Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SWTOR: Keybinds, Movement and Focus Targets (Part 1)

I sometimes see people asking for keybinding tips or asking other players what their keybinds are but I never see people list reasons for specific binds.  One thing I dislike about Star Wars: The Old Republic so far is their very poor UI design.  I actually don't have an issue with their HUD layout, but I would respectfully say, they kind of went half-assed on some implementations for controls.  These partial implementations are quite honestly going to cause quite a few headaches for players until they revamp how the UI and keybinds work.

  • Hiding a UI bar causes keybinds on that bar to no longer work:  There honestly is no excuse for this one.  Most of the players that have been using binds for a long time use this trick to unclutter their screen real estate.  You put your keybinds that have no cooldown and thus you don't need to look at the button on a UI bar and then subsequently hide the bar to free up space.  Only skills that have cooldowns are visible and placed in an area that is prominently visible in your HUD.  I put all those buttons on my Right Hotbar, but I can't hide that bar to clear up my screen for a better view if I want to use those keybindings.
  • Very unflexible focus keybind control scheme:  For those that don't what know focus targets are about, you can check my tutorial video about them below.  The control scheme that they have setup doesn't allow the use of different modifiers for focus targets for different keybinds, nor do they allow for the use of modifers such as shift or alt for focus targets.  As a point of reference, in WoW I like having my interrupt be "R" and my focus target interrupt be "Shift + R".  Even if this was possible in SWTOR, I couldn't have let's say focus target stun use the "Alt" key.  Or may I want focus target interrupt to be "T" instead of a modified R.  This is something that really needs to be fixed if they want the game to be taken seriously.  I personally plan on using my swap target and focus target hotkey, hitting my keybind and then swapping back again until this gets resolved.
These are really the two big issues with keybinds that really need to be resolved.  Now a few considerations when trying to decide what your keybinds are.

  • Heavily utilized instant cast skills need to be in the most convenient and easy to reach locations:  Now I know this seems kind of obvious, but I'd like to put the emphasis on instant cast.  The reason for this is, in PvP the instant cast skills are the ones you will need to do while kiting.  Non-instant cast skills give you the luxury of stopping movement and then hitting the keybind. 
  • Depending on your kiting technique, you may have to favor one particular side:  I'll be putting together a short video kiting / movement methods in the future, but in the meantime if you're the kind of person strafe kites, then if you favor a particular side you might want to bind your instants on a particular side.  Specifically, if I could only strafe kite, I would always use left strafe and bind instants to "E, F, V, T, G".  This allows me to strafe with the "A" key and frees up my index finger for binds while moving.  
  • CC and interrupts need to be focus bind friendly and easily reachable:  So not as much of an issue right now, but if they ever fix the focus hotkey issue then this will be important.  Such R and Shift-R being my interrupt and focus interrupt.  Another skill that I would reserve a focus spot for is Cryo Grenade.
So today I included a quick run through of what focus targets are and how to use em.  Next time I would like to go into some movement and kiting techniques that some people just might not be aware of.  Happy Holidays Everyone!


  1. I really wish we had a macro system, even for simple priority usaghe. I find it a waste to have to bind Stockstrike, High Impact Bolt and Ion Pulse to three different keys. Between every Hammershot I probably want to cast one of these three skills, whichever is off CD, and in range, in exactly that order of priority.

    I use a G13 for my keys, and move with the joystick on it. I actually prefer my N52, but it just did not have enough keys.

  2. I used to make my macros have multiple abilities but since Blizzard took it away, I've kind of been wary of doing that again. But I do agree in that this game does need a bit of a UI overhaul. The biggest problem is with the responsiveness of the skills and button presses. Things just feel sluggish, I'd be happy if they just addressed those issues first.

    I do have a G15, but I actually only use the macro keys on the left side for some extra hotkeys and don't do anything special with them. Personally, I'm not a fan of choice automation, but I can't really fault people for using it when available.

  3. There is a lot posted about the sluggishness. I think the one thread I read referred to it as "ability delay". Ironically, in part I think it is due to choices made to try and get a more cinematic/visual cue to every action. That seems to force new abilities to wait on the completion of animation effects before they trigger. I think there is also some learning on our part to figure out where that animation doesn't matter. I think that Mortar Strike is a good example. There seems to be a point where the casting is complete where we can go on to the next action without waiting for the animation to complete.

    Hopefully this does not take too much effort to resolve. I do agree that choice macros are a bit of a crutch. Maybe it will help when I have more abilities, and get more used to which ones I really should be using, and I can take some abilities off my main key-binds. Ion Cannon might be a good example. I used to use this a lot as a group aggro skill, but Explosive Surge probably is a better skill to use, so I can move Cannon off the bar. That said, I still wish there could be a UI overhaul, or the enabling of Mods like Bartender, so we can set up our UI to suit our playstyles.

    Great blog btw, hope you keep it up.