E3: Hardware Roundup From the Show Floor
12:04 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story
Although the majority of exhibitors at E3 were showing off software, there were plenty of hardware vendors in the LA Convention Center to keep me busy.
The first company I bumped into while perusing the show floor was XGaming. While many of you may not have heard their name before, they actually designed the AirStick, which was then licensed and sold by MacAlly. XGaming was showing off the X-Arcade, a full size two-player joystick, very similar to the ones found in arcade cabinets.
The X-Arcade features nine buttons per player (including start), as well as a "flipper" button on each side for pinball games. Being contructed of wood, it felt solid and heavy enough to prevent sliding around during tense moments in a game. It was being demoed on Dreamcast and Playstation 2 systems, but the X-Gaming representatives assured us that it is fully functional on the Macintosh and PC.
The X-Arcade will connect to the Mac via USB adapter and will be recognized by Input Sprockets, but all of the keystroke assignments will be handled in hardware. Knowing that hardcore MAME (Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator) fans will be interested in this product, the folks at XGaming made the joystick highly customizable. There are four settings for the joystick: the first supports MAME 32 and the other three are user defined. Programming the buttons, which is essentially assigning a button to a keystroke, is very easy and flexible.
XGaming is currently trying to find a distributor for the X-Arcade, but they expect it to ship in early July. It will cost between $100 to $150. Stay tuned to IMG for a full review when the X-Arcade is released.
Next up was Essential Reality. Just prior to E3, they announced the P5 Glove, which promises to make games feel more interactive and realistic. Although I not able to try it myself, I was told by the representative that the P5 would ship with Mac-specific drivers later this month. We'll keep our eyes on this interesting peripheral. The Essential Reality website has some QuickTime movies which show the P5 in action, so check them out.
I dropped by the Logitech booth on the main show floor in hopes of making contacct with a representative. After months of unreturned e-mails, I was finally able to talk to a real, live person. The PR person, Brian, was very helpful and responsive in answering my Mac-related questions. In the future, we'll be looking at more Logitech gaming peripherals and audio equipment, like their high end SoundMan Xtrusio DSR-100 surround speakers.
My meeting with Saitek went also went well. I confirmed that they had been contacted by Fredrik Wallenberg of Playnet.com and have been working together to ensure their joysticks work with World War II Online. I was able to get play around with their new X45 Digital Stick and Trottle. While awkward at first, the joystick and throttle quickly grew comfortable. This HOTAS system will be perfect for flight sim enthusiasts. Not only does the X45 look good, but it has plenty of buttons.
One disappointing trend I noticed with game peripheral companies was the lack of Mac-specific drivers. I drilled the Saitek, Logitech, and Thrustmaster reps about it and they told me the market size and demand was simply not high enough. Kevin Hunter of Saitek said it would cost somewhere around $20,000 to $30,000 to write Mac drivers with functionality similar to the PC drivers. For the most part, joysticks and gamepads that are Input Sprocket compliant work well. Wheels and throttles, though, have weak support. I made it a point to tell the representatives that it is the responsibility of the game peripheral company and game developer to ensure that our gaming experience is as complete hassle-free as possible. Hopefully, they will take my words to heart.
Unstandably, they were all concerned about Mac OS X compatibility, but had no firm plans. Saitek was the only company that mentioned they had a working relationship with Apple.
E3: Saitek, Logitech Launch New Controllers
Later in the day, look for a report in my meeting with Altec Lansing and their audio products. In the meantime, check out Saitek's and Logitech's new products below.
|Other Mac Games News for Friday, May 18, 2001|
| Omni to Show OS X Games at WWDC||3:53 PM|
| E3: Firsthand Report on Myth III: The Wolf Age||3:40 PM|
| E3: MacCentral on Apple at the Expo||2:30 PM|
| E3: Glimpse of Stronghold||2:10 PM|
| E3: Hardware Roundup From the Show Floor||12:04 PM|
| IMG at E3, Day Two||11:46 AM|
| E3: MOO3 Mac Dev Update, Promo Materials||11:25 AM|
| E3: New Unreal II Images, Previews||10:25 AM|
| Apple Lays Out WWDC Game Track||10:09 AM|
| Cro-Mag Rally Updates for OS X||9:49 AM|
| E3: Saitek, Logitech Unleash Flood of Controllers||9:30 AM|
| E3: Bungie Fanfest Reports, Q&A||8:57 AM|
| E3: Report on Blizzard Titles, Release Dates||8:47 AM|
| E3: World War II Online Update, June 6 Release||8:35 AM|
| E3: Warcraft III Trailer, Movies||8:31 AM|
|View all of the Mac games news for Friday, May 18, 2001 on one page|
|Mac Games News for Thursday, May 17, 2001|
| E3: Return to Castle Wolfenstein Site Launched||4:19 PM|
| MacGamer Previews Civilization III||4:19 PM|
| E3: New Myth III Images Revealed [Update]||3:24 PM|
| E3: Images From The Expo, Part One||3:06 PM|
| E3: Disney Unveils Mac-Friendly Lineup||2:39 PM|
| E3: Tentative MacSoft Release Dates||1:29 PM|
| Blizzard Patches Diablo, Warcraft II BNE||1:07 PM|
| E3: Civilization III Sneak Preview, More From MacSoft||12:54 PM|
| Vortex NG Updated to 1.0.3, Fixes Bugs||12:24 PM|
| Classic Gaming Updates for OS X||11:37 AM|
| Westlake To Port Deus Ex to PS2||10:58 AM|
| E3: Star Wars Jedi Outcast: Jedi Knight II||10:33 AM|
| E3: More Max Payne Movies, Images||10:13 AM|
| Shadowbane Reveals Guild Halls||10:02 AM|
| E3: Unreal II Preview and Interview||9:58 AM|
| IMG Heads to E3||9:44 AM|
| Sound Blaster Update on UT, Deus Ex||9:31 AM|
| Rune Multiplayer/Patch News||9:27 AM|
| Westlake Lines Up the Releases||9:25 AM|
| MacCentral Visits MacPlay||8:52 AM|
|View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, May 17, 2001 on one page|
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