Project Thunderseal (Arcade Stick Build)

I got a call from work asking me to take two of my co-worker's shift for a total of 11 hours in one day and at first I was thinking to myself “Hell no!” but then later changed my mind because I could use that money to pay for my arcade stick project. It was a long and boring shift but at the end of the day I went home and ordered my arcade stick case and some parts. After ordering the case to my specifications, I decided to call this “Project Thunderseal”.

Parts

I already have most of the parts I need to build this arcade stick, in fact it’s already in another case usable right now. It’s currently slapped together in a Madcatz WWE Brawlstick case that I bought off someone on SRK for cheap. It’s only a temporary solution until I get the custom case.

Here’s the full list of what I am going to be using with details:

1) Tek-Case Series 1 - So this case is going to be coloured in white and blue. I decided on using the Sega Player 1 button layout (with only 6 face buttons)

2) Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT-SK Joystick - Nothing really special here since almost every arcade stick available these days use this specific joystick. I personally think it’s good for fighting games but not for shmups.

3) 6 Seimitsu 30mm PS-14-K, 3 Seimitsu 24mm PS-14-DN, 2 Sanwa 30mm OBSF-30 pushbuttons - Here I went with Seimitsu pushbuttons because I prefer less sensitive buttons. As for the Sanwas, I decided to reuse them for the L1/L2 buttons because I am probably never going to use them. Most fighting games don’t even bother to use L1/L2 as buttons.

4) Neutrik NAUSB-W-B A/B USB Feed-Through - Pretty much what the name implies. It allows me to feed-through the USB signal to the other side of the port to another USB cable. This means that I can remove my USB cable any time I want.

5) PS360+ PCB - This thing here is what makes everything work. It will allow me to play both on Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 no problem. Yes, PC as well lol.

6) USB cables - One cable will be very short to connect the PS360+ to the Neutrik and one 13 meter cable to connect from the Neutrik to the console.

7) 12 piece .110 Quick Disconnect Wires and 1 piece .110 Daisy Chained Ground Wire, JLF Harness - The wires are to be connected to the PS360+ to make all the buttons and joystick function.

8) 2 pieces of sticky PCB feet - To hold the PS360+ in place.

Process

First I build the case skeleton by following the video instruction carefully and make sure to not over tighten any screws to prevent cracking. Then I insert the buttons and Neutrik to the side panels.

This looks really cool. Might have to make one in the future with clear and dark blue acrylic

I’m going to reuse my wires which are short so that means I will be setting the PCB on the top panel instead of the bottom panel to make it easier on myself.

Since I am using the PS360+, I don’t need to solder anything (thank god). So all I have to do is strip the end of the wire, insert that end of the wire into the PCB and lock it in place by screwing the top so the wire tip is punched down. Once that is all done, I insert my buttons to the top panel along with mounting the joystick. After that I connect all the quick disconnects to the buttons and joystick.

Wires are the worst!

After all the wiring, I connected the short USB cable to the PCB and Neutrik. From this point on I put together the rest of the case and seal it off. Now it’s off to testing!

I will be testing it with Persona 4 Arena on the PS3 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves on the Xbox 360.

Everything works! I will admit that the only game I will be playing on the Xbox 360 with this arcade stick is Garou: Mark of the Wolves because that game is fucking rad as hell and I also love it to death!

Can anyone guess why it’s called Thunderseal? (HOPE)

The last thing I want to mention in this blog is why I wanted to build this thing in the first place. The first reason is that I just wanted to build something and have fun doing it. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done something like this and boy it sure was worth it. I won’t lie, it was pretty expensive but considering it works on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC I say it’s ok. At least that’s what I keep telling myself… Hey, it’s near the end of X360, PS3 generation so that means there are plenty of fighting games to keep me busy.

Looking forward to Ultra Street Fighter 4, Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold and Guilty Gear Xrd in the future.

Now who want's to buy my PS3 Persona 4 Arena Arcade stick? Don't need that anymore lol.

If you read this far, thank you and have a great winter!

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Ryan Davis, Thanks for all the Fun and Craziness on Giant Bomb.

Today has been a pretty crappy day with news of Ryan Davis' passing. For those of you who don't know who Ryan Davis is, he is a personality and journalist on a website called Giant Bomb. He has been the host for many features like The Giant Bombcast, This Ain't no Game, Big Live Live show Live, and almost every video feature they did that involved the entire crew. It was thanks to these features that we grew to love and hate this man.

