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AniMerrill

PC gaming: what kind of controller do you use?


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AniMerrill    227

Hey, I'm in the process of designing a game for PC (which we might later move to consoles if it does well) and I ran into an interesting problem. I have no idea what PC game pads are like these days, and I only have a GameStop XBOX controller because at one point I was working with XNA and needed a testing controller.

 

I'm really passionate about making our game controller-compatible, since I personally believe gaming feels best (probably just my nostalgia boner) when played on a real, bonafide game pad. PLEASE NOTE: a keyboard layout will be the default, I'm not stupid. Every computer USUALLY has a keyboard, so that way it will definitely be playable by everyone. But just for people who feel the same way I do, or in the event that local multiplayer is included, I wanna make sure I have the most popular game pads in mind when designing a control scheme.

 

Any input would be appreciated, and if you DO happen to have a controller in the "Other" category, if you could link a pic or amazon listing for it that'd be awesome.

 

Thanks again~

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Hodgman    51226

Both :P

 

I use a keyboard/mouse for almost all games, but use a 360 game-pad for the few that are better on it (anything where absolute-inputs from a joystick is better than digital keys or relative-mouse inputs, like a car or plane).

 

In battlefield I actually switch between them while playing -- KB/Mouse for soldiers/tanks/helicopters, and the game-pad for jets.

 

I also have a steering wheel for serious racing games.

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sunandshadow    7426

I personally have a PS2-style controller (Logitech brand).  You might want to look into how emulators handle a range of gamepads because those being non-commercial community projects the information should be publicly available.

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swiftcoder    18426

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick. You gotta have a joystick for the real space sim experience.

 

Unfortunately, not too many space sims around these days, so I stick with the cheap-and-cheerful joystick.

 

(I also have a PC-receiver for my XBox controllers, but I've never actually used one connected to the PC)

Edited by swiftcoder

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AniMerrill    227

I personally have a PS2-style controller (Logitech brand).  You might want to look into how emulators handle a range of gamepads because those being non-commercial community projects the information should be publicly available.

 

The reason I want to find this out is less about how to do it for certain controller brands, since almost every gamepad reports the same information (from what I've seen anyway) but how to design the control scheme within the game to be as compatible as possible from the get go. However I will definitely take a look at that, seems like it'd be an interesting read.

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AniMerrill    227

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick. You gotta have a joystick for the real space sim experience.

 

Unfortunately, not too many space sims around these days, so I stick with the cheap-and-cheerful joystick.

 

(I also have a PC-receiver for my XBox controllers, but I've never actually used one connected to the PC)

 

I miss those style of Joysticks XD My guess is probably won't be attracting the space sim aficionados with this game genre, but remind me: when using a joystick like that, its a combination of the joystick and some keyboard inputs right? 

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Promit    13246

I'll do keyboard and mouse for most, but I use an Xbox controller frequently too. There's some games, notably racing, that are trash with keyboard/mouse.

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Prinz Eugn    4418

I play with a mouse and this guy: http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F8GFPC100-Nostromo-Speedpad-n52/dp/B0000DC643

 

I generally play FPS and RTS on PC, which aren't exactly controller friendly... I do however play copius amounts of Halo on my 360. I still don't understand why console control schemes tend to be so inflexible. Is it really that hard to be able to swap a single function between A and B and not have 3 others changed at the same time?

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AniMerrill    227

I play with a mouse and this guy: http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F8GFPC100-Nostromo-Speedpad-n52/dp/B0000DC643

 

I generally play FPS and RTS on PC, which aren't exactly controller friendly... I do however play copius amounts of Halo on my 360. I still don't understand why console control schemes tend to be so inflexible. Is it really that hard to be able to swap a single function between A and B and not have 3 others changed at the same time?

 

I guess that's actually one of the things I would like to nip in the bud from the start, I want a really easy to use Input Manager that just lets you not only switch from keyboard to gamepad, but lets you relatively painlessly switch up the control schemes for that device. That's why I wanted to see what the major gamepad brands and styles are, so I could compensate for those early on in development.

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SimonForsman    7642

Keyboard and mouse for most games, and a joystick for anything that involves flying, i don't really play any games that would work better with a gamepad. (For driving i'd prefer a proper steering wheel and pedals over a gamepad anyway so i'll buy one of those if i ever start playing such games)

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shuma-gorath    1161

For me, it's the Logitech F710 that gets the job done.  Since I actually prefer the DualShock layout, this gamepad is a great balance between that and the XBox 360 controller's layout. It's compatible with DInput and XInput.

 

I'm somebody who's moved from consoles into PC gaming.  (I still play both, mind you.)

