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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MMO Keybinding

Young Lord Skaf.I’ve come to a realization that I’m a gamer after all. Took me twenty years to finally admit to it. But more often than not I’m playing something. Computer games are making my mind run amok. The more complex the game the more fun it is. I love the “theorycrafting” aspect of all gaming and MMOs will certainly have that — learning how things work, how to be more efficient.

Skaf's talent build.From all my close friends I probably spend more time with computer games than anyone else, save one guy. And that one guy who in my mind was a super-gamer all the time that I know him (close to 20 years now) has lately decided to “degamify”, therefore leaving me to playing all by myself. Come on, dude! Regamify! Yes, you.

Darth Skaf.Anyhow, long story short — after approximately a year long break I have reactivated SWTOR. Since the early days of WoW I’ve only been playing PvE — Player vs Environment. After I was left all alone in SWTOR I decided to try my hand at PvP — Player vs Player. And did I end up loving it or what? However I faced a big problem stemming from a fact that I’m a clicker — a person who keeps clicking on their abilities instead of using keybinds — keyboard.

Skaf.Clicking worked just fine in PvE, but at PvP everything is moving at a neckbreaking speed. At the same time I always gravitate towards melee characters. And by the time I would reach somebody and start executing my rotation by clicking my abilities that somebody would be long gone or I would be dead. So that didn’t work at all. My solution was to switch to a ranged class that had the longest reach in the game — Sniper.

Agent Glaz.I was often able to be on top of DPS charts with my clicking. Those numbers could’ve been better and my survivabilty would’ve been better if I wasn’t clicking, but it worked. However the thing with Sniper is that you’re playing like a stationary turret. You just sit there and shoot. PvP game objectives often don’t revolve about being top in DPS and being a turret you’re not bringing too much utility to your team.

PvP match scorecard.I created a new character that I wanted to try for a long time now — Sith Juggernaut. Juggernaut is a melee class that can perform a role of a tank, but has a potential to put out decent DPS and has a decent level of survivability. But in order to be effective the clicking had to stop. So after all these years I’ve made an effort to teach myself to use a keyboard starting from level 1 with my new character.

Final look.Now being at level 55 I feel extremely comfortable with keyboard. I play blind without having too look anywhere at the screen and I do ZERO clicking as far as abilities go. Mouse is used for moving and sometimes targeting, although in vast majority of cases I target with the keyboard as well.

Juggernaut has incredible mobility and control of the situation with multiple jumps and defensive cooldowns. I can confidently go pretty much against any character and dish out a serious beating. For a change I feel in complete control in most situation.

UI, Keyboard and Mouse Setup

The first step for me to get comfortable with the keyboard I’ve redesigned my UI. I layed out my action bars as the 4 rows of the keyboard. This way I can easily monitor when my cooldowns are up and my fingers learned where to go because the layout of spells is exactly the same as the layout of buttons on the keyboard.

First UI attempt. Too much clutter.Second step was to unlearn turning with a keyboard. This is easily achievable by unbinding some of the default settings. The standard setup is W, S to move forward and back; A, D to turn; Q, E to strafe. I got rid of binds for S, A, D. If you are not used to strafing much yet, I would remap Q and E to A and D. But my mnemonic memory was already hardwired to Q and E, so I let them be. In addition to that I shifted them all by one key to the right to free up another easily reachable row on the left side of my standard hand placement.

Keyboard. Diagram built via WASD Keyboards site.I also did bind Shift+W, Shift+E, Shift+R (my movement keys) to some abilities that are not used over and over again. My standard defensive and DPS (damage per second) rotations are bound to the rest of the keys around those movement keys.

User interface. Final version.My standard damage dealing rotation goes in a circle around the movement keys. D, 2 is bound to starting of a fight. And then S, F, G, T, 5, 4. Defensive CDs are on A, C, Y, 3. Situation control is on Z, X, V, H, Shift+W, Shift+R. Utility spells are on 1, Q, B, N. Everything is extremely easy to reach and I do not have large hands. And everything gets used.

As I said earlier mouse is used for turning, by holding down the right button. I also mapped several key important spells with short cooldown, lots of damage and a little bit more reach to side buttons on my mouse. 4 and 5 from the list above are those spells. And I mapped one additional defensive spell to the 3rd most comfortable buttons to hit. It’s nice to see somebody casting something massive on you and reflect it right back to their face with a click.

Skaf. Another angle.A couple of words on the mouse itself — after some consideration I have bought a gaming mouse. (Spoiler: I didn’t like it.) I was picking between Razer Naga (12 buttons on the side) and Razer Naga Hex (6 buttons) — having Razer BlackWidow keyboard that I do like very much after getting used to it. I went with the Hex edition because there is no way I was going to use 12 buttons on the mouse. And button placement felt too crowded. Even 6 seemed like an overkill.

Razer Naga Hex mouse.After trying Razer Naga Hex for a week I hated it. My hand hurts, buttons are still not very comfortable to hit, mouse is not well designed ergonomically and it had a wire. I went back to my trusty Logitech and I love it. Four well placed buttons and the hand is relaxed and well placed. Razer Naga Hex went back to the store. This rarely happens to me — returning something.

