MMOrons

 By Shamus Nov 11, 2009 107 comments

As I mentioned before, I’m shopping for a new MMO playground for when the story of Star on Chest comes to an end.

First up was Lord of the Rings Online. I finished the four-hour download, installed the thing, and got it all set up. And then I discovered that it is impossible to toggle mouse look. If you want to turn with the mouse, you must hold down the right mouse button while doing so.

Is that even possible? It can’t be. I checked the forums and found an argument from 2008 that flowed like this:

Person A: I really need mouselook. My hand is cramping from holding down the RMB.

Person B: Your hand is feeble.

Person C: Why don’t you just steer with the keyboard? You’re stupid for requesting this.

Person D: Stop saying this game is imperfect!

Look, when I play a game, my mouse governs my eyes. I expect to be able to sweep them from side to side at will. I am not a turret or a forklift, and I do not want to “steer” my eyes. Having to hold down the right mouse button ALL THE TIME in order to maintain this connection between mouse movement and what I see is a deal breaker. This is not some exotic feature, never before heard of in this history of games. This is the natural way of things. It’s how I navigated games in 1995. It’s how I navigated in Borderlands, yesterday. WoW had it. Champions Online had it. Guild Wars had it. Fallen Earth had it. Hellgate: London had it. City of Heroes had it.

This is very reason games have auto-run: Because holding down a button all the time is bad for your wrists and hands. In any event, I am not interested in overcoming a decade and a half of experience, comfort, and muscle memory in order to accommodate some bonehead’s crude, atavistic interface.

So… let’s try Age of Conan?

I go to sign up for the free trial. It says the username is taken. Wow. Do I already have a Funcom account? I do. Ah right. Now I remember: I played Anarchy Online for about twenty minutes some ages ago, and the two games share a common database. Cool. That saves me the hassle of creating an account.

Only… it doesn’t give me the option for the free trial. Apparently this is only for completely new users, and if you’ve played Anarchy Online then you can’t have a free trial of Age of Conan? Ubuhwhat?

Fine. I’m thinking of just buying the game outright. It’s only $20. Even if it doesn’t work for a Let’s Play, I might be able to wring a comic or two out of the thing. But before I click the thing I see the fine print:

In order to activate a new game on an existing account, you must verify your contact information.

Hmm. Busywork. Fine. You want to confirm my e-mail or…

In order to verify your account, you must have an SMS enabled phone and be able to-

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You guys want my PHONE NUMBER?!?

No. No no. Nononono. My phone number is a treasure I guard carefully. For the last ten years I have had an unlisted landline number, but I trusted too many companies with that sequence of digits and now the thing rings twice daily with spam calls. I keep the landline for business reasons, but my personal private non-public secret mobile phone number is simply not on the table.

I’m asking if I can have one of your free samples at the deli, and you’re telling me we gotta have rough unprotected sex first.

Why do you need my phone? Why not ask for a credit card? (If you want to confirm adulthood.) Or just my email? (To confirm my contact info.)

The other option is to run to the store and buy a boxed copy. I’m sure big-box stores won’t have it, and I’m sure Gamestop will be selling it for launch-day prices.

But.. the other, other option is to just create a brand-new account. Which works perfectly and without asking for money or attempting to invade my privacy. It takes about two minutes, and I’m in business. I occurs to me that if I was a [nationality] gold farmer, this system would not impede my efforts in the slightest.

I download the client. It takes six hours. Then we’re in:

Let’s see… set up the graphics. Log in. Watch the intro movie. Set up my key bindings…

There is no way to turn on auto mouselook.

I… I really feel an intense level of rage right now. I feel the need to kill a human being with my bare hands. I can’t believe that after all this time, it turns out Jack Thompson was right.

Google leads me to a thread where we learn that the game once had mouselook, but last year they removed it without explanation.

I am speechless.

* * *

Later: This tale has a happy ending, sort of. With the help of this program I was able to make the middle mouse button toggle the state of the right mouse button. So if I click MMB, it begins holding down RMB until such time as I click the MMB again. This means both games are now open to me.

Still… leaving out mouselook? In this day and age? Not even leaving it as a checkbox, disabled by default. But simply not having it at all. This feature is so trivial and has such an impact on usability. I need someone to give me a justification for the thinking behind this. Someone with access to the codebase. No, better yet: If you have access to the source code, then here is what you need to do:

1) Go to the code repository and check out mouse.cpp.
2) Add the four lines of code that I know it will take to turn this into a toggle. Just stick the option in the ini file where it can, at need, be turned on by civilized people who know what they’re doing. Don’t worry about adding it to the interface. Desperate times, and all.
3) Submit that bitch to go out with the next patch.
4) No, don’t ask your boss. Don’t bring this up in a meeting. Don’t submit this for review by a committee. Don’t run this by your obviously deficient QA department. Just suck it up and do it. Your worth as a software engineer and a human being is riding on your ability to make this right.

Alternatively: Quit your job as a programmer and find honest employment in some other field of work.

Anyway, I’m not sure which game will get my attention just yet. I’ve played about an hour of each and this could go either way. We’ll see which one strikes my funny bone first.