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ChaosEngine    5185

Both
 
I use a keyboard/mouse for almost all games, but use a 360 game-pad for the few that are better on it (anything where absolute-inputs from a joystick is better than digital keys or relative-mouse inputs, like a car or plane).
 
In battlefield I actually switch between them while playing -- KB/Mouse for soldiers/tanks/helicopters, and the game-pad for jets.

 

Same. For example, when playing GTA (or Sleeping Dogs) I'll use an xbox controller for driving, running, but switch to kbm for shooting.

 

I will never use a controller for an FPS.

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The reason I want to find this out is less about how to do it for certain controller brands, since almost every gamepad reports the same information (from what I've seen anyway) but how to design the control scheme within the game to be as compatible as possible from the get go.

Good luck. One thing I noticed about PlayStation-like controllers (quite common on PC) is that the arrangement of the face buttons (the rhombus) is completely arbitrary, seems to change depending on the controller. The best you can do is map actions from buttons 0 to 3 and then hope the player remembers to enter the controls menu to remap the buttons :/

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AniMerrill    227

Good luck. One thing I noticed about PlayStation-like controllers (quite common on PC) is that the arrangement of the face buttons (the rhombus) is completely arbitrary, seems to change depending on the controller. The best you can do is map actions from buttons 0 to 3 and then hope the player remembers to enter the controls menu to remap the buttons :/

 

I guess mostly I was hoping to see if, despite the Xbox controller I had, if the most common PC controllers being used had like... only eight total buttons and triggers that could be accessed as opposed to my 12ish. Or if joysticks weren't necessarily universal on gamepads. In retrospect this didn't make much sense since one could imagine gamepad manufacturers would be most successful if they could replicate console varieties of gamepads.

 

So that may sound stupid, but I was only interested in the amount of buttons.

 

I'll probably have it default mapped to my Xbox controller, or otherwise make it so every time a joystick is plugged in it asks for the player to either enter all the inputs for each action (like "Waggle the joystick for walking..." "Press the button for jump...") and have it save the profile, that way the next time it loads up they can just load up the joystick profile for that device.

 

To be completely honest, all the times I've tried to use JoyToKey, I still can't figure out the damn button layout for my own controller.

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kop0113    2453
I pretty much entirely use the Keyboard and mouse unless I am playing on megadrive or ps1 emulators. I use the Xbox360 controller on FreeBSD because it is pretty much the only common one that works ;)

Whilst I am at it, would anyone be interested in the following idea being implemented? Basically a virtual input device for iOS or Android that connects to a PC (via tcp or udp) and then allows the player to use the (often superior) controller plugged into the PC on their tablet.
I am in two minds whether it is worth the effort if it would only be useful for a few people.

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L. Spiro    25621

I can’t vote because what we use are not mutually exclusive of each other.

I use the best tool for the job, period.

 

For FPS games that means mouse-and-keyboard.

For ZSNES I use this: snes-gamepad-buffalo-usb,I-R-240435-13.j

I have 2 so that my friend(s) can play too.

 

I also have a PC Xbox 360 controller but it sees little action since I don’t play any games where that would be the best choice.

 

 

Your concern should be more on the ability to set the keys/configure things.

I bought Resident Evil 6 for PlayStation 3 5 months ago (or so).  It doesn’t allow changing the keys, thus I cannot invert the Y axis, thus I played it for a total of 10 minutes and never touched it again.

 

If you can configure the keys, you have solved all potential problems.  Simple.  Doesn’t matter whether people use mouse/keyboard or a controller.

 

 

L. Spiro

 

 

PS: Something feels different about you today, Hodgman.  Did you change your hair style or something?  Is that a new cologne?

Edited by L. Spiro

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AniMerrill    227

Whilst I am at it, would anyone be interested in the following idea being implemented? Basically a virtual input device for iOS or Android that connects to a PC (via tcp or udp) and then allows the player to use the (often superior) controller plugged into the PC on their tablet.
I am in two minds whether it is worth the effort if it would only be useful for a few people.

 

I saw this implemented once, while working with Unity. One of the addons someone had was for basically that exact idea. You just install the input manager into your game, and then people could get (for free on Android, idk on iOS) an app that would connect your computer and the phone over a wireless connection. It was pretty cool. You would basically design the layout within the input manager for the game, and it would send the layout to the phone, and then it would send touch data back to the game and treat it like gamepad input. I think it even had gyroscope implementation, and they showed that off for a tilting game and a racing game demo.

 

It did suck, though, because Unity has very limited options in the free version, especially concerning custom input (which is why I ultimately turned away from it). But I actually considered doing this for my game or trying to start like an open source solution to this for people working outside Unity because, if done right, you could just have people download a custom controller for your game. It might be more of a novelty than anything, but imagine showing a game off at a con that way.

