"The Future" of Sticks; Research: UPDATE #2! 11/28

Thanks guys! This is a great start. Kiki and mortified, you guys bring up some really interesting points that I never even thought of.

@ Kiki, What about the Sega or Saulabi layouts make you think they are a better setup? I love the two panel concept.

sega astro layouts actually follow the curveture of your fingers
vewlix is popular and used because there is a modified version of the straight six layout on it

This is really awesome guys. I wish more people would see this thread and comment!

Kikimaru also told me this outside of the thread…
[]I mostly prefer slightly stiff sticks with levered microswitches (e.g. Seimitsu & Korean models), although they have the downside of being larger and louder.
]I can play on either, tbh; a lot of players prefer ball-top because of how they can use different grips with it. Battop only really affords 1-2 styles of grip.
[*]Personally, I always put Start on the very-top-right of my sticks if I can – it makes tapping Start to skip round-over animations easier. Hori make recessed / hidden Start buttons to accomodate this.

So through this thread and talking through other stick users I assembled the start of a “Things to Consider” list that I would love some feedback on and maybe some additions to. I also posted a sketch for a visual aspect so the ball can get moving there while I go back and talk to more people! I wi’ll put this new post in the First Post as I start to compile

Things to Consider:

  • Cord Storage
    ~Retractable Cord Button
  • Job and Back button linked
    ~Stick catered to modding? standard?
  • Sanwa / Seimitsu Parts
  • Stick to Button distance
  • Optional LED option
    ~ Back to modding
  • Console Combatibility
  • Traveling with stick
    ~ Retractable Stick / Ability to make it flush
  • Size of stick
    ~ Favorite size? weight?
  • Start and other button placement


I’d like to see optical buttons. This will help remove quite a large chunk of elements that contribute to noise. Optical joysticks are not that uncommon anymore, why not take that to buttons as well?

  • Cord Storage - to me only a few companies got this right, so far I tending to favor Razer’s approach over Mad Catz. I can’t say the same over newer Hori sticks.

~Retractable Cord Button - I prefer removable cords, easier maintenance if the cord has to be replaced.

  • Job and Back button linked - Easy enough to do as you bridge a wire between both buttons, its how people made turbo and select respond to the same button.
    By the way what in tarnation is a job button?

~Stick catered to modding? standard? Standards are being able to take both Sanwa and Seimtitsu joystick mounts. Button holes should be 30 mm, with start, select and home being 24mm. Catered to modding? Easy access, easy tear down and reassembly

- Sanwa / Seimitsu Parts - This is like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, which brand you actually feel more comfortable with, some people prefer one or the other, but in the end of the day they pretty much all have most of the same basic flavors of soda, a Cola, a citrus soda, a ginger ale, a root beer ect. Then Pepsi have the few odd Mountain Dew Flavors, and Coke got there own exclusives as well. Sanwa and Seimitsu is pretty much the same way.

- Stick to Button distance - varies with the layout you feel feels comfortable with

- Optional LED option -

~ Back to modding

- Console Compatibility - are we talking Xbox 360 and PS3 or actual Multi-console. Ether way you have a few options

- Traveling with stick - There is Phreak’s JLF Link

~ Retractable Stick / Ability to make it flush - Nice idea, you would need to build a custom joystick and a custom panel

- Size of stick - varies with the player’s preferences. I seen mini sticks that are custom built and I seen sticks that could have replaced the control panel to the X-men Arcade game Cab (the six player version) it is up to that individual player
~ Favorite size? weight? Same as the size.
Some players love small compact sticks ideal for travel, other players don’t mind having to get a work out from lugging there arcade sticks the way Cloud from FF VII carrys around a giant sword everywhere. I prefer enough weight where the stick isn’t going to shift by accident when I play. Aprox 8 pounds is my ideal weight but most of my sticks are closer to 5 pounds. Size will factor in the weight of the stick, even if lighter materials are used. I seen also people put weights into a stick to increased the weight.

  • Start and other button placement - sides, rear, top, front

I do like the 2 part panel idea for easy access.

I stand by my insistence of swappable panels for buttons and sticks. Mix and match for game types: 3 button layout with Sanwa for Virtua Fighter. Undo a couple of latches, and drop in a 5 button MK layout with IL buttons. Move back to the 3 button layout, but change the joystick panel side to an LS-58 for shmups. Couple that with quick disconnect harnesses. Kind of like the old Z Board keyboards.

