Muscle memory is a big thing when it comes to playing with a HOTAS setup1. As a result making alterations to a joystick map comes with a certain amount of unlearning, sometimes with some pretty disastrous effects. Having already boosted a fully laden Type 6 into the station wall2 I’ve then proceeded to try and boost my Sidewinder into the station wall on a number of occasions.
The issue here is that boost and “nudge forward” were mapped to the same button with the outcome of the button press dependent on if my landing gear was down or not. Ordinarily this arrangement isn’t as stupid as it sounds. Dropping landing gear slows you down3 and since I have a tendency to land at full throttle a gear down, two pips in engines configuration puts you at a sensible speed in most ships I’ve flown. In theory, I should always have my gear down when I enter the station.
In practice I don’t. If I’m coming in stealthily (either slowly, or boosted from a stupid distance out) gear down doesn’t always feature in the approach. This leads to getting the ship just over the landing pad and then accidentally boosting, followed by manic manoeuvring to avoid hitting anything.
The only solution was to move
boost to different buttons. Given how packed the joystick map was this was going to have a knock on effect with other buttons so required a rethink on some things.
In the end I moved
throttle reverse (back),
toggle frameshift drive (shift forward or back4) and controls for fire groups and sensor range (left, right and shift left, right respectively) to the front 4-way hat on the throttle. The displaced energy management controls were moved to the top right 4-way hat switch on the joystick5. The 4-way on the side of the stick now became purely
backwards. One side effect is I no longer need any landing overrides. The throttle override (moving the joystick throttle fully back) remains purely so I can stop the ship if my throttle starts drifting and needs recalibrating.
While I was messing about with the map I altered the mini-stick button back to
eject all cargo and added a
shift (pink button) action to the left button on the throttle so it’s now
UI Select, and then
ESC when shifted – effectively making it a
back button for many of the menus.
Lastly I’ve also enabled
head look by default and sorted out the mouse axis so it works properly.
reset head look and
toggle head look have been reversed to reflect the change in how it’s used – i.e. that you’re mostly resetting it rather than turning it on/off.
Muscle memory for boost is still a problem, although the in game outcome is now negligible if I press the wrong button. I still also find myself occasionally trying to fly the ship in super cruise using the top hat switch, which was now two maps ago.
The reason for the incessant tweaking now is that I want the joystick map to be perfect when Gamma comes out. At the moment boosting over a million credits of hardware and cargo into a wall is ultimately a non-event as there’s another character wipe coming. Having the same happen in the final game due to a control issue would be upsetting to say the least.
Given I keep tweaking things, and to save me having to repeat myself on how to install things, I’ve put the maps and all the instructions onto GitHub. Go there, knock yourselves out 🙂
1 My current map has 48 buttons, 1 8-way POV, 1 4-way directional switch, 5 axis and one optional override axis to remember spread over two modes (shifted and unshifted) with some buttons only working in the galaxy map. That’s a fair amount to remember
2 Long story short, it went boom, I couldn’t afford the insurance, so it was back to a Sidewinder with 10K credits in the bank, down from 900K
3 Or more correctly lowers your top speed – there’s no drag in space
4 I like the idea of turning the drive on and off rather than just toggling it, although it also leaves a spare button should I need it later
5 Previously this had been fire groups and sensor range, both of which were rarely used making it a very inefficient use of a hat switch