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Hotkeys.

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47 replies to this topic

#21
Hormalakh

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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.


I would be fine with contextual cursors when there is only one possible action to be done to an object as this makes sense and is good design. I'd rather not have contextual cursors because I would want to do more than one thing to a chest/door. In cases where I can do more than one thing to an object, (i.e. should be able to "attack" it, trap it, pick the lock, attach an explosive to it, etc), then having hotkeys would be great. There will usually be more than one thing to can do with any object in-game, and making each object only have one single context doesn't make sense.

That leaves a contextual menu that you open with a right-click, and then select the correct action with another click. How big should the menu be? If it's too small, people might make a mistake and attack the chest instead of picking it. If it's too big you still have the dragging mouse issue.


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?


Let's assume that you only have one context to the chest. Great, we've solved the problem for one specific object (chests). What about other NPCs? Will you also have context-sensitive menus for them? Pickpocketing? Attacking? Dialogue? Sneakattack? Cast spell, etc?

What about other objects? Doors? Will you have a lockpick, lock, bash, open, close context menu or no? How about setting a trap? Or disarming a trap? Would you just right-click the floor and it automatically sets a trap? What if you wanted to throw an object there instead? There are too many contexts to have a single-click.

Edit: Changed mind about contextual clicking.

Edited by Hormalakh, 06 November 2012 - 04:39 PM.


#22
Hellfell

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Yeah, that's what I was talking about - one left click on the locked and chest and you pick lock. If you want something else, right click to open a menu and choose the option.

Edited by Hellfell, 06 November 2012 - 04:32 PM.


#23
Tamerlane

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I'd rather not have contextual cursors because I would want to do more than one thing to a chest/door. I should be able to "attack" it, trap it, pick the lock, attach an explosive to it, etc. There will usually be more than one thing to can do with any object in-game, and making each object only have one single context doesn't make sense.

Too bad, because the IE games already had a context-sensitive action. It was called "attack".

What if you want to cast a spell? What if you want to use smite or whirlwind or whatever? Then you can choose those. Often from menus in those games because their interfaces were clumsy, but ideally from hotkeys.

Otherwise, it's attack.

You're taking a basic ease-of-use thing and saying that it can't work because if you do a terrible, convoluted ****ing job of it it's bad. Was NWN2 impossible to play for you? Or any RTS ever?

Edited by Tamerlane, 06 November 2012 - 04:32 PM.

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#24
Hormalakh

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I don't have an issue with context sensitive clicks. That should just be a more effective way to click the mouse and if it's more effective than non-contextual clicking, then so be it. But it doesn't obviate the need for keyboard hotkeys. There will be situations where you want to do something other than what the contextual click is for. In those cases, a hotkey would be great.

In your starcraft example, the context sensitive mouse-click, didn't mean that they didn't have hotkeys for players who used the keyboard. Right clicking usually moved the army, where as A+click attack-moved, killing anything in the path.

#25
Tamerlane

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And nobody has argued that hotkeys shouldn't be used liberally.

Just that in the case of something like "pick lock", where you will do the exact same action 99 times out of 100, a single, contextual click will suffice, with hotkeys or menus or whatever the **** covering the 1/100.

#26
Hormalakh

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n/t

Edited by Hormalakh, 06 November 2012 - 04:42 PM.


#27
Tamerlane

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Alright, cool.

Now that we're off that little side-tangent, I'd just like to say that hotkeys are awesome and the more cues PE takes from RTS control-schemes, the better.
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#28
Atreides

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If selected character abilities are laid out in a standard grid (3x3 for example), consider mapping the default hotkeys by the grid location (say Q,W,E for the top row, A,S,D for mid row etc) rather than a particular key for each ability.

We won't need to reach across the keyboard and the only thing to remember's the location of an ability on the grid.
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#29
Hormalakh

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If selected character abilities are laid out in a standard grid (3x3 for example), consider mapping the default hotkeys by the grid location (say Q,W,E for the top row, A,S,D for mid row etc) rather than a particular key for each ability.

We won't need to reach across the keyboard and the only thing to remember's the location of an ability on the grid.


Yes I very much like this idea. There's really no reason for hotkeys to match the first letter of the action especially since keyboard users use much more muscle memory than actual brain power to find the key they wish to press. It might have a slightly higher learning curve (if that), but the advantages are worth it.

