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Author Topic: DRL with WASD (and other simplified inputs)  (Read 1395 times)


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DRL with WASD (and other simplified inputs)
« on: December 18, 2016, 02:49 »

Jupiter Hell is set to be a 4-way roguelike AFAIK due to accessibility issues with numpads missing from laptops, and generally with 8-way input. I thought about this, and experimented a bit with different input ideas, to see if there was a more accessible way to do 8-way movement without a numpad. To that end, I did a few experiments.

Experiment 1: WASDQEZC

This was my first attempt, basically just WASD with explicit diagonals strung around it. It worked about as well as could be expected: kinda clumsily. It does work, but it is difficult to fit non-movement commands around it. This ultimately only worked with ESDF(WRXV) if I wanted non-movement keys on my left hand.

Experiment 2: Infra Arcana style

The second experiment was an attempt to flatten out the keys a bit, to open up room on my left hand. shift+A and shift+D would be NW and NE respectively, while ctrl+A and ctrl+D were SW and SE. It worked better than the first experiment, but seemed to favour switching E and W with diagonals. That is, NW, NE, NW, NE or SW, SE, SW, SE were far easier to do than NW, SW, NW, SW or SE, NE, SE, NE. It's also a bit annoying to hit ctrl and a direction, though shift and direction felt fine. I was trying to do this all with one hand (so my right hand could rest on the mouse), and it's more comfortable if you use the left hand for shift/ctrl and have the right hand on the arrow keys.

Experiment 3: Pure WASD (with chording)

The last experiment involved several hours of autohotkey hackery to set up properly (that is, in a way that avoided erroneous input while ensuring inputs happened as soon as they were unambiguous and still let the pressed keys through for menu control). Basically, WASD, like a shooter. so W+A is NW, W+D is NE, A+S is SW, A+D is SE. The script has to have a brief input buffer to ensure one doesn't move cardinally when meaning to move diagonally, but I've found ~50ms is both safe and quick. Basically, if you press a key and hold it for >50ms, you move in that cardinal direction. If you press and release a key within 50ms, you also move in that cardinal direction. If you press a key, and within 50ms press another key, you move in the diagonal corresponding to the combination of keys pressed. Input continues as long as the key(s) is/are held down.

Overall, I found WASDQEZC a complete wash, but the other two experiments are interesting. Infra Arcana style has perfect reliability, but can be a bit tough on the pinky finger and felt a bit slow to me (at least when using it with WASD rather than arrow keys). Pure WASD had no reliability issues that I could find, but it is theoretically possible to have input errors if one gets sloppy. I haven't had any issues in testing (my current run got through all 3 Phobos red stages with medkits to spare, and no accidental movement), but the nature of the system does not guarantee correctness. The keybindings for the Infra Arcana style, and the keybindings and AHK program+code for WASD are both attached separately, if anyone wants to test them out. If you want to change the Pure WASD keys to something else, just edit the InputKeys table (and if those keys are alphanumeric, mirror them in the first half of the OutputKeys table to keep menu control working properly) in the AHK code, and change which keys are no-ops in the keybindings.lua.

Note that the AHK script is a bit conservative, and occasionally doesn't register inputs at all (because I don't know AHK that well, so I'm not sure how best to solve the race condition causing this issue). I think this is okay, because not acting in a roguelike is a safe option, but it may be frustrating for some. Also, if you wanted to use the arrow keys for this, it will require setting the output keys (in the KeyCheck() function) to something other than the arrow keys, and then binding the cardinal movement functions to those new keys. AHK is not great at dealing with conditional key passthrough.

UPDATE (2016/12/22): I've fixed the bugs I encountered during my recent streamed test (mostly that holding a diagonal caused a long stream of cardinal movements upon releasing the diagonal), and also cleaned up a couple of other outstanding issues. The issue with registering quick repeated inputs I mentioned earlier is gone, as is the issue regarding conditional key passthrough, though to mitigate this change causing more input accidents I increased the buffer time to 67ms, which is safer anyway. Turns out I needed key passthrough anyway for handling menus, so I figure it might as well just work as the main method, rather than having no-op functions in keybindings.lua. Ironically, this means that the current version can only handle having the input and cardinal output keys be the same, unless you aren't using alphanumeric keys as input. If this is a problem for people I'll fix it, but this is the best solution to handle both menus and COMMAND_RUNMODE, and the only downside is that these directional inputs can't manipulate the main menu.

UPDATE (2017/01/01): I've adjusted the script to not immediately press a cardinal as soon as the key is released, but instead that cardinal is buffered for a few dozen ms before being sent if nothing else has happened during the buffered period, which keeps misinputs to near-zero while maintaining a sense of fluidity. The buffer length is also configurable, as is the list of games that work with it (it's set up for DRL and ToME, though I haven't included ToME keybindings), and all configuration is in a handy block at the very top of the source.

UPDATE (2017/01/12): Download links changed to point to my Google Drive. I didn't realize people who weren't logged in couldn't even see the attached files.

UPDATE (2017/02/01): Modified the buffering system slightly. The check for releasing keys is half the buffer time for pressed keys. By default, you have 67ms to press 2 keys together to make a diagonal, and 33ms when releasing them to release both in order to avoid a unintended cardinal. Also, when pressing and releasing a single cardinal alone, it will also wait 33ms before sending the input. Testing this on an attempt at Compet-N Gold, I got no misinputs all the way to Babel (I forgot to get Dodgemaster and Cybie killed me, but the inputs all worked with me going as fast as I could in tiles mode).

Infra Arcana style keybindings
WASD keybindings and AHK script+code v4 (listed as v1 in the repo)

Spoiler: WASD keybindings (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 10:39 by Shadowfury333 »
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