So in my latest series I will be focusing on good habits for leveling. In my last article I listed a good eating diet and strong playing habits while eating and digesting. I explained the science behind these choices and what sort of short term diet you are going for. I should once again note that this is a short term diet and only includes the most important and necessary nutrients and minerals for gaming. By no means is this something you will want to do for a prolonged period of time.
So in today’s article I’ll be looking at the externals. In this article I’ll be focusing on what is outside of the game, how to maximize your atmosphere for leveling. Half of this will focus purely on computer hardware, the other half will focus on your physical space.
I remember the first time I upgraded my laptop. I was running an old 1998 Compaq laptop with Windows 97 SE. And then with my first $1,000 I bought a new Dell laptop. Suddenly my gaming went from alright to amazing. After adding in a new keyboard and a monitor I was a god. By the time World of Warcraft came out in 2003. Whether people want to admit it or not, what kind of computer you have and what hardware you have will make a difference on how you play. It’s kind of like when people tell you that it’s the player not the gear. I mean that sounds nice and all, but at some point gear matters too.
The trend in professional gaming has been to obtain a very large and very powerful gaming laptop. Gaming laptops range from $2,000-$10,000. Laptops are portable, compatible and light weight. This makes them perfect for the gamer who is looking to compete in world tournaments or just a group of friends who want to play in the same building.
When I play in the same building as someone I bring my tower and mouse and they provide the monitor and keyboard.
Hardware Piece #1 – Keyboard
It’s important to have a really good keyboard amongst everything else.
A good keyboard is going to have two important features: high durability and ergonomic soundness.
There are so many horror stories about keyboards it’s ridiculous. Gamers are quite possibly the biggest slobs possible. On top of that, gamers have no respect for their own property and see no problem with destroying it. Gamers are such big slobs they’ll drop their beverages on their keyboards all the time. It is very common for small fragments of food to show up between keys. How about those keys falling off because you spam them so heavily?
These are all things considered when purchasing a decent keyboard. Most standard keyboards get sticky, full of gunk and lose their keys too easily. This is a big reason why laptops suck. Those keys just pop off so easily. Most commonly in MMOs are WASD and 1234.
The key to the keys popping off is having thicker keys. You can see the illustrated laptop keyboard has really thin keys that are held on by really cheap materials. If you have nice tall keys it means there is less tension on your springs and less popping off keys. I can remember deciding I was going to reroll for the guild and having my W key permanently pop off during a grind. I ended up having to push the inside of the laptop to get that key working. This caused my fingers to seriously hurt for quite some time and effected my performance come raid night.
Ergonomics are also key. Ergonomics is the study of comfort. For a keyboard this means your finger tips and the bottoms of your palm. Different types of keyboards are available with a light material that will making the keys easier to push and feel better on your fingers.
I am currently using a Razor Lycosa. This is the cheaper model of Razor keyboards at $80. As a note of irony the new Razor Tron keyboard is of inferior design and costs $170. Don’t make the forlorn assumption that just because something is more expensive, it’s better. The Logitech G keyboards are still often considered the standard in gaming keyboards. This is not because of any of the factors I listed, but instead macro keys.
Macro keys used to be insanely useful in raiding, but their value has slowly moved down. Basically a lot of people used to program “legal” bots who would just follow a set program that the keyboard would permit. Additionally people would use repeat commands for very basic one-button DPS rotations. If you feel like you need this by all mans get a macro keyboard. However macro keyboards have fallen in popularity specifically because they are no longer functional in a world where game developers want to make your life easier.
Hardware Piece #2 – Mouse
The mouse used to be one of the most important pieces of equipment… in the 90s. Since the 90s there has been more and more of an attempt to make finger taps replace its functionality. This means that your mouse has become an extension of your keyboard. The mouse is still used for selecting individual enemies/allies, right clicking quest givers, accepting quests, turning in quests, and turning. This does not give it a tone of functionality in the game.
What you end up needing is to replace some of your keyboard buttons with mouse buttons. What you need is a mouse with 5 buttons: left click, right click, mouse wheel click, side button 1, and side button 2.
There are mice out there with ridiculous features. The Razor Naga for example puts your Numpad on your mouse so that you can keybind your numpad and use your mouse for all of your buttons. This is mostly unnecessary.
The reason why you want mouse button 1 and mouse button 2 is so that you can transform them into shift and ctrl keys. Generally speaking if you are using more than 5 buttons (which you probably are) you will want to keybind keys with Ctrl, Alt or Shift modifiers. When I play a game I usually have about 27 keys that I use: 1,2,3,4,5,`(tilde), caps lock, q, e, r, s, t, a, d, z, x, and c. That means I will need about twice as many keys to play the game.
What you want is to go to Microsoft to find out how to do this.
As far as mouse choice goes the cheap choice this time is the best choice. The Gigabyte GM-M6800 has everything you need and usually goes for $20 or less. It is ergonomically friendly with a small hand design and pads on the left and right to cradle your hands. As well it has a DP button which will increase or decrease your mouse speed for precise selection or fast speed.
Hardware Piece #3 – Monitor
Flat screen, you need space for food. Next.
Everything else is optional. Having foam in your head phones is nice but having speakers kicks too. But if you have to put on head phones always have in head phones. If you have to get a microphone you should probably never pay more than $60, and never get a warrantee. If you actually use your microphone (head set) as much as a standard gamer does it should break after a year or two in some manner that a warrantee will not fix.
Behind your monitor should be pretty drab. What you want is a room that looks boring so that it doesn’t take away from the game
If at any point you consider looking past your monitor to look at something (a calendar, a clock) then you really need to move those things.
On that note, have no clocks up. There is always the in-game clock but it is small and people only look at it after the fact. A clock that is large or ticks or has an alarm will always tell you how much time you have successfully wasted.
The only people you want to be around are people who are playing with you. As you will learn playing together is always leveling faster than leveling alone assuming that everyone wants to level fast. Other than that limit interactions with the outside world.
Your surroundings should contain you in a bubble until you hit the level cap. The only stop should be for a few hours of sleep before you go back at it. If you are fortunate to have a loving mother deliver you food while you are playing that’ll be a plus, but if you’re like everyone else you’ll should only be limited by bathroom breaks, food, and sleeping.