Gaming Layer (based on default QWERTY)

(Jan) #21

I just googled DualUse modifiers and they sound really useful. Totally inconvenient for gaming though if you plan to use Ctrl or Shift though. Makes a good use case for this layer.

Whether or not holding down a palm key whilst typing is comfortable will remain to be seen for me. I’m still waiting for my Model 01. If anyone has one and can test how comfortable this solution is, I’d appreciate their feedback.
Worst case, we can ditch the whole idea because having a ‘Layer’ key to toggle between the two layers would suffice too.

I play Overwatch regularly and my pinkie is almost permanently hovering over the Shift key while I do. Do you mean games that require pressing both LCtrl and LShift at the same time are the worst? Or ones that require either key regularly?

The layout I mocked up doubles Ctrl and Shift in the thumb arc. That way you could press Shift with your pinkie and Ctrl with your thumb! Might be more comfortable. I don’t know of any games that use both. Oh wait, I think you can ‘sprint’ in PUBG whilst crouching by holding that combo. Will need to check but if so that might be a potential advantage of gaming on the Model 01.

It’s definitely a disadvantage however I don’t see any way to avoid it other than just not using this layer and rebinding as usual.

In my experience I find that rarely used keybinds are rarely anything time critical. It’s usually ‘M’ for Map or ‘P’ for Voice Chat Menu, things that I can take my time to find if I’m not used to pressing them. Plus, once you’ve used them a few times you should be able to remember them for next time.

I’ve thought about this. Basing this on QWERTY rather than any other layout makes more sense due to its widespread adoption. Game developers will base their default keybinds on QWERTY and games aren’t guaranteed to adjust to a different typing layout, especially as in most cases I’ve seen, the OS stays in QWERTY whilst the keyboard firmware adjusts the layout to fit.
Even those who use Dvorak or Colemak will have a better understanding and familiarity with QWERTY than they would with a different layout they don’t use due to it’s ubiquity.
But you’re right, it’s really a case of the lesser of two evils.

Thank you for your feedback. I think there may have been some miscommunication above but this whole exchange has been useful food for thought and your perspective is welcome.

This approach will save the user 30 seconds of rebinding when starting a new game. How useful that is to the user will be based on how often they start new games, etc.
It does come with some downsides (keycaps not matching keypresses) but that’s the nature of this being a layer and for me I can live with that.
I’m most excited about customizing this already awesome keyboard to be super convenient and handy for my purposes, especially because I know very little about coding and this will be a good learning experience for me.

I have noticed that the bskp thumb key on the default QWERTY layout has a homing dot on it. Can I safely assume that this is where the thumb rests more naturally? In that case should I modify the above layout to swap the ‘Space’ and ‘Alt’ keys? Space would be used much more regularly so it should be the easiest thumb key to access. Originally my logic for putting Alt there was to match the traditional keyboard layout order.

Thanks for everyone’s feedback. If anyone already has a Model 01 and is willing to test this layout, I’d be interested to know how it works out. Can’t wait to do this myself when mine finally arrives.

(Jesse) #22

in my experience, yes. That’s why I put the dots there . However, everybody’s hands are different and different people might find other things more comfortable.


This is why I was really glad when you confirmed that it’s possible to interchange the thumb keys. Awesome!
Speaking of interchanging keys, is this the right tool to remove keys?:
I’m asking because my tool ( wouldn’t fit (I didn’t want to force it, it really didn’t look like it was the right tool for this keyboard).

(Jesse) #24

That’ll certainly work. Though if you unscrew the enclosure, you can likely get at them with your fingers (or that plastic tool)


That’ll certainly work. Though if you unscrew the enclosure, you can likely get at them with your fingers (or that plastic tool)

The problem with the plastic tool is that it won’t work. I tried it and it just wouldn’t fit between the other keys. I could have forced it, and it might have worked, but it felt too risky and I thought it was not worth it. Nobody breaks my shiny new keyboard. Not even me.

(Jesse) #26

nod I had a recollection of the version of that one that I had working turned 90 degrees on the thumb keys.

(Michael Richters) #27

Incidental nitpicky question:

For those gamers who have claimed that rebinding keys for a new game takes only 30 seconds, that sounds like hyperbole to me. I’m curious about how long it really takes, because I’m quite certain it would take me considerably longer than that just to find the settings for key bindings.

I wonder if you guys would be interested in timing yourselves binding keys for a game you’ve never played before, including navigating to the settings for keybindings, and navigating back to play mode. I could do it myself, but I’m sure I’d be a lot slower than you guys, so that wouldn’t be at all meaningful.

Note: @bjn I’m not making an argument that your essential point that rebinding keys is something that you perceive as an insignificant burden is invalid, as that’s a personal judgement (just as someone else’s perception that it is a significant nuisance is valid); I’m genuinely curious about the time it takes, for no particularly good reason.

(Bart Nagel) #28

Valid question, and I’ll take the challenge if I remember in the next couple of days! (Tonight is not convenient.) It’s certainly possible I’ve underestimated.

But even if it’s 90 seconds, it’s a one-off, and I see it as I said earlier as a positive experience, learning the functionality of the game and tailoring it. Each game is different, as is each person.

(Gergely Nagy) #29

I did time it once, rebinding Diablo3 took about 20 minutes. That sounds a lot, but I’ve played that game so much that 20 minutes is next to nothing. This is also one of the slowest rebinds I’ve done, because it was my first, and included a bit of testing too.

