Friday, December 02, 2005

Microsoft's Xbox360 Controller For Windows

The 360 is out today and I am not getting one yet because I need the money and my final year project would be better completed without the distraction, but I have bought a Windows 360 Controller because I have always wanted a good gamepad for games like Beyond Good And Evil which are better played with a gamepad.

The controller itself is the most comfortable gamepad I have ever held. The buttons are all well placed and the build quality is excellent. The guide button in the middle has a metallic paint with a graining effect on it that makes it look like it was machined out of metal. The 'B' button is at a slight angle to better follow the edge of the controller and the 'L' and 'R' buttons press in and to the left or right depending on which side of the controller they are on instead of directly inwards to make pressing them more comfortable.

This controller is supposed to be a common gamepad for Windows to fix the problem of Windows having too many generic controllers for games developers to support one configuration. I phoned the support number that was given (0800 5871102 which is the UK 360 support line) and they had no idea if any games specifically supporting the controller, but I am sure with time some might.

I have tried gamepads for my PC in the past, but they have always been impossible to configure adequately and windows never quite recognised all the pad's buttons. Windows does recognise all the buttons with the 360 controller and all the analogue sticks because of the drivers that come with the controller, but unfortunately game support is shaky at best and as of yet I have only managed to get one setup correctly and that was F.E.A.R. which requires a little more precision than the controller can give because F.E.A.R. doesn't support analogue control on the 3D sticks, but they do work. The worst offending game is Half Life and Half Life 2 which doesn't have any gamepad support at all.

Right now I am looking at DirectInput tutorials in the hope I can write an application that will translate input from the controller to game input that looks like it came from a mouse or keyboard. That way I can use it with games like Half Life.

If you have a 360 wired controller and want to use it with your PC then you can get the necessary divers Here.