Conversations with an Empty Chair

Rant: I'm done with "billion button" games

Rate this Entry
Last night I patched and launched TOR, and logged my Sage in. But after running around in circles for a few minutes I realized I had no desire to actually play the game anymore. The reason? Too many buttons.

It's a weird thing, but recent games like Guild Wars 2, TSW, and even Path of Exile have made me realize how much I absolutely detest games that have six bajillion different skills - ALL of which you need to have on a hotbar and immediately accessible in order to not suck. Why?

I'm a left-handed player, and I am *super* uncoordinated.

I always struggled with (and sucked at) games that had you use so many skills. See, I use the numpad for my movement keys, which (unlike WASD) severely limits the number of additionally available keys for you to bind to attacks. Moreso because in many games some of those buttons are either unbindable, or stuff like Enter, which is shared with chat functions. As a result, I often had to reduce myself to being a keyboard turner, just so I could use the left side of the keyboard for all those f'ing attacks/abilities.

And before you say "just buy a gamepad/multi-button mouse", I say: shaddup. There AREN'T any good gamepads for lefties, and almost every mouse worth using is *exclusively* for right-handed people. (Only recently have decent lefty/ambidexterous mice come out; I use a Logitech G300, and it is rad.)

For years I just sort of accepted that I'd have to suck due to the cruel fate of being a lefty, but this recent spate of games has reminded me that - barring being forced to use too many stupid keys - I'm actually a pretty good gamer. With my current mouse and keyboard I can easily hotkey 9 buttons (up to 15 depending on the game's other button requirements) and not have to turn like an amateur.

Another thing I've realized, too: I *like* being forced to pick my skills. My first "real" online game was Guild Wars 1, and I always liked that you only got 8 skills on your hotbar. I appreciated that part of what made a good player a "great" player was not just how fast you could activate skills, but in fact knowing which skills to even bring to the fight. As a Monk, I had to experiment to find the best mix of Protection and Healing skills to keep my party alive, and that mix changed from PvE to PvP to dungeons to GvG. I always felt it was lazy design to just assume that you could put 20-30+ different skills on a hotbar "just in case"; I liked the idea that half the victory was earned before you even loaded the zone.

So yeah. I'm sure a lot of you more experienced (or more skilled) players are well used to the orgy of skill activation that MMOs seem to love. From now on, though, one of my major "make or break" questions before I buy a new game will be "how many buttons do they expect me to press?"


  1. Chaosmonkey's Avatar
    The bit about 20-30+ different skills on a hotbar "just in case" I agree with. In my experience with MMOs a lot of the time you only need maybe 10 skills for most situations, but you often have many more that are needed in very specific cases. I hate having to have those skills on my bar just in case.
  2. Stonar's Avatar
    I'm totally with you. The difference, really, is the same as the difference between an RTS and a TBS game. It's the difference between "skill as measured by reaction" and "skill as measured by choosing the correct strategy for the current situation." They're both skill, but one is more... active? Reflexive? While the other is more thoughtful and about planning ahead of time. They both have their value, but I'm a much bigger fan of making impactful choices ahead of time, and using the tools you brought to win, rather than just taking a cookie cutter "obviously best build," and pressing the right rotation at the right time.
  3. Ironbuket's Avatar
    Shame there isn't a logitech G13 for left handed people, I find it a big help. I totally agree with there being too many skills, in WOW most of my characters couldn't get all their skills as icons on screen without using a plugin. Who can actually pull off 2 (or even 3) key shortcuts in the middle of a fight anyway? You end up having no choice but to use macros, and then you are cheating.
  4. Altg33k's Avatar
    so i've just read this nice blog entry and agree lefties get screwed when it comes to mice and games with lot of buttons. saying this; Razer finally decided to release a left handed version of my much beloved naga MMO mouse. The I love the 12 buttons on the side and cant' wait for my lefty friends to love it too.
  5. moslie's Avatar
    I agree that too many spells/attacks/whatever is not needed in games any longer. I love what GW2 has done, and honestly can't bring myself to play SWTOR anymore. One because i'm using the F2P option (which jips you of certain things, and places limits on what you can do, which was handled poorly and sucks), And Two because of all the damn spells an Inquisitor Sorc needs just to get by. I know in WoW they made changes to lessen the amount of spells/attacks/whatever on a person's action bars, but GW2 handled it very well from the beginning, and i never even played GW before. So i totally agree that games with too many spells/attacks/whatever are frustrating and really not needed anymore.
  6. Thaine's Avatar
    Have you tried an auto-hotkey script which rebinds your numpad buttons? (use #IfWinActive so it's only while the game is active)


    #IfWinActive, Wildstar
    Updated 04-26-2014 at 10:04 PM by Thaine