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Bryan Ischo
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Controller mapping
#286530 - 05/16/12 02:46 AM


Hey all. This is not a question about MAME, it's more of an information gathering exercise to help me anticipate features that I may want in my frontend.

I'm trying to gauge what kinds of controller features are valuable for a frontend, and I'm hoping that people with alot of experience using emulators, and especially with building and using arcade cabs, can give me some feedback.

Rather than a very long diatribe about the architecture that I've designed for this so far, which nobody would want to read, I'll just ask some questions:

1) If you use 'normal' computer controllers (keyboard, mouse, analog joystick) to play MAME or another emulator, do you ever map them in weird ways? It's obvious to map keyboard keys to 'switches' (i.e. digital joystick directions and buttons), and to map mice to spinners and trackballs, and analog joysticks to paddles and lightguns ... but are there any really useful non-obvious mappings? Does anyone ever map, say, mice axis to analog joysticks, or keyboard buttons to pedals, or other mappings where the computer control type doesn't necessarily map well to the game control type? If so, why?

2) If you use arcade controls (such as trackballs, lightguns, real buttons, etc), do you use anything other than the obvious way of connecting them to your computer (the obvious way being via devices that represent those game controls as computer controllers such as keyboards, mice, and analog joysticks)? Do you do anything really weird or unexpected in this mapping, such as mapping two controllers to the same input device, or mapping a game controller via a device that normally wouldn't be used for it? If so, why?

3) What kind of configuration of mapping user input events (key press, mouse motion, etc) to game controls (buttons, joysticks, lightguns, etc) is useful for you? Is it useful to allow per-game overrides? How many per-game overrides do you have? Do you ever switch between different configurations for the same game, or do you find one configuration you like and stick with it. Why or why not?

4) Do you ever invert axis on devices that have axis? If so, why and when?

5) What kind of configuration for analog joysticks is worthwhile? Dead zone? Damping? Something else?

6) Do you do analog to digital joystick mapping? If so, how? Per game? Fixed? Do you have to manually change it when you need it to be different? Would you want an 'automatic' mode that matches the analog-to-digital joystick mapping to the game being played? Do you have multiple analog-to-digital maps, and if so, do you use different ones for different games, or do you find, e.g., a single 4-way map that you like and use it for all games?

Any thoughts about esoteric features of, or uses of, game controllers would be very interesting to me. I've designed an architecture for converting user input to game events for my frontend but I don't know if there's anything I've missed, so if anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Thank you!



Sune
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Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287054 - 05/20/12 04:24 AM


There is one thing I can think of with games that use analog controls that pop up here from time to time. It's easy to work around though.

For games that use analog controls MAME provides mappable "analog inc" and "analog dec" for each available axis in the game, allowing you to map digital input devices to the game's analog controls, which of course is useful.

But MAME has no way of knowing when your primary joystick is analog (ie most gamepads) so the default settings has both the inc and dec controls and the game's real analog axis mapped to your analog joystick at the same time.

For trouble free playing with an analog joystick, normally you have to map the analog dec and inc controls to 'none' first.

S



Bryan Ischo
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Sune]
#287282 - 05/22/12 02:13 AM


> There is one thing I can think of with games that use analog controls that pop up
> here from time to time. It's easy to work around though.
>
> For games that use analog controls MAME provides mappable "analog inc" and "analog
> dec" for each available axis in the game, allowing you to map digital input devices
> to the game's analog controls, which of course is useful.
>
> But MAME has no way of knowing when your primary joystick is analog (ie most
> gamepads) so the default settings has both the inc and dec controls and the game's
> real analog axis mapped to your analog joystick at the same time.
>
> For trouble free playing with an analog joystick, normally you have to map the analog
> dec and inc controls to 'none' first.


Thanks for the info. I am not quite sure I totally understand though.

Does MAME have a built-in default for 'analog inc' and 'analog dec' for each available axis in the game? If so, what is the default? It sounds like you are somehow supplying both the input for whatever analog inc and analog dec are set to as well as the normal analog axis inputs.

