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Controller vs. Keyboard


adamsappel
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If there's one prejudice that seems universal, it's PC gamers' hatred of controllers for FPS and partiality for mouse/keyboard control. Could someone please explain why, because I just don't get it.

 

I can understand the preference for mouse-aiming. We're all proficient at quickly putting our mouse pointer over and clicking on very specific spots during everyday computing, so the transfer to aiming and shooting in a game is pretty seamless. Plus, you don't have to wrap your head around the "up is down" inversion. But navigating movement with a keyboard is ridiculous. A-S-W-D, this is easy for you? And preferential to pushing a stick with your thumb in the desired direction? Once you add in all the keys you need to press for jumping, crouching, switching weapons, etc., I think they've made playing the game needlessly complicated. I'm not necessarily saying a controller can't get confusing too, as anyone who's expected me to heal them in RTCW and gotten a grenade instead (and vice-versa) knows, but the tradeoff of having to aim with my thumb is more than made up by not having to look down at the keyboard to know what I'm doing.

 

And for those who like the Nostromo keypad or those new Zboards, well, the Nostromo is just a controller that uses typewriter keys and the Zboard, well, that's just stupid.

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I am playing Raven Shield right now and have decided that controllers make for much more immersive gameplay, IMO. I have to constantly check the keyboard cheat sheet to see which button makes Ding kneel and which one toggles the map on / off. I would rather keep my focus on the screen action. Give me a controller anyday!

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Let me start by saying I'm not particularly skilled at FPS using any controller. BUT, I am way way better with a mouse than a controller. I simply can't stand playing FPS (or third person) games with a controller, it drives me crazy.

 

The mouse is a perfectly analog device, you can move at any speed you want, flick it back and forth.

 

The keyboard is a different issue. I like the controller having easy to reach buttons that are mapped out specifically for gaming.

 

I actually resorted to playing Unreal Tournament on my Mac years ago by having a mouse in one hand and a USB controller in the other, after some adjustment period it was a nice combination.

 

I'm curious if anyone has invented a one-hand controller? (yes, I see the potential for many jokes :-)

 

EDIT: I see the Nostromo is designed for one hand, but I had in mind something that needed no desk to sit on.

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It's a toss up for me, as I feel comfortable with both. I do, however, have to tweak the mouse/kb combo. My general settings, which work well for me, are as follows:

 

Movenment (and side strafe): Arrow Keys

Alt Fire: Right Control

Kneeling, reload, etc: Delete, End and Page Down

Fire: left mouse

Jump: right mouse

Use: Enter or middle mouse

next weapon: mouse wheel down

prev weapon: mouse wheel up

 

As you can see, I group everything close on the right side of the keyboard. I just slide the kb to the left a bit so I'm not reaching my left arm over too much. It works pretty well, since movement keys aren't bunched up w/ the rest of the keys.

 

As for controller, I always invert the mouse look and speed up the movement a bit.

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I am mostly a PC gamer, but I can't say that I have any amount of animosity toward gamepad controls for FPS games, mostly because the only recent (meaning post-SNES Doom) console FPS I have put any amount of time into is Metroid Prime, not exactly the perfect example that adamsappel is referring to.

 

I have tried the Xbox version of RTCW at an EB demo station and initially had trouble with the controls. I think I could get used to them, and furthermore I think I could feel more pride in precision control on a console versus a PC.

 

The mouse, as previously stated, is easy to aim with. I much prefer it to the analog stick of the gamepad. While I agree that the keyboard layout can be confusing I would argue that it's all a matter of what you're used to. Those of you that get your FPS fix on a console are no doubt used to the button layouts. I personally get used to the layout of the keyboard or Nostromo after having played a few rounds.

 

For pure FPS goodness I imagine the ideal setup to be a mouse for aiming and some kind of one-handed gamepad/joystick setup for movement and functions other than shooting. I have seen a controller that contained a joystick and a trackball built into the same unit that could be useful.

