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The Fight For Inverted Controls

Posted by on September 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Maybe it was Halo that caused this whole thing. I remember being in college and having to summon a profile on a foreign Xbox during any number of tournaments and impromptu dorm room matches we had. It was inevitable: there was always some ragging going on because someone had to set sensitivities or invert the vertical aim. Somehow, we “inverted” players have a bad rap and I have no idea why. I honestly don’t even know what the percentage of players are one or the other, but I imagine I’m in the minority since it’s not standard in name or proxy. It only took one game to change me, but I play inverted and I love it. Let me explain my madness…

Before I picked up my Xbox in November of 2001, I played with a mouse or a joystick on my PC because until that point, console games just weren’t for me. Halo taught me that pulling down on the right stick to aim meant that Master Chief would look down. If you pointed it up, you looked up. Of course, this was all in opposition to my PC joystick playing, but that was hardly relevant then. The change came when I picked up The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind in June of 2002, which had been developed by Bethesda, an until-then PC developer. When I started the game, the controls were inverted like an airplane: you pointed the stick down and looked up and vice-versa. It was a pain to get used to, but by the time I went through through the menus to find the option to set it right, I’d already gotten used to it and now ‘normal’ joystick view was the ‘weird’ one. Eventually, it all made sense, when you pull down on a stick, what you see on the screen is a software extension of that. Let me demonstrate:

So you see on the left, a ‘standard’ look bends the view. When you pull down, it looks down, but it doesn’t feel natural to me anymore because on the way to the TV screen, it’s as if the control is bent away from you. On the right, like you were moving the joystick on a plane, pulling down on the stick pitches your view up. In all those years since then, I’ve adjusted my shooter profiles to include this option, which is a pain in the butt on show floors at places like E3 where you don’t have immediate access to it. When I played Mirror’s Edge in 2008 ahead of its release, the inversion command had put in the options menu, but it took a rep with a button combo to actually set it. It is not me playing the game wrong, it is you.

I think we, both standard and inverted, can come to understand each other now.

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