Loral's Guide to Everquest Usability

The party members were packed five deep and five abreast in the narrow hallway of the Chardok royal keep. Just ahead a single noble monk began to draw out the lord of the manor, Overking Bathized Di'Zok. The raiding adventurers stood ready, waiting to see the powerful sorcerer come running around the corridor, then chaos. Three members from your group have their health drop down two red bubbles each. You mouse over to your group heal spell gem, fighting the lag of all the spellcasting with each inch. Just as you click it, you hear a shout to heal the main tank of another group. You press your arrow keys, trying to find him inside of the 5" box on the screen. When you see him and click, you target the big butted ogre next to him instead. Wait, now you have targeted him, but before you can mouse back up to your complete heal, he falls dead. Now two of your party are dead and the other three are dying quickly to the Overking's powerful spells. You try to click on your lead tank but the lag makes you feel like you are mousing through syrup, then everything stops. You didn't notice your own health falling like a stone the whole battle. Loading..please wait...

Recently I was asked for tips and tricks to the life of a cleric in Norrath. My number one suggestion was to relook at your interface and find out how to make it easier and faster. Everquest is a very complicated game, and often we find ourselves struggling with the interface we are given even though Verant has made it very easy to customize. Spending the time to customize your Everquest environment will offer you the following advantages:

This guide gives you eight basic steps to improve your Everquest interface. If you follow them, you will be able to perform better with less work and enjoy more of the game's rich visuals instead of trying to click on that pesky spell gem. Print a copy of this guide and walk through it step by step while playing the game to learn how each of these features work. Lets look at another battle situation.

Twenty eight adventurers stand ready as the powerful Guardian of Zek storms across the courtyard of Kael Drakkal. He hits the raiding party like the waves of Timorous Deep. The lead tank, a noble human warrior, holds the creature at bay but without warning, the Guardian begins crushing a shaman in your group. Hitting Shift+W switches you to that shaman, ALT+4 begins casting Divine Light, your fast and powerful heal spell. As the spell finishes you hear a shout that the lead cleric has run out of mana and that noble warrior is about to fall. Typing "/tar gen" puts Genalen on your target box, located right above your party's health. Making a quick decision to cast Complete Heal since he does have enough hit points to survive the 8 second casting, you press ALT+1 and the spell beings. As the spell casts, you right click, hold, and spin to check on the position of the rest of your members. Everyone looks in place. The heal lands and Genalen is saved. Hitting 5, the hotkey of your "/assist" hotbox lets you check on the mobs health. The day does not look good for the Guardian of Zek. Hitting 5 again targets a monk who has commanded the attention of the Guardian as he is falling. Though almost dead, the Guardian is making quick work of the lightly armored monk. Pressing alt+3 casts a quick heal on the monk, keeping him alive just as the ancient Guardian of Zek falls dead to the earth.

Nothing is more frustrating than knowing what to do but being unable to do it. Using the out of the box interface for Everquest allows us to perform our duties as citizens of Norrath but not elegantly. While we are able to click on that pesky mob if it would just step out a bit, it would be far easier to simply be able to target him directly whatever his position. The following eight suggestions can drastically improve your ability to interact with the world of Norrath.

  1. Use keyboard shortcuts and "/" commands instead of the mouse. Sure the mouse is a great invention, but many times, keyboard shortcuts are far faster to use than moving and clicking with a mouse. Everquest has a huge amount of keyboard commands at your disposal. Times typing "/bo 3" is faster than clicking on your spellbook and typing "/tar gen" is much faster than trying to click on that poor fighter who is about to die. Remember that keyboard commands can be abbreviated so you don't have to type out the entire command, just enough letters to separate it from the others. /gu for guildsay, /te for tell, /tar for target, and many others can help you cut quite a few keystrokes out of every day commands. Learn the / keyboard commands. All of the slash commands can be found in the eqmanual_supplement.doc file in your everquest directory.
  2. Use keys on the left side of your keyboard. By going to Options / Keyboard from the main view, you are able to customize what keys you use for just about every command. Move your movement keys to the W A S D keys to avoid having your left hand on the right side of the keyboard while mousing and moving. By using SHIFT and ALT keys you can set up just about all your main commands without using any key on the right side.
  3. Use the new Everquest Interface. Though it requires the Luclin expansion to work, the new Everquest user interface has many significant advantages over the traditional interface. Features such as mouseovers, window resizing, tinting and moving, and much more flexability all add up to an excellent improvement over the original. As much as you can, you should use the new UI. You can do this by logging into Everquest normally and typing "/newui". View Loral's Customized User Interface for my own personal modifications.
  4. Use Mouselook. With mouselook enabled, you can right click and look in all directions rather than just left to right with your movement keys. Pressing F12 will toggle mouselook on and off. You can rebind your left and right keys to MOVE you left in right rather than turn you. This allows you to "strafe" left and right without having to turn. This makes movement in Norrath far more flexable.
  5. Customize your font colors. You can modify your chat box to be much more useful than the defaults. Using the new user interface, you can bring up options with "ALT O", click the right most tab "Chat" and scroll down. There you can change every color of every message type. Your text colors should range from most important to least important. I stayed generally along the basic colors, but for the darker colors I simply increased the current value to lighten the text. Make sure to set the alpha for normal and faded to 100% in the chat window so you can easily read the text color all the time. Remember that the most important messages should be the brightest and least important the darkest.
  6. Use Socials to launch multiple commands. Under the Menu / Social area you can customize a number of boxes to hold different sets of commands. For example, you can have one social do the following commands, each on it's own line:

    /sit off
    /cast 1
    /g casting Complete Heal on %T
    /em unveils Tunare's undying love for %T
    /do 4

    Line 1 has your character stand up if they are sitting. Line 2 begins casting the spell in your first box. Line 3 tells your group that you are casting complete heal on the person you have targeted. Line four has a little fun roleplaying emote. I am a big believer that stupid commands like this give a lot more flavor to your character and the game. Line 5 will invoke your fourth skill, in this case it is sense heading. This lets you gain skills while doing just about anything else. Adding this to all of your hotkeys will let your triggered skills grow much faster. Adding /loc to all of my hotkeys makes sure I will never have to yell "Has anyone seen my corpse!??" again.
  7. Put your most used commands into your Hotbox. The little ten slot box that sits on your screen is your hotbox. You can put up to ten different commands into your hotbox and have up to 10 different sets of hotboxes. Inventory items, skills, spells and socials can all be dropped into your hotbox. Right click on a spell, item, skill or social and hold it until the box floats with your mouse. Then mouse over the empty hotbox and click the mouse in the center of the box to drop your currently clicked item into that hotbox. This gives you an easy way to put your ten most used commands, clickable items, spells, skills or socials all from one area and one set of keystrokes. You may create up to ten pages of these ten boxes, giving you up to 100 possible hotboxes.
  8. Use Number keys to activate hotboxes, ALT+number keys to cast spells and keys for targeting group members. By using keyboard presses instead of mouseclicks, you can vastly speed up and improve your overall Everquest skills. By default, every hotbox is activated with the 1 through 0 keys and each spell can be cast by pressing ALT+ 1 through 8. Set up easy to use keys for targeting group members such F1 though F5 or SHIFT Q W E R T. This will help you quickly heal fellow group members. Learn to use the keyboard instead of clicking on the buttons with the mouse. This will greatly improve your game speed.

You can create a very powerful combination of the above tips to make the game far easier to play. Use a social to tie a group of commands togther, move this social to a hotbox and bind that hotbox to a highly used key. This alone will increase your efficiency during combat. Following all of the above will make you a more useful party member and increase your overall enjoyment of this great game.