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Game controls: keyboard ESDX, WASD, joysticks


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#1 FarmerPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 3:18 PM

Discussion of love/hate for ESDX keys, joysticks, other key layouts like WASD

 

There were posts about key preferences in the "Assembly on the  99/4A" thread, following a discussing of KSCAN.

 

I am quoting them here, hoping to divert the talk to its own thread.


Edited by FarmerPotato, Sat Mar 9, 2019 4:17 PM.


#2 FarmerPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 3:25 PM

On a related yet much less technical note...

I’ve always felt the early computer games overused the keyboard. Lots of really poor UI out there...

Examples:

“Press J for joystick or K for keyboard”
or
“Press Enter/Return to start game.”
or
“Press 1 to play, 2 to exit.”
or
“Press Spacebar to begin”
or
“Make sure alpha-lock is....”
or

As a gamer I much prefer joystick based menus with button presses or Joystick movement to select options.

Ex: Building in a joystick-up menu movement requirement prior to starting your game assures Alpha-Lock is released on the TI console, well before gameplay begins, every time.

It’s understood the TI console did not come with a joystick. Is it not safe to assume each potential player has one by now? Why punish all players with zero value added keyboard driven UIs?

Text adventures may be the exception here. They may also be the reason bad UIs became the standard prior to action games: sports, shooters, etc.

Nothing worse than having to get up off the couch to restart a game. Seriously, I didn’t buy a joystick cable extender so I can now get up and press the 1 key to restart each and every game.

Friends don’t let friends KSCAN.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

 

 

 

But you have to consider the times the 99/4A was released in.  Most people didn't have computer exposure prior to getting one, and if you just said "Use Joystick to make selection" and you couldn't move up because the Alpha Lock key was engaged, and didn't provide a reminder message, the novice user would likely be pretty frustrated with your program very quickly.  I know there was an addendum thing in the pile of docs that came with the 99/4A that mentioned the joystick/alpha lock issue, but the average person probably didn't read all that real thoroughly.

 

 

I understand you're talking about the menus, not gameplay.

 

But for gameplay, I don't like joysticks. I have more dexterity in my fingertips on the keyboard. I resent that the Atarisoft games generally don't have keyboard controls.

 

 

Late games like Barrage and SpotShot let you push Fire instead of Redo. You only needed the keyboard for Back.

 

 

I’ve always felt the early computer games overused the keyboard. Lots of really poor UI out there...

Examples:

“Press J for joystick or K for keyboard”
or
“Press Enter/Return to start game.”
or
“Press 1 to play, 2 to exit.”
or
“Press Spacebar to begin”
or
“Make sure alpha-lock is....”
or

As a gamer I much prefer joystick based menus with button presses or Joystick movement to select options.

Ex: Building in a joystick-up menu movement requirement prior to starting your game assures Alpha-Lock is released on the TI console, well before gameplay begins, every time.

It’s understood the TI console did not come with a joystick. Is it not safe to assume each potential player has one by now? Why punish all players with zero value added keyboard driven UIs?

Text adventures may be the exception here. They may also be the reason bad UIs became the standard prior to action games: sports, shooters, etc.

Nothing worse than having to get up off the couch to restart a game. Seriously, I didn’t buy a joystick cable extender so I can now get up and press the 1 key to restart each and every game.

Friends don’t let friends KSCAN.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

 

 

But you have to consider the times the 99/4A was released in.  Most people didn't have computer exposure prior to getting one, and if you just said "Use Joystick to make selection" and you couldn't move up because the Alpha Lock key was engaged, and didn't provide a reminder message, the novice user would likely be pretty frustrated with your program very quickly.  I know there was an addendum thing in the pile of docs that came with the 99/4A that mentioned the joystick/alpha lock issue, but the average person probably didn't read all that real thoroughly.

 

 

I understand you're talking about the menus, not gameplay.

 

But for gameplay, I don't like joysticks. I have more dexterity in my fingertips on the keyboard. I resent that the Atarisoft games generally don't have keyboard controls.

 

 

Late games like Barrage and SpotShot let you push Fire instead of Redo. You only needed the keyboard for Back.

 

 

 

In Bubble Plane (1988) I added a CRU bit test and a message saying "RELEASE ALPHA LOCK TO BEGIN PLAY". Despite what I just said, keyboard and joystick gameplay and menus (including joystick high score initials entry) were both supported.

 


#3 FarmerPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 3:26 PM

 

Please use WASD instead of the "arrow keys" (which require two hands in a very uncomfortable configuration).

 

And REDO / BACK are awful IMO, avoid them whenever possible.

 

TI created a model for software on the 99/4A based on bad design (or a lack of any design) that perpetuated the use of things like single-color sprites, multi-key inputs (REDO, BACK, etc.), explicit instructions for single key inputs "Press 'P' to play", bad fonts, and on and on.  When you compare 99/4A software with titles with systems like the ColecoVision, MSX1, and what people are producing today on the stock hardware, it is plainly obvious most developers did not even try very hard on the 99/4A.

