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Live Anywhere Developer: Xbox 360 Controller Beats the Keyboard and Mouse
game: Shadowrun
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: Microsoft
developer: FASA
date posted: 02:40 PM Thu May 18th, 2006
last revision: 03:38 PM Thu May 18th, 2006

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Click to read.Ending the Battle Between Keyboard and Controller:

\"Originally, we thought the PC would destroy the Xbox controller,\" said Bill Gross, a Software Test Engineer working on Shadowrun, the premiere Live Anywhere title for the Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. \"But it didn\'t.\"

For years now there\'s been a debate about whether a console controller could ever compete with a PC\'s keyboard and mouse combination. With the upcoming release of Live Anywhere, which puts Xbox 360 and Windows Vista players against one another, we\'ve got a new source of information to help end the debate.

Shadowrun, developed by FASA and published by Microsoft, will be Live Anywhere\'s premier game, launching at the same time as Vista in an effort to push the new multiplayer platform. It\'s a fast-paced twitch FPS similar to Counterstrike, and an ideal example of how controls have to be tweaked in order to balance out gameplay.

Balancing the gameplay between the two systems took a lot of trial and error. And contradictory to what most gamers would expect, the keyboard and mouse didn\'t dominate. In fact, it lost. Repeatedly.

\"There will always be people that say the keyboard is better,\" Gross said during an interview on the floor of E3 2006. \"In our game, we\'ve found that\'s not the case. When we first started testing it, the keyboard tended to have an advantage in long distance combat, and the controller had an advantage in close combat. You could do things quicker on the controller (than the keyboard).\"

Were the PC players just inexperienced? In most forums, people will argue that the keyboard and mouse combination is more efficient than the console controller, yet FASA\'s experience developing Shadowrun suggests otherwise.

\"These were good, experienced Halo and Counterstrike players,\" Gross said when I suggested that maybe the PC team just wasn\'t up to par. \"Some of these guys have held their own against Fatal1ty on the PC, and we put them against some pretty average console players.\"

Even with a mismatch of skill in favor of the PC, the keyboard and mouse combination consistently lost to the Xbox 360 controller. FASA\'s solution, of course, was to immediately start balancing out the game.

\"We\'ve been playing with the settings,\" said Gross. \"We turned on magnetism (on the PC), some auto-aim. We adjusted the settings on the Xbox 360 to balance it out.\"

Over time, the numbers came back into balance, and control style became less important. Now, the FASA testing team plays every day, and no one is winning more than the others.

\"Whatever you prefer, you\'re going to do well,\" Gross pointed out. \"There will be no advantage.\"

Still, it\'s interesting to note that the premier title designed to pit PC and Xbox users against each other showed that the Xbox 360 controller was actually better than the keyboard and mouse in their first tests.

Of course, a great deal depends on how the two systems are configured. For example, if auto-aim is turned on for the Xbox 360 and not for the PC, that would make a substantial difference.

For future strategies, though, if the Xbox controller is better at close combat and the mouse and keyboard are better at a distance, perhaps performance will be partially based on level size; knowing your game means playing on the levels that favor your controller.

Live Anywhere casts an interesting new light on a debate that\'s been raging for some time.

Another interesting note, display resolution doesn\'t seem to impact success, either. Unless you\'re utilizing a high definition TV, which only has a market penetration of about 20%, PC users will have more exact detail and pixel-per-pixel display accuracy than their home console counterparts. The average TV user will have an image that\'s extremely anti-aliased. Luckily, the difference doesn\'t seem to impact how well you play, and doesn\'t award an advantage to either system.

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