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Satorri
06-16-2009, 10:30 AM
So, someone mentioned about keybinding before and it got me in a thoughtful mood for the last few weeks. I'm not sure if this will be helpful to people, but I've long understood it to be a very pivotal part of what can make or break a "great" player. I mean, on one hand what is required to be very good at your class/spec in the game?

1.) Class knowledge? Of course. You need to know your spells, know how to play them together, know when to use what and how to build combos, etc.

2.) Smart gear and spec? Of course. Knowing what stats will benefit you best, what mechanics to play up (haste gets more casts between crucial combos? crits improve damage AND efficiency? using your trinkets on CD or at the right time with other abilities?), and filling gems slots, socket bonuses, and enchants to best effect. And of course your talent choices can make a big difference, especially today with the trees that have room for more than one smart spec.

3.) Hard work? Better believe it. At the end of the day a hard-working tank (or healer or dps) will outperform a slightly better geared but lazier tank, no one will argue that.

But most of what we pay attention to is in the game. We talk about gear, and spec, and rotations or priorities. We even talk about the more ellusive elements of positioning, communication, and collaboration. But we rarely look at the player/character interface (we *start* to touch on this with UI design). UI makes a difference, for sure, but there is a whole forum for discussing that so I will try to avoid harping on that too much in this discussion.

So what am I talking about? Well, in a word, proprioception (go ahead, wikipedia it, I'll wait).

A long time ago I started studying the subject when I found an interesting study where they examined tool usage in humans and other primates. The idea is simple. There are levels on which we interact with our environment, and tool usage is an interesting way to think about it. We use tools as an extension of our physical body to accomplish something that we cannot or is very physically challenging. A very simple example is a wrench. If you were to try and turn the bolt with your fingers, you're ill-suited to do it because you cannot generate the required torque efficiently. We use a wrench to lengthen the distance between our application of force and the bolt we're turning. So, using that tool there are levels, I mentioned. We're accustomed to using our hands and doing so doesn't require intellectual consideration or direction, we simply move our hands in the way we want.

Using the wrench, to someone who hasn't used a wrench, requires a sequence of intellectual considerations. First the user sizes up the wrench, the brain decyphers what is the handle, the part you grab, and what is the business end. You pick up the wrench and instinctually find the balance point, the ideal location on the grip to use the tool most effectively. You figure out how the wrench fits the bolt, maybe with some re-adjusting to be able to grab the handle the way you want, then you test the force to see how easily it moves. All of this is you interacting with the tool, interacting with the bolt. There is an extra level of consideration and interaction as opposed to just manipulating something with your hand. But, anyone who's very familiar with using a wrench can tell you, when they use it, they are not thinking or figuring it out any more. When they pick up the wrench, they wield it as if it were just another appendage. What happened? That's what I want to talk about here.

This is where we need to understand proprioception. Proprioception is the sense you have of your body's position, your sense of personal space and orientation. It is the confluence of senses that allows you to touch your nose with your finger, even with your eyes closed, or while hanging upside down. When we use tools, at first the tools is something foreign, not part of our body or our personal space. As we become familiar with it we stop thinking about interacting with the tool, the tool is absorbed into our personal space while we're holding it, and we wield it as if it were an appendage. This only happens with time, familiarity, and a smartly designed tool. So, why does Satorri keep talking about tools? I think he's forgotten he's on a WoW-related forum, and NOT in the off-topic section! No no no, my friends, this is vitally important to bridging the gap from being a person playing a game to a person acting through an avatar in the game world. (ok, disregard the part where I talk to myself, it does kind of have a *crazy* vibe to it. >.>)

So how does this affect us in the game? This may be a challenge for some, but think back to when you FIRST started playing WoW. Or it may help to think about when you picked up a new game, or maybe played a console you hadn't in ages, or tried to play a game you loved on your PS3 but on a PC. Notice that when you try to start playing it, you are awkward. Maybe it's the controllers (mouse, keyboard, Belkan you lucky dog!), maybe it's the game interface (action buttons, etc), or maybe it's some combination of the two. At first you move very uncomfortably while you have to *think* about what button to press to make the character do what you want. If you're an avid gamer you usually have one portion of that process already under your belt. You rest your hand on the WASD keys and you can hit E without having to look or feel around, or you pick up your Xbox controller and you can hit Y without having to look or feel around, it's already become a part of your extended body.

So, how do we apply this to WoW specifically? Let's look at the intellectual and intuitive tools between you and your avatar:
1.) Your hands (I'll assume you're very familiar with using these, but not everyone is, younger children, pubescent teenagers, people recovering from injuries, and aging players can all suffer things that make these changing tools that they need to re-learn how to use instinctively).

2.) Your game controllers, in this case your mouse and keyboard (some people are very familiar with these, avid gamers, people who work with computers, etc. Some people are not and this is a learning experience all its own).

3.) Your in-game character controls (WASD to move if you use those, action buttons, and other UI elements, conveniently arranged by Blizzard or personalized UI mods).

4.) Your keybindings (this could be a part of 3, but not everyone uses them and adopting them adds a level of abstraction to the use of action buttons).

Each of these is a tool-like element that is not naturally a part of your daily routine until it becomes such. I'm going to assume that using your hands, even if you have reason to be challenged in that, is a daily activity and you don't need my help with it. I won't touch on using a keyboard and mouse. It is a meaty subject but I'll assume that if you play WoW you have a computer and at least the aptitude to use it to get in-game, so you're probably a step above "what's a keyboard? heeyuck!" But the things I want to talk about are items 3 and 4, and it will actually still touch a bit on 2 because how can you not with keybinds?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
When you move around, do you just move your character where you want, or do you have to think about WASD and/or mouse clicks and movements? This is usually the first thing to become intuitive since everyone has to do it (all keyboard turning jokes aside). Note, here there are levels of technical aptitude. You can run and use the mouse to look around, good.