 

EDIT: As a matter of clarification the Nostromo SpeedPad offers a D-pad that is very handy for movement, leaving the other keys available for jumping, crouching, weapon-switching and what not. Between that and the Mouse it's almost as if you've eliminated the keyboard entirely without sacrificing its flexibility.

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Count me in as one of those who prefer the keyboard. I'm exactly the opposite of you adamsappel, the aiming ability of the mouse more than outweights the disadvantages of using the KB for movement/controls.

 

Provided that most of the controls are mapped to the left hand side of the keyboard (in the proximity of the W-S-A-D keys) I have never found an issue with forgetting which button does what. I think it's mostly a function of how well developers map buttons. i.e. They need to centralize functions as opposed to indulging in the flexibility of the keyboard. Instead of mapping one key to every function, map a button tree of sorts, like the voice commands in Counter-Strike. The Z, X, and C buttons each call up a different group of commands, and you use the number keys to follow each group. The same can be done for other functions, like map navigation.

 

I think EdR has the right idea. The mouse is fundamental to aiming, but the deficiency of the keyboard for movement can be countered with some sort of one-handed analog stick. Though the Nostromo SpeedPad is just a detached keyboard chunk, I think it could be refined. The digital eight way at the thumb location should have a fully analog stick instead. That would work very well.

 

EDIT: blackcalx beat me to it. Read his EDIT but change it to a analog stick. :D

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I was just going to say that the perfect FPS controller should have a trackball instead of a right thumbstick. This way you get the best of both worlds.

 

There is a new controller for the xbox called the FPS Master, but it doesnt use a trackball or anything. It's a controller with grips like hand guns complete with triggers, and remapped a,b,x,y buttons.

 

 

Come to think of it, is there any reason why a trackball wouldn't work on a game controller???

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Controller all the way for me, although I am prejudiced because my PC won't run anything newer than Half-life. I like the argument someone made that controller users have to be more skilful because the controller is more imprecise. The mouse is too easy, point-and-kill, where's the challenge? ;)

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The mouse is too easy, point-and-kill, where's the challenge?

 

 

The challenge will come from the game itself, not the side challenge of having to fumble with controls. ;)

 

I think my biggest beef with controller aiming is that it will always be compromised. If you crank the sensitivity up, you lose precision but gain speed and vice versa. Sure, you can have it in the middle but then it's always a trade-off right?

 

With a mouse you don't have that trade-off. You can change the sensitivity, too, but what remains is the ability to move the mouse quickly by hand. It's much easier to find that sweet spot.

 

This is, of course, just me.

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I have to say that Metroid Prime is the one exception to my FSP with a game pad woes...but then it's designed unlike most in that movement and look are on the same stick, which would be difficult in a multi-player game where you need to be able to strafe frequently. (and yes, I know you can strafe in MP)

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Originally posted by Adjuster@Oct 16 2003, 12:26 PM

Come to think of it, is there any reason why a trackball wouldn't work on a game controller???

I have a MadCatz Panther controller for the Dreamcast. It has a trackball and flightstick, though the trackball is on the left side, which makes it a little difficult. It didn't work with all games, but those that did worked well, if you could get used to using the opposite hand.

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A-S-W-D, this is easy for you?

 

Hell no! But since I'm left-handed I put my left hand on the mouse and use merlot's system basically. Move with the arrows, jump with ctrl, duck with the shift. Set the mouse up and I'm off. The precision shooting of the mouse/keyboard combo rocks.

 

I get very frustrated with console shooters because of that actually. I can adjust but it does take actual effort on my part. I mean, I don't mind playing Halo because, whoa, everybody else has a controller and they suck at aiming too :P. It's personal pref, but I was raised on the PC and I've gotten very familiar with the mouse/keyboard, such that I use it in, oh, every FPS game I play ;).

 

I have to say that Metroid Prime is the one exception to my FSP with a game pad woes

 

I'd suggest there's a good argument for saying that Metroid Prime isn't really an FPS at all, but just a Metroid game that happens to be in first person :P.