E.g., it sounds like MAME has a default:

gamepad 0 button 1 -> analog joystick 1 horizontal axis inc
gamepad 0 button 2 -> analog joystick 1 horizontal axis dec

So that when you press the gamepad buttons you get unwanted increments or decrements of the analog joystick state.

Is that accurate?

FWIW, in my input system I supply the equivalent of "analog inc" and "analog dec" by default only for some obscure keyboard keys (F1 - F12 supplying analog inc and dec for various controllers). I wouldn't expect that to interfere with any normal controller that is mapped by the operating system to keyboard keys. These F1 - F12 mappings are just to assist developers and to give a very simple means for someone to try out a game. I would expect that anyone who intended to really play a game that uses analog controls would either set up a mapping that makes sense for that game (maybe mapping analog inc and analog dec manually to the keyboard), or, more likely, would get a real controller that supplies analog inputs and bypass analog inc and analog dec shenanigans completely.



Sune
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287287 - 05/22/12 02:34 AM


> Thanks for the info. I am not quite sure I totally understand though.
>
> Does MAME have a built-in default for 'analog inc' and 'analog dec' for each
> available axis in the game? If so, what is the default? It sounds like you are
> somehow supplying both the input for whatever analog inc and analog dec are set to as
> well as the normal analog axis inputs.
>
> E.g., it sounds like MAME has a default:
>
> gamepad 0 button 1 -> analog joystick 1 horizontal axis inc
> gamepad 0 button 2 -> analog joystick 1 horizontal axis dec
>
> So that when you press the gamepad buttons you get unwanted increments or decrements
> of the analog joystick state.
>
> Is that accurate?

Yes. And what I wrote is not. I looked through the inputs of a bunch of games that use analog controls just now, and none of them has any joystick axis mapped to analog dec and inc. Most of them has my keyboard arrow keys mapped, a few of them the buttons on my gamepad - but not a button that's used by some other function in the game. So it would appear that I am wrong and that there are no conflicts.

I do have this in mame.ini though, I guess it helps:

#
# CORE INPUT AUTOMATIC ENABLE OPTIONS
#
paddle_device mouse
adstick_device joystick
pedal_device joystick
dial_device mouse
trackball_device mouse
lightgun_device mouse
positional_device mouse
mouse_device mouse

S



Bryan Ischo
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Sune]
#287319 - 05/22/12 08:03 AM


OK glad we cleared up the confusion. I do appreciate your taking the time to provide some feedback.

One 'nice' feature of my frontend is that it 'automatically' handles analog joysticks in the most intelligent way. If the game being played requires only digital joysticks and there are only analog joysticks attached to the system, it automatically maps the analog joystick axis to digital ones according to a map that makes sense for the game (i.e. choosing a 2-way, 4-way, or 8-way map depending on the game). Of course you can override which map it uses on a game-by-game basis and also override the default maps.

My goal was to use analog joysticks in my control panel and have them 'just work', which they will under this scheme, for every game, without additional configuration. Makes those analog joysticks that you can programmatically change the digital mapping on the joystick controller unnecessary.



Sune
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287378 - 05/22/12 08:43 PM


> My goal was to use analog joysticks in my control panel and have them 'just work',
> which they will under this scheme, for every game, without additional configuration.

Aren't those terrible for playing Pac Man, Bomb Jack, Galaga and Robotron though. You're catering for a niche inside a niche..

The whole point of building or buying arcade control panels is so that you can have an authentic experience and for the vast majority of games authentic means digital joysticks.

S



Bryan Ischo
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Sune]
#287387 - 05/22/12 10:00 PM


> > My goal was to use analog joysticks in my control panel and have them 'just work',
> > which they will under this scheme, for every game, without additional
> configuration.
>
> Aren't those terrible for playing Pac Man, Bomb Jack, Galaga and Robotron though.
> You're catering for a niche inside a niche..

