Guerrilla cuts Killzone pad lag

Accel, dead zone, latency improvement.

Guerrilla Games is promising tighter, more responsive controls for the forthcoming Killzone 3.

Writing on the official Killzone site, Guerrilla Game Director Mathijs de Jonge described the difficult decisions the team took in addressing this highly contentious issue. On the one hand, the response from the controls was the subject of much criticism from many gamers. On the other, the sensation of weight and inertia was one of the defining features of the game's primary handshake with the player.

"Our first priority when we started working on the controls for Killzone 3 was to listen closely to Killzone 2's players - what they liked, what they disliked, and how they felt things could be improved," Mathijs wrote. "Accuracy and responsiveness consistently came up as the top issues. At the same time, a lot of players were saying they loved the weighty feel."

Back in February, Digital Foundry took possession of a DualShock 3 controller adapted by legendary modsmith Benjamin Heckendorn. Connected to an LED monitor board, it allowed us to measure the latency between button press and on-screen action, the so-called input or controller lag.

Our result? The simple act of firing a pistol (something you wouldn't expect to have much heft or inertia) took 150ms from button press to muzzle-flash on-screen. In more challenging scenes, with the game dropping frames, latency was even higher. In comparison, most other first-person shooters running at 30FPS tend to weigh in around 100ms to 133ms max, while 60FPS titles like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare can achieve a very respectable 66ms response in optimum conditions.

The official Killzone site talks about the team "going back to the drawing board" in improving controller response.

"Right now it's still a work in progress," Mathijs explained. "But we're definitely getting there. We've recalibrated the dead zone to be more responsive and significantly reduced the input lag, resulting in far better accuracy. Best of all, we've managed to retain that sense of weight that set Killzone 2 apart from other shooters. I can't wait for people to try it out."

We played the E3 demo of Killzone 3 at the event and while clearly a proper analysis wasn't possible within the confines of SCEE's press lounge, there was definitely a sense of an additional crispness to the controls. However, in the pre-alpha demo there was still a somewhat variable frame-rate - definitely one of the significant contributory factors in adding to Killzone 2's controller lag.

Overall impressions were very positive though, and bearing in mind how little has been shown of the full game thus far, we can't wait to see more.

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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