Developer diary: plans and progress reports.

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Archive of July 2011

Is that a flightstick in your pocket Monday 18th July 2011

Boxer 1.1 is out now. The headline features for this version are 10.7 Lion compatibility and – long in the making – joystick support.

Hear me roar

It’s been a mad dash to get Boxer 1.1 ready before Lion lands in July, since Boxer 1.0.2 was broken as hell on it. Upgrade right now if you haven’t already.

Lion brings with it a new fullscreen idiom which Boxer now supports, along with systemwide “application resume”: Boxer will try to start up in exactly the state it was when you quit it, albeit games will be ‘rebooted’ rather than resuming (no save-states for us quite yet).

Lion’s discreet changes to OS X’s UI style have made Boxer look rather frumpy in places, so over the next few sub-versions I’ll be making Boxer more Lion-like on Lion: switching from the black Inspector window to a creamy white one, for instance.

…or are you just pleased to see me

The big star for this version though, is that you can now finally use your gamepad, flightstick, wheel or even iPhone to play joystick games in Boxer again.

Boxer supports any HID game controller recognised by OS X. You can add or swap game controllers on the fly, and Boxer will automatically detect and use them.

Some devices (like the XBOX 360 Controller) need extra drivers before OS X will recognise them; some devices aren’t compatible with OS X at all, including certain gameport-to-USB adapters. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer.

Like DOSBox, Boxer emulates regular 4-button DOS joysticks along with CH Flightstick Pro and Thrustmaster FCS flightsticks—with the addition of a new racing wheel emulation mode especially for driving games.

You can switch joystick modes on the fly, and your choice is remembered per game, per user. As always, Boxer’s built-in help has more detail about all of these options.

iPhone, you say?

That’s right, Boxer also supports Joypad: a free iOS app that lets you use your iPhone or iPod Touch as a game controller for your Mac. Start up Joypad on your iOS device, launch Boxer, and the two will connect automatically. Let the anachronistic fun commence. Boxer’s Joypad support is built-in, so you don’t need their separate OS X client.

Even better, each of Boxer’s joystick modes presents its own custom Joypad layout. The racing wheel mode even uses the iPhone's tilt controls for steering–which turns out to work remarkably well.

Any colour you like, as long as it’s black

One thing Boxer doesn’t do (yet) is give you a way to modify how the inputs from your real controller are mapped to the emulated joystick; Boxer does this automagically based on the features of your game controller. It’s smart and it’ll keep getting smarter; but it will often, inevitably, get it wrong.

I plan to add an easy-to-use joystick mapping panel in Boxer’s preferences to let you tweak Boxer’s mappings. Before that though, I need to know as much as possible about where Boxer gets it wrong, so I know what is required of a mapping UI. That’s where you come in: let me know how well your game controller works (or doesn’t work) in Boxer.

As always, Boxer’s goal is zero configuration: you plug in your game controller and it Just Works, naturally and intuitively. Rather than focus on giving you options, I’m focusing on making Boxer’s automagic mapping as good as it can be: to ensure you never have to tweak the mappings unless you want to.

Design by 40watt.