And that’s pretty much it. Hopefully this a little bit of a guide will be helpful to somebody like myself. It definitely will improve your PvP performance. And I am truly enjoying playing my character.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Last Word on Hearthstone

Opening a new pack of cards.A couple of last thoughts on Hearthstone. At least for the time being. The game is enjoyable. I was able to amass a nice collection of cards and have achieved a rank of 12 (from starting 25). It’s not great at all by any real standards, but that was my best and is decent enough for my first TCG game.

Overall statistics.I’ve stopped playing it about 2 weeks ago. The main draw for me was opening new card packs and adding something new and nice to my collection of cards. At this point I’ve got a lot of good deck worthy cards. Most of them actually barring the legendaries. The only useful legendary that I actually did get is Ragnaros the Firelord.

My best Arena run.When you play Arena and at the end you open up a pack of cards and all of those cards are already in your collection you lose interest. At least I do. And when that happens time after time after time — well, you stop playing. Again, this is all normal and not a knock against Blizzard or anything. It’s just the way it is for a game of this type.

Super annoying murloc zoo Warlock.However I did build pretty decent fun decks for almost all classes. My big exception is Druid simply because I just did not get lucky with any good Druid cards. They are just not coming. My favorite classes in the long run are Mage, Hunter, Shaman and Paladin. My previous favorite Priest just doesn’t do very well with the way things currently are. Warrior can do really well, but it needs to have a ton of legendary cards to be effective.

Some Priest domination.The most popular decks in the current meta are Warlocks and “Miracle” Rogues. I don’t enjoy playing “Hand” Locks and “Zoo” Locks are just annoying. For “Miracle” Rogue deck to work you need a specific legendary which I do not have.

My highest rank.And that’s pretty much it. However there is a big expansion coming which is right on the horizon. Maybe I’ll give it another whirl when that comes around. Also Alena still plays some Arena games from time to time. I do still love opening new packs with her when she gets them.
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Anna — 9 Months

Anюta. 9 months old.Вот нашей малышке уже и 9 месяцев. Она уже ходит. Еще, конечно, не очень уверенно, но с каждым днём всё больше и лучше.

В последнее время я с детьми по будням часто хожу на Manhattan Beach. Идти туда примерно полторы мили в каждую сторону и занимает это у нас примерно 40 минут. Конечно, немного утомительно, но с другой стороны — это неплохое добавление к физической нагрузке. Ароша проходит такое расстояние без проблем, остановок и нытья.

Должна сказать, что они оба очень любят воду. Арошу невозможно вытащить из океана, хоть он и довольно прохладный. Анюта тоже как может быстро топает к воде и очень любит ходить по ней и шлёпать руками.

Они также хорошо играют в песке. Вообще на пляже весело — там обычно есть наши старые или новые (пляжные) знакомые. Мне можно поболтать, а для детей и компания есть, и дополнительные игрушки.

Brother and sister.Единственный не очень приятный момент, это мытьё под холодным душем. Но выхода у меня нет, потому что они под конец с ног до головы покрыты песком. Анюта плачет всегда (и трясётся от холода), а Ароша через раз. Я думаю, что от всей этой холодной воды они только здоровее будут.

Мы стараемся выходить на пляж пораньше, быть там в 9-9:30 и уходим с песка где-то в 10:30-11.

А вчера мы всем семейством ездили на Coney Island. Ароша очень любит кататься на разных каруселях и колесе обозрения. Всё прошло хорошо, хоть было и жарко. Анюта тоже прокатилась на колесе обозрения и на одних каруселях. Не могу сказать, чтобы это вызвало какой-то особый восторг, но и неудовольствия она тоже не проявила.

А на прошлых выходных мы ездили в зоопарк на Staten Island. Было неплохо. Ароше, конечно, там понравилось больше. Он стал вообще как-то больше замечать разных животных и интересоваться ими. Анюта, которая часто пищит от восторга когда видит собак или зверей на ферме, была к зверям в клетках развнодушна.

Strawberries.А еще неделю назад мы ездили собирать клубнику на ферму. Ароша набрал, наверное, фунтов 5. Он даже есть её на поле особо не хотел, а хотел собирать. Анюта тоже там ползала и пробовала ягоды. Я знала, что у неё после этого обострится диатез (что и случилось, но не в очень сильной форме), но не дать ей пожмякать и попробовать клубнику я не могла. Клубника, кстати, в этом году не очень сладкая, потому что было очень много дождей.

Анюта уже неплохо может пережёвывать пищу. Зуба у неё по-прежнему два, но это её не останавливает. Она пока не особо любит овощи и фрукты, а предпочитает хлебобулочные изделия и мясо. Еще Ароша её как правило угощает мороженым, которое он ест практически каждый день. Она, ясное дело, сьедает немного, но радости испускает на все 100 порций.

Picking strawberries.Вообще дни сейчас длинные и тёплые, так что на улице мы проводим очень много времени – 5-7 часов каждый день. Мне, конечно, тяжеловато это чисто физически выдерживать иногда, но на то оно и лето.

Книжки я Анюте читаю не так часто, как Ароше, но она слушает как я читаю ему, и, думаю, этого достаточно.

Спит она днём два раза — минут 30-40 на утренней прогулке, и часа 2-3 дома. Ночью просыпаетя 1-2 раза, но меня это не напрягает.

Анюта очень общительная, много улыбается и с удовольствием идёт на контакт и с детьми, и со взрослыми. Мнногие малыши на площадке любят её, делятся с ней игрушками и хотят покатать на качелях.

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