A Hundred!7107 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


1 2

  1. Zerotime says:

    The Thief series made you hold down the shift key for hours at a time, and those were some pretty good games.

  2. Mark says:

    If I had to make a completely wild guess, I would say that that the hold-to-mouselook thing is as much a convention for MMOs as mouselook-by-default is for FPSen.

  3. [d20]thegrinner says:

    I started replaying Oblivion and stopped because I completely forgot about autorun… Shamus, my fingers thank you with what little strength they have left in them.

  4. Teatime says:

    Ouch. For what it’s worth DDO has the toggle. By default holding down the left mouse button then switches back to the free pointer, which leaves you in the curious situation of having nothing left to click with… Doubtless there are simple custom setups that make it workable, like reversing the left/right MB functionality.

  5. Sean M says:

    The only MMOs that I’ve ever played for any length of time which allow for you to toggle on mouselook are Asheron’s Call 2 and Dungeons and Dragons Online. Which admittedly does make it rather curious that LOTRO doesn’t have it, since those were both earlier Turbine games.

    By the way, I don’t see what a lack of mouselook has to do with QA, deficient or not. 0.o It really isn’t their purview, at least in my experience (and since I worked on LOTROQA for a couple of months, I have some experience with how Turbine’s QA department works, circa two years ago. ;) ).

    Also, Age of Conan’s trial system sucks, at least the way you report it. I’m glad that I have no interest in that game, because that just sounds like more hassle than it’s worth.

    Out of curiousity, how do you play with Mouselook in games like LOTRO with a lot (and I mean a lot) of skills to press? The left hand can only comfortably reach 1-6 or 1-7, so that’s maybe 21 skills that you could use with various modifiers, comfortably speaking. And, depending on your class, that’s not really enough. Heck, it could be a pain in DDO, which is a game that’s practically built around Mouselook. Just wondering. :)

  6. Ross says:

    As a loyal player of LOTRO since beta, I can offer a touch of insight.

    No, it’s not perfect…

    The problem is that the mouse is used for two different things. You can either be using mouselook, or you could use your mouse for “point at this and select it”. If you have mouselook on, it turns off the selection ability.

    This doesn’t seem like a huge problem on the surface, particularly at low-level play. However, you will eventually fill up 5 taskbars with skills and usable items, very few of which are trivial. Taskbar 1 can be accessed with the 1 through = keys if you prefer. Taskbar 2 requires Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+=. Taskbar 3 is Shift+1… Taskbar 4 is Alt+1… I don’t even have a clue about Taskbar 5 because I’m not even sure I got Taskbars 2, 3, and 4 correct. So I use my mouse to point at the skill I want to use and click it. Which means no mouselook.

    But here’s another option, archaic though it may be…the Numpad can also be used to move your camera as you’re running around.

    While I love mouselook, I’m ok with not using it in LOTRO simply because I can’t remember all the keyboard shortcuts for the skills.

    This could all be fixed with a keyboard shortcut for “toggle mouselook”. They chose to go with a mouse-button shortcut instead. I will look through the control mappings and make sure it’s not buried in there somewhere.

    Also…one additional comment to increase the size of this book…there’s an expansion coming in December that’s going to change several of the systems (somewhat improved combat, mounts are getting revamped, in addition to content additions). You may want to wait on LOTRO until after that launches. Date hasn’t been announced, just sometime in December. My guess would be around the 15th.

  7. Zeta Kai says:

    @ Zerotime: My instinct upon reading your post is to ask “So?”

    Did holding the shift key down for hours on end make it a good game? I’m gonna go out on a limb on this one & say “No, it did not”. In fact, I think that I could make a reasonable arguement that the Thief series was good despite such a sadistic control scheme. It amazes me that, in this day & age, with so much money being thrown at game developers to crank out the next megahit series, there is still so little playtesting done to route out such obvious & obnoxious flaws in games.

    • Shamus says:

      I generally exit mouselook if I need to use the toolbars, then re-enable it when I begin walking again. Auto-mouselook becomes even more crucial in games with lots of travel time. (Which is apparently true of LOTRO?)

      In any case, I avoid classes where I need 5 full toolbars of icons just to get through the day. I want to see what’s going on in the world, not stare at a control panel fit for the space shuttle. One of the things I LOVED about Champs was that the action gameplay led to less babysitting of cooldowns and the like.

  8. Sean M says:

    Re: Ross. It’s actually set to come out the first.

  9. Ross says:

    Re: Sean. Ah, so it is. For the US. I happen to play on European servers, so generally add 3-7 days after the US gets it.

    I was basing my guess on when they generally release their patches, even though this is an expansion.

    Also…no…not buried anywhere in the option menus. Didn’t think it was, but needed to check.

  10. Ross says:

    Re: Shamus. Long travel times…depends on your definition. If your talking about local travel between quests, it can take a few minutes on foot. Foot travel is pretty slow. At 35 you can buy a horse to speed things up.

    However, there is a public transportation system to help speed up travel time between towns, provided you’ve found both ends of the route on foot first.

