…and I can haz it. No, seriously. I play DDO almost entirely with an Xbox 360 controller.
Sure, there are times I need to reach over and hit something with the mouse. More often than not, though, that’s a “fire and forget” long-duration buff or a short swimming segment. The best part is it doesn’t interfere with my keyboard mapping, so I can interchange with they keyboard as the need arises – although my keyboard usage has declined to almost exclusively being one-handed running in town while taking a drink or grabbing a bite to eat.
The advantage is unparalleled control of your toon on the battlefield and off. All movement controls become graduated instead of either/or toggles. That means if you’re tailing a monster, you can adjust your speed to match theirs rather than “hiccupping” the movement keys. You’re also not limited to the fixed movement combinations inherent in keyboards – need to circle-strafe an opponent at 73% move speed with +/- 8% bearing variance to avoid obstacles and account for a three-meter radius boss position shift? Pfft. No problem. That’s the two thumbsticks, leaving the rest of your fingers free to use any combination of the rest of the controller with impunity and completely remove the complexity of strafing itself from the equation.
You can also hit combinations of hotbar effects while moving in rapid-fire without ever taking your focus one millimeter off of your target. As a very melee-centric player, the enhanced control keeps me right on top of juking enemies while keeping my blade (or fist) at their jugular, exactly where I need to be, without ever having to think about moving or getting my fingers in the wrong spot.
The disadvantage is, without assigning a “meta” button (one which acts like CTRL or ALT in other applications, thereby effectively giving you an entirely new set of key/button bindings), you’re mostly limited to one hotbar’s worth of heavy-combat button assignments at any given time. You can still, however, swap hotbars the same way you would with a keyboard – i.e. “hotbar 1 is for fleshies, hotbar 2 is for undead” etc. As your main buttons are the ones you need right now in combat, this limitation has yet to be anything of note yet; however, I’m a pretty lousy arcane, and I could easily see how some heavily offense-based spellthrowers might cancel the idea right there.
Melees – you’ll never look back.
Interested in giving it a try? Here’s how to set it up.
1.) First things first: you can only perform this with a hard-wired controller. This excludes wireless controllers with the Charge & Play cable (which actually only provide power to the controller which is still operating wirelessly). To get started, simply plug the controller in to a USB port and let the driver auto-install before booting up DDO. If it doesn’t install automatically, you can manually install the driver package from the Microsoft support site here: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/xbox-360-controller-for-windows#support
2.) Boot up DDO. If you launched DDO before the controller was plugged in, DDO won’t recognize it and you’ll have to close out completely and restart it. (To my understanding, this “unrecognized” issue exists with all USB devices, not just controllers, so this should be nothing new.)
3.) Load up your favorite guinea pig toon and hit CTRL+O to go into the Options menu. Navigate to Keymapping. You only have to do this once, unless you want to “tweak” it.
Here’s where you have the freedom to arrange your controller the way you want to. What follows is merely how I have mine mapped to get you started. And yes, I know the diagram is for a wireless controller, but I’m lazy and don’t feel like looking up a diagram for a wired one. Sue me.
- Left Stick X-Axis: Strafe left/right
- Left Stick Y-Axis: Move forward/backward
- Left Stick (click): Recenter camera (useful for recovering from quick mouselook segments)
- Right Stick X-Axis: Turn left/right
- Right Stick Y-Axis: Camera zoom in/out
- Right Stick (click): Active Hotbar Slot #5
- A Button: Jump
- X Button: Interact (NOT the attack/interact one – the one labeled just Interact)
- B Button: Active Hotbar Slot #1
- Y Button: Active Hotbar Slot #2
- * Left Trigger: Block
- * Right Trigger: Attack (NOT attack/interact)
- * Left Bumper: Active Hotbar Slot #7
- * Right Bumper: Active Hotbar Slot #10
- Back Button: AutoRun
- Start Button: Activate Rune Arm / Voice Push-To-Talk (this toggles depending on whether or not I’m playing an arti, and/or whether or I’m using voice chat. I don’t use voice chat with folks I don’t know, typically, as my mouth tends to get me into trouble……)
- Guide Button: Unmappable
- D-Pad Left: Active Hotbar Slot #3
- D-Pad Right: Active Hotbar Slot #4
- D-Pad Up: Select Party Member #2
- D-Pad Down: Select Party Member #3
– Tip: In the Gameplay options, turn off Sticky Fellow Selection. This allows you to hit Up to select Party Member 2, pop a heal off with the B or Y button, then hit Up again to de-select them. This quickly becomes second nature to toss “blind heals” without ever disengaging your opponent and is a HUGE tactical boon.
Savvy readers may have noticed this layout omits active hotbar slots 6, 8, and 9. You’re right, it does. That wasn’t completely arbitrary, although it may seem that way; it’s merely a matter of where my fingers land when I rest my right hand on the keyboard without looking – I have my forefinger on six, middle on 8, and ring on 9… so, naturally, those become the “second tier” buttons, still quickly and blindly accessible, just an inch or two away. If my fingers landed elsewhere, I’d have left those buttons off the controller, instead.
Clearly, this is not the only way to map the buttons, and you may change it up completely. When I’m grouping, I usually only run with one or two other players – hence my use of D-Pad Up and Down for select party members two and three. You might want to map that instead to different hotbar slots, target mecha-puppy, hireling get over here, what-have-you. That’s just how I have mine laid out to give you some ideas and a starting point.