Ask Massively: The deranged J. Peterman catalog knockoff edition

Eliot Lefebvre
E. Lefebvre|02.24.11

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I remember when I first took on the role of writing Ask Massively, sitting on the patio of Shawn Schuster's Minnesotan lakehouse. It was twilight, the last rays of sun filtering through tumblers filled with pinot noir, the haze of extravagance and of gaming fading gently into the background. Shawn idly strummed a few bars of a melody on his '54 Stratocaster, then he looked at me and he asked me if I was ready.

Of course I was ready. I had always been ready.

He gave me a curio then, a keepsake. As his ancestors had handed it down through the generations, so it would now be passed to me, a talisman to remind me of the importance of writing.

Later that day, I tripped and splashed mud on the pants I was wearing, which I had been planning on returning.

(Today's edition is about peripherals, by the by. But I felt like a Seinfeld homage.)

Jejeune asked: There are a lot of things that advertise that they're intended for MMO play. They're also really expensive. Is it actually worth it to get a mouse for playing an MMO?
That depends on several factors, chief among them being your playstyle and your preferred budget. The one piece of hardware that's nigh-on required for playing some games is a decent headset with a microphone, but if you're careful you can make do with a cheap one for several years. More expensive options will try to lure you with promises of greater sound fidelity, but as long as "I need heals" doesn't sound like "my house is on fire," you'll probably be fine.

If you're a machine on a standard keyboard with an array of keybinds and you've never even considered clicking an action bar, then really, you probably don't need any more expensive peripherals. On the other hand, if you're a lazy bastard who has a bad habit of clicking on things -- like I do -- I'd recommend the Razer Naga wholeheartedly. Yes, $80 makes it a pretty expensive mouse, but the added accessibility of the thumbpad is well worth the investment. It's also responsive, sleek, and comfortable.

I've not yet had a chance to play around with my dream keyboard (referenced way back here), but most gaming-oriented keyboards will work for an MMO. This area is a little less evangelistic than the Naga simply because, if you're bad about keybinds, a better keyboard will not fix things.

Other peripherals include mousepads that help improve mouse responsiveness (theoretically), secondary gamepads, keyboard overlays, and so forth. That sort of stuff is really a matter of how much money you have to blow on silly tech toys in a given month.

Sadly, while all of this will make certain tasks slightly easier, it will not address the dreaded User Error (replace user, hit any key to continue). You won't be a better player after all this, just slightly more able to spam out abilities. And while that's a definite plus, it's not going to turn a bad player into a great one.
Can you believe there's an entire generation of people growing up now who have never known J. Peterman as Elaine's boss on Seinfeld? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!
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