With many PC games, the number of actions mapped to keyboard buttons can become too overwhelming to effectively manage with one hand alone. This is especially true in competitive online play, where a split-second advantage can be the difference between winning and losing. As many FPS games on PC use the WASD keys for movement, it can be very difficult to make use of important commands like crouch, sprint or reload without disrupting movement to some degree. We found that this was the Stinky Footboard’s most effective application; mapping secondary keyboard functions to each of its four active areas to keep the keyboard hand focused on navigating with WASD.
In order to best gauge the Stinky’s versatility, we decided to test it out in different genres. The first game we tried was the side-scrolling, zombie-themed platformer Deadlight. In the interest of easing ourselves into the Footboard experience, we started by mapping just two commands to the top and bottom panels of the Footboard; sprint and crouch. At first, it was surprisingly difficult to coordinate the timing when trying to use both the keyboard and Footboard simultaneously but, after some practice, the Footboard’s peddles became as natural as the keystrokes that they replaced. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove in-game and things start to get hectic, years of muscle memory and gaming instinct quickly overpower any thought of using the Stinky, right when it’s needed most.
The second game we tried was BioShock: Infinite. As the Stinky was designed primarily with FPS in mind, we figured that this would be where it really showed its potential. This time around, all four of the buttons on the Stinky were used: up for reload, left to interact, down to bring up the Vigor menu and right to melee. The difference was immediately apparent; the player’s movement is no longer hampered, as their fingers don’t ever have to move from WASD. Mobility is greatly improved, and the player can interact with objects or enemies without slowing down.
One of the most convenient features of the Footboard is the ability to save your configuration to a profile, allowing players to easily switch the Stinky’s buttons when changing games. Currently, only 8 separate profiles can be saved using the Footboard’s software, though unlimited profiles are planned for a future update. Two minor downfalls to the Stinky Footboard became apparent during our time using it; it can be very loud and it tends to become uncomfortable after prolonged gaming sessions. Some kind of padding to reduce the “ka-CHUNK” that results from every button press would be well received by annoyed friends, family and roommates alike.