  11. CrushU says:

    Ross: That would be the reason I won’t play WoW or LOTRO.

    Too many friggin buttons to click on. EQ2 was starting to get ridiculous around level 35 with way too many buttons to click on.

    Guild Wars did it right. You don’t need tons of skills, you need to pick the right EIGHT.

    DDO, I’ve played and do recommend, and I’m a DM of 3.5e, and despise 4E (wtf, wizards cast Magic Missile all day?!) It has an autolook toggle, as mentioned. When you bring up your inventory, or really, basically anything with options to click on, the mouselook turns off automatically. And if you close it, mouselook comes back. And if for some reason that doesn’t work, there’s a keyboard shortcut (k by default) to force it to toggle. Works BRILLIANTLY. So far I’ve only made it to level 8 on a Rogue (fun stuff, yay sneak attacks) but I’ve only got two bars of skills, half of them I use out of battle so they’re not set to hotkeys.

    Really, give DDO a try. There are some jarring differences, but thankfully the wiki has an actual list of all the differences between DDO and D&D3.5E. Druids aren’t in DDO. Yet. ;)

  12. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Now this got me thinking… I actually can’t remember how Lineage 2 handled this but I have this vague idea that I also clicked something to be able to swing the camera around. I think the developers assume that this is more important for fast paced games like shooters or martial arts games, I can see how the opposite (i.e: holding down a button to get the cursor visible and disable mouselook) would be a pain for people who rely greatly on cursor clicking stuff in their interface. Though of course giving the user an option to toggle a feature is always the best option.

    The “four lines of code” argument reminds me about the UFO: Extraterrestrials game. I admit to grabbing it purely because I’ve noticed the title, something that I assume the developer was hoping for, shame on me, really. For those who don’t know that game claims to bring back the “original” UFO/X-Com feel with turn based gameplay, old style UFO battles, R&D etc. but is horribly, horribly broken with less functionality than the original Enemy Unknown/UFO Defense. Putting aside the idiotic AI, lack of tactical map, stability problem and gameplay issues there aren’t even options for toggling the speed of veeeeery sloooow troops, alien and projectile movement, something that the 90s game offered aplenty. Soon after I started it I dropped the title in disgust. Well guess what, turns out that fans of the series, and by no means some programming prodigies, were capable of adding those and many other options and even integrate them into the game’s interface with minimal effort. Soon there were all sorts of mods, on in this case more like “unofficial patches” for the title and with a little effort the game was actually playable.

  13. The Gneech says:

    Wow, what a case of “different strokes” (so to speak). I hate mouselook and accidentally right-clicking on my mouse in LotRO annoys the heck out of me because then I have to re-center my view. If I could remove that from my mouse and just go with the number keypad, I would happily do so.

    To you it’s a bug, to me it’s a feature. :)

    -The Gneech

  14. Ben says:

    I’d suggest AoC… I don’t know anything about it but LOTRO is too much of a WoW clone from what I could tell after my own demo of it, and I think you’ve played WoW before.

    BTW you people writing discertations on UI and QA and crap should just start your own blogs where your giant walls of text that no one is going to read can be somewhere else… or learn to edit yourselves.

  15. Zerotime says:

    Zeta Kai: On the internet, sarcasm is extremely common.

  16. Varil says:

    Sarcasm?! NEVER.

    Also : the ability to turn mouselook on/off with a button press is fine…as a bloody TOGGLE. I tried out LotRO and hated the way the camera worked. Granted, I probably would have continued for a bit, but I blue-screen crashed. Later DDO did the same. I think Turbine does something my system doesn’t like, so I swore off Turbine games altogether. Unfortunate, but neither one made me go “oh, awesome” enough to trouble shoot the problem.

  17. Sheer_FALACY says:

    I didn’t realize WOW had this is a toggle. It’s not something I’d ever use – it’s just easier to use the right mouse button. I suppose the game having the toggle wouldn’t affect me, but this does seem like an odd complaint.

    Them making it so much harder to add it to an old account than to just make a new account seems very dumb, though.

  18. Mr. Son says:

    Ah, this post and discussion thread reminds me of the reason I can’t keep myself playing Morrowind on the PC, even though I loved it on the console and keep getting periodic withdrawal pains.

    My view in PC Morrowind is controlled by the mouse. Fine, lovely. BUT! So are my feet. I want to run straight and look side to side as I head down the trail, searching for monsters waiting to ambush me from behind a rock*. Easy on the XBox with one stick for movement, and one for camera view. On the PC? I turn to look left, and I turn and WALK left. So annoying!

    *Morrowind always made me a tad paranoid about ambushes. Maybe it was the dramatic music. Maybe it was the dark, eerie landscape. Or maybe it was the %^#& cliff racers every three inches. Who knows.

    So… Yeah. *Unhijacks the thread and slinks away*

  19. lplimac says:

    Yes LotRO does have it’s faults, but it can still be fun. I’ve been active since Alpha 2 and remember when some of the bridges didn’t work when riding from place to place :) If you settle on Gladden and are looking for a Kinship post here and I can hook you up with the one I’m in. It’s a mid-sized, relaxed kinship that’s more interested in having fun, not a full blown raid kinship.

