Back to Button School

February 12, 2010

Every so often I enjoy playing a really low level character.  I’ll just start one up, run around the starter area for a bit, get to level ten or so, then delete it.

I think its because of the simplicity.  Every action or spell can have its own full-time, dedicated finger.  Just fill up the number keys until no-more-fingers time, then scrap the character.

I enjoy bear tanking for the same reason; I can map and macro everything I’ll need and that’s still a single digit button total.

That’s a world away from playing a priest… 

At the last count I have 35 keys bound to spells and macros*.  This excludes stuff that I only tend to cast out of combat, like buffs, ress etc.  That’s 34 in-combat casts of which half are commonly used, and half are situational (and “mount” which I like to have keybound too).

I have a habit of putting the primary keybinds for the role on my keyboard’s numeric keypad, with situational or long cooldown abilities on the six “insert” to “page down” keys, and off-role keys on the top row number keys.  Both WASD and the four cursor keys are set to movement.  For Discipline spec, the numeric keypad is all heals while the top row keys do damage.  For Shadow spec this is reversed.

It took ages to get used to this setup, but now that the muscle memory has become ingrained I find it quick and easy to use, and can keep my attention on the screen at all times.

Which makes me wonder if I’m mad for abandoning it all…

But then I see the shiny new Nostromo n52te speedpad my in-laws gave me for my birthday (/cheer) and a week or two of being utterly useless seems a small price to pay.

If you’re not familiar with this type of device, it’s a combined input device – a 14 key keyboard, directional thumbpad, clickable scroll wheel and two thumb buttons.  It’s designed to fit your left hand while your right hand is on your mouse.  It plugs into a USB port, and though you need software loaded on your computer to configure it, once done your config is saved to on-board flash and it will work on any machine without the need for software installs.

There’s a palmrest which has two possible positions (for little or big hands) and it can toggle between 3 keybinding maps with blue, green and red lights showing you which map you’re currently using.  Each of the 23 possible “buttons” (including scrollwheel movements and d-pad cardinal points) can be mapped in the provided software to emulate a standard keyboard key (the supplied default more-or-less copies the left hand side of a keyboard).

So all I need to do now is work out a plan for setting up my keybinds on the new toy, retrain my muscle memory and after a (hopefully short) spell of being completely unable to find the right button I’ll be back even faster than before.

* Here’s the full list;

(Numeric keys) Power Word: Shield, Penance, Flash Heal, Binding Heal, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing, Holy Nova, Renew, Divine Hymn, Pain Suppression, Power Infusion, Shackle, Fade, Desperate Prayer, Mass Dispel, (insert-page down) Shadowfiend, Divine Hymn, Dispel, Greater Heal, Abolish Disease, Endless Mana Potion, (top row number keys) Mind Sear, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, Mana Blast, Fear Ward, Levitate, Inner Fire, Hymn of Hope, Psychic Scream, Smite, Holy Fire, (elsewhere) Jump, Tab target, Mount


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