Welcome back to Reader UI of the Week, where your awesome UI creations go out for the world to see and learn from. I must stress again that this is a learning experience, people. Learn. Adapt. Thrive. Evolve into user interface greatness. Our submission this week is one of those examples of coolness and tidiness that many people could get some cool ideas from.
Sigkill is a hunter with a distraction-free UI. His email subject started to pick at my mind: distraction-free. Are there really distractions out there that are part of a user interface? Why would a game distract you from, say, playing the game? Are there addons that are distracting you during serious raid play or just flashing when things shouldn't be flashing? Am I being too nitpicky? Well, I might have figured it out, and with your help, I think we'll be on the road to distraction-free UIs for all of us.
Sigkills' UI - hunter UI, hiding UI elements, HUD
Preach it, Sigkill:
Hey Mat,Thanks for the submission and the email, Sigkill. Starting early with your UI is a great idea, especially when you're a DPS class, becuase some bad habits are tough to break. Distractions can get in the way of doing your job, but what on earth could a distraction in a video game be? Seriously, you would think that the video game would be the distraction on its own.
First of all, I love your UI/Addon spotlights, I've gleaned a lot of useful information from reading them, keep it up!
I'm sending you my most recent interface experiment in the hopes it may help someone else looking for the same kind of "feeling". I am a bit claustrophobic and my other interfaces always seemed too cluttered. My first approach to solving the cluttered feeling was to shrink things down, which just made it more difficult to arrange things. So this time I started out by hiding everything and gradually introducing new UI elements.
I toggle the visibility of my chat window, button bar & damage meter with a key-press each, I use ctrl-space, shift-space & alt-space personally because I find them easy to mash if I need to see what someone whispered me or to check my dps after a grueling run through the Maraudon. I've memorized my keys but in case I get lazy I have TellMeWhen programmed to tell me the appropriate response to almost any situation.
Tidyplates ThreatPlates give me a good idea of when I'm pushing threat & help me keep track of who needs to be poisoned, etc..
This interface really gets me into the hunt, free to focus on making life-bars drop!
Some of the addons that would be relevant:
Addon Control Panel This should be built into the ui!
Bagnon keeps bags tidy
Bartender4 modified based on this post so I can show/hide them with a keypress
CircleHud modified his code to change circle colors and change the font
ieoFontMagic with this font
MoveAnything This addon rocks!! I have f5 mapped to "move frame" so I can move around any element on a whim.
PitBull4 My personal favorite raid/party frame, the animated updating looks great.
Quartz cast bars below circles
SexyMap Until something better comes along
Skada Damage Meter
TellMeWhen Definitely my favorite Addon, tells me what I want to be casting, extremely configurable.
TidyPlates - ThreatPlates tracks aggro/my debuffs & castbars
TipTac I have my tips show up to the top right of my cursor
Sigkill Alterac Mountains
Types of UI distractions
There are a few types of UI elements that could potentially distract a player from the gameplay experience, and I'm not talking about long distractions. Quick, momentary distractions that catch your eye or bug you while you're playing are distracting enough to knock your game out of whack.
Let me give you an example. You know the PlayerPowerBarAlt that pops up occasionally during Cataclysm boss fights when a new mechanic is introduced? For some reason, that bar likes to embed itself deep into my Dominos bars all the time, clipping through my action buttons and generally making life miserable as I open up the addon and move the bar. Is that something you want to be doing during a boss fight? Probably not. You've got stuff to not be standing in.
There are other distracting culprits, as well. The minimap, full to the brim with buttons and option menus, can wreck your day when you're looking for the right little circle to teleport to your dungeon or turn off some options. What if all of the buttons are hidden and you mouse over to find a rat's nest of cables, wires, and unnavigatable horrors? Believe me, I've been there. The types of UI distractions out there are numerous and come out of nowhere some times.
Fixing distractions the Sigkill way
One way to fix UI distractions is by hiding the pieces of you UI you just don't want to be seeing during your combat or while walking around town. Sigkill allows only certain pieces of the UI to be present while he is questing or in a Battleground, memorizing keybinds and abilities over having to see his action bars all of the time. Kong's is one of the premiere UI hiding addons out there, and it works pretty damn well. Hiding DPS meters is one of those potentially good moves to make, considering that you just don't need it when you aren't in combat and wandering around town.
Some addons have a visibility macro or keybind built in, which is what I'm assuming Sigkill is using to hide many of his addons, only bringing them out of their secretive world when they are needed. Personally, I'm a fan of selective UI element hiding -- you can still have anything you want out on the field, so to speak, and tuck down or minimize what you don't at any point. Think of it kind of like your taskbar at the bottom of your screen. Minimize what you don't need.
HUDs and TellMeWhen
I am a fan of the way Sigkill uses CircleHud and TellMeWhen in tandem to make the most out of a small space of his UI. I've sung TellMeWhen's praises before on Addon Spotlight, and while the HUD interface isn't my cup of tea, CircleHud does the job nicely. Having a HUD-type addon does clear up a lot of "bar" space where otherwise potentially large and imposing target and player frames take up a good portion of the horizontal space. CircleHud does a good job minimizing that spatial impact.
So far, so good. Starting early with a good UI is key, as you grow and learn around the pieces of the user interface you want to keep as important. Learning keybinds early and where attacks can go on your keyboard or mouse are crucial for players who want to live in a clickless world. Start early, practice often, etc. Don't forget to keep things clean like Sigkill does. You'll thank yourself when you're in the middle of a boss fight and nothing is keeping your eyes off the prize.
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.