    As for mouse look… never used it my self. Pity me ;)

  20. Dev Null says:

    My interface gripe with DDO is different; the ESC key does not automatically exit you from all windows, just some of them, some of the time.

    What? Seriously? ESC to close windows has been a staple since there were windows in games. And to do it _some_ of the time but not all of the time is even more annoying than not doing it at all. Fine; I’m off to the custom control configuration to fix this travesty…

    “Click on the control you would like to bind a new key for”

    click.

    “Now, click the key you would like to bind to this control… CLICK ESC TO CANCEL THE REBINDING AND LEAVE THE CONTROL UNCHANGED.”

    Umguhwhat?! The only key I cannot bind to a control is the ESC key. *sigh*

    As an aside, I tried the free trial for LOTRO, and it seemed like a good enough game, but it was severely _hampered_ by being set in Tolkiens universe. If I’d been playing a new game in a new universe I’d have been happy enough whiling a few hours away at the beginning in Wombleville killing the inevitable rats in the basement of the pub. But its not Wombleville, its Hobbiton. I know it like the back of my hand. I don’t want to sit around here stomping vermin, once I’ve visited Bag End and the Party Tree, I want to go see what Moria looks like. And Isenguard. And Rohan. And I know how to get to those places, more-or-less, so blow Hobbiton, I’m outta here.

    (Hits the road whistling only only to be ground into paste by the first passing orc, because level 1 characters have no business being anywhere near anywhere interesting.)

    Basically, I knew the world too well, and so true exploration was not a game cookie they could use to keep me adventuring somewhere anymore. Instead, tourism of the known led me repeatedly and inexorably to my death. Here’s a free ticket to France; we’ve placed snipers at Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower who have instructions to shoot you on sight.

  21. lebkin says:

    This makes me feel much better. I have tried several MMOs, and always found the “hold to look” convention irritating. Like Shamus, I liked controlling my character like a real person. My MMO loving brother-in-law always found it an odd thing to complain about, since most MMO’s did this method. Glad to know I am not alone with this complaint.

  22. Rob Conley says:

    I never got the point of Mouselook. For MMORPGs I just make the 7 and 9 key on my numpad turn me. 4 and 6 are for shifting left and right. 8 and 5 are for forward and back. The 0 key for jumping and the * key for toggling autorun and the / key for auto follow (if it has it)

    Space become target nearest enemy used by my left thumb, my fingers are on the numbers. My thumb is used to hold down shift, ctrl, and alt when needed as well. My pinkie is used for tab if I need to cycle through enemies.

    I suppose I could figure out how to target glowies or resources but never bothered as rarely I need to do that in combat.

  23. Mr. Snugglesworth says:

    I suggest Guild Wars.

    I guess I should have suggested it last post about this, but alas.

  24. Jock says:

    Maybe I’m doing it wrong (quite likely, I’m kinda n00bish when it comes to MMOs), maybe it’s a side effect of playing mainly on my laptop, but I rarely use my mouse for anything other than targeting and selecting rarely used options. Since I play it with the camera in 3rd person position I get peripheral vision for free, and the enemies are almost always in front of me. Pretty much the only time I move the camera around is if I’ve just gotten a new bit of armor and I want to see how it looks (like I said, N00B!) Are you playing in 1st person mode? I could totally understand the need for mouselook in that situation

  25. Garfunkiel says:

    @ Rob:

    Most laptops are without real number pads. Mouselook is a much better option than Fn+J, Fn+K, etc. for moving around.

  26. Glazius says:

    So, uh, if you feel like coming back to City of Heroes, you can set up both on-demand and toggled mouselook in the control options.

    (or bind some keys to +mouselook and ++mouselook if you’re feelin’ crazy)

  27. MelTorefas says:

    Shamus, as a long time WoW player I didn’t even know they HAD an auto mouselook feature! I like manually setting my view field holding down the rmb, and then letting go and leaving it there, to be adjusted as needed. I always play fairly zoomed out from my character though, so I can see what’s going on around me.

    That being said, its completely irrelevant what style *I* like or any one person likes… not having something like this be an *option* is indescribably poor-natured of them.

  28. Nelson says:

    I think your problem is people who want mouselook all the time in MMOs probably drink the blood of elf children. That, and they all want “invert Y axis” too like they’re playing some damn flight sim. OK, I kid, and I really like the idea of playing an MMO as a siteseer. And for that, of course mouselook is what you want. Absolutely no reason to not have it as a UI option.

    It seems particularly well suited for LotRO: that game is all about atmosphere (and really gay hats). I spent many happy hours walking around Weathertop enjoying the view, surprising the game doesn’t support that better.

  29. Vladius says:

    “If we allow players to look around, then they won’t spend as much time playing the game, and we will lose money. This is bad.”

