Download of the Week: PPJoy


TIE Fighter is the single greatest game ever created; that fact is undeniable, so let’s not even bother trying to address it in a flurry of comments to this post. Case closed.

The problem? This is 2010. TIE Fighter came out in 1994. We’ve seen great changes in the computing industry within that sixteen-year gap: The growth of the multi-core platform. The death of the space-sim genre. And the uber-death of those strange contraptions called, “joysticks,” which one would use in said space games to fly about and rip things up with lasers or what-have-you.

Do I plan to go out and purchase a joystick just to play a sixteen-year old title? Or, for that matter, any game in the space-sim (or racing!) genre that requires such a device? No. That would require effort and money. And why should you invest those in a retail product when applications like PPJoy can give you exactly what you need to play such titles using the very devices that already sit at your fingertips!

Yes, in this case, I’m talking about your mouse.

Here’s the deal: PPJoy is a joystick emulation program that allows you to remap the inputs of a number of different devices (yes, even a Wiimote) as virtual joysticks within Windows. I, however, only mostly care about the app’s built-in “mouse remapping” function, which basically transforms the movements of your fairly typical input device into the x/y-axis movements of an average joystick. Buttons too—if you’ve got one of them fancy gaming mouses, you can use it to mimic the multi-button setup of those, “ripped out of an F-14 cockpit” kinds of joysticks.

Using PPJoy could not be eaiser. In fact, running through the default options for any of its setup screens (and turning on the mouse emulator) is all you need to do to get a space sim like TIE Fighter up-and-running sans real joystick. But the real beauty of the app comes not from its ability to allow one to fly for the Empire, rather, from the simple fact that someone out there was able to reconfigure a fairly common device into a fairly uncommon device using the power… of software!  I mean, there's no reason why a digital input shouldn't be able to be mapped into, well, anything ... right?

Download it here !

Technology journalist and former Maximum PC Editor David Murphy was a proud member of the secret order of the empire once upon a time.  That tattoo was a pain to cover up in grade school.

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