For a while now on Steam the zombie survival game, State of Decay, has been out. It was in a ‘early-release’ state with some keyboard support, but mostly an early version of the game for people to tool around with and help find any major bugs. I picked it up and had fun with it, however there wasn’t any functional key binding. As a left-handed person being stuck with the WASD keys is pretty awkward. I dabbled in it for a while but with having to react and move quickly (not to mention long play sessions) it just wasn’t comfortable and downright unplayable for me. I wasn’t too miffed because I knew the game was in early release.
Now the game has rolled out as a full release and key binding is not supported. It’s slated for work to be rolled into another patch at some future date. What I take from this is that for a full feature release of the PC game, key mapping is not a critical aspect of the player experience. It’s window dressing. A nice feature to have but not critical to player enjoyment. I.E. For 10% of the PC users out there, we don’t feel that providing a feature for you to play this PC game is important to our overall market.
It blows my mind that PC games still lack key binding features. Undead Labs isn’t the only one to tell lefties to sit it out with their games. The Walking Dead from Telltale Games had a similar issue. While at least the arrow keys could be used for navigation. Having to rapidly use the Q and E keys for certain parts of the game sucked for lefties. Fortunately it wasn’t quite an action game and the player could make a mad scramble to another part of the keyboard. It wasn’t game breaking, but it sure wasn’t convenient.
Another nightmare was EA’s Dead Space. Somehow the arrow keys for that game were unmappable on the PC. I opted to adopt some weird numberpad layout to use for movement over the typical arrow keys I’d use. So with needing some quick moves and reactions, I’d occasionally goof up and end up munched. Also adopting a different hand posture on the keyboard made longer play sessions uncomfortable.
It’s unfortunate key mapping is still an issue for PC games. I don’t even bother trying to track down if remapping keys is supported. I just assume it’s a feature. But clearly some PC developers still consider it non-essential feature to be pushed off in a later patch (and in some cases never addressed). It sucks. I guess they get the last laugh as they have my money.
Undead Labs, be certain I won’t be buying any DLC until remapping is an option for your PC games. I get that I am a minority of users and it’s just not worth the effort from your company to provide us with tools to enjoy your games. But that doesn’t endear me to your product whatsoever. Hope in the future you consider key mapping a more critical aspect of your games.