Controller hardware & unfair executional configuration/mods


Before I Start, this topic is technological. Talk of What ever Fiasco at what ever FGC event is off topic here.
The petty issues like unsportmen-like or unethical behavior of various players is not our concern here.
Take that discussion to the Fighting Game Discussion board

Were here to discuss what are unfair mapping/ mods and how they are defined via software and hardware.
What important term words are (such as a macro or button binding) and what they mean.

And hopefully we can help Tournament staff and Tournament Organizers to identify and deal with such cheating.


Macro (Computer science): in computer science is a rule or pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence should be mapped to a replacement output sequence according to a defined procedure. Often used as short cuts for data entry and computer programming.

Macro (Video games): A single input (such as a button or keyboard key) or a short combination input script that outputs a much longer, often more difficult to execute combination or string of input commands.
Example: having a single button set to launch a Shoryuken (:dp: + :p:) in Street Fighter [CHEAT]

In-Game-Macro: a Macro that is allowed with in a particular game as already preset or accessible with in the game’s options menu.
Example: 3X Kick in Street Fighter.

Button binding: Having two or more inputs wired to the same button. Possible cheat, can also be used as a workaround for those players who might have limited dexterity or accessibility issues (physical disabled). - Source Keits
"Gummo popsicle sticks" mod is a mechanical version of Button binding, where two physical switches are pressed at the same time. An example of this would be a popsicle stick glued to two side by side buttons

Plinking: in some fighting games one can extend their combos further by canceling with a SELECT button input, as Select has priority over the other button inputs.

Auto-plinking: modification that allows a automatic Plink (or Select button input) after each attack input. [CHEAT]

Turbo/Auto fire: Rapid Input of a fire/attack button. Common feature in many controllers and it not ban but the use is considered a cheat.

Bug/Glitch: an error, flaw, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways. The term bug came forth when a actual bug, a moth got stuck in a relay causing a error - Origins of the term Bug

SOCD: the abbreviation for Simultaneous Opposite Cardinal Directions. To input two opposite directions to gain unfair advantage (often a glitch exploit) in a game
Example: SOCD can be used to block from both directions and create unfair advantage in Marvel vs Capcom 3, but in a game like Dance Dance Revolution, having SOCD is a critical part of legitimate game play.

SOCD Cleaner: either a software or hardware restriction where simultaneous opposite directional inputs can not be made. A SOCD cleaner can be a standalone board or circuit or it can be made apart of a PCB’s firmware.

Button Mapping: Button mapping refers to the physical location of each button input location

Button Layout: The Physical pattern or design of how each button is located on the surface of a arcade controller or panel.

Bus sniffing/Bus Pirate (Hacking): “listening” on a parallel or serial connector to detect incoming and outgoing information packets. For gaming this is used to detect the inputs from other players. [CHEAT]

Bus/Input poisoning (Hacking): a controller that sends out-of-spec or unexpected electronic signals. [CHEAT]

At what point would some clever wiring or mods would be considered unfair?
This is a difficult call, and at the end it would be each individual tournament to decide. But from what I understood so far and is the consensus of many tournaments that voiced there opinion
When a modification goes beyond the intended use of the game and gives unfair game play execution.

Example: a Hit Box would be considered fair as it replicated all the standard inputs a arcade stick or a game pad could perform.
A Unfair hardware configuration would possibly be a single button that offers Up + Left to enhance execution that would not be able to perform or would be difficult to do so on a standardized controller.

Full Schedule's Stick/Hitbox at Final Round

Outside articles
0 to stupid in 30 lines or less by Phreakmods
Evo Addtional Rules


More Reserved Space and stuffs
Looking for feedback to expand/ add to the definitions list


This seems apropos

There are some readily possible mods that people don’t or haven’t done, so I’m not sure they have common names.

Custom gates - relatively uncontroversial.
“Gummo popsicle sticks” - external mechanical multi-button activation.
“Multiway switching” - an interesting way to have multiple buttons for a single signal. (
“Neutral button” - a normally closed momentary switch on the controller’s ground line. Depressing it forces a neutral directional input.
“binding buttons” - buttons that, when pressed, ties two signal lines together. (e.g. turns both U and L into UL.)
Powered button return - a system that makes the return force of buttons larger than their compression force.
Tactile feedback systems - controllers that have some kind of tactile communication with the player.
“Auto-plinking” - the automatic select plink mod that phreakmods demonstrated in his post. (This is probably a cheat.)
“Edge delay timing assist” - another subtle type of assistance mechanism. (This is probably a cheat.)
“Turbo fire/rapid fire” is a common feature on unmodifed sticks that is considered to be a cheat.
“bus sniffing” - using a ‘covert channel’ to track the opponent’s input.
“bus poisoning” - a controller that sends out-of-spec or unexpected electronic signals. (This is gross cheating.)

