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#1 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:17 PM

I'm rather all over with different concepts for my game, right now I'm trying to think of a comfortable and useable keyboard layout.

For a fantasy swords and magic RPG played in first person or a first person/third person hybrid. As such it has heavy emphasis on melee combat, inventory usage (potions, scrolls, etc) and special abilities. I'm also thinking of breaking away from the typical norm of PC FPS by doing this scheme as once was recommended to me.

Movement = EDSF as apposed to WSAD was wondering if this would be very confusing for players?

Otherwise things are pretty standard.

Look = Mouse
Jump = Space
Crouch = Ctrl
Run = Shift + Direction
Auto-Run = Caps Lock

The other thing is combat control

Primary Action = Left Mouse
Secondary Action = Right Mouse

Where primary will be the typical 'swing your sword' 'shoot an arrow' 'cast a spell' and secondary I envisage as such things as 'Change from one to two handed sword grip' 'Zoom in for sniper shot with bow' 'change heal spell from self heal to heal other' etc.

Since right click is often the 'block' button in a number of action melee I went with this.

Block/Guard = G

Given that is close to the movement keys does that make it a fluid part of combat? combined with the mouse?

Interact = A

In the same method the base interaction key (open doors, talk, pickup item, search body) is A since that is freed up from movement.

The other thing that came to mind is the quick access of inventory items and abilities.

Abilities cover a range of things from special attacks, spells, gestures, etc ... and use the ability hotkeys z, x, c, v, b.

Inventory has its own hotkeys 1-0

I was considering having , and . (< >) as a way to cycle through hotkey setups ... so you could have a hotkey bar setup for combat, one for magic, one for conversation, etc and simple cycle through them. The ? key possibly acting as a 'context' on off feature that pops up the most appropriate hotkey bar for the situation.

I'm also considering some additional inventory hotkeys in the form of W and R say for primary and secondary weapons.

For the most part that is all the main keys I can think of apart from those that open inventory, maps, quests, etc ... but those I feel can usually be spread out abit more freely.

Can you guys see any problems? have any suggestions? what I should add?

Edited by All Names Taken, 06 November 2012 - 07:19 PM.


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#2 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2068

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:19 PM

Just to state an obvious solution, you could always allow the player to customize all keys and mouse buttons to their preference.

#3 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:22 PM

Just to state an obvious solution, you could always allow the player to customize all keys and mouse buttons to their preference.


True, but I thought putting some effort into the default settings couldn't hurt (I can't imagine them loading up a game and being greeted with a series of key config questions before they can play after all).

#4 Tobl   Members   -  Reputation: 363

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:26 PM

Hello,

Movement = EDSF as apposed to WSAD was wondering if this would be very confusing for players?

Yes, it would. Players have been trained to work with WASD. Whenever they start up your game and have to position their hand on the keyboard, they will end up wondering why they're running backwards instead of to the right. Even worse, if they spend enough time with your game to learn the EDSF (which is highly unlikely, given this big dissatisfier), they will start misplacing their hand in other games, meaning you have broken not only your, but also other games.
Sorry, but in interface design, if you don't have a really good reason to do something in a new way, it's not called being innovative, it's called breaking user habits.

Crouch = Ctrl
Run = Shift + Direction

First reason why we use WASD: For the majority of hands these two modifiers (esp. Ctrl) and the ESDF-controls are too far apart and therefore too hard to reach.

Block/Guard = G

This does work, but it's not the best solution. I assume you wanted to use "G is for Guard". However, the upper left and even more the upper right corner (R in ESDF) of the directional controls are easier/more ergonomic to reach and don't break the flow of player movement as much.
A seldom-used alternative is using the Alt-Key. The thumb is the most versatile of our digits, still, it's usually only used to operate the spacebar. Using the alt-key minimizes collision of movement-inputs and block-inputs. Of course, jumping and blocking won't be possible at the same time, however, at least I wouldn't know of many combat-systems where that would be a prominent or realistic feature. This approach on the other hands has two conditions: 1. You pretty much have to use WASD for movement or they won't align nicely. 2. You / your programmer will likely have to write a routine to catch the alt-key since most languages can't handle that natively.

Interact = A

That seems to be pretty much the only reason for using ESDF. Again, I'm guessing "A is for Action"? There are many other great keys around (from now on using WASD): As I already mentioned the Q and E are very easy to reach. Since interact doesn't have to work as fast as combat, you could also use F if you've put block somewhere else. Speaking of block: if the player can sheath his weapons, you could also use modus-sensitive block/interact or secondary/interact assignments. However, make sure to use that with a defensive combat-skill to avoid accidentaly hitting objects/npcs and so that the player is able to attack quickly without having to manually unsheath his weapon.

hotkeys z, x, c, v, b.
hotkeys 1-0
,and . (< >) as a way to cycle through hotkey setups
? key possibly acting as a 'context' on off feature that pops up the most appropriate hotkey bar
hotkeys in the form of W and R