 

Yes, please do follow the examples of systems like the MSX1 and NES for how to navigate and control games.  I guarantee you that none of the kids back then went running to the manual to figure out how to navigate the game menus and options, all without any keyboard at all.

 

 

 

 

Please allow the user to choose a keyboard layout?

 

I suppose by two hands you mean left hand on E+S, right hand on X+D.  I have seen people adopt this. It strikes me as odd when three fingertips is enough for me.

 

I have always used my right hand thumb on X, middle finger on E, index finger on S+D. My index finger can move most quickly of all to switch between S and D.

 

I am not a big fan of WASD. If I use the middle finger for both W and S, that muscle is slower to finish the movement (tendon causes three joints to contract) than the other movement in ESDX .WASD feels uncomfortable because my middle finger is above average length.

 

 

That said, we all have idiosyncratic wiring between brains and fingertips. 

 

Also, hjkl. 

 

 

This subject probably deserves its own thread.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

 

 

I absolutely hate WASD instead of arrows. They are never lined up evenly on almost any keyboard.

The E is always off center to right of S & D keys, the X is directly below like it should be,

 

I like the ARROWS as they are exactly lined up like you would expect. 

 

Also I hate the Number Keys  and instead use Number Pad keys for numbers as you do not have to look to hit the right key.

Additionally you can hit Num Lock and get another set of keys.

 

I have small hands with short fingers so most keyboards is hard for me to type on.

 

 

 

Put your pinky of your left hand on the "A" key and place each of your following fingers to the right on the home row keys with your pointer finger ending up on the "F" key. The side of your thumb rests on the spacebar.

To hit the "W" key (up), extend your ring finger naturally up from the "S" key, and your joints will naturally guide it to the upper-left direction there.

 

Other natural movements are moving your pointer finger from the "F" key up to the "R" key or down to the "V" key.

Using the spacebar for something precise like jumping feels really natural with this hand positioning.

 

Part of the comfort of using WASD has to come from instant onscreen feedback (high framerate). Otherwise I agree it is more confusing than a cardinal direction layout.

 


#4 pixelpedant OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 3:35 PM

 


Also, hjkl. 

 

 

Indeed.  Basically, any four sequential keys at all is cool with me.  I prefer ASDF out of habit.  Spending many hours of every day for decades with my hands on a home row means they're pretty well trained to sit there comfortably.  But HJKL works too.  I'm likewise not a fan of WASD, and find having forward and backward on the same finger in that arrangement unnecessarily awkward. 

 

The debate with respect to TI 99 differs from that for many other more modern systems, as a majority of games have (direction aside) a one-button input scheme.  So I figure in those contexts, it absolutely doesn't matter where you are on the keyboard. But I find four adjacent keys to be the most comfortable position for direction keys. 

 

I've just always been unable to place any value at all on the placement of direction keys in a configuration reflective of purpose.  My "fire" button doesn't need to look like a gun's trigger for me to use it acceptably.  My "jump" button doesn't have to physically reflect the act of jumping, for me to use it for that.  While it's nice for control to aesthetically reflect function if this is easily achieved and there is no downside to its doing so, I just can't see that as a priority which trumps comfort and efficiency. 

 

This all having said, I realise a lot of people are going to want direction keys to simply match those they've used the most.  So one can understand WASD being preferred, as simply the most prevalent. 


Edited by pixelpedant, Sat Mar 9, 2019 3:42 PM.


#5 InsaneMultitasker OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 3:44 PM

I dislike the traditional WASD input in part because the first person clan I joined 20+ years ago "taught" people to use the right mouse button to move forward, "W" to move backwards, A/D strafe left and right, "S" to crouch, and left mouse to fire.  Makes it easy to stop, move forward, or quickly reverse without removing the fingers from those primary directions, and you can still crouch and move easily enough.

 

On the TI I prefer an old Atari joystick for the shoot-em-up games, and mostly keyboard interface where both joystick and keyboard input is necessary.  I don't play many games these days so for me, having keyboard input is nice for a 5-10 minute distraction.  Longer periods would probably force me to dig out the joystick :)



#6 senior_falcon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 4:26 PM

RXB, on 09 Mar 2019 - 12:16 PM, said:snapback.png

I absolutely hate WASD instead of arrows. They are never lined up evenly on almost any keyboard.

The E is always off center to right of S & D keys, the X is directly below like it should be,

 

whicker, on 09 Mar 2019 - 2:49 PM, said:snapback.png

 

Put your pinky of your left hand on the "A" key and place each of your following fingers to the right on the home row keys with your pointer finger ending up on the "F" key. The side of your thumb rests on the spacebar.

To hit the "W" key (up), extend your ring finger naturally up from the "S" key, and your joints will naturally guide it to the upper-left direction there.