I would say that any device which generates deliberately delayed inputs should be considered cheating. Other features that are available on OEM pads and arcade sticks should generally be allowed. I’m not so clear on the stuff in-between.


If I die and should be remembered for only one thing I hope its popsicle buttons!


Something else to consider is that alternative control schemes represent a significant investment - in terms of player time to adapt to them, so the ‘show us what it can do before we make a decision’ thing might not be the best choice either.


I heard of Buss sniffing as a hacking tactic from Hack-a-day articles.
Bus Poisoning sounds alot like Cache Poisoning
Tactile feedback system a.k.a. rumble


Those first two probably aren’t a big deal with the current generation of consoles.

Rumble is a pretty terrible version of tactile feedback for several reasons. You could have a stick that lets you know when TAP level 4 is charged or provides combo timing cues or feedback.


I see where you are getting at, I was bringing up rumble as it was the most common tactile feedback.

bringing up a PS3 game pad in Windows joypad.clp I notice there a max of 13 buttons. I guess it stands to reason 8 of these are your typical stick face buttons on a 8 button arcade stick, 3 for Select, Start and Home, and the remaining 2 are L3 and R3.

I guess we can argue no stick should have more than 13 input buttons? (idea is you can’t extend pass what you could do with a stock stick or game pad)
What do you think?


I think that’s not a very good rule:

The Dual Shock 2, for example, has start, select, L1-3,R1-3, four directional, and four face inputs of 16 digal inputs, four dedicated analog channels, and a bunch of other analog inputs that overlap with the digital ones. So it seems like the OEM pads wouldn’t qualify unless you made some kind of arbitrary distinction between d-pad and button.

Do you think that a 13 button controller would be appropriate for games that are played on atypical systems like Smash, TvC or KI?

I think that keyboard warriors should be welcome in competition. Keyboards typically have roughly 100 buttons.

I’m not sure there’s a clear way to decide whether something is a button or not, or how to count buttons. Consider, for example, Gummo’s popsicle stick buttons or all button controllers, or the turbo button or the selector switches on a MadCatz TE? Do touch pads count as buttons?

Not that any stick requirements are, but I don’t think that it’s an enforceable rule in a BYOC context. Buttons can easily be hidden.

I don’t understand how limiting the number of buttons would improve fairness. Especially considering that there are typically already more on a stick than what the players use.

Arcade style controls are really an artifact from a prior era. They were created for a very different setting than the current compeitive console scene. We should, IMO, be encouraging people to explore modifications


I am basing that 13 buttons from this screen shot here.

Its not that I think D-pads/Joysticks are a special case, I like to think of it as different.
Comparing Joysticks to push buttons is like comparing Apples to Oranges.

Electronically there all just a collection of switches, software wise the inputs are handled differently, especially when you get into analog thumb sticks.

Only if they find a reasonable adapter, so far the only adapters I know either lags ALOT, or is the Cronus (which is banned)
Last I checked with the bring your own controller rules, its the players who must provide adapters not the Tournament.

I was not sure, I felt tough answers must be asked. I wouldn’t ban the number of buttons you had per say. More so seeing excessive buttons should be a Flag for Tournament staff when they are checking arcade sticks, and maybe those folks should take a closer look at that stick.
A Typical Hitbox has 15 buttons, and if all 13 input buttons are represented then a hitbox would have 17.

Something like this picture it taken to the extreme, but it should also be a red flag to tournament organizers.


I’ve written this elsewhere, but I’m very strongly of the opinion that ‘checking arcade sticks’ isn’t a particularly good idea. People who are marginally competent and want to cheat will be able to swap sticks or make nigh-undetectable mods on sticks that look stock anyway. (In Sirlin’s terms, I don’t think a hard ban on cheaty sticks is enforceable in a BYOC setting.)

It might be productive to talk about what kind of tech capabilities are out there, and what should be considered cheating, not cheating, or a grey area, and why. Ideally so that people can make clear policies and minimize tournament-time decisions.

Building consensus about specific stuff like “15 buttons or less” (or even something less controversial like ‘no console bricking’) is not really appropriate for tech talk.

Edit: I should add that people in the community really do want to play fair. Adding SOCD cleaners is something people do at a cost to themselves in the interest of fair play.


How so? A visual inspection may not get everything, but a competent tournament organizer should know when something is obviously amiss.

Maybe not completely enforceable, as you and I know there are some very stealthy mods out-there but the policy should still be there.