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Invert your axes

Two years ago a couple of friends (who don’t know each other) both convinced me to get an iPad, since I needed to join huge Jitsi meetings while sick in bed, but there’s been a lot of drawbacks being on a proprietary OS.

One fun thing is that they recently added support for Nintendo JoyCons so I started playing Starfield. I know, I know, proprietary video games are immoral—I managed to go like five years with only ScummVM, Gargoyle, and retro emulators, but here we are. I immediately started kvetching about not being able to invert the X axis, only the Y axis, until I realized it was possible to invert either at the OS level, which solved my problem completely.

But the curiosity of why someone would only wanna invert the Y but not the X sent me down a rabbit hole.

I’m calling “inverted” what I want, and “regular” what I don’t, just like those people who (unlike me) peel bananas upside down acknowledgingly call it “peeling it from the bottom first” or similar. In other words, I am using the now-common nomenclature where tilting the stick forward to look down is called “inverted” even though that was the default & only option back in the day.

Reg: “grabbing the frame or reticule & dragging it” or “stick is controlling a dot in front of the viewer”
Inverted both: “stick is in back of viewer’s head” or “grabbing the game world itself and moving it”
Inverted Y, reg X: “stick is on top of viewer’s head”. I guess.

I was playing a lot of video games in the N64 era.

Super Mario 64 for example has both X and Y inverted (it wasn’t called inverted back then obv) and so did The Ocarina of Time, with no option to change it (and then the re-released version had it reg, again with no option to change it).

Then I noped out during the GameCube, I was only playing retro games then. NES and handhelds. And then I did get a Wii but there I used the motion controls to point where I wanted (like in Twilight Princess).

So the first modern “3d-with-thumbsticks” game in the 2000s I ever played was Breath of the Wild. I know, I know, sounds wild to miss seventeen years of games. I went into the settings before even starting the game, and I saw options to invert X and Y. So I thought: “OK, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go into the game, and as soon as I get to control the character, I’m gonna try to look up, just let my thumb’s natural instinct do whatever it wants to do when I think “look up”. If that leaves me staring into the floor, I’ll invert Y. And then, I’ll do the same for “look left”.” And doing that experiment led to it being super clear that I needed invert both.

I’ve sinced tried to read up a bit and found that that almost no other games have an invert-X option and many games don’t even have an invert-Y.

And I’ve read up some of how it works. If you wanna move a reticule on the screen or the frame of the screen, reg X and reg Y makes sense. For example, The Flame and the Flood doesn’t let you invert but since it looks more like a 2d game with panning, I don’t have a problem. But me as an invert, I think of 3d games more as having my thumb on the back of the camera. I move my thumb higher to look down, further left to look right, I am “looking” with the thumb.

Using a touch screen has a similar dilemma. On those ugly & dinky “scroll wheels” some mouse used to have, you’d scroll the wheel down to scroll the viewport down. But on touch screens you instead drag your thumb or stylus up in order to scroll the viewport down (because you’re not actually moving the viewport, you’re moving the underlying browser canvas).

I 100% respect people who use reg X & reg Y, and people who use only one of them inverted, and people who like me invert both. And I’m sorta familiar with the history of both inverted (the N64 generation basically) and the history of neither inverted (sorta. I dunno, Xbox?). Reading up it seems like “only Y inverted” came from mouselook on PC and I vaguely remember that making some amount of sense with a mouse. That clears it up.

Still a li’l strange to me that we went from one thing being the unchangeable default to the complete opposite being the unchangeable default 🤷🏻‍♀️