The Daily Grind: How do you deal with muscle memory when playing multiple MMORPGs?

I’ve been playing two games that focus a lot on jumping lately: Trove and Guild Wars 2, specifically Guild Wars 2’s Super Adventure Box content. And it’s been the hardest time I’ve had playing multiple MMOs at a time specifically because of jumping. Jumping in Guild Wars 2 is a one-click, last-second leap into the void, right? You take off and hold your breath that you land, especially in SAB or jumping puzzles, where the visible landing area is actually smaller than the real landing area.

But in Trove, double-jumping is life, and you can even boost your jump skill. You’re pretty much jumping all the time. And I’m seriously struggling moving between the games. Ask me how many times I’ve fallen in SAB this week because my brain wants me to double- or triple- or duodecuple-jump as if I’m in Trove. It’s not pretty!

How do you balance muscle memory for playing multiple MMORPGs? Do you drag around the same keymaps to help out? Is there a particular pair of games that you find butt heads more often than not?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Mewmew
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Mewmew

I do try to of course make most of my keyboard setups the same. Though in games that do not use Tab for targetting or something I use Tab to open my map, so I can do it very easily and quickly when running around, and then when I switch to games that have Tab for targetting it ends up weird.

I was playing Fortnite the other day and I always play this grenade character where grenades are bound to X, I’m very very used to hitting X in many situations to drop grenades. I got a quest where I had to play a different character type for 3 games, and I kept hitting X automatically in situations where I normally would even though it was a completely different skill for this other character and I knew that. My mind and body just kept automatically hitting X anyway being so used to doing it.

I definitely do try to make most setups as close to the same as possible but with the different systems they use it’s not always possible.

I also do get used to double jumping in some games and then try to do it in the next that doesn’t have them. Or speaking of Guild Wars 2, I play and am super used to having the Gliding Skill in normal areas, and then go into places like the Super Adventure Box where you don’t have it and keep trying to use it and messing myself up.

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Toy Clown

The first thing I do is arrange my hotkeys the same way they are in all the games I play. I also have a card file system that I keep for all the different characters I have, listing what I was working on and any other pertinent information. Another organization tactic I use is bookmarking builds on my browser, naming the shortcut after the character, and those go in the game folder for that game. Lastly, I take screenshots of abilities and talents, then rename them so they’re at the front of a game file on my computer. I started doing the last when games like GW2 would reset abilities while I was on a break.

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Chosenxeno .

I use similar keys for similar styled MMORPGs. The biggest issue I have is trying to Sprint in MMORPGs where you can’t lol

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Oleg Chebeneev

I never had a problem with this. I could easily switch between characters in different MMOs or between classes in the same MMO and play at high competitive level immediately. On Nostalrius I had 5 twinks of 5 different classes and all of them I played regularly. I have 3 classes on Project Ascension. The moment I switch to other class I know what hotkeys to click.

I dont fight against my muscule memory. My muscule memory helps me.

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Skardon

This was an issue for me when switching between my two main characters in Overwatch. The key used for sprinting with Solder 76 is the same key for Pharah’s jet packs. I can’t count the number of times I smashed into a ceiling as Pharah after switching from Soldier 76.

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rafael12104

It is a strange thing that I have wondered about as well. Here is another level of complexity: different classes within said games that use different combinations of keybinds.

So, generally, I try to use the same mappings in all the games I play. This involves changing key bindings from time to time and when it is possible. Simple and for the most part easy to do for static functions like opening a map.

But the truth is, it is far more complicated when it comes to combos and situational awareness. And it is amazing, to be honest. Why? Because for me, while it may take me a second to “warm up” when switching games, I slip right into the new mode and then without thinking about it my muscle memory takes over. Suddenly it’s like I only play that game. My keystrokes and clicks have a mind of their own.

There are two exceptions. One, the keystroke use to interact with items in the world. For example, some games use a right click, and some use the letter F. When I use one method for an extended period of time, I tend to use it in games using the other method for a while too. LOL.

The other, and a far more serious problem, is tab targeting. Yup, I’m opening that can of worms. After experiencing the fluid combat and efficiency of not using tab, I hate having to use it. It is a preference I suppose, but it can be a deal breaker for me now. Depends on the game.

TL;DR? Even with helpful keyboard mappings, muscle memory takes over, correctly, and it is amazing. The brain is a wonderful thing.

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Alex Malone

I don’t play multiple MMORPGs.

I get my enjoyment from the social aspects and endgame, both of which require a large time commitment to get the most out of them which precludes playing more than one at a time.

That said, I do take my keybinds with me from game to game. I have 14 keys that I bind, with shift+ and control+ alternatives for a total of 42 bound skills. So, Z, X and C are always emergency skills. F and G are usually heals. Q is always a burst damage skill. E and R are usually interupts.

Keeping that sort of layout helps when changing games, but I’ve also found it to be the most comfortable layout for me with the most used skills being the most comfortable keys. Only need two extra buttons on the mouse that map to shift and control.

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Robert Mann

I don’t really muscle memory things very often. I’m also that person who will swap between 6 or 7 different characters with 12+ builds across three games without having issues.

So I’ve pretty much trained myself to avoid just using muscle memory rather than knowing what each key does on each build. In the end, avoiding muscle memory for the functions may be a tiny bit less optimal, but the flexibility is pretty nice, especially if I change a function or build and don’t have to spend hours getting it just right…

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rafael12104

I’m the same way. Only, my ability to switch like this, I chalk up to muscle memory in the sense that I don’t really think about it at all.

It just happens. Considering the degree to which the keystrokes are different in combat for example, I am in awe. Not that I’m special, but that the human brain can learn such things and quickly switch back and forth. :)

bereman99
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bereman99

Same keybinds from MMO to MMO, and if I can map similarly used abilities to the key I’ll do that as well. Figured out most of them when I was playing LOTRO in the Moria expansion, figured out and refined the rest when FFXIV came out…which was also about the time I really started using an MMO specific gaming mouse (I honestly don’t know if I’d be able to feel comfortable playing an MMO without at minimum 5 easily pressed buttons on the side of the mouse).

1-7 (6 and 7 are almost always used for interrupts), shift+2-5, shift+X, shift+C, shift+R, F, R, Q (mapped to sprint in FFXIV, which I’ve pressed more than once in other games to run faster and been like “wait…” lol), E, X, G, shift+R, alt+1-4, and finally 1-9 (I’ve only had to use all 9 on a handful of jobs/classes) on the Numpad are mapped to the mouse buttons with the most frequently used abilities, or abilities that make sense to use in a certain order (like XIV’s Ninja and its Mudras/Ninjitsu), taking the most easily reached 4-5 buttons.

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Tanek

My biggest issue with muscle memory in different games also involved jumping, but in a different way. For a while, GW1 and LOTRO were my main games and GW1 did not have a jump mechanic. The spacebar could instead be used to start attacking an enemy. Cut to LOTRO and at the start of a fight in an instance, I’d turn into a hobbit jumping bean for a few seconds before I remembered what I was doing.

These days, I just try to map as many keys to the same movement functions as I can. And I try to remember not all games have gliding like I use in Trove and GW2 before I cliff dive into a repair bill.