Editor’s Note 12/18/12: this guide is being converted to a guide that focuses Rift instead of LotRO, so may have some glitches until I have time to test and fix it.
PvP and rift grinding in Rift can feel like C-clamps on the finger joints. A console controller might provide some relief–or so I hypothesized as I ran joyful raids all day in Black Gardens. Unfortunately, there is a lot of poorly presented information on the internet on the topic of using a PS3 controller with a PC. The old Youtube video that everyone seems to link disabled my mouse if I followed the instructions exactly, and if I tried to improvise, the controller wasn’t detected.
Here are the basic simple steps that finally worked for me–with specific notes on the things that tripped me up. This document means I won’t have to unravel this again when I get a new NPC, and it will save me from facepalm damage caused by watching Youtube videos. That said, I don’t claim to be an expert. I just want to record what worked–in detail–because it was a pain. I had zero success when I first tried doing this last year. NEW: I’ve also added a mapping template assistant (see links at end of post) to record your buttons in a more readable format to help get the skills set up.
(Note that if you’re a Microsoft drone using an XBOX controller, you should have no problems at all because that’s how Microsoft rolls, you know. (Teasing. A little bit.) So you can just install your controller via Microsoft’s software and official site help, and then skip to step 6 like a normal human being.)
Step 1 For Installing A PS3 Controller: Go to MotionInJoy and download the latest version of the program for your system. If you’re like me and can’t find any link at all, disable your AdBlock or download the program elsewhere. (edit Oct. 2012- avoid the big button-links that are actually other ‘featured’ programs. The links are now hidden in the version text.) Install. The software may auto-update when you first start it.
Step 2: Here are the instructions for the latest version of MotionInJoy to install it. If you’re on Vista, your install will not happen like this, and if you close the program, it will mysteriously refuse to start again. Headaches will continue until you right click and run as administrator.
Step 3: Plug in your controller to a USB port. The lights should blink. You can’t push the PS3 button, nor should you need to. Start the MotionInJoy program. It will not recognize your controller yet.
Step 4: With MotionInJoy open, click the Driver Manager tab at the top. Click the checkbox for your device (should be only one choice at this point, if not, unplug the controller and see which option disappears.) Click the Load Driver button. After some work, the panel will spit out an output indicating success. You may get a popup warning about publisher verification, but according to the MIJ site, this has been taken care of at the time of this writing.
Step 5: Click back to the Profile tab. On Windows Vista, unlike the official instructions, the program still did not recognize my controller, but I noticed a Windows icon on the taskbar asking me to restart to complete updates. (Windows 7 did not have this issue.) After restarting the computer, I opened MIJ and at that point my controller was finally recognized. The lights on the controller showed it was auto-charging (it will be steady red if already charged), and I praised the goddesses for having mercy on my soul. Select the Playstation 3 radio button and click the enable button at the bottom.
You can also vibrate yourself and do controller calibration through the controller panel button at the bottom. I did not need to do anything with this. The fact that all the PS3 controller buttons are being read should be good enough for your controller-to-key program to remap those buttons into being interpreted by the game program. If your computer is equipped with Bluetooth, try the official instructions for pairing your controller via the MIJ tool.
Step 6: Now you’re ready to download a program that reads the controller, interprets it, and sends the input to the game program that would ordinarily not take this input (i.e. LotRO). The two main choices appear to be Xpadder (shareware no choice) and JoyToKey. I will not link the commercial XPadder site because WordPress doesn’t like me doing that with their generous free hosting.
Step 7: Click “create” at the bottom left corner of the JoyToKey window to create a profile and name it. At this point, the list of Joystick options on the right should be registering your PS3 controller. Press buttons and watch to see what lines highlight. Double click the line with your mouse to open up the config window for that line. Enter the keyboard key to correspond with the controller button.
My initial setup is to use the L2 button for Cntrl modifier and the R2 button for Alt modifier on 8 buttons for a total of 24 possibilities. Moving your character with the left stick on the default setting is awkward. Go to the Options tab and increase the “threshold for input” to like 25-40%. This improves control.
Also in Options, under the “Show/Hide buttons menu, I enabled “Show all axes (8 way + POV +2). You will then see more Axis options in the Joystick 1 configurations, which will let you configure your right stick for mouse look. As an example, now double click Axis6(>0) and select the “mouse” tab option at the top. Click the “right mouse click” box (or left click, depending on your mouse setup) and change the vertical slider to -30. Do the same with Axis6(<0), but set the vertical movement slider to +30.
Now when you move the right stick, it will emulate you right clicking and dragging–i.e. looking up and down. I was personally not able to get key commands for pageup/pagedown type camera control to work. This mouse solution is fine as long as your mouse pointer is not hovering over a skill, which will actually cause a click on it instead of a mouselook drag.
Step 8: Now click the “preferences” at the top of the JoyToKey window and select “Associate Config Files With Applications.” You’ll need to click Add, enter a name for the app (i.e. Rift Client), the name of the config file you just created (i.e. Rift config 1), and the path to your Rift.exe. (Editor’s note: I have actually tested this in both Rift and LotRO, and this preference is not necessary. The controller will simply work on whatever window is in focus without setting an association.)
Step 9: Log in. You should magically be good to go. If you’re not, then I can only assure you that I know how you feel. If you ask in comments, it’s possible that I or someone else can help. Of course, if anyone has any brilliant insights or clarifications to help with this topic, I’d love to hear it.
NEW: I have created a printable template for mapping out your PS3 controller to a PC game. Download the template ZIP file and open the BMP (windows bitmap) image in Windows Paint or other graphics program. It should be ready to print on one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. Here is a sample of using the template to remember where all of your skills are mapped, in this case for a LotRO Warden.