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New Advanced Game Controller Support in LaunchBox 2.11


Jason Carr
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LaunchBox 2.11 now has much more advanced support for gamepads and joysticks, and should allow you to navigate pretty close to the entire interface with your controller. Obviously, editing games with a controller is tedious (and relatively useless without being able to type), but you can at least open and close all dialogs without issues, mark favorites, etc. It is now relatively easy to change filters and arrangements as well, which is probably the biggest reason for the improvements. In the main LaunchBox window, your controller will behave like this:
  • Main X/Y Axis (360 controller left stick): Controls the cursor on the screen
  • Button 1 (360 controller A): Selects the game under the cursor, and selects menu items
  • Button 2 (360 controller B): Opens the game context menu
  • Button 3 (360 controller X): Starts the selected game (Play)
  • Button 4 (360 controller Y): Opens the main LaunchBox menu
  • Button 5 (360 controller left bumper): Opens and closes the filters panel
  • Button 6 (360 controller right bumper): Toggles fullscreen mode
  • POV (360 controller D-Pad): Allows you to navigate games, just like using the arrow keys on your keyboard
Also, when menus are open, they can be navigated either using the main X/Y axis (360 controller left stick), or the POV switch (D-Pad). Menu items can be selected with button 1 (A). To navigate the filters, open the filters panel with button 5 (left bumper), or move the cursor all the way to the right if the filters are already open. The cursor will disappear from the games view and the focus will move to the filters. You can move between the filters fields with either the main X/Y axis (left stick) or the POV switch (D-Pad). Press button 1 (A) to select a value or button 2 (B) to clear it. To move focus back to the games, simply move back to the left. In dialogs, such as add/edit, message boxes, etc., your controller will behave like this:
  • Main X/Y Axis (360 controller left stick): Simulates using the arrow keys on your keyboard
  • POV (360 controller D-Pad): Also simulates using the arrow keys on your keyboard
  • Button 1 (360 controller A): Simulates pressing the Enter key
  • Button 2 (360 controller B): Simulates pressing the Escape key
  • Button 3 (360 controller X): Simulates pressing the Tab key
  • Button 4 (360 controller Y): Simulates pressing the Space key
These controls should allow you to navigate through all dialogs without much trouble. For example, to mark a game as a favorite, you would use button 3 (X) to tab between the fields on the add/edit form until you reached the Favorite checkbox, then use button 4 (Y) to check the box, and then button 1 (A) to save your changes and close the dialog. Similarly, you can use button 2 (B) to cancel. Leave a comment if you have any trouble, and please do let us know how well your various controllers work with this arrangement.
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  • 1 month later...
Love this!! Have been looking for a simple, box cover style front-end for a long time and this is perfect. I noticed an issue with game pad support though. I'm using these USB SNES controllers: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0034ZOAO0/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 When I plug it in and fire up LaunchBox, it slows to a crawl. Basically unusable as it takes 10-15 seconds for any key press to register. This is from the game pad, keyboard or mouse. As soon as I unplug it, speed is restored and LaunchBox functions like normal.
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Thanks jtrain, that's interesting. I've found a number of odd issues with the joystick implementation; it seems I'm going to have to switch it over to use DirectX at some point instead of Windows' API calls. There are similar issues with Wiimotes as well. For now, until I can tackle the problem, you can disable joystick input in the settings. I'll hit you up when I get a new version together to test. Thanks, Jason
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  • 1 month later...
Works great! Not only does the USB SNES controller I linked above work now, but another problem I was having is fixed as well. On another system, I had a n52te speed pad installed and the wired XBox 360 controller would not work unless that speed pad was unplugged. After your rewrite, it works fine. Great work and thanks!
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  • 1 month later...
First of all, this is a great app that is attractive, functional, and easy to configure. It seems almost an ideal frontend in that it provides a simple, straightforward, easy-to-use interface for launching, playing, and exiting Windows games entirely via gamepad. That said, it seems that there is no setting within the app for the gamepad's buttons or analog sticks to be customized by the end user. As impressive as it may seem at first to have nearly every capability of the app accessible by controller, implementing the feature in a non-user-configurable manner ultimately sacrifices ease-of-use for the end-user, which is precisely the intention (for many) of having a frontend in the first place. As a specific example, I would like for my kids to be able to nagivate, play, and exit any Windows game that fully supports, say, an Xbox 360 controller, from the couch on the bigscreen TV using ONLY the 360 controller (that is to say, NO MOUSE and NO KEYBOARD). Like, you know, a game console. This app would work quite nicely for that purpose were there some way to customize the button behavior of the controller. As it stands, there are too many unnecessary functions that have been mapped all over the gamepad, and no way to selectively disable them. For many people, the only features that the controller truly needs to have are the ability to choose a game and way to start that game (and perhaps a way to navigate backward to a previous folder, if a folder system is somehow supported in the app), for which two buttons and a thumbstick/d-pad ought to suffice. Any other functions just make the end-user experience needlessly complicated for a significant portion of users that only actually care about being able to play the games conveniently (once the program has been installed and configured, obviously). Nobody wants to have to figure out how to exit from some unwanted menu with an unintuitive button press--especially a menu that was probably opened by mistakenly pressing a controller button in the first place! Would it be possible to incorporate the ability for the end-user to customize the gamepad's buttons, preferably via an .xml configuration file? This would dramatically improve end-user ease-of-use for those of us who intend the frontend to be used primarily by non-PC-savvy users (e.g. "elementary school kids").
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  • 3 weeks later...
Jason Carr said Armin, sure, makes sense. I tend to implement features by request, and that had not yet been requested. I'll look to add it soon. Thanks, Jason
This would be great Jason. MaximusArcade has implemented this very well. You can set a button combo to both exit an emulator and another to exit the frontend entirely (which is great for those of us with HTPCs who also run XBMC & Windows Media Center, no need to have unnecessary programs open in the background). I've been looking for a replacement for MaximusArcade, since development on it stopped in 2009 (though the webpage just got a redesign and promises of resumed development). Great frontend you've built here; I'd happily donate to your development cause, couldn't find a link anywhere to do so.
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Hi downingjosh, thanks for the feedback. I'll look to add that sooner rather than later. As per donations, I just added a donate page to the site; I tend to shy away from asking for donations, but at the same time they are always appreciated. Thanks much for giving me that push. :)
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  • 2 years later...
  • 2 years later...
57 minutes ago, Chochi23 said:

How do you switch to strictly keyboard and mouse control? I want to use gamepads for games but not for menu selection. The gamepad overrides my mouse and I cant do anything because the cursor get hijacked and put in a corner.

You can turn off gamepad/joystick input under Tools > Options > Input > Gamepad/Joystick in LaunchBox. There's a separate setting in Big Box as well under Controller.

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