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WoW Rookie: Effective movement and camera use

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New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. For links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's, visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide.

Does your numbskull pet always seem to come between you and the object of your affectionate (or not-so-affectionate) clicking? How can you get turned around and react more effectively when something smacks you from behind while you're drinking up? Wouldn't it be nice to see something besides your own rear end? And speaking of which, is it your camera angle or do you think your character been putting on a few extra pounds?

What you need, my friends, is better movement and camera controls. As the challenges and skill level ratchets up over the levels, clunkier styles of viewing your game field and moving your character may eventually cause you to fall behind the performance curve. Our advice: Find out what the best practices are, and then try them out sooner rather than later. Let's face it, changing the way you see and move around the game world can be completely disorienting. You feel as if you're starting all over again, just learning the controls. (Bottom line: It's true. You are.) But the payoff is more efficient, more effective play that ultimately makes your character more enjoyable to play.

WoW Rookie has covered the basics of movement controls before, but if you haven't been reading us for long, you may have missed it. (It's worth noting that we list virtually every WoW Rookie post worth referring back to in our WoW Rookie Guide, updated weekly. Check it out for sections including starting a new character, grouping basics and social conventions and netiquette, all the way up through a special section devoted to the fresh level 80.)

Character Movement 101

There's more than one way to move your character around inside the game. We're going to level with you: Not all of them are created equal. We've covered the basics in our WoW Rookie look at leaner, meaner character controls. Click on over and read it right now; we'll wait until you're back.

Now that you've got the basic concepts down, we can go into a little more detail.
  • Let's revisit the whole debate on keyboard turning versus mouse turning. Frankly, unless you play on a laptop without a good mouse, you're almost certainly better off learning to move your character by using the mouse. Here's why. Not convinced? Keep reading.
  • Do you click your spells and abilities with the mouse, or do you use keyboard shortcuts? Yes, this is the keyboard-turning-versus-mouse-turning debate, second verse. Keyboard shortcuts (keybindings) are the fastest, most accurate method of activating your abilities. Setting up keybindings is fast and simple using the default UI.
  • Ready for verse three? This one's about targeting: your mouse or the tab key? There's a time and place for both.
  • Healers, listen up: Click-casting will save your groupmates' lives (as well as your fingers and grey hairs). It'll also make things easier down the line when you get into raiding and want to use an add-on such as VuhDo or Grid to keep an eye on the larger number of sheep in your flock.
  • What are macros? Are they hard to set up? How can they help? Scroll to the bottom of our leaner, meaner controls article for a three-part overview of macros.
I can see clearly now

Once you've figured out the most efficient method of moving and using your abilities, it's time to make sure you're seeing things as clearly as you should. "I can't seem to explain and convince my friend who just started playing WoW about two weeks ago why she should zoom out more than she is," writes reader Kat. "She won't have the camera distance off default, which is on low and is zoomed in onto her character so much that all she can see is her character and her pet. She constantly complains about her pet being in her way, and when I ask her to look around for something while we are questing, she can't find it because her character and pet are taking up the whole screen."

As you level, game play and encounters become more complex. By the time you're into level 70+ instances and then dipping into raiding, you'll want to be used to seeing and monitoring the entire area around your character -- front, back, all around you. You can't move out of the fire, after all, if you can't see the fire.

So scroll back. If you find you feel literally distanced from your character, make it a habit to scroll up close when you're in town or traveling or what-not. When it's time for business, though, it's time to broaden your view. (And if you want to gain even more perspective, we can show you how to increase your camera distance still farther.)

Controls that fit your class and your playstyle

The key to getting the most from all these tools is giving new setups and methods a fair trial. One evening of frustration? Not nearly long enough. A shift as large as moving from keyboard turning to mouse movement deserves at least a week of regular play. You have to give your brain and your fingers time to adjust to the new method, before you can fairly judge whether or not you've gained added efficiency, speed and/or comfort.

Most important, if you've given these ideas a fair trial (at least a few days, ideally a week or more) and you still feel awkward and uncomfortable, don't think twice about doing what works best for you. Techniques such as mouse-turning and keybindings most definitely optimize your performance, and you'll want to bite the bullet and get used to them if you're pursuing high-end progression raiding or competitive Arena and PvP. Otherwise, WoW is not a twitch game demanding lightning-fast responses. The difference in performance probably won't make or break your character.

What are your favorite tricks for using the keyboard, mouse and camera for maximum performance?

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's. WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80.
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