Welcome, friends, to another exciting week here at Reader UI of the Week. I am your ever-vigilant host, Mathew McCurley. Before we begin, I wanted to remind everyone about the submission process for sending your Reader UI to be thrust into the spotlight for all readers to see. First, send images, not videos. I appreciate you taking the time to put together a video showing how your UI works, but for the purposes of the column, I do need some screenshots to go along with it. Second, "here's my UI, I hope you like it" is great, but it cannot be the only content you send along. We need more! What do you like about your UI? What was your design goal? Do you have any pieces of the UI that you just can't live without? You don't have to write a novel, I swear.
Other than that, submissions are easy! Big screenshots, please, and your WoW character's name is suitable. If I cannot tell what gender you are from the screenshots or your name, a gender-identifying pronoun will be provided for you at random. Submit your UI to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Skoddie's UI: DPS, healer, bottom bar UI, in/out-of-combat
Hey There!Thanks for the email and submission, Skoddie. The "bloom" concept is a good idea and something that many people make use of to reduce clutter and keep their UIs nice and tidy during trips to town. I think we can learn a couple things from the way Skoddie sets everything up and maybe brainstorm a solution or two for some of the rough edges.
I've been wanting to submit this for a long time, but haven't had the drive to put it together with the amount of detail that I wanted until now. So here is my UI!
Now I think I'm a little bit different than most people in that I don't see my interface as a collection of addons, but more of a philosophy where each addon works together to achieve the ultimate goal. This lays out as such:
Minimalism - Only use addons that have a significant and unique function. Now granted, I will occasionally apply this to saying a "Two Forms" addon is used for keeping my worgen (eww Alliance :P) in human form and that qualifies as something, but for the most part I avoid fluff.
Bloom - The interface should transition from very little on the screen in "town" situations to being very busy in combat by adding elements in a logical way.
Tunnel Vision Friendly - I get very focused on the game that sits behind my addons, while I'm in combat I want information I need in the center of my vision.
Compatibility - I have at least one alt of every class, and most are at high levels if not capped. I need my UI to work without error or compromise on every single one of them, including if they have a pet or are sitting in a vehicle. This also helps during questing for odd pet quests and so on.
Specialization, not Generalization - I want tons of little addons that do one thing instead of one catch all addon. This makes it easier to replace an addon that breaks in a patch and it makes it easier to remove a problem. Oddly, it also keeps my memory footprint down.
With those ideas in mind I've come up with this collection, which I have categorized:
Essential[Probably won't be able to perform without these]:
Hard to Live Without[Probably won't enjoy playing without these]:
- Big Wigs
- Cursor Castbar
- Pitbull 4
- Satrina Buff Frame
I will admit that it is a little odd that I have so many addons, yet proclaim myself to be a minimalist. I test drive addons constantly, and if I don't think it adds anything to my game I delete it. So compared to the 200-300 addons I have deleted, this is a fairly short list!
There are a few unusual things that I wanted to cover. I do all of my keybinds in the default UI (and have an entire keybind philosophy that I've decided is beyond the scope of this article) so that if I'm on a different computer I can get rolling without much setup. This does mean that I know which bartender bars correspond to BottomLeft Action Bar, etc by heart :P
I also commonly use multiple main action bars, which have identical spells on each bar except for one or two. I will then shift+scroll between the pages to change which spell I want. Good examples of this are banes for warlocks and Obliterate/Death Strike on my death knight. The spells should theoretically have the same button since you're not going to press one right after the other, but there's no good way to macro them together. Using modifiers in the macro is out of the question for me since I have every button on my secondary bars bound to modifier combinations.
I use a constant scheme for my Power Auras. I have three segments on the bottom that represent debuffs, and two main auras for procs. The three segments usually represent DoTs and progress counterclockwise from the top. For example, I like to have the DoTs progress in the same order as I usually cast them, so the top would be "Bane of" the bottom left would be "Corruption" and the bottom right would be "Immolate/Unstable Affliction". Occasionally I will have an aura in the center of the debuff circle to represent a long term debuff, like Curse of the Elements, or Mangle (when in cat form). The two proc auras are usually enough for most classes. Every now and then I'll need to make an exception, but I'm very careful that it fits within the "bloom" philosophy. Proc 1 (crosshair) usually represents a straight damage boost, like Molten Core, or Killing machine. Proc 2 (glowy curvy lines) is usually a lower priority proc like Freezing Fog, or pre-4.0.1 Decimation.
I also have auras setup on certain characters to show when spells are off cooldown. These form colored circles that sit just below and to either side of Proc 1. There is a little bit of craziness I get into it on my druid, where I have hidden auras that just check Bear form and Cat form, and then there are two visually identical sets of auras that swap based on the hidden auras. The last thing I want to talk about is what I call the warning aura. This is basically an inverted aura that shows when I'm missing a short duration buff such as Horn of Winter, Battle Shout, or even the old Life Tap Glyph buff (wasn't that a horrible time to play a warlock??). It is designed to annoy me so I press that button!
