I've set up a used joystick ('logitech wingman extreme digital 3d') on a gameport-to-usb converter, using the patch from flossmanuls -- and printed what [hid] is getting from it...
All the buttons, stick position & hat switch etc show up in the message. abs_x and abs_y give me values ~124-128, which don't change.
Briefly I was getting changes in the x value; they didn't leave that range of initial values, and they didn't seem to have anything to do with movements of the stick. Likewise I get '1' for btn_0 etc and '0' for btn_5 - 8.
Obviously the cord must be intact -- but nothing I do to any of the controls is getting through.