Dungeon Siege 3 Getting Better PC Controls

By Quintin Smith on June 23rd, 2011 at 11:54 am.

Is she kneeling or being eaten by the floor? Screenshots, you are so mysterious

Obsidian lead designer Nathaniel Chapman has stated in an interview with Eurogamer that the developers are currently working on a patch to improve the PC version of Dungeon Siege 3‘s keyboard and mouse controls. I’ve yet to play the PC version of DS3, but I was witness to Alec’s agitated bellowing about the PC controls (among other things), so I’m going to go ahead an assume that this is a good thing.

Chapman had this to say about the PC controls:

Actually this is one thing I would have liked to have spent more time on… Basically, I think as long as PC gamers have a good way to control the combat they will enjoy it. One review – I can’t remember which – said if you play with a game pad the combat is great, so right now we’re working on improving the PC controls through an update.

I think if there are PC gamers who are having a negative reaction it’s less about what the combat is, it’s more how the combat controls.

Chapman was also, however, willing to talk about smaller changes that he would have made if he could.

I think our loot system has a lot of strengths but one of the weaknesses is that it’s not very clearly communicated what each of the stats does… I think having a more fleshed-out tutorial system for the stats and what they do and how they function would be a nice thing. Having more unique armour variants too. It’s always good sequel or DLC material.

And talk about bugs a little bit. This was his response to whether gamers have the right to expect bug-free games at launch.

So, I think there are two things. One is the rose-coloured glasses effect. I think older games were just as buggy [as newer ones], but we’re more tuned-in at looking for the bugs. I personally remember old PC games and even old Nintendo games that had tons of bugs.

I think the big difference is that the core technology of games has gotten more complex and it’s very difficult to get out all the little bugs. Usually in an old 2D Nintendo game a bug is no more than a few lines of code to fix, whereas in a 3D game it could be something in the animation system stomping memory in the renderer. There are so many more layers that it’s very hard to catch all the bugs.

On the flipside, I think more what gamers should expect when they go out and buy a game is that they get an experience that’s worth their money. But it’s very hard to say what that is.

You can read the full interview, “Reinventing Dungeon Siege”, here. You’ll be leaving RPS, of course. Don’t forget your coat! It’s cold out there.

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60 Comments »

  1. Antsy says:

    You haven’t played the the PC version? Which platform did you use for your Eurogamer review, Quintin? I’m positively shocked. Shocked I tell you!

    I played the PC demo with the mouse and hated it. Revisiting it with a gamepad after reading your review was a revelation. Much more fun. Hopefully they can tweak the mouse and keyboard controls to the satisfaction of the players that find gamepads to be sacreligious. Kudos to them for trying.

  2. Jumwa says:

    I tried the demo for this game, and though I excused the dullness on the fact that demo’s usually showcase the early boring levels of a game, it did handle rather badly. Which was odd to me, as isn’t this a genre of game that PC has always been considered superior at handling control-wise?

    On the remarks about bugs: So bugs are just too much of a hassle to work out now, is his point?

    I’d be more sympathetic to his stance on it if it wasn’t coming from Obsidian. I don’t think anyone expects a flawless, completely perfect PC gaming experience, but it’d be safe to say that we’d expect a good shot at buying a product and having it work enough so we can play through the game without too much agony.

    • Antsy says:

      Approaching it with Diablo and such in mind I found the mouse and keyboard controls positively offensive. What I needed was a Champions of Norrath frame of mind and with that in place things were much brighter!

    • Lars Westergren says:

      I wouldn’t call a control scheme you don’t like a bug?

      For me it ran perfectly smooth, for once a game with no crashes or glitches. I preferred a controller, but I think it played fine on mouse+keyboard also.

    • Jumwa says:

      “I wouldn’t call a control scheme you don’t like a bug?”

      I wouldn’t either, which is why I didn’t.

      My remark about bugs was in reference to the man talking about bugs and saying that they’re harder to work out now, etc., etc..

      Edit to add: I edited my original comment to make that clear.

    • Jumwa says:

      @Antsy

      Missed your comment at first. Truthfully I’ve never actually played Diablo, I’m sure that makes me some PC gaming pariah, but there you go. I don’t thinkthat I went into the game comparing it to any other title, I had never played previous Dungeon Siege games, and the only dungeon crawler on PC I’ve played before is Torchlight.