I've followed this man and Jeff since the good old days of GameSpot (2004). I have listened to all of the Giant Bombcast and almost all of The Hotspot. It's really going to hit me hard that I won't be hearing Ryan's voice anymore or see him on a live show! It's really going to be weird not seeing Ryan in that chair where the host sits.

For someone who has never met the man, I sure do feel like I lost a great friend and I know I'm not the only one feeling like this right now.

Personally I am going to miss him dearly because Ryan and the GB crew got me through my years of high school and my entire college life. The live shows were a great pick me up after a long week of classes and the Bombcast was and still to this day somehow played every day. I know it's a bit overkill but I don't have T.V. so I have to rely on my podcasts for entertainment most of the time. Not really a big Youtuber.

You and the rest of the crew are a big part of my life, so I would like to thank you Ryan Davis for all you have done in the past 9 - 10 years for me and I wish you the best in the afterlife.

Condolences to everyone that knew Ryan personally especially Jeff for being his best friend and also Ryan's wife which I don't know what to say... I will leave it at that.

Thank you,

From a fan that will miss you.

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Fight Stick Diaries Part 03 [Final]

So, it's been 5 months since I started using an arcade stick and I think I'm finally at the point where I can't return to a console controller anymore. I also have tried many different joysticks and pushbuttons from other manufacturers that are not from Japan. I have entered in local tournament and got murdered. Then I found out playing different fighting games was a bit of a challenge.

In my past 2 “Fight Stick Diaries” blogs I have mentioned that I needed to practice more on the joystick movements and button presses. About 3 months in I got used to controlling the joystick without really needing to think much about it and the button presses now comes out naturally without having to look down to see where the buttons are. I guess this was because of all the 1 to 2 hours practicing I've been doing everyday since I bought the damn thing. So I guess practice makes better! (Perfect is impossible for me :P)

After all the practicing, I entered myself in a local tournament for the first time and let's just say it didn't go well as expected. I went in nervous since it was my first one and I knew absolutely no one there at all during that time. When it was my turn to play, I got murdered in the first match but came back winning in the next 2 to complete a set, so I moved on with a smile on my face. Then comes my second opponent and HOLY CRAP he kick my ass to the losers bracket! The same also happened in the losers bracket and I was done.

After the Persona 4 Arena tournament ended, the other players started to talk to me and asked if I wanted to play some casuals with them. As I was playing they were talking to me about how I should come back since they would like to see the fighting game community grow and also they gave me extremely great tips on how to play better like anticipating moves and proper baiting. Great bunch of people I tell you, as loud as they may be. I occasionally visit the place on Mondays now to play some casuals to get better and while I was there I tried out all kinds of arcade sticks ranging from American to Korean parts. I guess it's what you really prefer that matters since they all felt so different.

Now on to the last topic and it's about playing other fighting games and getting used to them. After P4A, I started to play Super Street Fighter 4 AE again but this time with an arcade stick. I already know how to play on the Xbox 360 controller so all I needed to do was translate all of Kens move to the stick. So in about 2 days I was playing pretty decently but there was no way I can even match the skill of anyone that still plays this game online. Guilty Gear: AC+ and Blazblue: CSE was one hell of a learning curve since every character was unique but I got somewhat decent. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a great game and I got really into it and can hold my own and yes I know I am about 3 years late for this game.

Now there are 2 games I can't really wrap my head around and that's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and The King of Fighters XIII. I can play both of them but I find it WAY over my head in terms of what I should do. Maybe one day... A man can dream!

I know, I know... Most of this post wasn't about learning with the arcade stick but I'm at the point where there is nothing else to do but practice the games I play on it.

Enjoy this awesome stage music in TvC:

Thanks for reading!

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Fight Stick Diaries Part 02

So my last entry into the Fight Stick Diaries was about buying the stick and trying it out for a couple of hours. In this entry I'm going to be talking about how I have been doing in the last month and two weeks with the stick and also talk about the arcade parts.

Over the last few weeks I have been putting in some hours everyday into playing my arcade stick so that I could get better or used to it. There are a couple of things that I have noticed while putting in the time:

  1. Practicing with the CPU can only get you so far

  2. Finding the right way to hold the joystick is hard

  3. Hitting the right buttons takes some getting used to

I chose Persona 4 Arena as my main fighting game because it's very beginner friendly and also the community on Giant Bomb is pretty awesome and helpful. There are a couple of ways I have practiced in P4A and that includes training mode, challenge mode and versus mode against the CPU. I tend to avoid online matches since I don't really feel confident about my performance but sometimes I do friendly matches with the GB P4A crew so I can get actual human player practice.