Can/do you strafe (hold down the mouse-look button and click the buttons that would normally turn you left or right to run sideways without changing the direction you're facing)? This is an important tank skill, but I won't go into that just now.

Can/do you exercise more complicated movements like a spin turn? (Run forward, jump, and rotate yourself in the air so you land facing a different direction) Another valuable tank skill, but this requires yet another level of skill and practice. This can also be used to fire moves at someone behind you while running (run, jump, quick spin and cast, then spin back and continue running as if you never looked away) without losing step.

Can/do you use your other moves/rotations while moving or doing more complicated procedures as above?

These should serve to illustrate your level of immersion between manipulating the game to manipulate your character and simply acting through your avatar as if it were your own body. That is, in fact, the level you can reach while playing the game, and that immersion is what makes a crucial difference between a decent player and a great one. You cannot achieve the same things when you have to think about what you're doing because it introduces player lag (think network latency if it helps, but in the human brain).

So, how do we become our avatar, and how do we enhance that connection? Well, the first thing, and the reason for the post, is to look at something you may very well have never thought about. When you start seeing the game in these terms, in recognizing how separate you are from your character, you can start narrowing the gap, and/or using this as a means to more intuitively build your UI (or realize why so many avid players HAVE custom UI's).

I'm going to trim the initial post here, but this is just an introduction, more additions will follow as I am able. Questions, comments, and insights are welcome and encouraged!

Satorri
06-16-2009, 10:40 AM
The first place I want to go with this is to look at the basics of keybinding and how that plays into the topic.

Simple qualifying statement:
If you click your abilities you are always one step more removed from connecting with your character because you will not click intuitively. That is not to say you cannot click abilities while doing this but you cannot click everything fast enough to rely on that alone.

We use keybinds to have a muscle memory tie, a quick short-cut to our abilities that allows us to do more than thing at once. You use a hand on the mouse, but for all its nice functionality, in WoW, the mouse can only be used as a single implement when you are clicking an action button. Your other hand, however, resting on the WASD home keys, has 5 implements that can act individually (though to use more than 1 at a time is skill development of its own).

As a simple example, I'll use my own fundamental DK keybinding base. I've been using it since the beta so all the keybinds are very deeply rooted. My key configurations always revolve around [middle finger = W][ring finger = A][index finger = D][pinky = control][thumb = spacebar]. Those are my home keys and I bind in orbits around those. My DK's then use Q for BS, E for IT, and F for PS. I use modifiers to add C-Q as Oblit/ScS, C-E as Death Grip, and C-F as Death Strike. 2 = Pestilence, 3 = Chains of Ice, C = DnD, and C-C = BB. V is always my aoe burst, so HB or CE. X is my primary RP ability so normally DC but it switches to FS for Frost. C-X changes with spec, for Unholy it's Bone Shield, for Frost it's DC, and for Blood it's Mark of Blood. I could go on an on, but the point is, these are so deeply rooted in my brain and muscle memory that I don't think of the move I want, hunt, peck, then cast, which is functionally the same as clicking (*think of move* => *look for move* => *click move*). I simply react to the situation. *I* DnD, IT, etc. I do not reach for my character's abilities. I don't mean to suggest that I alone do this, but instead want to highlight for the people who do this without even realizing (partly just because I think it's really friggin cool).

Now it's all well and good to point out to the people who do it that they do it, or to show this to people who still fumble around their character or feel like they just don't play well, but I want to explore just how this works, and try to shine some light on it for people to inspect and improve their game elements to better match their needs and personal preferences.

So, in order for our character to truly become our avatar, it requires a few conditions:
1.) You need to play more than once in a blue moon. The more often you do it the more time your body has to learn its way into the physical act of playing. Muscle memory takes time to program and longer still to change. "Experts" suggest it takes on the order of a few months to create muscle memories that are deeply seeded and practiced, and it takes about 6-18 months to unlearn them or change them (crack your knuckles? Ever try to stop?).

2.) The ease and intuitive nature of the action will determine how quickly and how deeply they're learned. If you have to hit some obscure key combo or you try to do it in an awkward way (say control+C with your right hand), it'll take more learning for it to become instinctual. Interestingly this is what touch-typing is designed to do, give you a formulaic system of hitting all the buttons and forcing you to do it without looking so you rely more heavily on not looking at your hands.

3.) Consistant keybindings. If you change your keybindings, especially if you do it without logical/intuitive evolution, you'll continually be starting your body over again. Note, if you are just realizing you do this, and want to go about changing your setup to be more ergonomic, be prepared for a lot of mis-clicks/presses as you instinctively reach for the trained key.

I mentioned an important word in #3: ergonomic. For those not familiar, this is the physical act of arrangement to make things more easily or intuitively accessed. It is a topic near and dear to my heart as I see fellow engineers fail to intelligently design the aesthetic and functional elements of their products for the user. A great example, check out your TV remote, when you first got it, how intuitive were the button locations and appearences. Did you have to hunt for the <fill-in-the-blank> button for months?

Beyond simply learning to play by feel, to be your character's mind instead of an extra step or two removed, there is a great deal of value in setting yourself up so it is easy to do what you do. If you only use Shield Wall as a click, then when you need it most it'll take you a half-second to more than a second to trigger it, and in that time you could take the fatal hit. Alternately, if you use a challenging key combo to use a frequent ability, like say shift+7 to shield slam, you very well may destroy your hand trying to tank. I'm guessing that while people find their way into keybinds without too much thought or more likely without too much guiding theory, they don't do such awful things to their real world appendages. =)

So, you want to *be* the tank? Where do we start? Let's look at the important factors: key location, bound move frequency of use. Try answering the following questions:


What moves do I use most?
Which do I use least?
Which moves do I need fastest access to?
Which moves do I not use in the most severe situations?
How many moves do I actually use?
How many moves could I make better use of?