      So I didn’t really have any comparisons in mind when I went into it, I just found the controls a bit awkward. Not to the point of making it unplayable. They weren’t Neverwinter Nights 2 bad, by any means, they were just strange. It seemed sluggish, inaccurate and poorly suited to the mouse and keyboard.

      It was only after I had “put the controller down” (har har) that it dawned on me that the game was supposedly of the same dungeon crawler vein as, say, Torchlight. Then it sorta became clear to me how the controls could’ve been more fluid.

    • malkav11 says:

      And that’s exactly what I’ve always gotten from Obsidian – games that work without much fuss. I’ve honestly had less technical difficulties with Obsidian’s games than with recent games from either Bioware or Bethesda, neither of whom have this reputation that follows Obsidian around like a cloud.

    • Jumwa says:

      There’s always some defender of Obsidian to declare they’ve never had a bug in their games and sling mud at some other company instead while not understanding how glitches and bugs work. Not necessarily everyone will suffer the same problems. Defective products aren’t usually defective across the board.

      That’s why consumers and manufacturers of goods rate defect and failure ratings as percentages normally.

      Denying that Obsidian has a high rate of buggy games is just silliness. I’m envious of you if you truly hadn’t experienced any of the issues so many others have, but it doesn’t change things. Just like getting a working Xbox 360 didn’t change the fact that the console was pumped out in poor form with a high defect rate.

      You might think you’re defending your favourite game company by denying it, but you’re just being a poor consumer.

    • Nick says:

      and there’s always someone to act like obsidian games are somehow buggier than other companies. Look at Brink for example, or Oblivion or Fallout 3 when they launched. Or Black Ops.

      Yes, they do have buggy games, no they generally aren’t the buggiest games ever made, just more of a fuss is made about them then other titles for some reason.

    • Jumwa says:

      More of a fuss is made because they have a higher rate of defect and bugs. They have one of the worst track records out there of any game company because of it, and deservedly so. Did you ever stop to think that they get more complaints because more people are suffering from these problems than other developers titles?

      Hence why everyone makes such a big deal about this being their first game without an excessive number of them.

      Regardless, even they know it, which is why they keep talking about and making excuses for the over abundance of bugs in their past games.

    • Ateius says:

      If I may opine, I’d say more of a fuss is also made because of Obsidian’s legion of rabid defenders. It’s a natural process of escalation: Gamer finds bug -> Fanboy denies or downplays bug -> Gamer gets annoyed and makes a bigger deal about the next bug -> Repeat.

      The same process occurs when talking about poor design decisions.

      Anyway, I’ve no intention of buying DSIII anytime soon – I’ve enough games to finish as it is – but hopefully by the time I clear out the backlog Obsidian will have spruced it up a bit (next objective: proper co-op) and I can add it to my list.

    • malkav11 says:

      I certainly wouldn’t deny that other people have had technical difficulties with Obsidian’s games. Some of them serious. But I can only go by my own experience, which has been smooth sailing. Also, I don’t bring up other companies to “drag them through the mud”. I do so to point out that Obsidian is hardly unique in people having trouble with their games. Every one of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls games (and their Fallout, Fallout 3) has been plagued with dozens, hundreds of bugs, some minor, some critical. They rarely release more than one actual fix patch, either. Yet somehow, Bethesda is a critical darling and Obsidian’s got a reputation for poor quality control. Does not compute.

      (To be clear, I love Morrowind, loved Oblivion for quite a while until the shine wore off, and loved Fallout 3. The technical issues are just not that big a deal to me. I simply object to the double standard.)

    • Jumwa says:

      I can understand that some disconnect between your incidences of bugs and other peoples can colour your judgement. For instance, on Bethesda’s own made games I have suffered no serious bugs that have ever impeded my enjoyment or ability to play the game, at worst just a minor graphical issue like a corpse moving weirdly. However, I acknowledge that they do make a buggier than average games and don’t accept that just because they make such uniquely massive, sprawling words that it should be excused.

      Anecdotally, however, neither myself or any of my friends in real life have ever played an Obsidian game without a heap of critical bugs. We spent days just trying to sort out the DRM in a majour fiasco with Neverwinter Nights 2; the game wouldn’t allow myself, my partner or our friend to even install the three legally purchased games. Once we finally did sort it out the game itself (despite being on the second expansion) was buggy and awful. Fallout New Vegas was a dreadful pile of messes that bugged out and made it impossible for me to finish the main quest almost immediately after starting.

