On Playing Piano like a Guitar Player

So I’m trying to teach myself how to move with the keyboard again, and … well, it’s painful.

I move with my mouse. Back when I used a trackball, I moved really fluidly and could spin for HOURS on my Chopper. Even with the Naga, I am still pretty mobile, but it shifts abilities onto my right hand, which means my left needs to handle movement. So, keyboard moving boot camp.

I play guitar, or I used to. (I should play more now.) But I play it adequately well, and it helped me with my manual dexterity. My left hand fingers have reach and are used to hitting odd positions. My right have rhythm, and are used to placement. They have different jobs to do.

When I play piano, I’m not very good. My spouse says I play like a string player – instead of my hands acting in unison, they work separately. Left hand! You have the bass line! Right hand, take the melody! It’s a style more suited to keyboards than piano, to be honest.

I play Warcraft in a similar fashion. My left hand handles casting abilities, my right moves me around. I strafe with mouse buttons, push both mouse buttons to move forward, all while tapping out spellcasts on my left hand.

Targeting is the first problem with this approach. This model either requires me to tab target, or focus target, or set macros to get different Arena combatants. I can cast on the run, but I struggle with target switching. Mouseover macros are also nonintuitive, because Mice is 4 moving.


Healing is the next one. I struggle with using Vuhdo while moving, because I’m clicking on green boxes with my movement hand. Casting with clicks – while standing – is great in a 5man, but it sucks in pvp. Even more than unfamiliarity with a healing class, inability to move and click things hampers my performance.

So I’m trying two things.

First, on a few of my lowbies I’m trying to cast only with the mouse and move with the keys. Turning with the mouse is strange in this model, and I’m still trying to get my right thumb used to the idea that he’s driving the casts. My left hand is like, IM HERE TWITCHING PLEASE CAST FASTER.


The other thing I’m trying is on Cynwise, where I’m learning to cast with the full naga keyboard, but not disturbing any of my other keys. It’s taking some adjustment for that simple shift. I tend to flip back in the middle of combat to the old way.

Golfers have to periodically adjust their swing, and I think that this will make me a better player – eventually.

But for now, I’m a string player on a piano, trying to get my hands to work in concert.



Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes

3 responses to “On Playing Piano like a Guitar Player

  1. Lizzie

    Good luck! With time, you’ll accomplish your goals. Or we’ll all just sit back and think, “MAN. What did Cyn have to drink tonight? I give a 9.3 on that backflip; I don’t care that he green-fired himself doing it.” ;D

  2. Druidis4fite

    Have you tried playing with a game pad at all? The N52, eg, has a trackball like joystick that you can move with your casting hand. N52 + Naga = infinity keybinds, but it makes it very hard to type while in combat. (TAAAAAAAAAP.) Mister used to raid with that set up, and loved it – you can have literally hundreds of macros available. But I know you’re not a big vent user, so I am not sure if the inability to type in combat would be a deal breaker for you.Healing just takes practice. I’m still not quite sure what to do with the incredible freedom of playing my classes that DON’T rely on mouse action. You mean I can target anything I want? Point my mouse where I want to GO? How exciting! And now I’ll continue holding my pointer in the same 25 square inches of screen and die while keyboard straffing anyway. :X It also means I’m prone to keyboard turning in non-emergencies, and I feel really really slow on melee toons, still. As a raiding druid, at least in LK, you could get away with more keyboard moving because we had a lot of time to move around without disrupting our output. Not if you’re in fire, but if you’re just planning where to stand next, you could basically just wander in circles finding the PERFECT PLACE. And now I’m imagining Norm as a dog trying to go to bed, and I’m getting really far afield.

  3. Psynister

    I do a few things for this. First, I left W tied to moving forward for those times that my mouse hand simply cannot be used for movement. Second, I have my mouse-click set to auto-run, so I can click that and have hands free movement (then I use either the keyboard or both mouse buttons to cancel the auto-run). Third, I have click-to-move activated so if I know where I want to move I can just right-click on the area and away I go. The hardest thing about getting used to auto-run features is that normal gameplay has you move until you release buttons, where auto-runs have you move until you press buttons. So if you’re playing a caster class that doesn’t have a lot of instant spells, you’ll sometimes end up running when you want to be casting if you’re not used to it.If you do have a lot of instant abilities then you can just hit auto-run and then the only movement you need to worry about is your jump shots. For melee classes the click-to-move is especially handy because you can activate your auto-attack and your character will run to the target to attack them. On a hunter, since your auto-attack is your ranged weapon, you’ll move into max range (if you’re out of range) and shoot from there, or if you’re already in range you’ll just stay where you are and open fire.