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My Descent Setup

Oh my god, they don't make games like this one any more, do they?

For the unintroduced, Descent was the first game to offer 6 degrees of freedom, that is, you could move your little anti-gravity spaceship in all directions and could rotate it around all of its axes at will. You'd get the best experience out of it by using two joysticks, but many players have become quite capable using only a keyboard or keyboard plus mouse.

I've recently got a new (red!) playstation 3 sixaxis controller for my birthday and I rediscovered Descent. In this post I show off my setup :)

Software

For quite a long time, I was a big fan of D2x-xl, which allows using high-res textures and models for powerups and all kinds of special effects. It was really quite awesome, but my new laptop had problems with it (namely that my graphics card would overheat and shut itself down after about a minute of gameplay). So a friend recommended d2x-rebirth instead (and gave me a copy of all of his additional mission files, yay!). Quickly compiling it, I quickly configured the sixaxis controller for intense descent gameplay. This gave d2x-rebirth a big edge over d2x-xl, as d2x-xl would choke on all the axes of the ps3 sixaxis controller (it has like 28, because every button exports is pressure sensitivity as an axis.), but d2x-rebirth immediately works, so that's cool :)

Hardware

When I play descent "on the go", I just use my laptop, or any big monitor that happens to be free near me, but at home I have a big TV with VGA-in. The choice is obvious.

This is the "Cockpit".

The picture showcases the amazing space-sofa and the gamepad of a matching color. Also note the presence of space- slippers below the couch and the mobile music entertainment system for those long, boring flights through asteroid fields and such. I want to note the presence of Whisky. I urge every aspiring space-spelunker to drink responsibly.

The laptop on the floor serves as an in-flight communication system and builds the center of the cockpit-imaging-system, connecting the input mechanisms (keyboard and gamepad) to the steering jets and engine and such.

The extra-big windshield allows for a good view of the battlefield. Note especially the oddly shaped bouncy ball. If you look closely, you will also find a penguin on the picture. Yay!

Problems

The only problem I have with d2x-rebirth is, that every now and then it would get confused with what joystick the buttons are from and I would have to map all buttons again, but it's a small price to pay for the awesomeness I get :)

Button Mapping

At the moment I use the left stick for sliding sideways and accellerating or decelerating, the right stick for aiming (non-inverted). The upper shoulder buttons are used for firing the secondary and primary weapons and the lower shoulder buttons are used for rolling. I use the left directional pad arrow for automap and the other one for energy-to-shield converter. The up and down buttons are used for sliding up and down. The triangle button fires a flare and the circle button drops a bomb. I am not yet satisfied with the lack of easily accessible slide-up and slide-down buttons. I may use the lower shoulder buttons for sliding up and down, but I'm not sure yet.

Recommendation

Everyone should give descent at least one try. The shareware content files for descent and descent 2 are available from the dxx-rebirth website as well. If you like the game, you can buy it for cheap from good old games.