Dosbox and USB Joypad


Vice Admiral

I've dug out WC2 from my attic, and thanks to some sound advice on this very forum have got it working perfectly in Dosbox 0.63 :D

Great to play the game again, but even greater if I could get the USB Joypad to work correctly. Playing with the keyboard just doesn't allow you to pitch and yaw fast enough.

The Joypad is working as far as the basic controls go: Steering the ship, firing guns, missiles and torpedoes... but I was wondering if anybody knows a Dosbox command or setting that will allow me to assign one of the spare buttons on my Joypad to be used for Afterburner?

Any thoughts?



Rear Admiral
There wont be a setting in DOSbox to bind a joystick button to a keyboard key, but you should be able to find software which will make that binding in windows, and DOSbox will pick that up as a TAB press.


Yes, you could use an external program such as Xpadder or Pinnacle Game Profiler. They're very useful (though not perfect) for Wing Commander games you're not emulating, but for the DOS titles it might be better to use DOSBox's built-in mapper.

First of all, you need to make sure that buttonwrap is set to "false" in dosbox.conf (or your frontend, if your using one). Start the game and press CTRL + F1 to bring up the mapper. Tab is the keyboard command for afterburners in pretty much every Wing Commander game, so click on "Tab" on the on-screen keyboard, click "Add," then press the button on your controller you want to assign it to. That button will now trigger your afterburners. In this way you can assign the keyboard commands (check the manual or the CIC's controls page) for all the functions to the buttons of your choosing. When you're done, click "Save" to save the mapper file you've just set up, then click "Exit."

You may also want to click on "1" and "2" on the on-screen joystick layout in the upper-right corner and change those emulated buttons to different actual buttons. For example, DOSBox might assign button 1 (fire guns) to the triangle button on your controller, but you want button 1 to be the square button instead. In this case you would click on button 1 on-screen, click "Del" to delete its current mapping, then click "Add" and press the button you want to assign it to.

Or you could just delete button 1 or 2 and not assign them to anything. If you don't like Wing Commander's system of pressing both buttons to fire a missile, you could delete button 2 and assign the Enter key (which also fires missiles) to a button.
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Capn Johnny

Cap'n Johnny
I reinstalled Privateer fairly recently on my Vista64 lappy and (using DosBox 0.72) was able to set up my Xbox 360 controller to play it.. it took a fair amount of trial and error.. but I can perform most major spaceflight functions on the controller.

0.72 has some key mapping functionality built in, perhaps you should try the newer version?



Vice Admiral
Thanks for three excellent answers, especially to Catnip for the detailed guide of how to activate and use the Joystick Mapper.

Just one thing now, I bring up the Mapper as described, assign [Tab] as one of my joypad buttons, but when I click 'Save' nothing seems to happen, almost like the Save button isn't registering my click. Any thoughts?


I'm not sure. The words "Mapper file saved" should appear on the bottom, and a file called mapper.txt should appear in your DOSBox directory. Is the folder set to read-only? You could also ask on the official DOSBox forums at Vogons. Their knowledge way surpasses mine.

You can copy and keep multiple mapper.txt files, by the way, for multiple games. You can also delete mapper.txt to restore DOSBox's default mapping.

It's cool to see this on the front page. I might as well mention mapping multiple functions to a single button, like many of the console Wing Commander ports do. It's kind of hard to explain this, so here's an example:

1. You click Mod1, click Add, and press the left shoulder button on your controller.
2. You click the on-screen Enter key, click Add, and press the triangle button on your controller.
3. You click the on-screen W key, click Add, and press the triangle button on your controller, then click the box next to "mod1" in the lower left corner to highlight it.

Now the triangle button will fire missiles if you just press it, and will change missiles if you press it while holding down the left shoulder button.

You can get the same effect in Windows WC games with Xpadder's set selector.