If you use WASD (if you use ESDF you can add and shift which keys I'm talking about, if you made that move you're probably more conscientious about your keybinds) with your left hand's first 3 fingers, then the keys most easily reached are usually: Q, E, R, F, V, C, X, 2, 3, 1, 4, and the modifiers Ctrl and Shft. Additionally, Z, 5, T, G, and Alt are reasonable to reach if you have longer fingers. But, the easier keys listed make for 33 total keybinds using the easy modifiers. Rather than taking me at what I say, look at how you position your hand, and figure out which keys are most easily pressed for you. Identify the easiest keys, these will be what you want to use for your most commonly used spells. I'm a big proponent of binding everything, especially since I don't know anyone who uses much more than 33 abilities while playing a single character, even with items, macros, etc. If you have a multi-button mouse, I highly recommend using the buttons there smartly as well. Personally I have a ~4 button + wheel mouse (and the wheel tilts!!). I have one button bound for vent P2Talk, but the other is usually used for taunts and with modifiers for other quick-use spells (like AMS).

I can't help you much beyond that for setting up keybinds, nor do I want to. Like cookie cutter specs and canned rotations I think the less you learn and develop for yourself the weaker a player you become.

Once you have set bindings up in a comfortable fashion, now comes the long game. Your goal is simple: play WoW to your heart's delight! Hard right? The name of the game here is to hunt and peck less and pay more attention to the screen, to your character's physical location and surroundings. This is HUGELY important, and it becomes more and more clear why when you are actually able to watch people's characters as they play. The best tanks know when and where adds are at every moment. Someone calls out "adds incoming," but the tank is already there and has a threat lead built. This is also a key skill for all raiders in the school of "don't stand in the fire." If you're too busy staring at your action bars or your CDs (one of my biggest uses for mods in combat), you will be slow to dodge or move out of fires (how many people can go an entire Razorscale fight without taking a single tick from Devouring Flames?).

So here's the part that can't be rushed, only played. Over the next month or six, you'll grow increasingly accustomed to your keybindings and the moves associated while simultaneously learning your moves, your responses to situations, and clever combos or timings that work well for your class and role. I HIGHLY recommend that if you need to change or adjust bindings during this time (or add macros and replace stock spells) that you do it early, earlier the better.

Now, that's all well and good but we have an extensive community here and I'm willing to bet a great many of the people here have long-developped keybinds and likely are already deep in the proprioception. Here's a fun test to show you just how much your character is an extension of yourself. Go to a high ledge, say Aldor Rise in Shattrath. Now jump off, no slow fall or Pally bubbles allowed. Feel that little cringe, panic moment, in your chest. That little physical response is you feeling your character. Logically we can think, it's just a game, that's just a bunch of pixels, and even in the game when I die I'll just run back to my body none the worse for wear. But it still won't remove you from your bond, and I can't imagine why you'd need to break that bond. So, we know you are your character, is there anything we can do with that?

Well, this is where I want to start opening up channels to the community. When we ARE our character we can accomplish maneuvers that you can't think fast enough to do, I listed a couple fairly simple examples above. In fact, my girlfriend was always boggled by watching my hands when I tanked since I would be moving while simultaneously hitting 3-8 buttons for other moves (ahh warrior tanking is/was fun too), click targeting, strafing, and jump-spinning.

So, what fancy moves do you use, and where are you discovering this little extended set of senses comes into play for you?

Kazeyonoma
06-16-2009, 11:30 AM
Satorri takes over the rank of Wall-O-Texter.. I resign to him and Hypatia..


O_o.

Tarigar
06-16-2009, 11:38 AM
As a simple example, I'll use my own fundamental DK keybinding base. I've been using it since the beta so all the keybinds are very deeply rooted. My key configurations always revolve around [middle finger = W][ring finger = A][index finger = D][pinky = control][thumb = spacebar]. Those are my home keys and I bind in orbits around those.

I can relate to this as my middle=w, ring=A, index=D, pinky=shift, and thumb is right below the spacebar on the keyboard frame.

So I tried to go to a keybinding setup I switched all my movement and strafing buttons.

But then how do I turn my camera without a mouse? As far as I know there is no solution to do so.

Samshel
06-16-2009, 12:29 PM
What do you mean?

Cuz he is not saying he doesn't move with wasd, he is saying that he keybinds around those keys, since those are easy to reach.

Tarigar
06-16-2009, 12:31 PM
I was referring to the location of my hands and where they lie on the keyboard.

Samshel
06-16-2009, 12:36 PM
Well then if you have your left hand on wasd key to move, you can use your mouse with your right hand since its free now :)

Unless you use both hands across the keyboard in which case there is a thread about keybinding where there are some pics about distributing your keybinds.

kfealz
06-16-2009, 12:50 PM
Great start! I can't wait to see where this goes. Kinda dissappointed it's not done yet. Get back to work kthxbai. :)

Tarigar
06-16-2009, 12:54 PM
Well then if you have your left hand on wasd key to move, you can use your mouse with your right hand since its free now :)

Unless you use both hands across the keyboard in which case there is a thread about keybinding where there are some pics about distributing your keybinds.

Which is what I do now. and I also use the mouse to move the camera and look around etc. But I was trying to make my 10 key where all my movement is and take the mouse out of the picture. But the wow keybinds will not allow you to change your camera view without the mouse.

phaze
06-16-2009, 01:35 PM
but for all its nice functionality, in WoW, the mouse can only be used as a single implement when you are clicking an action button. Your other hand, however, resting on the WASD home keys, has 5 implements that can act individually (though to use more than 1 at a time is skill development of its own).

