A Guide to Gear and Settings.
Gear and Settings
I wanted to talk to you about some important things that should help you with your gameplay. I wanna start off by talking about gear and then I’m gonna talk about in-game settings like sensitivity and some stuff about controls.
There are a lot of misconceptions about gear. Lots of people say gimmicky stuff like “good players will still be good even with crappy gear”.
These people have no idea what they’re talking about. I’m considered by plenty of people to be a good player. Not pro level by any means, but certainly competitive level, though lots of people would argue that I’m not good in any game mode that matters, but still.
I’ve actually tried playing with crappy gear, in friends’ houses and whatnot. For that matter, I used to own crappy gear. It never ended well. Sure, I might still be better than crappy players with crappy gear, but I’d get absolutely crushed by anyone with even a moderate amount of skill.
So, since gear is in fact important, what that means is that you’re probably gonna have to spend some money. Luckily for me I don’t really have any expensive hobbies apart from gaming, so my money tends to accumulate to the point where I can afford to buy a bunch of crap all at once, but since not everyone is as lucky as me it might be that you’re gonna have to prioritize.
So, in other words, the most important stuff is what you’re gonna have to buy first.
Table of Contents
The most important piece of gear
Last edited by Cat; 10-20-2013 at 07:46 AM.
The most important piece of gear
So what is the number one important thing you need? The one thing you need to buy before anything else? I’m gonna tell you. Are you ready? Here it is: the most important thing to buy is… A DESK!
Bet you weren’t expecting that.
But yes, you really need a good desk. A crappy office desk won’t do since you won’t be able to fit both your mousepad and keyboard on it and still play at a comfortable sensitivity. So if you don’t have a good desk, go to IKEA and buy one. Like, right now. Seriously. A decent office chair might be a good investment as well.
Last edited by Cat; 10-20-2013 at 07:49 AM.
The second most important thing is hard to rank, but it’s a close contest between mouse and mouse pad. Whichever you buy first should depend on the quality of whatever you have right now. If the skates on your mouse are worn out, go get a new mouse. If the skates are fine, go get a pad first.
Anyway, I’m gonna start out with talking about the mouse. There is one thing you wanna keep in mind before anything else, and that is the quality of the sensor. If you have a mouse in mind, type the following things in Google: mouse name jitter, mouse name malfunction speed and mouse lift-off distance. If it has jitter, don’t buy it. If it has a low malfunction speed, and for reference, the best mice have one of around four meters per second, don’t buy it. If it has a lift-off distance of above two millimeters, don’t buy it. Also make sure that it has no built-in acceleration or prediction that can’t be turned off, since those things will just mess with your muscle memory.
Rule of thumb is that if it’s a laser mouse it’s probably gonna suck. Optical mice are generally a lot higher quality and just as precise while lasers are generally marketed to people who think the Star Wars prequels are better than the originals.
If those are fine, you can go on to check some other features. Reading people’s opinions on a site like esreality is a good idea, because those people are the hardest of hardcore gamers and tend to have enough technical skills to know what they’re talking about.
There’s a lot of things to keep in mind here. One obvious thing is the shape of the mouse, which will influence things like how you grip the mouse. The winning shape seems to be the classic WMO shape, so try to go for a mouse like that. Ambidextrous and ergonomic designs should both be fine.
Second, either two side buttons, or none. I personally can’t play without the side buttons since I completely rely on them for weapon switching. If you don’t, get one without them since they can get in the way depending on how you grip the mouse. Also, they increase the weight. If the mouse has more extra buttons than that, like that stupid Cyborg RAT, then it’s a gimmick mouse, probably a laser with over 9000DPI and you can safely ignore it, since it was basically made for the people who like pretty lights and shiny things and not gamers.
A DPI switch can be good for games like Battlefield 3, since that game has different sensitivities for things like tanks and turrets, so just messing with the in-game sensitivity might not be enough to get them all to feel the same. Otherwise it’s not necessary.
