Joystick : What is it?
Joysticks are used to control the movement of elements in computer games. They consist of a handheld throttle mounted on a pivot base, usually connected to the computer via the USB or other peripheral ports. The user pulls the joystick in various directions to create corresponding movements on the screen. Older joysticks could only move in two directions, but newer models have up to eight direction controls. The base also contains additional control buttons such as fire, trigger, jump, and kick.
Kinds of Joysticks include the following:
|Microswitch universal joysticks |
- These joysticks have small switches that move the lever in a number of fixed directions.
- They are designed for eight-way motion, but can be switched to four-way for older arcade games.
- They are fairly accurate and easy to control, making them ideal for combat and puzzle games.
- They tend to produce an audible click whenever the lever changes directions.
Leaf switch universal joysticks
- These joysticks use thin metal leaves to move the lever, eliminating the noise produced by microswitches.
- They have a smoother feel than microswitch models, but usually have to be readjusted to keep the leaves in position.
- They are commonly used in arcade games requiring two- to four-way movement.
- Rotary joysticks have rotating levers that allow elements to face up to 12 different directions from a fixed spot.
- They usually offer different motion settings, including two-way, four-way, and eight-way configurations.
- Early rotary joysticks used optical sensors to track movement on the screen and also doubled as spinners.
- Digital models are relatively expensive and are used in a limited number of games.
Solid state joysticks
- Solid state joysticks use sensors instead of switches, allowing much quieter play and smoother movement.
- They usually have user-selectable settings for four-way and eight-way movements.
- They are more expensive than universal joysticks, but are more durable and require less maintenance.
- Analog joysticks resemble flight sticks with a set of trigger buttons along the lever.
- They allow a wide range of movement besides the two default positions, making them ideal for large-format and 3d games.
- These joysticks allow 16 directions, each available in three different intensities. Including the center position, this amounts to 49 allowed movements.
- They are similar in operation to analog joysticks, but have a lower failure rate and require less maintenance.
- They are seldom used today and are only useful in specific games and their sequels.
|Force feedback: Choose a joystick with a force feedback feature, which causes it to vibrate at certain events like hitting targets. This will allow you to keep track of scores while concentrating on the game, and follow fast-action games where some elements are hidden.|
Motion: Choose a joystick with a selectable four-way and eight-way motion. The lever should move smoothly over the base, but offer enough resistance so that you can control speed and intensity.
Grip: Choose a joystick that fits comfortably into your hand. Make sure the buttons are easily accessible and laid out so that you can press while looking at the screen. For speed and action games, look for one with fire or trigger buttons on the lever itself to allow one-handed control.