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Hotkeys.

interface keyboard mouse pc ui user interface

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47 replies to this topic

#1
Zombra

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Please make sure there are hotkeys for everything.

OK, maybe the design will necessitate having to use the mouse once in a while, but whenever possible, have there be a keypress for it too.

Obviously, using a mouse for everything should and probably already will be doable as well, but for those of us who know how to use a keyboard, it's fantastic to have that choice.

Thanks for reading!
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#2
Hormalakh

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Yeah I have a post about this in game engine and widgets.

Ideas:
-Turning a "page" (spell book, character sheet, book reading, etc) should be able to be done with "up/down" or "pgup/pgdn" keys. Make this consistent and just use the same function for it every time.
- Customizable hotkeys.
- Make casting magic facile by using intuitive hot key methods (e.g. hit "C" for cast, then another letter for the school of magic -"S" for summoning for example, then a third letter for the spell-type - "F" for fire elemental, for example = C,S,F -> cast "summon fire elemental")
- allow us to quickly find a party member by hitting the # corresponding to party hierarchy (1 is first member, 2 is second member, etc). hitting that number twice centers the map on the party member. Or if this is being used for quickslot, allow us to use Function keys to do so.
- Allow skills to also use hot-keys. Use similar methodology to spell casting (e.g. S,T,P -> skills, thievery, pickpocket or S,P -> skills, pickpocket, etc)
- Allow arrow keys to move map
- Don't use Esc to go to main menu. Use esc to go out of 'current page' if in inventory or something.
- Make hot-keys battle ready, that is to say that allow an expert player to play with one hand on the keyboard and one on the mouse. All combat type skills should be on left side of keyboard. (see starcraft)
- Quickslot keys.
-Multiple keystrokes are not a problem. Utilize them.
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#3
Nerei

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While I by far do not use hotkeys for everything, it sure would be nice to have the option to map whatever I want however I want.
Luckily if we assume the old IE games are an indication to how it will be, that will likely be the case. I can only check for the original Icewind dale on this computer, but there I can map just about everything, including class specific abilities and spells.
Main problem with the IWD keymapping though is it does not really appear to support multiple key shortcuts, but that is something that should be improved no matter what.

#4
Freshock

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Agreed. Wish there was more hotkey options in games. Not everyone's gonna use it, but it's a nice feature to have.

#5
Hormalakh

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I wanted to resurrect this thread and ask if the moderators can move this thread to the engine and technology forum? I have a few thoughts about this and I don't want to make another thread in that forum.

User controls

When I look at other Real-Time Strategy games like Age of Empires, Starcraft, Warcraft, and other similar titles, I notice that they spend a good amount of time working on the user interface, and utilize both the mouse and the keyboard as input controls. However RPGs rarely do this and I think that this is a shame. In a lot of the cRPGs that I've played in the past, the mouse always seems to be the main player input used to make player choices and even then, players sometimes have to traverse several mouse clicks before arriving at the skill they wish to use. You have to click on the party member, click through a series of options, click on a part of the map, to finally perform a certain action. Keyboards however, are usually given little thought, and implementing thoughtful keyboard function seems like a last-minute rush before the end of the development cycle. Even then, the keyboard functions are minimally or poorly designed, forcing players to only use the mouse as the sole input controller.

I wanted to bring this to Obsidian's attention before the UI is completely created, so that a thoughtful and intuitive keyboard layout can also be considered that works well with the UI in the game. I had made a similar thread about "hotkeys" being customizable but I think that the issue won't necessarily be solved with just redefining hotkeys. The whole user interface in RPGs has to be completely rethought.

Please use RTS games as an inspiration for an innovative, intuitive approach towards utilizing party mechanics in-game. I have several initial thoughts about this that I have noted below. The final interface should obviously take mechanics into account, and so these initial thoughts will change as more of the gaming mechanics are introduced to us, the backers and players.
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#6
Hormalakh

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Some more thoughts when considering keyboard inputs:
  • Keyboards are important. Please use them.
  • Keyboards should work as redundant inputs for mouse-clicks. For example, instead of clicking on a party member, you should be able to hit a key that does the same thing.
  • Make combat controls that are used frequently (or with cooldowns) utilize a single hotkey to activate. Look at SC/2, AOE, WCIII, etc for inspiration.
  • Make class specific commands also use one (or maximum two) keys. Do not make players have to go through several clicks to utilize a command.
  • The more a certain action is meant to be used, the faster I should be able to activate that action. Thus, this should have as little clicks or keys as possible. Attack move? Hit A. Pickpocket? P. Pick locks? L. The mouse clicks should also be similar. The GUI should have these skills on the main screen so that I do not traverse several screens to utilize them.
  • Menu screens should be hot-keyable. F10 for main menu. F#s should be used.
  • Flipping through “pages” should have a consistent key to do this. Page up,down, etc.
  • Tab button giving a quick-look health, mana, stamina look. BG2 did this I believe.
  • Space for autopuase is fine.
  • When in different screens, you should be able to use the same hotkeys to do a different action. If in dialogue, allow us to use keys to choose dialogue options instead of having to click.

