Since Reader UI of the Week is written before (obviously) the date of publication, my opening remarks about the present are actually predictions from a past devoid of clairvoyance. However, today (yesterday), I can say with the utmost confidence and fact (prediction) that patch 4.1 went off without a hitch, children are playing in the streets (of Azeroth), and sunshine and rainbows (of the double variety) have graced our presence. Truly, we live in an age of kings and men. Speaking of that, I need to watch the second episode of Game of Thrones.
Enough of this! Enough, I say. You're here on business, aren't you? A stalwart soldier in the fight against UI clutter and an investigator of all things creative. This week's Reader UI of the Week comes from reader Ozmorgius, whose bottom bar-based user interface is simple enough to take care of clutter but advanced enough to be an effective death knight tanking user interface that facilitates rather than hinders. Let's take a look, shall we?
Ozmorgius' UI -- tank, death knight, bottom bar UI
Whatcha got for me, Ozmorgius?
I've been reviewing Reader UI for a while now and have taken quite a bit of inspiration from others' interfaces and decided to invest some time in revamping my own.
A bit about the addons:
Mik's Scrolling Battle Text is pretty slick and easy to customize. To be honest, though, I rarely pay much attention to the numbers.
Blood Shield Tracker is popular among DK tanks as a quick glance can let you know whether you'd be better off using or saving Death Strike for maximum benefit.
Shadowed Unit Frames finally prevailed over Stuf Unit Frames in my UI, although I may end up switching back to Stuf at some point. Shadowed Unit Frames is very clean and easy to use, but I believe that Stuf offers more customization of frames (although I may be mistaken). Another of Shadowed UF's strong points is its raid frames.
ForteXorcist is probably my favorite addon if for nothing else, then simply for the cooldown timer.
Quartz is another popular addon, and for good reason. While Shadowed Unit Frames can track debuffs, it's just easier for me to glance at Quartz' debuff timer bars under my target frame. (The cast bar is obviously more useful for my casters, but it's also nice easily seeing the GCD.)
SLDataText is a great addon I found thanks to Reader UI. It's very easy to configure and is more flexible than data bar addons, which typically occupy the entire top or bottom of the screen. One great feature is SLDataText's option to allow you to hide individual elements in battle, as you can see in the attachments.
Skada is great because I can have it display threat while in battle and then have it automatically switch to damage taken after each battle. When tanking, this (along with Tidy Plates and Threat Plates) helps me keep an eye on my performance. The one time I had a problem with threat, I was able to recognize it more quickly thanks to Skada (turns out I was in Frost Presence - orz). Also, when healing, Skada allows me to better assess the tank's performance (is the tank not maintaining threat or are the DPS just standing in bad stuff?).
I imagine that most readers are already familiar with Bartender, Button Facade, Prat, and Deadly Boss Mods, so I'll skip discussing them. I used kgPanels for the simple black bar behind my interface. SexyMap allowed me to move and reshape the minimap. It's autozoom function is pretty handy, as well. One more addon that deserves mention is GTFO, which can make a sound when you're standing in bad stuff.
What I like most about my layout is that I can very easily keep track of multiple units (what they're casting, what buffs and debuffs they have, and which of those came from me), my cooldowns, and my performance (particularly when tanking). This layout works equally well for my holy/shadow priest (more buffs and debuffs to keep track of) and various other alts. And it just looks cool. Aside from that, SL Data Text's giant clock at the center of my UI is a great reminder that there are other things I should be doing with my time. And with that, it's time to go to bed.
Thanks for the submission and email, Ozmorgius. As most people know, the bottom bar user interface is my interface of choice, mostly because that is the way things have been by default for a long time in my MMO career. However, I am not afraid to criticize what is becoming a bit of a mess on the bottom of the screen and the need for a bit more creativity in the defaults.
Ozmorgius' bottom bar setup is fairly well put together, with just enough space in between addons for the game's environment to bleed through just in case there is anything sinister that gets deposited underneath the character.
What makes a tank UI?
Sometimes readers will email me asking about specific ideas or themes that each role should be championing in their user interfaces. To be honest, while tanking is an involved role that requires precision of play to be the best, the interface requirements are fairly simple. As a warrior tank, my tanking interface additions are a few Power Auras trackers, heavy use of OmniCC for cooldown information right on my bars, and a comprehensive threat readout just to make sure things are sticking to me at the rate that I want them to.
For Ozmorgius, the elements of the tank UI are in place and ready to roll. For the most part, tanks need to know who is hitting what, what is hitting who, and what you're doing to whatever is in front of you. As abstract as that all is, you're concerned about your person, whatever is directly in front of you, and the immediate area around you. If something that should be immediately around you isn't, that's when taunts come into play.
Comprehensive targeting is something Ozmorgius does right -- the Shadowed Unit Frames setup shows each party member's target, allowing Ozmorgius to quickly make judgment calls on which target deserves some extra threat if one DPS has gone rogue. Cooldown tracking is just off center, and expanding icons will most likely be caught just enough to recognize abilities are off cooldown. If you haven't been playing Cataclysm long, tank cooldowns are important.
What do you guys think are absolutely critical for a tank's UI besides the obvious?
This is going to be a pretty esoteric topic and probably not one that warrants so many words, but I cannot live in-game without a clock of some kind front and center. I spend a lot of time in Azeroth, and the current time is something I very much value.
Here is my praise for Ozmorgius' clock, which stands solid in the center of the bottom bar, flanked by information when out of combat. More than anything, though, the setup makes me think of 24 or a cop procedural show:
11:27 p.m. The Violet Hold. Officers arrive at the scene. Blue Dragonflight invasion. Prison overwhelmed.
SLDataText is still one of my favorite addons of all time, and the in-combat/out-of-combat settings are so easy to use that it's almost impossible for players not to use them. In fact, everyone should have a clock. Seriously, go to sleep!
Targets and all that
To the right of the clock is a nice, simple setup for target, target of target, and target of target's target. I've become more of a fan over time of the stacked look for the T, ToT, ToTT setup, especially since you don't need a fully fleshed-out health bar for this information. Usually, health percentage and name is enough to give you the information you need. The key is knowing what is looking at who.
I encourage tanks to use a setup similar to Ozmorgius' since it is such a huge help in dungeons, especially with the Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms coming up and all the sweet high-fives from your DPS bros who are happy that you are finally queuing up again. Ah, patch 4.1, I've been waiting for you for so long ...
All in all, I like the solid setup, the transparency of the bottom bar, and the relative minimal nature of the addons active during combat. Moving into the endgame, I am sure this UI will keep you going for a good, long time. Thanks again, Ozmorgius.
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.