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I'm in the kb/mouse camp on this one... while I've gotten past my initial outright refusal to play console FPS because of the controllers (I finally seemed to get over it when I played TimeSplitters 2), I still prefer the kb/mouse because it makes it MUCH easier for me to strafe and aim. I wish more PS2 FPS would support the kb/mouse - Red Faction 2 is about the only one I can think of.

 

And I'm playing through Metroid Prime right now, which is much easier to control than I thought it would be... but it's not typical FPS-style control at all. My only complaint is that I wish I could strafe around corners - without having to be locked onto an enemy.

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I guess I'm alone here but... I can't aim with the trackball on my PC for anything!!! On top of that, I'm constantly fumbling around with the movement keys. So I can't shoot AND I can't move. :shock: It's really quite a sight. :lmfao: You don't know how many times I die 'cause I'm ducking instead of jumping or vice-versa. Let's not even talk about what happens online...

The ONLY thing that keeps me gaming on my PC is the quality of the games involved. Games like BF 1942 and Half-Life HAVE to be played at all costs. But, ergonomically, I HATE PC GAMING. I even broke down and bought a game-pad (actually 2 :oops:) and ended up returning them 'cause I couldn't program them to "look" left & right.

On the flipside, as any of my XBL victims can verify :twisted:, I'm pretty good with a controller. Sure, auto-aim helps, but even with AA available to everyone, why are some people better "shots" than others? I think it's because I can "feel" things a LOT better with a controller. But not only is shooting easier for me, NOT getting shot is much simpler. Dodging, ducking, jumping are all easier for me with a controller.

If I could use my Xbox's controller S on my PC, I'd have the best of both worlds.

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The PC has driven the technologies and conventions that make gaming what it is today. 3D graphics, network/Internet gaming, surround sound, CD-ROM media, etc. But let's face it. The "keyboard" as we know it, in 20 years, will no longer exist. We'll be explaining to our grandchildren how computers used to be controlled with "these" things. A keyboard is merely an adequate compromise we make for a multipurpose input device.

 

I cannot deny that a mouse gives a greater sense of control. But I cannot understand ones allegiance to the keyboard. I can't wait until voice recognition or neural matrix-like connections replace the need for a keyboard. Doom 6 in virtual reality. No more repetitive stress disorder.

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The first FPS game I ever played was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for the N64. I never paid much attention to the likes of Doom or any other game from that genre, but Turok made sense to me. Specifically, the controls made sense. Use the C buttons to move and the control stick to turn and look up and down. It felt very natural, even though a lot of people had difficulty getting used to those controls. In fact, I became so used to using my left thumb to look around and my right thumb to walk and strafe that I can barely play dual analog games of today's consoles in their default set-up. I inevitably have to switch it over to the Southpaw mode, otherwise it's like I'm trying to bat left-handed.

 

As much as I like controlling a FPS with a game pad, I do also understand why many prefer a keyboard and mouse. Having played a couple of the Quake games on my computer, I know what it's like to use them. No one can deny the precision inherent with using a mouse to look and aim, or the luxury of a keyboard's wealth of buttons to perform actions instantly, so I won't try to do that here in this post. Your minds are made up and no bozo on the Internet is going to change that.

 

I will say, however, that the keyboard and mouse set-up just doesn't feel as intuitive or as comfortable as a good ol' gamepad. I never feel like I'm in complete control of what's going on. I'm always one step away from falling over the edge, or worse, stepping into the path of someone's rocket. I'm always constantly aware of the controls because I'm constantly struggling with them. Conversely, I can hold onto the controller S for the Xbox while playing Halo and pretty much forget it's in my hands altogether.

 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I like my gamepads. That is why I'm sticking to them if I can help it.

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Originally posted by Adjuster@Oct 16 2003, 12:26 PM

There is a new controller for the xbox called the FPS Master, but it doesnt use a trackball or anything. It's a controller with grips like hand guns complete with triggers, and remapped a,b,x,y buttons.

