PC Gaming on the Couch

It’s doable.

apps used:
Gamebrowser II frontend for Media Center
Pinnacle Game Profiler to control media center from the gamepad, as well as emulating wii mote controls
my own DDDC Auto.Switch utility, configured to run with PC games only (Wii/PS2/DC/GC don’t have true surround sound)

No keyboard and mouse in sight. Finally!

EDIT: Would like to add - Microsoft separating out Media Center as a standalone $65 purchase for Windows 8 is unforgivable. Yeah, yeah, I will get on the $14 W8 upgrade + Free Media Center limited offer bandwagon (because I can be bought easily) but I am still voicing my protest!

This has been doable for many, many years now.

It’s very doable, in fact I’m doing it right now. Steam big picture is a fantastic step in not only making it doable, but also making it feel great. I also have the advantage of not really minding using the mouse and keyboard on the couch. Sure, I’ll play stuff like side scrollers and racing games (i.e. any game that plays better with a controller) with a controller, but when it comes to first person shooters, I have no problem playing with a keyboard on my lap and a mouse to my side.

Sure, I’ve hooked up my Celeron/S3 Virge PC to my Tv and laid out my PS/2 wired keyboard and MS Intellimouse explorer 2 on the floor for an hour or two back in the 90’s. S-Video out, what a revelation!
Just posting a more “robust” set up shall we say.

Steam Big Picture was definitely a great addition to the Steam experience, but I have about 300 titles that aren’t a part of my Steam library. Rather than add them into Steam and confuse everything, I went with a frontend setup that I can independently manage and more easily backup/transfer in case I want to upgrade 4 years from now. Also, while Big Picture Mode is a great UI ther isn’t an out of the box method to launch it using only the gamepad’s guide button. A gamepad profiler like xpadder or Pinnacle Game Profiler helps in this regard.

I just need a longer USB Cable for my 360 pad and I could still do it. Used to play some games, like TWO WORLDS II on the tv/speaker/pad setup instead of using my keyboard/mouse/monitor. But these days, I need another 3m of cable to work that magic.

What exactly does Steam big picture do differently than just plugging your computer into your tv and playing with a controller like we’ve always done?

Not only can you browse your game library in a nice convenient way using the controller, you can also use their first person browser to surf the web using the controller too. Plus they have a pretty nice way of using a virtual keyboard using analog sticks and face buttons. It’s fast and convenient, and lessons the need for a keyboard and mouse hookup when you’re not in a game.

Get the wireless receiver for the PC, then you can use the wireless 360 controller.

so it sounds like Pinnacle Game Profile is better than Xpadder for controlling/mapping gaming controllers?

Oh, just wanted to mention that the frontend I’m using - gamebrowser - downloads all the images and text as jpg,png and xml data from thegamesdb.net, so everything on the videos was automatically retrieved. That’s also another reason why I didn’t manually add non-steam games to steam - I’d have to find, edit and add my own cover art and synopsis for each game.

I’ve only used xbox360ce in the past, but in researching both xpadder and pgp I came to the conclusion that pgp has better mouse to gamepad “mapping” so I went with it. Being able to translate analogue stick to mouse movement is the only way to be able to fully control a wii game with an xbox 360 controller in Dolphin.

Doesn’t that interfere with games that do support the 360 controller though? How do you handle that?

For example, if I want to control my desktop and any games using xpadder, I turn on xpadder, and then I use the controller for moving around the mouse cursor on the desktop, and running applications, playing games (if the game has the same emulation that I selected for desktop). But if I launch a game like Crysis, it refuses to let me use just emulation. It detects a 360 controller, and anything I do on the 360 controller forces a response in Crysis and on top of that, xpadder emulation also kicks in, creating a weird mess of not being able to do anything in the game.

So first I have to turn off xpadder, then turn off the 360 controller, then use the keyboard and mouse to launch Crysis, and then use mouse and keyboard to play the game (the only control scheme available for 360 controller in Crysis is very unintuitive and terrible).

if i keep the dolphin profile on and run a game with xinput (xbox360 gamepad) support, both will work at the same time. So button A will register as A and mouse click for example.
EDIT: PGP has a !not feature, which allows you to disable the normal gamepad button command. You can combine that with a keyboard command, hence completely replacing the default button. There are also modes that are made to deliberately disable xinput or directinput within specific games so they don’t interfere with your custom PGP profile. This is handy if the !not feature is being overridden by the game, or if you just want button queues to show keyboard buttons instead of xbox 360 gamepad button ingame.
PGP supports profile cycling and application detection however, so I have the Media Center and Dolphin profiles set to run only when the apps are running. Otherwise I have a Base profile that has the standard xbox 360 gamepad buttons except fr the guide button which opens Media Center, and LB+Guide which opens Steam Big Picture.
If you check the video I posted, you will see that I’m switching between media center, dolphin, pcsx2, gta 4, painkiller and a few other PC games seamlessly even though 3 profiles are automatically being loaded and unloaded in the background.

I just want to say that your setup is fantastic. I only own PS3 as far as consoles go, which cannot be emulated, so I am content with steam in big picture, but if I had shitload of older console games I would definitely emulate your approach.

I also use it for my library of older retail titles as well as the odd indie title.
i was surprised to find a frontend that was so polished and with it’s own meta data provider.

Also, that quake 1 mod for doom 3 looks fantastic what is it?
And playing starcraft 2 like this seems interesting :-)

Personally, I’d rather not go through the hassle of setting up such an awesome system. However, with kids getting bigger, I might go for such a setup when I can afford to build a dedicated Home Theater/Gaming PC

I know right? The mod in question is Shambler’s Castle.

It’s definitely not for the faint of heart: I spent 3 weekends over the course of 3 weeks AND wrote a utility to get the frontend set up.

Not including all the man hours spent over a period of maybe 5 months customising hardware and building a mount for a radiator inside an HTPC case to achieve a 4.5Ghz which makes playing everything at max settings possible. And emulation. Man does it need overclocking!!!

How much time did you spent figuring out correct emulation settings for all those console games? I imagine that had to be a pain in the ass. Altough the appeal of playing them all in 1080p at 60fps I perfectly understand.

There are two old console games I would like to play someday, MGS Twin Snakes and MGS3…glad to see they are playable on PC.

I think i’ve been fiddling around with pcsx2 for 3 years, dolphin for 2.
Generally, things smoothed out by 2011 but it did take a while to recognise a pattern of configs for a certain ‘set’ of games.