Old Dog, New Trick

I know I am not fooling anyone here anyway, but I am really not a “cool” gamer.

I am a (filthy!) casual. No RAID OR DIE, max content pushing here.

World of Warcraft is my current game of choice. And I don’t hate myself for it (I used to in the old days, when I hated what it stood for and what it wasn’t, before NAMASTE)

I am a (rotten!) keyboard turner. There, I said it. They say acceptance is the first step…

Except I don’t accept that anymore! (The keyboard turning part, anyway). Due to the Weekly Quest mechanic I found myself doing Battlegrounds and Arena skirmishes over the past month. They were a lot of fun and I am Honor level 24 now. KBTS (key board turning syndrome) is a debilitating syndrome in PVP. Thankfully for the most part I heal in PVP and since I use Clique and Grid I don’t think KBTS hurts as much in that situation. I tend to just leave my back to the enemy and heal through it even though that is not optimal – even in LFG PVP. I need to get better. Plus, I do want to do Damage in PVP at some point which will require a change in how I control my character . Tanking is a joke and healing (while fun, and a game changer) is a bit repetitive after awhile. I like flavour and different ways to try things.

I am going to train myself out of KBTS.

I read some articles and I get the idea behind it – move with mouse, keybind everything else.To best accomplish this I think I should just level a new character. Hopefully via that mechanic I will get some comfort and confidence in it and I can start implementing that style of character control into my max level characters in solo activities, then onto group PVE activities, and finally, onto group PVP activities. I have no clue how long it will take me but I am dedicated to learn.

First, I am going to turn my hotkey bars from this:

To this:

This layout will help as a good reference for me while I am playing. The left side of the grouping is my hotkeys – with my hands on the keyboard (SDFG) I can comfortably reach one key on either side (AH), which gives me 6 actions on my main line. I can also reach the six above it (QWERTY) comfortably and easily. The 6 below aren’t as comfortable to reach – X especially. ZCVBN aren’t so bad. Based on that I know my main hotkeys go in the middle, secondary on top, lesser used on the bottom. I laid them out offset just like a keyboard.

The 9×9 grid on the right is my mouse. I have 12 buttons there, but can comfortably and easily reach 9 with my thumb – so those are additional keys I can use. It’s WoW, if I cant get by on 27 keys then I am failing. Well, 25 I guess plus strafe keys, which need to go somewhere.

I am a bit nervous about this for the sole reason that I know it will feel unnatural. For over 20 years I keyboard turned. This is definitely out of my comfort zone.

Do you Mouse turn or Keyboard turn? If the former, do you have any suggestions for me to make this as painless as possible?


  1. Marathal

    Hi. I’m Marathal, and I use to be a keyboard turner.

    When I started playing I used the W A D keys. They were as familiar to me from years of gaming. When I had my first chance at real raiding. Ice Crown Citadel with no buffs, I always had a problem with Sindragosa. The mechanic where the dragon would pull everyone in and you had to run to the stairs. Time and time again, I was the last to get there. One day the raid leader had me in vent and asked.

    Are you a keyboard turner. I owned up to it. He told me it was ok, but there were some times when mouse turning just worked better. So he had me hop on a mount, get a good head of speed up, and jump. That was easy. Then he had me do the same, except as I jumped, he had me pan the camera around 180. That was odd. The next step was to move, jump, spin, and the jam both mouse buttons down.

    Woah. All of a sudden I was instantly heading the other way as soon as I hit the ground. Then he explained Sindragosa. When you were flying through the air, you spun your camera around, and as soon as you hit, jam the buttons and your running. That shaved almost a second off turning. And I was no longer the last to the steps.

    Years later? I use it all the time. It’s so much smoother to move. If I could suggest. Dig up your coolest ground mount, and take a ride from Booty Bay, all the way north just using the mouse to steer. You may find it relaxing and a good way to get a feel for it.

    1. Isey (Post author)

      I will try that =) Do you have strafe keys? How do you go backwards?

  2. Marathal

    A and D will still strafe while moving with the mouse. Backwards I spin the camera and move faster than back peddling. With S

    1. Isey (Post author)

      OK – while tanking I don’t like to turn my back so might need to backpedal a bit, will figure that out with “advanced movement 101” =)

      1. Marathal

        As for hot keys. I have long fingers so 90% of my abilities are 1 through = on the keyboard. I see people talking about binding other keys and using shift for other abilities. Anything beyond those 12 I will click.

  3. Jeromai

    If you can spare the time, my recommendation would be to play a few single-player games that uses third or first-person view and practice WASD, mouse camera movement and strafing with those.

    Things like Skyrim or the Fallout series (that isn’t 1 and 2) or Borderlands and so on.

    Something different so that you’re primed to learn a new control scheme and less liable to just fall back to what you’re used to. Something new might make it more motivating to move from a tutorial stage towards mastery when you want to experience the story. And what you learn in one game tends to maps back onto another quite easily, in these days of common control schemes and UI to ease familarity.

