SWTOR with My Brand New Logitech G13
Shortly after New Years I noticed my G15 keys got stuck at times. It started with the backspace key but others followed shortly after that. I’ve had been cleaning it with canned air a couple of months ago already. But the keyboard is at least 3 years old and looks pretty yucky. Guess it’s time for a new solution.
My “G15″ is actually a G11, which replaced an even older worn out G15. I never had much use for the LCD display, which was hidden underneath the monitor stand most of the time anyway. The problem is, Logitech doesn’t produce G11 or G15 anymore. They have been replaced by G19, G110 and G510. The G510 has a LCD display and 18 G-keys, but the other two have only 12 G-keys. I want at least 18 extra keys and just don’t want to pay $120 for the 510.
Thus, I decided in favor of a G13 gameboard with 22 G-keys, a joystick and 2 thumb keys. It was on sale at CompUSA (formerly TigerDirect) for $60. As a regular keyboard I was using one of the many I have already in my house. While researching for this post I found out that Logitech has cut prices by $17- $22 for gaming keyboards by now. I am not sure about the current pricing through retailers. Ask your favorite search engine.
Just to clarify things upfront, I am right handed and my setup of course reflects that. I am aware of the many problems lefties face, but I can’t offer any advice in that direction.
Setup was easy. I just replaced the old G11 with a regular keyboard and plugged in the additional G13. The old Logitech software did recognize the game board, but I had to upgrade the software later in order to use the joystick properly. As I’ve said before, I use the Logitech keyboard only to map hotkeys, almost never to record and replay macros. Thus, I quickly assigned Shift-F1 to Shift-F12 and Alt-F1 to Alt-F11 (skipping Alt-F4) to my 22 G-keys. I assigned WASD to the direction indicators of the joystick, TAB to the left fire button and the Q-key to the bottom fire button. You do have the option to use the joystick as a generic joystick, but SWTOR doesn’t recognize this setup. What I am missing after a couple of days of usage is quick access to the space bar or any other key mapped to jump.
The G13 has two rows with 7 keys each, one row with 5 keys and one row with 3 keys. For SWTOR, I have no choice but to map them to the 2 hotbars on the bottom of the screen. The top hotbar is being assigned to G1-7 and G15-G19. The lower row is assigned to G8-G14 and G20-G22, leaving the last two fields unassigned. I do need the visual association between the hotbars and the row of keys. I can’t blindly assume that for instance G12 is mapped to “Ravage” on my Sith Juggernaut. I will always have to locate the ability on the hotbar, put my hands on the game board and feel my way to the exact key. It’s just the way I am wired. YMMV.
Given the key layout on the board, I’ve put the most often used abilities on G4 and G5. In the case of my Sith Warrior, those are Assault and Thundering Assault, the rage builders. G1, 2 and 3 are next, occupied by Force Charge, Smash and Force Scream, the typical opening sequence when questing. G7 is occupied by Disruption, a rarely used ability, but easily accessible when it is needed in emergencies. Right now, the second row of the keyboard has only 3 keys used, G10,11 and 12 with high DPS moves. My fingers usually rest on G3, G4 and G12 which of course makes this the preferred place for frequently used abilities.
The third row has only one key, G19, used for now. It’s the Saber Ward ability. I plan to put other defensive abilities into this row, most likely filling them up from the right. Which follows once again the way my hand is resting on the keys. In the fourth row I am currently using only G20 with an AE snare, which in fact I haven’t used, ever. I am looking at it as a placeholder for crowd control function which could go here.
As I said above, I’ve mapped TAB and Q to the fire buttons of the joystick. In game I have “target nearest NPC” and “companion/pet attack” assigned to them. This way I can quickly change target and also send in my companion whenever it is needed.
Mouse or Keyboard to Move?
Why am I not using the standard assignment with WASD for G4 and G10, 11 and 12? Two hard facts: It’s faster to turn using the mouse and it is faster to push keys than to move the mouse and click to trigger actions. Which has me using the mouse in the right hand for movement and leaves the left hand exclusively for abilities. This of course is absolutely personal preference. You should do whatever you feel most comfortable with. Indeed, you should always keep an eye on what your hand is doing and adjust your keyboard assignment accordingly.
In the end, my game board is mapped in a way that keeps standard action sequences, frequently used keys and similar functions in close vicinity of each other. This way, I get my brain and my fingers much easier in sync. What I haven’t mentioned so far, are the two sidebars on the left and right. They are filled with rarely used, non-critical abilities, like stances, quick travel and buffs. I’ve also lined up all my med packs on the top right. Those are easily accessed with the mouse, and healing myself is more important then moving in that particular moment in time.
The G13 is usable and very useful to me. However, I find myself fingering my way to certain keys or wrongly pushing the neighboring key. Which tells me that there are to many keys around without any physical distinction. In that sense, the old G11/15 layout was great, since you could feel you are pushing the left, right or middle key of a group of keys, including top or bottom row. Occasionally, my hand would rest in the wrong group out of the three, but I have learned to deal with it. Of course, this is all part of the natural resistance to change. Time will tell if my hand will be able to deal with my minor problems with the G13. It’s all ergonomics.
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