Before I switched to an arcade stick I was playing with the DualShock 3 and was doing really well with it. After awhile I cranked up the difficulty in the game to “Hell” (which is the highest) because the game felt a little too easy. This might have been because I was playing with very skilled players on GB and started to learn some new moves and tricks from them. When I transitioned to the stick, the difficulty didn't really change much at all for me since I can beat all the characters (except for Kanji) almost 95% of the time. The only problem I really faced playing against the CPU is predictability. The CPU tends to always charge in first attacking and I can pretty much counter it most of the time and a good example of that is Chie always starting with Rampage.

Once I got used to playing against the CPU, I went to Challenge Mode but this time I started from challenge #1 with everyone again since I want to re-learn everything. Everything went smooth until after the instant kill challenge where it want's you to do longer chains of combos. So I spent the last 2 weeks doing challenges over and over until I basically reached challenge #20-21with every characters except Labyrs and S.Labrys. It was a very long and arduous process but it did help me learn every character's combos and also helped me to hit the right buttons with my fingers. It took a lot of time but I can definitely say it is pretty rewarding that I can chain combos.

There is one thing that I still can't get used to and it's finding the right way to hold the joystick. I looked up “how to hold an arcade stick properly” on YouTube and Google and tried the common ones that everyone uses but I can't seem to use any of them. Right now I settled on holding it like this in the picture below:

I find this way more comfortable than the ones I tried from YouTube but the only problem I have is doing QCF. I can pull it off when I'm in training but when it comes to a real fight I panic and flub the QCF completely and ruin the combo I've been working on. I think I just need more practice since people on the forums tell me it could take about 3 months to completely make it feel like second nature to me.

Well that's all the update I really have for now since I only played Persona 4 Arena seriously but once I get into Street Fighter 4 it's going to be a bit more different. Next time I'm going to talk about why I switched to Seimitsu push buttons and thinking about buying another arcade stick.

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Fight Stick Diaries Part 01

About a month ago I bought the limited edition Madcatz Evo fight stick from my local game store and brought it home. I've always been itching to play with a stick for as long as I can remember, but was hesitant on it because of the price. Well it didn't matter anymore since I sold most of my movies and DVDs to save up for one and I did. Guess what happens after buying one? After playing with it for one night, it stops registering X and weirdly enough DOWN... So next day I returned it and got my money back.

After researching on shoryuken.com and seeing GravityPenguin's Aigis fight stick, I just instantly went to Amazon and ordered the brawl stick and some Sanwa parts from Gamesharkstore.ca (1 Lever and 8 buttons). After finishing work I rushed home to see if the package arrived early and it did! I was so excited that I didn't even bother to take off my uniform lol. So I just unscrewed the bottom, replaced the lever, swap the buttons and also rewire the buttons to be more like Street Fighter IV style. I also replaced the artwork with some Persona 4 Arena art and after 30 minutes I was done!

I should mention that I originally wanted clear buttons but I couldn't find it anywhere for a decent price so I decided on my P4A colours. Here's my project:

OK now for the actual use of the damn thing!

I've only played Persona 4 Arena for 3 hours so far and I'll tell you what my experience was like. The first thing I wanted to find out was "Let's see how different it is compared to the PS3 controller." So I went into VS mode and played against the CPU... I had no clue what I was doing and started to feel a little intimidated. So I immediately quit VS and went to Lesson Mode, which I should have done in the first place. So I went through most of the lessons and then a move requiring a quarter stick appeared, dumbass me said "This is no biggie" and for the life of me I could not pull it off! After sticking with it for around 20-30 minutes, I figured out the range of the stick and can now pull of the swift strike some-what on a regular basis. After passing that hurdle I completed the lessons and went straight to training to try out what I have learned.

So in training I found out in a few hours that I can pull off almost all my regular stale moves like Raging Lion, Swift Strike to cross-slash and etc. but I still need to practice the left quarter stick motion on the lever. There are also a few things I noticed while practicing, when using the fight stick I noticed that I'm not as mobile as I am on the PS3 controller and second I can pull off air combos much better with my fingers ready on the other buttons.

I'm sure within the next two months I can get used to playing with a stick assuming I practice almost everyday and I plan to. My next few blogs will consist of updates from me on how I'm adjusting to the stick and also other games.

If you read all of this you are crazy!

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