    As for the “create a new account, but not that one” problem, it’s one of the reasons I really don’t like Battlefield 2, classic as it is. It wouldn’t let me use either of my existing EA accounts. I guess they just assumed that the first EA game that you would buy and play would be in lockstep with the chronological order of when they were released. Then, after those problems, I had to register the expansion packs. For whatever reason, only one of them worked, after the rigorous process of binding them to your vanilla game like some unruly demon. At least I got it for pretty cheap. Maybe “frustration” was a prototype model of DRM.

  30. Dys says:

    I just logged wow to check, I’ve played it so damn long I barely even remember the controls, consciously.
    Yea, rbm moves the camera around… seems perfectly natural to me. I suspect this may fall into the same category as ‘invert mouselook’, which I do believe has been mentioned here before :)

    Of course, options are never a bad thing. Power to the people!

    And oh, ye. If I go for a five minute run in WoW I hit autorun and go get a drink. Half the time I come back to find myself dead, but hey.

  31. Spider Dave says:

    Aside: I can’t help but imagine the titles of these MMO related thread as being said by the UT announcer.
    “m-m-m-MORONS”

  32. Randy Johnson says:

    @Shamus Actually Shamus, I have ALWAYS used the hold right mouse button to look around feature. I actually found Champs toggle to be annoying, I much prefer holding the button to control my character and being able to quickly release it and select something over having to use my left hand, which is furiously pressing buttons. I just ground to lvl 40 in WoW holding the right mouse button, and it didn’t bother me a lick.

  33. Neil Polenske says:

    Not to sound too n00b, (although my gamertag IS Ubern00b :P) but as someone who has and never will set foot in an MMO, it seems the best solution would be to use the left mouse button as a toggle betwixt lookin ‘n clickin.

    Also: In reply to the Theif comments, I found out through TweakGuides that you can reverse the run/walk situation with a lil finegaling of certain files in the game. Mayhaps the toggling issue can also be resolved thusly. Certainly seams like an optimal route to go seeing as how I was able to do it without any real hassle and I’m mad computer retarded.

  34. Nick says:

    To me, mouselook just isn’t something you need in MMO’s. FPS’s, sure. Don’t get me started about the unholy cross between the two, which is Planetside.

    The issue I had with DDO, though, is that it doesn’t have “camera rotate” on left click and “character AND camera rotate” on right click. Sometimes I want to look around without turning the character, game…

    BTW, shamus, what’s YOUR opinion on invert aim?

  35. This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve read. I haven’t played an MMO since Ultima Online Third Dawn (or whatever the third year update was called), but I also haven’t experienced a game where they make you hold down a mouse button for mouselook since Hexen II.

    Hexen II and Quake get a free pass on the issue because they were in the first generation of games where it was possible to have mouselook. But in a post-Half Life world (by 11 YEARS!!!) there is no excuse to do mouselook that way.

    I suspect that an awful lot of MMO programmers/designers don’t play non-MMO games on their PCs. In my Game Design class (the one I quit in disgust at the shenanigans of the professor) I was the only one who was a regular PC gamer, other than a couple of guys who played Final Fantasy XI. We made a PC game last semester and they’re working on another this semester. But they’re all (and I say this affectionately) consoletards. They didn’t even know who John Carmack and John Romero were.

    I would bet that a lot of people working on MMO games (and if the Modern Warfare 2 no-dedicated-server controversy is any indication, this phenomenon is spreading to other genres) only use PCs for MMOs, and maybe a few casual games, and use consoles for everything else.

    Now this is understandable if your favorite genres are only on consoles. The PC has a grand total of four big-budget Japanese-style RPGs ever: Anachronox, Septerra Core, andports of FF7 and FF8. Also, very few Nintendo games unless you’re emulating Smash Bros. Brawl on your laptop in the school cafeteria *cough*. But there are a wider selection of titles with a much broader range of genres on the PC than all consoles put together, many of which are still for sale or easily obtainable via Ebay or “abandonware” (like piracy but semi-ethical because in theory abandonware sites only put up games that are unavailable by any other means).

    But how can MMO developers make this kind of horrific rookie mistake that I, as a rookie, wouldn’t consider making? They just must not be PC gamers.

    EDIT: By the way, I haven’t played a ton of games where you’d need to toggle mouselook, but I have played Arx Fatalis and a few others. If it’s a game where the camera angle changes and it’s on the PC, mouselook is the standard. There’s no excuse for screwing with a decade of muscle memory when it comes to LOOKING AROUND IN A GAME ENVIRONMENT.

    I can’t play most FPSs on consoles* because the controls for looking around are too alien. I’ve tried. Sounds like I’ll be skipping certain MMOs for exactly the same reason.

    *I got used to Goldeneye controls back in the day so actually Goldeneye and Perfect Dark are no problem. Unfortunately Halo and every shooter loosely based on Halo controls is impossible for me to play.

    • Shamus says:

      Nick: I’m an inverted player. (Forward is down for me.)

      It was a coin flip. I could have gone either way at the start, but the longer you commit to one, the harder it is to change. I wish I could go back and tell myself to go for non-inverted controls, as then I could always use the default settings and I wouldn’t have to put up with bad ports that confuse the mouse-inversion feature.

