Dark Horizons: Mechanized Corps

Dark Horizons: Mechanized Corps

alanwescoat Jun 19, 2015 @ 11:27pm
Joysticks, H.O.T.A.S. and S.T.A.R. virtual cockpits: Successes and Problems
This thread is for general discussion of joysticks and related peripherals used with Dark Horizons. I am a fan of virtual cockpits, and if there is a single reason I am generally not much into gaming, it is because the gaming industry has moved away from joysticks to keyboard and mouse or to gamepads.

This alpha of Dark Horizons: Mechanized Corps already has some of the best native joystick support I have ever seen. For those wondering if your joystick will work, well mine did, but I cannot get my rudder pedals to work in conjunction with them.

I use the best that Saitek offers, the X-65F H.O.T.A.S. (Hands-On Throttle and Stick) along with the Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals. Together, I refer to this as S.T.A.R. (Stick, Throttle, and Rudder).

Pros of Dark Horizon's support. The H.O.T.A.S. by itself just works. Plug it in, and Dark Horizons detects it and automatically assigns all of the functions to axes and buttons. Remapping is a breeze! NO EXTERNAL PROGRAMMING is required. Everything happens in game. That rocks! I mean, that was just too much to hope for, especially from an alpha. Of course, I do not like a lot of the default mapping, but remapping for my own tastes is really easy.

Great job!

Now for the rudder-pedals issue. When I plug in my pedals, which attach to a second USB port, Dark Horizons detects them and ONLY them as the joystick. Bummer. This means that if the pedals are attached, the entire X-65F is non-functional in game. Also, Saitek's support for these is really poor. I tried mapping the rotational axis to mouse X, but it works backward, and Saitek's drivers do not allow reversal of the axis. While flight sims have worked around this by reversing the rudder X-axis in game, Dark Horizons only allows inversion of the mouse Y-axis. I MIGHT be able to work around the problem if I could invert the mouse X-axis in game while also setting up the pedals so they do not register as a joystick. That could be a workaround. However, I never actually tried that in game, being that I gave up when I discovered that the mouse X-axis worked backward on the pedals and Saitek's drivers did not allow inversion.

However, the best thing would be for both items to plug and play the way that the H.O.T.A.S. did. I am hoping to see in the future the joystick drivers to be redone to allow for multiple input devices. While I am sure that adding pedals for a full S.T.A.R. configuration is not a high priority for many mech jockeys, I really want to make full use of my VR cockpit with the game.

Back to how well the F-65F works in the game. EVERYTHING works. The throttle has dials. Usually, these have to be programmed externally. I tried remapping turret rotation to one of these dials. It works. However, it does not work in the way I had hoped.

The dials have a center detent. They have a maximum clockwise and counter clockwise rotation, and center can be found by rotating the dial back to the detent. What one would hope is that the rotation of the turret would map directly to the dial. Turn the dial from center halfway to the left, and you would hope that the turret would rotate half of its rotational capacity. That does happen. Turn back to the detent and hope that the turret recenters. That does not happen. The turret does not start going back to the right until the dial is turned past the detent to the right. Bummer. I was not able to compensate for the absence of pedals using the dials, but there was potential there. I mean, it did work, just not the way I wanted it to work.

Throttle. The throttle works perfectly by default. The problem is that full stop is difficult to achieve using the throttle. It must be in the exact center, and there is no center detent because the X-65F throttle was not designed to work this way. I would love to be able to go back to what worked naturally and perfectly in MechWarrior 2. All the way back is full stop. All the way forward is full throttle. Reverse is achieved by a toggle. You have the mech moving full speed forward. Hit the reverse toggle, the mech reverses gears, slowing down and then speeding back up to full reverse. I find trying to move the throttle to exact center to be a bit unnatural, and halving the action of the throttle makes precise speed changes more difficult. A toggle for reverse gear makes more sense to me.

At present, I am using the stick axes for turret and steering. Y aims up and down, X steers, and Z twists the turret. Unfortunately, positional accuracy is quite difficult with this configuration. It is easy to lose aim while turning or to turn while aiming. This is why I want the pedals. I should aim with the stick and steer with my feet.

At present, there is no POV support. Commands can be mapped to the POV switch, but the pilot's internal view of the cockpit cannot be changed. I sincerely hope that pitch, yaw, and roll for the pilot's head will be added as the game develops.

