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Old 26 May 2014, 12:21   #1
Cammy
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Ideal controls for Amiga games

I like making games with Backbone, and some day I'll be programming them myself. Something I have always believed is that good games should give you a choice of control options to choose from, so you can play comfortably with your preferred style of controller. The Amiga has always supported a 2-button joystick or control pad, just as it has always supported a 2-button mouse, as those two buttons use the same pins (Left Mouse Button is Fire 1 or A, Right Mouse Button is Fire 2 or B). Despite having a pretty iconic and generally fondly-remembered official mouse, Commodore never originally released an official Amiga game controller. So new owners would either have to use a third-party Atari/Commodore/Sega-compatible controller, which were more often of the single-button variety, although there were plenty of 2-button joysticks and control pads available as well.

Unfortunately this lack of foresight resulted in developers adopting single-button controls rather than 2-button controls as the standard for Amiga games, although there were of course still some exceptions which made use of a second button. So anyone who preferred to use a control pad was stuck having to press up to jump or accelerate, which isn't comfortable or as easy to do with a pad as it is with a stick, and their second button was wasted when it could have been used for those controls. If this wasn't bad enough, for some reason most Amiga games don't even have keyboard controls, despite them all having a keyboard like any PC or Mac, which always used keyboard controls by default and often had options for various controllers as well.

Eventually Commodore did bring out their own official game controller, the CDTV remote, which sported a 2-button control pad with a small numeric keypad with additional CD control buttons. The 2-button standard still wasn't adopted by most developers, and it wasn't until the release of the CD32 with its 6-button controller that more Amiga games started having the option to use a pad. Thankfully, with the advent of WHDLoad and the hard work of the people working on slaves/installers for our classic Amiga games we can now use control pads and extra buttons with many games that never previously had the options to use them.

What I'd like to discuss with everyone is what controls they prefer to use to play their Amiga games? If you use a 2-button controller, what do you prefer the two buttons to do in the games you play? Accelerate and Brake? Jump and Shoot? Do you sometimes wish the second button paused the game so you didn't have to press P on the keyboard? What about going inside doors, throwing switches, using your magic or picking up items, do you prefer to press Up or Down, a button, the Space bar or some other key on the keyboard?
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Old 26 May 2014, 12:31   #2
Specksynder
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I've always used this one.

Simply perfect
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Old 26 May 2014, 13:09   #3
Hewitson
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There's two things I can't stand about the controls on Amiga games. Up to jump, and up to accelerate.
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Old 26 May 2014, 13:41   #4
Mrs Beanbag
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CAMMY!!! <3 <3 <3

Haven't seen you for ages i hope you are well.

Personally I favour fire to jump over up, but with a one button joystick it doesn't leave any buttons for anything else, which is unfortunate. So i restrict my choice of game mechanics, fire OR jump, not both, even though Turrican are my favourite games. It's a conundrum. I have pondered using the mouse just as an extra pair of buttons, rather than resorting to the keyboard for extra features (so you can hold it on your lap and leave the Amiga under the television like a console) but, i dunno, it would seem quite weird I guess, could work for a driving game though, joystick for steering, mouse buttons for accelerate/brake?

Games use too many buttons these days, i get confused trying to remember which button does what. I'd like to build an adapter that lets me use all the buttons on a Megadrive pad though.
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Old 26 May 2014, 14:29   #5
hansel75
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What you can do is convert a joystick that has multiple duplicate buttons on it, keep one as the standard fire button, and wire the other button so it clones/acts as up!

This way you get the choice of using either up on the joystick, or a 2nd button to jump in platform games and accelerate in racing games.

I have done this mod to my Star Cursor joystick, see pic, the yellow button now acts as up while the other 2 red buttons are the standard fire buttons.

All it took for this particular joystick was some simple rewiring and soldering inside of it.

I also believe you can modify a megadrive pad so one of the unused buttons can be used as up as well.

This seems to be the best solution for games that only support 1 button, for any games that make use of a 2nd button by default, i would normally just use my megadrive pad.
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Old 26 May 2014, 14:49   #6
Thorham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cammy View Post
The Amiga has always supported a 2-button joystick or control pad
Actually, it's three buttons I wonder why this was never used
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Old 26 May 2014, 15:03   #7
ajk
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It wouldn't be a bad idea to simply let the user choose. Lotus 2 for example gives you some control related options - it's strange that most games didn't. Of course it takes a bit of extra code to support a variable configuration, but as long as that is not an issue, it's the way to go
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Old 26 May 2014, 15:20   #8
Mrs Beanbag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorham View Post
Actually, it's three buttons I wonder why this was never used
Indeed! Although better still to use this as output to drive a multiplexer, and get double the number of inputs, like the Megadrive does.

I've also pondered the possibility of more buttons to generate "impossible" combinations such as UP+DOWN.
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Old 26 May 2014, 16:12   #9
Hewitson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajk View Post
Lotus 2 for example gives you some control related options
Yes it does, but I've never understood why they bothered as no one would prefer up instead of fire.
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Old 26 May 2014, 16:38   #10
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Originally Posted by Mrs Beanbag View Post
Indeed! Although better still to use this as output to drive a multiplexer, and get double the number of inputs, like the Megadrive does.
That's a good idea. The simplest thing you can do is to use the third button pin to double the other two:

- Button 1 = button 1.
- Button 2 = button 2.
- Button 1 + button 3 = button 3.
- Button 2 + button 3 = button 4.

