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My wife and I have been playing WoW together for years now.

From the very start I was trying to teach her to use hotkeys and look with the mouse, but she always defaulted back to clicking her abilities and keyboard turning. I must say, she's pretty dang good at it. She excels at PvE (always top 3 dps in guild raids), but I notice a big potential for improvement in PvP.

Has anyone else had success teaching someone how to switch play methods?

I'm not debating the merits of clicking vs hotkeys, or keyboard turning vs mouse looking, so please take those arguments elsewhere. I'm simply looking for an effective method to help her out -- she recognizes the potential for improvement and wants to learn, it's just a hard habit to break.

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    The question is: does she really care? Or is it really neccessary? People have different play styles and after all, it's a game... – Morfildur Dec 3 '10 at 21:28
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    @dbemerlin: if the player is at all interested in playing the game in any way more than just to fool around, hotkeys make all the difference in terms of mental energy expended doing context switches. – RCIX Dec 3 '10 at 22:38
  • As @ChrisF recommends, Minecraft on Peaceful would be a great choice for re-training her to the mouse-look controls. – RCIX Dec 3 '10 at 22:42
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    You can have my 5 ability bars when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. – user2974 Dec 4 '10 at 0:11
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Practice and concentration on the new controls. It just takes a while (3 weeks?) for something to become a learned behaviour.

It might help to avoid stressful situations at least during the early part of this period. When stressed we revert to what we think we know best. This is why you wash your windscreen when you meant to flash your lights when someone cuts you up when driving as your previous car's controls were the opposite to the one you have now.

So if you are engaged in guild raids - which sound stressful - your wife is more likely to revert to the previously learned behaviour (keyboard turning). With enough non-stressed practice at looking with the mouse she should be comfortable with it when it really matters.

Just to add something I posted as a comment on another answer:

Minecraft can be played in peaceful mode with no enemies and has the "classic" keyboard and mouse controls so might well be a suitable training environment.

  • I think this is the route we're going to try. We've tried all other solutions here in the past, and you are right - she reverts to her old habits during stressful moments. Thanks for the tips! – dpatchery Dec 6 '10 at 12:44
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Change her key bindings for a month. Re-bind A and D to strafe left and strafe right. Without a key allowing her to turn, she will be forced to learn to mouse-turn.

If you'd like an example of how powerful this is, try Sindragosa hard mode. Every keyboard turner I see ends up dying every attempt because they can't get behind the ice blocks during the air phases.

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The easier way would be to let her play a game that doesn't allow you to turn with a keyboard (or at least by default), something like a FPS for instance.

That way she's forced to learn the new controls, in a 'fun' way.

As soon as she get's the hang of it, it will be easier for her to use it in WoW too

  • We tried that. She lasted about 10 seconds in CoD:MW2 and about 2 seconds in Halo. It's just not her kind of game. Good suggestion though! Maybe there are some slower paced FPS-like adventure games out there. I'll look around. – dpatchery Dec 3 '10 at 20:55
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    @dpatch - was this multi-player or single-player? If it was the former I'm not surprised she didn't last long. Go with single player with the difficulty turned right down. – ChrisF Dec 3 '10 at 21:04
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    Minecraft can be played in Peaceful mode - no enemies - and has the "classic" controls of keyboard for movement and mouse for looking. – ChrisF Dec 3 '10 at 21:05
  • Reposting last comment because I made a major braino and its long past the edit time. I use mouse turning in FPS games all the time, but when I'm playing WoW, I still seem to do at least some keyboard turning, particularly during battles... namely because I still use the mouse for activating abilities, rather than learning what the keyboard shortcuts for my second (aux commands) and third (healing pots/items) bars are. – user2974 Dec 4 '10 at 23:58
  • @ChrisF - it was single player. More of a problem of frustration than poor performance. Also, I looked into minecraft and it's a great suggestion. – dpatchery Dec 6 '10 at 12:42
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After years of keyboard-turning, I decided one day I wanted to turn via the mouse instead. So, I sat in a capital city, unbound Q W E A S & D, then navigated around town until I got the hang of it. With the keys disabled, I couldn't cheat and fall back.

When my girlfriend started playing and I told her about keyboard turning vs mouse turning, she asked me to set her up for mouse turning. I did the same thing with her. Within minutes she was off and running around.

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Part of the problem is the keyboard hotkeys.

Typical numeric row hotkeys are only practical up to 6 (if you're good). I have no idea how you can hit 7 to 0 and return to your movement keys reliably without looking down.

You need to rebind the keyboard turn keys, then when that's adapted, bind the hotkeys into the turn keys and it'll make a real difference.

  • If you do both turns and hotkeys with the keyboard, there is no need to keep a hand on the mouse. Personally, I use the right hand for movement and the left hand for hotkeys. With the gcd between 1 and 1.5 seconds, there is plenty of time to reach for the '0' and move back to the '1'. Or use shift-2 to activate the second skill bar. With just 1-5 and shift, that's 25 abilities without moving your hand. – Sjoerd Sep 2 '17 at 0:20
  • "I have no idea how you can hit 7 to 0 and return to your movement keys reliably without looking down." Answer: Get used to pressing your leftmost finger to the side of the ` / tab / caps lock keys. It's easy to get back to that position without looking down. In case you use your right hand for movement, those are easy to find without looking as well. – Sjoerd Sep 2 '17 at 0:24

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