Anyway, two days ago, I plunked $10.04 down for this alpha game, and in relation to the "free" competition, I have already got my money's worth. I am looking forward to seeing this go into beta and then into a highly profitable product. I waited for years for MechWarrior 5 and would have gladly paid $100 for a complete game, but the powers that be are not going to allow that to happen. I tried a lot of other similar games, but I want a sim, and it is obvious that the programmers of Dark Horizons want to make the same kind of game that I want to play. There has been enormous demand for such a sim for years and years, so here I am with my money to support it.
Last edited by alanwescoat; Jun 19, 2015 @ 11:28pm
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Showing 1-14 of 14 comments
mutexer (MGT)  [developer] Jun 20, 2015 @ 7:36am 
I have an X52 that we used when creating the joystick controls. The throttle I also found difficult but did not think of allowing a reverse toggle. That is a good idea. I have never used foot pedals and did not think of allowing more than 1 joystick input device so that is why it does not work. I think most if not all of your suggestions can be addressed. Since this is not something that affects everyone I do not know when we can address these yet, but they sound like good things to address by beta or before final release at the latest.

I could see a full configuration like this with the pedals and all along with an occulus rift making a cool virtual mech experience.
Last edited by mutexer (MGT); Jun 20, 2015 @ 7:39am
alanwescoat Jun 20, 2015 @ 11:03am 

Thank you for reading my comments and for responding.

I expect that allowing multiple input devices will be low priority. However, the Occulus Rift is a definite reason to allow this, being that its motion sensing can be used for pilot POV . If the game will support joystick and Occulus Rift, enabling rudder pedals should be a snap. Just keep in mind that Saitek's pedals work backward, so an invert toggle is needed..lol. I am not sure how difficult the programming will be, but a relative and absolute checkbox would be great for every analog axis, along with an invert option.

I have to say that I have no idea why through all of this time no one has emulated Activision's MechWarrior 2 engine. While MW4 allowed glancing in various directions, MW2 allowed pilot perspective to be fixed completely independent of aiming (If you never discovered this, it is because it was undocumented. You had to use CTRL + Arrow keys). Also, the external camera could be floated all around the mech. The only innovation since then has been to allow a targeting reticule for the arms to be aimed independently of the torso.

Since you read my first comments in a positive light, here is my breakdown of what I think a proper mech engine should be able to do using H.O.T.A.S./S.T.A.R. with an optional HMD. The closest I have seen is MW2, and it has baffled me for many years why later programmers did not keep everything that was wonderful about MW2, while adding a couple of features to make it more immersive. While graphics have improved, mech gaming has gone backward since then.

1. Analog throttle configured either with forward and reverse all on one axis or with a reverse toggle. (User's option)
2. Turret pitch and yaw. (already done) Depending on user preference and the type of controller used, these should each be independently configurable as either relative or absolute.
3. Turn left or right. (already done) This should be analog. Twisting the pedals a little turns the mech slowly, while twisting them a lot turns the mech quickly, just like a steering wheel.
4. Crouch.
5. Tilt left or right a little. (I see that the joystick controls allow the mech to shuffle slowly left or right. I find this unnatural, but I will eventually learn to abuse it in combat...lol.)
6. Pitch, yaw, and roll for the pilot's head in the cockpit, not mere glancing. Without an HMD, pitch and yaw here are appropriate for a stick POV switch, using it as an absolute analog device so that if I hold the switch midway to its left, I should have my view fixed midway to the extent the program allows the pilot's head to turn.
7. Pitch and yaw aiming for arm-mounted weapons.
8. Aim-able jump jets. (Ala MW4)

An ideal mech VR gaming rig would have four peripherals: stick, throttle, pedals, and HMD. The stick would control pitch and yaw of the turret. Throttle would be throttle. The mini-stick or mouse stick on the throttle would aim the arms. Any four-way switch on the stick or throttle could steer the jump-jets. Pedal rotation would steer. Depress both to crouch. Left pedal tilts left. Right pedal tilts right. Pilot view is best controlled by motion of an HMD. The POV switch could be used for glancing.

Also, I really do not like the three levels of zoom. MW2 had graduated zoom in and zoom out. It rocked! Also, it was more realistic and immersive than the simple toggle which has been used since. MW2's zoom had a really cool sound effect to go with it. A throttle dial would work really well for such a zoom function. It also had scale-able radar, which was a total bonus. The other throttle dial would likewise be great for scale-able radar.

Dark Horizons has a lot of potential to be a great game. I waited years and years for MechWarrior 5 only to be more or less told to go flog myself when MWO came out. Making money is all well and good. I would have paid a hundred bucks for a complete game, and I would subscribe to quarterly expansions, but I am not going to pay to win. I am in for $10.04 on this alpha, and I will patiently await further developments while convincing as many of my friends as possible to buy the alpha as well. The only computer game I actually want to play is MechWarrior 5, but since the Powers That be have decided that there is not going to be a MechWarrior 5, I will take Dark Horizons.