I have common in-game functions / class abilities bound to the various mouse buttons, so both hands are sharing as much of the load as is reasonable. For me, the mouse is very centric to streamlining my character controls.



As a simple example, I'll use my own fundamental DK keybinding base. I've been using it since the beta so all the keybinds are very deeply rooted. My key configurations always revolve around [middle finger = W][ring finger = A][index finger = D][pinky = control][thumb = spacebar]. Those are my home keys and I bind in orbits around those.


To more closely associate your left hand's resting place with standard typing conventions on a US keyboard layout, you might want to try switching to ESDF rather than WASD. Your fingers rest on the same keys used for normal typing behavior.

From a game perspective, this also brings more keys into range of your left hand.

Of course for the purists out there using Dvorak layouts, you'll have to adjust accordingly. ;)

Klimpen
06-16-2009, 01:46 PM
Top notch article. Very much explains the 'muscle memory' concept to people who arn't familiar with it.

It's impossible to become a top notch tank if you have to actively think about your rotation and what you're doing. You need to be able to sit back and take the role of an observer, merely guiding your actions than doing them.

rep++;

Samshel
06-16-2009, 01:56 PM
Which is what I do now. and I also use the mouse to move the camera and look around etc. But I was trying to make my 10 key where all my movement is and take the mouse out of the picture. But the wow keybinds will not allow you to change your camera view without the mouse.

In my opinion you can't erase mouse from the board, mouse is faster for controling the camera, strafing and turning, while still you use your keyboard for the basic movements.
And for the keybinds, you can always use alt, control and shift keys as modifiers, that way Q becomes 4 keys: Q alone, alt-Q,control-Q and shift-Q.

GravityDK
06-16-2009, 02:12 PM
ESDF ftw. I made the switch (takes lots of familiarity) and won't go back. Q A Z now become keys for important skills!

Tarigar
06-16-2009, 02:20 PM
that way Q becomes 4 keys: Q alone, alt-Q,control-Q and shift-Q.

Is there a lot of Q's in that statement or is it just me.

I did look at the keybinding guide and found value in it. I am going to probably print off a keyboard cheat sheet for myself over the next couple of days and see what I can do. I am not going to make any changes till after Thursday and I don't want to switch mid raid week.

Satorri
06-16-2009, 04:38 PM
Updated, there is a lot of meat in this topic, in time more will likely come falling out of my ears and land on the page.



Ewww meat falling out of my ears, clearly I need to take a break. >.>


/bow Kazeyonoma

You flatter me, sir.

Feanorr
06-16-2009, 07:10 PM
ESDF ftw. I made the switch (takes lots of familiarity) and won't go back. Q A Z now become keys for important skills!


I know ESDF bring more key around it but it seem to me that it put alt at a bad place (under your hand) and shift and ctrl a bit far; with WASD (or ZQSD for me, AZERTY computer ^^) I got alt near my thumb (to be exact my thumb is between alt and space) and shift and control near my pinky.

How do you use these with ESDF? especially alt (ctrl and shift are reachable, just a bit far). If yu dont use them much then you are loosing more keybindings that what you gain.

Nice post btw Satorri; again ^^

pright
06-16-2009, 10:32 PM
Go to a high ledge, say Aldor Rise in Shattrath. Now jump off, no slow fall or Pally bubbles allowed. Feel that little cringe, panic moment, in your chest. That little physical response is you feeling your character.
Glad I'm not the only one!

Very nice post! Makes me rethink the bindings of my main abilities. Changing them to the keys around my fingers, rather than the usual 1-5.

Aethelas
06-16-2009, 11:24 PM
Awesome article enjoyed it to the very last letter. Well apart from the stuff falling from your ears, but you're forgiven for that.

For me it was a conscious decision to try and make most of my movement mouse controlled. When moving from clicking to keybinding I had a very thorough look at the position of my left hand. As a guitar player I'm used to some stretches but I found the stretches really annoying to perform on a normal keyboard - where I didn't while playing guitar.
Using the CTRL key as a modifier by pressing it with the fleshy part of my left hand came completely naturally - going there with my pinky, or reaching my pinky to the SHIFT key felt awkward and I felt myself needing to strain my hand to reach it. If you feel you need to strain; really don't go for binding your keys that way. On my keyboard I've tried to move ESDF but I've realized something like that could really only work by actually going out and getting myself an ergonomic keyboard. Which is somethign I might do in the future.

Also. I've been having that falling feeling in my tummy since jumping off the tower in Westfall at level 24 ish. *nods*

Irat
06-16-2009, 11:50 PM
Great article Satorri, very keen to see where it goes.

An interesting thing that I am finding is that I need to marry my Alts key bindings as close to my main as possible and in fact when my alts reached 80 I had to go through skill by skill and prioritize them based around my mains ability usages otherwise they just didn’t feel comfortable.

As an extension to this I am much more comfortable PvPing on my Main (Prot Pally) then I am on my Hunter or Rogue simply because I feel more in tune with the movement/reactions/ability use etc even though both my alts have more PvP gear and utility.

Samshel
06-17-2009, 08:18 AM
Is there a lot of Q's in that statement or is it just me.

I did look at the keybinding guide and found value in it. I am going to probably print off a keyboard cheat sheet for myself over the next couple of days and see what I can do. I am not going to make any changes till after Thursday and I don't want to switch mid raid week.

Hehe the Q statement was because its where my allmighty charge is, so it came to my mind first :D

Back to topic, yes just like this topic states and the keybinds topic does, keybinding is about practise and getting used to it, but I won't repeat what is already written by the OP of these threads, so good luck with your adaptation to the keybinding world :)

Conreeaght
06-17-2009, 08:25 AM
/stand
/clap
/salute

Well done Satorri. Can't even find words worth adding, other then right now I am referring your article to my friends and guildmates that would appreciate, or need to read it themselves.

