Sinister Is A Haptic Controller From Planet Cybertron

By John Walker on February 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

The absolute best thing about the completely bonkers Sinister PC game controller’s Kickstarter is they appear to have made a mock-up out of papier mache and Lego. I’m not sure I can cope with anything so adorable. The hand-painted buttons! This mad Transformer-looking device frankly scares me – it looks like it will ker-char-ker-cher its way around my hand, until I’ve got A ROBOT HAND, and then it will go around doing robot hand crimes and I’ll get the blame. However, this feature isn’t mentioned anywhere in the pitch video, which is below.

I cannot figure out whether this is something I want to use or not. Haptic feedback has yet to convince me of anything, since unless it’s a game in which I’m playing a sentient detached hand (oh gawd, someone has to make a Thing T. Thing game instantly), the physical sensations don’t really translate to what’s happening in the game. “Ow, you shot me in the hand, again.” But then, what if this is just the best way to play PC games, and I’ll look back and laugh at how I used to fumble about with an entire keyboard and mouse?

They’re after just $100,000 to bring the project to life (oh but please keep the hand-painted buttons), which will allow them to create prototypes to send out to backers. This will be a sort of beta program, and based on feedback from that, they’ll refine and tweak for the full commercial build. Orrrrrrrr the whole thing will fizzle. It’s one of those two.

While there’s an array of lower-level pledge rates for those wanting to patronise the development, shit gets real at $80. Miss the early bird deals and it’ll be $120. They’ve only just launched, and already there’s a good amount of interest. It’ll be interesting to see if this reaches its goal, and more interesting to see if just $100,000 is enough to produce the prototype.

One final note:

HOW ON EARTH DOES IT NOT HAVE A RED DIAMOND DESIGN ON IT WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

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91 Comments »

  1. mrwout says:

    At least they found a name that matches the design … what a hideous thing that is. I’d be afraid it would eat my hand or something.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      It does look alot like a first year product design university project.

  2. Alec Meer says:

    ‘Reality link’

    • nil says:

      : ‘Tenuous’.

    • Matchstick says:

      don’t forget the ‘Flux Elements’ and ‘Triplex Relay’

      • Unclepauly says:

        “Triplex Relay” – That… my good sir, would be the entry into the mind, body, and soul. Without this relay you would not need to use the reality link to get back to your “precious” life. Forever you’d be trapped in the digital realm. Let’s hope mom doesn’t hit the power button while you are in game!!!!!!!!!!!

      • darkChozo says:

        By feeding the flux elements through the triplex relay directly into the emotion engine, we should be able to stabilize the reality link and deliver blast processing directly into the creature’s mind!

        • DanMan says:

          Sounds like a line out of XCOM, after an alien “interrogation” (we all know it’s really a “slice it up, let’s see what we can find” kind of affair).

    • Anthile says:

      What’s it with gaming periphery and ridiculous names?

    • Earl-Grey says:

      My reality link is eroding more and more these days.
      Must find a replacement.
      Preferably one with gold plated cables.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s what makes sure that if you die in the virtual world, you die in the real one too.

    • Warduke says:

      Reality is so overdone

  3. Unclepauly says:

    Honestly the idea is awesome and I hope the best because I would 100% use something like this……………………………… but I have no faith in things like this. Oculus has so much support and isn’t even a sure bet. If this picks up steam I’ll jump on cause it really is something that would help immersion but like I said my faith in new controller type things is pretty much not there.

    • Bureaucromancer says:

      I’m… less than convinced. I’d very much like a good left hand controller with analog, but something about this doesn’t seem like the best way to do it. And then you run into their focus on haptic feedback and some weird mouse to analog translation… And why on earth is it going to cost something like double a typical controller?

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      How is this exactly much different to the the Razr or Logitech keypads that have been available for a few years now?
      http://gaming.logitech.com/en-gb/product/g13-advanced-gameboard

      Buttons/Keys under the fingers – check (much more input options on the logitech too)
      Anaglogue thumb controller – check.

      This just seems to be a different take on this imo, some Cyborg R.A.T. style interchangeable parts and throw the “haptic feedback” buzzword in there and that is essentially what you have here.

      Also, am I the only one that doesn’t give a fuck about my control peripherals rumbling away like an out of control vibrator?
      Rumble Pads and Force Feedback are ok for a shot while, in a long gaming session they really start to just piss you off and make you uncomfortable.