Lastly, you might wanna get some after-market mouse skates for it, unless it already comes with pure Teflon skates. Hyperglides are the best you can buy. Perfect Glide HD’s by PureTrak would be a good option, except for the fact that they have sharp edges and thus scrape your mouse pad, so yeah, don’t get them.
I have a Razer DeathAdder, and while it’s a great mouse it has one major issue. It gets dirty…
No, that’s actually not the real issue. The real issue is that IT WEIGHS A FRIGGIN’ TON!
Now, you might be wondering why this would be an issue. The reason is simple. More weight equals less control. The more weight an object has, the more momentum it has and also the more friction it has. Some people will say more friction equals more control, but no.
Any ease gained in simply stopping the mouse with the help of friction is instantly lost with the increased force required to do so, and either way you’ll require more force both to get the mouse to start moving and to change directions, which means you’ll have a harder time making small, accurate movements. In other words, worse control. For weight, you’ll probably wanna shoot for a mouse weighing around 80 grams or less. The DeathAdder weighs twice that.
Currently the best mouse on the market seems to be the Zowie FK. Indeed, Zowie mice currently seem to smash most of the competition. I am personally gonna wait for the Ninox Aurora and buy that to replace my DeathAdder.
For the hell of it, here's mathematical proof that lighter mice are superior (for the unbelievers):
μ is the coefficient of friction, Fr is resultant force, Ff force of friction, Fn normal force, dv/dt acceleration.
For μ we'll use the coefficient of teflon on teflon, which is around 0.04.
For m we'll use a Deathadder (148E-3 kg) and a Zowie FK (85E-3 kg).
For DA: Fn = 148E-3*9.81 = 1.45 N.
For FK: Fn = 85E-3*9.81 = 0.83 N.
For DA: Ff = 0.04*Fn = 0.0851 N
For FK: Ff = 0.04*Fn = 0.0334 N
So, to start with you need almost twice as much force to make the Deathadder start moving than you need for the FK.
To make the mice accelerate to 1 m/s in 0.1 seconds (let's say you wanna make a flickrail).
DA: Fr + Ff = 148E-3 * 1/0.1 + Ff = 1.54 N
FK : Fr + Ff = 85E-3 * 1/0.1 + Ff = 0.883 N
The same, almost twice the force required for the same acceleration. But you also need to stop the mouse when it reaches the target.
From 1 m/s to a standstill in 0.1s, that's the same acceleration only in reverse.
DA: Fr - Ff = 148E-3 * 1/0.1 - Ff = 1.42 N
FK: Fr - Ff = 85E-3 * 1/0.1 - Ff = 0.817 N
Still the exact same factor. You still require almost twice the amount of force from your hand to stop the mouse. That means the extra friction given from a heavy mouse does not help you stop the mouse. Some people think more friction (or weight) gives more control. Simple mathematics is enough to prove them wrong. Lower weight gives you both better glide AND better control.
Last edited by Cat; 05-17-2013 at 06:24 PM.
There’s first one big choice you have to make that will heavily influence how difficult it will be to find a top-quality mousepad: Hard-surface, or cloth?
It’s very difficult to go wrong with a hard-surface pad. QPAD seems to currently make the best ones, and they consistently deliver pads that are of comparable size to the larger cloth pads, and you do want your mousepad to be large (40cm wide), or else you will be limited in what sensitivities you can use. But a SteelSeries will be fine too.
The problem with hard pads, and make no mistake, this applies to ALL of them, is that they will wear out your mouse skates rather quickly. You might counteract this by buying some kind of silicate spray (yes, that's a real product) or anti-friction liquid (that one can be used with cloth pads as well, but if you do then ONLY put it on the skates. If you put it on the pad the cloth will absorb it and ruin the pad), which will be a lot cheaper than constantly buying new skates.
Or you can buy a cloth pad. The major advantage cloth has is ease of transportation. You can just roll them up. But do yourself a favor and don’t roll them up too tightly or you’ll deform them.
The major problem with cloth pads is that it’s incredibly difficult to find ones with comparable glide to hard surface pads. You can’t simply go by popularity on this one, and asking people will not help you as much as you might hope for the simple reason that most people quite frankly have no clue what they’re talking about. Materials science is not an easy subject.
