...or, How to Please a Console Gamer.
I know what most of you are thinking. Most of my friends scoffed at the idea of playing an MMO using a game controller. After all, there are TONS of abilities that you're going to have on hotbars! There is absolutely no way you could fit all of that on a gamepad. Well, I'm here to tell you that I have been using one, successfully on characters of almost every class since the end of January and in all content.
For many of you, using a PS2 or X-box 360 controller is probably almost as natural and comfortable as touching...well, certain things I'll not speak of except via innuendo on these boards...while for some of you, it is probably even MORE familiar. These latter folks should stop reading this now and go explore some of the many wonderful things to touch out there in the world! For everyone else: read on!
What I use: DO NOT PURCHASE THIS GAMEPAD! I'M LEAVING THE INFO UP HERE UNTIL I FIND ANOTHER SUITABLE CONTROLLER, BUT THE THING HAS CONNECTIVITY ISSUES THAT CREEP UP. MY FIRST ONE WENT SOUTH AFTER 2 YEARS OR SO, AND MY CURRENT ONE HAS LASTED MAYBE A YEAR. Looked around a bit, and apparently this is a rather common issue. To clarify this after some testing, it seems that something in the connection between the cord and the gamepad itself wears out at the controller end. When I've found an alternate controller I'll open it up and see what's going on, and try to repair it. For the time being, I've looped the cord around the controller twice in order to take pressure off of the connecting spot, which has worked.
A Logitech USB gamepad that is designed exactly like the Playstation 2 controller, with 4 face buttons on the right (from here on referred to using PS2 terminology as triangle, circle, X, and square), 2 thumbsticks, start, select, a D-pad with 4 points (up, down, left and right), 4 shoulder bottons (R1, R2, L1, L2), and 2 more buttons behind the thumbsticks (you push them in for R3 and L3 respectively). 'R' and "L' being right and left. One could also use an actual PS2 controller plugged in using an adapter, or an X-box 360 controller also plugged into the USB port. As for PS3, X-box and Gamecube controllers, I haven't tried it out, so I don't know how they'd work, or if they can. For an x-box controller, just replace Triangle with Y, Circle with B, X with A, and Square with X. This also definitely works better with an official x-box controller, or one with the same design, since many third party gamepads for x-box move the start and select buttons elsewhere, which might cause some difficulties with my arrangement.
[NOTE] The terminology I use for the buttons is based on the PS 1/2/3 controller, which I was more used to, rather than the numeric assignment names. I'll give a correlation below:
5: L1 (key toward front of controller)
6: R1 (key toward front of controller)
7: L2 (key toward back of controller)
8: R2 (key toward back of controller)
11: L3 (depress thumbstick)
12: R3 (depress thumbstick)
The key to using a controller with DDO, I believe, is making use of the shift key button assignment. Assigning a shift/modifier key to one (or as I have done, 2) buttons on the gamepad, you double the number of functions you have access to. So, on this controller with 16 buttons and 2 sticks, I have 31 unique, assignable functions. That will end up being about 2 and a half hotbars worth of assignments, plus normal mouse-and-keyboard functions.
My set-up (see bottom of post for links to the set-ups of other contributors to the thread):
Important Note: Turbine changed the default controls for DDO sometime after I established my scheme (probably around the time DDO:EU or the Korthos Experience hit) and as such some things (particularly left and right mouse button functionality) may seem off. In order to mimic my set-up directly, toggle your control scheme to DDO Classic (or Classic) in the keymapping section before assigning buttons.
See Calebro's post here for a screenshot of where the option appears.
First, and most importantly, you need to mimic using a mouse, since you will only now be doing so on rare occasions.
Mouse cursor: Right analog stick. This stick controls the cursor on the screen and will duplicate using a mouse. It is a bit slower than actually using a mouse, which makes going to click on something that dropped from a crate manually before someone else grabs it a little more difficult, and makes flipping through NPC dialogues as fast as possible a little more difficult. Aside from that, I've found it to be suitable for all levels of play.
[EDIT] Upon reading some questions about how to accomplish this:
Under Mouse Emulation in the Key-mapping section of Options (down past Shortcuts) I have the following:
Move Mouse Left: Z-Axis -
Move Mouse Right: Z-Axis +
Move Mouse Up: Z Rotation -
Move Mouse Down: Z Rotation +
Pretty sure that to set this, you just click the appropriate button, then press the joystick in that direction. Then adjust the joystick dead zone bar at the top of the panel to tweak how much you need to move your stick in order to trigger cursor/character movement.
