novint Falcon in WIRED

(images from

Great news for Novint, and good news for New Mexico's game and tech development communities:

The Novint Falcon's pistol grip adapter just got covered in WIRED. They've already gotten a bunch of coverage in the game and gadget community, most of it very positive (they've got links to much of this coverage --as you might expect -- at the Novint site).

Review: Novint Falcon Gaming Controller Takes Aim on Your Mouse

Behold, the Novint Falcon. This menacing orb has taken upon the lofty task of replacing the mouse as the PC gamer's preferred implement of destruction, letting you feel, lift, push and grope every bit of the action. It sits on your desk and provides force feedback — but not the vibrating-controller effect that console couch surfers are familiar with. Instead, powerful motors within the device provide a full range of responses, whether you're bouncing a ball on a string or reloading a shotgun. Because really, what good are advances in technology if we can't focus them on the obliteration of our gaming peers?

Novint_falcon_05_660x The first version of the Falcon we saw was a bit of a renaissance — well for games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 anyway. When gripping the original control interface (a small, multibuttoned round knob), controlling Tiger's swing becomes a matter of muscle coordination — for better or for worse. In our vain attempts at perfecting our line drives, we hit dozens of shots, each wildly different from the next, by simply adjusting the angle and force with which we moved the knob. Suddenly, following through on a swing becomes incredibly important, as the slightest adjustments to the pressure you apply can wildly alter the ball's flight.

But chances are, you're not checking out the Falcon for the fully immersive golfing experience: You want to light shit up with a high-caliber firearm. Well, Novint has got you covered. Using the Falcon's new Pistol Grip, titles like Half-Life 2 suddenly become an entirely different game.

Forget fragging as you know it. With the pistol grip coming dangerously close to flying out of your hands after a few quick bursts with a submachine gun, you may wonder how you got along without this level of feedback in the first place. Every weapon takes on new life, from the meager jostling of the standard pistol, to the forceful thunder of a rocket launcher's blast.


Half-Life 2 is just one of many games currently supporting the peripheral, and many more (including upcoming Left for Dead) are in the works. Supported games will have to be patched, to add on the haptic functionality. When we met with Novint CEO Tom Anderson, he mentioned that there would even be haptics-only servers on some games, so gamers could choose to only play against others who were dealing with this entirely new control scheme.

A glaring issue with the device is how well game developers choose to implement it. With Half-Life 2, there were a wide range of options for tailoring the experience to your liking. Battlefield 2 also featured many nice touches, with reload animations that were replicated by the device. With Quake 4 however, the whole notion of haptic feedback felt tacked on: You can adjust sliders to determine some of the sensitivity, and there's definitely a difference in recoil with weapons, but overall, it doesn't add much to the game...

WIRED Incredibly precise feedback. Very stable, with strong motors that resist lots of abuse. Makes playing Virtual Pool a lot more interesting.

TIRED Time-intensive learning curve might turn off folks used to their controls. Takes up quite a bit of desk space.

$190, Novint

More at Review: Novint Falcon Gaming Controller Takes Aim on Your Mouse
For more info about the business side of things, you might check out this Venture Beat article here.
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