Monday, 7 September 2009

How to use Playstation Controllers on PC

Last week I posted how useful I'd found the wired SingStar mic's USB adaptor to be outside of the SingStar game. Writing that post got me thinking about the old PS2* controllers and how useful these could be. Like many PS3 owners, I wasn't keen to shell out £35 on a second wireless controller and purchased a PS2/PS3 USB adaptor. This works pretty well on Little Big Planet or any other games not reliant on SIX-AXIS motion.

Because I had purchased this adaptor for the PS3, it had not occured to me before now to try plugging this USB adaptor into my PC. I tried this today and was pleased to see it automatically install as "HID-compliant game controller" on both XP and Vista. The next thing I did was fire up TrackMania Nations Forever on the hunch that it would be fun to play with a game controller. The controller was instantly recognised although all actions seemed to be assigned to the buttons on the left side of the controller. I prefer steering on the left and acceleration on the right, so I went into the Inputs configuration.

TMNF Inputs for game controller

This is the point where things started to get a little confusing. I had no idea which button was Button 0 or 1 or 4, etc. So after a little but of experimentation I put together this handy reference image.
PS2 button numbers

I even tried this with an old PS1 controller and it also performed well (apart from the controller's buttons being a little sticky). The only difficulty I found (apart from mapping the buttons) was finding games that support game controller input, TrackMania is the only game I have installed that does. It is nice to play it with a controller though.

* Connecting a PS3 controller is a completely different process which is nicely addressed by davies lim and HowToGeek, although you map still find the the button map above to be useful.