  4. Optimaximal says:

    I hope it says “I live!” in a menacing fashion when you turn it on.

  5. Gargenville says:

    I don’t get why this needs kickstarting when you can walk into any computer store in the world and grab either a Logitech G13 or whatever Razer are calling ye olde Belkin Nostromo these days* for less than $80.

    *the ‘real analog control’ thing is most likely a dig at the Nostromo which in its original form had a (terrible) D-pad there which Razer seem to have augmented with a sort of faux-analog hockey puck nub. AFAIK the Logitech has a real analog stick.

    Also there’s a bunch of Nostromos in Ender’s Game the movie because nothing says THE FUTURE like a PC gaming peripheral originally designed in 2001.

  6. Chris says:

    It’s probably called Sinister because it’s designed to be used by the left hand.

    Latin reference.

    • LordDamien says:

      2x bonus multiplier for useful comment.

    • Gargenville says:

      Ferrari’s F1 team always label the tire warmers in Italian for probably no real reason other than it looks cool so front right is ANT SINISTRO.

    • 2late2die says:

      That is an awesome bit of trivia and the first proper useful comment in this thread. Kudos to you sir.

    • phuzz says:

      And of course the right hand is Dexter.
      I’m not sure why the Romans hated left handed people so much, but they did so there,

  7. DukhaDave says:

    Between the flux elements and triplex relay, I can’t be the first one to think that when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious shit.

  8. Qwentle says:

    While interesting, every controller that has tried to bring ‘the evolutionary advantages of a controller’ to the pc space hasn’t answered the problem of direction change. While a stick does provide analogue input, it’s four directions controlled by one finger or thumb and switching between directions will be way slower. In most online FPS’ jinking to minimise incoming fire is a necessary skill and it’s something that you’re not going to be able to do as easily on a thumbstick.

    • P.Funk says:

      Thats because the precision and deliberate movement of something manipulated by your whole hand, wrist and sometimes forearm is not really replaced by the movement of a single manipular digit.

      There’s a reason you don’t see amateur youtube graphic designers lining up to replace their Wacom tablets with something they can use with one finger.

      I still want to find something like that separate numpad from the first gen Saitek Eclipse. It was groovier than all this other shit.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Indeed. I’ve bought various outlandish (and admittedly very cool looking) controllers over the years but they all end up gathering dust in the loft when I fall back to the mouse & keyboard setup for this very reason

      • Tatty says:

        Yep, same here. From the Belkin n52, G13, one of those Fang things, a Wolf King and finally a Razer Orbweaver.

        They were gathering dust and I eventually decided to stick everything but the Orbweaver on eBay – They all made damn near retail price, which surprised me.

        There’s a gap in the market for something like this and I’m such a sucker I’ll probably buy it if it ever reaches production…… Then go back to keyboard and mouse, with a 360 pad for whatever needs it.

        • Maxheadroom says:

          Has anybody come up with a ‘contactless controller’ yet?

          Something that scans your hand at rest on the desk then push your hand forward to walk forward, back for back etc. lift your hand up to jump and press it flat to crouch. Tapping your thumb could act as a modifier or weapon switching or something. Aiming and shooting still controlled by a regular mouse. (go on, try it! No ones looking!)

          I reckon I’d be all over something like that

        • Snargelfargen says:

          I actually quite liked the Nostromo… except it didn’t have enough keys, making it useless for where it should have shined in games requiring lots of hotkeys. Never got around to trying the G13. I object to it on principle, peripherals with little screens that require the player to look away from the monitor are dumb.

    • Gargenville says:

      Really? There’s no arguing the speed and accuracy of a mouse versus an analog stick but personally I find the keyboard side a liability in basically every genre besides typing games. Eight directions, no analog and most of your hand tied up handling directional input. On a classic WASD layout you can’t really use your thumb for anything besides hitting space and unless you want to stop moving in-game you end up doing a lot of work with the ring and little finger which are not only weak and imprecise but occupy a section of the keyboard with only four usable keys and a ton of dead/empty space.

      • P.Funk says:

        ESDF Master Race

      • Qwentle says:

        Indeed there are benefits to accuracy and number of buttons available without moving your fingers, but it loses out heavily on Speed. Switching from moving left to moving right on a keyboard is no time at all, while on a thumbstick you need to go through neutral. Most games where it’s beneficial to use a mouse (i.e. multplayer shooters) you also need the speed that a keyboard provides. Sure, you have three fingers relegated to moving, but on the plus side you have Three Fingers Dedicated to Moving.

