Sunday, December 18, 2011

Playing a MMO with a CONTROLLER?!?! Are You Effing Nuts?


Well, I may be a little effing nuts, but that has nothing to do with playing with a controller.

There's this stigma about controllers that has polarized the console vs. PC crowd as heatedly as the Mac vs. PC debate.  And for some games (and some MMOs), it's with a damn good reason.  But SWTOR is not that game.  And playing with a controller is not only feasible, but effective in this game.  I'll explain in detail, and provide counterpoints to several common misconceptions after the jump.

First, let me stress that I do not give up keyboard and mouse use entirely.  My controller augments my traditional setup, rather than detracting from it.

There's too many abilities!  How do you expect to play well with only 4-6 abilities?
This is the biggest misconception, and ironically, it's because PC gamers are thinking about PC controller use in console terms.  Using any of the programs mentioned here, there is no limit to the amount of abilities and hotkeys you can have bound to your controller at any one time.  In my current configuration, I can bind up to 23 abilities to my controller (or even more using the IA/Smuggler's cover bar).  But just sitting here typing about it, I've come up with an alternate configuration to bind 40+ abilities, were I so inclined.

Even with all your abilities bound, there's still a ton of hotkeys!
This is why I promote use of the PS3 Keypad or 360 Chatpad: there isn't a single hotkey I can't readily access from my controller.

You don't have precision targeting!
You don't need it in SWTOR.  Using hotkeys, I can target nearest enemy, cycle enemies, cycle friendlies, target party members 1-4, target target's target, self target modify, focus target modify, etc, etc.  If you're using your mouse instead of your keyboard to select your targets in SWTOR, you're seriously gimping yourself (seewhatididthere?). 

The camera doesn't turn fast enough!  People will be able to get behind you and then you're screwed!
On the contrary, the biggest challenge in configuring a controller for SWTOR is dialing down the rotation, as the camera initially rotates too fast (but once you get it under control, it's no problem).  Furthermore, in both XPadder and PGP, you can hotkey a 180-degree turn if you're so inclined.

You're gimping yourself!  Once people find out you're using a controller, they're not gonna want to group with you!
I always find this to be the most ironic response, as it implies people would have to know you're using a controller before they decide not to group with you.  Which is true, because when you use a controller competently, nobody notices the difference in your gameplay.  But don't take my word for it, see for yourself:

There is also one further point--and it's a very important one--that was brought up during the process of creating the controller thread, and this subsequent blog.  It's a point that I'll freely admit I hadn't considered when I started this process, but one every rager needs to consider: controller use allows people with physical disabilities to play SWTOR competitively.  There are a lot of people in the gaming community with hand or neck injuries that significantly hinder their gameplay.  I've received feedback from several such individuals that can't play SWTOR unless they can use a controller.  While I myself do not have any debilitating injuries at the moment, I have had back problems in the past, and one of the reasons I use a controller is it allows me more freedom of choice when it comes to seating and comfort.

So you can feel free to still hate controller use, and rage at those that do it, but at least now when you do it, you'll be sufficiently informed to mitigate verbalization via your posterior.


  1. I have a disability so it took me a very long time to use a controller years in fact and I have tried keyboard and mouse its just to hard and it hurts to so xpadder allows me to game freely.

    1. I'm glad to hear you've found ways to keep gaming! I'm still pushing for BioWare to offer integrated support for gamers just like you, but it's nice that XPadder and the others are out there providing alternatives.

  2. Whats your configuration look like?

    1. Gigas, you can check out my configurations in the Downloads section. My latest one for PGP is on top.

  3. Say, what software do you use to hook up a ps3 remote to run with swtor like you do?

    1. I used to use MotioninJoy to connect via Bluetooth; you can check out my tutorial on that (PS3 Controller Instructions). Recently it hasn't worked with my Bluetooth dongle. There's some new alternatives that I need to write about:

      BetterDS3 ( uses the MotioninJoy drivers, but doesn't require you connecting to a Chinese server every time you use it. I haven't successfully tested it for a Bluetooth connection, but I was able to get it working via USB.

      This is what I'm currently using:
      More detailed instructions:
      It doesn't have the versatility of MiJ or BetterDS3, but it doesn't require running additional software either. It basically dupes your computer into thinking your PS3 controller is a 360 controller.

    2. Ah, sorry, should have mentioned the next step: after getting the PS3 controller connected, I use Pinnacle Game Profiler to configure it for use in SWTOR. See my instructions for that software above.

  4. I have my PS3 controller synced to my laptop without a config tool(motionjoy, Better DS3, etc.) would I still be able to use it on SWTOR?