When I first switched from my QPAD HeatoN to a SteelSeries QcK Heavy the sheer drop in quality I experienced was astounding. It was so horrible that I immediately went and ordered a Razer Goliathus, only to find that it was pretty much the exact same as the QcK Heavy, and these are the two most popular cloth pads. Note that I had pretty much ruined the surface of my HeatoN by being an idiot and scrubbing it clean with a brush while cleaning it, and it was still blatantly superior. Of course, if you’ve never owned anything better than the QcK or the Goliathus I doubt you’d notice, but you wouldn’t notice how much worse a 60Hz LCD screen is in comparison to a 160Hz CRT if you’ve never owned anything better than a 60Hz LCD either.
The problem with the pads I mentioned is the control. They give you trouble both in switching direction and with the starting motion. It’s basically a feeling of inertia, like something is resisting the motion.
Fortunately there are a few cloth pads with quality comparable to the hard-surface ones. Just a few.
While I haven’t tried it myself, people who have used the PureTrak Talent say it is just as good as the pads I’m about to mention. The first cloth pad I used that was as good as my QPAD was the Zowie G-TF SpawN. There’s a “speed edition” too, which (as of october 2013) is what I'm currently using, but good luck getting that one to lie flat on the desk. Anyway, the SpawN is great and also easy to clean since it doesn’t absorb any liquids, however, it does have a problem. The rolled up edges can chafe your wrists. I got a blister after the first couple of days I used it.
The other option you have is to import from a small Japanese company called Artisan. They are a group of materials science engineers working together with pro-gamers who specialize in cloth-pads. I made a short review of the Artisan Hayate, so you can tell the glide is ridiculously good.
The most popular Artisan pads are the Shiden-Kai, the Hien and the Hayate. Luckily, Artisan themselves have a nice comparison chart, made with their knowledge of materials science, giving each pad a relative rating in categories such as “speed of initial motion”, “smoothness” “horizontal/vertical glide” and “stopping”. They also hilariously have a category called “Upgradability from QcK”.
The problem with Artisan pads is that they're not made to last. The Hayate's glide will probably start deteriorating after 3 months. Also, some of their pads, like the Raiden, don't work with all mouse sensors, which sadly includes the best ones.
Do note that they seem to have translated their whole site to English with Google Translate, so it can be a bit hard to navigate. Some of their pads are available on Amazon if you’re worried about importing.
There’s one last important thing about mousepads that I wanna cover before moving on, and that is maintenance and cleaning. I like to keep my gear covered in bubble wrap when I’m not using it, but no matter what you do your mouspad will start accumulating dust, dirt and sweat, and the glide will worsen as a result, so eventually you’ll wanna clean it unless you feel like buying a new pad.
There are two cardinal rules that you must never, ever break.
Rule number one: Never, ever use hot water on a cloth pad. They usually contain some kind of rubberized material, and hot water WILL deform it. Use only lukewarm water. Hell, while you’re at it, only use lukewarm water on hard pads too, just in case.
Rule number two: Never use any kind of rough brush. Either use your hands or a soft sponge. Anything rough will ruin the texture, which will worsen the glide.
You could probably get away with just chucking the pad into a washing machine, as long as you make sure to set it to max 30 degrees Celsius and whatever setting is for fine or sensitive materials. If you wanna do it by hand you should have no trouble washing it with soap, though your mousepad might smell like perfume afterwards.
This about covers it for mousepads.
Last edited by Cat; 10-20-2013 at 07:57 AM.
The 120 seconds was spent fixing the paragraphs and whatnot, so it wasn't terrible, even though it was a bit annoying.
Originally Posted by pikaluva13
Believe me, preserving your sensitivity will help your aim immensely. The reason people think they need "different" sensitivities for different games is precisely because of the reasons I wrote: Different FOVs will mean different pixels per centimeters with the same degrees per centimeter. This will cause it to "feel" different (because it IS different). If it "feels" the same in all games you will have a lovely time. The reasons are purely biological; your muscle memory preserves the pixels per centimeter, not the degrees per centimeter. Try it out and be amazed. All you need is a ruler, a calculator and 5 minutes of your time. And you'll never again have to re-adapt for Quake after playing another game.