I seem to recall rebinding TellTale games in a fraction of that (but then, those have much fewer key bindings too).


I haven’t usually done key rebinding, but I have a friend who I game with regularly that does. From his experience I wouldn’t call rebinding a “one-off”. I’m sure some games are worse at this than others, but I know there were several times when games updated and completely forgot his keybinding changes.

(Bart Nagel) #31

I can’t think of a time that’s ever happened to me.

(Bart Nagel) #32

I think I was right on the money with my 30s guess, at least for a first-person shooter game, even with some thought in a couple of cases and a change of mind, and also flipping the mouse’s y-axis.

This is a game I’d never heard of, and which I found by filtering Steam to Linux games with the first-person tag, and the free-to-play tag, somewhere near the top of the list.

Things in my favour, though, were that it allows the keys to be configured with the mouse, and that the keybindings menu was the first thing to appear when I hit “options”. It also helped that the menu and key config system looks a lot like the Valve games I’m used to.

But this wasn’t the first game I tried. I tried three before this. Two didn’t allow rebinding the keys at all (I’m getting the impression this might be common with free-to-play games), and one had only keyboard support on its menu, and wanted me to press f to change a key (why f?!), only f did nothing! It turned out it had remapped my keys back to qwerty positions (as the eagle-eyed will see that the game in the video above also did, though in that case it didn’t matter since I was using the mouse). So that one took a little longer due to the confusion.

So while, yes, 30 seconds is probably a best-case scenario, my point was more that the time spent rebinding keys is insignificant compared to time playing the game, as @algernon said above.

Now, those games I tried which didn’t allow remapping would be an excellent use for a gaming layer! So thanks, @merlin, for leading me somewhere which challenged my viewpoint.

(Jan) #33

Thanks @bjn and @merlin!

Works been hectic this week so I’ll try tackling the firmware on the weekend. Need to figure out how to add an additional layer that can be switched to in addition to the default, fn and num layers. Doesn’t sound that difficult but for someone who doesn’t code I’m expecting I’ll need to learn a lot first before I’m successful.

I haven’t received much feedback regarding the layout I proposed so I assume that there aren’t any outstanding issues to address regarding placement of keys?

(Michael Richters) #34

I’m convinced that you weren’t exaggerating — now I just think you’re really fast! =) Thanks for humoring my curiousity!

(Michael Richters) #35

Your plan for the layout is exactly where I would start.

(Bart Nagel) #36

I think I’d make a couple of changes. What you’re looking for is optimal parity with a PC-104 qwerty keyboard, right? As far as I can tell, the way to do that is this:

  • Shift is on the same row as zxcv on qwerty, so it should be on the bottom row.
  • Caps lock (booo, hisss) ought to be somewhere. I’ve seen it as a default binding before, such as in Return to Castle Wolfenstein (it’s the walk/run modifier, and sprint is separate, on shift). Either on the Model 01’s a (where you currently have shift) or to its left on the pgup key.
  • That would push ctrl to where pgdn currently is. It could even be on both pgup and pgdn, if caps is only on a.

It’s a shame that the rightmost column doesn’t quite track with the rows (such is the design of the keyboard) but I don’t expect that would cause much of an issue at all.

On the right half, though I realized it was I who suggested restoring the LED key, I think it might be best to leave it entirely untouched. Of course, that would leave no way to toggle out of gaming layer mode for momentary typing…

(Piers Cawley) #37

I’m thinking of trying this soon, but I’m initially at least only worrying about WoW, which is about the only thing I play on mouse + keyboard.

I plan to add the following wrinkles though:

  • ESC moves to the right hand pod somewhere, or down into a FN layer - I’m fed up of typing it by accident.
  • / and ⏎ both both emit themselves and then to a variant of the typing layer which has ⏎ bound to send itself and then shift back to the ‘gaming’ layer.
  • Thumb keys, left to right, probably become ←, →, ⇧ and ⌥, where the arrow keys are bound to their respective strafes. This means my positioning is managed entirely with the mouse and my left thumb, leaving fingers free to manage spell casting, etc; ␣ could well end up on the palm key

I’m pretty sure that having, say ‘Fn + key’ start that key auto repeating at the global cooldown rate until the raw key is tapped again, would be frowned on by Blizzard. Setting per-key repeat rates, with some noise to make detection harder, over multiple profiles for your different classes and builds would no doubt invoke severe wrath.

But it would be fun to implement.

(Michael Richters) #38

When you say “repeat”, do you mean sending rapid reports with the key toggling off and on, or just the same thing you get when you hold the key down?

(Piers Cawley) #39

Rapid reports. WoW catches keyDown events and ignores any OS level auto repeat, so if you want to get your DPS good and high you want some pretty accurate timing of key presses on cool down. Or you just spam the key and hope. Blizzard have a 1 keypress = 1 spell rule, so doing this kind of stuff in the keyboard is very much against that rule.

(Gergely Nagy) #40

While they have that rule, they have, so far, not spoken up against the NumLock-trick in Diablo3. The trick is to press NumLock, then hold Keypad 1, release NumLock and release Keypad 1. This will keep Keypad 1 held, as far as Diablo3 sees it. Many, many people use this to have a spell or two on auto-cast. So far, Blizzard said nothing, even though this has been going on for years now.