So I hopped on to play Age of Empires 2 the other day for a little strategic fun. Despite being a noob, I enjoyed playing. Though, I still felt like I was missing something key about the game’s dynamic. That is when I realized it was the game’s many keyboard shortcuts. I didn’t use very many of them since I was still new to the game, but it got me thinking. Why put in keyboard shortcuts? Why not just use the mouse? Well, from my experience here are the main reasons you need keyboard shortcuts for your game.
Have you ever watched videos of Starcraft 2 professional players? They can do hundreds of actions per minute, using a combination of the mice and hotkeys. It’s pretty obvious why, as it is much faster than using the mouse to click a menu and another button. Keyboard shortcuts are what separate the low skilled players from the high-skilled ones. Even a player who knows the game inside and out will fall flat compared to one who knows the hotkeys. They are faster, more efficient, and increase your odds at winning. By adding a selection of key bindings to your game, the skill ceiling raises up even higher. If you were to only have your mouse as control, and you had to select options on screen to perform special abilities or do certain processes, it would very quickly become annoying. When you take advantage of the keyboard, you essentially have a full screen of buttons easily accessible to the player. It is much easier to do things like use abilities in Overwatch or control unit actions in Civilization.
I don’t know about you guys, but I find tiny mouse movements like selecting a unit to be very uncomfortable. It’s sometimes like trying to thread a needle when you want to select certain units or build certain structures. I especially like keyboard shortcuts, because they make the flow of the game more smooth and comfortable. It’s just so much easier to learn which button selects the warriors or the cavalry, rather than trying to find all of them on screen. The same idea goes for creating groups of units, so you don’t need to constantly reselect your regiments. It just makes sense.
Sometimes it is hard to remember all the keyboard shortcuts, and that goes for software programs too. However, once you get them down, it makes life so much easier and allows for a much higher efficiency in-game. Game developers should take advantage of the tool that is the keyboard, and use it to make their complex games much easier to manage.