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Old January 5, 2011, 19:24   #1
fph
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Touch typing and angband

I type more or less without looking at the keyboard, but I do not touch-type properly (hands on the home row, et cetera). I have come to think that Angband has taught me how to touch type. Poorly. Sadly so.

Angband is a great game to teach you touch-typing, because it forces you to use all keys, while looking at the screen. Unfortunately, the key layout is not suited to learning it properly IMHO. Especially the rogue-like keyset, which forces you to keep your right hand one key left of the home positions and thus leads you to ignore the right shift key (do you guys have the same typing behaviour? That would confirm my diagnosis).

I would like to spend some free time developing an alternate keyset which should be, hopefully, a bit more friendly --- effectively forcing you to keep your hands on the home positions, remember where the letters are, and use both shift keys. This will probably require some code tweaking, since many things are hard-coded (such as "there are only two keysets", the 0-9 keys for inscriptions, and the inventory letters). So, questions:

1) Do you agree with my view?
2) Do you think it's a sensible (and doable) project?
3) Is this a good moment to start it? I see that a rework of the input layer is upcoming. How long would that probably last?
4) Is it better if I do that as a variant by forking code, or try to submit patches to the V code and "keep up with the nightlies"? It seems suboptimal to make an UI improvement and then not contributing it back to Vanilla.
5) Any other suggestions, comments, complaints?
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Old January 5, 2011, 19:42   #2
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You can modify the keymaps either via the in-game menu or by preference list editing. What is setup in the preference file translates keypresses into commands.
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Old January 5, 2011, 19:45   #3
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I keep one hand on the numeric keypad and one hand on the left home row. That left hand's gotten pretty good at jumping all over the keyboard to hit out-of-the-way keys. Then again, I also use the Dvorak keyset, which makes some things easier (e.g. 'k' is where 'v' is on Qwerty, so I can easily destroy stuff) and some things harder (I have trouble hitting 'g' ('u' on Qwerty) consistently without looking for it).

You might take a look at the one-handed Dvorak keysets for inspiration. They're intended to be used by people with missing/unusable hands to type English.

For what it's worth, I practically never use the right shift key even when I'm typing normally, and I didn't learn touch typing from playing Angband...more from posting to RGRA. Right shift is a bit further from the center (compare the left pinky on 'a' when left forefinger is on 'f' to the right pinky on ';' when the right forefinger is on 'j'), and when the left pinky does pull down to hit shift, it's easy enough for the left ring finger to cover the letters the pinky normally does.
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Old January 5, 2011, 19:48   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fph View Post
I type more or less without looking at the keyboard, but I do not touch-type properly (hands on the home row, et cetera). I have come to think that Angband has taught me how to touch type. Poorly. Sadly so.

Angband is a great game to teach you touch-typing, because it forces you to use all keys, while looking at the screen. Unfortunately, the key layout is not suited to learning it properly IMHO. Especially the rogue-like keyset, which forces you to keep your right hand one key left of the home positions and thus leads you to ignore the right shift key (do you guys have the same typing behaviour? That would confirm my diagnosis).

I would like to spend some free time developing an alternate keyset which should be, hopefully, a bit more friendly --- effectively forcing you to keep your hands on the home positions, remember where the letters are, and use both shift keys. This will probably require some code tweaking, since many things are hard-coded (such as "there are only two keysets", the 0-9 keys for inscriptions, and the inventory letters). So, questions:

1) Do you agree with my view?
2) Do you think it's a sensible (and doable) project?
3) Is this a good moment to start it? I see that a rework of the input layer is upcoming. How long would that probably last?
4) Is it better if I do that as a variant by forking code, or try to submit patches to the V code and "keep up with the nightlies"? It seems suboptimal to make an UI improvement and then not contributing it back to Vanilla.
5) Any other suggestions, comments, complaints?
Sounds fun and useful. I have no ETA on input reworking as yet, though, I'm afraid, it could take a while to come through, but it will probably make your patch a bit easier.
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Old January 5, 2011, 20:05   #5
Therem Harth
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Hmm, I never thought about this much. I'm also from the school of Angband-assisted touch-typing, but my mode of touch-typing doesn't seem significantly different from anyone else's, or any slower.

Err actually, I take that first bit back.

- By default my left middle finger rests on 'e' not 'd'. Which kind of makes sense actually, 'e' is IIRC the most commonly used letter. Likewise my right middle finger rests on 'i'. (Hmmm... 'e'quipment and 'i'nventory?)
- My left fifth finger seems to come into play mostly for hitting the shift keys. I barely ever use the right shift key. (As the OP pointed out.)
- My right fifth finger stays somewhere over the bracket and pipe keys. I figure this is from years of messing with Linux config files and CLI stuff.

So my style of typing probably is kind of Angband/Linux influenced.

I decided to take a typing speed test... Got 70 words per minute * 87% accuracy = ~60 words per minute, which is probably about average for people who touch-type.

(Normally I think I'm a bit more accurate, but slower because I'm not being clocked; it probably averages the same. Also, the test site claims 36 WPM is average, but I'll bet that's diluted by hunt-and-peckers.)

Also it occurs to me that these observations may have other accuracy issues; I have rather big hands for instance, and I'm using a laptop keyboard, so the keyboard's size and layout could affect my typing style.

I do think that making Angband more friendly for touch-typing is an interesting idea. I'd caution, however, that "friendly" may mean different things for different people with differently sized hands.

Last edited by Therem Harth; January 5, 2011 at 20:14.
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Old January 6, 2011, 05:42   #6
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This is not just an Angband problem. VI does the same thing, using [hjkl] for navigation instead of the touch typist friendly [jkl;], even though ';' is IIRC unused in VI's command mode. I get the impression that the first generation or two of computer geeks never learned typing from experienced (typewriter) typists.
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Old January 6, 2011, 06:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atarlost View Post
This is not just an Angband problem. VI does the same thing, using [hjkl] for navigation instead of the touch typist friendly [jkl;], even though ';' is IIRC unused in VI's command mode. I get the impression that the first generation or two of computer geeks never learned typing from experienced (typewriter) typists.
I think the right way to say that is "computer geeks never learned typing from typists". Leave "generations" out.
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Old January 6, 2011, 07:49   #8
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hi i stopped listening when you mentioned right shift, lol i think that ones for emergency only, shouldnt worry~ eee anyway the roguelike keyset is too oldschool, i think it is not mattering either ok please
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Old January 6, 2011, 21:15   #9
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Probably the friendliest thing you could do would be to lock the keyboard and darken the screen for a few minutes every hour of real-time so players get their butt out of their chair for 5 minutes and stretch. I wonder how many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome Angband has caused...

I'm one of the weirdos who uses the num keys at the top of the keyboard to move, so I'm clearly not focused on efficiency.
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Old January 7, 2011, 05:01   #10
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eek its coming back to me now, sorry, i havnt had a char past far in a while anyway, yes this game is serious on the hands, especially the numpad hand imo, many many keystrokes, to a normal playsession of angband, its really serious- i find myself having sore hand on serious char, but it is worth it and there is no help except mind control angband. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
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