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Compatible gamepad controllers?

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While exploring the idea of a dedicated PC stick for emulation, I tried an emulator called Atari800MacX on a Mac Mini. It would take me some time to learn all the in's an out's of a system like that but my initial impression is generally positive. One trouble I had was getting a gamepad to work properly. My sons and I tried all our modern controllers, wired and wireless, for Xbox, PS4, and generic USB. None of them worked. Only a wireless SteelSeries Nimbus seemed to work but half of the controls are reversed. Left and right are fine but up and down are flipped. Also flipped are all the diagonal points.

 

A quick Google search leads me to think finding an emulator compatible controller is not easy. :( I was seriously hoping for something simple and generic, even wired, from Amazon had been discovered.

 

Do we know what works and what doesn't? Can one gamepad work across multiple platforms and emulators?

 

Thanks!

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You should be able to get controllers working with Atari800MacX. Make sure you are using version 5.01, which was posted on the Atariage forum a few months ago. I'm using a Mac running OSX 10.13.6 and tried 4 wired USB controllers. An old Gravis Gamepad Pro, Atari (Legacy Engineering) USB joystick and a Logitech F310 (switch set to D mode) all worked fine, but a GeeekPi SNES USB Gamepad didn't work correctly. 

 

You should only have 1 controller plugged into your Mac at a time while you configure Atari800MacX. In Atari800MacX select Preferences-Controllers and Preferences-Gamepads to configure them.

 

I haven't spent much time trying Bluetooth controllers with my Mac.

 

The wired Logitech F310 is highly rated, is available locally and on-line for about $20 and works well with Windows, OSX and Raspberry Pi. There is a switch on the F310 allowing use in X mode (XBox) and D mode (Direct). For Windows and Raspberry Pi, it's recommended you run the gamepad in X mode while the gamepad runs better in D mode with Macs.

Edited by Forrest

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I've always thought getting controllers to work was the easy part.  Now, whether those controllers are suitable for the games I want to play is a different story entirely, but I've never used an emulator where controller setup was difficult.  I've used keyboard encoder-based controls (MAME cabinet), 20 year-old wired Logitechs, real NES controllers through an adapter, real 2600 joysticks through an adapter, XBOX 360 controllers, and wireless PS3 controllers.  I think Windows just recognizes these devices generically as "game controller" and passes them on to the emulator software. 

 

IMO the best one-size-fits-all, generation-spanning emulation controller is something with the basic button layout of modern controllers.  Lately I've been using PS3 controllers through a Mayflash adapter and it works great.  If you only want to play pre-16-bit stuff then you can use other controllers, but once you get to the SNES you've got the 4 face buttons in a diamond pattern and shoulder buttons, which continues to be useful (if not necessary) for everything after that.  The popular emulator "Retroarch" seems to acknowledge this by mapping everything to that basic configuration through their "Retropad" concept. 

Edited by Cynicaster

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If you're having trouble with a game controller, first make sure the system recognises it as a standard hid game controller. If the system doesn't recognise it than you're wasting your time trying to make it work with the emulator. Edited by mr_me

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In Atari800MacX, you can determine if the controller is recognized by clicking Preferences-Gamepads-Identify Gamepad 1. In this screenshot, my Atari (Legacy Engineering) USB joystick is identified as USB_Classic

 

 

 

 

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Emulators generally use standard game controllers recognised by the system.

Try this to test game controllers.
https://html5gamepad.com

 

I got myself a Logitech F310. It worked just fine on both Atari800MacX and on Altirra. What a treat! :) The only trick for Atari800MacX is I had to restart the computer. I had to set the controller to "D" mode on the back with the Mac and "X" on my Win 10 PC.

 

Also, the link above worked too! It is pretty cool!

 

Just for kicks I decided to try a cheapie Bluetooth gamepad. I couldn't even get it to pair. :( Back it goes to Amazon.

 

How do the controllers get assigned as "Gamepad 1", "Gamepad 2", etc by Windows or OS X? Ideally, I'd like to get four (or more?) controllers up and going.

 

I have a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse that I use with their receiver. Maybe I should try one of Logitech's wireless controllers next? They are pricey though.

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Glad you made progress in using the Logitech F310. The Apple store lists the Nimbus SteelSeries as Mac, iPhone and iPad compatible - so it should work fine. You should assign the 2nd controller within the Atari800MacX. Logitech controllers historically have good Mac compatibility, so my guess is the F710 controller should work fine with your Windows and Mac's.

 

I've tried using XBox controllers with Mac's in the past with poor results.

 

XBox One S wireless controllers work fine with Windows 10 machines with Bluetooth. Note you'll probably need to connect the controller to the Windows 10 machine with a micro USB cable to update the firmware in controller. After the firmware is updated, the controller will work wirelessly.

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I got myself a Logitech F310. It worked just fine on both Atari800MacX and on Altirra. What a treat! :) The only trick for Atari800MacX is I had to restart the computer. I had to set the controller to "D" mode on the back with the Mac and "X" on my Win 10 PC.
 
Also, the link above worked too! It is pretty cool!
 
Just for kicks I decided to try a cheapie Bluetooth gamepad. I couldn't even get it to pair. :( Back it goes to Amazon.
 
How do the controllers get assigned as "Gamepad 1", "Gamepad 2", etc by Windows or OS X? Ideally, I'd like to get four (or more?) controllers up and going.
 
...

Most game software keeps track of controllers by their name but a few number them. How they are numbered depends on the operating system. In windows, they are numbered in the order they are first plugged in and registered by windows. In Linux the numbering goes by the usb port number order. So in windows, it's very difficult to change the order; if you unplug controller1 then controller2 becomes controller1. In Linux you just swap the controllers between usb ports to change the numbering. Not sure about macs they might behave like linux.

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Going on a spree here ...

 

Today I tested a Logitech F710 wireless controller on my old Mac Mini. Getting up and running was a little awkward but Google helped me out.

 

Step 1 - Remove the battery from the controller.

Step 2 - Set controller to "D"

Step 3 - Insert Logitech dongle.

Step 4 - Insert removed battery back into controller.

 

Don't try Bluetooth pairing and don't install any software. The controller was recognized by Atari800MacX and I played a round of MULE.

 

I wonder if I could pair another one to the same dongle ... or, is each dongle already paired to the controller in the same package by default?

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I use a Mayflash SNES to USB adapter. I mostly use it with my ASCII Fightstick SN... I already had the joystick so the adapter was the cheapest way for my to have arcade-like control on my PC. Sadly it doesn't do x-input but it works great with emulators... especially MAME.

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