Gaming Equipment series 4 of 4, the mouse you use

Mine Has More Buttons Than Yours!


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?If you have been following along, then you know this is the last post in the gaming equipment series. I saved this post for last because of how many audio gamers view a mouse as an unnecessary piece of equipment they can do without. There are a few games where a mouse is a very important part however, and allot of people over think their mouse purchase, the amount of money you spend is not always going to transfer into better performance. This post will be shorter and to the point as there isn’t a whole lot to be said about gaming mice as they relate to audio games.

Why Do I need a Mouse, I can Just Use Arrows?

Since that is a stupid question, I am going to choose to ignore it, instead I will talk about why you should get a mouse.

For a select few games using a mouse can really increase your skill and quality of play in the game. The first two that pop to my mind are Swamp and RTR. These games can be played without one yes, but the skill of those without verses those with are very different. Just because someone is blind and playing an audio game does not mean they cannot use a mouse. It is a piece of gaming equipment the same as your headset or keyboard, and you should at least keep 1 of each. It is hard to keep this from turning into a diatribe on using a mouse in audio games, but fear not, that topic will be coming at a later point. This post is going to focus on those who are not opposed to using a mouse on general principle,and helping them pick out one that is best and affordable for them. If you take anything away from this post at all, just realize some current and future audio games are made to use a mouse, and refusing to use one will only hurt your skill level and overall gaming experience.

What To Look For In a Mouse

I’ve owned or used plenty of different gaming mice ranging from a fairly expensive 60 dollar gaming series, to some cheap 15 dollar wireless gaming mice. Overall The most important thing I’ve learned through the different mice I’ve used is price really doesn’t matter. This isn’t to say that for some main stream games you really do want something a bit more expensive with a high DPI and polling rate, but even this is debatable. With audio games you don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles however, the most important thing is to get something for gaming that isn’t just some dollar store special. I personally prefer something wireless and cheap, no more than 20 dollars. I’ve owned a few in this range and none of them had any latency issues or choppy connections which made them good enough for what I needed. What I’m getting at here is you don’t have to break the bank to get a gaming mouse that will work perfect for any audio game you want to play. What is important is to know what you need, and to buy something that meets your requirements.

One of the first things you are going to see when shopping for a mouse online is how many buttons it has. This seems to be the biggest hook for allot of people, they equate the amount of buttons to the quality of the mouse. Why have 5 buttons when you can have 15? Well the answer is much simpler then you might think. Most audio games at the time of writing this post don’t support all the fancy extra buttons on gaming mice. If the stars line up and the Moon is in the same house as Jupiter then you might get lucky and get one which works fully with a game like swamp, but the chances are very low. There will be more about this later in the post, and how you can use a piece of free software to make up for games not recognizing some extra mouse buttons.

Note: I talked to Gruntock about the mouse he uses, the Razer Naga. It has 12 different thumb buttons. However, one really nice thing about those 12 buttons is 10 of them are mirrors of your keyboard’s number row 0 through 9 keys. This means if you are playing a game where weapons are changed using the number row, you can quick switch with a thumb press instead of searching for the proper key on the number row. I don’t know if the other 2 buttons act as a mouse 4 and 5 button, but if they do this would make for one hell of a good mouse even at the higher price of everything Razer.

The other thing you will notice is a DPI number, and with some mice also a polling rate. Overall these are more a selling point than anything important, whether a mouse has a 3000 or 5000 DPI rating, you are going to get generally the same performance. DPI stands for dots per inch, or how many points in a given inch the mouse can recognize. This translates to a smoother slide rate for your pointer on the screen, but again, the difference between 3000 and 5000 is so small you are probably not going to notice much difference. You don’t want something with an abnormally low DPI, but with most gaming mice, even the cheapest ones, you are going to se a DPI around 3,000. Also, the higher the DPI setting the more sensitive the mouse can be, keep this in mind if you don’t want a small nudge to move you into a 720 spin. This can be compensated for with changing your sensitivity both on the mouse if it has sensitivity buttons, and in your mouse and pointer options in your control panel. You can always decrease the sensitivity of a high DPI mouse without losing performance, but you cannot increase sensitivity on a low DPI mouse without it becoming choppy.