Satorri
06-17-2009, 08:34 PM
I know exactly what you mean Irat, I have lots of things like that built in. For example, R is always my primary interrupt on all my alts (and I have at least one of everything): Mind Freeze, Shield Slam/Pummel, Kick, Earth Shock, Counterspell, etc.

As a small item to add to the thinking, there are corollaries to be drawn here to visual cognition and the placement, size, and accents of your action buttons. But that's a whole additional wall of text!

Brogan
06-19-2009, 07:48 PM
There were a dozen things I wanted to quote from people's responses.

The big ones!

esdf- I made the switch to this a long time ago. I'm a big fan. I also mad the S and F keys into strafe, and I no longer keep turn buttons, but instead do all of my turning and targeting (no tab-target bind) with my mouse. I felt like the use of the R and W buttons, instead of for strafe, was very comfortable for my most often used abilitys, Devastate and Shield Slam.

People mentioned the lack of functionality of the alt key along with this, and I think someone mentioned fewer keybinds due to this. I prefer it this way, not for fewer keybinds lol, but for more that DON'T use alt or ctrl. My fingers dont' like those, so I try to only do shift+key, and adding A and Q to the pool of keys helps.

I'm glad you linked this on our Guild forums Satorri, I find it very interesting, and I plan on making sure Andy reads it. Watching him pvp is intense with the number of keybinds he uses for his warrior, or trying to read through the post-it full of clique keybinds for his pally.

Satorri
06-20-2009, 04:59 AM
zomg What's a Brogan?!


o.o


<3

Glittersmith
06-20-2009, 06:40 AM
For everything there is wikipedia. Brogan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brogan)

Great article.

Spattznatt
06-20-2009, 09:00 AM
Nice thread.

Intuitive key bindings are directly linked to good situational awareness. The less time you spend preoccupied thinking about which finger to use or where to click the more time you have to look around you and see what's happening in the game.

One thing I found useful when setting up/learning bindings was to put similar functions near each other (even more important for the modifier key actions). For example mistakenly hitting spell reflect when you intended to hit shield wall is less of an issue than say accidentally letting off an AoE fear in the middle of a fight.

Likewise bind actions used in the same situation in a way that they can be easily used as a group. For example simply holding my modifier key changes my SS, TC, Dev keys into AoE mode for TC, Shockwave, Cleave.

Switching to a gamepad was huge for my ergonomics. Keyboards were designed for typing not WoW.

Anyway here's my layout (click for larger view). I'm still working a few abilities in for easy access but figured this might be useful to someone new.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_2bg7QULyka8/Sjz-lcfwZ_I/AAAAAAAABxM/BzH19woch4M/s288/Slide1.jpg (http://lh6.ggpht.com/_2bg7QULyka8/Sjz-lcfwZ_I/AAAAAAAABxM/BzH19woch4M/s800/Slide1.jpg)

chefjeff
06-20-2009, 03:41 PM
I have gone so far as to remove all movment keys from my keyboard completly.I use the extra buttons on mouse to walk backwards and strafe and have keybinded my WASD buttons to abiltys.

Satorri
06-21-2009, 05:11 AM
Nice, Glitter!

Holy crap, Spattz, nice graphic! And I envy your Belkan, I may have to pick up one myself one day.

And that's interesting Chef, I have not actually thought of doing that.

Magnuss
06-21-2009, 09:39 AM
I have gone so far as to remove all movment keys from my keyboard completly.I use the extra buttons on mouse to walk backwards and strafe and have keybinded my WASD buttons to abiltys.

I suppose if you have the readily accessible mouse buttons available for it, this would be awesome. What kind of mouse are you sporting?

Irat
06-21-2009, 10:45 PM
I have gone so far as to remove all movment keys from my keyboard completly.I use the extra buttons on mouse to walk backwards and strafe and have keybinded my WASD buttons to abiltys.

I tired this an went back to keyboard after a week or so, I found it much easier and natural to hold down a key and maintain my rotation then to hold down a mouse button and try and use other mouse functions, particularly when on fights like Maly where you are strafing and turning your camera and maintaining your rotation all at the same time.

Satorri
06-22-2009, 06:22 AM
And that, Irat, is the point of the article. =)

What is natural is partly determined by your own comfort, but also significantly by your experience. Having used WASD myself so extensively, if I were to try that I would feel like a duck out of water as well. Only with time and lots of practice do things become 'natural' feeling.

Satrina
06-22-2009, 07:09 AM
Muscle memory is fun. When I'm teaching new people fencing, I will give them a drill to practice and say "now do that with proper form two or three thousand times". They look at me and laugh, but they eventually learn that I'm not joking. There is no substitute for getting to the point where an action happens without conscious thought. This applies to any physical exertion where timing or accuracy is important, and gaming is no exception.

A game like WoW is such that ability triggers are more important than movement (except maybe in PvP, but we're talking tanking here.) Contrast to the typical FPS where movement is key and the triggering of abilities is limited to a few triggers. From this I submit that WASD is counterproductive in an MMO environment since it forces you to arrange the most important element of your play around the least.

The problem is, as Satorri notes, that most are so practiced at WASD through other games that we feel it is wrong to change that up. Back to muscle memory, one of the most amazing things about it is that you can have multiple memories for different activities. When you truly have the memories impressed, you will use the right one at the right time and that's that. The argument that learning a new set of memories will invalidate your old ones and cause your ability in other areas to weaken is without merit, except perhaps for elite level athletes. For you and me, not so much.

The hard part is getting that memory impressed. It's not something you can try for a week and say "doesn't work for me". Again, as noted it is a process of months to fully impress muscle memory. There are some things you can do to help the process along, whether you're working on learning to mouse move, moving from a clicker to a keybinder, or just working on a new arrangement of keybinds:

- Perform, perform, perform. Impressing muscle memory takes time, and that time is spent doing the new motions with correct form. A few thousand repetitions is a decent estimator. A video game has the advantage of not needing recovery time for your body, and you generally won't fatigue to the point where the drill becomes counterproductive because you lost form. You can likely impress faster for WoW -- but you still have to work at it.