Left mouse button: L2. Using the gamepad without a mouse only works if you can still click on stuff! This is assigned here so that I can click on it and still use the other functions on the controller. Functions the same way as clicking the button on a mouse, so I can also hold it down to be in mouse look mode, and can strafe while it is held down. One thing I notice myself doing more with this than with a mouse is "grabbing" the screen with mouse look, and briefly using the mouse cursor to turn it to assist in my actual movement to turn more quickly and more precisely. If I were starting from scratch, I might switch this to R2, as it may be easier holding the button down while moving if it were on the opposite corner from the left analog stick (see below).
[Edit] I somehow forgot to include that you need a separate keymapper for this to function the way I use it. Previously I had been using the software that came with the Logitech controller, but now I've got Xpadder (had to wipe my machine and couldn't find the old disc). In that keymapping program, set whichever button you want (in this case L2) to emulate the LMB. Then in DDO, you want to select Classic DDO mode, and you want something like Steer, Interact, Hold to Strafe.
Next, we have to replicate the default abilities that everyone has and that specific keyboard keys are usually used for.
Movement: Left analog stick. I have this set for forward movement, backward movement, and turning left or right. I hold down L2 to strafe, and L2+RAS (right analog stick) to look around.
Attack: Square. It is important to get in-combat abilities on keys that can be used smoothly in conjunction with other functions. In this case, normal movement, blocking and jumping.
Jump: R1. As you will find, I have many functions set on opposite sides of the controller from other functions to try and get the smoothest use out of combined actions. In this case, it is very easy to move and jump, attack and jump, tumble and jump (for those cool aerial flips), etc.... In practice, I tend to be able to jump more precisely than the majority of people I've come across using a mouse-and-keyboard since this now functions like a console platformer game set-up. Note: Many console gamers may be more used to having one of the face buttons set to Jump (X or square probably). In that case, you may want to switch, but I recommend trying this out for a little while first.
Block: L1. The position for this was selected for my tank, who uses a shield, but I might consider putting this on R2 for someone that plays rogues or monks who tumble a lot primarily. That said, I DO play both a rogue and a monk who tumble, and can still tumble just as well, or better, than anyone else doing the same.
Tab (for enemy targeting): R2. Tab-targeting is one of those things that many players don't do, but those who do swear by it. Incredibly useful for casters and archers, and in melee makes up for the slightly slower cursor speed. Due to its position, this button can be used with attacking, jumping, tumbling and normal movement so that Tabbing should never interrupt or take time away from anything else.
Shift/Modifier: L3 and R3. You most likely need a shift/Ctrl-type key, doubling your button functions, to effectively use a gamepad in an MMO. The reason I have TWO is that I found that holding in either and using the buttons on the same side of the controller (R3 with triangle, for example) was very difficult to do fluidly. As such, I've assigned two. The trick here is to train yourself (takes little time) to push in a thumbstick opposite whatever else you want to do. I'll explain more for individual entries, generally by putting the specific shift key in parenthesis.
Push to talk (for voice chat): Shift(R3)+R2. This is a recent addition and allows me to chat while performing other tasks at the same time. I also map this to the keyboard, so that if the task and using the gamepad P2T button would interfere, then I can hold the pad over the keyboard and press the key with my pinky while I attack and such.
----------------------------------------------------------- And that is all of the keyboard-emulating functions. Everything else will be hotkeys to hotbars and my philosophy behind what should go where for different classes.
One of the primary concepts behind my button assignments from here on is maximizing ease-of-use mid-combat. The reason, if not obvious, is that for anything than you will primarily do outside of combat there will be time to go and hit your keyboard or use your mouse. Another thing I find very useful is assigning as many similar functions to the same button or button combo across all my characters as possible. This way important, universal functions, don't require any thought and may become reflex for every character you play. (This ACTUALLY means assigning things to the same spot on your hotbars, since you button assignments won't be changing from one character to the next). I will put which shift key I use in conjunction with the combo key most often in parenthesis as such: (L3). This is just more comfortable, since both R3 and L3 are the same shift button.
All of the assignments below are buttons (or button combinations) set to hotbars 1 and 2, with a few slots on hotbar 3 also assigned. What order you actually put these on your hotbars is fairly irrelevant, though organizing them by visual-cue would be useful. For example, I'd assign all of the weapon slots (in my case the 4 D-pad buttons and Shift + those same buttons) to a concurrent set of hotbar slots so that your weapon sets are together. Then abilities like Power Attack and Combat Expertise could go next to each other. See Calebro's posts on page 5 (or 4?) for an idea of how he arranges mapped buttons on hotbars in order to generate visual markers for himself.
On my Intimitank (paladin 12/fighter 4) I have run all the content in the game, and am generally well-regarded by those I play with. EVERYONE is surprised when I mention that I'm using a gamepad (true on all my characters, which means that nothing I'm doing seems slow or unnatural...except my unnaturally good jumping skills!)
