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Author Topic: Opinions on Control Panel layout  (Read 687 times)

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pumpkinpie

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Opinions on Control Panel layout
« on: December 22, 2018, 11:02:18 pm »
Hi all - I am looking to build a control panel and am wondering what people think of this layout.



Forgive the crude mock up but I wanted to get something out fast and I dont have any experience with any programs that do such a thing.

Most of the games that i will play regularly will use a 2/4 way joystick or trackball with games that use an 8 way stick rarely played (I dont play fighting games).

With that in mind the 2 joysticks on the bottom are 4 way with the ones higher up being 8 way.

Also will this layout work for playing Asteroids ?

I was looking through the CP thread and say someone mention MAWS which i guess was a database on which games used certain controls but it doesnt look like that is still around - is there another option for such a list ?

quarterback

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2018, 11:32:46 pm »
You will want to make sure you stagger the controls somewhat.  With the spinner right above the trackball, you run the risk of slamming your hand into it.  Even though the joysticks seem slightly staggered, I think your lower ones would get in the way of using the upper ones, particularly if you are right handed because your arm is going to be where those 4-ways are.
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chrisdfw

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2018, 12:01:56 am »
I agree with the above post.  You will also be hitting the lower buttons with you wrist when using the upper buttons.

Do you really need 2 4 ways? Most classics use just one 4 way at a time right? Perhaps put it in the center and use the buttons from the top row for it too.  You will need a button for hyperspace in asteroids.  You could put a hyperspace button below a center 4 way and use the right two buttons of the left button group for asteroids left/right and the leftmost two buttons from the right group for thrust and fire.

pumpkinpie

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2018, 10:21:01 am »
You will want to make sure you stagger the controls somewhat.  With the spinner right above the trackball, you run the risk of slamming your hand into it.  Even though the joysticks seem slightly staggered, I think your lower ones would get in the way of using the upper ones, particularly if you are right handed because your arm is going to be where those 4-ways are.

thanks yes i will make sure the joysticks are staggered enough so that they dont interfere with each other.  i was playing around with positioning yesterday and i think i can make it work.

i can also move the spinner without a problem.

I agree with the above post.  You will also be hitting the lower buttons with you wrist when using the upper buttons.

Do you really need 2 4 ways? Most classics use just one 4 way at a time right? Perhaps put it in the center and use the buttons from the top row for it too.  You will need a button for hyperspace in asteroids.  You could put a hyperspace button below a center 4 way and use the right two buttons of the left button group for asteroids left/right and the leftmost two buttons from the right group for thrust and fire.

well the only reason i can think of to have 2 4-ways is for Rampage.  Are there any other multiplayer games that would benefit from 4-ways ?

and thanks for the asteroids plan !

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2018, 04:50:04 pm »
Personally, I would look into servostiks to switch between 4-8 way rather than having 2 sets of joysticks.

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yotsuya

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2018, 05:22:37 pm »
You will want to make sure you stagger the controls somewhat.  With the spinner right above the trackball, you run the risk of slamming your hand into it.  Even though the joysticks seem slightly staggered, I think your lower ones would get in the way of using the upper ones, particularly if you are right handed because your arm is going to be where those 4-ways are.

thanks yes i will make sure the joysticks are staggered enough so that they dont interfere with each other.  i was playing around with positioning yesterday and i think i can make it work.

i can also move the spinner without a problem.

I agree with the above post.  You will also be hitting the lower buttons with you wrist when using the upper buttons.

Do you really need 2 4 ways? Most classics use just one 4 way at a time right? Perhaps put it in the center and use the buttons from the top row for it too.  You will need a button for hyperspace in asteroids.  You could put a hyperspace button below a center 4 way and use the right two buttons of the left button group for asteroids left/right and the leftmost two buttons from the right group for thrust and fire.

well the only reason i can think of to have 2 4-ways is for Rampage.  Are there any other multiplayer games that would benefit from 4-ways ?

and thanks for the asteroids plan !

Rampage isn’t a 4-way game
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yotsuya

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2018, 05:22:49 pm »
Personally, I would look into servostiks to switch between 4-8 way rather than having 2 sets of joysticks.

