This past weekend I started playing Beyond Good and Evil on the PC. The developers did something I’ve never seen before which was to allow inverted mouse movement that forced one to have the X-axis inverted with the Y-axis. WTF?
I tried to use both ways and neither made much sense to me. I’m used to flight sims and treating the mouse like I would a joystick for camera/POV movement.
Then I looked it up on the BGaE forums and found that other people were having the same problem as me. I found someone’s blog post (snarfed.org) about it which referred to his journey for a way to invert only the Y-axis through a third-party solution. His write-up led me to email a guy named Moritz who wrote a custom mouse driver which would let a user toggle Y-axis orientation. It worked okay… sometimes didn’t seem to work… anyway, when I started playing the game again, the menus and such (especially the code entering screen for locked terminals and doors) were too hard to navigate.
That night, I was thinking about it and visualizing why I am so used to the flight-sim method of input. I pictured my head and my right hand on the back of my skull pivoting my head up and down. But that analogy doesn’t hold true for right and left because if I move my hand right, my face should point left as a result… which isn’t how I was used to moving and isn’t how joysticks work for flight sims.
This made me frown. In other words, I introduced a cognative dissonant thing into my thinking… and when I went back into the game the next morning, I was able to think of using the mouse on a 2D plane instead of embodied in my head. My task was to point the center of the screen (or the mouse cursor) up or down, left or right. (Insert philosophical questions about whether 3D game interfaces should be embodied in a 3D environment or on a 2D screen here…)
And it worked! When I went into World of Warcraft later, I found that the inverted Y-axis that I set up in that game was no longer working for me. In three days I retrained myself through mental visualization how to use a mouse to navigate a 3D environment and unlearned what I had been using (A LOT) for the past 20 years! Wow.