The center of the joystick is in my opinion the most crucial part of a joystick design. I believe this sphere and the corridors are where the main design choices are made. Also, contrary to urban legends, most of the neutral play (physical deadzone) is due to the interactions of the gate with the center sphere, gears wear way later.
Picture 1: Nintendo was making sticks that don't use the pins of the gate to manage play. Very wide and deep corridors. In this design the center sphere of the joystick is touching the plastic gate of the module (blue circle). That interaction determines if the joystick is tight. The problem of this design is the sharp interaction at the base of the pins. Another problem on OEM is that bowl wearing down lowers the sphere of the stick and creates more distance to module's gate.
Picture 2 : First idea of an optimal design is to tighten the stick shape around the pins. The stick has then 2 possible contact points: the pins and the blue circle. Wear of the gate gets reduced. Also makes very tight joystick. First steel prototype was of this design. Cosmeticaly perfect, but difficult to play on, very sensitive on small inputs, difficult Flicking and snapback. Even if the stick looks really premium being so tight, I don't want to produce something if I don't want to play on it. I have ideas to test to make it work in the future.
Picture 3 : Decision was taken to space out from gate and pins equaly for V1. The joystick then feels a bit more loose than previous design, it's closer to a fresh OEM. It gives a lot more control over engaging low inputs slowly, lighter feel, helps for aiming. Flicks are more forgiving and don't snapback. Spacing out just a tiny bit offers great shaft design option for weight reduction.
The shaft of the oudini stick is slightly thinner than OEM shaft. Both because the goal is to provide around +4 on all values and because reintroducing play reduces max values. So this makes a great opportunity to have a slightly thinner and lighter shaft without going crazy with values. Thinner shaft also means that the notches give a stronger hit when the stick locks in. The shaft also weights less and especially at the very top. When weight is distributed far from the pivot point it increases the impacts on how heavy the stick is to move. It is also a strategic weight-reduction to reduce snapback force.
Thickness of the hammer and of cylinder rule play for gears, those are adjusted to be tight. On another hand the height of the hammer is a decision to make. If too tall it's blocked between bowl and small gear. Shorter hammer height gives Z play to the stick, as in pulling it up. Z play doesn't impact physical deadzone or input values and offers room to free snapback energy without creating inputs. Reducing the size of the hammer is a strategic weight reduction, far away from the pivot point of the stick has stronger impact on both snapback and on joystick weight-feel. This is in line with the other V1 decisions for low weight and weight-feel.
The nib of the stick is the contact point with the bowl. Making it out of steel would be a problem for steel-bowl users. Therefore the nib is made out of a mix of Delrin(POM) and Teflon(PTFE), the two plastic polymers with the lowest friction. The nib is made by injection molding, in a very precise mold, extremely polished (as much as the sticks) to have the contact point with the bowl be perfectly smooth. The rectangle design fits right in the gear while being closer to the bowl's curve than a spherical design would be.
The first idea was to not include caps, The stick is compatible with SteelSticks64 caps the offer there is of great cosmetic and functionnal quality and perfect variety of colors to match shells. I don't want to compete but I still want to propose a cap with the sticks. My engineer is a big fan of 3D printing so we tried some designs and after some prototypes we feel good about one of them. 3D print makes the cap cosmeticaly weak at very close distance. The oudini cap is meant to be smooth and grippy while very price competitive, soft feel but grippy because 3D print is not smooth surface, especialy on the bumps.