After spending years fiddling with trackballs, trackman and keyboards, every ardent gamer contemplates upgrading to a gaming mouse. It’s like one of those inevitable things that can be procrastinated for a while but never avoided permanently.
Most people that take the jump discover that things aren’t as simple as they were made out to be.
Suddenly, you are losing track of the cursor. You are overshooting or missing your targets. Precision has flown out of the window. Games where you were the demigod, now seem to be painstakingly difficult.To make matters worse, the dang thing seems to be too bulky to grip comfortably, let alone use it for marathon gaming sessions.
Fret not! We’ve all been there.
The transition from a conventional mouse, or from a trackman to a gaming mouse is never easy.
This brief guide on how to use a gaming mouse will help you through the transition phase and also provide some assistance with setting it up the right way to best suit your gaming style.
Understanding The Gaming Mouse
Gaming mice are designed with the sole purpose of helping improve gameplay.
Well, at least some of them are. The rest also have to double up as decepticons and look menacing while they are at it.
They come crammed with features to make that possible. There are enhanced sensitivity settings, multiple buttons that can store your frequently used actions and macros, increased polling rates and the option to customize every single aspect, right from the additional keys to the weight.
It’s a given that you will struggle with it for a while until you get used to the feel and the shortcuts.
Think of it like upgrading to a Ferrari while you’ve been driving a rundown clunker all the time.
Fortunately, for most gamers, the transitioning phase is brief, and they quickly begin to realize the ease that it brings to the game.
Getting The Right Mouse For Your Gaming Style
Have you veered towards a specific style or genre of gaming already? Then pick a mouse that has the best features to suit that style of gaming.
For example, the Logitech G602, has long been considered one of the best gaming mice for MMORPGs. It has multiple action buttons, DPI toggling, allows you to customize the sensitivity on-the-fly. It’s a perfect fit for these games.
That does not mean that you cannot use it for say, first person shooters.
You very well can. But there are much better mice out there that will make life easier for you against a fast and skilled opponent in a FPS game, where decisions have to be made in the blink of an eye.
On the contrary, if you are still testing the waters in the wide world of gaming, then you can very well get started with an entry-level model and progress to a more specialized one later as you gravitate towards a genre.
The OS Settings
Once you plug in the new mouse and install the driver software that comes with it, most first timers would be gearing to get into the settings and tinker with it.
Instead, head straight to Windows and open up ‘Mouse Properties’.
While most new games do not rely on the mouse’s OS settings for acceleration or speed, some browser-based games still do. As do some low-end titles, which makes it necessary to get this out of the way.
Here are the settings to keep an eye out for.
- Pointer Speed: There are 11 tiny notches on the pointer speed slider. Slide this to the middle on the 6th This keeps the accuracy levels at 100%. We can adjust the speed later on in the DPI settings.
- Enhance Pointer Precision: Uncheck this.
- Acceleration: There are mixed feelings about using mouse acceleration among gamers. Most people avoid using it altogether, because it artificially amplifies the speed with which your cursor moves on screen. So, if you move your cursor the quarter of an inch, chances are that it may move an inch or more. While that might seem to be beneficial, it is quite the opposite. If you are looking to learn to make fast and precise movements, keep this unchecked. On the other hand, if you have some sort of physical dexterity, you may consider keeping this checked.
If at any point during gameplay, you find that your cursor or crosshair is behaving weird, it would be a good idea to double check the OS settings.
The Mouse Driver Settings
There are three key variables that will greatly affect how smoothly the mouse works irrespective of what game you play with it.
- DPI: DPI stands for Dots Per Minute and in a Windows desktop environment, one dot equals one pixel. So DPI reveals the number of pixels that the cursor moves, for every inch that you move the mouse. In simpler terms, this number is what indicates the speed of the cursor. Gaming mice have inbuilt sensors that handle the DPI and it can vary from 1000 to 3200 or more, depending on the make and the model. To shed some light on it, the average desktop mouse has a DPI of just 125. Set the DPI at the maximum number that can be handled by the sensor. You can google this if you are unsure. Some gaming mice have DPI buttons that allow you to adjust the speed during gameplay or use presets. For others, the setting will be in the driver software.
- Polling Rate: Without making it sound like tech jargon, the polling rate indicates the responsiveness of the mouse. The higher it is, the better, as it makes your movements more precise and eliminates lag. Most gaming mice feature in-built settings to customize the polling rate. But if you have an older gaming mouse model that doesn’t feature this, then you can always find a way to manually override the default polling rate.
- Angle Snapping: Some gaming mice have a built-in feature called ‘Angle snapping’, which is like a pesky AI that tries to predict when you are trying to make a straight move and compensates for it. This can be detrimental in any type of game but more so in FPS games where you are trying to move to the left or right or above or below the crosshair. Find it and turn it off before you begin.
Making The Most Out Of Your Mouse In Any Game
You’d be glad to hear that there’s no wrong way to use a gaming mouse.
So, if you feel that you aren’t getting the kind of performance that you expected from it, it’s not because you are doing something wrong.
You just need to tinker around with the settings some more, and spend some more time working on it until finger dexterity sets in.
Apart from the settings that we just mentioned, here are some more that might help.
Raw Input: If you are looking to use a high DPI setting, that is mouse speed, then we recommend that you switch the Raw Input setting on. Many games have this feature and with this switched on, the cursor responds on the input taken directly from the mouse, rather than from the OS, which can set limits depending on various parameters. It makes your movements more precise.
In-game sensitivity: The in-game sensitivity setting determines how fast you move or turn in the game. You can find this setting buried deep in the options menu and there’s usually a numerical value that you can assign to fine tune this. Ideally, you’d want a 1:1 ratio between the input and the movement. Some games just have a slider with no numerical value assigned to it. In this case, set it at the lowest or check the configuration files or the gaming console to find and tweak it.
Experienced gamers set the in-game sensitivity at the lowest possible value, relying purely on their physical skills to get the speed they seek in the game. If you are just starting off with gaming, it would take some trial and error to reach an ideal sensitivity setting. It depends largely on the style of your gameplay, your experience with it and the equipment.
Manage the wires: You’d never expect the mouse wire to cause inconsistencies in movement. But it is one of the commonest niggles that gamers face. It has a simple solution though. Either use a mouse bungee or go wire free with a wireless gaming mouse.
Use a good quality mouse pad: Believe it or not, the tracking surface plays a very important role in determining how accurate the gameplay is. Buy a gaming mouse pad. Anything lesser does not have the surface area, the surface speed or the smoothness required for tracking accurately.
Test, adjust, repeat: Find any two fixed spots on the screen and aim to move your cursor precisely between those two spots. At first you may find that the crosshair may move past the spot. Try altering the DPI or the sensitivity to improve this. You may also discover that the cursor does not reach the spot at all. Try to increase the DPI to match this. After a few trial runs, you should be able to find the sweet spot between sensitivity and speed to match your style, physical skills and equipment.