I will just say this though, having a customizable menu would be better, but the most important thing is to actually have hot keys that are useful and intuitive. Without hotkeys implementation, standard grid doesn't much matter.

Edited by Hormalakh, 09 November 2012 - 08:01 AM.


#30
freche

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Hotbar
Let us be able to place ALL kinds of skills/abilities/spells on it (including Stealth, Pick locks, Pickpocket, etc)
That way I could use same hotkey for different skills depending on what class I have selected.
Example: Q could be Shield Bash for my Fighter and it could at the same time be Stealth for my Rogue.

Edited by freche, 09 November 2012 - 09:46 AM.

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#31
Tamerlane

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If selected character abilities are laid out in a standard grid (3x3 for example), consider mapping the default hotkeys by the grid location (say Q,W,E for the top row, A,S,D for mid row etc) rather than a particular key for each ability.

We won't need to reach across the keyboard and the only thing to remember's the location of an ability on the grid.


Yes I very much like this idea. There's really no reason for hotkeys to match the first letter of the action especially since keyboard users use much more muscle memory than actual brain power to find the key they wish to press. It might have a slightly higher learning curve (if that), but the advantages are worth it.

I will just say this though, having a customizable menu would be better, but the most important thing is to actually have hot keys that are useful and intuitive. Without hotkeys implementation, standard grid doesn't much matter.

While a grid setup makes sense - I use a pseudo-grid for SC2 - some players are accustomed to having WASD for camera control. I've been playing a lot of Natural Selection 2 (team-based FPS/RTS) lately, and holy **** does making the jump from soldier to commander ever get disorienting for that very reason. Going from running on ceilings with WASD to having those keys as your construction hotkeys leads to a lot of accidental units, buildings, and upgrades.

#32
Hormalakh

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Hotbar
Let us be able to place ALL kinds of skills/abilities/spells on it (including Stealth, Pick locks, Pickpocket, etc)
That way I could use same hotkey for different skills depending on what class I have selected.
Example: Q could be Shield Bash for my Fighter and it could at the same time be Stealth for my Rogue.


Interesting approach which I kind of like. Baldur's Gate 2 had something like this. The biggest problem I had then was the huge amount of actions certain party members (mages, clerics, paladins, druids) had, and the relative lack of actions others (fighters, thieves, barbarians) had in combat. Hotkeys are useful outside of combat, but in a real-time game they are most useful inside combat. Being able to play more complex actions using hotkeys and without having to pause would be quite satisfying.

#33
Hormalakh

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If selected character abilities are laid out in a standard grid (3x3 for example), consider mapping the default hotkeys by the grid location (say Q,W,E for the top row, A,S,D for mid row etc) rather than a particular key for each ability.

We won't need to reach across the keyboard and the only thing to remember's the location of an ability on the grid.

While a grid setup makes sense - I use a pseudo-grid for SC2 - some players are accustomed to having WASD for camera control. I've been playing a lot of Natural Selection 2 (team-based FPS/RTS) lately, and holy **** does making the jump from soldier to commander ever get disorienting for that very reason. Going from running on ceilings with WASD to having those keys as your construction hotkeys leads to a lot of accidental units, buildings, and upgrades.


I don't think that we'll be having a lot of camera control in this game, though, since everything is pre-rendered 2D. Maybe moving the map around, but that could be handled with the arrow keys.

Edited by Hormalakh, 09 November 2012 - 10:47 AM.


#34
Atreides

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Good point about the limits of camera rotation. If it's available, maybe rotation through PageUp/Down that's just above the arrow keys for shifting the screen so people associate camera views to the right side of the keyboard.

Some other ideas
- Keys 1-8 for selecting characters
- drag and drop ability/inventory item icons into the grid for customisation
- Tab/CapsLock/Shift to access different tabs of the grid
- R could be generic "use" or "interact" key
- F could bring up/close class-specific ability menus (think MotB's mini spellbook list organised by levels)
- I for inventory, J for journal, something close for character sheets and detailed ability pages, spellbooks etc

I kind of miss A for force-attack (neutral?) targets or attack all in path though. Guess it could be in the grid like Starcraft though.