X: Intimidate. I wanted an easy to reach button that I could hit immediately when I need to grab aggro.
Circle: Lay on Hands. My "Oh ****!" button. When I, or someone else, needs a quick heal, I want to be able to deliver it as fast as possible. I put this on the button furthest from other functions to minimize the chance that I accidentally hit it, but leave it as an unmodified key to facilitate swift activation. (Otto's Irresistible Dance on my wizard goes here, so that if something is charging me I can hit Tab, then this to stop it in its tracks; on my barbarian, DR Boost is here until I drop the boost to fit in Frenzied Berserker prereqs).
Triangle: Activate Combat Expertise. I have this on the face as it allows me to cast Divine Favor and reactivate CE quickly. Could probably stand putting this as a Shift+button combo.
Start: Cure x Wand. I always put my main healing item in this spot (CSW potions for my characters without other healing, Heal scrolls on my rogue, etc...).
Select: Fighter Haste Boost II. I wanted this on a non-combo button so that I could activate it during combat, but since it is rarely used, I feel that its slightly difficult position is acceptable, particularly since one must cease attacking to activate it, so it works naturally with your right thumb, which would otherwise be hitting square.
D-pad, Shift+D-pad: Weapon sets. On my tank, all of my main weapons are assigned to these eight buttons (up, down, left, right, shift+up, shift+downetc...) so that I may switch between them quickly during combat. I put my main 4 on the non-combo'ed keys. In this case, my main DPS weapon, my vorpal, my paralyzer, and whatever other single weapon is most useful in whatever quest I'm running (so, I'll put a disruptor in this spot for undead quests, a smiter for VoN 4, etc...). On the shift+whatever keys, I put whatever secondary weapons I might need in a quest (Mucksdoom or Muckbane for the Harbor and Marketplace, and Rainbow), and my ranged weapon sometimes. If you want to run and swap weapons, hold in L3 for secondary weapon groups, otherwise use R3.
Shift (L3)+Square: Smite Evil. Most in-combat clickies should be on face buttons, or shift+face buttons. Since I don't want to be moving when I use my smite, this works well with L3 (a little bit more difficult to move accurately while holding down L3, but not too much).
Shift (L3)+Triangle: Power Attack. I put both my stances (CE and PA) on the same button so that it is easy to remember where to go when switching. Could probably stand to put PA elsewhere, even, perhaps, on the keyboard, since it rarely needs to be activated mid-combat. Still, I like this spot.
Shift (L3)+Circle: Divine Favor. Used a lot, and during long fights I need to be able to activate this and reactivate CE quickly, which is why this isn't on the keyboard with the rest of my buffs.
Shift (L3 or R3)+R1: Improved Trip. Very hard to trip something while running, so this is a fine spot to put it--have been doing more tripping while on the move and have gotten used to using either L3 or R3 for this action. One thing that took a little getting used to was that when I was first learning the timing of holding shift and hitting this, I would sometimes end up jumping instead of tripping. Even when I was learning, this happened MAYBE twice a quest. Now that I'm used to it, it might happen once a month or so. I cannot recall the last time I jumped instead of activating trip. Key here, is that I can get a trip off quickly whenever the cooldown timer resets. As such, I notice that I throw off trip attempts more than almost anyone else I've ever grouped with. Usually figure it into every 2 or 3 attack sequences.
Shift+L1: Haste/Expeditious Retreat clicky/potion. I have this set-up for everyone of my characters' speed-boosting clicky. Goggles of ER for the tank, Ranger/Barbarian Speed Boost x for those guys, and the Haste spell on my wizard. I just really like being able to pick up speed around the market or in quests without any thought.
The rest of the keys are open to preference and I switch what I have in them regularly. For Vision of Destruction, for example, I put my Remove Curse pots in Shift+L2, and my Remove Curse wand in Shift+Start.
For buffs (especially long-duration ones), just put them on the keyboard in separate hotbars. Same for item clickies that aren't needed in combat or that have a long duration (a Jump or Detect Secret Doors clicky would go on a keyboard hotbar, while a Shield clicky would be put on one of the remaining gamepad combos).
On my rogue-type characters, I'll have my goggles of Spot, Search, Disable on keyboard hotbars, since they don't need to be swapped quickly, but I tend to have Sneak, Search, Disable Device and Open Lock on shift+button combos as a personal preference until higher levels when more gear and abilities push all of these but Sneak off to click-to-activate hotbar slots (keyboard), though they could very easily be pushed to the keyboard since they aren't time-sensitive.
Shift (L3)+X: Improved Uncanny Dodge. So that I can throw it up in combat.
