Using A PS3 Controller For An MMO (Rift, LotRO, etc.)

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.

Image Did Not LoadPvP 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.

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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.

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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.

Disclaimer: I have used this successfully now on two different computers, with no bad effects or viruses, with both systems scanned and monitored by Norton. I am not affiliated at all with this software, and cannot be held responsible for any damage that may occur for any reason. This blog post is just a help doc. As of fall 2012, MotionInJoy makes an internet connection mandatory so it can open ads and even a browser window on you. This is obviously plain bad. I am considering an XBOX controller, but for now I’ve disabled javascript and graphics on default-browser Firefox and have begun to use Chrome as my go-to. I’m then at less risk for applications opening my default browser to something unwanted.

Further reading:

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.

Using MotionInJoy (same link as above)
More guidance on using MotionInJoy., more on JoyToKey


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10 responses to “Using A PS3 Controller For An MMO (Rift, LotRO, etc.)

  • Mmaarr

    awesome guide! what is your button layout? I don’t need anything too complex (I don’t think I could pull off using a controller on my warden, too many crazy combos) 😛 but just enough for hacking mobs for deeds.

    • Jacquotte

      Hi, thanks. 🙂 I tried this with Warden because it seems perfect, but I quickly realized that I had no clue how to play my Warden anymore, and that was a problem…

      I personally use kind of a weird layout for my LotRO hotkeys using mostly the Numpad. So…I are using X, O, square and triangle for numpad 1-4, the four arrow/movement buttons for numpad 5-8, so that’s the first 8 skills of my first skillbar. Then I use L2 as a cntrl modifier to get the 8 skills on my second skillbar, and then R2 as an alt modifier to get 8 skills on another skillbar, for a total of 24 possible.

      I’m using L1 for Tab to target a monster. R1 to jump. Left stick and right stick to move around and look, like I described. Press left stick to auto-run forward, press right stick to mount up.

      This is good for farming nodes too! You can re-program two buttons to hotkeys for “target nearest object/item”, and “use”, and run around harvesting nodes using the controller.

      I could also note that I’ve been using controller for farming and deeds for almost 3 weeks now, and it looks like it isn’t going to flag any input alerts on the Turbine side (like they might think I’m botting or something), which is good.

  • Mmaarr

    That layout works great! I slotted all my most need skills in 1-4 and then the variations. I have the d-pad for just mousing over things and r3 as a double click. I think I’m going to try to set a button to swap between two different layouts: on for just bummin around and another for purely combat.

    Thank you for this guide though. It was exactly the motivation I needed to run slayer deeds on my alts. Now nobody will make fun of my raid-geared but crap virtue burg anymore!

    • Jacquotte

      I found Burg to be a little more difficult with the PS3 controller than Champ or Captain. Not sure why. I think maybe the crit reactives have to have good timing, and the positioning needs to be more exact. Glad it’s working for you! Have fun. 🙂

  • Jacquotte

    @ Anthony Did you go into the Joy2Key options and enable “show all axes 8-way?” in the drop-down menu? Your sticks should then be highlighting a line in the Joystick 1 key list. You then double-click those lines and set to movement keys in LotRO, and follow the instructions above to emulate a mouse look. Make sure your MotionInJoy program is also open while you are running your PS3 controller.

    NOTE: I can say that my sticks stopped working after a week or two and no longer registered. What fixed the sticks was to restart everything, disconnect the controller, and reload the driver. Reloading the driver in the Driver Manager part of MotionInJoy was finally what got it to work, so you might be able to just do that.

  • Shut Up Nerd!

    hi, apart from me using xbox controller we are doing the same thing…however, eg ability usage 2 abilitys trigger by one button press seems to only do the first ability, how to you make it so that in mmos you can cast/use more than 1 ability with just 1 button press.

    In star wars mmo the old republic, on the keyboard numbers 1,2,3,4 do my four main abilities…
    1 and 3 are instant so take 1 second to cast
    2 and 4 take 6 seconds to cool down and take 1 second to cast.

    In joytokey i have tried in keyboard 2 tab trying to set it to behave so pressing SQUARE button (ps3) or in my case X button (xbox) first triggers ability 1 then pressing again triggers ability 3 – this is great however in combat means i have to keep pressing the button over and over.

    So i also tried diff method, i set in keyboard tab so that it actually auto repeats 1 and 3 once i have pressed SQUARE button (ps3) or X button (xbox) it does this every 2 seconds and toggle on off is ticked so that i have to press SQUARE button (ps3) or X button (xbox) to cancel it.

    This last mehtod works the best from an easy play point of view however it is only casting the first keypress eg ability 1 and never actually triggers ability 3

    Any ideas if joytokey can be setup to allow for easy ability usage ie more than 1 ability on 1 button and auto looping until cancelled by pressing the same controller button again?

    • Jackie

      This would be cheating and illegal in most MMOs; certainly looping the ability until cancelled would be considered “botting”. Unless you wanted to do a macro, but that still allows only one per keypress, just acting as a gate to determine which skill triggers depending on how you set up the macro.

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