Thoughts on Gamepad Support

Posted by (twitter: @RobProductions)
October 9th, 2012 2:08 pm

My game, Isolated Assault 2, is being built for computer. When my friend asked to play it, he tried to make it work with a gamepad, and it didn’t…

I never thought about people who use gamepads, but I figured “why not add support anyways?” I started testing with my own gamepad to see how my game actually played…

Turns out, my game was TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Playing with a controller feels more compact and comfortable, but reduces accuracy and precision. Keyboard and mouse are generally better because of the amount of buttons and precision, but I can see how people got used to FPS’s on the xbox.

The second problem that came up was the fact that my gamepad had only 1 analog stick, but my friend had 2. (using an xbox controller I think) It was impossible for me to look around.

How do you solve these? Well, for looking around, we can see that Lucasart’s Battlefront 4 for the PSP used the x, square, circle, and triangle for the looking around buttons. And for other actions it had to incorporate the back buttons and arrow keys which a strong selection system. I tried using this for my gamepad, and it actually worked pretty well. However, for some reason, Unity defaults some buttons to keyboard buttons to “make it easier”. In the end, you have to change almost every single control to fit the gamepad, but I think it’s worth it 😉

For the precision problem, the only thing that could make it easier is adjusting the sensitivity (which is already an option) but there is no way to navigate the menus without a mouse, so the game isn’t completely gamepad compatible, but it’s enough to work, and as long the instructions are clear, I think this system works. I mean, who runs a computer without a mouse? 😛

Happy Gaming, Ludum Dare <3

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on Gamepad Support”

  1. PoV says:

    It’s tricky to correctly support all joysticks and gamepads, but on the plus side they tend to fall in to 2 categories: Xbox 360 Compatible, and Not Xbox 360 Compatible. The 360 compatible ones are probably the only kind you can consistently expect 2 analogues, analogue triggers, and so on. And on the plus side, a large majority of current gamepads are xbox 360 compatible.

    That said, there is a large legacy of controllers. Windows 8’s solution was to not support them (at least, not in WinRT/Metro apps). That said, you get tons of combinations of supported and unsupported features when it comes to the legacy gamepads. Some, as you found, have only a single analogue. Some have none. Some have 6 analogue axis in an unusual order. Also you have no idea of the button layout. So, the only way to correctly support them is to give full configuration control to the user.

    Or Plan B, conform: Don’t support the legacy controllers, and buy yourself a wired Xbox 360 controller.

    You can even save a few bucks and buy a knock off wired Xbox 360 controller from a 3rd party. Razer makes a fancy once with stick tension control that’s a few bucks cheaper around here.

    • Really? Thanks for the info PoV, didn’t even know that about Windows 8!

      Luckily though Unity’s input layout is confusing, it supports standard xbox controllers and usb gamepads. Configuration control is completely in the user options, but it gets tricky when you have to re-map things from left click, space, etc. because Unity defaults certain buttons to certain keyboard actions.

      The user ends up having to change almost every control (with about 2 choices for each button). (and no way to “default configuration” because the indie version of Unity limits that)

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