A quick note on DPI settings:
Some gaming mice have hardware buttons or switches to adjust your DPI setting on the fly when in the process of gaming. This is a super important feature in my opinion. Some spots in games call for sniping with sensitivity turned up, and others call for your sensitivity to be down. If you are going to buy a gaming mouse try to get one that has two DPI buttons on it for changing your sensitivity. The reason for this is, if it only has 1 DPI adjustment button you are going to be signaled to the sensitivity level by a flashing light. This is pretty damn useless for us blind folks, so having a DPI up and DPI down button makes this allot easier. If your mouse has 5 DPI settings programmed into it you can just hit the DPI down button 5 times then hit the DPI up button to reach the sensitivity you want or vice versa.

Polling rates may be even more overrated than the DPI setting. This simply measures how often your mouse is sending signals to your PC. You are talking about times like 2ms when it is really fast or 5ms if it is normal. Honestly this isn’t going to make any difference when playing an audio game, most of them don’t even allow for movement or keypresses fast enough to make any difference with your polling rate. Overall I would say you can just ignore this number, as long as it isn’t something really high, but you aren’t going to see that even in the cheapest wireless mice.

Overall of these three numbers manufacturers use to get you to buy their product, button count, DPI, and polling rate, the most important is the button count. That being said, they try some shady tactics to get you to buy their product based on some odd ways of counting buttons. The one thing I haven’t gone into here which is also very important is how the mouse feels in your hand. You have to determine if you like a palm grip or claw grip with gaming mice, and buy one that is best for you in that category. Palm grip is the standard mouse which is larger and which has a part at the base to rest your hand on. A claw grip is a mouse that is smaller which you use your fingertips mostly to move while you can rest your palm on your mouse pad. I personally like both and have both depending on what game I’m playing and what I’m in the mood for. It is also important to note, if you are left handed you have to specifically look for left handed gaming mice, nearly all are made for right handed folks, and using one made for a righty when you are lefty will put all the thumb buttons on your pinky finger; not to mention it will completely mess up the ergonomics of the mouse.

Comfort is a big thing when picking out a mouse, at least for me. Being blind if you are shopping for a mouse you are fairly screwed when picking one out because we can’t see the pictures. Every gaming mouse I’ve owned has had some form of ergonomics molded into it, some more comfortable than others. This is where in general the higher priced mice shine. They do put allot more emphasis on comfort and mouse feel. Some even come with metal weights you can add and remove to get just the right mouse weight you are looking for. Palm grip mice are going to have much better molding and hand fit, where as claw grip mice are going to be more simplistic in my experience. However, I have never owned or used a fancy expensive claw grip so I am not familiar with all of them by any means. My current Tecknet wireless mouse is a palm grip and has nice molded spots for all 5 fingers which makes it super comfortable in long gaming sessions. Sadly it has been discontinued so I can’t link anyone for a place to get it.

More On The Buttons

Manufacturers like to count everything that slightly clicks or wiggles as a button or switch. It is super important to keep this in mind when you are buying a mouse. For example, a mouse may be listed as having five buttons, but don’t confuse this with a five button mouse. What they do is count the standard three buttons, left click, right click, and wheel click along with two DPI setting buttons. A five button mouse has the same three above buttons but a mouse 4 and mouse 5 button. Normally you will see a five button mouse listed as having six or seven buttons because they are counting the DPI buttons on top of mouse 4 and mouse 5. I have been burnt by this when buying mice, but quickly got pissed off and smartened up to their shady selling tactics. Don’t make the same mistake I did and get burnt thinking you are getting a five button mouse when you aren’t.

The Five Button Mouse

This is one of the most popular kinds of gaming mouse, and for good reason. It is simple, cheap, and will handle anything you want to throw at it for most standard games. You can pick up a wireless Tecknet gaming mouse for under $15 on amazon, and they work perfectly fine, I’ve owned a few. Your standard five button mouse simply has two thumb buttons that are mouse 4 and mouse 5 buttons. Though they are called a five button mouse, most sellers cannot help but list the DPI buttons in the product title, so more often than not they are listed as something like a seven button mouse. That being said, a simple amazon search for “5 button gaming mouse” will pop up allot of results, just make sure they aren’t trying to pass off a standard mouse with DPI buttons. If you use a five button mouse in conjunction with something like X-Mouse button control it is really amazing how many things you can customize it to do. I’ll go into that below.