  36. SteveDJ says:

    I, too, have never played any of the MMOs or FPSs. So maybe this suggestion has no merit?

    But, could you satisfy your needs by making changes in the Mouse control panel?

    I’m not too sure about the generic control panel that comes with windows, but if you get Microsoft’s IntelliPoint software/control-panel, it has options for customizing each button’s behavior – and you can even customize differently for individual applications. And I think that it works with any mouse, not just Microsoft ones (but I make no promises here).

    At the very least, I think there is some sort of click-lock feature that might work (even in the generic CP)…?

  37. RTBones says:

    @Shamus: Have you tried playing using the 3rd person perspective? I hadnt really thought about it this way, but you do get peripheral vision sort of gratis vice playing 1st person and moving your “head”. I’ve never used mouse look, as I always play using 3rd person perspective. Might save wear and tear on the hands, and let you enjoy a game you might otherwise give up on.

  38. Andrew B says:

    If you don’t want a five bar splurge of skill icons, then go for the warden in LOTRO. It’s (as far as I know anyway) fairly unique play style for MMOs and you only need about 1 and a half skill bars. It also looks super cool. (It’s allegedly based on the Elven wardens of Lothlorien, but it’s clearly based on 300 too.)

  39. LintMan says:

    Manager1: “We’re getting a lot of tech support requests from people saying they can look around in the game but the mouse disappeared and they can’t press on screen buttons, etc anymore.”

    Exec1: “What?”

    Manager2: “Ah, they’re toggling mouse look and aren’t realizing it”.

    Manager1: “Exactly. We need to make sure that the user understan-”

    Exec2: “What’s mouse look?”

    Manager2: “Well, it lets the user look around in the game by moving the mouse.”

    Exec1: “Don’t we always have that?”

    Manager1: “Well this optionally lets you do without holding the mouse button down. We just need to make it clear to the use-”

    Exec2: “So this whole problem is about whether the user has to press the button or not? What, are their hands too feeble or something?”

    Exec1: “Yeah, really. Just get rid of it.”

    Manager2: “Disable it? Really? Are you sure?”

    Exec1: “Yeah. What do we need it for?”

    Manager1: “Well, all the first person shooter ga-”

    Exec2: “We’re NOT making a first person shooter! Just get rid of it!”

    Manager2: “Alright…”

  40. Aufero says:

    Holding RMB to mouselook has been the default setup in MMO UIs for almost a decade now, so apparently designers are starting to assume everyone plays that way.

    If this bothers you, (and I can see why it would, I hate having to alter my normal control scheme for a new game) stay far away from Aion. The Aion interface pretends to give you several options for mouselook, all of which turn out to be hilariously broken. It’s a constant annoyance in a game I otherwise enjoy.

  41. The Plaid Mentat says:

    A quick suggestion on hacking control schemes: I often use AutoHotKey to remap key/mouse bindings to a more comfortable setup or to my game pad (great for games that don’t support a game pad, but play great with one, like Guild Wars). It’s not for the casual gamer (it’s a scripting language, so there’s programming involved), but the basic stuff is pretty trivial. Also, once you figure out what you like, it’s usually easy to pull the template from the last game you played and adapt it.

    Just a thought if you’re looking for something a little more than X-Mouse.

  42. someguy says:

    Again, Twentysided made me pick up a (new) game. Which is AoC. So far, aching hands aside*, I think I will prolong the Trial which runs out on Monday. (This, Shamus, is a hint;)

    *I’m doing it all wrong when I assign A & D to strafe, I assume? Not to mention the, yes, RMB-issue…

  43. MichaelG says:

    Where in the WoW UI can you turn on auto-mouse-look? I looked through the control panel and didn’t see anything like that.

    I’m used to auto-mouse from old FPS games like Half-Life, but I don’t think I’d like switching it on and off to hit controls. So I’d like to try it.

  44. Ell Jay says:

    Odd… I don’t think I’ve had a mouse with a middle button since 1995.

  45. Mark says:

    Shamus, I strongly recommend that you look into DDO. Not only does it have mouselook natively (as someone already mentioned), but just the level of input customization is astounding. They start off with a few input schemes their users are already familiar with (FPS vs steering-with-keys-madness). You can toggle mouselook with a keystroke or hold a button to en/disable it temporarily. They have a bind point for every slot on all 20 toolbars. You have the option to use the same button for “attack” and “interact” or different buttons. And of course, there’s autorun.

    The UI is decent. It’s certainly not as flexible as WoW, but it’s serviceable. The icing on the cake is being able to choose the color of your d20, which (optionally) displays on the screen when you attack.

    Ignoring the cumbersomeness of the d20 System (which is easy to do because the adaptation of that system to an MMO is actually quite elegant), the game is very polished and fun. I recommend that you relax your “hat for d02 [in video games]” long enough to play through the beginning area, Korthos Island. You’ll love it or your money back!

  46. Nick says:

    Nowadays, clicking in on the scroll wheel is considered mouse button 3 by almost everything.