Partner up with publishers to make “authentic panel recreations” for their classic arcade games. Namco could have a Pac Man panel with a proper 4-way stick and leaf buttons, Capcom could make a 6 button straight layout with Happ parts for classic titles. Taito could release an official Vewlix 7 button layout, etc. Basically, the “shell” or case comes with a generic swappable panel set, but you can buy these specialized sets as well. It’s the electric toothbrush or shaving razor business model: the handles are cheap/free, but you charge the price of a fighter jet for the actual parts that you replace.

This is all just brainstorming. The actual market for such a specialized product line would be quite small.

Here’s probably an odd (and expensive) idea:
“Seamless Dock-able arcade controllers” Furniture thing.

This would involve a companion gaming desktop/table too though. Similar to what TE Fightstands have… but more, seamless, as if it wasn’t a portable arcade stick to begin with when ‘docked’, but also easily removable for portability. The table dock and the stick should have proper docking connections, and not just looping through the usb/etc cable somewhere. There have been ‘half-way’ products out right now, both in polar opposites though, both in price and function…
Qanba has the Q1CUT which allows you to mount it to desktops using clamps, and Micomsoft has the XAC-1 which is allows you to install a real Sega arcade panel (astro city shape). And from what I’ve seen, even Madcatz VS and Hori VLX allow them to be mounted on flat surfaces.

For the docking table, it should definitely be more on the furniture side, a lot of gamers need actual tables too, so a way to cover the docking slot is welcome, converting it to a usable desktop. and lets be honest, we don’t want our joysticks to be sticking out when there’s company.

As for the stick itself, pretty much what others already suggested, the debate over Sanwa, Seimitsu, Fanta, Happ, etc should really not be an issue, a lot of people like different sticks for different occasions, so pretty much a universal mounting method is very much welcome. it can be done. So even if a Sanwa is pre-installed out of the box, having the option to mount whatever one likes with ease is definitely a selling point. Detachable usb cords should really be a standard by now.

A lot of people want an arcade cabinet feel but many dont have the resources, space, finances for an actual cabinet, this could be a good halfway point.

Most of the noise of a button comes from the plastic plunger hitting the plastic body, NOT from the microswitch (which is practically silent already).
Just need to design a shorter plunger and/or dampening material.

Updated the OP! Thanks for your feedback and suggestions guys. It really means a lot and I hope to get more as I move forward with the process


I should note I added to the list, a page of sketches, and bracketed them into spoiler tags so the post doesn’t become 12 miles long

For the right handed to left handed instead of having the stick split up and switch it around, i saw somewhere where they have a stick that has a switch on it that switches the up down and left right around so you can hold the controller the other way. and simply do that with the button layout (x,o,[],ect) as well the only concern i can think of is the potion of the buttons you’d need them in a straight line otherwise the curvature would be off. also console compatibility could be achieved through the akishop ps360+ pcb just as a thought.
EDIT: another thing would as stated above would be sound maybe use optical switches for joystick or you could use the silent omron micros, as for the buttons you can use MarceloAbans inserts for sanwa buttons Sanwa Silencers or a similar kind of foam cutout?

I don’t think swappable panels are feasible. Either each panel has to have all of the buttons and a stick attached, in which case they’ll be pretty pricey, or else you’ll have to spend a lot of time removing all of the components and re-installing them in the new panel. I think the best you could hope for is specifying the layout & art you want when you order it.

I have some stock Hori’s and busted Sanwa’s (damn snap in tabs…) that I’m going to try this on, as I mentioned it in the Silent Sanwa thread. If you shave off a bit of the plunger, then the only thing that will cause any noise will be the snap tab that keeps the plunger in place. I’m thinking if you were to coat it lightly with those rubber grips dip that you dip wrenches in, it would dampen the noise. Then you’d have near silent buttons. Except for RG switches and Omron cherry style adapters, but at least you wouldn’t hear the plastic slapping itself.

Oh, I think the future of joysticks should still use micros, except they should be designed around using low force micros and high tension springs. Lower force micros are cheap and much less noisy, but to maintain tension of the stick you need tighter springs.

