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sixersfan105

New NES-Style Gamepad Available for TI-99/4A

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Thought I would pass along that Mike (aka @RetroGameBoyz) now makes gamepads specifically for the TI-99/4A. You can see he took styling cues from the original black and silver model. No Y-cable required. Works for one-player games only. You can get a discount by taking out the eBay middleman and dealing with him directly. This gamepad came to be out of a customer request (not mine). Of course he could also make a gamepad in this or similar styling that works with the Atari adapter, in which case you could get two-player. He's extremely accessible on Twitter if you have any feedback that you'd like to get to him, or it could certainly be discussed here and he will see it when he pops into the forums. 

 

TI-99.jpg

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Thank you - very kind of you - it is awesome to see people talking about your products - retrogameboyz.com - for other models - (Atari 2600, 7800, Colecovision, Vectrex, Amiga, Commodore GS true 2 button, Sega Master System, TI-99, Commodore 64 / Atari with push up to jump button mapping, Odyssey 2 DB9 only) 30 day free returns (domestic US sales) 1000+ sold, 100% positive feedback - prefer eBay sales due to buyer and seller protection and it is much easier to process and manage. Happy to help and answer any questions. 
 

 

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Edited by RetroGameBoyz
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1 hour ago, RetroGameBoyz said:

Thank you - very kind of you - it is awesome to see people talking about your products - retrogameboyz.com - for other models - (Atari 2600, 7800, Colecovision, Vectrex, Amiga, Commodore GS true 2 button, Sega Master System, TI-99, Commodore 64 / Atari with push up to jump button mapping, Odyssey 2 DB9 only) 30 day free returns (domestic US sales) 1000+ sold, 100% positive feedback - prefer eBay sales due to buyer and seller protection and it is much easier to process and manage. Happy to help and answer any questions.

Looks awesome! What joystick 2 actions are the additional buttons mapped to?  I'll definitely need to make sure it's supported in my game.

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Hey Pete - So I haven’t come across any games that use 2 buttons. Technically I reserve all the buttons for other console configurations on my circuit boards. So for this one it’s just part of the design. start an select just move left and right and buttons B and A are fire one. Thanks for your question let me know if I can help any further.

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Nicely done!  Nice color scheme to match a classic controller with the TI :)

 

One minor concern that came to my mind was whether or not the "A" button and the bottom of the "state of texas" are too close for comfort.  I know some people press the buttons with the very tip of their thumb whereas others, like me, press a bit closer to the first joint.  How much distance is there between the button and raised area?  

 

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11 minutes ago, RetroGameBoyz said:

So I haven’t come across any games that use 2 buttons.

Knight Lore can use two buttons if they are mapped to the fire buttons of controller one and two.

Edited by Asmusr
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Thank you Insane - I agree about the Texas location....and funny you mentioned it my wife said the same thing. That can be easily changed - it was just an experiment with the 3D printer. I have not measured it but I believe the top of the thumb might hit it. If people really want one of these I make vinyl laminated decals as well whic would eliminate that problem. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

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Ah Pete I see what you mean - yes so you could use the 2nd action button. I’m new to the TI-99 and assuming there are some homebrews and flashcarts that take advantage of button 2? But yes that could be easily done. 

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I build a similar setup with a genesis controller and I have found that when it's plugged in (no diodes) it interferes with keyboard function.   

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The diodes are worth it, yeah. Without them you can't use two joysticks nor can you use keyboard and joystick at the same time. It's just one diode per return line.

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Glad to hear further discussion of additional button mappings.  It really does feel like this is an important step forward this community can make - accepting multi-button controllers as a popular convention.  It's just one of those "chicken or the egg" things.  Where they aren't very widespread because few games support them, and few games are designed to benefit from them because they aren't very widespread.  But I have to think the dam breaks, at some point.  If not on the TI-99, where, after all?  There are few systems whose OEM controllers are regarded with less nostalgia.  "Anything but the painsticks" is already pretty much the standard controller. 

 

So single player controllers definitely seem like territory where this can catch on, given with a single-player controller there's no reason not to map those extra buttons. 

 

I'm kind of tempted to hack together a Genesis 6-button or Saturn controller (my two favourites) with a wiring like this, for fun, since I've got a damaged 6-button which therefore wouldn't be wantonly sacrificed, for the purpose:

 

image.thumb.png.58a762a1c71c177cf26e47666d71f6c4.png

 

 

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14 hours ago, Tursi said:

The diodes are worth it, yeah. Without them you can't use two joysticks nor can you use keyboard and joystick at the same time.

Yeah my understanding is he made this version for someone who wanted a one-player only joystick configuration on his TI. Out of curiosity, when would you ever need to use the keyboard and joystick at the same time? Pressing a key here and there to start up a game, sure, but then once the game starts it's all joystick, no? Unless there are some newer homebrews that require keyboard strokes and joystick input at concurrently? If so, that sounds very...tedious!

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The larger source of tediousness, here seems to me to be having to plug in and remove a joystick for every key input.    I don't see the problem with occasional keyboard use itself. 