      • Barberetti says:

        Give RDFG a go then. Gives you Z X W E S T Y H J V B with ease, plus the F key has the little nobbly bit on, which comes in handy when you’re playing with the lights out.

        I’ve been using that setup for years. It’s great.

  9. LunyAlex says:

    While I appreciate their intentions, that Kickstarter presentation video did everything but show me what this product is and does.

    I mean I get that it’s a controller that will replace the Keyboard’s place under my left hand (more so through the power of deduction than their video) , but I need a bit of motivation to shove my keyboard off my desk.

    Hell, I noticed an analog stick in the diagram above, and I assume a major selling point is the fact that you can now have the smooth character movement that controllers provide, but they were in no hurry to make me aware of that.

  10. Lacero says:

    “patronise”

    I love that the english language is inherently cynical.

  11. Gap Gen says:

    You do the robot hand crimes, you do the robot hand times.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Even against the backdrop of the Great Publishing Boom of 2064, the Robot Hand Times was considered to have been targeted at a wildly optimistic niche of the burgeoning sentient, literate cyberprosthetics demographic.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yes, but as the saying goes, it was mainly a front for the Robot Hand Mafia for laundering robot hand money.

        • Geebs says:

          I heartily disapprove of robot hand organised crime. They should stop it and go get proper robot hand jobs.

  12. hurrakan says:

    I’d have used my robot hand for good!

  13. LordDamien says:

    I thought it was a globe.. that you wear.. something that Nintendo promised me a way long time ago.

    • bstard says:

      The day this will be available in a underpants variant humanity has reached it’s pinnacle.

  14. DrScuttles says:

    Looks quite interesting. I can see this project developing down one of two paths. Either you’ll eventually be able to lop your left hand off at the wrist and have it interface directly with your body to overcome all pathetic, fleshy limitations, or possibly they’ll continue with an anthropomorphic exoskeleton power frame able to multiply the user’s strength several thousand times.

  15. staberas says:

    0.54 INPUT LAG ? !!!!?

  16. Dimonte says:

    I want to back it out of the neckbeard solidarity, but I don’t really want the product. Once again petty concerns prevent the glorious union of like-bearded individuals.

    • DrRoxo says:

      My beard agrees and is quite saddened by the whole situation. If you want to, we can rub beards together, and give them a chance to feel better.

  17. Awesumo says:

    Looks as comfortable as a brick with nails sticking out.

  18. islisis says:

    Wish this project all the best of luck. Love analog thumbstick + mouse in fps; precise, intuitive, less stressful, quieter and gives you the option of c-strafing. Unfortunately there are precious few games which support analog movement, which is why I hope the Steambox controller and this might bring some much needed recognition.

    If you would like to try it I can recommend using a Sony Move Navigation controller

  19. megabear says:

    Jesus effing Christ. As an industrial designer, this makes me want to strangle myself with an actual robot hand…

  20. Innovacious says:

    So, nostromo but with controller buttons instead of keyboard buttons? General shape is pretty much the same too if my memory serves me right. I still have an ancient belkin nostromo somewhere, but I could never really get into it or find a situation where it would actually be useful

  21. LionsPhil says:

    Oh boy, new and exciting ways to get RSI!

  22. Oakreef says:

    To be honest I want one. But then again I also want a Novint Falcon so maybe there’s just something wrong with me.

    • Shooop says:

      At least the Falcon is doing something different instead of just repackaging a gaming keypad and slapping on a bunch of meaningless buzzwords.

  23. Shooop says:

    Did I really just watch a video that talked about nothing but putting vibration on a PC keypad for two minutes? How did it come to this?

    It’s basically a Logitech G13 with vibration and an extra USB port for your mouse for no reason other than they can. The stupidity of this thing makes my head hurt.

  24. strangeloup says:

    Power Glove 2014~

  25. quietone says:

    Why don’t just strap an usb cable to an accordion? It has everything: lots of keys with no labels, needs awkward movements, “haptic” feedback.

    And it sounds sinister too.

  26. Turkey says:

    I hope the only reason they ended up with “Sinister” spelled correctly was that every permutation of a “cool” misspelling of the word was already trademarked by different PC hardware manufacturers.

    • Koozer says:

      May I interest you good sir in my new keyboard replacement, the Zyn3styr 4000?