On top of that, every panel should have a pop open cover, like the Razor stick or the PDP MK Stick, those are the best ideas I’ve seen for them to make swapping buttons and joystick maintenance easy. On top of that, every stick should have a memory foam cushioned bottom, rather than curves to fit legs since everyone has different leg diameters. The foam can curve to your legs instead of forcing an ergonomic design on the shell.

It should not be 100% foam though; you’d still want a hard outside edge for table players.

The bottom could be made with like a soft matt rubber and be concave; it would fit your lap better as well as it would still work on a hard surface plus then it wouldn’t slide. Also i think for the hand rest should also be a softer matt rubber similar to a those gel keyboard wrist wrests in concept.

PDP stick is a good example of it, it has sides for tables and the foam between the sides.

  1. A mass-market joystick will NEVER have multi-console capability. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft aren’t going to allow this… They make money off of licensing official peripheral hardware. I don’t even know why this still comes up… It’s a pipe-dream that something other than a third-party, unlicensed joystick or PCB-modded case will ever have multi-console support.

  2. Although I agree the Astro button layout IS more comfortable, manufacturers go with what they think is the current, popular trend. That’s also why Seimtisu part-equipped joysticks are few-and-far between. So far, we’ve only seen them released “officially” in the States in XBox 360 Ex SE versions of the PS3 HRAP 3 and that was at least 3 years ago…

  3. I agree that the space between the buttons and joystick could always be opened up. It’s too close in many joystick cases, IMHO. The DC Agetec and HRAP 1 (once you button-plug the first two 30mm positions from the left) are just about perfectly spaced. I could just about care less where the 24mm buttons are placed so long as they’re out of the way (NOT on the faceplate) and within convenient reach (on the sides or reachable area in the back… I’m a lefty and even I prefer placement on the right side!)

  4. Smaller cases, yes… But then you get into weight issues and stability. That’s why a lot of people that own the Hori HRAP VLX love that joystick. For me personally, the old HRAP 1/2/3 cases are big enough. I like the original Mad Catz Rd 1 and 2 cases better than the TE-S follow-ups for style reasons, too.
    My favorite “compact” case design is the Sega Dreamcast (Agetec) joystick. You can’t get much smaller than that and have interior space that isn’t cramped. (RJ-45 pass-throughs become an issue in the Agetec case IF you decide to use an LED light/art in the old VMU position.) The Hori FightSticks, for instance, are notoriously short and create fits for JLF users unless they re-use the stock Hori shafts with the Sanwa base. There’s a practical size limit for mods.

  5. My feelings about Turbo panels… *I almost never use these. * The only time I think they’re useful is for older side-scrolling shooter games like R-Type/Scramble/etc. It’s best to keep these small and out of the way… The worst Turbo panel I’ve seen lately is ironically in one of Hori’s better joystick cases, the Nori Style/Soul Calibur V case. It’s just too big and wipes out a lot of faceplate space that could be used for mod artwork. A smaller or relocated Turbo panel is preferrable to this.

  6. Popularity reasons aside, I’d still refer more joysticks that actually used Seimitsu parts. It’s too bad Hori feels that they can only do runs of a few hundred production units of alternate, Seimitsu-equipped HRAPs.

  7. $150 is the practical price-limit for professional-quality mass-production joysticks right now unless you want to pay for a Norris joystick or other customs. Sure, I’d prefer to pay $80 or less, but just getting new replacement parts (a joystick and 8-10 arcade buttons) costs that much! With all the online deals – unless you’re looking for a Japanese-only market joystick and we’ve seen a few times that vendors have imported these joysticks (White HRAP 3, Arcana Heart 2, Hori Diamond VLX) --, you’ll save at least 20-33% off suggested retail price.

Throw-out suggestion
*** Nobody’s done this one recently… How about a faceplate that’s actually angled 5-10 degrees up? There have been beveled/angled front edges, yes, but no major manufacturer has had an angled joystick faceplate/control area since at least the mid-1990s that I can recall. A lot of people are not comfortable with flat faceplates. Even keyboards are angled at least 10-15 degrees up for ergonomics. ***

All the sticks are borrowing cues from Japanese cabs which have flat faceplates. Most candy cabs have their control panels at just above knee height, so a flat faceplate is no issue.

True, but I do agree with George there. That’s one thing I like about my Saulabi, actually, is the angled faceplate. It is human based design, after all.

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