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Windows 7: Windows and pressure sensitive buttons on gamepads

29 Mar 2011   #1

Windows and pressure sensitive buttons on gamepads

Hi all,

I've been wondering for a while about pressure sensitive buttons on gamepads. Specifically, I have this old PS2 game "The Bouncer" which I want to play on the PCSX2 emulator. Basically, the game relies on detecting whether the face buttons (triangle, square, circle, X) are pressed lightly or hard. The problem is no gamepad controller I tried appears to have pressure sensitive buttons.

How to test:
Using the LilyPad plugin for the PCSX2 emulator, you can select your controller and test it's output. Start the emulator and open up the LilyPad plugin configuration. In the lower left is a section labelled "Device Diagnostics". Select your attached controller here then click the "Test Device" button, and a popup will appear. This popup will show you what the plugin receives from your controller, so press some buttons and watch the values change:

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In the attached screenshot, I have a LogiTech Dual Action USB controller selected and am pressing a button. As you can see, "button 2" is currently being pressed (the value is 1.000, as opposed to the other buttons which show 0.000 i.e. not pressed).

On the other hand, the two analogue sticks will show varying values,, depending on how far you tilt the analogue stick. Therefore if any buttons are pressure sensitive, they should similarly display varying values. Non-sensitive buttons will always display 0.000 (not pressed) or 1.000 (pressed).

Okay, now that we have the explanation how to test out of the way, here are the controllers I have personally tested.

1) LogiTech Dual Action USB
An affordable "generic" third-party controller that works perfectly well for pretty much every other PS2 game out there. However, as you can see from the screenshot, it does not sport pressure sensitive buttons.

2) PS3 DualShock 3
Using the Motioninjoy driver and the USB connector, you can actually hook up your PS3 controller to your PC! Great. However, unfortunately, the pressure sensitivity does not seem to translate over. I find this odd.

The explanations I've heard have been rather bizarre. Some people say the plugin itself is the culprit. However, the plugin author claims otherwise -- and as the analogue sticks do work properly it seems reasonable that the plugin should also detect pressure sensitive buttons.

Others have told me that Windows (specifically, DirectX, or rather the input component, DirectInput), does not support pressure sensitive buttons. Now this I find a little harder to stomach. The PC world is rife with accessories like mice with over a dozen programmable buttons; not to mention such fantastic controllers like steering wheels complete with foot pedals for hardcore driving game enthusiasts. Surely such a simple metric as pressure sensitivity is available? Can anyone confirm this?

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 Windows and pressure sensitive buttons on gamepads

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