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arthurviolence

Action RPG WASD Controls

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Hey guys. I have been wondering for a long time about hotkeys in an action RPG where you move, initially, with the WASD. Of course, considering that movement can be customized by the user, but if the movement is not based on the mouse, but aiming your spells and attack is, this would lead to 2 busy hands, and using skills in hotkeys other than Q or E would get a little annoying. Has anyone played or can suggest RPGs or Action rpgs with WASD based movement or some suggestions regarding this?

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I've seen countless shooters and shooter hybrids that use a control scheme like you describe. I feel like "Action RPG" is a pretty thin term these days. Would you include Elder Scrolls and Bioshock to be "Action RPGs" for the purpose of your question?

 

Assuming that they are close enough, I've seen such games use hotkeys (typically the number keys at the top of the keyboard) to activate an immediate effect (use an item, activate a skill), change equipment, or to queue up the effect of clicking a mouse button. But these are all functions that the player would do far less often than moving with WASD or clicking a mouse button.

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Most MMORPGs use the WASD movement system with the number keys being the main action hotkeys (usually nearby keys like Q,E,R,T,F,G will be used for actions as well) and the mouse being used for aiming and targeting (and as an alternate steering method if you're holding down the right button.) It works well for those games, and there a lot of MMOs that have enough action in their combat systems that I would consider them to be "action" RPGs, for example: Guild Wars 2, Tera, Age of Conan, and DC Universe Online to name a few.

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You ll have 3 buttons on the mouse as well, of which one can even be used to scroll two ways.

Usually just make sure the "instant"-action-keys(usually combat-related) are the Q/E/7/9 and so on and the less important actions/functions can go almost anywhere.

Possibly a game can have an "in-combat"-mode and an "out-of-combat"-mode, both assigning other actions to the hotkeys.

I hope this helps, cheers.

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In addition to the above...

Don't forget Z, X, and C as easily accessible options!  

CAPS LOCK, LEFT SHIFT, and TAB are also within reasonable reach for toggling windows or abilities like run/walk or crouch/stand.  

(I'm looking at you System Shock 2!)

ALT isn't too bad if you get used to tapping it with your SPACEBAR thumb...

The 6-pack of INSERT, HOME, PGUP, DELETE, END, and PGDN  are also quick and easy to use by the mousing hand for non-action time tasks.

 

So... that's about 11 or so "fast action" buttons near the left hand using WASD (sorry southpaws!) and 6 "slow action" buttons for the right-handed mousers.

If you need any more keys than that, then your game is quite physically complicated to play.

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An example of how you should not do it

I just finished a session of iBomber Attack, where you control a tank with WASD controls while clicking with the mouse at various targets. A major problem with this layout is that its only viable to move in 45 degree angles (0,45,90,135,180, 225, 270, 315). Any directional angle between these requires a steady hammering of any two buttons (wawawawawaaawawwaawaa...). Please don't build it like this. You can download the demo for free and try it out.

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ALT isn't too bad if you get used to tapping it with your SPACEBAR thumb...

 

to me, Skyrim set up a new standard by making Alt be Sprint instead if having Sprint at Shift.

Really, having to hold a key for a while is much more comfortable using the thumb rather than the pinky finger.

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The mouse or a joystick is the best for determining the directional angle. 

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WASD is a solid scheme, and a lot of games that use it seem to be built around it.  By that I mean a general reliance on a few "main" abilities hotkeyed to Q/E and mouse buttons, and swappable semi-frequent abilities on the number pad.  Battles that require many abilities in a sequence will likely not require much target swapping (ex. bosses only).

 

The improvements to these scheme I'm familiar with are either hardware-based, such as gaming keypads and mice, or UI-based, such as using the mouse to click powers but the icons for these powers are accessible and tight.

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You don't absolutely HAVE to utilize the mouse. If you have the smarts to design an ingenious auto-aiming system combined with an automatic camera, you would be a fool not to. Take a page from the majority of PSP Action RPGs that only use the D-pad for switching between items and weapons. Since PCs use keyboards you could do something like this:

 

WASD - Movement

J,K,L, and N,M, < - Attacking

 

Of course, using a mouse is not a problem at all, anyone who uses a PC is okay with using a mouse and the keyboard at the same time, but if you want a control scheme without the mouse, then auto-aiming and an auto-camera are the only two tools I can suggest.

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ALT isn't too bad if you get used to tapping it with your SPACEBAR thumb...

 

to me, Skyrim set up a new standard by making Alt be Sprint instead if having Sprint at Shift.

Really, having to hold a key for a while is much more comfortable using the thumb rather than the pinky finger.

 

 

The Alt key is in a really awkward position for my thumb, while the Shift key is literally under the natural position of my pinky finger. In fact, the only key I'd really consider comfortable with the thumb is spacebar itself (which happens to be right under the thumb). Any other key won't be easy to press with the thumb without moving the hand itself.

 

You don't absolutely HAVE to utilize the mouse. If you have the smarts to design an ingenious auto-aiming system combined with an automatic camera, you would be a fool not to. Take a page from the majority of PSP Action RPGs that only use the D-pad for switching between items and weapons. Since PCs use keyboards you could do something like this:

 

WASD - Movement

J,K,L, and N,M, < - Attacking

 

Of course, using a mouse is not a problem at all, anyone who uses a PC is okay with using a mouse and the keyboard at the same time, but if you want a control scheme without the mouse, then auto-aiming and an auto-camera are the only two tools I can suggest.

 

Reminds me how when I don't want to use the mouse I'd map the aiming to the 8,5,4,6 keys from the numpad. Those essentially end up being in exactly the same layout and height as W,S,A,D but for the right hand, and also allow for a very comfortable position. The biggest downside is that laptops usually don't have numpads, so while you should always provide customizable controls, that still undermines its usefulness as a default setting.

 

Of course the big advantage of using the numpad is that it's less cramped (hands are more spaced apart), it still has quite a large bunch of keys around, and it's easier to position the hand purely by tactile feedback, without having to look at the keyboard.

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The Alt key is in a really awkward position for my thumb, while the Shift key is literally under the natural position of my pinky finger. In fact, the only key I'd really consider comfortable with the thumb is spacebar itself (which happens to be right under the thumb). Any other key won't be easy to press with the thumb without moving the hand itself. 

I guess it depends on the keyboard you're using. when you're using [a keyboard with longer Ctrl/Win/Alt keys], the Alt key becomes comfortable to press with the thumb if your hand is positioned so it "comes from the outside" (ie. your hand isn't vertically aligned with the keyboard, but slightly rotated outwards)

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Just tried it (the Alt key seems to be at about the same placement in this keyboard), it's pretty much impossible to get the Alt key in a comfortable position without WASD becoming uncomfortable, at least in my case (it does indeed render Shift uncomfortable too, though).
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