The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

What do you want to see in Armagetron soon? Any new feature ideas? Let's ponder these ground breaking ideas...
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Z-Man
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The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Z-Man »

As per title. Our default keyboard layout can be improved. It's better than t2o's layout (took me ages to discover how to turn right, they went for a two handed setup which definitely isn't for everyone), but still. The basic idea is: PC and Mac players are used to WASD doing something. So, let's do:

A: turn left
D: turn right
S: brake

S was chatting previously. Good riddance, too, because it's much better to do
Return/Enter: chat
You have to press one of those to quit chatting, so if you're a chatty person, just press them twice every time to get a new chat input right after you spammed your last line, and it's more standard.
A is currently bound to some camera action nobody uses (apart from video making); we can banish all uncommon camera stuff to the numpad.

We can keep Z/Y for left and X for right, too. They sit nicely below A and D and are closer together, which some people will prefer.

Camera switching can stay on C. It's nearby and memorable.

That leaves W still unused. Maybe do this:

W: glance back
Q: glance left
E: glance right

I kind of remember Q and E were used to lean sideways in those games that supported it. Cursor keys should still keep the same functions for two handed play.

The second player, ideally, should get a block of keys just like that on the other side of the keyboard. Unfortunately, the P for Pause is in the way. It's double bound to the Pause key, but many laptops don't have that one. Then again, pressing ESC also pauses, so the pause function is redundant anyway. Let's kill P, I say:

.: turn left
/: turn right
L: turn left
': turn right
;: brake
O: glance left
P: glance back
[: glance right

Erk. Looks horrible, but then again, it's only player 2. Another problem is the heavy scrambling non-EN keyboards do in that area, and that 0.2.8 stores keybindings by the keysym, which corresponds to the meaning, and not the position, of a key. Wasn't there some SDL function that returned the keyboard layout as a map between keysyms and scancodes? That's what we'd need here.

So, suggestions? Improvements?

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by sinewav »

:D Perfect.

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by noob13 »

I like the setup, though I'd prefer player 2 keys slightly more to the left. J, K, L and U, I, O, for instance.
Like you said, the keys on the right side vary depending on layout, so it'd be clearest to use ones that don't.

Also, is there a problem with arrow keys? (Other than no place to bind glances.)

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by epsy »

Add to that

T: Talk
Y: Team-talk

as it's a default in other games?

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Z-Man »

It is? I should probably check TF2 and stuff. Y is problematic, unfortunately; it sits to the left of X on many keyboards. Oh yeah, Q and A are also sometimes swapped.

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Phytotron »

Why not employ the arrow keys for turning? In my case, I use Left and Right for the obvious, and, theoretically, Down for brake (but brakes for weaks! and /me binds brake to caps lock :lol: — actually, I have no regular brake anymore, and put the toggle on the left shift). Then I use SDF (slide over for standard ASD, or up for QWE) for glancing.

I use the asterisk on the number pad for changing camera view. In the past I used to have other camera movements (not including glances) mapped to the number pad numbers as well, as it happens. I use the + on the number pad for a screenshot. The number pad = is for console, which is admittedly not intuitive, but out of the way and goes with the rest of the functional keys mapped over there. The 'Pause' key is one that's not on any Mac desktop keyboard I have (again, I'll get back to you on the others), so I made the number pad / pause. Chat is "C"—you'll never guess why.

ESC isn't redundant for pausing; it brings up the menu. One can't enter console commands while the menu is up.

I think Page Up and Down are obviously fine. However, it might be useful to employ the End key. Especially in the cases of paging up a lot, being able to just press End once to return past the most recent line would be most convenient, but obviously that goes beyond just changing a default key bind.

Just throwing those out there for consideration, in case you find them worthwhile.

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Lackadaisical »

I would also opt for using the arrows to turn. While asd is standard for most games, I think moving is only a secondary action in those games and you use your right hand to do the more important stuff (for shooting, mostly). In armagetron moving is you're primary action, and it makes more sense to have it so you use your right hand for it. Maybe offer to choose between a left/right handed configuration?

