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bmonomad

couch pc gamers

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for you couch pc gamers, how do you manage with games that really need a keyboard+mouse combo? what is your setup?
Thinking about fast RTS's, FPS's, etc.

currently splurged a ton of games off GoG without thinking about this beforehand :)

 

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I steer clear, currently I take my PC back and forth from my desk to the livingroom. I've tried some games that use a controller for RTS stuff, but it's a nightmare. As for FPS's I just use an XBOX 360 controller, for games like the Mass Effect trilogy there is a really good mod for what is basically native XBOX 360 controller support. Lately I've been looking on steam for "partial" or "full" controller support titles. Couch RTS is a really bad idea in my experience though.

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Never used one personally, but Corsair do something called a 'lapdog' for living room gaming. Might be worth a Google.


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There is no reason left you can't play every game on your couch with a controller. This has been my struggle for years haha. Give me a minute and I will impart that wisdom here haha

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The first thing to consider: what controller to use. This is a big consideration, mostly because of xinput vs dinput. Ultimately the most versatile wireless controller in terms of both comfort and ease of use goes to the xbox one elite controller. The dpad accessories make it an OK option for 2d games, not the best by a long shot. But in terms of setting it up - its as simple as buying the little dongle which works really well even at a distance. If this isn't your style you at least want to get a controller that can SIMULATE xinput... typically using another program. The DS4 (ps4) controller wins for 2d gaming, but you have to find a good enough bluetooth connection (which I never could) and you have to download a program that will simulate xinput for the DS4, which does not support it natively. Why xinput? In the long run its much easier to manage, and you'll be less reliant on third party software. Its just more plug and play. Last note on controllers - in my opinion the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is probably the best controller ever released in terms of if you wanted to have a good dpad for 2d games and then switch to 3d ones with no controller switch. It currently does not support xinput however. If it ever does, I will probably retire my xbox elite controller.

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For Newer 2d and 3d Games that do NOT support controllers: Somewhat recently, a very unlikely source stepped up and showed love to xbox and ps4 controller users, and did it in a very grand way: steam. Essentially what they did was to allow you to use the steam controller mapping software for other controllers, and the steam controller mapping software is second to none right now. Want to play Guild Wars 2 on a controller but its so many buttons? Steam offers a fully customizable radial menu that you can configure with up to 20 something buttons, and you can have at least 2 of them. (I haven't gotten to utilize the full extent of what it can do, as you can tell). What about Non-Steam Games? The best news of all is that the controller mapping software will work with non steam games as long as you import them into steam as non steam games. Having imported both Guild Wars and Bigbox into steam, I can now switch from a fully realized controller profile for Guild Wars, to Super Mario Kart without taking my hand off the controller. The bad: Steam has to be running, the mapping software itself is robust to the point of being really confusing, and as of right now I'm finding that it's conflicting a bit with certain other programs that use the controller natively. It will take some working around these issues, but just for the radial menu alone, Steam has given you almost all the tools you need to stay on the couch.

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For Emulators: The simplest solution is to use RetroArch whenever possible. RetroArch will natively support your xinput controller and since it emulates dozens of systems, all but the most thorough collectors of obscure systems won't really need to go anywhere else. What does this mean? If you wanted to move from Bigbox, to a super nintendo game, back to bigbox, to something like kodi back to big box etc, all of that will just work with no need for any keybinding software. Bad: Some RetroArch cores do not emulate as well as their standalone counterparts.

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For Standalone Emulators that do not support controllers: You will need more keybinding software. Now it's highly possible (I've never tested it) that you can use Steam keybinding software for this too. You could try importing the emulator as a steam game and see what happens. If it works, you're pretty much 100. I myself use Xpadder for this scenario. I'm not sure if pinnacle or joy2key has surpassed xpadder because I haven't used them in so long, but I know xpadder still gets the job done. Xpadder has an autoload profile option that will autoload a keybinding profile depending on what window is active. This is clutch. So, for instance, in my setup, I have a desktop configuration in steam that I can use to actually navigate Windows. I keep xpadder on loaded to a blank profile that I've set to auto load whenever the desktop is the main windows. Bigbox has native controller support so when its open, no keybinding necessary. Open an emulator that doesn't support controllers natively, and I have that window set to autolaunch an emulator specific profile in xpadder which will then let my controller function as a keyboard for the duration. I also have bigbox set to autoload a blank profile in xpadder so when I close the emulator, xpadder becomes inert and I scroll bigbox using just bigbox native support. Like I said, you may be able to replace Xpadder with steam at this point. In fact, I may try just that. But again, Steam software tends to override programs with native controller support, so for instance if I launch bigbox from stream, the steam keymapper profile will overwrite the bigbox one and I lose control of bigbox. I don't expect this is a death sentence, and there will be a workaround, may already be. I just haven't found it. So in summation, an xinput controller, steam, and xpadder can set you up to where your butt never leaves those cushions. Bear in mind that you WILL sacrifice mouse precision. It's a fact of life. If you're playing a multiplayer fps on PC with a controller, you're basically playing multiplayer in hardmore. And remember not all games lend themselves to a controller well. I've played dozens of hours of games like Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny with my controller and it's fine. Even MMOs, but though it's technically possible to play a game like Starcraft 2 with a controller, even I'm not that crazy.

