I'm not a big fan of TL_DR's, but I do feel like I'm adding a lot of context that may or may not be important to my question. Skip below the spoiler to get the point, but I do have this spiel here for it helps understand where I'm coming from.
So I want to start this off by saying I'm not really new to the FGC community or competitive games, but I have never been someone worth mentioning. I have had a consistent losing streak at my local scene; local being relative cause it was more like 2-3 hours away to get to the active group. It was mostly just a social experience for me; I enjoyed playing with skilled players who enjoyed the skill it takes to win rather than just winning itself. I fell out of it for 2 reasons, one being how much money I was spending just to drive to events(wasn't in a good position to rent hotels; had no established friends I could trust for occasional housing), and 2nd reason that is more relevant to this thread... my execution in these games is garbage.
Mind you, I'm not particular amazing at any aspect of fighters, but execution is the only thing that I would say I am outright terrible at. I have played numerous fighters, and what I have taken notice to is that though I am capable of doing things like Ryu's FADC into Ultra 1 in SFIV, I can't do anything consistently. I do mean anything. Its not just simple 236 motions that mess me up; I have found that even the most basic movements like jumping forward are inconsistent on my current choice of controller, which is a wireless X360 controller used through a PC wireless adapter.
I don't use this controller out of preference. At least, not for fighters. I play a lot of games across multiple genres and my main focus is local multiplayer games in general. I do have a history of a much better quality controller; during the time I was playing within the FGC, I used a Hitbox for my main controller. When I first got it, it honestly didn't take much time to relearn my execution, and though there were certain characters that were harder to play due to inputs(I always liked grapplers on pad, but I never got to a good level of comfortableness with 720 motions on Hitbox personally), the added level of precision on the Hitbox opened up so many other play styles that I honestly didn't mind. Back when I had that Hitbox, I felt like my execution wasn't being held back; I felt like I had found my niche of controller preference.
That was back in 2013. Fast forward to today. I haven't been to a serious event in almost 5 years. I sold my Hitbox for multiple reasons; the mod I got to make it compatible with 360 devices was poorly done and left some serious build quality issues, the PS4/Xbone were starting to get major fighting game releases, I couldn't put money towards attending events let alone modding my Hitbox again, and all the while it was collecting dust as my other local multiplayer games were getting more attention among friends than any fighters did.
I have two questions I want to ask, to get some good advice or recommendations of what I should work towards. 1st question, is it a good idea to have a controller dedicated soley to fighting games? I play a lot of general multiplayer games that could all benefit from a high quality controller, and the first thing that comes to mind is that a arcade box would not be very practical for another personal favorite fighter of Smash(that I still have quiet a bit of issue with, though that's more of me trying to stay with Xbox pads/PC than anything; never had too much of an issue on console/tournament standard setups).
The 2nd question is; if it is preferred to get a controller centered around fighters, what steps should I take to find something I am comfortable with? Though I would be fine getting another Hitbox, my experience with getting additional console mods was... not pleasant. I don't know if it was who I got the mod from, or if the Hitbox has an unusual parts setup, but I really don't want to have another situation like it again. And I would like to try a more traditional fight stick because honestly I went straight to the Hitbox the first time around. All my experiences with fight sticks have been on the cheap side, and I have yet to experience any controller that had the initial build quality of the Hitbox.
As a bonus, here is a spoiler full of what I generally look for in a game controller. Keep in mind, though I would prefer to have a controller I can use on majority of games, I will go with a fighting game focused controller if its worth it. It will probably seem nitpicky, but I'm just trying to be as specific as possible. I've played with my current wireless gamepad setup for 4+ years now; its been tolerable up to this point for casual gameplay, so don't think that what is in here isset in stone. Its just what I prefer.
Black and white levels of precision. Its what drew me into the Hitbox and has made keyboard more appealing to me in 2D PC games. I understand this is uncommon for a lot of games, but being able to be distinct with the main directions really helps me satisfy my feeling of "my execution is bad, not the controller". Dpads can do this sometimes, though I can't stand my 360 controllers dpads, which have had tolerable joysticks for most games. I've become very upset recently with general joysticks and how they have gotten cheaper in build quality over the years; though the arcade layout of buttons is extremely helpful for fighters, I would be fine with a gamepad that had a joystick not entirely constructed out of the cheapest plastic that was commercially acceptable
Unfortunately, I cannot find a gamepad that puts that much care and effort into durable, drift minimizing joystick. Any recommendations towards that would be very appreciated!
Aside from the sticks, the black and white precision also applies to buttons. It doesn't take much to satisfy me in this regard, aside from getting rid of triggers. I refuse to use analog triggers on a fighter, and will always remap my buttons to avoid using them. A shame really, considering that I also don't like the claw method for the face buttons. I have a hard time mapping on my buttons in a comfortable manner with a 360 pad.
Finally I want something that has a good weight and feel, which is different for gamepads and arcade boxes. For gamepads, spacing of the buttons/sticks is a big deal to me. The Xbox One/360 feel too compact to me, and speaking from my time with Rocket League, I have a very strong problem with my left hand slipping from the joystick to the dpad. PS4 is more comfortable when it comes to spacing. I've never had a weight issue with any gamepad.
Arcade boxes on the other hand... the hitbox was the closest thing to a comfortable weight, but I still found it hard to situate on my lap and not have it slide around. My local scene had a frequent Barfights tourney, with barstools being the usual seating arrangement for matches. Could not play reliably as I could never get the hitbox to stay still, kept sliding forward down my knees. All my experience with fight sticks has been much poorer in this regard.
Even my most subtle movements with the sticks would shift the entire controller. Its worth noting that two specific instances I can name is a Hori Mini(which was cheap) and a weird 2 player fight stick(even cheaper) were both much lighter than the Hitbox.