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Why did it take computers so long to get rid of the one-button joystick?


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#26 homerhomer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:58 PM

I think that a lot of computers were sold with not being gaming machines.  Video games were for kids. BTW - Didn't the Intellivision have two buttons?



#27 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:53 AM

 

Not dissing up to jump, it did work well enough in Smurf. For precision controlling however, a button works better. A lot better in fact. I can't imagine World 8-1 on a CX-40.

 

 

Maybe it would've been 'skill needed here'.....with a CX40



#28 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:08 AM

I think that a lot of computers were sold with not being gaming machines.  Video games were for kids. BTW - Didn't the Intellivision have two buttons?

The Intellivision controller has 15 distinct buttons. Only three can be used at the same time as the dpad but they all have been used as action buttons. For example, Intellivision NBA Basketball has nine different pass buttons, two different shoot buttons, and one block button. The Intellivision was not a toy and intended for use by or under the supervision of adults. It says this on the back of every Intellivision. The Intellivision and coleco vision were both designed to be expanded into computers from initial concept.

Some computers like the c-64 or amiga may have been designed as game machines but without bundled game controllers, most game developers will program for the simplest controller and the widest market.

#29 Inky OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:22 PM

Didn't the Atari STe have a port for more advanced controllers, and was it ever used?



#30 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:48 PM

The Falcon certainly has those "enhanced" joystick ports. I was amazed to discover that they accommodate Jaguar joypads.



#31 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:08 PM

I usually add a second or third button (for Amiga) by mapping up to its own button as jump. It works great for most platform games. :)

#32 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 4, 2017 11:14 AM

I get that it's understandable that the Atari 400/800 used it as their standard joystick, but that was 1979. Not everyone really knew at the time that more would soon be necessary. After that though, there was no excuse. The Commodore 64 was geared toward being an extremely gamer-friendly computer. So why not bundle it with a 3-button joystick or controller? If they wanted to keep the costs low, fine. Package it separately as their standard joystick. When Atari re-packaged their 8-bit line with the amazing 800XL, they forgot to repackage the controller.
 
The final straw was 1985. 16-bit systems like the ST and Amiga still used it. I'm sure their were special controllers, but the vast, vast majority (probably 99%) didn't take advantage of more than one button. Just imagine for a moment if the Famicom/NES only had one button. Super Mario Bros. would have had to have used "up" to jump, severely hindering control.
 
So why did it take so long to get away from the one-button albatross? Don't get me wrong, the Golden Age of gaming is probably my favorite. I also love the standard Atari joystick for it's feel and sturdiness. I just wish it even had two buttons. It would have helped in games such as Super Cobra tremendously.


The Atari joystick specification became a sort of defacto standard. Atari and third party joysticks were widely available, and companies that didn't really want to be designing their own joysticks just slapped on the Atari-compatible ports. INTV, 5200 and CV all tried more advanced controllers, but they all kinda did so poorly, and things reverted back the the classic. It wasn't until the NES took off that additional buttons became a competitive necessity.

#33 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 4, 2017 11:15 AM

Didn't the Atari STe have a port for more advanced controllers, and was it ever used?


They worked with Jaguar game pads, and as I recall it was actually easier to support these in your games than it was for the 9-pin joystick on the STe. However, I don't think a lot of software supports them.

#34 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 3:42 AM

I wonder if Atari held a patent and licensed their pinout. Out of the major manufacturers early on, mainly Commodore copied the design. When others like the MSX standard, Sega's consoles and others arrived, they tended to rearrange the pins, whether it was for functionality or circumventing any licensing costs. Even Commodore tried to steer away from the Atari pinout with their Plus/4 and Commodore 16 series, using a mini-DIN instead of DE9. They claimed it was for electrical safety and miniatyrisation, while I think either it was to enable Commodore to be able to sell their own joysticks for a short while before adapters and third party joysticks may arrive, or to circumvent Atari in case they had reacted in some way after first the VIC-20 and then the big seller C64.

 

As far as I know, the Plus/4 joysticks only support one button as well, despite being redesigned from the ground up. Other manufacturers with custom controllers like e.g. Sord M5 supported two buttons from 1982 though. I'm a little unsure about TI-99/4A, TRS-80 CoCo, BBC Micro and others not adhering to the Atari pinout. Apple was already mentioned above.