I don't know, are they? Is the feel of an analog joystick so far off of leaf-switch digital joysticks?

I would expect that restrictor plates to limit motion to 2-way, 4-way, or 8-way digital joystick movement would be essential to give an accurate feel, but that would be true with a digital 8-way joystick as well.

Perhaps the restrictor plates could even have resistance built into the corners to make it feel more like pressing a switch? Imagine a 4 or 8 way restrictor where in the corners there was actually a leaf spring to give the feel of a real leaf joystick.

> The whole point of building or buying arcade control panels is so that you can have
> an authentic experience and for the vast majority of games authentic means digital
> joysticks.

I don't think there is a single joystick that gives an authentic feel on a vast majority of games. There were so many different digital joystick types and configurations all with different feels.

I personally don't really need the joystick to feel authentic, just to produce good gameplay. If the resistance isn't exactly the same as the original, I don't care, as long as it works well enough for the game to be enjoyable. I have a feeling that an analog joystick with sufficient resistance would do fine for me. I guess I'll find out when I finally finish my coding and get to actually building hardware.



R. Belmont
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287388 - 05/22/12 10:05 PM


> I don't know, are they? Is the feel of an analog joystick so far off of leaf-switch
> digital joysticks?

Yes. The Atari 5200 paired actually arcade-perfect ports of games like Pac-Man and Popeye with non-self-centering analog joysticks. Not exactly a match made in heaven



mogli
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Or, more simply..... new [Re: R. Belmont]
#287393 - 05/22/12 10:53 PM


you need the type of controls used in arcade games, else it'll play like ass.

I started with a game pad, moved up to an X-Arcade, then returned that and bought a Slik Stik.



Consider it high comedy....sincere tragedy....whatever...don't take it personally.

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Bryan Ischo
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: mogli]
#287398 - 05/23/12 12:03 AM


> you need the type of controls used in arcade games, else it'll play like ass.
>
> I started with a game pad, moved up to an X-Arcade, then returned that and bought a
> Slik Stik.

I played Puzzle Bobble with a keyboard on my laptop extensively while travelling once. I enjoyed it just fine.

My point? You don't always need the exact controls. Close approximations are usually fine. How close? That is a matter of personal preference I would expect.



Sune
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Re: Not what you want but it's something.. new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287436 - 05/23/12 05:34 AM


> > Aren't those terrible for playing Pac Man, Bomb Jack, Galaga and Robotron though.
> > You're catering for a niche inside a niche..
>
> I don't know, are they? Is the feel of an analog joystick so far off of leaf-switch
> digital joysticks?

From personal experience, yes, definitely. Make sure to try before you buy because I think you might regret it.

S



Sune
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287439 - 05/23/12 05:39 AM


> I played Puzzle Bobble with a keyboard on my laptop extensively while travelling
> once. I enjoyed it just fine.
>
> My point? You don't always need the exact controls. Close approximations are usually
> fine. How close? That is a matter of personal preference I would expect.

Sure, but in this case you're playing Puzzle Bobble with digital controls, which is what you'd find on any Neo Geo cabinet (unless it's Irritating Maze). So it's not far off.

Playing Puzzle Bobble with an analog joystick would be really annoying because you would then instinctively be trying to line up your shots by moving the joystick less or more, and that wouldn't work.

S



R. Belmont
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: Sune]
#287488 - 05/23/12 04:42 PM


> Sure, but in this case you're playing Puzzle Bobble with digital controls, which is
> what you'd find on any Neo Geo cabinet (unless it's Irritating Maze). So it's not far
> off.

Yeah, keyboards generally suffice for games with digital controls that aren't too frantic. That's pretty much the entire reason emulation took off.



Firehawke
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: R. Belmont]
#287491 - 05/23/12 04:59 PM


Well, even 'frantic' isn't too big a deterrent to more hardcore players. I didn't have a PC joystick for various chunks of my childhood (I went from CoCo to Tandy 1000 to generic homebuilt 386, no upwards compatibility for joystick once I hit the 386), so I got pretty good at Commander Keen on keyboard.

