Posted by: Makakai | November 2, 2009

To Keybind or Not to Keybind

A while ago a blog group member posted a thread on keybinding and clicking. I intended to respond to the thread, but when I looked at the date it was almost a day old and I figured folks would get more mileage out of a full post than they would out of a couple lines of comment. So here is my take on the issue, and I’m going to be a total computer geek and give some tips, anecdotal info, and general examples…First, research on Mouse-based Movement Time indicates that distance between points and the size of the target increases movement time, so clicking a “target”, then moving to the button, then clicking the “button” increases your reaction time. Less reaction time means better dps/healing. So in this respect clicking is lolbad… HOWEVER, if distance between a sequence of mouse clicks is short, then your movement time is short. Therefore, mods like Bartender and Dominos/Bongo that allow you to group all of your “buttons” in a “small” area prevent those large movement times that I just mentioned.

Furthermore, this holds true for hand movements across your keyboard. For instance the distance your hand has to move from the 1 button to the = button is a similar increase in reaction time. So technically the default keyboard bindings are lolbad. Fortunately, many of the commenters to the original thread demonstrated that folks have solved this problem of key bindings by concentrating them at the 1-4 buttons and by using shift, ctrl, and alt.

That’s a start for keybindings, but I’ve added to this by including R,T,F,G,C, and V. Now I’ve effectively added 18 more buttons through changing my default bindings for the 7 thru = buttons. This was difficult to adjust to as a noob MMO player that cluelessly started with the default bindgings while leveling up. I did this by slowly changing a couple (1 or 2) each week until I was comfortable with them then changing another couple. This also allowed me to retain the standard WASD movement AND the Q and E strafe buttons (folks that rebind Q and E are only hurting themselves but thats a whole different discussion).

Now once you have an action button solution you still have to target the boss, add, or player to dps or heal. This can be solved by co-locating your unit frames near your action buttons and/or keep them grouped closely together to reduce mouse movement. So the use of compact raid frames (e.g., grid/vuhdo/healbot) or moving your player and target unit frames close to your action buttons can reduce movement time and hence reaction time. Furthermore, simple macros for your spells that use the [target=mouseover] option allows you to heal a raid or party without losing your target and hence reduce moving your mouse around the screen if you are a keybinder.

Side note – Yes, I’ve got my education in this stuff *blush*.

TL;DR: Technically both clicking and using the default keybindings are lolbad. However, there are mods for clickers and alternative keybindings with unit frame mods/changes that can make either option competitive. So make which ever choice you are comfortable with!


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