Exceptions To having More Than Five Buttons

Most the time you are just going to be disappointed when buying a mouse with a bunch of thumb buttons. This isn’t always the case however as mentioned above with the Razer Naga. I am also currently using what is listed as a 9 button mouse, but not in the traditional sense. It has 3 thumb buttons which from front to back are alt, control, and shift. It also has a little button just to the left of the left click that is a triple fire button. The triple fire is fairly useless in everything except using the Doom-90 on RTR. Jimmy and Pyro always wondered how I managed to mow them down so fast with that gun, and now if they read this they will know how I did it, I guess the cat is out of the bag. With all other audio games, they don’t listen for keypresses fast enough for the triple fire to fully work however. The best thing about this mouse is the addition of alt control and shift as thumb buttons, this really allows for quick movement and playing when I don’t have to take my hand off my mouse to press commands that require you to use those modifier keys. This is invaluable in something like swamp, using this mouse with X-mouse lets me customize it to do whatever I want it to. Even using a normal five button mouse, you can use X-Mouse to program mouse 4 and 5 to act as control and shift, so you can get nearly the same thing from a much simpler gaming mouse. There are exceptions to the my rule of more buttons not always meaning a better mouse, but in general it does hold up in my experience.

X-Mouse Button Control v2.14

A quick note: The version number is very important, since the latest update it became completely inaccessible. I will include a download link for v2.14, if you use it make sure not to update it.

Essentially X-Mouse allows you to reprogram all the buttons on your mouse up to the 5th button. This includes left click, right click, mouse 4, mouse 5, scroll up, scroll down, wheel click, and wheel tilt left and right if your mouse supports this. To put this in perspective with a game like RTR. The standard run keys are alt + W, but if you want to have more traditional FPS commands you can set your right mouse button to simulate alt + W. This then allows you to free up your left hand from constantly holding down buttons to move, and to use it for firing and checking stats. You could also set mouse 4 and 5 to simulate pressing control and shift so you can also fire and reload with them, or set them to turn left and right simulating alt Q and Alt E. The possibilities are really endless in how you want to customize your mouse to work for you personally. It also allows for setting profiles, for example I have 2 currently, one for swamp and one for RTR.

The program is accessible yes, but it is tricky to get use to. you will have to read the whole screen with something like insert B, then remember what buttons are in what order. then tab down to that button and choose how to customize it. I find it best to just type in the key map myself. if I want to simulate holding shift + S for example I would go to a button and choose to set it to simulate keys, then in the pop up dialog I would put in {SHIFT}S. Sorry if that is not the exact syntax, there’s a list of the keys and their codes for the software you can use in that pop up dialog. There are much more complex things X-mouse is capable of doing, but I’ve only ever needed it to reassign buttons, and anything beyond that is unknown to me. When it comes to simple mouse button reassigning, it works perfect, I’ve never had any issues with it as of yet; just don’t update past v2.14.

Your Mouse pad

This is another thing that is easy to over think and get way to in depth on. I’ve used everything for a mouse pad from a piece of cardboard with a bandana on it to my current XL keyboard and mouse pad. It does make a difference yes, but it isn’t something you have to spend too much time thinking about. Personally I prefer a heavy weave mouse pad with plenty of friction, some others prefer smooth or plastic ones for speed. This comes down to personal preference and what you want for your pad. Overall they are cheap and you can pick up a big XL pad for under 20 dollars. Don’t think you need a name brand, they are all just cloth with a rubber backing and the name on their corner isn’t going to change that fact.

Conclusion

When it comes to picking out your PC, headset, and keyboard it is good to over think what you are going to finally buy. This isn’t the case with picking out a gaming mouse, price and brand does not always equal what will be the best for your audio gaming experience. If I had to sum this whole article up in one sentence. Get a wireless five button mouse and download X-Mouse, this will at least get you started and you will have a mouse that can do everything you need. In audio games you aren’t going to notice a performance difference between a 15 dollar mouse and a 50 dollar mouse. Unlike with most things when it comes to gaming equipment, the brand of the mouse isn’t going to make any difference, the most important thing is to just get a mouse, even if it has a weighted ball as a movement sensor, now that is ungood, but it is better than having nothing. The rejection of so many audio gamers to use a mouse holds back developers from making better games that follow mainstream game mechanics.

You can download X-mouse v2.14 here, locally hosted on the blog.

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