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Long Live the Mouse and Keyboard, a Great Way to Control Video Games

By Julio Franco
Nov 7, 2016
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  1. For years, I only played PC games with a mouse and keyboard. For years after that, I played almost entirely with a controller. Now I’m back with the mouse and keyboard, and it’s been an illuminating homecoming. My relationship with the ol’ point-n-click-n-clack, arguably the best way to control PC games, has been complicated. I wasn’t allowed to own any set-top consoles as a kid, so my main gaming outlet was a gaming PC that I built. As a result, I didn’t grow up with Final Fantasy and GoldenEye. I grew up with Unreal and Half-Life. I didn’t play those games with a joystick or a game controller, because, as far as I knew, that wasn’t possible. I played with a mouse and keyboard.

    In the early 2000s, I sold my gaming PC and stopped playing games for a few years. I returned in 2007 and found that a lot had changed. I got an Xbox 360 just in time for Gears of War, Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect. Console controls had gotten much better in the seven years since I first played Halo with an original Xbox controller. I began to voraciously burn through the Xbox 360 library, and for a few years, that’s how I played everything.

    Lately that’s changed. A year or so ago I moved my gaming PC away from the TV and upstairs to my desk. I got a monitor that’s better than that TV. So, I decided to start using a mouse and keyboard again. I’m not really to the point where I obsess over DPI or key resistance or anything like that. I’ve found a pretty standard setup, and I stick with it. It’s still been interesting returning to the mouse and keyboard fold after so many years away. Here’s what I’ve learned.

    Read the complete article.

     
  2. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Maniac Posts: 411   +219

    Gaming is context sensitive.

    I prefer a Mouse and Keyboard for FPS and RTS like Command & Conquer.
    The plethora of keys makes it easier to control very specific functions.
    The cursor and pointers have an infinite amount of movement which controllers can't capture.


    However, - it's obvious you'd want a controller for Mortal Kombat or fighting games in general.

    Then I switch to my Saitek HOTAS system for playing flight simulators which I'd never want to use a controller or mouse/keyboard for.
     
    Reehahs, SantistaUSA and Lionvibez like this.
  3. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 707   +181

    I concur
     
    Bigtruckseries likes this.
  4. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,631   +432

    This article was painful to read.
     
    TekGun likes this.
  5. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Guru Posts: 198   +272

    Good article. Some genres do play better on controllers (eg, "beat-em-ups", racing games (though better still on a steering wheel), platformers, etc). But there's no question about the turn speed of a mouse for FPS, or how badly many cross-platform games have been nerfed to make controllers work.

    A 180 degree turn in many FPS's typically takes 0.6-1.0s with controller "thumb scrolling" vs a 0.2-0.3s mouse "wrist flick" (which is also the speed you'd turn your head if startled by a noise behind you). That makes a huge difference in the "feel" of a FPS game, not just in competitive MP but single-player too. Some controller turns are so slow it can feel more like driving a remote controlled tank than some super-hero / augmented soldier. Even when you can adjust the controller's turn speed, it often moves the "centre" of the range but the actual "width" of the range itself still remains narrower than K&M. It's basic human physiology that the wrist has more precise fine motor control than the thumbs (hence the need for "dead zones" and auto-aim cheat mode).

    Also well said in calling out how cr*p and lazy modern games K&M support really is - both the input code itself (non-rebindable keys / flaky mouse acceleration often caused by trying to pass mouse input through a "controller simulator") and the knock-on "lowest common denominator" effect that has on UI design, especially RPG's. Eg, Neverwinter Nights 36x quickslots (F1-F12 plus CTRL & Shift modifiers) is impossible to even begin to mimic on a controller hence the dumbing down of modern cross-platform RPG UI's. Dragon Age Orgins (40x quickslots) was probably the last decent cross-platform AAA RPG to be properly optimised for a keyb & mouse when they could (but didn't) "cheap out" on "platform parity". And don't get me started on how badly nerfed the spell count in RPG's has become, a large chunk of which involves controllers and 10ft UI "casual audiences".

    It's often hugely underestimated how much FPS game design has changed too. Controllers = many fast successive turns typical of "old school" shooters are problematic, so "speed is defense" gameplay has largely been replaced with a much slower paced "cover based" system. Level design is now often focussed around fewer but more bullet spongy enemies (reduces turns per 10s), reducing the "arc" from which enemies attack, fewer enemies on-screen at any one time (even modern Doom has far fewer than the 30-50 or so in same room of Doom 1-2, Heretic or Hexen in some levels). Weapon wheels often need to pause / slo-mo down the game during weapon selection, whilst rapid 1-0 / F1-12 keys do not, etc.