#35
Ranath

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I Don't really get the difference between the radial menu and the 3x3 grid with direction keys … one can navigate a radial menu with direction keys just as easily … or did I miss-grasp the idea? A rotating wheel with the skill in focus being enlarged would be quite nifty, be it perhaps cumbersome on the calculating power of the machine. I would have no problem whatsoever if they just stuck to the bottom skill-bar as was used in the BG series though.

I really dislike the idea of binding those WASD-movement keys (or whatever they are on a qwerty-board) to some other navigation tool as a default setting than the arrow keys though. I'm a numpad player on an azerty keyboard. For that reason I also think it's quite reasonable to expect all hot-keys to be fully re-mappable by the way.

(A hotkey to focus on the active character might be handy though).

Edited by Ranath, 13 November 2012 - 05:26 PM.


#36
Hormalakh

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I Don't really get the difference between the radial menu and the 3x3 grid with direction keys … one can navigate a radial menu with direction keys just as easily … or did I miss-grasp the idea? A rotating wheel with the skill in focus being enlarged would be quite nifty, be it perhaps cumbersome on the calculating power of the machine. I would have no problem whatsoever if they just stuck to the bottom skill-bar as was used in the BG series though.


Hmm I don't think you understood the point of the 3x3. Have you played Starcraft? On the bottom right of the gaming HUD in taht game, they have a set of commands that you acn give to your units. These commands are laid out in a 3x3 grid and are also mapped to hotkeys.

#37
mstark

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Love this thread. I'm a PC power user, and combine the maximum amount of hotkeys with mouse actions at any time. It saves my poor mouse arm, since I work at computers all days long.

What a well designed hotkey set up boils down to, I'd say, is:

- Logical, context sensitive hotkeys. Eg. arrow keys turn pages in the Spellbook, change character in Inventory view, and pan the screen in Game view.

- Solid (context sensitive) selection tools. Eg. party members correspond to keys 1-6. Mimicking other standards would be good (eg. Windows CTRL key being held down for selecting multiple items). CTRL-2-4 selects party member 2 and 4. CTRL-2-4-3-2 selects party member 2, 4, 3 and then deselects 2. Holding CTRL while clicking on items in your inventory selects each one, then either right click > send to party member, or left click to pick all of them up, use arrow or number keys to switch to a different party member, then drop all items in that member's inventory with a single click.

- If characters are tied to 1-6, make their abilities F1 - F# (this was done in BG2, at least, and works great. I have the reflex to press 2-F4, to start detecting traps)

Baldur's Gate/IWD inventory systems were golden, making each of your characters feel unique by keeping them separate, but they lacked features (hotkey support, multi select) to minimize tedious things like moving items between characters.

I'd like to reiterate, hotkeys should be designed to support the game, not something that is added as an afterthought :). You can see how far well designed hotkey systems got games like StarCraft. (StarCraft 2 is worse, as some menus don't have their options tied to keys - WTH? SC1 always did)

Edited by mstark, 16 November 2012 - 03:28 AM.

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#38
Hormalakh

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^basically this. most power users don't even use the mouse. an example in the real world is excel power users in the banking industry. They train you basically to do everything with the keyboard using shortcuts and hotkeys... :)

a keyboard is innately superior than a mouse in speed and precision.
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#39
mstark

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a keyboard is innately superior than a mouse in speed and precision.

For arbitrary targeting (attacking an enemy, or making a selection or brush stroke in Photoshop) I would argue that mouse input is far superior, but I know what you mean. I use my keyboard for probably 90% of all actions. The mouse should really be considered the secondary, supporting, input (which is actually the case, it is secondary to the keyboard).

Since a mouse with a GUI can, innately, execute everything that a keyboard can, it's easy to forget about supporting the true input of a computer. The keyboard is usually the faster & less straining option for everyone.

Everyone? Yes, mostly everyone. Most people are more familiar with using the keyboard than the mouse, even if you're not a power user. The mouse is generally only used for a few seconds in intervals, in order to target the next area where you have to input text for longer stretches of time.

Edited by mstark, 16 November 2012 - 03:38 AM.

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#40
Atreides

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Yeah I mostly use the keyboard for Excel, but the difference is I have both hands on it. However if my hand's on the mouse most of the time in the game, I'd rather not reach too far across the keyboard (1 to Backspace, F1-F12) or check that I'm getting the right keys to get things done.





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