- Practice in a non-pressure environment. Get a situation where you can perform the motions while thinking about them and ensuring you get the form correct. In sport you do drills. In WoW, you grind. You don't just decide "time to mouse move!" and head off to raid. You'll be frustrated and your raid will be confused at why you suddenly suck. You'll probably just revert to what you know "works" while writing off the idea.

- Self-evaluate. Nobody is going to be there to watch what you're doing and say "that's wrong". At the same time, there's a lot of latitude in what is "right" here. During the impression period you have to be your own coach and analyse what you are doing to make sure it is the most efficient way you could be doing it. This includes making sure your keybinds are laid out in their most efficient way and if you're training yourself to mouse move, that your strafing/back up buttons are placed on the right buttons on the mouse so that your movement is as crisp as possible.

- Games within the game. To better learn mouse moving and get it impressed faster, I made little games where I'd move through the raid during downtimes, circling around people as closely as possible without touching them. Then do that while strafing left, then right. Then backwards. With camera pulled way out, with camera pushed way in. This is related to the second point above - they're just drills. Whatever muscle memory you're trying to impress, you can help yourself by having drills that you do to help yourself along.

- Remember that this takes time. Don't be Ed Gruberman.

Ermoki
06-22-2009, 07:23 AM
I am a 1 year player, but I have always played a tank. I tried other classes at first, but when I rolled my Warr it was love at first pwn.

I learned quickly that keybinding was essential, especially as a tank. One has to be able to fire commands and look around, check on raid, track down adds, taunt off mobs and whew!!! If I tried to click tank, I would be fail for certain.

I often have thought that there should be a better way to keybind, but could find no plausible suggestions. This post make alot of sense and the ESDF suggestion made by one poster is something I think I might try.

As I said, I have been tanking for a year now and have muscle memory already. I realize that it will take sometime to retrain my left hand to fire attack commands with my pinky, but if it makes me more effective, so be it.

I can move around and use the camera with my mouse. I can move forward jump, spin and Shockwave with the best of them. I like this jump, spin, attack alt target and back to original target. Sounds fancy!!

My biggest problem is cycling targets with tab. Any suggestions or alternatives?

Thanks,

MOKIIIIIIIIIII!!!!

Fini
06-22-2009, 08:03 AM
I know ESDF bring more key around it but it seem to me that it put alt at a bad place (under your hand) and shift and ctrl a bit far; with WASD (or ZQSD for me, AZERTY computer ^^) I got alt near my thumb (to be exact my thumb is between alt and space) and shift and control near my pinky.

How do you use these with ESDF? especially alt (ctrl and shift are reachable, just a bit far). If yu dont use them much then you are loosing more keybindings that what you gain.

Nice post btw Satorri; again ^^

If you're all for one-button wonders, then ESDF is gives you more single key actions. WASD is better if you wanna get the most out of modifiers. you can use both your pinky (shift, ctrl) and THUMB (alt) to hit modifiers. Personally, I'll drop alt out of the equation and use that as a push-to-talk,until I can retrain myself to use my middle mouse button for that function. I need to rebind and retrain, I'm using 1-5 (mostly threat rotation) and mousing 6-8 + oh crap cooldowns and movement/strafe on WASD+QE. I could do soo much better than I am, and I'm not doing badly now.

Satorri
06-22-2009, 11:47 AM
Ermoki, my personal solution is that I only tab to pick up a target if I need a quick target. I keybind every ability so my mouse is free purely for camera changes and clicking targets. I can't imagine how people play without overhead health bars, I use Aloft, though the in-game ones are just as useful. For dpsing it let's me see who is how close to dead while watching the situation, for tanking it shows the same (which can also give me an indicator of who's going to get nuked next and who needs threat).

ArchV
06-22-2009, 01:47 PM
Awesome post.

I'd like to promote ESDF as well. One of the huge advantages in my mind is that WoW contains alot of typing... guild chat, friends, etc. Having your fingers on ESDF by default puts your hands on home row for immediately transition from moving to typing without having to shift your hand over. I'd love to try out one of the fancy controllers like the one pictured above, but I might get annoyed haivng to go back and forth to the real keyboard to type things. Then again, it might work out fine. After all, I move my right hand from the mouse to type... Also going all mouse for moving and having no movement keys sounds interesting, I might give that a shot!

Forklift
06-22-2009, 04:06 PM
I switched to ESDF and used it for over a year, until I sat down and weighed the pros and cons and realized I was losing more than I was gaining. Then I spent two weeks mispressing keys and getting readjusted to WASD.

As ESDF, you gain Q and A, but you lose Ctrl1, Ctrl2, Ctrl3, Shift~, Shift3, and Alt+everything. It's not worth it; I found out the hard way.

Kazeyonoma
06-22-2009, 04:11 PM
I had the same kinda discovery Fork, I tried using ESDF for a while until I realized I couldn't easily access alt + anything.

went back to WASD asap.

Irat
06-22-2009, 04:31 PM
So where do you think ergonomics plays into the whole situation? Surely it is more comfortable the new movement is the easier it is to learn. How much do you think it plays into how you should be considering your bindings? And does it become a non-issue once the action is bound to muscle memory?

Kazeyonoma
06-22-2009, 04:33 PM
ergonomics should be at the center of keybinds. What it boils down to is what is comfortable, and if you aren't comfortable, something is wrong, even if it's "saved" to muscle-memory. This is why people have back problems as they age, they get "used" to sitting improperly.

