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A quick look at USB gaming peripherals for the Mac System
I don't play a ton of games on my Mac, but I like to help support the Mac game developers when they create new titles or port popular Windows titles over. So I had recently purchased a suite of products from Aspyr (Nascar Racing, Jedi Knights, Tiger Woods, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater) that had gotten a bit of use on my G4/733, but not a lot. When my Dual G5 arrived, I started playing with some of the games as a benchmarking tool for use in my (still in progress) review of the new machine. The first comment is that I was amazed at the quality of the ports (very very good) as well as the quality and speed of the images on the G5 (but that's covered in more detail in the report).

During my testing, it became obvious that Nascar Racing would really benefit from a steering wheel, and Tony Hawk absolutely screams for a gamepad. I had neither for my Mac. So I started experimenting ... those of you who do a lot of gaming on your Mac will probably not be surprised by the results. But if you're wondering about gaming peripheral compatibility in OS X, read the rest of this hint for my experiences...

I did have a force-feedback wheel for the PC, the Formula Force GP. On a lark, I plugged it into the Mac, and was amazed that it worked perfectly, force feedback and all, in Nascar Racing. When I visited the Logitech site, of course, it states quite clearly that this is expected under 10.2.3 or newer, as it's using the built-in HID Manager's force feedback support. Not having paid much attention to gaming on the Mac lately, I hadn't heard that Apple had built this into the OS.

Based on the experience with the wheel and my reading about the HID Manager, I went looking for a simple USB gamepad for Tony Hawk. Testing a few models at the local stores, the one that felt best in my hands was the Saitek P880 Dual Analog gamepad. It was only $19.99, and felt very solid and correctly shaped for my hands. But it had these two analog joysticks in addition to the digital pad ... and it had a huge, yellow warning sticker wrapped around the cable which read "You must install the Saitek drivers on your PC before plugging in this device!" There was no mention of Mac support on the box. I decided to take it home and try it, with the hope that at least the digital pad would work and I could just ignore the dual analog joysticks.

Much to my surprise (again!), not only did the digital pad and buttons work perfectly, but the analog joysticks are also fully supported in OS X (at least in Tony Hawk). I was able to configure the game to use either the pad or the joysticks (I found the pad much easier to use) with no problems at all.

The moral of the story is that, if you're looking for gaming peripherals, you may not have to focus on just those that claim "Mac compatible" on their boxes. Make sure you buy at a store that lets you easily return products, but if you find something you like, go ahead and try it -- if it conforms with the USB HID specification, it will more than likely work fine on your Mac.
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A quick look at USB gaming peripherals for the Mac
Authored by: ClarkGoble on Oct 10, '03 12:07:18PM
If you do have a gamepad that isn't supported or want to map keyboard controls to the gamepad for non-controller savvy games, may I suggest GamePad Companion? Very useful app.

GamePad Companion

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A quick look at USB gaming peripherals for the Mac
Authored by: Agrippa on Oct 10, '03 03:01:27PM

It is possible to purchase USB adapters for PS2 and Xbox controllers. I use the Xbox version, which I purchased through one of the major online auction sites. The driver is available with a search for 'xbox' on www.versiontracker.com. Most no-name controllers don't hold up too well.



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A quick look at USB gaming peripherals for the Mac
Authored by: Vilinx on Oct 10, '03 03:44:50PM

A friend of mine picked up a random USB controller in Hong Kong. Some generic manufacturer, forget the name exactly. I hooked it up to my TiBook running 10.2 and SNES9x Custom recognized it perfectly...

David



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A quick look at USB gaming peripherals for the Mac
Authored by: folkert on Oct 10, '03 11:08:48PM
regarding gamepads, there is a adapter for connecting the [imho] wonderful nintendo game cube controller to your mac via usb at lik-sang.com. works with macmame, which is good enough for me :)

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A quick look at USB gaming peripherals for the Mac
Authored by: ihafro on Oct 14, '03 04:29:08PM

Radiosahck has a Playstation 1/2 to USB adaptor for $10. Works great under OS9 and OSX. It was able to recognize all the buttons as well as the analog sticks if you have a DualShock controller. I wasn't able to test out the vibration function, but that doesn't really do much on a PS controller.



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