Friday Dev Update: Controller Support

1:54 PM Robert Gamble 1 Comments



It’s sometimes hard for me to choose between a gamepad and a keyboard. While controllers are generally more comfortable and have all of their buttons within a finger’s reach, a keyboard boasts a huge array of keys that can be customized to one’s liking, and a mouse provides speed and precision that controllers haven’t yet achieved. Our fans will be having to make that decision soon, because in the next update planned for Salt we’ll finally be adding full controller support. With this exciting addition coming up, I thought I’d talk about our philosophy on controllers, and a tiny bit of my history with them.


I grew up playing games on both consoles and PCs, so I was always fairly adept at using either control scheme. When Dark Souls released for PC, I went out and bought an Xbox 360 gamepad for 40 bucks out of desperation (seriously, Dark Souls keyboard controls were terrible!), and it turned out to be a way better purchase than I had expected. I’ve used that controller with so many games since then. There was one game that really surprised me and inspired John and I to add controller support to Salt––one that I thought would never even be playable with a controller––Final Fantasy XIV.


If you’re not familiar, FFXIV is a massively multiplayer game like World of Warcraft with a similar control scheme: targeting individual enemies, loads of hotbars filling the screen with countless abilities you would have to use at any given time, and tons of inventory management. When I found out you could use a gamepad, I had to try it just for the heck of it! What I found was that the developers of that game had put in a lot of time and effort into getting such a complex interface working with a controller, and working well. The only thing I found you were restricted from doing with a controller alone was chatting with other players. Everything else was fairly easy to accomplish after a little bit of learning.


(If you want to see how a controller works with FFXIV, look up some youtube videos or download the free trial for yourself!)


After seeing what could be done with a controller’s limited number of buttons on such a complicated interface, we knew it would be possible to have awesome controller support for Salt. As we build our new UI for patch 1.5, we’re keeping both controllers and keyboards in mind. What does that mean for die-hard keyboard and mouse users? Nothing! We’re still making an interface that’s quick, intuitive, and easy-to-use for every one of you who like to play with that control scheme, and we don’t plan on making any compromises on that front. Instead we’ll stretch the gamepad’s capabilities as far as we need to make it a smooth and rewarding experience.

Can you tell I’m excited about controller support?



- Robert Gamble (Game Design, Coding, Environmental Design)

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a controller guy myself but this is nice for people that are. The only thing I would really watch out for is if you have any instructional popups or key reminders make sure that they automatically switch between controller and keyboard.

    I'm trying out an early build of Outer Wilds right now and the big issue I'm having is that I'm playing with keyboard and all of the instructions are for controller. I really hate that, it's a lot of hunting and guessing keys and having to try and remind myself what did what.

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