When rumble effects came to gaming it turned a fun experience into something immersive. Now the feature is so common we have it in the phones we carry in our pockets, and it's been in home consoles for close to two decades. Yet PC gamers still needed to spend extra if they wanted force feedback. A company called Tavitas has just such an offering in the works with the Sinister gamepad, and promises to bring it for around $100 when it launches in six months. Even better, you can take buttons out and move them around, changing a gamepad configuration to your liking.
Move buttons around wherever you want
We gave a 3D-printed prototype of the Sinister a brief demo here at a CES event, and it's too early to tell whether that customization translates to better gaming. One potential weak point is the analog stick that sits sideways when aligned with your thumb, something that could require a bit of effort to relearn. You can move it around though, and Inventor Chris Zhao-Holland says there's still work to be done on its buttons, as well as the design itself. The movable parts connect to the base with magnets. The company briefly experimented with a design that locked the keys in, but ended up using magnets after finding them to be faster for switching configurations. The design has also changed: Tavitas had two models of the Sinister that were just two weeks apart, but with alternate styles.
The rumble — which feels very neat — uses embedded, programmable artificial muscle called ViviTouch under where your wrist sits. It sends ripples up your body as you play, something we tested out on Crysis 3. Instead of using motors, the technology creates the sensation using electricity, which can result in rumbles in different places and in different motions.
The Sinister will be plug-and-play with Windows and Linux machines when it's out, Zhao-Holland said, but the company's also releasing an app to add extra features on top of that. People don't need to install this, he added, but in return you'll get tools to tweak the vibration, and toggle different rumble modes for different game types.