 

I can’t vote because what we use are not mutually exclusive of each other.

I use the best tool for the job, period.

 

Your concern should be more on the ability to set the keys/configure things.

I bought Resident Evil 6 for PlayStation 3 5 months ago (or so).  It doesn’t allow changing the keys, thus I cannot invert the Y axis, thus I played it for a total of 10 minutes and never touched it again.

 

If you can configure the keys, you have solved all potential problems.  Simple.  Doesn’t matter whether people use mouse/keyboard or a controller.

 

I mostly wanted to see what people were more likely to own more than anything so I could have an idea of the minimum amount of buttons a person would have on their gamepad, or if they even had one. That way I don't have a large portion of my audience who have, say, that USB SNES controller which doesn't even have analog sticks and only has a total of 8 buttons while I planned for an amount of controls that could only possibly be used on an XBOX/PS3 controller. But, since it seems like most modern gamepads DO have that many buttons, I can be a little more liberal with stuff like that. But I plan for there to definitely be fully customizable layouts so your Y-axis problem won't happen here.

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Keyboard and Mouse normally, but also a Logitech Rumblepad 2 for split-screen gaming.

(contrary to the Amazon pricing, it cost around $25 when I bought it)

 

About the controller:

One thumbstick is always active, the other one you hit a button to select between the D-pad use or the thumbstick. The D-pad just maps to the thumbstick.

 

The controller has 12 game-usable buttons:

  • 4 opposite the D-pad (Button ID's 1-4)
  • Four triggers (5-8)
  • Two above the joysticks (9 and 10) (Where the typical 'menu' and 'start' buttons are on consoles)
  • And both joysticks can be pressed down (11 and 12)

 

It also has rumble support, which can be toggled off.

 

It's fairly comfortable in the hand, but I have rather large hands so I'm just slightly cramped.

I've had it for at least five years now - it's worked perfectly fine, never the slightest of problems. But I don't use it actively, so it doesn't see much wear and tear.

 

I prefer the keyboard and mouse, but when playing cooperative split screen games (of which there are too few, but Dungeon Defenders and Shadowgrounds rocks), then one of us uses the gamepad.

 

It's very very annoying when a game claims to support "controllers", but only supports Microsoft's XBox controller, requiring me to use a controller emulator to trick the game into thinking I'm using a Xbox controller. rolleyes.gif

 

Let me not just invert the Y-axis, but remap every axis. Some games expect one axis to mean one thing, and another axis to mean another thing, resulting in my joystick input to be rotated 90 degrees! And Microsoft's Xbox controller implements it's pressure-sensitive triggers as a joysticks (or rather, as 'a joystick', seeing that both triggers map to the same axis, but one is positive and the other is negative).

Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Let me not just invert the Y-axis, but remap every axis. Some games expect one axis to mean one thing, and another axis to mean another thing, resulting in my joystick input to be rotated 90 degrees!

And allow different axes to map to the same action (much like how you can map multiple keys to the same action).

 

There's a game where when I didn't feel like using a mouse I'd use WASD and 8546 (numpad) for moving. The main difference is that A/D would strafe and 4/6 would turn around, but both W/S and 8/5 would move forwards and backwards. When I thought of trying it with a controller I had the idea of mapping the two sticks the same way, but I couldn't map forwards and backwards to both the Y and RZ axes, meaning I had to ditch the idea :/

 

And Microsoft's Xbox controller implements it's pressure-sensitive triggers as a joysticks (or rather, as 'a joystick', seeing that both triggers map to the same axis, but one is positive and the other is negative).

Yeah, this one is stupid, I seriously believe the only reason for this was to get developers to move away from DirectInput and into XInput (which, surprise, only supports 360 controllers, at least by normal means). In fact if I recall correctly somebody made a replacement driver that mapped both triggers to separate axes under DirectInput, proving it wasn't an issue after all.

 

If I recall correctly, the excuse Microsoft had given was that many games weren't programmed to handle axes that went from 0 to 1 instead of -1 to 1 and thereby would end up with lots of bugs. Erm, yeah... (I think that the triggers not appearing as buttons would be a bigger compatibility issue)

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swiftcoder    18426

(I think that the triggers not appearing as buttons would be a bigger compatibility issue)

On the other hand, why would you want your triggers to be on/off buttons, when they could report the full range of motion?

 

It makes them much better throttles for driving games, and a not-terrible rudder control for flying games...

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Those triggers are like analog buttons, you probably want to be able to use them as both a button and an axis, depending on the game.

 

Note that comment had more to do with Microsoft's worries about compatibility issues with older games. Hopefully a newer game would let you use both buttons and axes for any action making this a non-issue.

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