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paigeoliver

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2018, 07:33:34 pm »
Putting a 4-way stick next to an 8-way and having them use the same buttons works great as well.
If you use a tall 8-way and a short 4-way to the left of it then the bases of the sticks can basically be touching.
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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2018, 09:51:12 pm »

Rampage isn’t a 4-way game

well i thought i read that somewhere but i could be wrong - are there any multiplayer games that use 4 way sticks ?

Putting a 4-way stick next to an 8-way and having them use the same buttons works great as well.
If you use a tall 8-way and a short 4-way to the left of it then the bases of the sticks can basically be touching.

thanks i may just do that since i dont want to have a huge CP.

quarterback

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2018, 11:50:12 pm »
Yeah, I was also thinking that multiple 4-ways might be overkill, but I wasn't sure what you might be wanting to do with it.  I play Rampage with 8-ways and it seems 'right' so, if that's the main goal, I agree with the above comments

I have a cab with a CP that has two 8-ways, a trackball in the middle, a spinner offset above it, and a single williams 49-way to the left of the spinner.  In a lot of ways, it sounds very similar to what you're thinking but I have a 49 rather than a 4 way.  And the two 8ways are close enough that I can play Crazy Climber, but not so close that two players can't fit at the cp. 

I built it a million years ago, but I'll see if I can find the layout so you can check it out

« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 12:19:43 am by quarterback »
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quarterback

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2018, 12:02:12 am »
Here's the layout of my CP. 
  • The odd shape in the middle is for the trackball. 
  • To the left and right are P1 and P2 joysticks, each with three buttons. 
  • The holes at the very top left and right are the P1 and P2 start buttons
  • The larger hole above the P1 buttons is for the 49 way because it has a different mounting than others.
  • To the right of that are two buttons that I would need for playing Sinistar with the 49 way, but they could also be used for something else like Defender or whatever
  • The tiny hole to the right of the 49-way's buttons and above the top right corner of the trackball is for the spinner.

I did multiple mockups, first with cardboard and then with wood, before ending up with this specific layout.  For me, the placement of the spinner and 49-way were tweaked multiple times to avoid conflicting with each other and getting in the way of the controls below them while also making sure they were too far north on the CP for comfortable use.  With the 49way, I had to take into account both my left arm clearing the P1 8-way joystick, as well as my right arm clearing the buttons.  If you have arms like Popeye, you might need something different but it seems like this kind of layout might work for you, with the 4way where the 49 way is.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 12:21:15 am by quarterback »
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Psynaptik

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2018, 03:36:55 pm »
I would also consider using a more 'curved' layout for the buttons rather than two straight rows that you've got there for each player. The Viewlix or Astro City layouts are really nice and Viewlix is the standard for a reason.

Two straight rows of buttons feels unnatural for the human hand. Check out slagcoin for different button layouts and just have a 'test' of them. i.e. print them out and lay hands on them and pretend pressing buttons to see how it feels. I think you'll see what I mean.

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2018, 11:40:28 pm »
Don't listen to any of that curved layout BS. The curved layout exists for one reason, when they were developing the Neo Geo MVS you couldn't get 4 buttons in a straight line on the control panel inserts of the generic Japanese cabinets of the day, so they dropped one button down to gain the fraction of an inch they needed. Capcom also had a competing 3x2 layout (which is dead straight in all their early documentation). That curved layout only exists for one reason, so Japanese cabinet makers could produce one cabinet that supported both the Neo Geo layout and the Capcom layout at the same time.

Players who think that is better are mistaking a compromise made for financial reasons for being superior just because it is Asian. None of the Japanese companies actually thought the curve was better, which is why it didn't exist anywhere outside of el cheapo generic Japanese cabinets. Capcoms kit documentation (even in Japan) and dedicated cabinets all specified straight button rows.

Also, I have owned several imported cabinets with curved layouts. The real curved layouts are so mild that they might as well not be there. People making their own almost without fail curve it harder, the harder you curve it the easier it is to get lost on the panel.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 11:42:25 pm by paigeoliver »
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chrisdfw

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2018, 12:05:51 pm »
As I worked closely with Namco and Atari at trade shows 30+ years ago, I would have to disagree with the choices of straight line vs curved being related to what fits jap cabs as the major deciding factor.

