As we push forward toward patch 4.1 and the ensuing fun and merriment that awaits all patch launches, we must temper our excitement with good, old-fashioned introspection. What better way to introspect (whatever!) than to explore one of the community's fascinating user interfaces?
There is a sense of curiosity, a kind of magic moment when you look at a screenshot of someone else's user interface and, for a split second, realize that you are looking through their eyes. Every day or night they sit down to play World of Warcraft, this is what they see. It's like Being John Malkovich, except without the controlling part or the John Cusack part. Today's interface gave me that sense of wonder for a longer time than the average. Why? You'll see ...
Shaynk's UI: rogue, DPS, multiple screens, LUI
Three screens? Three screens! Take it away, Shaynk.
I'm a daily reader of WoW Insider and as far as I know you've never featured a UI using a triple monitor setup so I thought I'd show off mine. Attached is an obnoxiously wide screen shot of my UI while fighting Nefarian. It's basically LUI which as you know is a complete UI package but I've moved everything around to take advantage of my three 23" HD monitors. The vertical black bars represent the bezels of my monitors.
I'm playing at 6160x1080 resolution. As you can see I'm using most of the default LUI elements with my own tweaks to the information it shows. Raid frames are Grid. Unit frames are oUF. The buff timers over my unit frame are from ForteXorcist. I'm also using Chatter, Button Façade, Bartender4 and Mapster and MoveAnything to get everything in place. Omen and Recount are reskinned by LUI and are visible in the lower corners of the center screen. As you can see I've moved the non-critical but still important information like Grid (I realize healers would not consider moving Grid off their center screen), Chat, Buffs and the minimap to the inside edges of the outer screens. This frees up my primary field of view.
In the center, I've got my most critical information like combo points, player, focus, target and target of target unit frames in the center. And only my most essential buffs are displayed using color coded bars over the player frame. I'm pretty happy with everything I've done here with the exception of all the mod icons in the lower right corner of the right screen. Those are the "minimap" icons that typically attach themselves to the default minimap. I haven't figured out how to get rid of those yet.
If you're wondering how to render WoW across 3 monitors here's the technical side of it. I use a pair of ASUS GeForce GTX260 video cards running SLI. I'm using three AOC 2300v 23" monitors. When in SLI the nVidia control panel has an option to "span displays with surround" which is key. Simply using multiple cards and monitors won't let you render WoW across 3 monitors. They need to be identical GPU's running SLI (at least with nVidia cards. I'm not familiar with how to do it with ATI cards).
Feel free to respond with questions regarding the triple monitor setup.
Thanks for the email and submission, Shaynk.
For me, it's not hard to imagine the need, the want, or the purpose of playing WoW on three screens. There are, theoretically, a million users for a game that is so interface-driven as WoW for multiple screens, let along two extras, including a separate place for each crafting UI, keeping raid and DPS/healing information off to the side of each screen, and much more. Will I ever be blessed with the capacity of this type of setup? Oh, please please please, yes.
Three times the fun
Shaynk's UI is based off of the LUI complete user interface replacement with some tweaks. Again, while I'm not super-keen on featuring reader UIs that are stock compilations, I do like to feature UIs with something real crazy, like three screens. Did I mention Shaynk's UI is WoW across three 23" monitors?
Here's what Shaynk's UI does correctly: As a DPSer, he pushes nonessential raid information off to the side in favor of essential DPS addons like Omen, Recount, and unit frames. While I am not a fan of the amount of space LUI's unit frames take up or their configuration, the monitor and screen real estate is large enough to accommodate a little extra baggage. I think Shaynk's setup on the main screen would be about 50 times more awesome if all of the unit frame information was moved a quarter of the way down the screen, nestled above the Forte bar.
What is the purpose of multiple monitors, anyway? For raiding, it seems a bit counterintuitive because of the nature of information when in a raiding environment. On the one hand, more screen real estate means more open areas to see things on the ground to assist in movement. On the other hand, the effectiveness of raid information is lost when it is spread out to such a large degree. I like most of Shaynk's setup because it keeps the raid essentials close to the center, even though the temptation could be to move things off onto other screens. For raiding, I'd recommend doing just that. Figure out the most essential addons and keep them center screen.
Here's the real beauty of multiple monitor displays: nonessential UI elements. Whether you're hanging in Orgrimmar grinding out tailoring or out questing on your new draenei priest alt, keeping your addons and interface elements spread out means getting to see a lot more of the world created for you to play in. And, really, after so many years, it's awesome that the world holds up so well in WoW. Texture artists, at it again!
While at PAX East, Fox Van Allen and I went over to the 3D display booth to check out how awesome 3D technology is (hint: I'm still not impressed.) Fox did what any self-respecting WoW player would do -- he checked his auctions on a three-monitor display in 3D. It was funny and a joke, but it sowed the seeds for some serious UI consideration.
After receiving this email, I restarted my plan for the optimal setup for three monitors, because my dreams don't have to be tempered to potential reality levels. The middle screen would be the main screen and hold everything essential to my character, just scaled down even further. The second screens are everything deemed nonessential, from the minimap to Wowpro, the auction house interface, and crafting addons. Addon clutter is utterly avoidable, because anything deemed nonessential gets to live with its brothers and sisters in separate screen land.
What I would change
While I love Shaynk's setup, I'm not sold on LUI. There are other compilations I favor over it, even if I think it is a capable UI replacement. With such a wonderful canvas available to him, I think Shaynk should dig in deep and create his own user interface from scratch and get away from some of the annoying aspects of LUI, yet keep a lot of the same spacing. Having the minimap just out of the main screen is a great idea, and I'd move the unit frames around. Since he's a DPSer, Grid is not essential, so having it live off to the side is also excellent.
The most important thing to remember about multiple screen user interfaces is to plan around the dead zones where the monitors are separated. One of the best aspects of Shaynk's setup is that he planned where interface elements begin and end based on these dead zones.
Good work, Shaynk, and if you get any more monitors, be sure to send them my way. They are for research, I assure you. Yes, research. See if you can take the time to throw together your own setup or move those damned unit frames. I will never understand why some compilations and UI replacements make the unit frames so damn big.
See you guys next week!
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.