Not so knowledgeable on modern wireless mice, but back in 2010 the only wireless mouse anyone thought was worth anything was the Razer Mamba. Might wanna ask on ESR, though, since it's 3 years later now.
Last edited by Cat; 01-31-2013 at 06:55 PM.
Thanks for the time and effort Cat really good info.
Currently there are only a few gaming monitors on the market worth considering, but I’ll still go over the basics just to make this future-proof.
The first thing you wanna prioritize when buying a monitor is refresh rate. Now, some people will tell you that a higher refresh rate doesn’t really matter. They’ll say something along the lines that the human eye can only see 24 frames per second or some similar claim.
These people are idiots.
First of all, 24 frames per second is the average speed required for something to stop looking like a bunch of still images and start looking like actual motion. It’s not some arbitrary cutoff for what the human eye can see. Jet pilots have been able to distinguish individual frames at speeds up to 300 frames per second. I play at 144Hz and I can still tell individual frames apart if things on the screen are moving fast enough. And even if this weren’t the case you can still “feel” the difference. Your mouse movements and aim will simply “feel” smoother, and improve consequently.
The trick movie makers use to make their movies look smooth even at low framerates is that they use massive amounts of motion blur, and motion blur is horrible for gaming, since it will simply make it take longer for you to distinguish enemies when you’re moving around, and consequently lower your reaction speed. There’s a trick you can use in combination with 3DVision 2 monitors to enable something called “Lightboost” in-game, which causes the backlight to strobe and eliminates all motion blur. It’s quite an amazing trick. If you have a compatible monitor, go to this link, read it and download ToastyX's Strobelight app.
The second most important thing you need to consider when buying a monitor is input lag. The concept of input lag is simple: how long does it take for something to happen on your screen after you click with your mouse? If it’s above 5ms the monitor probably wasn’t meant for gaming. The best ones have less than 1 or 2 milliseconds.
Anyway, if you’re reading this in early 2013 you can ignore all that stuff, because as I told you before, there are currently only two monitors on the market worth considering if you want one specifically for gaming. The BenQ XL2411T 24’’ monitor, and the ASUS VG278HE 27’’ monitor. Both of them are 144Hz 1080p monitors. The difference is that the BenQ has 1ms input lag to the 2ms of the ASUS, though that can vary depending on what screen settings you use. The lowest input lag should be with native resolution and 144Hz.
Also, the ASUS is bigger and costs about twice as much. I got the ASUS for no other reason than that it was bigger. Bigger screen means bigger targets means easier to hit. If you feel any differently than me about that, get the BenQ, since it’s basically superior in every other way.
And that’s basically all you need to know. It might be worth considering that gaming monitors won’t have the best image quality since better panels quite simply have a helluva lot more input lag, to the point where you can actually see that it takes time for your inputs to register on screen. Anyone who has ever played Smash Brothers or Guitar Hero on a plasma TV will know what I’m talking about. But as a hardcore gamer image quality shouldn’t really be your priority. And anyway, to me it already looks great.
Last edited by Cat; 10-20-2013 at 07:51 AM.
Moving on, the next most important thing is your headphones. Luckily there are a ton of audiophiles out there who can help you pick a good one. Not so luckily, I am not what you’d call an expert here. The most important thing for a gamer is positional audio. You want to know exactly where footsteps or gunshots are coming from.
I notice that in tourneys pro-gamers use plugs rather than headphones or headsets. I don’t know whether they give you better positional audio. It’s a pretty sure bet that listening to music will be better on actual headphones than on plugs, though, but plugs are cheap and you probably already have a pair that came with your cellphone. Try them out and see.