It was well known even in the 80's that straight lines were not ergonamic or easy to use.  Arcade game makers didn't want you comfortable and able to play longer on 1 quarter. They put more value in what looked good, was easy to produce, and that they could arrange their artwork and instructions around that was easy to understand.   

If you want a panel that looks good with everything symmetrical and in straight lines and like that you have to put a little effort into hitting the right buttons like the original classics then go for it.  If you want to play long gaming sessions with max comfort beyond the original experience with a more natural curved layout then thats cool too.

Luckily the buttons are big enough that the difference is minimal anyway until you get out to needing pinky buttons.

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2018, 03:16:57 pm »
if you dont play fighting games, you dont need the 6 button layout.

For your build I think an 8 way and 3 buttons per player is what you need. Maybe a single 4 way stick to the left of P1's 8way.  I wouldnt put a spinner directly above the trackball. The trackball can get in the way of using the spinner, and the spinner could get in the way of using the trackball.
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paigeoliver

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2018, 04:53:55 pm »
If the Japanese were so in love with ease of play (but only for their cheap home market cabinets), then why did they fit them with harder to use convex buttons?

Although I will admit some of what the Japanese did was pretty mysterious. Nintendo shipped controls that combined the worst qualities of leaf and microswitch controls, while being more expensive to produce than either one. Namco on some early games made the monitor bezel and control panel overlay the same piece of plastic, like that would never get damaged.

Note that you can easily draw a straight line through the buttons on a real Japanese layout. Curve is so mild I don't really notice it one way or the other, I am usually too busy hating on the dime store buttons to even care about that tiny curve. Could that possibly be superior to straight 3x2, sure, maybe if I had learned on that first and the controls that normally accompany that layout were not also terrible.

However ergonomics is something that is really easy to mess up. You can't mess up a straight line. Do a straight line and it works every time. It is only when you start trying to be smarter that you start ruining things. Like that yellow panel that forces the player on the left's arm into an unnatural angle (surely trying to be ergonomic based on 3 seconds thought about how that player might stand). That same cabinet also puts player 1 on the right and player 2 on the left, you know, in the exact opposite position of almost every game ever and in direct opposition to the side of the screen you will be worried about in the games that matters in (which is many). You can also just curve it too hard, like the commercial fight stick pictured here. There is no way that is easier to use than a straight line.

Almost all the really screwed up Mame cabinet panels out there are because people tried and failed to do something related to ergonomics, and listened to people who didn't know any better who encouraged them.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 05:03:47 pm by paigeoliver »
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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2018, 05:11:28 pm »
Just curious, why is it harder to use convex buttons vs. concave? This point seems like a stretch to me.

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2018, 05:22:21 pm »
I find my fingers slip off convex buttons so I lose my place but that's just me. As for curved buttons vs straight. Curved all day. Straight buttons means my right arm rests naturally. Straight then my elbow is digging into my side. Guess that's what I'm used to.

My mate swears the opposite is true ...  :dunno

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2018, 07:11:47 pm »
The fight stick layout makes sense if your arm is slightly out to the right, and the fingers are curled. Both are more ergonomic.


I find my fingers slip off convex buttons so I lose my place but that's just me. As for curved buttons vs straight. Curved all day. Straight buttons means my right arm rests naturally. Straight then my elbow is digging into my side. Guess that's what I'm used to.

My mate swears the opposite is true ...  :dunno


Don't move your hand around. I love the flat Seimitsus. Big surface area, easy plunge and actuation, short travel (though could be a slight shorter), easy return. I get the love for leaf switches, but the original buttons drop a mile, and I like physical restriction.

opt2not

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2018, 12:41:35 am »
Pro tip with leaf buttons: don’t let them go completely to neutral (depressed). Find the sweet spot right before the actuation and keep the button pressed there. You’ll find you can get a really rapid fire if can master the “half-cocked” technique.

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Re: Opinions on Control Panel layout
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2018, 11:11:22 am »
No, don’t do it. Keep it simple. Pick a real arcade machine that you like and mimic it 100%.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 11:14:13 am by keilmillerjr »

  
 

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