I had a chance to try this controller out today, though not with a game (you can hold the controller and use the buttons while it's still in its packaging). My natural inclination was to tightly squeeze the pistol grips, where the main buttons are located. I suppose you would get used to it, but I didn't like having to hold the grips mostly with my bottom fingers and thumbs. For some reason, I also wanted to turn the pistols independently on a central pivot, though it doesn't have one. I think there are better controller options out there for $30, though it does look unique.

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The pc keyboard mouse combo chains you to a desk, that's gripe one for me. Gripe two is that the keyboard mouse combo was not designed for gaming. The mouse for aiming still strikes me as a crutch device, a cheat if you will. Rather than the actual mechanics of aiming per se, I'll just point to where I want the shots to hit. A keyboard for movement? Using my cursor keys to move strikes me as quite crude. The pc fps games seem to be tied in to advances in graphics cards. So, I expect that for hard-core fps fans, the pc will always be the first place to go for fps thrills. And these games seem to be designed with a kybrd/mouse configuration in mind. But, all my pc can run is the likes of the original Half-life, Dues Ex, System Shock 2 and the keybrd/mouse combo is not my friend.

 

On the console side, the ps2 controller just flat out sucks for an fps, imo. Cannot get to grips with it at all. The analog sticks have a propensity to stick, so making fine adjustments is an exercise in frustration. The gc's analog sticks have better sensitivity, but what's with the peewee analog stick. Overall, the xbox's "s" controller is the best of the bunch, but the performance can vary widely. I don't think it's any mystery that a big part of Halo's success was the ability of Bungie to fine-tune the sensitivity of the analog sticks to the on-screen action.

 

I think the hard-core fps gamer will probably always prefer the more familiar keybrd/mouse combo. Good results are easier to obtain and you can customize out the wazoo.

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I am running into this very fustrating proplem my self right now with GTA VC. I use my controler i don't get a crosshair to help with aming unles i want to strafe to move left or right. then when i use the keyboard i get the crosshair but when it comes to driving you turn why to fast using the keyboard grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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The mouse for aiming still strikes me as a crutch device, a cheat if you will. Rather than the actual mechanics of aiming per se, I'll just point to where I want the shots to hit.

 

Using your logic, the Controller isn't aiming "per se", either. With that line of thought, you need an actual light gun before aiming can be considered aiming.

 

:roll:

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Originally posted by Bobbio@Oct 20 2003, 05:46 PM

I am running into this very fustrating proplem my self right now with GTA VC. I use my controler i don't get a crosshair to help with aming unles i want to strafe to move left or right. then when i use the keyboard i get the crosshair but when it comes to driving you turn why to fast using the keyboard grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

When I played GTA on the PC, I used a combination of both.

 

On foot, I was using KB/Mouse and during the driving sequences I picked up a gamepad. Perfect solution, I think.

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I am running into this very fustrating proplem my self right now with GTA VC. I use my controler i don't get a crosshair to help with aming unles i want to strafe to move left or right. then when i use the keyboard i get the crosshair but when it comes to driving you turn why to fast using the keyboard grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Interestingly enough, I got VC for my PC after playing it quite thoroughly on my PS2. Missions that were next to impossible on the PS2 due to the controls were relatively easy on the PC. Overall, it was a much more enjoyable gaming experience, rather than an exercise in controller frustration. I'm really comfortable with PC controls though I guess, since I didn't have any problems with driving. Mostly when driving I'd just take my hand off the mouse and put it on the numpad so I could pull back/forward on the motorcycles, etc.

 

I have a few gamepads, and use them for playing some things other than FPS's, but for anything involving aiming, yes, I love the mouse. Also, the WASD (and surrounding keys mapped to other functions) cluster feels fine to me. I'm left-handed/ambidextrous, but 99% of the time use the mouse with my right hand, so it's no problem for me. I've also used it in about every PC FPS, so it could just be a practice thing. I'm thinking of rigging together a "dedicated" gaming/HTPC, with a wireless optical mouse, gamepad, and maybe a Nostromo or similar device for on-the-couch-console-style PC gaming with my projector. It'd be nice to break free from the desk for my PC games.

 

Okay, and the occasional geeky mini-LAN party if I can trick a friend into it. ;)

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