Out with WASD – In with SDFC



Ever since the emergence of 1st person shooters, think Wolfenstien and DooM, a great travesty has been occurring. I’m talking about WASD: the keyboard layout to end all keyboard layouts. Every FPS game since then has included a WASD layout by default. Most gamers will tell you that playing keyboard+mouse, and specifically WASD+mouse, is THE best way to play. I submit to you that WASD is a bad habit, and that SDFC is superior in every way. Here’s the scoop:

WASD is almost perfect. It allows you to run forward and back (W and S) with your middle finger, while independently strafing left or right (A and D) with your index and ring fingers. You also have quick access to all the surrounding keys, which you can map to your most used actions. Tab, Caps, Alt, Ctrl, Space, several adjacent letters, and the number row are all close by. HOWEVER, by shifting the hand ONE space to the left of the natural Home Row position, with index finger on D instead of F, we lose instant access to at least 2 letters and 1 number, since the pinky finger has been moved OFF the main keyboard onto the special keys. But that’s not the worst part! What’s far more important, and for me far more puzzling as to why WASD was ever adopted in the first place, is that we’ve moved our index finger OFF of the index key. That F key under our index finger when in ‘Home Row’ position has a marker on it; an indent or  nub or other tactile feature. It’s there to let you instantly find your place on home row without looking. It makes stretching to a far away number or letter (and getting back to ‘F’ quickly) simple and quick. By shifting off of the F key, we’ve made it a guessing game, and added the risk of landing on the wrong keys, toggling mouse look or the chat window or something else unintended, and ultimately getting us killed in the heat of battle.

That’s where SDFC (or ESDF if you prefer) the far superior choice. Not only are you bring your pinky finger back in to play on the main keyboard, but you’re extending your reach down the number row, and most importantly, your index finger gets to stay on ‘F’ where it BELONGS!

So cmon folks, give up your addiction to the obviously inferior WASD, and join the SDFC revolution.

p.s. There’s also a trend away from ‘qwerty’ keyboards in favor of ‘awerty’, where the Q and A have switched spots. This is where Devs come in: by clinging to WASD defaults, you’re possibly breaking gameplay for future computer users. SDFC (or ESDF) is unaffected by the A/Q swap, and should be the obvious choice for default settings.

p.p.s. Now, I realize that this rant is 25 years too late. The ship sailed with Wolfenstien and DooM. It’s far too late to get ppl to adopt an alien setup now… however, if you’re still young enough to learn new tricks, do give SDFC or ESDF a try. 🙂


10 thoughts on “Out with WASD – In with SDFC

  1. Its an interesting idea. It really is. But I think I’ll stick with WASD on my games where I mouse and keyboard it. Its just more comfy.

  2. Back before I discovered DDO, I used to play Second Life a lot. I mean, A LOT. And that uses the arrow pad. The last time I went in there was after I’d become addicted to DDO, and I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t move – it was because I was trying to use WASD. BTW great keyboard shots, made me look at my keyboard and realize that the letters on WASD are nearly invisible. LOL

    (And OH, Doom and Castle Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem! I spent HOURS playing those back in the day.)

  3. Hmm my pinky is near useless, beyond shift caps and tab I really can’t get it to do anything. I’ll stick to wasd.

  4. Good idea, wish you’d told me about it back in college when I started getting into computer games…think I’m too old to mentally re-map it lol

  5. I have got into habit of hard targeting mobs with tab, on my laptop keyboard its an easy stretch from wasd but a real hard reach from sdfc.

  6. ESDF would be workable, but my fingers don’t like the SDFC setup at all. As for the current setup, I target with my pinky hitting tab, and when running an Arti Caps Lock is my Rune Arm charge button, so it works for me 🙂

  7. Of the two proposed “solutions”, I must say I prefer esdf over sdfc – I can’t seem to easily and comfortably hit that c key with my middle finger (index finger, sure – but then you lose the “strafe-right while running backwards move; and the x key? forgetaboutit.).

  8. Thanks for the comments, all. Thanks for reading, Cordovan. And yes, I fully realize it’s tough to mentally remap. I learned to touchtype long before I learned to game, so the home row SDFC/ESDF setup was far more natural to me. I can still easily reach CAPS/Ctrl/Tab etc., and I just love finding F quickly without looking when I need to do a long stretch to the higher numbers and back.
    Happy Gaming folks 🙂

  9. Interesting idea. But don’t blame Wolfenstein. WASD goes back to Wordstar. If you don’t know just how far back that is, there should be a Wikipedia page 🙂 id was just going with the popular established de facto standard.

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