      In fact, the only Obsidian game I was ever able to finish without a bug derailing or preventing me from doing so was Knights of the Old Republic II.

  3. darthmajor says:

    Is it also getting a “doesn’t stutter and drop framerate for no reason whatsoever on PCs that run The Witcher 2 fine”? I would really love a mode such as this.

    I like the combat in it but they couldn’t have messed the controls up more even if they tried to, and overall the game is horribly subpar. No more hope for obsidian from me :(

  4. Shakermaker says:

    Obsidian: Fixing games after release since 2003.

    • Antsy says:

      If only.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, unlike Bethesda, or Bioware, or GSC or Firaxis or .. pretty much every developer ever.

    • Reiver says:

      Bethesda don’t really bother to fix games though. At least they didn’t with OB or Fallout 3. The list of proper bugs fixed by the community patch (not to count the thousands of little changes like using the right window, deleting floating rocks etc.) would have been an embarassment for any company with an ounce of self respect.

    • Kdansky says:

      I bought Alpha Protocol during the Christmas Steam sale. Then I spent quite a few hours fiddling with some setting files to get it in a playable state…

    • Nick says:

      my point was more that they aren’t the only company that needs to fix their games.

      AP got all support dropped by Sega so barely got anything in the way of a patch that it needed.

  5. noodlecake says:

    I just used a gamepad. It was a nice change being able to play a game on my laptop whilst comfortably lounging on my bed. Pads are much more comfortable anyway. I miss my xbox. :(

  6. innokenti says:

    Thing is, the PC mouse and keyboard controls are perfectly fine and competent. You get used to them in ten minutes and carry on fine. Sure, they don’t suit everybody (just like game pads don’t suit everybody) but there is nothing fundamentally broken about them.

    Nevertheless, more work to add tweaks and improvements is very welcome. And that’s how it should be seen – improvements and tweaks to try and give it more variety and customisability for those who have had trouble.

    • Antsy says:

      I don’t think its that people think the controls are broken just not what we are used to. When I sit down to play a FPS shooter my fingers go to WASD. It’s comfortable, it’s familiar, its standard. Same thing applies here except it wasn’t comfortable or familiar.

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed. I used the WASD controls and got along fine.

      I usually can’t stand Diablo likes but the combat’s focus on blocking and dodging was fine by me. Actually reminded me more of Fable than Diablo which I think confused a lot of reviewers. That said I was expecting better writing from Obsidian and certainly better from George (Mask of the Betrayer) Ziets.

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed. Played through the demo with WASD controls and got along fine.

      I usually can’t stand Diablo likes but the focus on dodging/blocking really appealed to me. I think It actually played more like Fable than Diablo which might have confused some reviewers.

    • innokenti says:

      Me and my loud praising mouth.

      Seems like an update has now reversed A and D (i.e. the X-axis and making it very very difficult to control your character with WASD). I rather hope this was accidental because it’s certainly not improving anything and making it a right pain to control. (Though I think I’ve managed – I tried it with a pad and wasn’t comfortable enough with it, but just with mouse movement it’s actually okay I reckon. At least controlling Reinhart is.)

    • karry says:

      “there is nothing fundamentally broken about them.”

      Well, technically, extensive mouse use is really bad for your wrist, a medical fact. Gamepad has the benefit of engaging most of the fingers, so the damage is lessened and more evenly spread out. As for mouse – after i got my stylus i never wanted to go back to the mouse again, ever. In can be a little inconvenient in FPSs, but a stylus is infinitely superior to a mouse.

    • Ganj says:

      “there is nothing fundamentally broken about them.”

      Unless you’re left-handed, in which case there’s rather a lot fundamentally wrong with them.

  7. The Sentinel says:

    I think it’s long past time all PC gamers embraced the gamepad as a valid control option. There really should be one pad that every PC owner has as part of their essential gaming kit. I couldn’t imagine playing something like Darksiders with a mouse and keyboard.

    You lose targeting finesse but gain by being able to drive more smoothly. While you lose flexibility to assign from a greater variety of keys, Combos and complicated systems become more fluid to enact with a gamepad. It’s swings and roundabouts, not one being better than the other.