Being that you are on Steam and that this project continues actively, you can parley that into clout for getting peripheral companies to loan/give you free stuff. Contact Saitek for a loan of some rudder pedals. The combat pedals are great. Ask for an X-65f while you are at it. See if ThrustMaster will let you borrow a HOTAS Warthog. Also do not forget CH Products and their superb line of sticks, throttles, and pedals. They might all decline. on the other hand, they might all shower you with swag. It never hurts to ask. This is exactly the kind of game which generates demand for quality high-end peripherals. The pitch is easy. you want to make sure that your product works properly with the best products on the market, and you would like to borrow whatever they will let you borrow for evaluation.
DeMyztikX Jun 20, 2015 @ 2:22pm 
cool cockpit there! The little girl really sells it! I have a 6 year old myself and I know she loves getting into all that type of stuff.
Last edited by DeMyztikX; Jun 20, 2015 @ 2:23pm
mutexer (MGT)  [developer] Jun 20, 2015 @ 4:37pm 
Cool cockpit. Thanks for the suggestions. My guess is we will work on that type of stuff when we do occulus support so you can get the full experience. We have some other things in the pipeline before then, most notably single player, but we will get there so stay tuned.
alanwescoat Jun 20, 2015 @ 7:25pm 
Oooh! Single player! Yes!
Zaniaac Jun 20, 2015 @ 9:13pm 
Originally posted by mutexer:
I have an X52 that we used when creating the joystick controls. The throttle I also found difficult but did not think of allowing a reverse toggle. That is a good idea. I have never used foot pedals and did not think of allowing more than 1 joystick input device so that is why it does not work. I think most if not all of your suggestions can be addressed. Since this is not something that affects everyone I do not know when we can address these yet, but they sound like good things to address by beta or before final release at the latest.

I could see a full configuration like this with the pedals and all along with an occulus rift making a cool virtual mech experience.
I also have Saitek X52 joystick, could you link it me a profile that you use?
alanwescoat Jun 20, 2015 @ 9:40pm 
Zaniaac, I do not think you need a profile. Just plug in your X52, and it should work. All of the buttons and axes should map automatically, and you can reconfigure controls you do not like within the game itself. That is what happened with my X-65f. I am not using any profile whatsoever.
mutexer (MGT)  [developer] Jun 21, 2015 @ 5:25am 
That is correct you do not need a profile. Just go into Settings, then click Key Bindings and then click on the Joystick tab. I think the default joystick controls might actually be what I set up for the X52 but I am not positive since it was so long ago. But you can remap anything in that dialog to how you want it to work. Also make sure on the main settings page that you change Alternative Input Mapping to Joystick to enable the joystick support.
alanwescoat Jun 21, 2015 @ 9:17am 
Save for lack of support for multiple devices, that is peripheral support done right! let us hope that users of other brands of input devices have equal luck.
Zaniaac Jun 21, 2015 @ 6:57pm 
Alright, will do. Thanks Mutexer
Hello there. First of all, thank you Devs for making such a wonderful game. Not much time in but I can already tell this will return me to that magical period of time when I first played MW4 years ago. I'm using thrust master t16000m FCS and thrust master throttle. Well, only the stick. I cannot use the throttle while joystick is connected. Tried using the thrust master target program to no avail. Target seems to work fine out of game. When setting keybinds it will not allow me to set anything to the throttle. Target should override this and make them appear as one large controller. Will 2 input devices be supported in the future? Could I be using target incorrectly? Any answers or attempts at answers are greatly appreciated. This isn't a game breaker but I sure do feel silly looking at my unusable throttle.
mutexer (MGT)  [developer] Apr 15 @ 5:44am 
The current live game on the old engine does only support one and it has very generic joystick/HOTAS support, I know some (like saitek X52) do work on it but sounds like yours does not. We don't have joystick supported added into the BETA 1 branch of the new engine yet mainly due to time constraints but the input package we use does have joystick support so we just need to add a interface for it in settings menu. I did just check it and it has a profile for your specific joystick, so once we add joystick support you may have better luck with it. When we do release that we would be interested in you giving it a try and if it still does not work to help us get it working by testing if you do not mind. It may not be until the BETA 2 patch that it goes in, but I will post back here if we happen to get it in a hotfix patch before then or if it gets pushed back further (post BETA2 patch) due to the Multiplayer work in BETA 2.
Wow. You guys are amazing. I can't believe the quick response. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain that. I'll definitely be playing with the stick and no throttle until another input is supported. I'd love to test for you. Again, thanks for response. Looks like a small, but active community here and Dev support is overnight. Fantastic.
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