Tuesday, November 9, 2010

UI in progress

Prompted by a post on WoW Ladies, I thought I'd update my old UI post. Since the last post I've taken two breaks from playing as well as spent several months raiding as a discipline priest so: quite a lot has changed. Further, although I've made my UI functional, it's not really where I'd like it to be. Heck, after having taken a look at my old UI post, that one wasn't where I'd like it to be either. But part of my vision for this blog has always been that I want to talk as much about the process as I do about the results. I know it's intimidating to just like... jump into the front page of Curse or whatever and go OK GUYS I'M GONNA MOD MY UI NOW without really having any idea of what or how.
To begin with, the biggest part of UI modification is paring your screen down so you only see the things you want to see. And to get to that point, you're going to have to spend some time deciding what those things are. What information is important to you? Focus? Cooldowns? Raid status? Ability to see if you're standing in fire? And so on. Then you try to figure out how to change your UI to get the results you want. Let's take a look at what I've got so far:
As you can see, I don't have a whole lot going on there so far. I'm still using the default minimap. I'm using the default chat window. I'm using default buff frames. Already, though, it's pretty far changed from what you might expect to see. I'll go through what I've got, and why I'm using it, just by the numbers.
Click to enlarge

  1. Quartz. This is a highly customizable castbar modification. It lets me move my castbars around, resize them, add a GCD monitor to them, and (as you can see) add timers that monitor my debuffs on my target. You can see that right now I've applied the Marked for Death affect to the target dummy, as well as having the Piercing Shots and Serpent Sting dots ticking on it. The castbar for my current target appears just to the right - directly over the target's healthbar. Which brings us to:
  2. PitBull4. This is another very powerful, highly customizable addon, but this one takes care of what are called frames. You know how, in the default UI, you get a portrait and healthbar, your party members do, your pet does, your target does, etc? Well those are all unit frames, and you can't do much with them in the default UI. Pitbull4 lets me (much like Quartz with castbars) move them around, resize them, add little 3d portraits, and decide exactly what gets displayed on which frame. You can see my kitty (Yann) right above my portrait, and if my target had a target, it would be another small box to the right of its frame. My target will also display a power bar if it has mana, rage, or whatever.
  3. Watcher. Watcher is a really cool little addon that, as you can see, adds a scrolling timeline of your abilities. To be honest, keeping chimera shot on cooldown is not as important as it was pre-patch (I will frequently delay a chimer to renew my ISS buff), but I can also do things like add Rapid Fire to my priority list in it, so I'll know when it's available. Something like Watcher is almost required to play Survival, though, because it's honestly the best way to try to keep all of your dots and short cooldown abilities lined up. It would be a huge help with BM managing bestial wrath as well.
  4. Bartender 4. BT4 lets me move my action bars where I want them as well as resize them (are we starting to detect a pattern here?). It also, as you can see, lets me keep things such as my mini-menu, pet bar, and stance bar mostly hidden, although they pop into full opacity when I mouse over them. I only rarely need to interact with those menus, and never during a boss attempt, so keeping them transparent frees up a lot of screen space. I also always open my bags just by hitting "B," so I have that menu totally disabled.
  5. Grid. Grid is actually another unit-frames addon, but this one is geared more for use by healers. Nonetheless, having a compact and very clean raid-frames area lets me do things like target people for summons, monitor readychecks, and cast misdirect on the fly. My priest, of course, has a separate grid profile, and hers is located right in the middle of her screen and takes up more space, because she needs it to heal.
I've also outlined the location where Omen shows up. A raiding necessity since forever, Omen keeps me from pulling off the tank and wiping the raid.
You can see how, just by looking at my UI, you can tell what information is important to me and what is not. In the future I'd like to find a way to reduce the watcher/portrait/quartz bulky lump in the middle of my screen, and I'd like to make my minimap hideable as well. The chat box does a decent job of fading out when I'm not actively using it, but it still eats a pretty decent-sized chunk of space. Overall, though, I think this gives a pretty good sense of how to start modifying your UI: decide what you want to see and what you do not want to see and find mods that help make that happen. Of course, it's a WoW truism that, for some of us, our UI is always a work in progress.

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