Guest Post | Sixense Razer Hydra Motion Controls

Waggler preface: You know what annoys me? The notion that motion controls are meant for casual gamers. I strongly disagree with that notion for it’s not the hardware but the software that defines what a given game is meant for.

And yet, whenever I look at the upcoming Move releases, I get the feeling few developers are looking at this fantastic and versatile device with a clear understanding of how the so called “core games” can benefit from its implementation.

The assumption I hear the most is that in order to make the implementation of motion controls meaningful, the developers need to come up with specific mechanics that take advantage of it.

Well, that’s wrong.

You know it. I know it. But it’s getting harder and harder to prove this point without resorting to the likes of Killzone 3 or inFamous 2. At least when sticking with the whole Move scenario.

Which brings me to the Razer Hydra by Sixense (the Portal 2 In Motion guys) and our guest writer Greg Lauver.

Even tho it’s based on a completely different motion tracking technology compared to the one powering the Move, the Razer Hydra provides rather similar functionality. What the Hydra has that the Move doesn’t tho, is lots (and lots) of compatible, hardcore PC games, which play great and help the cause of motion controls as a whole.

Hence my decision to “open up” iWaggle3D to the Hydra. A little bit at least.

So, without further ado… bring it on Greg!


Hello fellow Wagglers!

Before I get started here, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Greg and I have recently come in contact with Waggler after he stumbled upon some of my videos on YouTube dedicated to demonstrating the capabilities of Razer’s solution to motion controls on the PC: the Hydra. I post videos a few times a month for now just for fun on the side whilst attending college as well as a job. From this point onward, however, I will be posting my videos on iWaggle3D when they are released on YouTube, usually with a paragraph or two regarding the Hydra, including things to come. Enough about me, let’s talk about the Hydra!

While the Hydra is distributed by Razer, the company truly behind the magic is Sixense; a small group dedicated to bringing motion controls not only to more platforms, but also to more games to provide a more immersive controller-free experience. Upon initial release of the hardware in the summer of 2011, Valve collaborated closely with the group to implement the Hydra tightly with their hit title Portal 2, which ended up being a huge success.

Due to the way the Hydra works with extremely sensitive and minute electromagnetic fields, it can not only determine the exact orientation of both controllers, but also their distance extraordinarily accurately. Because of this, in games that actually recognize the Hydra you can do some pretty neat things, like manipulate objects in 3D space in all orientations, and even move them towards and away from you; as you do in Portal 2. Sixense tends to be very communicative with their audience through their forums, but have been rather silent lately after the promise of integration with all Valve titles expired months ago.

For an even more in-depth look at how the Hydra works, feel free to check out my Review below.

So what about games that do not support the Hydra natively? Sixense has thought of that too and has provided software designed to emulate a keyboard and mouse so you can play any game with the motion controls. I can already hear you saying “But that wouldn’t work well at all for motion controls”, and it is because of that doubt that I started making videos demonstrating myself playing games with the Hydra through indirect integration, which just means with games that don’t recognize the Hydra as… well, the Hydra. They update the software often to include the latest video games, but if you just can’t wait for that and really want to play that game, they provided software to easily create your own MCE’s, or profiles. Profiles are the configuration files that the Hydra software reads to map the different key strokes and mouse movements to the movements and button presses reported from the Hydra.

A great example of this is the new hit game Borderlands 2, which you can see me playing with the Hydra below.

My personal preference for video games are FPS’s, but I certainly enjoy the other genres as well. This is why I don’t stop at FPS’s for my videos to truly show the versatility of the controller, and motion controls in general, across multiple game types. Below you will find my Trine 2 video, which is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer that proved surprisingly fun with the Hydra.

Well that’s it for me this time, but I’ll be back with more Hydra goodness before you know it. I hope you enjoy my videos and if you have any requests, questions, or comments feel free to type them below, or in the comments section for any of the videos I embedded in this post.