Should be VERY simple to do. You can also make other combinations. If you combine all buttons, you can have seven buttons.

This method has the obvious drawback of the buttons not working at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs Beanbag View Post
I've also pondered the possibility of more buttons to generate "impossible" combinations such as UP+DOWN.
Certainly possible, but will interfere with normal movement, because that up+down button won't work properly with up or down movement.
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Old 26 May 2014, 16:51   #11
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@Hewitson

Yeah, they may not make much sense in that particular case but the idea is still sound
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Old 26 May 2014, 17:23   #12
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Back in the day I always used joystick (first cheetah, later maverick). When using maverick I always wished there were more games with 2-button support. The first 2-button game I played was Leander and I remember being quite happy with it.

Anyway I was so used to playing with 1-button and using up for jumping that I
felt ok with it. But I don't know how I played so much Street Fighter 2 with 1-button only...

I always thought they could add keyboard support, though.

Nowadays, I'm so used to modern consoles and gamepads that when I play Amiga games I feel that "up for jumping" is kind of awkward. Most of the games I don't even like playing with joystick anymore.

I like playing platformers with gamepad, football games (kick off, sensible soccer) with joystick.

So I think it's a matter of what you're used to. When I used 1-button joystick only, I felt ok with it. Now I'm used to gamepads and I feel better using them
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Old 26 May 2014, 18:52   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorham View Post
This method has the obvious drawback of the buttons not working at the same time.
No I mean use Button 3 pin as OUTPUT from the Amiga, this is actually possible and all buttons will be usable together. Megadrive pad works this way but with Button 3 and +5V pins swapped. A simple adapter (with protection diodes, very important) should allow all MD pad buttons to be usable without modifying the pad.

Quote:
Certainly possible, but will interfere with normal movement, because that up+down button won't work properly with up or down movement.
Obviously but could be used for buttons such as Start and Select.
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Old 26 May 2014, 19:05   #14
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No I mean use Button 3 pin as OUTPUT from the Amiga, this is actually possible and all buttons will be usable together. Megadrive pad works this way but with Button 3 and +5V pins swapped. A simple adapter (with protection diodes, very important) should allow all MD pad buttons to be usable without modifying the pad.
The protection diodes are vital if you're going to use the pad with a C64, but aren't necessary on the Amiga.

It always seemed like a missed opportunity to me that the Megadrive pads didn't multiplex the direction lines as well as the two button lines. (Six button pads *did* multiplex the direction lines, but only after a "magic knock".) It also seemed odd to me that the CD32 pad used a shift register rather than simple multiplexing.
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Old 26 May 2014, 19:15   #15
Mrs Beanbag
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The protection diodes are vital if you're going to use the pad with a C64, but aren't necessary on the Amiga.
The diodes will be necessary on Amiga if you swap Button 3 and +5V over, I am pretty sure. And too scared to take the risk in any case.

Quote:
It always seemed like a missed opportunity to me that the Megadrive pads didn't multiplex the direction lines as well as the two button lines. (Six button pads *did* multiplex the direction lines, but only after a "magic knock".) It also seemed odd to me that the CD32 pad used a shift register rather than simple multiplexing.
yes that was an odd decision.

The original Megadrive 6 button pads used a weird trick that required you to pulse the multiplex line in a special way to activate it, don't know why they didn't just multiplex the D pad too, oh well.
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Old 27 May 2014, 00:50   #16
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TThe original Megadrive 6 button pads used a weird trick that required you to pulse the multiplex line in a special way to activate it, don't know why they didn't just multiplex the D pad too, oh well.
I think it was a question of trying to be absolutely sure the extra buttons wouldn't cause problems with the back catalogue of games. And in that regard they did a pretty good job. I believe there *are* games that fail with the six-button pad but they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
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Old 27 May 2014, 06:45   #17
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Looking at hansel75s image of that controller. I'd love to get my hands on one of those. I have an old one workout suction cups and I think that is the best controller for amiga.
Sorry if this is off topic a little
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Old 27 May 2014, 07:57   #18
jPV
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Originally Posted by Cammy View Post
What I'd like to discuss with everyone is what controls they prefer to use to play their Amiga games? If you use a 2-button controller, what do you prefer the two buttons to do in the games you play? Accelerate and Brake? Jump and Shoot? Do you sometimes wish the second button paused the game so you didn't have to press P on the keyboard? What about going inside doors, throwing switches, using your magic or picking up items, do you prefer to press Up or Down, a button, the Space bar or some other key on the keyboard?
Depends of the game naturally, but I prefer that I don't need to touch keyboard at all and I like to use two button joystick.

For platformers, I love Amiga's way to jump with up direction, it's natural. Never learned to play those jump with button games.

First button is usually for shooting, but second can then be for changing the weapon or inventory, or for bigger weapon. I wouldn't waste that for pause though. I like WHD way to replace spacebar with second button for many games.

For driving games I like button for accelerate, never thought if second buttton could work for braking.. don't know before I can try Up&down could be for weapons, gears etc.
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Old 27 May 2014, 09:57   #19
Minuous
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Yes it does, but I've never understood why they bothered as no one would prefer up instead of fire.
Actually it has several advantages: a) pushing forwards to go forwards is more intuitive/natural, b) no need to keep holding down the firebutton, c) frees up button for other uses.
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Old 27 May 2014, 10:39   #20
jbenam
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I've always used this one.

Simply perfect
Funny thing, I recently got one and it's one of the most unwieldy controllers I've ever owned
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