The end is nigh! The world will break! Flee, cowards, for his fiery reign of death will be upon us soon! The only way to combat this most heinous evil is to gaze upon some pretty neat, reader-submitted user interfaces. Deathwing will have no chance against our smooth bottom panels and the lack of clutter on our screens.
This week, Reader UI of the Week takes a look at Sewell's user interface, which uses some awesome art to give his UI a familiar but more productive look. Reminiscent of the original art or even Warcraft 3 taken in a cool, different direction, Sewell's UI is crisp, clean and full of flavor. If you like art panels, today is for you.
Sewell, tell us about this awesome deal you've got going on:
First of all, thanks for your column. It's great to see some interesting things that people put together. I am the author of the now defunct Sewell UI -- after a long sabbatical from the game, I found myself drawn back to it. Sewell is now a retired mote farmer, but I have been decking out Chamoise and leveling a disc priest, Cardinale, on Undermine.
During my (long) break from the game, I played a lot of other games, one of which was Heroes of Newerth. I really loved the way that they put that together and decided that it would translate well to WoW. What you see is basically a conglomerate of existing HoN features, fan site kit and my own custom Photoshopping in an interface that I really enjoy. I still love minimalist interfaces, and my previous UIs I have released were along those lines, but this one I wanted to have some fun with.
Probably the first thing you will notice is a lack of a huge matrix of buttons. For the doubters, bear with me. I tried to drill down on each of my characters how many buttons I frequently use. Why do I have a crafting button visible at all times when I may craft once every three days? Why are there healing buttons here when I use Clique/Grid? Then I classified what I needed to track and how.
I put my big-ticket CDs on the four prominent middle spaces; basic offensive, heavy-use goes left of center; panic and other essentials went right of center; and then I created six additional buttons for mount, potion spillover buttons. I do have a mouseover-only button bar that I can put quest or macro deals on the far right as well. But If I use it a couple times in the course of a week, I don't want to see it all the time.
Some notes on several of the addons that I utilize in the latest edition of Sewell UI:
- Sunn Art lets me display the HoN-based custom Sewell UI TGA files.
- Tidy Plates I modified the Clean Plates TGA files to show aggro a bit different from stock. This addon eliminates the need for a large, dedicated enemy target frame, which is a frame that I typically gave too much real estate to in the past. I have framed smaller target and focus frames, right and left of the four center buttons, respectively, and assigned them each a small vertical grid to display buffs/debuffs using Quartz.
- Pitbull User-friendly, no -- highly configurable, yes.
- Bartender It moves buttons and makes me a sandwich when I am hungry.
- Sexy Map I use this more for the HUD while farming than anything.
- Clique Use it, get rid of superfluous buttons, profit.
- Grid I know a lot of people dig VuhDo; I don't. It's not intuitive enough to configure for the masses and the config interface burns my retinas with its hideousness. Grid does what I need, looks clean and scales well for raids.
- Decursive OK, this is my one redundant addon. I know that Clique+Grid eliminates the need, but this is so small and clean how can I not continue to use it -- <3 Decursive <3. I have Grid configged to show bad things I can't get rid of and Decursive only shows what I can.
- Quartz Used to fit my cast bar in my handy-dandy, Photoshopped housing for it. I also use Quartz to track debuffs/buffs on the smaller target frame (right of central four buttons) and focus (left of central four buttons).
- Recount Damage meters are for people that don't own in real life. Close the window -- kill and heal -- it's pixels, people.
I am not going to release a formal pack of the UI as I have done previously, but am making the Sunn Art pack available on WoWInterface and Curse (just awaiting approvals) if anyone wants to replicate this or make something all your own. Enjoy and later.
Thanks for the email and submission, Sewell. What I take away from this interface is an extreme amount of moderation and carefulness. Where banks of buttons would do the job fine, the experience has been lovingly pared down to its very basic core. A wide and short Grid layout sits inconspicuously atop a gorgeous art panel that frames the UI and gives a "gamey" sense to the world that many UIs lose in the quest to become perfectly minimalist -- and this is Mr. Minimalist talking, here.
Custom art done right
The amount of planning that goes into custom art like the piece seen on Sewell's user interface can get crazy. You're putting in slots for buttons and bars that don't actually exist over those bars yet. You're making spaces for things that, essentially, lie on top of the art layer and magically fit because you drew the space for them. Sewell's art looks perfect for what it does: provides a great backdrop to the addons that seamlessly lie over it.
I love how the cast bar gets its own little area, as well as the size and shape. It's there, but it's not unforgivingly huge like most cast bars. His health hand mana is always displayed at the center of the UI, as well as the neat little areas for target health above the right bank of buttons. Personally, I like having my target frames larger, but you can't argue that this setup is pulled together so nicely.
The only problem with custom UI art is expandability. Changing your UI usually requires an art change as well, placing new buttons and meters in places that don't have set areas. If you're quite sure that your user interface isn't going to change much, something like Sewell's art is an awesome treat.
Making room for Recount
I agree and disagree on the Recount issue, however. On the one hand, just hiding your damage meters is perfect fine and, frankly, the way it should be done. If you just need to see your personal DPS or heal throughput, by all means, have it up. Otherwise, no one cares about your Recount data.
On the other hand, DPS and heal throughput are important parts of the game and an important part of many people's user interfaces. Discounting the whole addon, saying that it's for people who don't own in real life, is sadly untrue in a game like WoW. DPS is a large, integral and important part of boss encounters. Otherwise, we'd be able to three-tank and seven-heal 10-man content. Good DPS is good DPS, and just like Vuhdo/Grid+Clique is a healer's main user interface concern, or notification systems, macros and cooldown monitors are a tank's main concern, damage meters are a DPSer's concern. (Also, moving out of fire.)
So while Sewell's user interface doesn't make official room for damage meters, they can easily be slipped in, potentially even through an LBD addon up top or a nice, clear Skada or Recount menu happily sitting above the map.
I am a big fan of the art, mostly because it invokes Warcraft 3 memories and does something to the user interface that a lot of people who email me ask me about: "How can I get my custom UI to still look like a game rather than a see-through spreadsheet?" Well, here you go. Sewell's art is also going to be uploaded, so those of you who do enjoy it will get to use it in your own creations.
Thank you for the submission, Sewell. Good show.
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.