    You want a triple A sort of game, so that the mouse camera movement feels smooth and isn’t going to give you motion sickness while learning how to control it. Most of these have essentially an “action camera” that doesn’t require you to hold down a mouse button while rotating the camera, so that’s one less thing to manage while transitioning.

    Singleplayer would be far less stressful and go-at-your-own-pace than multiplayer shooters.

    One big thing is to adjust mouse sensitivity to something that feels good for you.

    (I personally turn up sensitivity quite high, because I am not a fan of moving my mouse too far. Small wrist movements = big camera or mouse cursor effect. This does, however, reduce the amount of control you have while still learning how to make the appropriate small movements. I’ve seen family members struggle with the high sensitivity I use, so adjust to whatever suits you and nudge it up from there. The eventual goal is to be able to do at least a 180 degree quick turn without having to drag your mouse from one end of the pad to the other or have to pick it up and move it again, and do it faster than keyboard turning.)

    Practice strafing while facing in one direction, and then taking it up a notch to circle-strafing – face the same point or target and move in a circle around it while still being able to hit the thing in the center.

    1. Isey (Post author)

      Awesome feedback, thanks! Too bad Mass Effect isn’t out until March… I think I will be fine using a brand new character to level, I have a Mage at 10. That will also allow me to introduce new hotkeys slowly as he levels up. I believe that will have the same effect as a single player RPG / whatnot. Then again, I have been looking for an excuse to go finish Fallout 4…

  4. bhagpuss

    I’m confused. I thought keyboard turning was literally changing the direction of your character by using the keyboard movement keys (lets say WASD). So, if you were running forward, pressing down W, and you wanted to turn to the right you would continue holding W but also press and hold D. I just tested this in GW2 and it has the effect I thought it did, making your character change direction in a smooth but quite slow and wide arc.

    I did that when I began playing EQ in 1999 and probably went on using that method for two or three years but I’d already changed before I moved on from EQ. The method I’ve used ever since is to hold down W (or use Num Lock for autorun) to keep my character moving forward, then hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse in whatever direction I want the character to turn. This gives a much wider range of arcs and also allows for much faster, sudden changes of direction.

    I didn’t think that was “keyboard turning” and I wouldn’t have said I was a keyboard turner but reading your description now I’m not sure. Jeromai’s description sounds like what I hav been doing for the last twelve years or so but when you talk about moving with the mouse and keybinding everything else it sounds like it must be something different.

    I do also use only the mouse to move, holding down both mouse buttons simultaneously, but only for traveling, usually when I’m drinking or eating and need my other hand free. I wouldn’t want to try that in combat.

    Anyway, I think this has less to do with the mechanical methods you choose than it does with your ability as a pvper. Mrs Bhagpuss is a keyboard turner, a clicker (I’m a clicker too) and she even uses her right hand to hit space and jump, taking it off the mouse entirely. And yet she is ten times better at PvP than I will ever be. She does, and always has, going back to DAOC, win at least some one on one fights in every MMO she’s played that has PvP whereas I have, quite literally, never one a one-on-one fight in four years of GW2 and probably have won fewer than half a dozen in any MMO ever. I am hopeless at single combat in PvP and it has nothing at all to do with my keyboard and mouse skills – far more to do with quite literally not being able to work out what’s going on in a fight.

    1. Isey (Post author)

      In WoW PVP players look like they are having seizures, they scatter around spinning like crazy. If they can get out of your casting LOS then they get the advantage. It’s more A-D-D than I tend to like but everyone is doing it, so it must be right, right?

      My true Pet Peeve is that not a single MMO has given a sensitivity option to keyboard turners. I would probably stay on the KB if you could make it spin faster, with custom settings. I have no clue why they refuse to do that.

  5. Jacob

    Simply unbind the keyboard turning keys. I’m fairly certain that when I played wow I bound A and D to strafe (as in Battlefield or other FPS games) and didn’t bind the turning function to anything.

    It’s like jumping into a pool… it’ll hurt at first but quickly becomes comfortable!

    1. Isey (Post author)

      Is the pool full of hot or cold water? =P

  6. Evil Eri (@ausj3w3l)

    with the mouse and keybinds don’t forget you can also use modifiers like ctrl shift or alt. keybind the important stuff on the easy to reach 9 keys – y=the the modifier and those numbers to the others (shift + 1)

    alternatively you use the mouse keybind as harder to reach keyboard keys like say .. 6 to = on the keyboard. that way you still bind 1 to 5 on the keyboard as something too and you can just reach those with your wasd hand

  7. Hazzieandsof

    Love reading this post. It’s like reading about someone working on self improvement for the new year. lol The first step to changing something is admitting you want to change. haha Either way I wish you luck and look forward to reading about your future progress.


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