 

Other natural movements are moving your pointer finger from the "F" key up to the "R" key or down to the "V" key.

Using the spacebar for something precise like jumping feels really natural with this hand positioning.

 

If you study a mechanical typewriter you will see why the keys are arranged as they are. Once people learned to touch type on a mechanical typewriter, that keyboard arrangement was carried over to computer keyboards. It may seem natural to move your left index finger from the F to the V  or the B but that is only because you learned that way. Since your hands are symmetrical why does it feel natural to move your right index finger from the J to the M or N? It's because that is how you learned to type. If your joints naturally guided your left ring finger up and to the left then why does it feel right for the same finger on your right hand go up and to the left? Same answer. 

 

I suspect that if you started with a clean slate it would make more sense to have the keys aligned in horizontal and vertical rows. But no one would buy a keyboard like that because it wouldn't feel "right".



#7 Vorticon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 4:51 PM

Best to have user assigned keys to suit their preference. A pain to code from a UI perspective though. I have found that the UI development of any project is the most time-consuming aspect of programming. 



#8 jrhodes OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 5:01 PM

I forget the name of the game, but i have encountered I(up)J(left)K(right)M(down) as player control in a TI Basic game before.

On PC, i stick with WASD, but that does not feel right on the TI.

Good old ESDX is what i like for keyboard action, but i will always take joystick if the option is there.

Speaking of joystick, i prefer to use port 1. I have several times altered the game code of Basic and XB games from port 2 to port 1.

As for what type of joystick, for me nothing but a good old Wico ball-top stick.



#9 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2019 6:20 PM

I have changed many CB and XB games to use ESDX when they were configured in a way I didnt like. I usually configured the . (Period) key as the fire/action key because Im left handed.
  • RXB likes this

#10 senior_falcon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:06 PM

RXB wrote:

"Again my PINKY will not reach the A key at same time as other fingers are on S & D keys.

And there is a half inch gap between my index finger and F key, 

In order to type I have to constantly crank my hand left and right. I can type 60 words a minute, but it looks odd for a reason.

The lay out of keys was not for typing it was for using a MANUAL TYPE WRITER as it took infinite more power back then, but that pattern stuck.

Because the TI99/4A keyboard is shrunk I can type faster on it then normal computer keyboards."

 

This must be caused by how you learned to type. My pinkie is 1 1/4 inch shorter than the next finger, so it shouldn't even reach the Z key. But when I put my left fingers on the home row, my pinkie and index finger are almost straight, while the middle two fingers have much more of an arch  which puts  all 4 fingers on the ASDF keys. I know lots of people with small hands who have no trouble touch typing.

In any case, I'm sure you're not about to change the way you've been typing for 30+ years. 

For what it's worth, the TI99/4A keyboard is not shrunk. It is smaller because there are fewer keys, but if you measure you will see that the key spacing is identical to the PC keyboard.

I have an IOGEAR wireless keyboard, model # GKM681R. This actually is shrunk a bit. From A to semicolon is 6.625" and a standard keyboard is 7.5". Perhaps that smaller size would work better for you.

 



#11 RXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:10 AM

 

RXB wrote:

"Again my PINKY will not reach the A key at same time as other fingers are on S & D keys.

And there is a half inch gap between my index finger and F key, 

In order to type I have to constantly crank my hand left and right. I can type 60 words a minute, but it looks odd for a reason.

The lay out of keys was not for typing it was for using a MANUAL TYPE WRITER as it took infinite more power back then, but that pattern stuck.

Because the TI99/4A keyboard is shrunk I can type faster on it then normal computer keyboards."

 

This must be caused by how you learned to type. My pinkie is 1 1/4 inch shorter than the next finger, so it shouldn't even reach the Z key. But when I put my left fingers on the home row, my pinkie and index finger are almost straight, while the middle two fingers have much more of an arch  which puts  all 4 fingers on the ASDF keys. I know lots of people with small hands who have no trouble touch typing.

In any case, I'm sure you're not about to change the way you've been typing for 30+ years. 

For what it's worth, the TI99/4A keyboard is not shrunk. It is smaller because there are fewer keys, but if you measure you will see that the key spacing is identical to the PC keyboard.

I have an IOGEAR wireless keyboard, model # GKM681R. This actually is shrunk a bit. From A to semicolon is 6.625" and a standard keyboard is 7.5". Perhaps that smaller size would work better for you.

 

 

Because my hands are wide but short fingers due to my size the heel of my hand is perfect for pushing the FCTN key on the TI99/4A while typing and not losing a stroke.

Never seen anyone else that can do this without losing keys typing.

This is why I can type faster on TI99/4A vs PC keyboard, as hitting shift key for special characters is much more work on a PC.

 

I typed in the entire source of XB GROM/ROM and TI GPL Manuals for everyone to have using just the TI.






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