Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anatomy of a Healer: Peripherals

When I first picked up a copy of World of Warcraft (after much badgering by Marnas), I was under the mistaken belief that it would be like every other computer game I'd ever played. I'd played strategy games like Rise of Nations and role playing games like Prince of Persia. I'd even played Warcraft (the original) and Diablo. But the largest number of people I'd ever played those games with was four. I thought I'd load the game on my system and that would be it. I never dreamed that three years later I'd own a special keyboard, a gaming mouse, be constantly seeking a more comfortable (but affordable) headset for vent, and have upgraded not only the memory and graphics card in my computer, but also have purchased a new system--and even have upgraded that.

To start off my Anatomy of a Healer (because really we are a totally different animal than tanks or dps), I thought I'd start by discussing some Peripherals I use now.

As I have become more and more focused on PvE endgame, I have sought ways to decrease my reaction time. Despite being a typing teacher's daughter and taking a full year of the course in high school (back when we actually used--gasp--typewriters), I fully admit that I have never really mastered the number keys. On a regular keyboard I can hit 1 to 6 fairly reliably. The rest are really beyond me. Especially when my right hand is on a mouse. So for a long time any spells or abilities bound to 7 through = could only be accessed by clicking them. This wasn't necessarily a problem back in 40 man raids when my priest mostly just needed 1 for renew and 2 for flash heal, but as I learned more spells (and went shadow) I needed to be able to hit more keys more quickly.

I currently use the Merc Stealth Gaming Keyboard from Ideazon. And I must say I love it. It combines a regular keyboard with a special keypad. The keypad is offset at a slight angle that has eliminated some minor wrist pain I was experiencing. The number keys are arranged in two rows making it possible for even me to hit all of them when needed. The software allows you to bind keys to any series of strokes you want, making it possible to press one button instead of a complicated series of keys. It takes a little getting used to, but the main drawback I have found is not being able to function on other people's keyboards. I kinda suck on the regular kind now.

I splurged about a year ago and purchased a Razer Diamondback Gaming Mouse. I spent some time looking over the options at a couple of computer stores before making my purchase. The main feature I wanted was a thumb button for my vent bind. I know a lot of other people get fancier with their buttons, but for the most part I'm old school with the mouse. I just wanted it to fit my hand (I have pretty small hands and a lot of the big gaming mice felt awkward to me) and have the thumb button. I appreciate the responsiveness of the Diamondback, and I haven't regretted buying it at all.

A few members of my guild often gripe that the Officers don't read Raid Chat. Although I do try to read most of what scrolls through my chat screen, I don't always manage it. And I'm convinced a couple of the other Officers don't really even try. We're vent people, and we'd much rather explain a fight or discuss a problem on our Ventrilo server than try to type it all out. Because of this, I spend at least 11 hours a week wearing a headset. I think I have a permanent indentation on the top of my head where the band sits.

I'm not completely satisfied with the Logitech USB Headset I use, but the microphone doesn't usually make my guildies yell at me, and the sound quality is good. It isn't incredibly comfortable, but that is probably due to the fact that I don't wear it correctly. I run game sounds through my speakers and only use the headphones for vent, so I keep the left earpiece behind my left ear rather than on it. I'm on my second set of similar headphones; they seem to last pretty well even through my rough treatment. I tried using a bluetooth headset for a while, but evidently I sound much better through this headset, and I'm vain enough to not want to sound horrible.

Gaming Peripherals have become big business. Everytime I step foot into BestBuy or another computer store I am amazed at the number of new products taunting me from their shelves. Although I can't bring myself to spend $300 on a headset, I do think the makers of gaming accessories fill a niche in the marketplace. I spend enough time playing, researching, and thinking about WoW to justify making my experience in game comfortable--maybe not $300 comfortable, but even that isn't really absurd. I remember my dad having headphones for listening to his records that I wasn't allowed to touch...I think I once got a spanking just for looking at them. I guess spending big bucks to enjoy your hobby isn't anything new after all.


  1. I see your choices for peripherals, and raise you this:

  2. So, what you're saying is that your keyboard makes healing .... easier -.-

  3. @ Thren. Cool, but I haven't been sold on all the macro buttons on the Logitech G-whatever keyboard. I just want to be able to hit keys without looking down, and mine works for that.

    @ Silver. Possibly. Mostly it just makes me able to be better. I don't think of it as making it easy in the knowing who to heal when sense, but it makes me able to Hex something without getting a hand cramp. And I'm all for that.

  4. A good ventrilo provider is also needed for a good guild that wants heals on time without having to use macros to emote that you need heals. I have been using http://www.InstantVentrilo.com for about 3 years now, and they are great servers with no lag. I think a more detailed report of ventrilo servers would be something good to do in the future, just to explain how much easier it is to talk about, instead of typing, every boss kill strategy out there.