Not even the rain has such small hands

I have a confession to make, I’m really hamfisted with a mouse. Not so that it isn’t usable, but it always seems to take me ages to do anything with it. From ‘argh, where’s the cursor gone?’ to ‘you stupid machine! I totally did click on that icon!’ So I’ve always been a dedicated keybinder. Like most ex-MUSHers, I can comfortably type at 40+wpm without looking at the keyboard and have a good feel for the keyboard layout so I find it fairly straightforwards to try out different keybinds and get them into my muscle memory promptly.

Usually in games where you level up a character and get more abilities, you’ll be assigning abilities to keys as you get them. And then need to revaluate later on and possibly try different binding schemes once you know which abilities you need most often or most urgently. The general idea is to bind any ‘oh shit’ or emergency abilities (such as detaunt) to buttons you can get at very quickly. So if you are using WASD to move, it’s the buttons close to that which are the keyboard prime real estate.

I also admit that I wish I could control my character purely from keyboard without using the mouse at all, I’m really much better at typing than mousing. But you can turn a LOT more quickly with the mouse than with the keyboard and tab targeting (even when it works well) isn’t as good as mouse targeting. In particular, using the mouse to turn is pretty standard for PvP. If you don’t do it, people who do will outmaneuver you and if you are trying to get to someone’s back (or stop someone else getting to yours) then you’ll be at a serious disadvantage. It’s more of a deal for melee than ranged, but still worth practicing.

I was reading this thread on Elitist Jerks about keybinds for WoW, where they discuss their keybinds and the thoughts behind them in more detail.

So if you are using the mouse to turn that leaves you with one hand free to do all the keyboard stuff. And here’s another disadvantage — tiny hands. It’s true, I will never be a concert pianist or double bass player. And there are tighter limits to how many keys I can comfortably access on the keyboard with one hand if I need to keep it fairly steady than there would be on someone with bigger hands and longer fingers. There is the option of getting a mouse with more buttons on it and binding more abilities to that (people in the thread discuss binding shift and control to the mousebuttons too eg. shift+mousebutton1, ctrl+mousebutton1, etc). Although some of those also are designed for larger hands to use, plus I don’t much care for the mouse in the first place.

I’ll probably talk more about keybinds once my Archmage is higher level and actually has all her abilities. I’m looking at my hotbars now and at the abilities I will be getting between now and max level and thinking that I’ll need to use the 4 bar hotbar layout. In truth, in large RvR battles where you are more static, it’s not quite so important as in smaller skirmishes.


3 Responses

  1. I’d like to point your attention to this post, might help somewhat.
    It’s written for WoW players but most of it can be used for any game I guess.

  2. Hearing how other people set up their keybinds is always useful. I didn’t use much in the way of special keybindings throughout beta because of how often the game was updated and i didn’t want to mess with the issues it could cause. So now im getting back itno my old habits of macro-managing near every skill.

    On my AM, I do offensive spells on line with, with my 3 dots on 1-3, then Searing Touch, then Drain all my “instant” spells I can do while on the run (and mostly unable to heal) are easily accessable.

    I do my heals on the Alt bar. Then I use the “Blank” bar (the one with no keybindings) to throw abilities on there I want to lin kto skills. F is detaunt, T is Walk between Worlds, C is Cleansing Light. All those spells I need quick access to in an emergency.

    In DAoC I swapped bars (shift 2, shift 3, ect.) like a pro. But i’ve logn since gotten out of that habit and taken to using modifiers. I’m even considering turning my morale hotkeys into shift 1-4 setup.

  3. I’ve had the habing of moving from WASD to ESDF for many years now. It gives a wider range of keys you can access without moving your hand. 12345QWTYAGHZXCVB unmodified and with alt or shift alt modifiers are all very easy, and some also are good with control modifier, especially if you use caps lock as control. Those I find to work well with control are RTAGHXC.

    I reserve those keys for the things I need in combat, and relocate out of combat stuff (which I have better time to press) usually to shift combinations, which are technically more difficult to press.

    That nets you a wide array of keys to use without moving your left hand, which I find

    For me, the action bar business is just an annoyance. The way I’m wired, I can’t remember what icons mean, but I have mnemonics and general layouts that makes it easy to switch between characters and even games. I vastly prefer binding keys direction to actions. Saves screen real estate too.

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