    Mind you, Obsidian, I said OPTION, not exclusive. PCs are about choice: respect that and you earn loyalty.

    • Antsy says:

      Absolutely. Used to be you had a joystick. Everyone had a joystick and programmers knew it. PC gaming was crying out for a standard gamepad for years and now that there actually is one all people do is complain about it.

    • Metonymy says:

      Gamepads are only appropriate for certain games, like fighters.

      You have to read between the lines here. Console games are more profitable than PC games, so games get developed for console, and then ported over. This leaves the platform with superior control (PC) with a intentionally backwards design in a lot of cases. And then extrapolate that line of reasoning one step further. Why would the developers even WANT to design the PC control method properly? They know the smarter the user is, (again, leaning toward PC here) the less likely they are to waste a bunch of money on games anyway, so catering to their control preferences isn’t exactly a good use of resources. If they can train PC users to expect precisely the same, inferior, experience as console users, they streamline the process further and can just assign a few code monkeys to handle each PC port, with no further thought.

      Why should you care? Because, as I said, gamepads are an essential but still inferior control method. Innovation suffers right alongside the quality of the control reticule.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Nah, if you’re going to require a gamepad, require a gamepad. Don’t include half-assed mouse+keyboard control that’s on par with the insultingly awful mouse control that used to feature in some flight/space sims, then pretend that it’s playable that way. It’s not. You needed a joystick then, and you need a gamepad now.

      DeathSpank is the one that pushed me over the edge into digging up my cheap old Logitech Dual Action (still works great!). It should control like Diablo with a mouse; instead, the mouse feels like a crude gamepad emulator. Fix a feature or remove it, I say.

    • The Sentinel says:

      @Metonymy
      Lose the value judgements. I don’t think Gamepads are inferior – just different. Yes, M&K is better at First-person targeting, always has been, always will be, but like I said the gamepad has benefits over M&K in many ways.

      I also disagree – quite strongly – with the judgement that console games are designed for dumber people, too. That not only seriously denigrates every person who owns a console, including many of our beloved Hive-Mind here at RPS, but also fundamentally mis-understand what a control scheme is trying to achieve AND the development process of many developers. Good effort!

      To pick up TillEulenspiegel’s point, there absolutely should be games on PC designed purely for a pad, based on that being the best choice for the game in question, and we all know of games that work better with a pad. If we’d had that all those years ago we might still have fighting games (as one example) as a valid genre on our platform.

    • Metonymy says:

      How about what I’m discussing, got any opinions on that?

      I’ve owned consoles my whole life, and everyone but the most hardened fanatics understands that an analog controller has more precision and flexibility than a digital one. How do you read something into that?

    • malkav11 says:

      I have never owned a joystick. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a game being released on a platform to be entirely playable with the primary control mechanism for that platform, regardless of whether that mechanism is the most suitable for that particular gameplay. If you’re not up to the challenge of making a game work on mouse and keyboard (on PC) or on gamepad (on console), then perhaps you should reconsider your plans.
      That said, I do have a gamepad, because I also own an Xbox 360 and the wired controllers for same are cross-compatible. So I heard Dungeon Siege III controlled best on gamepad, started playing that way, and haven’t looked back. Just because mouse and keyboard should be a viable option doesn’t mean I won’t take advantage of a (situationally) superior control mechanism, provided I already own it.

    • Aganazer says:

      I will accept controllers as soon as they start releasing console games that require a M&K.

    • Grey_Ghost says:

      Aganazer +1

      I’ll stop using my mouse and keyboard when they pry them from my cold dead hands!

      The only gamepads I was ever good at using were the ones without thumb-sticks, like the NES / SNES / Etc. controllers.

    • Thants says:

      I think part of the reason people are hostile to controllers on PC is that the mouse+keyboard controls often suffer. Needing a controller because it’s genuinely better suited for the game is fine. Needing a controller because they did a terrible job with the keyboard+mouse controls justifiably makes people angry.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I definitely agree that analog sticks give you a wider range of character movement and are more responsive than wasd. But I don’t think that should automatically translate into using a gamepad. Instead of giving up the mouse, something like the wiimote’s nunchuck combined with the mouse would be a better solution. Dual analogs are harder to use because the input method is the same for both hands and both hands are right next to each other; it’s something most people get used to but that slight difference is still there.

