The input of choice for PC gamers in most games – even ones that don’t really work properly with them – is the traditional mouse and keyboard. There’s just no denying that for some games though, the mouse is the most accurate and quick input device. I’m mostly platform agnostic and like to switch around, there’s one thing I miss when I do game on a PC – and that’s finer movement control. The keyboard, though it’s home to many more buttons than controller, is not a great input device.
On a proper controller, you have analogue movement, where you’re able to move your character forward along a gradient, at different speeds depending on how hard or how fast you move the stick. On PC, with a traditional keyboard, that’s just not possible. The way keyboard switches work is that they’re either on, or they’re off. You’re either moving forward at full tilt, or you’re not moving at all.
That’s where the now successfully funded Wooting One keyboard comes in. Using fancy optical Flaretech switches, the keyboard is able to measure how much pressure you’re putting on a key by sensing the distance the key is from the sensor when you press it. It works by essentially emulating an Xbox 360 controller with your keyboard, and there’s a handy button to switch between “digital” and analogue modes.
The Flaretech switches that power the Wooting One
And it works. We gave it a bash with Overwatch, and though it takes a bit of re-wiring your brain, it gives you that finer sense of movement control that you’ll get from an analogue. There’s more to it, of course – with fully programmable custom profiles and a few other tricks available because of use of optical sensors. You could, for example, trigger a certain action when your key press in half way, and another once it’s all the way down – but I think in most circles we call that “cheating.” On top of that, the thing has close to zero input lag – but thanks to the constraints of USB, it’s set at 1ms. Still, with that sort of customisation and input lag, it’s ideal for eSports types.
Unfortunately, because of the way that Microsoft’s Xinput works, you’re only afforded the keys and axes available to the Xbox 360 controller, but the brand new prototype we saw allowed you to configure any of the keys to those inputs – not just the pre-set keys from earlier builds. There is also the issue of game support – because not all PC games support Direct Input or Xinput controls, and some that do don’t allow for keyboard and mouse usage at the same time. The Wooting One is is intriguing, but it’s got a struggle ahead of it.
You can find out more of the technical stuff at the Kickstarter page. There are still 20 or so days to go on the Kickstarter drive.