Realigning the Azimuth

Let's Talk Gamepads

Though it’s been slightly unplanned, I’m currently in the midst of a fairly comprehensive overhaul of how controllers are implemented within Pocket Dogfights.

In some regard, it’s not a surprised I’ve had to do this - the interface Unity abstracts is rather limited in a number of areas, the biggest being that it’s not possible to redefine a control once in game. In addition, the amount of variation between how buttons are defined between platforms, between controller types (even the same controller on different platforms), means that there’s a lot of complexity you need to manage.

Plus, when I originally added support for them in the desktop versions, I went for a path which was fairly limiting. In the end, especially with the recent launch of the standalone Windows/Linux versions, I felt that this had to be done.

The other thing which convinced me it was necessary, was none other than this little surprise when testing my MOGA Pro controller with the game on my Nexus 7!

The result? Something had to be done, especially, if like me, you wish to give the players of your game a smoother experience on start-up, without the need to reconfigure controls before diving into the action. Again, this adds a little more complexity when you factor in the number of platforms the game is out on (iOS, Android, Windows, OS X & Linux) - but after way too much pondering & throwing things out the window, I think I have a solution.

The first phase was to adopt the cInput library. This is a (relatively) cheap input wrapper allowing for controls to be remapped in-game (and they provide their own UI to do it as well - at least for Unity’s in-built system). It also handles a few other tasks nicely as well.

Next, it’s a case of creating a layer which abstracts controllers - this lets me create interfaces for the common ones I plan to support, being the Xbox 360 controller, PS3 controller, plus a generic controller (which can then be remapped by the player).

This, combined with some smarts in detection at start-up, should be enough for a solution which does what I need.

The question now - is what does this mean for you reading this (and hopefully playing the game)? Easy - as it stands right now, the default control setups are planned as follows:


  • The planned default will be the Xbox 360 gamepad (in both wired & wireless form). In theory, any blessed third-party controller should work as well (thanks to XInput), but I’ll need testing to verify.
  • If you don’t have one of those, then you’ll of course be able to use the custom mode & remap controls as required.

Mac OS X

  • The supported defaults will be the Xbox 360 gamepad (again, in both wired & wireless form thanks to Colin’s driver), and the Playstation 3’s gamepad.
  • Again, if you don’t have one of those, you will be able to manually assign buttons to any USB game pad.
  • Once OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) is released, I plan to investigate what it’ll take to support the new MFI controllers as well.


  • By default, you will need to manually bind - at this stage, there’s not enough info in place to cover what is/isn’t supported here, so it’s best to be able to configure your controller in-game.


  • For now, the default is going to be the iCade standard. I’m most certainly interested in hearing what types of compatible devices people are in fact using - as while I feel I have a good configuration, I’d certainly like to make sure with what people have out in the field.
  • Once iOS 7 is out, I’ll evaluate the new Controllers API and try to get that in a later update (as with OS X).


  • For Android, the default options will be the MOGA Pocket/Pro controllers, along with supporting PS3 & Xbox 360 game pads.
  • Again, if you’ve got a different USB gamepad, you’ll be able to go & customise the buttons as required.
  • As for other gamepads - if there’s one which has enough of an audience, then I can see about what it’ll take to support it.

That’s the short-term plan for solving this little quagmire. However, I’m after input - if you’re running any of these platforms, and what I’m proposing is not what you’d prefer, please do let me know. I’m at the stage where it’s still a WIP, so I can adjust things as they go.