 

Even if games which benefit from use of both keyboard and joystick during active gameplay are rare, games in which gameplay is frequently and compulsorily restarted with REDO or BACK (and which will not restart via joystick input itself) are common enough.  Or occasionally, games which use BEGIN/PROC'D to start/continue.  I don't feel like you can get away with TI-99/4A gaming minus keyboard input very easily or consistently.  Even when you're mostly using the joystick. 

 

As far as games which "make sense" to play *mainly* with a gamepad/joystick but with *occasional* keyboard input, I'd say Superfly is one, presuming you don't have an MBX.  Since it definitely plays better with joystick/gamepad.  But the special ability which clears the screen has to be executed from the keyboard. 

 

There'd also be an argument I figure for playing Star Trek SOS with one hand on a joystick and one hand on the keyboard.  Just because the joystick control scheme (both here and on 2600) is kind of goofy, with only one button, but you still might want to use the joystick for basic motion control and the keyboard for photon torpedos and warp drive.  Though I just use the keyboard. 

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1 hour ago, pixelpedant said:

The larger source of tediousness, here seems to me to be having to plug in and remove a joystick for every key input.    I don't see the problem with occasional keyboard use itself. 

 

Even if games which benefit from use of both keyboard and joystick during active gameplay are rare, games in which gameplay is frequently and compulsorily restarted with REDO or BACK (and which will not restart via joystick input itself) are common enough.  Or occasionally, games which use BEGIN/PROC'D to start/continue.  I don't feel like you can get away with TI-99/4A gaming minus keyboard input very easily or consistently.  Even when you're mostly using the joystick. 

 

As far as games which "make sense" to play *mainly* with a gamepad/joystick but with *occasional* keyboard input, I'd say Superfly is one, presuming you don't have an MBX.  Since it definitely plays better with joystick/gamepad.  But the special ability which clears the screen has to be executed from the keyboard. 

 

There'd also be an argument I figure for playing Star Trek SOS with one hand on a joystick and one hand on the keyboard.  Just because the joystick control scheme (both here and on 2600) is kind of goofy, with only one button, but you still might want to use the joystick for basic motion control and the keyboard for photon torpedos and warp drive.  Though I just use the keyboard. 

Oh so you mean REDO and BACK commands wouldn't work if this gamepad were plugged in, as currently configured? Interesting. I agree that's an issue. I don't know much about the technical ins and outs.

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9 hours ago, sixersfan105 said:

Yeah my understanding is he made this version for someone who wanted a one-player only joystick configuration on his TI. Out of curiosity, when would you ever need to use the keyboard and joystick at the same time? Pressing a key here and there to start up a game, sure, but then once the game starts it's all joystick, no? Unless there are some newer homebrews that require keyboard strokes and joystick input at concurrently? If so, that sounds very...tedious!

Probably not often, but never say never. When I made my own first joysticks back in the day, I was very surprised to find that a certain joystick combination and any of several keys at the same time caused the system to reboot. ;)

 

Matters less to gamers than devs, I guess, but I learned my lesson the hard way.

 

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4 hours ago, sixersfan105 said:

Oh so you mean REDO and BACK commands wouldn't work if this gamepad were plugged in, as currently configured? Interesting. I agree that's an issue. I don't know much about the technical ins and outs.

The conflicts only happen if the joystick is being moved... when it's centered and no buttons are pressed, all pins are open so no conflict.

 

The diodes just prevent backflow from causing mis-interpreted reads. As another example, without the diodes two joysticks interfere with each other. Diodes are super cheap, it's not like adding them is hard. If the creator plans to make more, why not make them properly? I'll send him a hundred diodes if it's that expensive for him.

 

But then I'm not sure who's arguing against doing it... random people or the creator? ;)

 

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Got it, thanks, @Tursi. Makes sense on the diodes and such. All of this is well above my skillset, so I'll let Mike chime in on any edits he plans to make to his gamepad based on community feedback. Cheers.

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10 hours ago, sixersfan105 said:

Yeah my understanding is he made this version for someone who wanted a one-player only joystick configuration on his TI. Out of curiosity, when would you ever need to use the keyboard and joystick at the same time? Pressing a key here and there to start up a game, sure, but then once the game starts it's all joystick, no? Unless there are some newer homebrews that require keyboard strokes and joystick input at concurrently? If so, that sounds very...tedious!

Defender's smart bomb and hyperspace are on the keyboard even when using a joystick.

Parsec's lift controls as well.

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On 2/11/2020 at 12:50 AM, PeteE said:

Ideally, I would want it wired as B->J2Fire, Start->J2Right, Select->J2Left (with diode protection, see this thread)

Yup, this wiring would work with Alex Kidd as well, you can use J2Fire instead of J1Up for jumping, which greatly improves playability for a game like this.

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Hi guys great discussion and input - this particular unit, as I see from the experts, seems to have some subtle nuances   - this is exactly whey we have communities like this - great ideas and knowledge flowing. I'll revisit this one shortly. Stay well everyone. 

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