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by DDMJ »

Lack said it best; the arrow keys pretty much have to be the default turning keys. Brake should be the space bar as it's clearly the biggest key so players won't forget how to slow down! If your left thumb is setup on the spacebar then your fingers can be in a few different places. The two "strongest" fingers on your left hand are the index and middle fingers, so they should be used for glancing. C = glance left, V = glance right. The rest of your fingers on your left hand would then naturally sit on Z and X, which should be used as turn left and turn right, respectively, for double-binders' sake. I left out glance back, which should be the down arrow key so it is easy to check behind you even while turning.

*Note that the above is "coincidentally" my keyboard setup :P

**Note that laptops don't have a numberpad so I wouldn't go binding keys to that, or the pause/break/end/etc keys.

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Jonathan »

I wouldn't go with C/V/space. Too cramped (not that Z/X/V is any good though). Or does it just train you not to use brakes?

I've been thinking about the turn keys. I found it's easier to alternate rapidly between index/ring than index/middle, but ring is slightly worse at rapid successions. Should probably be index/middle if that weighs against familiar WASD/arrows; 'one-time' alternations are way fast anyway (<< CYCLE_DELAY), and stairsteps never helped me much.
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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Lucifer »

WASD for glancing. Somewhere on the right in a layout as similar to wasd as possible, brakes and turning. Arrow keys also brakes/turning.

Or move glancing over to the right a bit, and make sure WASD all put out instant chats to the player to tell him how to move and glance. :)

I personally like having the whole left side of the keyboard dedicated to glancing and instant chats. Since instant chats have become an important part of play, some attention should be given to the default chats that reflect that.
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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by compguygene »

DDMJ wrote:Lack said it best; the arrow keys pretty much have to be the default turning keys. Brake should be the space bar as it's clearly the biggest key so players won't forget how to slow down! If your left thumb is setup on the spacebar then your fingers can be in a few different places. The two "strongest" fingers on your left hand are the index and middle fingers, so they should be used for glancing. C = glance left, V = glance right. The rest of your fingers on your left hand would then naturally sit on Z and X, which should be used as turn left and turn right, respectively, for double-binders' sake. I left out glance back, which should be the down arrow key so it is easy to check behind you even while turning.

*Note that the above is "coincidentally" my keyboard setup :P

**Note that laptops don't have a numberpad so I wouldn't go binding keys to that, or the pause/break/end/etc keys.
I also am pushing for this use of the arrow keys and space bar! I always curse a game that doesn't use the arrow keys for movement...it's the most intuitive thing, and universal on all keyboards.
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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Concord »

It's also important (almost more important) to have the obscure video controls readily available as default bindings, because video makers working from recordings are completely dependent on the default keys as they cannot change them, AFAIK.

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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Tank Program »

Arrows for turning seem clever. I don't know about WASD for glance rather than turning, but I do think that the mouse should be unbound from camera. Does anyone actually use it?
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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by XzL.Smart »

I've used arrow keys for turning since day one of Armagetron. it was a lot easier to find on the keyboard when I wasn't looking
than the default setup(which I didn't even know until I got a look in the menu). I also have Z for left turn, X for right turn.
A = Left glace, S = Back Glance, D = Right glance.

P.s. Durka: My laptop does. But I know most don't. I just wanted to prove you wrong.

P.s.s. Is there gonna be a way to team chat without having to type /team or setup a way in the instant chat menu? I find it
rather inconvenient.
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Re: The Quest for a Better Default Keyboard Layout

Post by Z-Man »

Concord wrote:as they cannot change them, AFAIK.
They can't change them on playback, true, but they're still the keys set when the recording was made. I moved all of them over to the right side of the regular keyboard in my tournament recording setup, for example, and you can use them there while playing back.

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