ArchV
06-22-2009, 06:19 PM
Ahh ok, I was confused as to what the problem was with ESDF + Alt, then I realized I don't have the ALT problem using an MS Natural keyboard... the ALT is easily under my thumb. I just tried it on a flat keyboard and, yeah, I can see how ALT anything would suck. Maybe the type of keyboard some come into play when considering keybinds.

Satorri
06-23-2009, 06:00 AM
Absolutely, I should re-emphasize that the more specific info I posted above was from my personal setup, keyboard, habits, hand-size, and experiences.

Every aspect of your personal situation will make this a very personal experience. Maybe you play guitar or piano so you're comfortable or even used to making some hand shapes other people would be pained to produce. Maybe you have an ergonomic keyboard, or a 14 button mouse, or a gamepad, or maybe you play on a joystick. =)

And, to Irat, well said Kaze! We have an advantage that many of the controllers (keyboard, mouse, etc) are already ergonomically designed. That said, looking at how you design your keybinds can make life easier. It's all well and good to use modifiers a lot, I do, but I found early on that control+Q (ScS/Oblit), control+F (DS), and control+E (deathgrip) were starting to hurt my pinky because of how I was pressing the control key (namely with the outside edge of the finger instead of with the pad). I had nasty muscle cramps and some pain for a while, so I had to fix my muscle habits so I didn't do that to myself any more (pain is a useful tool for adjusting these muscle memory habits, not that I'd recommend including that voluntarily...).

Just because it has become muscle memory does not mean it is good for you, as with Kaze's example of people having horrible posture (speaking of which, depressing to me that Chrysler seems to have takent to designing cars that support people's bad posture and are uncomfortable to sit in if you have good posture) out of habit. You may also get warnings, like I did, of less ideal habits, though some may just be subtle enough that it takes a good long time to become aware of. How many people here rest their wrists on a desk or hard surface while they're typing on their keyboard? Carpal tunnel inflamation waiting to happen there. Add for further complication those readers who are still teens or early 20s. At that age your body is at its most resilient so it could be dealing with minor fatigue more rapidly than you can really become aware of it, but as you get older you will start to find your bad habits start hurting or actually becoming the root of debillitating conditions.

Bladesong
06-23-2009, 02:42 PM
Ermoki, instead of Tab I use the mouse wheel to cycle through targets since it can quickly and easily cycle in both directions. A precision mouse with a stiff wheel makes it a little more precise. I use Ctrl + Mousewheel to zoom the camera in and out.

TokiWartooth
06-23-2009, 04:00 PM
Good stuff, It made me rethink my own keybinds. And on the topic of nerve damage, don't forget the other nerve, the one that deals with the outermost 2 fingers(well finger and a half), I had some damage to it for an unknown region and that made any computer use out of the question for a couple of weeks.

Irat
06-23-2009, 07:15 PM
As ESDF, you gain Q and A, but you lose Ctrl1, Ctrl2, Ctrl3, Shift~, Shift3, and Alt+everything. It's not worth it; I found out the hard way.

Yep very true but the bigger benefit for me is the little dot on the F key which guides my hand back to my movement keys.

By doing that I have added - H,N, M, ~, Y, X, Z, F1-4 to my bindings and find it doesnít slow me down at all. Granted I cant press them while moving but even on WSDA I couldnít press Cntl/SHFT+(X) while moving effectively but that just changes what I bind with them and Iím am much more naturally inclined to press single keys then multiples.

Mond
06-24-2009, 02:44 AM
Personally i have a Logitch mouce with alot of buttons on it(like fast scroll up/down prev/next web page buttons). I have in the software programmed each button to be a f7-f12 click, since i never use those in game.
Now in wow i bind my 6 most used & importent abilities to these mouse buttons that leaves my left hand free to use the normal arrow key's + num pad keys (for aditional key bindings). So i can move + taunt, shield slam, devastate, shield block, Shield bash, revenge. without having to move my hands. TC demo conc charge /target last target. are some of the things i have bound to my num keypad. they are all easy to reach and best of all you are more comfortable and can change seating position easy.

bmd
06-24-2009, 07:49 AM
I wish I read an article like this back in 2004...

Anyways I have recently started switching up my key bindings to be more efficient, and I am doing this while still leveling so I start the re-learning process before I do anything serious. Q and E are no longer strafing and the A and D keys are now. I have to say having Q and E available for abilities now makes a world of difference. I am still getting used to the slightly different movement keys and I have fallen a few times to my death… I am learning to steer with my mouse better too and I can already to the jump spin move decently.

In general I have moved core abilities around to make them more accessible, and moved less used ones to either a shift modified key or a key further from the “home”. Fortunately for me I have long fingers and I have a lot of options on what is close to my "home". I am also only using one modifier which is shift. I have used the Logitech software which came with my mouse to bind this to my left thumb button on the mouse. This helped me remove alot of awkward key combinations. I may add CTRL to one of the other buttons again but for now the shift key has given me enough options.

I almost have the setup the way I like it, but I think I may need to change a few key bindings to make them a bit more accessible. I don't have T bound to anything yet and my long fingers could reach it easily. I also have ~ set to "autorun" at the moment but I think I will change that as well, maybe to some sort of "panic button" The ~ is very accessible to me and I should make better use of this.

The next thing I want to do is next is get a mouse with a couple more buttons so I can control my movement and camera better. Other than that, including the occasionally press of the wrong key I feel that I am moving in the right direction of becoming more efficient.


One thing I would like to touch on while doing this, and playing in general, is I make sure to stretch my hands and arms often. I have a few exercises that aid in keeping my hands nimble. A lot of these exercises are based on tai chi chuan and are really good in general for anyone who uses and mouse and keyboard often.

Satorri
06-24-2009, 11:22 AM
Heh, ut oh, you busted out the Tai Chi...


I never really ask as it's normally quite off topic, but are there (m)any tai chi students in the crowd?