#35 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 6:53 AM

Even Commodore tried to steer away from the Atari pinout with their Plus/4 and Commodore 16 series, using a mini-DIN instead of DE9. They claimed it was for electrical safety and miniatyrisation, while I think either it was to enable Commodore to be able to sell their own joysticks for a short while before adapters and third party joysticks may arrive, or to circumvent Atari in case they had reacted in some way after first the VIC-20 and then the big seller C64.


i very vaguely "remember" a news item in the 1980s which might be a figment of my imagination about Atari trying to claim everyone else was infringing their design; that might explain the 264 series getting the micro DIN and, when nothing legal actually happened, why they went back to the standard later.

The "electrical safety" argument might actually make sense though, the 264 is notorious for not protecting the TED very well so perhaps this was a fudge to stop people connecting 9 pin devices with the wrong pinouts and killing the machine in the process... as well as making cash from selling joysticks.
 

As far as I know, the Plus/4 joysticks only support one button as well, despite being redesigned from the ground up.


By the look of it, they redesigned and removed the potentiometers (and one pin since the micro DIN is 8 lines) in the process. There's four joystick directions, fire, +5VDC, ground and a line on the diagrams which seems to be for data labelled "common".

#36 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 7:16 AM

As you may remember, I'm the owner a TED development board dated August 1983. It has a DE9 joystick port as well as the card edge tape connector. The board easily fits in a VIC/64 shell, perhaps though a Plus/4 shell or even worse a C116 shell would be too small but then again it is an early development board, not optimized for production. With that I would like to say that any claim Atari may have laid, should date to late 1983, if the later 264, 364 and 232 prototypes have the DIN connectors instead. Of course the claim could've been put earlier but that Commodore for a short while ignored it as this was only a dev board sent to software developers who probably had their own Atari compatible joysticks already, without the need to supply brand new joysticks too.



#37 AMenard OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 8, 2017 9:27 AM

I believe that the simple reason of why they stick with it is that for the vast majority it just work.

And since many of the game studios were in europe, for the home computer side of thing at least, and they were programing for the sinclair, which many used the Kempston interface (Atari joystick standard), then it's what they were used to program for.



#38 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 9, 2017 7:57 AM

Single button controllers are very limiting. Developers program for the lowest common denominator controller to maximise potential sales. They can also save money when developing crossplatform games; minimising changes while porting code. Some PC games suffered from this even though the PC standard game interface supported multiple buttons from the beginning.

#39 AMenard OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 9, 2017 9:20 AM

The limitations only became apparent as the games became more complex. It wasn't really that much of a problem in the 8 bits era.

#40 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:04 AM

Video games don't have to be complicated to make use of multiple buttons and have done so from the beginning (eg. Defender, missile command, tempest, moon patrol, gauntlet). The question is, consoles had multi-button controllers since 1980; why not computers?

The limitation was apparent to me when I played double dragon ii on my PC. It only used one button although my joystick had three buttons.

#41 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:06 AM

Video games don't have to be complicated to make use of multiple buttons and have done so from the beginning (eg. Defender, missile command, tempest, moon patrol, gauntlet). The question is, consoles had multi-button controllers since 1980; why not computers?


Computers had a whole keyboard they used for extra buttons. It wasn't a pressing issue

#42 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:10 AM

I played Double Dragon II with a keyboard;  the game was still programmed to use a single button.

 

edit:

I also was surprised that, although I had an analog controller, most games didn't seem to make use of it and were stuck with eight directions.  This was very apparent with sports games, especially when you came from playing Intellivision.


Edited by mr_me, Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:16 AM.


#43 x=usr(1536) OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:54 PM



Computers had a whole keyboard they used for extra buttons. It wasn't a pressing issue

 

GlJweMD.png



#44 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:06 PM

 

GlJweMD.png

 

LOL-   I didn't notice it myself until right after I posted it.   But I left it anyway to see if anyone saw it  :) 



#45 AMenard OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:13 PM

It's still a key issue...

#46 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 8:57 PM

At least the DB9 allows for a second button following the SMS and Amiga standards.

I was thinking of building an adapter that could translate a 2 button stick to a 4 button controller by accepting combos for start and select, say A+B+Down=Start and A+B+Up=Select. Has anybody tried something like that? It would only work for games that don't require using both buttons together often though (e.g. Mario would be awkward).

The adapter could have some other features:
- Basic mode, both buttons are A (VCS standard)
- Jump mode, second button is Up
- Dual mode, A + B buttons (Amiga standard)
- Combo mode, A + B + start/select combos

Probably will try to wire a DB9 to DB15 adapter (Neogeo format) for now...

Edited by Newsdee, Yesterday, 8:58 PM.





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