I would like to pick up a flightstick or joystick. I could be wrong, but I
believe it is the same product. If I am incorrect on this? Could someone out
there educate me on the difference and to which to pick up.
Well, the term joystick is a generic term to include various kinds of
game controller such as game pads, flightsticks, racing wheels, and
other similar input devices. So as a result the answer to your question
is both yes and no, and thus requires a lengthy explanation.
The most common type of joystick these days are what are called game
pads. If you have seen the Playstation PS2 game controllers those are an
example of a game pad. They are slightly flat with a big round button on
the left-hand side you use to move your character forward, backward,
left, and right. It also has several buttons on the right side to fire,
jump, crouch, etc. As I said these are becoming quite common both for
game consoles and computers these days. Generally speaking game pads are
such a common and easy to use design that they will work nicely with
about any kind of game you can think of from FPS Shades of Doom type
games, to arcade classics like Aliens in the Outback, to flight games
like Jim kitchen's Puppy 1.
Another common class of joystick is a flightstick or flight yoke. These
are often designed to look like flight controllers and have a big long
stick you hold on to to control your spaceship, fighter, etc during game
play. The often have buttons on the stick such as firing controls and
buttons on the base for extra game functions. While these often are a
nice design they are best suited for flight games, but I have sometimes
seen them used in other styles of games to.
Another common class of joysticks are racing wheels. These are just
exactly what they say they are. These look like a giant steering wheel
with buttons, a gear shift, peddles, etc to simulate driving or racing.
These only really work well in driving simulations, because of the design.
One important thing I would like to add is while joysticks, AKA game
controllers, come in many forms to a programmer the code to control all
the devices is basically the same. An API such as DirectInput handles
all of the low level control for a developer such as myself so all I
need to do is add a generic game controller interface to a game to
support everything from the newest game pad to racing wheels. The only
major difference to you as a game player and consumer is feel and
preference. I personally like using game pads because they are
multi-purpose, and consoles like the PS2 has gotten me use to that style
of controller. Flightsticks are nice as well, but I find it awkward to
use a flight controller in a game like shades of Doom or games of that
type because it doesn't allow for the same kind of control of the main
In short you asked for advice and here is what I found as a gamer and
developer. If you want the best variety of styles and game control, it
is best to have at least one controller of each major type. If you are
really really into flight games then start with a flightstick. If you do
a lot of Topspeed or Rail Racer races then a racing wheel would be a
place to start. If you really want a controller that works with all sort
of games with the most relaxed control go with a game pad which is well
suited for about any game out there.
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