So Arkham City was on sale on Steam last weekend. Between that and the recent removal of GFWL and SecuROM, and my Xbox (and my copy of the game) being recently stolen, I went ahead and bought it.
Compared to the Xbox version of the game, well, it's got all the same benefits and drawbacks as every PC game does compared to the console version.
Including controller support.
It recognized my outdated Cordless Rumblepad 2 just fine — I'm not sure if that's internal to the game itself or due to the compatibility layer Steam's added in Big Picture — but either way, well, it recognized the controller but didn't actually work right with it.
All the button pairs were switched. A and B, X and Y, the bumpers and the triggers.
All of which I suppose I could have eventually reprogrammed my muscle memory to work around (hell, the Xbox's button layout is already backwards for a kid who grew up with a SNES). But the fact that the Y-axis was backwards on the left stick? Not so much. Try playing a game where up is literally down and see how far it gets you.
And here's my gripe:
There's no menu to reconfigure your controller in the game.
There could have been. There's a menu option to look at the controls. You just can't modify them in any way. (Well, you can invert the axes on camera and flight, I suppose. But not on regular movement, the thing where I actually needed to invert an axis. And no button remapping whatsoever.)
There's a configuration utility — outside the game — which lets you remap controls…for keyboard and mouse. If there's a way to change the button layout on a gamepad, I sure didn't see it.
Now, the good news about this being 2013 is I could type "arkham city" inverted controls into a search engine and find a trivial fix — as it turns out, there's a config file in BmGame\Config\DefaultInput.ini that has straightforward, cleartext entries with names like XboxTypeS_LeftY and XboxTypeS_A. Simply swap the names of the axes and buttons, and that's all it takes.
Which is great!
But the bad news about this being 2013 is I can't help asking why the fuck I had to look this up on the Internet and edit a fucking text file instead of just configuring my controls from a menu.
The last time I had a problem like this, with The Walking Dead, I found a forum post by a Telltale staffer who had this to say:
Unfortunately we do not have access to all the various versions of controllers that logitech and other companies make.
Which sounds perfectly sensible, and also completely misses the fucking point.
Now, in Batman's case, there are a couple simple reasons that's a bad argument: first, this issue occurs with the authentic Xbox controllers that the game is specifically designed for. Second, this is not a new bug — see the link to the fix a few paragraphs up? Take a closer look at the URL — it's for Arkham Asylum, not City. This is a bug from the original game that was not fixed in the sequel.
But even leaving aside those two points (which is only fair, of course, given that I'm quoting a guy from a different company talking about a completely different game), the central issue remains: this is the twenty-first goddamn century and people are making games — PC games! — where they don't give you the option to remap your buttons.
Yes, I know that hardware inconsistency is the single most difficult thing about PC development. No, I don't expect you to design your game to work with every single controller ever made.
But I do goddamn-well expect you to let me map my fucking buttons however I want.
Mega Man X did that shit twenty years ago. What the fuck is your excuse?