Popping back into Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) recently, just to blow the cobwebs off my characters, I was reminded of the issue of control schemes in different MMORPGs. If you’ve ever swapped games with any regularity then you might recognise this one too.
MMORPGs have pretty varied default controls – that mix of keybindings and mouse configuration that we use to guide our character. There’s a fairly stark split in the genre between action and non-action games in this regard. Traditional non-action MMOs have the mouse buttons for interaction and movement functions, whereas in action MMOs the mouse buttons are usually used for basic attacks.
Beyond the basics, though, there are lots of actions that I have bound to various keys over the course of the years and in various games. For years I had Shift+4 as my mount/unmount key in LOTRO and in other later games like SWTOR. That was originally a random choice, it just happens I placed my mount skill in the row and slot corresponding with that combination. More recently I have moved to binding mount to mouse button five for convenience and have had to rebind it on all my characters in SWTOR to match. Some games have a specific mount key already setup; e.g. Z in Wildstar or X in The Secret World.
Having an interact key instead of using the mouse button is another control nuance that’s increasingly common, moreso in action games – it is ‘F’ in several games, like TSW, Neverwinter or Wildstar. A similar new convention is the loot key; you spam a key after fights to vacuum up loot instead of the old-school “right-clicking of corpses” method. Sometimes this is the same as interact, or in others it’s a separate key, e.g. ‘V’ in Wildstar.
Returning to the subject of DDO, the game has three preset control schemes in the game (default, fps and classic). By instinct I prefer the ‘classic’ scheme – one major difference is in the mouse button actions: with ‘classic’ you interact with the left mouse and basic attack with the right, the newer ‘default’ scheme reverses these two. I think it must be muscle-memory that I’m used to playing DDO that way as I started before the control scheme changes that came with the Free to Play transition. But the game does still feel slightly like a hybrid between a non-combat and combat-MMO with regards to its controls. I may have to try to setup a more action MMO-like control scheme if we play the game, e.g. having an interact key instead of either mouse button.
Setting up the controls to mimic other games you play can be time-consuming, or even impossible if keybindings are limited. Do you muddle through and (re)learn a game’s defaults or do you take the time to reconfigure things?