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Retrofit UI Commands in The Pinball Arcade using NVidia Gamepad Mapper

Retrofit UI Commands in The Pinball Arcade using NVidia Gamepad Mapper


I’ve discovered a way to get basic UI controls in The Pinball Arcade, which lets you access almost all UI buttons relevant from starting the app, selecting a table, starting the game, then exiting all the way back to the Android Home Screen.

The only thing you can’t do cleanly is scroll the table carousel, but you can implement a mouse swipe that gets around it. It’s not as clean as I would have like though.


You need to have a Shield Tablet and Shield Tablet Controller to use this solution.

It it not possible to do this with a normal gamepad mapper program that requires a rooted device to access the touchscreen emulation framework. Unless the program has multiple pages available for keymaps. I’m not certain that other apps like SixAxis feature this function.

I was able to do this because the NVidia Shield Gamepad Mapper software allows you to create separate Pages that allow you to break up control schemes based on button presses. You’ll see what I mean by this when you look at the images and the button labels.


Get this mapping set by doing the following:

  1. Turn on the Tablet Controller

  2. Open Pinball Arcade

  3. Long press the |> button on the controller to open the Gamepad Mapper.

  4. Tap the Cloud Download symbol to review the available profiles.

  5. Select the profile created by Jared Morgan.

Mapping Choices

I put my UX hat on and tried to emulate the menu selection patterns I saw briefly in the PS3/PS4 version I have access to in the Games Room at work. The reason I did this was to ensure I had a consistent mapping between primary and secondary button commands. Primary buttons traverse the user through the menu whereas secondary buttons reverse the transition.

Here are the mappings in pictorial form.

Splash Screen

Splash Screen Mapping
Figure 1. Splash Screen

A will get past the initial splash screen and take you to the Main Menu

Main Menu

Main Menu Screen Mapping
Figure 2. Main Menu

A will take you to the Table Carousel.

B will take you to the Tournaments menu.

I need to do more work on the Tournament UI commands, and I couldn’t at the time of writing because there wasn’t an active tournament running.
Table Carousel Mapping
Figure 3. Table Carousel

A takes you to the Table Flyover screen.

B takes to back to the Main Menu.

Unfortunatley you will need to use your finger here to scroll the carousel unless you implement a Mouse Gesture by dragging the "Pointy Finger" element onto the carousel and setting a button to trigger the mouse click so you can tap and drag. Really cludgy, but it is the only way to get around this UX issue.

If FarSight implemented carousel scrolling using the D-pad, that would make life much, much easier here. Hint, hint. ;-)

Table Flyover

Flyover Mapping
Figure 4. Table Flyover

A starts the game and enters Game Mode.

B takes to back to the Table Carousel.

Game Mode Mapping
Figure 5. Game Mode

B opens the Options menu (also called the Pause menu).

X cycles through the views (both table and plunger). Long pressing this button locks the view from scrolling in table views.

Pause Menu

Game Mode Mapping
Figure 6. Pause Menu

A returns you back to Game Mode.

B opens the Quit Table menu.

Quit Table Menu

Quit Table Menu
Figure 7. Quit Table Menu

A quits the game and returns you to the Table Flyover.

B returns you to the Pause menu.

I thought long and hard about making A the priority here. Normally if you are going to make the user lose progress, you should make the priority button take the user back to safety (in this case the Pause menu). Because the previous menu used the secondary button to access the quit menu, I determined this would be considered a genuine user action, and not something a user would do by accident.

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