One thing to keep in mind is to never buy a “surround sound” headset. It’s just a gimmick. Try out any stereo headset or headphones and listen to the “virtual barbershop” sound clip, either on the official site or on youtube. You’ll immediately see why surround sound headsets are just a gimmick.
I don’t have much more to say about headphones other than “have them”. Not having them is almost as bad as playing without any sound whatsoever. Bad players occasionally accuse players with headphones of wallhacking. That’s how much of a difference they make.
Test whether your headset is outputting positional audio correctly: http://www.qsound.com/demos/virtualbarbershop_long.htm
Note that there may be some tricks you can use to improve positional audio. Refer to this topic for more detail: http://forums.overclockers.com.au/sh...d.php?t=844394
If you have an ASUS Xonar sound card, check this out: http://brainbit.wordpress.com/2010/0...ified-drivers/
3D games need "System Input" to be set to "8 Channels" in Windows/sound card drivers to output positional audio accurately (that is 7.1 audio). Note: this is not the same thing as setting the "Output Device" to 7.1 speakers. Output Device needs to be "Headphones".
Proper settings highlighted in red:
Note that having 8CH/7.1 when you're listening to music might be a bad idea if you're an audiophile. You should use 2CH/stereo for that, but try out both to see if there's a noticeable difference when listening to music.
Last edited by Cat; 05-17-2013 at 06:14 PM.
And finally we get to the keyboard. Now, the keyboard is a special case, since what you’ll be considering is not something like input lag, since those things don’t really matter as much here. There are only two things to really consider with keyboard. One of them is comfort, the other is n-key rollover. All USB gaming keyboards have what’s called 6-key rollover. What that essentially means is that you can hold down 6 keys at the same time and all keypresses will be registered. However, this is a little bit misleading since generally only four keys will always have 6-key rollover, and those are the WASD keys. If you use an alternate scheme like ESDF or RDFG then you might find that you can’t do things like crouch and move forward at the same time, or not reload while moving to the right. Sometimes certain combinations of keypresses won’t work even with a WASD scheme.
The only way you can be sure to avoid this problem is by using a mechanical keyboard plugged into the PS/2 port. Not only will this give you full n-key rollover, mechanical keyboards are also a lot more durable than standard plastic-dome keyboards and they also just feel nicer.
Now, there are a few different types of mechanical keyboards. Specifically there are different types of mechanical switches. Fortunately, the Cherry switches most manufacturers use are color coded for your convenience. There are a bunch of different colors, based on things like tactile feedback, clicking noise and required force to press down keys.
The two colors that are specific for gaming as opposed to typing are the black and red switches. These feel the same no matter how much you push them down, in other words they have no special tactile feedback, and they also don’t have a ridiculously loud clickety-click sound when you type, although they do still make noise.
The difference between them is that they require different amounts of force to press down. The black switches require an average of 55 grams of weight to press down while the red ones only need around 45 grams. You might immediately conclude that the red ones are better, but that’s not necessarily the case. You’re probably resting your fingers on the movement keys while playing. If you do that, and your hands are heavy enough or you're simply resting too much of your weight on them, then with the red switches you might just find yourself suddenly moving in a random direction because the key you were resting your finger on requires so little force to press down you did it completely by accident. Of course, if you don't have this problem, then why not Reds?
Now, just because they're specifically for gaming doesn't mean they're necessarily the best for them. Blue and Brown switches are the same as Black and Red, except you can feel when they actuate (as in, you know for sure when the key has been pressed). They do not require any more force to press down, and I personally can't think of why having that feeling would be bad. Zowie Celeritas is a nice mechanical keyboard that has the option for either Brown or Red switches.
That covers it decently enough. “Mechanical” and "Black/Red/Blue/Brown switches" is basically all you need to remember when buying a gaming keyboard.
And it also pretty much covers it for gear, unless you need a microphone, in which case I say just get a Logitech Desktop Microphone, or if you need a whole new computer in which case you’ll really wanna ask for help on some overclocking site.
What remains are the settings, where I’ll cover the easy stuff first and finally mouse sensitivity and Field of View.
Last edited by Cat; 10-20-2013 at 07:38 AM.