  47. Sheer_FALACY says:

    “Middle mouse button” these days means the scroll wheel, which, in addition to scrolling, may be used as a button on most mice.

    And right click to mouse look is used on Dragon Age, too. It even lets you press both mouse buttons at the same time to go forward, just like WOW does.

    Using the keyboard to turn in an MMO will make people mock you. It’s slower than mouse turning can be and less precise. Using the numpad is even worse, even on a computer that has one, because it means either sacrificing the mouse (for clicking non-hotkeyed abilities and such) or the rest of the keyboard (for hotkeyed abilities and such).

  48. Ellindsey says:

    Fallen Earth uses tab to toggle mouselook. You need to use this for combat, since FE requires you to manually aim your weapons like it’s a FPS or something. You do need to toggle back and forth fairly quickly since you can’t loot corpses without switching out of mouselook mode AFAIK. I’m more used to the MMO standard of using the keyboard to steer and the mouse to click on skill icons anyway, so I don’t keep mouselook on outside of combat, and didn’t realize this was an issue for some people until I read this blog entry.

  49. Heron says:

    @Ross (11): “However, there is a public transportation system to help speed up travel time between towns, provided you’ve found both ends of the route on foot first.”

    But sometimes not even then. (Like between Bree and the Shire.)

    I can’t recommend DDO. It felt very bland in terms of gameplay, and the graphics were very sub-par. I felt like I was back in 2004. I paid for a nice machine; I expect new games to take advantage of it.

    On top of that, I felt like the ability to buy in-game potions with real-world money would heavily unbalance the game in favor of people whose parents don’t mind paying off a $1000 DDO-induced credit card bill every month. (The rest of us have to actually care about keeping enough on-hand before we go into the dungeon.)

    Having to pay extra just to play as a Monk (or one of the two races you can buy) was just lame.

    I think DDO would be better if they just charged for it and scrapped the whole “DDO Store” thing.

    But take what I say with a grain of salt; I’ve never been an MMO gamer. Champions Online is the only MMO that has received my money (curse you Shamus), and even so I’ve cancelled my subscription after this month so I have time to play Left 4 Dead 2.

  50. froogger says:

    Shamus, you inverted mouselooker, you! I bet you’re lefthanded too. Lefthanded and nonconformist. Tsk, tsk, tsk. You just had to become a writer or a coder to have it your way.

    • Shamus says:

      froogger: I’m right handed, but I had some sort of strange obsession with Quake and did the whole thing left-handed on one of my playthroughs. I’m not ambidextrous, so this felt pretty strange.

      Man, the things I’d do to wring replay out of a game back when I was young and poor[er].

  51. yeah, I never use auto-mouselook in WoW – I just zoom out all the way all the time. But that’s just me

  52. I feel compelled to apologise on behalf of all Norwegians for the SMS thing. See, in Norway (where Funcom lives) cellphone penetration has reached the point where single-celled organisms living under rocks which haven’t been moved since Harald Hardraade was trying to become king of England have the damn things. Four-year-olds are given them not as birthday treats, but so they can stay in touch with their kindergarten friends. So companies tend to assume their customers have one in somewhat the same way they tend to assume they are literate and breathing. (Which is very annoying when it’s my bank doing it to me, incidentally.) When I tell my friends back home that Americans still use checks – you know, on actual paper – for many things, they stare in disbelief. So, um, welcome to the twenty-first century, parochial European version?

  53. Sord says:

    “Log in to WoW and go for a five-minute walk, holding down the RMB the entire time.”

    I think the problem is – you are holding down the RMB the entire time. The proper way to use it, is turn on autorun (or hold down the forward key), and use the RMB to aim for the next turning point, then let go and wait. When you get to the turn, hold the RMB down for all of 8/10ths of a second to get your new heading and go back to waiting.

    However, for what it is worth, I’d agree that it is foolish of the developers to not support easy configurations options that some players may wish (or even need) to use.

    • Shamus says:

      Sord: That’s because I’m moving my view the entire time. Like I said, I don’t want to steer my eyeballs like a car.

      Further explanation: It doesn’t matter if it’s 3rd or 1st person perspective, I tend to sweep my view from side to side as I go, using the strafe buttons to keep me on course. So, I can look 45 degrees to the right, but hold forward+strafe left to keep going in the same direction. For people who have clocked a lot of FPS hours this is VERY common behavior.

  54. DmL says:

    Hi Shamus! If you *really* read all the text then you would know that ‘T’ enables a toggle mouselook! Tata! : )

    edit: wait, are we talking about DDO or LOTRO? LOTRO’s mouselook is the LMB, not the RMB, and there’s no T mouselook (but there is for DDO)

    edit2: in LOTRO you can use the NUMPAD arrows to look around

  55. Dan says:

    I played LOTRO for a long time and I would say that I never missed the mouselook toggle. But that was most likely because I didn’t know what I was missing. It would have been a nice feature to not use the numpad to look around. And not even having mouselook as an option does seem like a bizarre decision. What would it hurt to have it?

