3D Mice for Gaming: Imagine the Possibilities

    Posted by John Moseley on Feb 21, 2013 11:44:00 AM

    3D mouse support for Star CitizenSince the release of the highly anticipated Total War: Rome II, I can’t help thinking about how wonderful it would be to combine my evening and weekend passion (PC gaming) with my daytime passion (3D mice).

    I’ve always loved the combination of military, political and economic strategy delivered in the Total War games and spent many a long session contesting the battlefields of Europe in Medieval Total War and later Rome Total War. (I can’t believe Medieval was released more than 10 years ago!) 

    With each subsequent release delivering ever more visually compelling campaign maps, environments and units, I can only imagine how powerful the experience would be if I could fly around with the ease I can in Google Earth.  

    The bottom line is that I work with 3D mice every day, and see how the superior 3D navigation experience benefits hundreds of thousands of users in the CAD world, but I often find myself thinking about how great they’d be for gaming. And I’m not the only one, having heard many a professional CAD user say how much they'd like to use their 3D mouse for gaming too!

    Imagine the possibilities if more of today’s popular PC games were built to work with 3D mice! In between working really hard, you could:

    • Pilot your own customized starship in the upcoming crowdfunded space simulator sensation Star Citizen
    • Simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate maps, cities and other geographic elements in games like The Sims and Civilization.
    • Smoothly navigate the battlefield and get in close to see the awesome unit detail in games like Starcraft 2 and World in Conflict.
    • Use the 3D mouse’s programmable keys in World of Warcraft to execute common spells, attacks and tricks. (Want to make your pandaren “/attack” or “/dance”? With 3D mouse compatibility, you could do it faster.)
    • Circle your enemy while easily keeping your cross hair in the right place in Call of Duty or Battlefield 3. Not to mention, I’d love to use programmable function keys to quickly switch between weapons. (Anything to stop me throwing a ‘nade when I actually wanted a medic kit!)

    It’s worth noting that some 3D mouse fans have tricked them out for use with their favorite PC games already—essentially treating the mouse as a joystick by using our 3DxWare 10 beta drivers. See how this works, starting around 5:15 in this video, where you can see super-easy helicopter flight in Battlefield 3 with the SpaceNavigator. (Thanks to 3Dconnexion enthusiast Aaron Clark for creating this video!)

    That said, without native “plug and play” support, which has to be integrated by the game developers, I’m still left wanting for the kind of experience mentioned above.

    In a couple of cases some of the work has already been done. Game development engines Unity and CryENGINE recently added 3D mouse support on the development side so it must only be a matter of time before a visionary developer passes the support on to the game itself!

    Do you also want to use your 3D mouse in a game? What games would you like to play with your 3D mouse? What functionality would you like to see if you could unplug from Solidworks, Catia or SketchUp and jump directly into a PC game using your 3Dconnexion 3D mouse?

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    Image Credit: Picture courtesy of Gabriele B. via Flickr.

    Tags: 3D Mice, Gaming