      Also, this is a top down action game on the PC. If they can’t figure out how to steal and vaguely alter the control structure from Diablo, than something is pretty wrong with their development team.

  8. Metonymy says:

    Ask them if they’re willing to disable mouse acceleration on Alice

  9. Ravenger says:

    It beggars belief that a modern PC game like this would ship with no keyboard or mouse rebinding functionality.

    It’s bad enough for me being left handed to have fixed controls, but for disabled people it may render a game completely unplayable.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Hear hear sonny. I may actually re-install it if they fix the PC controls. I found it so increasingly frustrating after about 8 hours of “I’m ignoring the controls and playing to explore the plot” that by the time I’d gotten to the bit where you’ve saved the city and are assaulting Jayne’s palace I up and deleted it the title off my system entirely.

      Also the Archon player character: voiced by Microsoft Text to Speech and filtered by auto-tune. I swear to god. The developers will come clean and admit it in a few months, I predict.

  10. LuNatic says:

    The controls were mildly annoying, but the camera angle was the dealbreaker. Let me actually see more than 20 feet in front of me and I’ll probably buy the game.

    • DK says:

      Yeah they can talk about fixing the controls all they want, but that’s not the issue. That one can be fixed by switching to a gamepad. The camera however is atrociously bad in singleplayer, and utterly broken in multiplayer and no amount of peripheral rejiggering will fix it.

      Of course, they can’t fix the camera because it was carefully chosen at the current distance to run the textures it uses on consoles – the fact that this doesn’t matter on PC doesn’t matter to them.

    • Avish says:

      This one.

      This is the reason I stopped playing the demo after 15 minutes and probably won’t buy the game at this moment.
      Hopefully it will be fixed someday….

  11. Giaddon says:

    To make matters worse, in the latest stealth mini-patch, they switched the damn A and D keys, making the game unplayable.

    Before that though, I was having a grand time. This is my favorite Obsidian game yet, for sure.

  12. mda says:

    I’m pretty sure she’s being eaten by the floor.

  13. Chris D says:

    For the most part the controls are ok but there are a couple of problems.

    Firstly, Q to change stance, 1 to use power number 1. Really easy to hit the wrong one at a bad moment.

    Then there’s empowered abilities. shift+space+number key simultaneously is not a really easy thing to do under pressure.

    For the most part they don’t spoil the fun but really there’s no excuse for not allowing you to redefine the keys yourself these days.

  14. Tei says:

    *trollface*
    I heard that 4 players coop in this game is a really fun experience.
    */trollface*

    • TormDK says:

      If you enjoy screaming at the screen due to the camera issue, sure :P

      Obsidian really needs to fix the camera in multiplayer, it’s bad enough in single player, but multiplayer made me cry irl, after i convinced my mates to purchase the title so we could co-op it.

  15. TsunamiWombat says:

    I’ve no great issues with the movement controls since I can use WASD.

    the big problem is this.

    “Firstly, Q to change stance, 1 to use power number 1. Really easy to hit the wrong one at a bad moment.

    Then there’s empowered abilities. shift+space+number key simultaneously is not a really easy thing to do under pressure.”

    I try to activate powers and switch weapons by accident all the time, something that can be very fatal on bosses. And that makes me a sad panda.

  16. bill says:

    Don’t all real PC gamers have a joystick and gamepad??
    I know I did when I was a big PC gamer. These days I just have a gamepad, though I don’t use it that often.

    • Tei says:

      I have a gamepad, I tried to play a game with it some videogaems, and feels horrible. I don’t really know how to play a game with it.
      Anyway, no,… all PC’s come with a mouse, or similar, but not a pad. Is not part of the platform.

    • Nick says:

      I have a sidewinder from the 90s..

  17. Jimbo says:

    Isn’t the ‘big difference’ that PC games used to be designed for the PC? Shitty PC controls aren’t a bug, they just didn’t bother to try and get it right in the first place.

  18. mattblack says:

    I finished the campaign with Katarina last weekend, and although the viewing angle sometimes annoyed me – I’d like to see further than that please! – I had no issues with the keyboard controls. In fact, with Katarina I’m not sure I’d want to use anything other than a M+K.

    • DK says:

      Except for a character that wasn’t designed purely from a Tits and Ass viewpoint. Every single female character in DS3 is offensively designed.

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