    @Shamus: If you don’t like games that have 4-5 taskbars full of skills, items, etc. I would hazard a guess that LOTRO won’t be your game. The multi-bar, skill cooldown, combo attacks is the fundament of the game, and why once I took a hiatus I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t remember what combos to use after taking 3 months off.

  56. mrmurphy says:

    I cannot endorse LOTRO strongly enough. The list of things that I enjoy in the game would be long, likely boring, and might sound like an ad blurb. Instead, I’ll just say that this is the MMO I’ve enjoyed and kept playing the longest (provided you don’t count my serial addiction to A Tale In The Desert; if my timing could be any worse for when I join that game every year or two, I don’t know how).

  57. Chris says:

    It’s fascinating how a critical interface feature for one person is completely irrelevant to another person. It never even occured to me to have a toggle mouselook. I look around a ton, but not as much as I would in an FPS so I don’t mind holding down a button. But I can see how for you that’d be a game breaker.

    Is there a lot of travel on LotRO? Hells to the yes. I’ve argued that it’s one of the primary flaws of the game:

    And LotRO also definitely has skill bloat. You will use far more of the taskbars than you’d think sane. I absolutely use the main one and the ctrl one constantly, with the shift toolbar and side toolbar being for infrequents. I access most of these with the keyboard, but the mouse comes into play more often than I’d like.

    I think you should definitely give LotRO a spin. But know that it’s got issues. I quit awhile ago, but the free weekends kept me somewhat plugged in, and then I recently came back to try out Moria in time for the Mirkwood release.

  58. Adamantyr says:

    I generally don’t have mouse look turned on myself in any game, but yes, in FPS games, it’s absolutely essential. And there is no worthy excuse for not providing it as an option in an MMO game interface.

    On the point of ergonomics, if you spend a good portion of time playing games, I strongly urge you to get an ergonomic chair. (I just bought one at CostCo for $300) I had a nasty episode of shoulder pain earlier this year that turned out to be a combination of anxiety-stress and poor ergonomics over a long time that finally spilled over a threshold.

    Also, it doesn’t hurt to take a break from gaming every few hours. You’d be amazed how many people don’t do this.

  59. Chris says:

    It’s amazing how an interface feature can be critical to one person and irrelevant to another. I’ve never even considered mouselook toggle. I look around a lot in MMOs and check out the scenery, but not as actively as in an FPS. So for me it was never an issue. But I can understand how for you that’d be a game breaker. I’ve hit similar snags in games where I had to walk away because they didn’t have the interface option I needed.

    Back to LotRO, it is very travel heavy. Expect to creep across Middle Earth at an excruciatingly slow pace, and run back and forth all the times for inefficient quest changes. I wrote up a mini review of the game and blamed travel as one of the key flaws: http://chrisglein.blogspot.com/2008/01/lord-of-rings-online-pc.html

    The game does also suffer from skill bloat, so you will use every inch of your taskbars. This includes the primary, one for shift, one for ctrl, and a side bar. And although you can keyboard through most of those, you will use your mouse more than you like.

    Regardless, I think you should give the game a spin. It has its moments. I quit it awhile ago, but the free weekends kept bringing me back to check out was going on. Recently I came back to finally try out Moria and prep for Mirkwood.

  60. Viper says:

    I don’t recall being able to steer the camera without pressing RMB on Guild Wars (that, or using the directional keys). A quick look through the controls says the same pretty much.
    It might be because I’m only 17, but I’ve never found it a problem in Guild Wars. This might also be because there’s no need to frantically flail the camera around, but still.

  61. Zed says:

    Somebody mentioned Planetside? Yeah, that UI was pretty jacked up. My apologies. I wrote most of it, but before I was done with the customization stuff, I accidentally offended the boss and got shunted off to less glamorous parts of the project. The subsystem that was supposed to allow vast UI customization was half-assedly completed by the programmer intern and a producer who hated FPSs.

  62. MuonDecay says:

    Ben: Well… *I* read those walls of text.

    Dear god Shamus, how do you find the time? I can’t manage that and I don’t have a family, and am unemployed.

    … are you a robot?

  63. Ross says:

    Re: Heron (53)
    “@Ross (11): “However, there is a public transportation system to help speed up travel time between towns, provided you’ve found both ends of the route on foot first.”

    But sometimes not even then. (Like between Bree and the Shire.)”

    Yes, the major starter areas are already available (both Bree stables, Michel Delving, Thorin’s Hall, Celondim, Combe), but beyond that you generally have to walk/ride your own horse (which is slower than the stable routes) there first. Encourages exploration.

    I have no input on Age of Conan, having never played it.

    For those stating that LOTRO is a WOW clone…yes and no. Much of the interface is taken from WoW, which in turn was taken from Asheron’s Call 2, blah, blah, blah…but the underlying systems don’t work the same way. The similarities pretty much begin and end with the UI.

  64. Ergonomic Cat says:

    1. I again remind everyone that DDO has a very nice toggle mouselook, as does Planetside.

    2. If you trial AoC and then sub for a 3 month sub you get access to the Secret World beta. Which you could then use in a contest, or just give to me….

1 2

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!