    The ultimate litmus test is playing old school shooters designed purely for K&M, with a controller via something like XPadder. Gameplay is awful not just because there is no auto-aim but also because the gameplay hasn't been "curated" for controllers. In short - controllers often work on modern FPS's only because the gunplay has been nerfed down for controllers. Personally, I really tried to make the controller work and gave it more than a fair chance over several months, but for virtually everything except racing & platformers, the K&M won every time for me, and only part of that is due to pre-habituation.
     
  6. Duckeenie

    Duckeenie TS Booster Posts: 80   +61

    Sadly I always fancied myself as a bit of a hipster but looking at the picture above it's clear that I definitely fall nearer the middle ground. :D
     
  7. kgh00007

    kgh00007 TS Rookie

    What keyboard is that in the title picture, it looks pretty cool!
     
  8. mcborge

    mcborge TS Maniac Posts: 210   +119

    I cant live without a good mouse and keyboard combo for gaming. I have an 360 controller which gets some use and a steam controller that gets no use at all. The mouse and keyboard will always be superior.
     
  9. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,673   +778

    And as also said, and not nearly enough, "don't fix what ain't broken"!!!!
     
    ScubaRhys likes this.
  10. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Addict Posts: 226   +85

    TL;DR

    (Sorry but I couldn't help it ^_^).
     
  11. Humza

    Humza TS Member

    Great read. I've recently bought a ps4 controller for my pc, so its click and clack when its bf1 and coh time and [insert controller sounds here] when its Forza time.
     
  12. fktech

    fktech TS Booster Posts: 118   +36

    Wish I could plug a game controller into my computer...
     
  13. Wendy Oltman

    Wendy Oltman TS Booster Posts: 128   +16

    Nice informative article to read.
     
  14. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,608   +290

    You can, there is software for Sony controllers, and I think Xbox too, at least the wired ones.
     
  15. Capaill

    Capaill TS Addict Posts: 291   +92

    I never use a keyboard for gaming - I've been using a Logitech G13 for years and cannot go back to a keyboard. I do have to spend about 10 minutes when I first install a game in deciding where to map the keys but I have many standard locations so most games' controls feel familiar to me. It fits better on the desk along with a mouse - it just feels more ergonomic having my arms closer together. It's also raised at an angle so it doesn't hurt my wrist at all but a normal keyboard can do. And it has a built-in display which is useful when used with MSI Afterburner. If the G13 ever breaks, I'll buy another one immediately.
    I keep a Logitech K360 wireless keyboard nearby for when I need to do non-gaming tasks on the PC.
     
  16. mannequinsky

    mannequinsky TS Rookie

    One word: Serfpad.
     
  17. John Brantley

    John Brantley TS Rookie

    I bit of a different perspective. I developed severe nerve damage in my right (dominant) arm, an unfortunate side effect of cancer treatment. It's called radiation induced brachial plexopathy. This made playing Skyrim a real pain, and I mean that literally. Couldn't control a mouse with my right hand anymore. Tried a controller. but that didn't work either. I am now using a mouse with my left hand; there are a few ambidextrous gaming mice out there. I use a Logitech. There are a few things I need the keyboard for, and for those I mostly use my left hand as well; my right hand has little fine control. This setup works, but Is far from perfect. As I say, these days, I am all about perspective. The doctors say "no sign of disease" and that is what's important. And I am glad that I can pay games again.
     
    mcborge likes this.
  18. mcborge

    mcborge TS Maniac Posts: 210   +119

    Although I lost my wife to cancer I always take comfort in hearing other people have managed to beat it... Good luck to you sir.
     
  19. MarkHughes

    MarkHughes TS Booster Posts: 71   +24

    Same here, The G13 is great and when mine did eventually break I did go and get another. After using them for 4 or 5 years now I find it hard to understand why everyone doesn't have something similar. I'm not even that much of a gamer.
     
  20. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 1,904   +529

    Very cringe worthy :D
     
  21. batsdude

    batsdude TS Member Posts: 52   +16

    NOT on a laptop they're not!!! trying to use a kepad and mouse on a laptop is just plain crazy.
     

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