Readers, you are in for a treat this week. Reader UI of the Week tries to bring you ideas, information and discussion from all walks of World of Warcraft life: the raid UI, the Dalaran UI and the minimalist UI. One piece of the user interface puzzle, however, has been missing among my ranks -- the PvP user interface. Today, we remedy that omission.
C. Christian Moore, WoW.com's very own Blood Sport PvP columnist, approached me with a myriad of questions about his user interface. The WoW.com war room is a place of utmost professionalism, dignity and focus -- as such, I responded to these questions with detailed analysis. The result is something spectacular.
Mr. Moore, please take us away.
My UI has never looked so good. Thanks to Mr. McCurley, I have a new reason to log in and pwn some noobs.
I have a few goals in mind with a good PvP UI.
For one, I want everything to be about function. If I can't tell immediately what's happening in an arena match, that's the difference between a win or a loss. To that end, I have stylized my UI for easy information access. You'll notice in the congested image, debuffs are very large -- both for my target and party.
I have a slightly different UI for each of my character classes (the UI differs only in buffs/debuffs), but I'd like to show you just my warlock UI. First thing you'll notice is that buffs do not appear on the target or focus. Pretty simple reason for that: I don't need them to. Download a mod called Locknotes; I have this mod installed on every arena character I PvP on. It brings up incredibly useful information in the center of your screen. It's a bit like Afflicted but much more concise.
This way, I don't need to show enemy buffs. Hand of Protection, Pain Suppression, Cloak of Shadows, Ice Block, etc. -- everything shows up in red letters when the buff appears and then green letters when it drops down. I like mods like this much more than enemy timer trackers because it allows you to get a natural feel for when certain abilities will be expiring.
Visible debuffs are more important for warlocks to see than any other class. A discipline priest can just spam Dispel Magic to remove a great number of detrimental magic effects to remove that Polymorph on a party member. Warlocks can't; they only get one shot every 8 seconds with a felhunter's Devour Magic.
To this end, I can't state how incredibly important it is for a warlock to have Devour Magic macros for each of his party members. I personally use a mouse button for myself (self devour, [target=player]) and another mouse button for my pet to devour my target [target=target]. Admittedly, I use the [target=target] macro very sparingly. For my party members, I use the F1-F4 keys [target=party1] bound to F1, [target=party2] bound to F2, and so on. This allows me to spam F1 to remove an enemy Death Coil the split second it makes contact, while still allowing me to cast DoTs on my target.
Wow, that was a lot of talk about buffs/debuffs.
Secondly, I want my UI to be as minimal as possible. My UI was exceptionally cluttered before McCurley slapped some sense into me. Not being able to see the battlefield is a huge disadvantage. To that end, I have many mods which some PvPers use disabled. Recount, Omen, Necrosis and some other addons aren't necessary to PvP, so they shouldn't be hogging up screen space.
I currently use SexyCooldown, but only for the pulse. The bar takes up an unnecessary amount of space on the screen, and it's not been that helpful to me. I'd rather just look at my Dominos bars to see where my cooldowns lie. That way, I'm always looking in the same area. Meh, personal preference.
Thirdly, I need to see enemy cast times. Cast bars are in the direct center of the screen because they are some of the most important information you can have access to as a PvPer. I don't want to be forced to look in the corner of the screen to see if someone is casting Greater Heal or Resurrection.
The bottom bar is my cast bar, middle is target, top is focus. Focus cast bar is very important, as I need to see heals to Spell Lock on my warlock. I have this same configuration for all my cast bars on all my characters, although I'm thinking about switching the positions up and making my cast bar exceptionally small.
List of addons:
Capping (not shown)
Stuf Unit Frames
Thank you for taking the time to write out that awesome email for me, Mr. Moore. You're a gentleman and a scholar and a PvP freak. My problem has always been that the PvP game in World of Warcraft is the first MMO PvP experience I never grabbed onto. Maybe it was the early, crazy High Warlord grinds or the insane premade groups that tore through my server. Whatever the case, PvP wasn't my thing, including arenas. Helping Moore was a challenge, to say the least, but see for yourself if you like the result.
The principle of debuff sizes
Dealing with debuffs in a PvP environment is a completely different beast than dealing with them in a raid or group environment. Each person in a raid group has a job to do, and usually you know when a debuff is coming. The success of a debuffer is based less on the ability to prioritize targets, but rather to do the job effectively. In PvP, that is turned on its head. Prioritization and understanding the battlefield are crucial for the PvP aficionado.
Moore's interface incorporates heavy use of large debuff indicators underneath a teammate's unit frame. By easily spotting who has the giant debuff under the squad bars, Moore can remedy the situation in a faster, more productive matter. Every HP counts in the arena, so the faster the player is alerted to a debuff ticking down, the better his reaction can be.
I'm stealing the pet bar idea
One of the awesome pieces of interface goodness Moore added to his already super UI was the location of the pet bar, sitting snugly above the pet unit frame. By setting the length and scale just right, the pet bar is the perfect length, connecting the two unit frames very simply.
Why do I love the pet bar so much? It's in the perfect place. Actually, a ton of the pieces are in perfect places. Targets of unit frames are neatly piled on top of their respective frames, showing the user who exactly is targeting whom. The simplicity of Stuf unit frames works to Moore's advantage, creating a clean setup that stands out during any battle. Resting the pet bar on top of the pet's unit frame, especially in PvP, allows spatial recognition of the pet's status while providing a convenient place to control the pet. Cast bars are placed in crucial spots all along the center, and the peripheral vision areas are kept clean, litter-free and shiny in order to see all of the action.
The bottom line
The bottom line is this: C. Christian Moore knows PvP, and his user interface reflects that. The PvPer's user interface is one of his greatest tools. The UI is the conduit to information, and any PvP perfectionist will tell you that information is key. There are so many wonderful ideas to take away from Moore's PvP user interface that I hope people become inspired and begin to send in more of their PvP UIs for Reader UI of the Week. Frankly, there is plenty here to make an incredibly competent raid and group user interface, too.
Pay special attention to the way the debuffs are assembled. I know, I keep going on about this point, but it is the most important team-related piece of the user interface I can think of. Good show, Moore.
Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.