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A little lagniappe: Plex through a browser does not support controllers, but the Plex app through windows 10 does. Set BigBox to launch the app and you have instant access to all your video and music media without taking your hands off the controller. You can also use Kodi for this. If you're an xbox user, Windows 10 has an xbox app that will let you scroll through your xbox dashboard, talk to friends, and even play xbox games via windows and it supports controllers. But playing an xbox game through windows sucks as of right now, at least on my system. There's just no way around that. The last bastion would be to find a good ereader with a nice front end that could be used through bigbox with a controller, and considering you can browse the internet via steam big picture, you'd really never have to take your hands off it.

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I realize only now that my answer is extreme overkill haha. The unfortunately, to address the specifics of your question, each game is going to be different. For games like Guild Wars I keep the mouse binded to the right analog, and I keep a toggle of the right mouse click to switch from mouse mode to camera mode. However, for games like Tyranny that are more point and click, I find a more smooth experience binding the mouse to the left analog, and then having the right trigger or bumper simulate the mouse click because it's more comfortable that way.

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nice writeup @fromlostdays

never heard of that controller.  looks nice, like the steam one that was just released.  I'm surprised no one mentioned a trackball :)

I bought 2 ds4's a year ago, and a $25 usb 3 bluetooth dongle.  Unfortunately it's frustrating to play as there is constant latency timeouts on my couch which is just 7 feet away.  If I stand 1 foot away and put my hand in front of it, it can spike to 10ms.  I've also been using ds4windows, and I can't recommend it.  It crashes/freezes 1/3rd of the time, leading me to have to alt tab and close it manually, etc.  Need to look at alternatives for that. 

That keyboard tray looks nice, though I think my spouse would look at me in a funny way if I resorted to that.  Probably wouldn't be the first.

Has anyone done something like splashtop from the gaming computer to another computer? was wondering if there is significant delay or lag/fps issues?

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2 minutes ago, bmonomad said:

Has anyone done something like splashtop from the gaming computer to another computer? was wondering if there is significant delay or lag/fps issues?

Like I said, Steam Link. Very very little latency.

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39 minutes ago, bmonomad said:

nice writeup @fromlostdays

never heard of that controller.  looks nice, like the steam one that was just released.  I'm surprised no one mentioned a trackball :)

I bought 2 ds4's a year ago, and a $25 usb 3 bluetooth dongle.  Unfortunately it's frustrating to play as there is constant latency timeouts on my couch which is just 7 feet away.  If I stand 1 foot away and put my hand in front of it, it can spike to 10ms.  I've also been using ds4windows, and I can't recommend it.  It crashes/freezes 1/3rd of the time, leading me to have to alt tab and close it manually, etc.  Need to look at alternatives for that. 

That keyboard tray looks nice, though I think my spouse would look at me in a funny way if I resorted to that.  Probably wouldn't be the first.

Has anyone done something like splashtop from the gaming computer to another computer? was wondering if there is significant delay or lag/fps issues?

I had the same exact issues with the ps4 controller. I bought a cheap bluetooth dongle, then an expensive one and the results were the same. It's unfortunate because the ps4 controller is a good controller, especially for Retro. I do wonder now if ps4 controllers through Steam require that third party software or if it handles all of that for you. I suspect the latter which could be good news for ps4 controller users.

My recommendation is to take the time to add those games you really want to play to steam, and see if the ps4 controller works natively now (might not fix the latency... but then it might... and it won't crash). I'd be surprised if Steam implemented support for the controller while still requiring people to use ds4windows to utilize it. The best part is you can use steam big picture to bind keys to your controller.... WITH your controller, a thing that I think only RetroArch offered before. And again, it's options are robust. I watched like 4 hours worth of videos but if I can condense anything for you, I will... from one couch potato to the other.  

Edited by fromlostdays
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Hi,

I am one of these people who use Launchbox primarily for PC games. Emulated games second.

Currently I am using multiple Xbox One S Gamepads and Logitech F710 Gamepads. In direct comparison, the new Xbox One Gamepads are vastly superior when it comes to wireless connection stability.

I have spent quite some time tweaking controls with JoyToKey; with the newest Steam updates however, new possibilities are opening up:

Steam has extended its exhaustive Steam controller binding features onto PS4 and Xbox controllers. However it is currently very buggy, at least on my system. My Steam doesn't reliably detect the gamepads. But when it works, it's the best thing ever. The Steam Big Picture Mode Overlay in conjunction with Big Box may be the awesomest thing a couch PC gamer may wish for. It's superior to any other solution on the market IMO, in theory you can bind everything the way you like, the Steam overlay is great, you can exit by pressing the Home Button and select exit game etc... it is awesome... when it works... ;)

The Steam controller configurator is so powerful, that I am indeed thinking of buying a genuine Steam controller. I suppose the real Steam controller will currently work more reliably than 3rd party controllers like the Xbox One. Waiting for that thing to go on sale...

Edited by IlhanK

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