Friday, 25 May 2012
Key Bindings and Module Layouts for the Discerning Gentleman
The first of these is to look at the layout of your modules (the buttons on your UI that is, rather than the position of the modules themselves). For the uninitiated, you can move your module buttons around by clicking the options button below your HUD (those three small lines at the bottom there) and selecting 'unlock modules' - you can then drag each module to the position of your choosing before repeating this process to lock them again. This doesn't just change where the button sits, it also changes the associated hotkeys - for example the default F1 will always activate the top left module, regardless of what you put there.
It's a good idea to standardise where you keep certain important modules, so that no matter which ship you're flying you're always clicking in the same place or using the same hotkey to perform a particular function. Doing this allows you to respond to situations more quickly, since you no longer need to locate the required module in order to activate it - you already know where it is. This is really just common sense when you think about it - look at the way that common UI elements are standardised in other applications, and imagine how much more difficult it would be to operate them if a particular menu or button was in a different place every time you went into it.
Despite being very different ships, the three examples above all follow the same basic layout - my point or scram goes in the top left slot, followed by my weapons and then any other directly offensive modules such as webs, neuts, and ewar - these are the modules which I generally want to engage as quickly as possible, and which I'll regularly be shifting between targets as a fight progresses. Other modules fall in standard places too - my primary propulsion mod is always first on the mid rack, my active tank mod is third followed by cap boosters and/or nosferatus. Damage control is always fourth on the bottom. Some of these positions might seem a little arbitrary - why I lay them out this way in particular brings me on to my next topic - hotkeys.
We're all familiar with the default hotkeys - back in the days before weapon grouping was possible, 'F1 to F8' was shorthand for fire all ze missiles (or turrets if you were so inclined), and while for most people that has simply become F1 now, I'm sure many of you still appreciate how much easier it is to simply press F1 than it is to click your weapon icon every time you want to engage it. In addition to that, you might have experimented with assigning your own shortcuts to various things, a popular one being the drone attack/drone return commands (while I believe these are now assigned a key combination by default, that was not always the case). However, there's more that we can do with this.
The following idea isn't mine originally - I found it on reddit and immediately fell in love with it. The suggestion is to map all of your module slots to the keys on your keyboard, starting with Q in the top left and giving you the following:
The great thing about this is that if you spend anything like as much time around computers as I do (and let's face it, if you play eve you probably do), the location of the letter keys and their positions relative to each other is already embedded into your muscle memory. Not only that, but for the majority of gamers your fingers will naturally rest around the WASD area - look again at the position of my turrets, propulsion mod and armour/shield rep, and you'll see why I have them where I do (personally I find S and the keys directly below it more difficult to reach than those above and to the right, hence the gap in my modules there).
To make this even better, set your hotkeys for overheating to shift and the relevant letter key - being able to make the mental connection that to engage your point you press Q and to overheat your point you just press shift + Q is incredibly convenient in the heat of battle. I also recommend mapping broadcast shortcuts for request armour, shield, and capacitor - I use the number keys 1 to 3 for ease of access, with my drone engage/return/dock commands on 4 through 6.
You'll need to disable some of the default shortcuts to make this work, things like align, warp, jump etc. You can remap these to something convenient if you prefer, but personally I don't find them all that useful (to use them you need to press the shortcut and then click the desired object, at which point I may as well just be using the selected items window).
Be aware, getting into the habit using keyboard shortcuts can take a while. I've always been a clicker, and when I originally tried using hotkeys it felt awkward and didn't seem like I was saving much time at all. However it really is worth it - it's not just that is speeds things up, but taking away a large portion of the mouse movement can make PVP feel a little less frantic - you're no longer rushing to engage modules, and can instead focus on the meaningful choices that make a difference to your fight.
So there's my advice. Again, a short disclaimer - all of this is simply what I've found to work well for me, and there's no guarantee that it'll work as well for you - there's no right or wrong and no best way to do it, but I do recommend giving it a try. You might hate it, or you might find it solves a problem that you never knew you had!
The Altruist is the Eve Online blog of Azual Skoll, PVP instructor and small gang PVPer.
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