vendredi 23 juillet 2010

Mouse ballistics and OS X

Tonight I finished downloading CounterStrike:Source on my Mac
and thought of playing for a few hours, to see how it goes.

First impression was good, the game ran ok on my MacBook Pro 15" (with an Nvidia 9400M I don't expect miracles anyway), but then it happened: I kept on getting fragged after putting half of my clip in the environment (Player vs Environment took all its sense) instead of on the bad guys.

That was the last straw, I've had enough of the ridiculous mouse ballistics on OS X that literally ruined my game (I know it's an easy excuse to blame the OS =P, but trust me it was frustrating not even to mention painful).

The problem is that an operating system does not serve raw mouse value to its program (although you can access it), but applies what is called "ballistics" to the pointer (also known as mouse acceleration curve).

The ballistics applied determines precisely how a mouse "handles", and that's why the same mouse behaves differently under OS X, Windows or Linux (however some people report not noticing a difference).

On OS X, I found that the mouse feels sticky, I have to yank it a bit to get it to move.
And since I have to make such an abrupt movement to compensate for the stickiness,
I tend to overshoot the target when the mouse starts flying across the screen.
No matter how hard or often I try, I either overshoot, or stop too soon.
And that's not only in games, I often catch myself cursing after misplacing the caret in XCode, or clicking on the close button of a window instead of minimising.
It appears Apple brought this shame on its OS only recently, and I wish they fix it (as it's clearly broken); or at least bring the option to change the feel of the mouse.

Note that this applies only to external mice that I connect to my Mac, the built-in trackpad feels just right, and I usually use it instead; but then again how am I going to frag with a track pad ?

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