  27. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    If it doesn’t unfold and then snap shut on your hand like a high-tech power-armour gauntlet/mouse trap I’m disappointed.

    • DrRoxo says:

      I have to admit, half the reason I’m reading these articles is for your comments. Just wanted you to know. Feel free to feel all warm inside.

  28. Hunchback says:

    I must be very old or something now, but i really don’t see how a console controller even comes close to kbd+mouse. And i don’t say that just to be a bitch about it, i really really don’t get it. Controllers are shit, period. I’ve even tried to play games originally designed for controllers, such as Batman or Assassins Creed, and almost instantly switched to kbd+mouse since it felt super awkward. The only good thing about controllers (pads) is that they are small and you can lean back/lay down while using them.

    I am all for evolution, i’d love to see new stuff, but i do believe this a wrong direction.

  29. araczynski says:

    “papier mache and Lego”?? its got tell tale signs of 3D printer fabrication. Good proof of concept.

    but yeah, not sure what it exactly does, i’m seeing WASD replacement with feedback/extra buttons…

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  31. Menthalion says:

    They missed the opportunity to put an optical sensor at the bottom so it can be used as a mouse as well.

  32. vorkon says:

    Guys. It’s obvious why they’re calling it “Sinister”. It’s because, much like a sinister person, it’s so bad

  33. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    *facepalm*

    Right now, on a shitty usb keyboard, I can press about 30 keys without moving my hand away from WASD.

    If you want me to buy these types of products you’re going to need to increase that number, not decrease it.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yep, they seem to have completely missed 50% of why PC gamers prefer mouse/keyboard. They sorted the mouse part out, fair enough, but there just isn’t enough input underneath the fingers on that thing for pretty much 80% of games.

      We require more than just fucking WASD for, as an example, an FPS game, this fact went sailing over their head.
      I need buttons for my weapons (usually 1-5 on the keyboard), jump, crouch, prone, sprint/walk. Then we have buttons for Use, throw grenade, melee attack, maybe a spot mechanic, maybe a cover mechanic, maybe a radial menu. Having all of these commands right under your fingers is another reason why keyboard/mouse is superior to a controller where things like weapon cycling is necessary, and they seem to have removed that.

      This thing seems to have a maximum of about 4 additional buttons after the WASD, just a fraction of what is required in a lot of games. Then you start to consider MMO’s with their 40+ button requirements, this thing doesn’t even come close to accommodating that.

  34. oyog says:

    “Haptic feedback has yet to convince me of anything, since unless it’s a game in which I’m playing a sentient detached hand…”

    Finally a way feel immersed in those detached-hand parts of Stubbs the Zombie! Instant buy!

  35. JohnnyPanzer says:

    I’ve never been able to use these sort of left hand controlers in games, most likely due to the fact that most games I play use waaaay more keys than developers are able to fit onto them. Instead, I tend to use them when I work with graphics, like Photoshop, Zbrush and Maya.

    My Nostromo is extremely helpful in my “work”. I either use it with a wacom tablet (For Zbrush and PS) or my mouse (Maya) and these days I feel completely lost without it. To be fair, such apps use just as many shortcuts as games, if not more, but the need for speed is not the same.

    Taking that into consideration, I would have no use for this device. The design seems very offputting and they emphasise way too much on features that wouldn’t help me in my work at all, like tactile feedback. Also, I tend to be very, very, very sceptical of developers who rely heavily on useless buzzwords in their marketing, and these guys made their presentation sound like a Star Trek episode.

    “Oh look! It has Flux Dylithium Stabilizers and a Nasele Feedback Amplifier, that should work well together with the HyperCore Polarizer.”

  36. MadMonkey says:

    Soooo… it’s a Nostromo, but clunkier, with vibration.

    No thanks. They’ll have to work a lot harder than that to pry the Orbweaver out of my cold, dead, Cheeto-dust covered fingers.

  37. Piratepete says:

    Its not papier mache, its made from SLA’s which have then been painted. Sterolithographical models grown in a tank by lasers basically

  38. Megakoresh says:

    LOL…
    The comments on this one are funny. That device is funny too. Not sure why would I want to use it. If I am so desperate to get an anal stick for movement control I will buy one of those keyboards with sticks built in…

  39. Dinjoralo says:

    I was tempted to just immediately back this, but then I read the comments here. Now I’m putting serious thought into this purchasing decision. Thanks guys, you saved me about $100 CAD.