I use healbot as raid frames on every character because it's so incredibly useful! Almost every class has something they can cast on another class (yes Soulstones DO work!) and even if they don't the built in buff checker is incredibly robust when it comes to self buffing.
Well that's about it, I hope you guys like it, I'm certainly very proud of it and I hope people can get some neat ideas from it. I've used it on a shaman, paladin, warlock, druid, death knight and warrior at level cap, and the four other classes at least as high as level 30.
The only area I'm not sold on is the very center of the bottom of the screen. Originally I left this area blank for EventHorizon but I've since decided against that, if you have any tips Mat feel free to let me know! I've also included a very unusual screenshot. I know that somebody always comments "This is great for a high resolution widescreen monitor, but what about something for those of us running lesser hardware?" Well I got to experience that myself a few months ago when the backlight on my monitor died and the only spare I had sitting around was a 1280x1024 19" LCD (I normally play on a 2048x1152 23" LCD). I did what any sensible UI designer would do, I move it around to fit on a tiny screen! You can actually see a relic of this temporary design in my raiding screenshot where Skada is in the wrong place. Surprisingly, once I pushed everything together the UI had the same function and flow as it did on the widescreen, though I'm very happy to have my actual monitor back now.
Skoddie - Malfurion-US
Bloom and doom
Bloom is a nice way of describing the out-of-combat/in-combat transition that happens constantly during World of Warcraft play. A good amount of the interface on screen is only useful for combat because of the nature of the information WoW is spitting out at you. As someone who spends a decent amount of time exploring and experiencing the world of Azeroth itself, I like being able to see the work, dedication, and art that comprises the game. It almost feels like Slartibartfast having a conversation with Arthur Dent about designing mountains and fjords. You can't help but appreciate it all.
So how do you accomplish bloom in your own setup? There are a few tips to follow. First, relegate most addons that are used in and out of combat to the corners or sides of the user interface. Keeping these addons out of the way of the lion's share of the viewable area on the screen will help keep those addons under control when combat starts up. Second, don't be afraid to trim down addons that aren't super-useful in combat but have bigger uses hanging around town. For instance, my town utility bar or Skoddie's broker bar addons are relatively small and out of the way. Finally, an addon like Kong's UI Hider can help you make easy decisions on what pieces of the UI to hide while in combat and gives you an easy way to set up an in-combat user interface.
Skoddie's UI is designed around universality and keeping one setup for most, if not all, of Skoddie's alts. Redesigning an interface for each and every character you play can be daunting and doesn't usually offer the most elegant solutions when dealing with interface profiles. To me, profiles always felt a little clunky, but they get the job done, so we put up with their minor shortcomings.
In order to make his UI as universal as possible, Skoddie has set up a Power Auras system that includes many different notifications that stay similar across classes. Therefore, learning only one set of symbols makes it easier to gauge what abilities are ready and what cooldowns are needed at any given time. I like the notion that a simple set of Power Auras can be applied across the board for many classes and specs. Universal notifications are pretty neat.
However, I do get confused by the fact that Skoddie wants to have keybindings attached to the game to keep everything off of addons to make moving from system to system easier, yet he's okay with the numerous character- and spec-specific Power Auras. For me, my "home base" computer is usually the only one that I use for World of Warcraft, so addon-specific button bindings aren't a huge deal for me. In the event that I do have to transition over to a new computer, my interface and assorted folders come with me on a flash drive, email attachment, or other file transfer avenue. Then, it is just some quick configuring and profile-swapping, and I am usually good to go.
One of the most powerful aspects of the WoW keybinding system is the crazy amount of multi-modifier keys that can be used to macro abilities and bind buttons to all sorts of keys. Shift+Ctrl, Shift+Alt, Shift+Alt+Ctrl, etc., are all available for players to use to create hundreds more key combinations for abilities. Skoddie seems to have run out of bars because he does not want to use more than the allotted bars on the default user interface for spells like Obliterate and Death Strike. The death knights I know use modifier keys to differentiate based on which ability they want to use.
Since I don't have all of the information on why you have to resort to the clunkiness of shift-scrolling through abilities, I will give the shotgun advice: Could you use more of the bars that come with the default UI, like the two side bars or the BottomRight bar? Those still have hardbound keys to the interface and wouldn't change based on your current system. Have you tried incorporating new modifier keys into the mix, with a Shift or an added Ctrl thrown into the mix just for Obliterate and Death Strike? There are so many options out there for macros as well that you could probably keep one action bar for Obliterate and macro in Death Strike on a complex modifier, never even having to give up the action bar slot for a new macro and keeping the modifier complex enough to not interfere with the already complicated setup.
For the most part, I like Skoddie's setup. It aims to be universal, keeps the reckless use of addons down to a minimum, and makes for some good in- and out-of-combat differences. As for the keybinds and modifiers, I would say play around more with different modifier combinations and macro into abilities even more modifiers than are there now. Each macro can have multiple modifiers within it, so you won't take up more action bar slots. 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.