Some of you might remember me crying about my recent performance in first-person shooters; long story short, my aim wasn’t what it used to be, and not just from lack of practice.
“What has happened to me? Have my wrists grown slack from old age? Have my once razor-fine reflexes been dulled by too much programming? Did I sell my pinpoint accuracy to the devil in exchange for the ability to dance?”
— Rao Dao Zao, Blog 346: Aim
I kept noticing that, no matter what game I played, I just couldn’t get the mouse sensitivity settings right any more. The staple 3.00 that kept me on top of Unreal Tournament for years just didn’t cut it, and keeping to exact multiples of three as I increased it didn’t solve the problem either. I sawed between 8.50 and 12.00, though I do have a vague recollection of once having to set it to 16.00 in distant past. Probably in the days of the ball mouse.
My theory was that the mouse had physically degraded in sensitivity, so ramping up each game’s sensitivity settings was over-compensating or by some other mathemagic making things feel wrong. But I had no evidence that it wasn’t just me going mad or getting old. Until…
Our family printers are attached to the family computer (my last machine retired, these days), which is upstairs and hardly gets used. Sometimes, I need to go up there and print things out (like D’n’D character sheets or troublesome uni reports that need colour pictures). And I noticed recently that the new mouse up there is stupidly sensitive in Windows. As in, so bad that it judders if you even look at it. I checked the sensitivity settings in the Control Panel, naturally, and they were on the same default as my machine (it was a long shot; my parents would never have the courage to hit the Control Panel anyway). But after going back down to my machine, the difference in sensitivity between the two mice was obvious — after breathing on the one upstairs to push it across the screen, I was once again having to pull quite hard.
In a proper scientific test, I took my mouse upstairs and compared them next to each other — sure enough, my parents’ new el cheapo mouse was insanely twitch-tastic against my sluggish five-year-old standard Dell mouse.
I was under the impression that, should an optical mouse break, it would break in such a way as to just… Well, stop working. You know, one day it would start smoking or its guts would fall out (or both). But no, apparently I am not going mad: my mouse’s sensitivity has indeed degraded since the beginning.
That certainly explains the mouse-trouble I had with Quake II recently, and even Quake 4 (whose sensitivity I couldn’t even bump up high enough to be usable, let alone give me the precision reflex accuracy I used to have) — I had no trouble with sensitivity when I last played them using the same mouse a year or two before.
Luckily, my new computer came with a new mouse (and keyboard; I wanted only the box because all my old peripherals were “still functional” (until the speakers gave up, and then mouse turned out to be on the blink the whole time), but I couldn’t tell them not to mouse and keyboard me; so I just stacked them up for eventualities such as this). So I cracked that open, slamming in the USB port and…
Sheeeeeeeeeeeeit. It’s going to take some getting used to — I’ve been over-shooting icons by quite a considerable margin. It’s just like… I try to move the cursor to the right position, and suddenly it’s well past the right position — it just shoots out the end of the screen and embeds itself in the wall.
I tried playing UT with it, naturally. Oh, oh, oh, it felt so right. From being too heavy at 9.00, I pulled the sensitivity setting straight back down to 3.00 and it was perfect, sublime. Of course I’m seriously out of practice and plenty of shots went wide, but it somehow felt like they were going wide because I’m crap — not because the mouse wasn’t responding to me the way it should.
And I can fix me being crap.