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#7
Sacred_Path

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Stackable potions bound to hotkeys are the epitome of evil. That is all.
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#8
Hormalakh

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Stackable potions bound to hotkeys are the epitome of evil. That is all.


Please explain why you think so. If we have quickslot locations, why would it be evil to utilize those during combat? The point of utilizing hotkeys is to allow you to immediately tell the game what you wish for your player to do. Mouse clicks just make this take longer. If battles can pause during game, and you're allowed to drink as many potions as you want, then it shouldn't matter. But if your problem is that you shouldn't be able to drink as many potions as you want when the game is paused, then the mechanic should be in place for that; hotkeys shouldn't make a difference.

#9
sesobebo

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Stackable potions bound to hotkeys are the epitome of evil. That is all.


nope.


the end.

#10
Hellfell

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~ select whole party
F1-F6 select party member
Tab - scroll party members
1-0 Use talent/spell/ability/item
Shift - queue command

Right click - contextual action menu (NOT radial menu)

Alt - highlight usable objects with names

Oh and by the way, if a chest is locked you don't need to press L or whatever to pick lock, you just click the freaking chest and pick lock without this key mashing.

Edited by Hellfell, 06 November 2012 - 09:52 AM.

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#11
Zombra

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Good posts Hormalakh!

I actually agree with Sacred_Path about potions, not as a UI issue, but as a game design issue. If potion spamming is indeed the format the game uses, then yes, a hotkey to use them is ideal. Potion spamming however makes for thoughtless, garbage gameplay in my opinion.

Actually I don't think we need to worry about that, though; as I recall, one of the devs mentioned in an interview that healing is hard to come by. Hopefully we can count on player wounds to be a bigger deal than, say, in Diablo.

Anyway, just to get back to basic principles of UI design, the thing to strive for is a minimum amount of input to achieve maximum results. And remember, "Just one mouse click" is not the smallest amount of user effort. For people who can freakin type, it takes far more time and effort to drag a mouse cursor to a particular pixel grouping on a screen than it does to push a key. In my case, I would rather press like 5 keys in succession than navigate to a single onscreen button and click it. (Of course, a single keypress is even better.) Modifiers like alt and shift are fine too. For me, using the mouse as the primary input device always makes me feel like I'm playing "Connect the Dots", with all the sophistication and maturity that that implies.

And just in case anyone is considering wheel menus ... they are great ... for Xbox games.
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#12
Hormalakh

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~ select whole party
F1-F6 select party member
Tab - scroll party members
1-0 Use talent/spell/ability/item
Shift - queue command

Right click - contextual action menu (NOT radial menu)

Alt - highlight usable objects with names

Oh and by the way, if a chest is locked you don't need to press L or whatever to pick lock, you just click the freaking chest and pick lock without this key mashing.


The only point I disagree with is the last one. You should be able to either click the chest and click "pick lock," or hit L and click the chest. That, while being slightly redundant, allows you to either click only once (on the chest) or click twice (once on the chest, the second time on the "pick lock" skill). I want to USE my keyboard, not just the mouse. This is a computer game after all, I don't need to be limited by only two buttons on my mouse.

Edited by Hormalakh, 06 November 2012 - 11:48 AM.


#13
Metabot

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Well for a game lkke this being able to use the mouse for everything is more important I think. I'm sure there will be hotkeys for most things though.
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#14
Metabot

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~ select whole party
F1-F6 select party member
Tab - scroll party members
1-0 Use talent/spell/ability/item
Shift - queue command

Right click - contextual action menu (NOT radial menu)

Alt - highlight usable objects with names

Oh and by the way, if a chest is locked you don't need to press L or whatever to pick lock, you just click the freaking chest and pick lock without this key mashing.


The only point I disagree with is the last one. You should be able to either click the chest and click "pick lock," or hit L and click the chest. That, while being slightly redundant, allows you to either click only once (on the chest) or click twice (once on the chest, the second time on the "pick lock" skill). I want to USE my keyboard, not just the mouse. This is a computer game after all, I don't need to be limited by only two buttons on my mouse.


This isn't an action game though.

#15
Hormalakh

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This isn't an action game though.


