Input Device Basics (Make Your G9/13/Naga Work for You)

A lot of people are considering getting new input devices to assist them in playing MMOs. Deciding whether to buy one is an interesting topic, however this post covers what to do once you own one.

Program Me to Your Leader

The key thing to remember is that the device is supposed to work for you, not the other way around. So be careful using other people’s setups: the device needs to respond to your playstyle, your ergonomics, your desktop setup, and your games — don’t let the device dictate to you what is important and what isn’t.

I use a G9 Laser Mouse and a G13 gaming keypad, so these notes are focused on those two devices, but the principles apply to any alternative keyboard or mouse.

First Principles

Here are the principles I used to decide which buttons get mapped to what. The most important considerations are:

  • Comfort: Weapon skills go to the “home” row — that’s the location that feels the most natural to my hands. By default, it’s the G8 row (LG13) & the “06” row (N52).
  • Separation of powers: Mouse is for movement and targeting; keypad is for skills.
  • Combat vs not: 99% of combat doesn’t require the panels (chat, inventory, …), so those go to a different “key state” or “shift state.”
  • Comfort 2: All skills are in a comfortable location for my hand (no stretching); all skills are in a sensible location to my brain, i.e. don’t make me think too hard to remember if I don’t use it for a month.
  • Sense & sensibility: Set the bindings on the keyboard first, then setup the keypad (e.g. if you do something funky with your keyboard, like RSDF instead of WASD, stick to that — don’t try to learn two new setups).

Reminders (GW2 vs GW1)

  • GW2 has 14 skills (5 weapon, 1 heal, 3 utility, and 1 elite) (racial skills can substitute for the heal, utility, or elite slots).
  • GW2 has two new movement commands: jump and dodge; your configuration needs to make room for them.
  • Like GW1, GW2 has a pet management panel (rangers only) (afaik, there’s no minion mgt panel …yet)
  • Search (which uses the action key) is a critical step in looting; make sure you can easily do this. (Consider creating a macro which presses that key a lot as you move around — there’s no harm in over-pressing and there’s no risk of botting, because you still have to move/turn to find the loot.)

Different Mapping Styles

Here’s a list of some principles for setup, that suit different styles of gameplay.

  1. Standard (skills are ordered left to right, as on a standard keyboard)
  2. Strong finger gets important skills (skills 1 and 6 are for the index finger)
  3. Trackball instead of mouse: Ideal if you are short on space on your key tray. Logitech has a 4-5 button version (alas, the scroll wheel doesn’t allow left-right motion) and there are several other options. This is what I used before I had a programmable mouse.
  4. Three-finger programming: ideal for peck-typists or for people who cramp using pinky & ring fingers. Requires taking advantage of “shift states” in the programming. This is easier to program on the N52 than on the G13 (although you can get starter scripts for the G13 and edit them). For example, skill index finger is skill 1, middle is 2, ring is 3; same fingers for 4/5/6, but
    you press a state key (temp or toggle); and same again for 7/8/9 (different state key). (In GW2, this might be 1/2/3 + 7/8/9 + 4/5/0, with 6=heal elsewhere).
  5. Use mouse for targeting/pointing, keys for skills & movement. Requires a programmable mouse with at least 4 buttons.
  6. Mouse for skills, keys for controls: this requires a programmable mouse with at least 5 buttons + shift states (e.g. Razer Hez) or 10 buttons (Viper).
  7. Keyboard & Keypad; no mouse. Ideal for peck-typists (so that they don’t need to look at the keys) or people whose right hand cramps from turning with the mouse.

Examples of How This Might Work

Mouse (all configs)

  • scroll wheel right/left: target next/previous
  • other buttons: dodge (doubletap disabled); jump, turn (hold right-click), always run, and tbds

Standard Layout(Logitech G13)

(closest to keyboard)

  • G9-G13: weapon skills, since my hand automatically rests with pinky on G9.
  • G15-G19: healing, utilities, and elite.
  • G2-G5: prof skills (i.e. F1-F4 on keyboard)
  • Joystick: strafe left/right, backup, and “action” (default: F)
  • G24: ctrl+alt; G25: nearest target
  • other keys: as needed.

Reverse Layout (G13 version)

(strongest finger gets the most used skill)

  • G12 = skill 1, then G11-G8 are 2-4
  • G18-G15 are 6-9 respectively.
  • Elite is G19
  • G5-G2 are F1-F4 respectively.
  • Joystick (and G24/25) as above; other keys as above.

The most essential thing is that you get a setup that works for you. Don’t feel the need to stick with what everyone else does, what works for other games, or tradition (WASD). The more I  read blogs/reviews/forum-posts by people on this topic, the more I’m convinced that what works for me might be bad for the next person.

Other Ideas

These ideas can be implemented without a special mouse or keyboard.

  • Use your index finger (the strongest one) for the skills/utilities you use the most.
  • Use something other than “6” for your heal skill (lest you fat-finger the wrong skill).
  • Separate movement commands from skills (ideally, by binding the keys to different devices or on separate parts of a keyboard).
  • Turn off auto-targeting & double-click for dodge. Instead, assign a hot key to dodge, moving “panel” commands to the numpad, using speech-to-text for typing chats.

Posted 25 July 2012 by Jez in Input devices

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