A Beginner’s Guide to Joysticks and Fightsticks

I’ve been playing a lot of fighting games and Street Fighter IV recently, and while I’m looking to up my game through practice, I still want to have the right tools for the job – and this means having a good fightstick. I currently have a Mad Catz Tournament Edition (TE) for the Xbox 360 which uses a Sanwa joystick and buttons – and frankly it’s excellent.

However, I’ve been trying to take my new-found fightin’ chops back to some older games like the Street Fighter Alpha series, SNK Vs. Capcom etc, and for that I have an X-Arcade (XA) dual-stick with a PS1/PS2/DC/Gamecube/Wii adapter. While the X-Arcade stick is okay for fighting games, it’s absolutely nowhere near as good as the TE, and quite frankly I perform pretty poorly with it – missing simple shory’s, ‘doukens and supers all over the place.

A MadKatz Tournament Edition fightstick

An X-Arcade Dual Stick joystick

I know I can do these moves consistently on the TE, but I live in a world of fail on the XA i.e. if I flub an ultra on the TE I’m disappointed, but I’m barely able to even make an ultra on the XA. So what’s going on?

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How To: Use a Wired XBox 360 controller in Linux

Just in-case ya wanna, and because it took me ages to get it working the other week….

To check if the driver is there when you plug the controller in use:

If the device is detected you’ll see something like:
info.product = ‘Microsoft X-Box 360 pad’  (string)
input.product = ‘Microsoft X-Box 360 pad’  (string)

xbox360-linux

Now… The left analog stick will grab the mouse cursor – it’s a known bug. Excellent thread on it (where I eventually found solution): https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xorg-server/+bug/274203

If you’re using KDE, you can look in System Settings | Joystick (sudo apt-get install joystick if that option isn’t available) to see if you can get input/move stuff, if you can only move cursor w/ left analogue but buttons don’t register (joystick should be /dev/input/js0 btw) then you need to grab: sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-joystick

In Gnome, there isn’t a joystick app available with the default install, so just run jstest (part the above installed joystick package) from the command line to see if the joystick’s registering.

To stop the mouse cursor being grabbed by the joystick, edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the following lines near the beginning:

Section “ServerFlags”
Option “AutoAddDevices” “False”
EndSection


Also, for calibration don’t use jscalibrator or jstest – they just frack things up (in my experience) – use the kde system settings one. This obviously assumes you have KDE installed, which I do… so good stuff ;)

MAME on! =D

Bonus xmame hint: If a game will run close to full speed and you want to give it a bit off a boost – turn off automatically adjust frameskip and set it to 0 to speed things up – should hit full whack. Those frameskip adjusting algorithms are cpu intensive.

Update: I’ve switched from KDE to Gnome, and in Jaunty 9.04 64-Bit you can just plug the controller in and it’ll work without grabbing the mouse cursor and knackering stuff to the point you need to tweak your xorg.conf. Jolly good.