Shift (L3)+R1: Manyshot on my archer, Assassinate on my Assassin Rogue See above.
Shift (L3)+L2: Deepwood Sniper clicky.
While I have my bows and couple of two-weapon sets on the D-pad, I might consider moving a couple of those to the keyboard hotbars and putting quivers or stacks of special arrows on 1-3 of the buttons depending on the quest.
On my caster (wizard 20), I leave as much gamepad space open for spells as I can. Casters definitely push the gamepad to the limit, but I've managed to do very well nonetheless. The key here is to put all of your most important combat spells on non-combo buttons. One thing to keep in mind, especially for a Wizard or Cleric, is that your button and spell assignments are going to change fairly often from quest to quest, especially early in the game. Later on, I've found that there are some spells that I always have prepared, so they tend to stay in the same place.
Triangle: Firewall. I like being able to throw these down quickly. For quests where I don't bring firewall, whatever my main attack spell is going to be goes here instead (Cone of Cold or Ice Storm in fire-immune quests for example). Recently moved to Shift+Triangle as I'm not throwing a lot of firewalls around anymore at level 20. When I'm doing the kiting in ToD, however, I move it back to an unmodified face button.
Circle: Otto's Resistible Dance. It has a short casting time, and will neutralize most enemies, so this is the "Oh ****!" button for my wizard. Something gets to close to me? Hit this! Now there is a dancing mob who would have hit me, had I delayed a second or 2, that is instead ready for a beating. Could have Hold Person/Monster here instead, but I find ORD lands more often and affects more creatures usually. I tend to swap this for Halt Undead in undead heavy quests.
X: Enervation. I like being able to preempt a save-based debuff or insta-kill spell with this in many situations. This gets swapped more often than the above 2.
Other spells I tend to have on shift+button combos include: Finger of Death, Mass Hold Person/Monster, Charm/Suggestion/Dominate, Disintegrate, Prismatic Spray and Web.
It is important to put spells that you will have to use in combat (particularly those with a short range) on non-combo keys, while spells with a longer range can usually be put on combos. Buff spells, and most CC can be left on the keyboard. I rarely have to Quicken Acid Fog, for example, so that (and Glitterdust, and Symbol of x) tend to get left on the keyboard. If I anticipate using a particular CC spell often (Dancing Ball in Tor or the Reaver, for example) I'll move that to a convenient gamepad space.
On the wizard, I have whittled down the number of weapon-sets I use to 4 primary ones by having a Spell Penetration item on a body slot, and by getting weapons with more than one Spell (School) Focus on them. So, I have a Superior Combustion + Superior Fire Lore set, and a set with Necromancy, Conjuration, Enchantment and Illusion focus spread over two weapons. These are my main two sets, and I can switch between them quickly enough to have the right set equipped for every spell I sling. This was true even when I had more sets.
[Edit] Narrowed down to 4 weapons still, but the info has changed: Dreamspitter, Superior Potency VI + Greenblade, Superior Potency VI + Skyvault, +1 Returning Throwing Axe (for activating ranged switches and breaking stuff).
Because I was able to narrow my choices down to 4, I use the shift+D-pad keys for my 4 metamagic feats that I turn on and off (Maximize, Empower, Quicken and Extend), which lets me turns those on and off a little more regularly depending on what I'm casting. So, when I want to throw down that Acid Fog I turn off Empower, or for enchantments, I turn off Extend, to save mana. Obviously, this is much better for turning off Metamagic mid-combat than turning it on, since the activation time makes using the gamepad about the same as the keyboard. Though, it does let me turn them on while jumping more easily, so that I can keep moving forward (with the Jump spell up, I can run, Jump, activate a metamagic feat, and on level ground land and have to wait only a second before I can continue running again with the feat active).
On my barbarian (level 8), I have rage and the Damage Reduction Action boost on non-combo'ed face buttons, and Lesser Restoration potions on Shift+Circle so I can remove fatigue after a rage and reactivate a new one swiftly.
On my monk (level 10, I assign stances to the D-pad for now (and weapon sets to the Shift+D-Pad), and use face buttons (and shift+face buttons) for my elemental/light moves and finishers. This really cuts down on the unwieldy nature of Ki use in combat.
I've since tried to free up as much gamepad real estate as possible for the monk, since multiple Ki strikes and activated class abilities take up a lot of space. As such, I've moved stances off the gamepad, as well as secondary weapons.
Sorry the last couple posts were very brief, but I have to head out. If anyone wants me to expand on the Barbarian or Monk entries let me know and I'll do so later, otherwise I'll leave them as is. If anybody has any questions, please feel free to ask.
Other people's set-ups:
KKDragonLord's excessive list of weapon sets!