Six years of playing Overwatch have taught me that PC players will always go above and beyond to earn the slightest advantage against the other team. Some will master every hero so they can fill any role, others will get so scary good at one particular hero that they can't be beat, and some will just install a few cheats. I thought I'd seen it all, until I witnessed a motorized Mercy player.
Last weekend, Overwatch streamer EvilToaster tweeted a video clip of his encounter with the strange Mercy player, Draco. He stood out from a usual Mercy player because, instead of periodically switching between his yellow healing beam and blue damage-boosting beam depending on a situation, Draco's beam would rapidly cycle from yellow to blue hundreds of times per minute without stopping.
Ran into a Mercy player in Overwatch today who no joke attached a motor to their free moving scroll wheel on their G502 mouse so they could switch between healing and damage boost so fast it does both at the same timeif you’re not doing this you’re just throwing tbh pic.twitter.com/56ioQXMP8OApril 4, 2022
EvilToaster and his group were a little weirded out. “I'm not griefing dude,” Draco said. When asked later in the match how he was cycling abilities so quickly, Draco revealed his trick: a custom motor working in conjunction with a Logitech G502 mouse to spin his free-scrolling mouse wheel as quickly as possible.
Despite enthusiastic requests from the streamer, Draco didn't initially share pictures of his motor-assisted mouse—an unsatisfying end to a fun encounter.
I caught up with Draco this week to find out more about the project, and it's even cooler than he made it sound. The motor isn't actually attached to the mouse as I had originally thought, but integrated into a glove that he wears while playing. The glove motor spins a rubber wheel that, when pressed onto the mouse, starts scrolling down on the mouse wheel super fast. By mapping Mercy's heal to “scroll down” and holding down damage boost with right-click, Draco is able to essentially use both abilities at the same time. Draco sent me a short demonstration of the mouse below:
It's a pretty neat (if a bit noisy) effect that works surprisingly well. In practice, it looks and feels like you're getting the best of both worlds from Mercy, but Draco says it's not perfect. He estimates that the motor mouse can output “around 80% or 90%” of the healing that he achieves by holding down the button normally.
As for the damage boost, whether or not it actually helps depends on the hero. Because there are milliseconds of time when the damage boost is off, it works best with heroes with high fire rates. “Let's say Winston or Zarya for example,” Draco explained. “They have faster fire rates so it syncs up better with the timing for the damage boost. But on someone like Pharah [who shoots a single rocket every second or two], it's a coinflip if she gets the damage boost or not.”
Because of the motor mouse's limitations, he only uses it when his team is using certain combinations of heroes and when he can play as Mercy. For the six months that he's been using it in Overwatch, Draco says strange reactions from teammates have become common.
A motor-assisted mouse strikes me as a gray area in terms of fairness, so I was curious if Draco, a Diamond-ranked Overwatch player, thinks his gadget has noticeably improved his Overwatch standing. “I don't think it specifically raises my rank. It's barely useful if my teammates are playing certain heroes,” he said. “I use it more for joking around in games and having something fun to talk about. People's reactions are hilarious. If I really want to try hard in a game, I'll play any of the other supports, whichever is best for the team.”
Draco came up with the motor mouse as a way to start teaching himself the fundamentals of engineering and tinkering. He originally wanted to find a way to integrate a motor inside the mouse to spin the wheel, but reckoned that would take “an engineering degree and a 3D printer, both of which I don't have,” he said. “I don't have any previous experience with actually making things. I actually wanted to look into being an electrician and/or an engineer sometime in the future. I've always found YouTube videos super interesting where people make and design their own things.”
The design he ended up with maybe crude, but it's surprisingly elegant. The glove setup means that when he needs to swap back his normal control setup, he can just turn off the motor and slip off the glove.
“I'm super happy with how it turned out, it's just way too funny.”