Those are far too many hotkeys. Hotkeys are supposed to be used to quickly perform usual but non-trivial tasks from muscle-memory.
Given your list, you have 15-17 hotkeys (depends on if you include W and R) times x because you offer several setups. Memorizing that many assignments will take the player longer than beating your game, and that is for traditional memory. Memorizing them by muscle-memory is actually impossible since muscle memory cannot recognize different modi, even less so when they can only be choosen relatively but not absolutely.
What's even more, most of these hotkeys aren't even quickly accessible. Sure, the letters are super-easy to reach and the left half of the numbers are also acceptable. But the higher numbers? nope. And to change the setup the player actually has to move his hand over the entire length of the keyboard.
In terms of shortterm-memory, the human mind is capable of storing 7 +-2 chunks of information. Even though your case of memorization is long-term, the model is still a good approximation of how much will work. So even if you're sure that a large number of hotkeys will be needed for your game and you also want to keep the separate hotkeys for inventory and abilities, limit yourself to using z, x, c, v for one of the hotkey-sets and 1-4 for the other, maybe adding b and 5 if you really think it's necessary. This will give you a total of 8-10 hotkeys, enough for the frequent tasks and still something that the player will be able to learn.


Hope this was helpful,

bw,
Tobl

Edited by Tobl, 06 November 2012 - 09:30 PM.

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#5 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:58 PM

Hmm, I'm getting the odd impression we are thinking of something different when we say quick-keys? Those that are set by the player to quickly carry out an activity that would otherwise take longer due to extensiveness (finding that one potion in your inventory, finding the right spell from the spellbook) ... typically with visible onscreen representations the player can see at a glance to recall which is what.

As such its more customization for the player than a set of predefined commands they will have to keep in mind and as many or as few can be used at the players discretion.

Perhaps its a niche complaint but one I heard often in such games (Many complained Oblivion only had 8 rather than 10 hotkeys for example).

If I am using the incorrect term for it do let me know.

Edited by All Names Taken, 06 November 2012 - 09:59 PM.


#6 PeterF   Members   -  Reputation: 606

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 12:07 PM

Since right click is often the 'block' button in a number of action melee I went with this.

Block/Guard = G

Given that is close to the movement keys does that make it a fluid part of combat? combined with the mouse?


I think this could cause some serious complaints. Assuming you've done the standard "move slower while blocking" to help balance out the usefulness of blocking, it will further impede movement by preventing the player from strafing right. I personally always find it aggravating when a game forces me to jump or block using one of my WASD fingers because I can't move in that direction anymore (I guess technically I could, but then I'd just be doing finger-acrobatics, which is not what I want to do when I'm gaming). Since the player will be more likely to hold down the block-command, and more likely to simply tap the secondary action command (even if you have to hold it for zooming while shooting an arrow, you'll probably be stationary anyway), you're probably better off leaving block on the secondary mouse button and putting secondary action on the keyboard.

I agree with the issue on the number of hotkeys. Keeping it at a standard 10 is probably your safest bet. I do, however, like the idea of being able to rotate through setups. Obviously not everyone will use them (and if they don't, so be it), but it's a definite plus for those who would like to.

I hate to kill your creativity, but I think the key layout is the way it is because that's the way that GENERALLY works best (your game may be an exception of course).

#7 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 04:07 PM

I think this could cause some serious complaints. Assuming you've done the standard "move slower while blocking" to help balance out the usefulness of blocking, it will further impede movement by preventing the player from strafing right. I personally always find it aggravating when a game forces me to jump or block using one of my WASD fingers because I can't move in that direction anymore (I guess technically I could, but then I'd just be doing finger-acrobatics, which is not what I want to do when I'm gaming). Since the player will be more likely to hold down the block-command, and more likely to simply tap the secondary action command (even if you have to hold it for zooming while shooting an arrow, you'll probably be stationary anyway), you're probably better off leaving block on the secondary mouse button and putting secondary action on the keyboard.


That sounds reasonable, perhaps secondary mode will be a keyboard command that acts like a switch from one mode to the other.

I agree with the issue on the number of hotkeys. Keeping it at a standard 10 is probably your safest bet. I do, however, like the idea of being able to rotate through setups. Obviously not everyone will use them (and if they don't, so be it), but it's a definite plus for those who would like to.


Perhaps by default I'll have a base 10 key setup, but perhaps a setup option to expand out to say use the full 10 number keys if a player wants..

I hate to kill your creativity, but I think the key layout is the way it is because that's the way that GENERALLY works best (your game may be an exception of course).


No biggy really, it was just an idea suggested to me long ago in the argument that they found it much more comfortable position and provided easier access to the rest of the keyboard being more central, so I really just wanted to get a feel of how others felt on that. Sounds like its a specific preference though so I suppose I can leave it to players to reconfigure to that if so be the case.

#8 L i n c k   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:06 AM

I don't think ESDF is a good idea, would be weird to reach ctrl and other commands. I guess WASD works fine and you could still use A as the action key, if you don't want to use E. You just need to make it work only when you press and release right after.

#9 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:15 PM

Thanks guys, I'll go with the normal WASD than.

Right click for blocking attacks.

Tab? for interacting.

Maybe Alt to switch to 'Alt' attack mode or maybe just something like F.

1 to 5 for inventory.
Z to B for abilities.

Q and E I'll stubbornly keep as 'quick weapon' keys so you can set two sets of preferred weapons to them (say Sword & Shield on Q and Bow on E) because I really liked that system in other games like Fable and so it saves options on the actual inventory quick-bar, hitting them again will sheath the weapon ... perhaps adding R to ready spellcasting/ability performing. I'll also likely have at least an option to unlock 6 to 0 to use for inventory quick-keys.




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