Hi all... I am actually doing a bit of a follow up to a previous post
I wrote a while back talking about using a mouse with multiple customizable buttons to improve writing efficiency... this time I'm going to talk about game controllers.
Having been writing for a number of years now (2010 being my 9th season as a designer) I have been doing everything I can to make the writing process more efficient and be as comfortable as possible for the long hours I spend here at my desk each and every day. No matter what, it seems that towards the end of the year, I'm still totally fatigued and using less and less of the shortcuts that I set on the keyboard because it seems to be such a hassle late at night when my eyes are getting blurry and my hands just don't want to move. I think I found a solution that resolves a great majority of my problems!
I chose to hold off posting about this until I was absolutely sure it was something I was comfortable with and that worked for me, since this has been my first full year using it.
Last October I made a trip to Best Buy to purchase a new Flash drive to back up some data. But instead of a Flash drive, I walked out of there having purchased the Logitech G13 Game Controller
. It wasn't necessarily an impulse buy for me and it was
on sale, so I didn't feel too bad about the purchase.
It happened to be something I had seen online somewhere and wondered if it would be something I could use for my music notating software as well as my web design/photoshop/illustrator work - and something I could use to assign hotkeys to in order to make it easier to navigate through all the tools and options or set automating sequences.
However, as I was standing there in the store and reading the box, I realized that it would be just
as beneficial for me to use it for Pyware! Why in the heck didn't I think of this before???
I'm not sure why I never thought of it initially, but it's probably because I am so used to knowing EXACTLY where every single tool is on Pyware and shortcut, I didn't ever feel a need to get a controller to assign those shortcuts to. But with Photoshop/Illustrator/Notion3 - not a clue where everything is... gets very frustrating at times!
Last fall I had heard that a friend of mine started using the Belkin n52te Game Controller
for writing drill and was having great success with it. Again, I hadn't thought of using a game controller for drill, but after seeing the G13 in the store, taking a closer look and thinking of the potential, the wallet came out and I went for it based on the fact that something inside me just knew it'd be worth it. By the description alone saying that there were 3 different layouts you could program of 29 customizable buttons each, I couldn't resist. One layout for Pyware, one for Photoshop and one for Notion3 (music). I think the decision to go with the Logitech over the Belkin was merely the difference in the number of customizable buttons. That's really it.
After assigning the shortcut keys for Pyware and about a solid month in the off-season of getting a feel for it, I found a set that works great for me, in combination with my mouse and a few other keyboard shortcuts I created, that now makes the writing process TONS faster and more efficient. In fact, I don't remember the last time I actually went to the actual toolbar to select something... really.
It really is a relief, both mentally and physically, that I don't have to go back and forth and back and forth all over the screen for some of the most commonly used commands and tools. It's amazing what just one season of using this has done... I don't know if I can write without it.
Well, I can
always write without it... but I just wouldn't be as fast or as efficient as I am now. Those little extra movements that are SAVED by not having to click EVERY single click in the right hand gives me many extra hours of work, as well as a much easier time going through and adding text boxes, test animating pages, copy/paste forms, etc. I could go on and on describing all of the different ways the game controller functionality has helped me, but unless you saw it for yourself you probably wouldn't understand.
* As a side note - This game controller + mouse, combined with the latest version of Pyware (version 5), is a match made in heaven for me. The latest additions with v5 have included extra commands/tools and shortcut capabilities that makes the process go much smoother from start to finish of any drill - especially the customizable text box editor, the new block tool and the production sheet. I'm not sure if it would be as efficient with version 4, but it has been so long since I last used v4, I don't seem to remember what was available on that and what wasn't. So, just know that I have all of this configured with v5, which may or may not work the same with v4.
So, as I did with my Logitech mouse in that earlier post, here is another illustration (and a much better one, I should add) showing my current hotkey listing for Pyware that I use between my Logitech mouse and game controller. This is just my current configuration and hopefully it'll give you an idea of how it can work. (All of my shortcuts were customized in the "Shortcut Editor" and were assigned to a few non-default and some pretty random key combinations so they were unique to pyware and not going to cross over with any of the 'default' commands that usually happen on the computer. For example, my copy/paste commands on my Mac are "Ctrl+C/V" instead of "Command+C/V".)
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If you are interested in going about doing something like this, take a look at both the Belkin model I posted earlier and the G13. (There also might be other game controllers out there that'll work, but these are the only two I've heard of people using for drill. I assume ANY of them would work though.) I don't know how well the Belkin works, but I hear it works great on both Mac and Windows. The G13 I use has a few bugs when working with a Mac, but I kind of work around those with ease. There are a few things you can't do on the Mac with some of the macros options, but I don't necessarily need ALL of the functionality to make Pyware a better experience for me. My primary reasons for going with the G13 over other/cheaper models:
- 3 separate layouts for 3 different configurations
- 29 customizable keys per layout... TWENTY NINE!!! (or 87 total, if you wanted to go REALLY nuts with it on one program.)
- a joystick to move positions around when using the "Push Tool" rather than using arrow keys or click-dragging with the mouse
- size - for my larger hands
- comfort - very ergonomic and comfortable... fits very naturally
- light-up keys
- because it looks cool!
In conclusion, I can't emphasize how much this game controller + mouse has helped my writing efficiency. It was a bit of a gamble to attempt using this extra peripheral to do this job, but after a while of getting comfortable and working with it all year long, this is a perfect combination for me and writing drill. The custom buttons on the mouse with all of the customized buttons on the G13 - totally new experience and I go to bed at night with much less soreness and more drill written. Couldn't be happier.
Well, I hope this post was helpful to anyone who may be curious about these game controllers and possibly getting one for use on Pyware (or any other programs). I know this may seem like I'm trying to drop a plug for Logitech or something... nah... it just so happens that I love their devices and they have worked out extremely well for me.
I'd be more than happy to answer any questions y'all might have in regards to my experience and how things have been since I started using it.