Right I know it's not. But I think that action games do some things well and those ideas should be incorporated into this game. Having hotkeys doesn't take away from the play style of cRPGs. They only allow you to perform actions faster than you otherwise would be able to. What's the difference between trudging through a few skill screens clicking away, and being able to to quickly perform the same action with a hotkey? One just wastes time, while the other allows you to focus on the things that matter: the story and the characters.

If you think that RPGs are defined by clicking away, I would disagree with you. I don't like wasting time clicking on a bunch of screens just to be able to do a simple action (over and over again too, sometimes). Let me spend my time on those parts that matter.

As for those mechanics that seem to "break" with hotkeys, I would say that it isn't the hotkey that breaks it, but rather the way the mechanic is implemented that does so. The healing potion example as given before is one. Instead of forcing me to "slow down" by making me have to click with a mouse, make potion drinking a timed-action, like Baldur's Gate 2 does. Instead of allowing potions to work immediately, make them take a certain amount of time before I can do it again. That worked well. The quickslot hotkey wasn't part of the mechanism and so it still worked as it should.

Edited by Hormalakh, 06 November 2012 - 12:11 PM.


#16
Zombra

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Well for a game lkke this being able to use the mouse for everything is more important I think. I'm sure there will be hotkeys for most things though.

More important? I disagree. But I do agree that mouse controls are equally important. Many PC users are married to the mouse just like I'm married to the keyboard. That's not unreasonable at all.

If you think that RPGs are defined by clicking away, I would disagree with you. I don't like wasting time clicking on a bunch of screens just to be able to do a simple action (over and over again too, sometimes). Let me spend my time on those parts that matter.

Yeah. Nothing wrong with clicking, but a bunch of nested menus is bad design. Again: minimum user input for maximum results.
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#17
Tamerlane

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But... why would you need a hotkey for "pick lock"? Why would "hotkey + mouse click" be better than just "mouse click"? Did I read something completely wrong?

Edited by Tamerlane, 06 November 2012 - 03:45 PM.


#18
Hormalakh

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But... why would you need a hotkey for "pick lock"? Why would "hotkey + mouse click" be better than just "mouse click"? Did I read something completely wrong?


It's not just mouse click. It's two mouse clicks.

With a mouse alone, you need to drag your mouse over to the picklock skill, and click it. Then you need to drag your mouse over to the chest/door and click again to pick the lock. With a keyboard, you hit the "pick lock" hotkey, and drag your mouse to the chest/door and click. One click + key vs two clicks.

With the use of a keyboard, I can always have one hand on the keybaord, and one on the mouse. I'd quickly choose the particular party member with one key, activate the picklock skill with another key, and only have to drag the mouse over once to click on the chest/door. However, having the mouse also able to do the same thing (redundancy) allows people with disabilities to play the game without having to use the keyboard.

Remember, this is a computer game, might as use the computer's peripheral devices.

Edited by Hormalakh, 06 November 2012 - 04:17 PM.


#19
Zombra

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What people are arguing for is the contextual cursor. Hover the mouse over a chest and the cursor changes to a lockpick. Highlight and click, that simple.

I'm not a big fan of context cursors, but I could go along with that ... as long as there was no other way to interact with a chest.
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#20
Tamerlane

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But... why would you need a hotkey for "pick lock"? Why would "hotkey + mouse click" be better than just "mouse click"? Did I read something completely wrong?


It's not just mouse click. It's two mouse clicks.

With a mouse alone, you need to drag your mouse over to the picklock skill, and click it. Then you need to drag your mouse over to the chest/door and click again to pick the lock. With a keyboard, you hit the "pick lock" hotkey, and drag your mouse to the chest/door and click. One click + key vs two clicks.

With the use of a keyboard, I can always have one hand on the keybaord, and one on the mouse. I'd quickly choose the particular party member with one key, activate the picklock skill with another key, and only have to drag the mouse over once to click on the chest/door. However, having the mouse also able to do the same thing (redundancy) allows people with disabilities to play the game without having to use the keyboard.

Remember, this is a computer game, might as use the computer's peripheral devices.

Or you can just have a single, context-sensitive click. Don't recall the original, but I know that's how NWN 2 did it.

I mean, what the hell else is the thief going to do with the chest?

EDIT: And if they spot a trap on the chest before they open it, then the context-sensitive click becomes "disable trap" instead.

It's not like it's a foreign concept. In virtually any RTS, right-click moves you, right-click on an enemy gives an attack order, and right-click on a resources gives a gather order. It's not you like have to hit the "a" key to attack in Starcraft. Hell, even giving an attack order in an IE game is a context-sensitive click.

Edited by Tamerlane, 06 November 2012 - 04:28 PM.

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