Reev
12-10-2009, 08:56 PM
I think it's awesome that you call it proprioception. That's exactly what I called it like 5 months ago before I read this. I'd heard the word in a podcast and thought it was a cool idea, and then realized that it applies to extensions of the self too, like in gaming. When I said it to my guildmates of course they all just looked at me funny, even when I explained it to them.

Reev
12-10-2009, 09:04 PM
The Podcast episode was called Where am I? and it was an episode of RadioLab.

Satorri
12-11-2009, 05:37 AM
Nice necromancy. =) I had just about forgotten this post.

Reev
12-11-2009, 07:41 AM
It was referred to in another post I was reading, which caused me to read it. Not deliberate necromancy per se.

Aradril
12-11-2009, 08:55 AM
Well, it's funny because I just changed all my keybindings except space (jump) one month ago, in the very logic of this huge but brillant post that I only discover now. I used my old keybindings for years, and it was quite a traumatism to switch for brand new ones. At the begining, I was back a noob tank, even in 5 men dungeons. Now I think I still only slightly outperform my precedent state, but the long-tought design of my new keybindings may certainly shine better in the future, as I'll acquire more automatisms. I have to testimony that the first 2 weeks cap is really hard to pass when modifying so much keybindings : I almost lost courage and thought seriously to go back to my old ones. Happily I did not.

My new directions are the central YGHJ keys (using an AZERTY keyboard)? G and J are straffs. My actions are distributed around those buttons in a logic associating the usefullness of the technic and the accessibility of the keybinding in regard to those of directions. My two main survival CDs are linked on two very accessible special buttons of the mouse. The wheel is linked with select next/precedent target. The total result is really appreciable. Besides, I confess the large use of macros (not that bad IMO), including the evil macroted HS, having unsuccessfully tested the manual HS managment with the wheel button, as recommanded by some serious tankspotters.

Anyway, I have to recall this powerfull tip : if you intend to change your keybindings, especially those of directions, do not forget to use "patafix" or whatever may be called in english that sort of yellow or blue non-etable gum usefull to stick posters and photos on walls without pin. Put some on the main keys you want to use, it will be a decisive help for your fingers to master the new positioning. And it's reversible, though quite hard to rip out.

Synapse
12-11-2009, 09:37 AM
I've been showed this shock just yesterday: Changing from a normal keyboard to a n52 pad. I redesigned my UI so the n52 pad's bindings would have the same layout on the screen, and spent a good while training it. Oh man how often we miss those things! XD
The plus side is that I have the whole weekend to dedicate, and the pattern between what it used to be and what it is(small blocks of 4 binds) is roughly the same. The biggest issue will be learning to move iwth the d-pad and jumping with a new key (the second one from the first row!), and relearning where the abilities I do click(o hai Army of the Dead, bai blessings) stay, though those, being irrelevant from an ergonomic standpoint, are laid handily on corners and places easy to reach taking as a base the position the mouse usually is during combat: the middle-left of the screen, where both the raid frames and the mob plates are!

Satorri
12-11-2009, 09:41 AM
Ha, I use the n52te, but I refuse to move with the d-pad. I just bound that to other spells.

Synapse
12-11-2009, 09:42 AM
Ha, I use the n52te, but I refuse to move with the d-pad. I just bound that to other spells.
I have some knowledge for using the pad for movement since I pulled tanking ulduar with a ps2 controller :D

Swam
12-11-2009, 03:25 PM
I will admit, Key binds on the keyboard I was never able to get the hang of. I tried it but I just never had the patience to remember all the setups I designed.

The two that eventually worked for me was I set up my bars like the keyboard. so skills would line up with the keys required to use them.

Later when I upgraded to a speed pad (best thing I ever did) I did the same and arranged my bars based on the speed pads configuration. Made the learning curve shorted quite a bit.
This also helps if I am away for a bit of using multiple toons. A glance at my bars will re orient me to my key binds and they flow from there.

Great post satorri, I look forward to forcing it upon my guildies.

Irat
12-14-2009, 04:28 PM
Nice necromancy. =) I had just about forgotten this post.

Good threads never die.

Zanzibarg
12-15-2009, 11:32 AM
Very nice thread. I believe that in large part I too have "become one with my toon." I rarely have to "think" about the controls. I equate my keybindings to something much like "touch typing." I don't have to think about where the keys are located. I simply think about the words I wish to type and my mind/body makes my fingers hit the correct keys to spell those words. My game play has become much the same. I think of the action I wish to take and my finger automatically, without conscious thought, hits the correct keys. Anyway....

Since there seems to be quite a bit of discussion about specific keybinds, I thought some of you might enjoy this post I made for my guildies that were interested in how I tank with my warrior.

I've found the mouse to be the best way to move. The keyboard just doesn't have the flexibility and speed that the mouse has for movement. So, about the only time I use the keyboard for movement is going in reverse. The opposite is also true...clicking with the mouse is far inferior (at least for tanking) than using keybinds.

The Friends of Old Guild; Zanzibarg's Tanking Hot Keys (http://www.friendsofold.org/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=1372)

Ulosthegame
12-15-2009, 12:58 PM
I personally use WSQE for movement ( forward,back, strafe left, strafe right).
I feel you left some important keys that are easy reachable from WASD, etc, being: `, and tab. I've unbound tab targeting and made it Blood Tap, and have ` as Dark Command.
I've got Z bound to rune tap, X to AMS and C to Mind Freeze (Lady Deathwhisper/Jaraxxus). I've not thought about binding extra mouse buttons though- I'll think of this.

Xianth
12-16-2009, 01:20 AM
Interesting read and also something I put into practice myself, as I find that once I've found my way around a class I'm pretty much subconciously using the abilties, especially if I use similar binds across classes with the same archetype.