These days I can still play Street Fighter pretty well on keyboard, even well enough to Shun Goku Satsu.

I'd even go so far as to say Cave stuff is a touch easier on keyboard with the slightly faster twitch response. That actually reminds me of the HitBox, a recent interesting development from the fighting game community.

http://www.hitboxarcade.com/AboutHB.aspx



---
Try checking the MAME manual at http://docs.mamedev.org



mogli
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: Firehawke]
#287518 - 05/23/12 08:32 PM


I remember the big push in the 80s (and mid-90s in car stereo) to go to buttons. I hated 'em, even the better-made products. Dials and sticks made more sense to me, and I just won't play games without them.

The only exception in my experience was the Game Time watch - but the movement was always some version of side to side, so buttons were just fine. The Arcade Time watch had a mini joystick, which for the kinds of games it had was crucial (and way cool).


Want to mention that analog handling in current MAME seems to be....slightly weird. That is, at least with my Ultrastik 360, I 'get stuck' more often (say like in DK from ladder to platform) than in older MAME. The latter seems more forgiving.



Consider it high comedy....sincere tragedy....whatever...don't take it personally.

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Bryan Ischo
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: mogli]
#287536 - 05/23/12 10:17 PM


Ah, so you're using an analog joystick mapped to digital outputs for a digital joystick input game (Donkey Kong).

How does it "feel"? Is it weird and awkward as has been suggested it would be in this thread previously?

Would different tension on the stick help? Are you using a 4-way restrictor plate? If not, would that help? And, what about my idea of having leaf springs or something else at the corners of a restrictor plate to simulate the feel of closing leaf spring contacts?



mogli
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: Bryan Ischo]
#287723 - 05/24/12 09:51 PM



Quote:


Ah, so you're using an analog joystick mapped to digital outputs for a digital joystick input game (Donkey Kong).




No no no no. When in 'digital' mode, it behaves like a digital stick. BUT, it is seen as a game pad. Even in 8-way games, it feels different than my P360s, but there is still another difference between MAME eras.




Quote:


Would different tension on the stick help?




Like what?



Quote:


Are you using a 4-way restrictor plate?




I'm using a round restrictor, only because the stock throw distance is too great (it is designed to accommodate analog 'travel space').




Quote:


And, what about my idea of having leaf springs or something else at the corners of a restrictor plate to simulate the feel of closing leaf spring contacts?




Not relevant. I have U360s and P360s. I like 'em in that respect.



Consider it high comedy....sincere tragedy....whatever...don't take it personally.

The Culture




Bryan Ischo
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Re: Or, more simply..... new [Re: mogli]
#287771 - 05/25/12 03:58 AM


> Ah, so you're using an analog joystick mapped to digital outputs for a digital
> joystick input game (Donkey Kong).
>
> No no no no. When in 'digital' mode, it behaves like a digital stick. BUT, it is seen
> as a game pad. Even in 8-way games, it feels different than my P360s, but there is
> still another difference between MAME eras.

It sends the same digital events as a digital stick, but it doesn't behave exactly the same as a digital stick. Physically it will have a different feel than a digital stick which is what I am asking about.

> Would different tension on the stick help?
>
> Like what?

You can purchase stiffer springs for some analog sticks, like the U360. Just wondering if that improves the feel, making it feel more like a digital stick and less floatly like an analog stick.

> Are you using a 4-way restrictor plate?
>
> I'm using a round restrictor, only because the stock throw distance is too great (it
> is designed to accommodate analog 'travel space').

Then it will feel even less like a 4 way stick, but how much different and whether or not the feel is much compromised is the subject of my questions.

> And, what about my idea of having leaf springs or something else at the corners of a
> restrictor plate to simulate the feel of closing leaf spring contacts?
>
> Not relevant. I have U360s and P360s. I like 'em in that respect.

It's a relevant idea if part of the feel of digital sticks is the closing of the switch connection at the point of maximum throw.


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