I’m new to the ortholinear layout, so I was excited to see that Moonlander provides a copy of Epistory: Typing Chronicles for free. I first learned how to touch type with a typing game called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, so I knew Epistory would be a helpful tool for me.
To get your free access to the game, respond to ZSA’s shipping notification email and ask for your special code.
If you’re interested in more about my experience with the Moonlander, check out other related posts:
- ZSA Moonlander Keyboard: Before-You-Buy Tips
- A Fortnight With the Moonlander Ergonomic Keyboard
- The Moonlander Ergonomic Keyboard: 3 months later
I tested my typing speed with my previous keyboard before switching to the Moonlander and found to be consistently in the 80s range, with my best speed at 88 words per minute (wpm). With less than 8 hours clocked in Epistory, I was able to get back up to 71 wpm. (I blocked out an outlying score since I got distracted and didn’t actually complete that test.)
- I’ve played the game for less than 8 hours, and most of that time has been spent in the Arena. Story mode may provide a different experience. I’ll update this if needed as I progress in the story.
- The enemies in the game are bugs. Tiny bugs, flying bugs, fat bugs, slithery bugs, spiders of the meaty and spindly sort, all sorts of creepy crawlies. If you have an issue with bugs, I’d probably find a different typing game or training program to get used to the ortholinear layout.
Though I keep getting the movement controls confused, I’m enjoying the game, and I like that the main character is female. It’s an actual game, so you explore a map, unlock new skills and powers, get lost, and follow a story. Though the game is fun, a few hours in, I found myself wishing I could do less game stuff and more typing practice. Then I found the Arena, which is basically fighting a horde of enemies by typing words of varying length and difficulty to defeat them.
The Arena effective at getting me to stop thinking so much about typing and just doing it. When I did that, I found that the Moonlander is a lot more intuitive than I thought.
But the game does have some limitations.
A game won’t do it all
Using the game is a great way to get used to the new keyboard, but it’s not perfect for learning the practical applications of using the keyboard. Here are a couple things I noticed about using the game to get acclimated.
The game doesn’t require you to use any keys other than the letters. If you want practice with modifiers, numbers, or even just the space bar, I haven’t seen those appear in the game yet. I’ve spent most of my time in the Arena where you fight hordes of bugs, so I’ll update this if I progress in the story and see numbers or symbols appear.
Good at the game doesn’t mean good at typing
Since I was getting pretty good in the Arena, I thought my typing must be good enough to get some real work done.
It gets pretty easy to belt out a string of prompted 3- or 4-letter words in a row (and you don’t even have to press enter or space between them), but typing coherent sentences that you’re writing from your own brain is different.
Part of this is because, at least so far, I haven’t had to use the spacebar or backspace in the game, and these keys are critical for actual typing. You also don’t need to capitalize or use punctuation, but once I got the hang of typing words, the other keys were quick to follow.
Sloppiness isn’t discouraged
Part of the effectiveness of the game for me was that I learn pretty well under pressure. And there’s nothing like the threat of game over to get me to pick something up quick.
The problem is that I would sometimes panic and just press keys that were in the general area of the desired letter, and the game would accept the answer. I don’t mind forgiving games and welcome them, actually, especially in the context of retraining decades of muscle memory on a new keyboard layout. But not rewarding accuracy (or not discouraging sloppiness) inadvertently encourages sloppy typing. I noticed that I would use the incorrect fingers to type keys. I normally don’t worry about what’s “correct,” but the point of the Moonlander was to be more ergonomic, so I started paying more attention to what my fingers were doing rather than just playing the game.
The game also helped me recognize that I had particular difficulty with the bottom row on the left side. I started wondering if the game learned that I suck at typing the letter C, and perhaps it was purposely sending me words with Cs in them.
Layers of the keyboard are active
This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s something to remember. I’m only saying this in case someone else out there uses double-tap on certain letters. It took me FOREVER to figure out why I couldn’t ever properly type the word “fuzz” or “fizz” in the game. Finally, I remembered that I programmed my typing layer to undo on double-tap Z! So of course I couldn’t type a word with double Z in it.
The fix was a simple matter of pausing between the two taps, but I’m pretty sure that was the death of me in the Arena more than once. I have considered creating a gaming layer that doesn’t have any keys programmed to avoid this kind of thing, but I’m going to see how long I play the game before I do that.
If you don’t have an issue with insects or spiders, Epistory is a great place to start getting acclimated to the Moonlander. But manage your expectations and don’t expect this game to get you the whole way.
I recommend doing some free writing exercises or even just write emails to friends with the new keyboard so you can have a low-pressure way to learn. I found that free writing along with practicing in the game helped me get back up to speed a lot faster than I was expecting.
Going about my business helped me see where the gaps were in my typing and helped me get used to the other keys that Epistory doesn’t use too. Keep the keyboard layout open in a separate browser that you can see all the time in case you forget where the backspace is or where you remapped your modifiers.