Hotkey Handling

posted by on 15th December 2008, at 9:53pm | 3 Comments

If there’s one thing that makes Runescape clunky and hard to manage, it’s the fact that there is only one main way of controlling the game: with the mouse.

While this may not be a problem to some people, it may turn away the eye of seasoned MMORPG gamers.  This was one of the main reasons it took me so long to begin enjoying the game – everything was controlled by two mouse buttons and the arrow keys.  I was used to having to hit “I” for inventory or “Q” for quests, navigating with WASD, and using the right mouse button to control camera angles.  However, it took awhile to get used to the lack of unique controls in Runescape.

What if Runescape had all the keyboard controls of a typical MMORPG?  In my opinion this would make the game a lot easier to handle and attract many more potential players.  While there are the function hotkeys for the menus (and they are certainly helpful after Runescape went full-screen), there could be even more.

WASD would make navigating so much easier and more realistic than clicking a point on a mini map.  There’s just something to the manual navigation of a character that makes an MMORPG so much more enticing.  You feel more as though you are the character by being able to fully control their movement and when they turn/what direction they go in.  By clicking a location and having your character move there, it feels less like you’re part of the game and more like you’re acting as an overlord.  WASD navigation would also free up the mouse to use for other options besides navigation.  One of the most annoying things I’ve found in the game is the auto camera angle.  Whenever I walk through an area with high elevation, it’s highly irritating to watch the screen automatically move to a higher angle.  By being able to use the mouse to control camera angles, such as in many other MMORPGs, it would make traveling much more entertaining by actually being able to see the scenery around you.

The function hotkeys, while useful, don’t really make sense.  It took me a rather long time to memorize which key went to what menu because there was no meaning behind which menu was designated to which key.  It was also rather hard switching around menus because, in all honesty, nobody really uses hotkeys, and they’re at a rather hard location on the keyboard to access.  It would be much easier if they were switched to keys that people are used to hitting, such as I, Q, M, P, F, etc.  Then it would be easier to figure out what key went to which menu and where it was located on the keyboard.  I know that not many people use the function hotkeys as they are currently, but if they were changed to familiar keys, then the majority, if not all the players on Runescape would use them and find their lives in game much easier to handle.

One of the main reasons Runescape is so successful is because of its gameplay and the fact that it’s a rather advanced browser based game.  However, its bad controls are bringing down its good qualities.  If Jagex were to implement more familiar controls to the game, then it would catch the eye of even more people than it currently does.  It is definitely possible in the technical standpoint, so now it’s just up to Jagex to bring about the change that will make a great impact on the fluidity of the game.