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Author Topic: Desktop CP brainstorming  (Read 379 times)

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Desktop CP brainstorming
« on: April 07, 2008, 08:03:59 pm »
Hi all - working on my new desktop/laptop control panel. Have way too many ideas running through my head, so I thought I'd write 'em all out, maybe you guys would have some suggestions. Please excuse the diarrhea of the keyboard - it is brainstorming after all.

I ordered a couple of U360s and six buttons from Andy a couple of weeks ago, and had a working prototype (v0.1) within an hour after they arrived. (Woodworking and electronics come easy, I have the tools and lots of scraps around, so it wasn't much.) Actually ordered two sets of everything, one for a friend, his v0.8 or so is almost done too. For my first shot, I just put one stick and 3 buttons, usable for one player games. I wanted to make sure my layout was ok. Since it was, we went on to my buddy's, making a two player version. We want it wide enough that two players can use it, but small enough to fit on your lap (to play via laptop->wide screen TV, for instance). Looks like it will work ok, I'll put a project announcement up with pics as soon as we get final plans.

So, on to the brainstorming *about* those final plans. One of the reasons I went with U360s is the 8 button encoders each one has. Seemed like more than I'd ever need, at first. But now with my 3 button setup, I'm already realizing that I don't like to reach over to the keyboard for $ or P1 start (or anything else, for that matter). The prototype plan was just 3 buttons per player, good enough for most two player games, since I'm not into fighters. But I'm thinking now that my friends or kids might decide the fighters are fun, so I'll probably want to go with the standard 6-button layout.

That, of course, starts running into button problems: I only have 8 inputs / joystick, which gives me only the six buttons plus player and $. Leaving me no "Esc" or Pause - not the end of the world, I suppose, but they'd be useful too. So maybe I should use the shift button functionality of the U360. Say we set the upper right of the six buttons as "pause/shift" (which is button 8 on the U360, yes?).  First, I'd have to remap button 8 -> button 6 whenever I play a fighter - ok, no problem there. I could normally use this button for Pause, also. I could then use the two remaining buttons for P1$ and P1, shifting them for P2$ and P2, but I don't like that, because then I still don't have "Esc", nor do I have any P3/P4 functionality (which will be needed when I get together with my buddy and we have both control panels - things like Simpsons, Gauntlet, and TMNT should be fun party games)

Hmmm, actually, since I have to setting USB ID's on the second panel's joysticks to 3 and 4 for party sessions (or the occasional Smash TV fest), I guess I can have separate keypresses mapped to the buttons for those cases anyway. So I can consider normal use, two player-two panel (Smash TV, any others?), and 3/4 player - two panel separately. I'm betting I can set up some autoconfig in the U360 setup...

Ok, so perhaps something like this for the normal layout:
(describing the eight buttons connected to stick one, stick two would be similar)

Normal (where P = Pause but also Shift)

P1$   P1Start

4 5 P
1 2 3


Esc   None

4 5 P
1 2 3

Minor modifications should let you play fighters on that layout too, probably moving Pause to the shifted P1start button. (Might want to do that anyway, if it gets hit accidentally sometimes.) As I said, I'm not much into the fighters, but let me ask those of you who are: is there a problem playing a Neo-Geo 4-button fighter with that layout if you've never known anything else? Or is that just as good, but people don't do it because it wasn't the original layout?

Hey, just thought of a minor difficulty. Was going to mount a USB hub inside of one of the panels, but if I'm going to be "frequently" changing the U360 USB IDs, I'll need to be able to easily unplug and plug in individual sticks. Guess I'll need to either mount it outside (back of the panel?) or make it accessible inside somehow...

Probably should add some pinball buttons on the side - no encoder issues though, those can just be in parallel with the normal buttons.

Wow, that's a pretty long, ugly, disjointed post. But just in the chance that somebody will read it and have good ideas (or be inspired by the concept) I'll post it anyway.
Fairbanks, Alaska (<-- anybody else from AK? pm me)
One (crappy but usable) desktop/laptop control panel
Williams "Smart Set" EM pin (webpage to come)