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. Good gear won't make you good, no. But bad gear will make you bad.
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; 03-29-2014 at 03:51 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 06:49 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.
I'll talk about the mouse. First off, if you wanna save yourself a lot of time deciding which one to get, use this list compiled by 4chan's /v/ board: http://cdn.overclock.net/f/f2/f2bae16a_2WrJX.png
You'll do perfectly fine just going by that and completely ignoring my post.
There is one thing you wanna keep in mind before anything else, and that is the quality of the sensor. The most popular sensors for gaming, and with good reason, are the Avago ADNS-3090 and its successor, the Avago ADNS-3310. ESR has a decent list of mice and their sensors which you can use for reference.
If you have a mouse in mind and don't know what sensor it has, type the following things in Google along with the name of the mouse: jitter, malfunction speed and 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 bought by people who hear the word "laser" and automatically think that must be the best, because lasers.
I'm dead serious about this. Laser mice can be very precise, but optical mice are just as precise if not more, have the advantage of being tried and true and highly developed and they don't require special surfaces to track properly. Seriously, laser mice are very picky. They track quite well on glass, but if your standard cloth pad has the wrong color your shiny 9001DPI laser mouse will just say "nope". If your pad has different colors on different parts of your pad, then guess what: your laser mouse will track differently at different parts of your pad, likely with different accelerations since they all tend to have at least some. They also love to spaz out if you move them too fast, look at them wrong or insult their mother. So yeah. Get an optical, not a laser.
If jitter and such aren't an issue, you can go on to check some other features. Reading people’s opinions on a site like esreality is a good idea, because sites like that are frequented by competitive gamers who need to know their stuff and tend to have enough technical knowhow 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 the Cyborg RAT, then it’s more than likely a gimmick mouse, probably a laser with over 9000DPI and you can safely ignore it. Unless you play mostly MMOs, in which case you'd do OK with it, but this is a Quake Live forum...
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 + 0.0851 N = 1.54 N
FK : Fr + Ff = 85E-3 * 1/0.1 + 0.0334 N = 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 - 0.0851 N = 1.42 N
FK: Fr - Ff = 85E-3 * 1/0.1 - 0.0334 N = 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 implies otherwise. Lower weight gives you both better glide AND better control.
Last edited by Cat; 05-08-2015 at 07:02 AM.
Just want to say something about this:
I think we did have a small discussion about this subject couple of months ago and i also beleave you did the calculations correctly, but you simply just jump to the conclusion. E.g. how can we even deduce that less weight implicates more control, since it takes less force to accelerate? Or how come more friction does not implicate more control, since the surface does not feel so slippery? To me, the control is more about friction than weight. More friction (but not too much) gives me better precision and thus better control, and so it's more about personal precerence than anything else.
Originally Posted by Cat
Otherwise your guide is great reading, so don't take me wrong, but adding this "simple mathematical proof" to your guide makes this... not so professional.
Btw, i have used my "weightless" mouse for about 6 months now as you suggested back then and so far i think it really was the right decision, except for my railgun (feels too shaky when trying to aim). I feel that i just need a bit more friction, with lg it's not an issue really, but rail with shaky hands is not a good combination. Atm i even dont have a mousepad, just a wooden table (and 0 friction)
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 (Icemat is legendary).
If you wanna go absolutely nuts with a hard surface pad you could go get a CAD mousepad like the KomaQ G-Pad tempered glass mousepad, but be prepared to make some phonecalls and spend a lot of money.
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. Probably because they've never used anything better than what they're recommending and thus don't know that better exists.
When I first switched from my QPAD HeatoN to a SteelSeries QcK Heavy the sheer drop in quality I experienced was ridiculous. 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 with a rough 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. This can be avoided by keeping your wrist slightly raised above the pad when making large motions, so it's not a deal breaker.
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, 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 all the best ones. They've stated outright that they care more about quality of glide than compatibility with top of the line mouse sensors, which is likely part of the reason they haven't gotten very famous.
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.
QPAD has recently launched their QPAD FX line of pads, which are quite affordable and come in sizes from "small" to "good luck fitting this thing on your desk". Glide on a freshly bought one is as good as or better than a Zowie G-TF Speed.
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; 05-29-2014 at 04:41 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 05:55 PM.
Thanks for the time and effort Cat really good info.
Regarding optical sensors, will LOD (liftoff-distance) be lower on a Hard-surface (for example Plastic) mouse pad, or on a Cloth-surface mouse pad, or there is no rule?
Originally Posted by Cat
Last edited by dose; 03-28-2014 at 07:58 PM.
No such rule. The lift-off-distance pertains primarily to the distance from the sensor to the surface. It's possible that the nature of the surface could affect this (without using a silly example, like a transparent material over an opaque material), but it would depend on the surface itself that the optical sensor sees, and not its rigidity.
Originally Posted by dose
I wouldn't be surprised if on pads that an optical mouse tracks poorly on feature a lower lift-of-distance, but then of course it comes at a terrible cost.
In order to modify a mouse's lift-off-distance two strategies are commonly employed. One is to add feet to the mouse, thereby lifting it and increasing the distance from the sensor to the pad.
The other is that sometimes transparent tape is used which can enable the sensor to still see as it would when the surface is close, but very poorly when the surface is at even a small distance. Success with this depends on the sensor and the tape used of course.