Racing Games Played from the Keyboard

By Deane Barker on September 11, 2006

After posting about Trackmania the other day, I downloaded Trackmania Nations, which is the free version. What a great little racing game.

However, as I mentioned in a comment on the original Trackmania post, playing a racing game from the keyboard really sucks:

Since the arrow keys are binary (they’re depressed or not), you tend to steer in quick jerks, and over-correct a lot.

I had this same problem playing Need for Speed a few years ago.

I’d like to upgrade my racing game experience, but I don’t want a big steering wheel set-up. Three other people use this computer daily, there’s not much room on the desk, and the tower is way underneath, so attaching and detaching a steering wheel would be too much trouble.

So, how do you play a racing game from the keyboard without all the problems associated with binary controls? I need a shade of gray, and I don’t have one with the keyboard. Anyone have any good ideas?

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  1. Get yourself a good analogue gamepad. There are a lot of good gamepads that have the same feel and design as the console pads and they work wonderful for racing and adventure games. I wouldn’t used one for an FPS gameaplay, but they are diffinately useful.

    Gamepads also take up relatively small amount of desktop realestate.

  2. I believe the xbox 360 wired controllers work with Windows PCs – double check the box, but they work well enough with the 360’s racing games.

  3. The gamepad is a good idea. Now try landing a plane with the keyboard. The elevators and ailerons are either fully up/down or on axis. ;-)

    The keyboard is good for things like dropping the landing gear and flaps… at least it represents the complexity of the cockpit where a random button does something..

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