April 1st, 2022—
In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of it, Elden Ring is currently the hottest game in the world. It’s an open world RPG made by From Software — the same company that is infamous for making the incredibly difficult Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne games. Elden Ring is no less difficult, which is why it is amazing that ZiedYT was able to play using a TV remote converted into video game controller with an Arduino.
While some modern remotes for smart TVs utilize Bluetooth or WiFi connections, traditional remotes work via infrared. These remotes contain an infrared emitter that pulses an invisible light in a specific pattern corresponding to a command, which the TV reads with a built-in infrared receiver. The “volume up” button, for example, will cause the remote to emit an infrared code distinct from the “channel down” button, and so on. While the code is modulated as a very rapid sequence of flashes, it is still a relatively slow process—something that spells death in any “Soulsborne” game.
To use a TV remote for gaming, ZiedYT first needed a way to read the unique infrared codes corresponding to each button. For that, he used an Arduino Uno paired with an infrared receiver. Several libraries exist for this purpose and make it easy to decipher infrared codes. The Arduino then tells the connected computer via Serial which button was pressed. ZiedYT wrote a script to read that Serial data and then simulate the proper button press on an emulated gamepad. As far as Elden Ring is concerned, ZiedYT is playing with a standard controller.
This setup lets ZiedYT move his character around, slash with his sword, drink Estus flasks (ehm, or Flasks of Crimson Tears, that is), and everything else. Of course, it also makes the game even harder to play than normal, so only the most masochistic gamers will want to perform this hack themselves.