Talk QWERTY to Me

Fights in Everquest 2 are fast-paced. Things can happen very quickly, and the level of coordination of the group can make a big difference. But most people’s skill with the
computer keyboard (also known as the QWERTY keyboard, because those are the first 5 letters on one of the rows of keys) are not good enough to keep up with this pace.

What to do? In a word, macros. In two words, custom hotkeys. Don’t know how to use them? Read on.

On the EQ2 menu is a selection called “Socials”. The Socials window can be invoked by using the keyboard shortcut ‘o’, under the key bindings that the game comes with. There are two tabs under socials, one is for emotes, all the fun animations that can make your character dance, smile, and give thumbs up. The other tab is labeled “Macros”; that’s the one we want.

Initially, the Macro window will contain a bunch of empty boxes with a spot for a name next to them. Left click on the name area to begin editing the macro. We now get a device for choosing the icon for our macro, and three text boxes, where we will type commands. These commands can be any command that you might type directly into a chat box, such as /smile, /gsay, /say, /raidsay, or /dance.

A lot can be done with just a /gsay. I recommend that any puller make a macro to alert his group that he is initiating a combat, and to alert them to what his target is. Even with EQ2′s implied targeting this is still important, in the heat of battle, redundancy in communication is a very good thing. How to do it? In the text box, type the text

gsay Prepare to battle %t!

In the macro text box, the slash character is unnecessary. Leave it out. Now put the macro on your hotbar. When you left click or use a keystroke to use the macro, the %t will be replaced with the name of your target. A pretty cool enchantment, if you ask me. So everyone will know to get ready to fight, and versus whom.

If you aren’t the puller or main tank, you might very well want one like this, especially if you are a caster type, and don’t do well if you have aggro.

gsay Help, %t is attacking me!

Of course, some players like to exercise their creativity in writing such messages, but the function remains the same.

As an Illusionist, I often need to mesmerize mobs. When I do this the mob will stand there fascinated by the pretty lights. Any damage will wake it up, so it’s important that the rest of my group know what I’m doing. I use the following commands, in the first and second text boxes:

gsay You're feeling sleepy, >>%t<<
useability Fascinate

The useability command will invoke the ability named. In this case it’s the 10th level Enchanter spell Fascinate. This is very handy, and easy to use. You have to copy down the name exactly, but there are no other requirements, like quotation marks and such.

I would be tempted to replace all of the spell icons on my hotbar with macros like this, but there’s a couple problems with that. If everyone did a gsay on every ability they used, it would be hard to track all of them. Macros which use abilities do not gray out and show recast time elapsing the way the ability icon does. I wish that they did, but it means that sometimes, I will have both the macro and the underlying skill on my hotbar, just to see the recast timer.

There is a variety of icons that one can choose from for a macro, but there are fewer of them and they aren’t the same as the ability icons. So that makes things a little more tricky, too.

What I’d really like to see is an enhancement to the user interface where you could right click on an ability icon, and directly add a say command or two to that icon. This would allow good group communication, reduce clutter, and preserve the icon and recast timer for the ability.

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