While I was doing archaeology the other day (Is this seriously all I do anymore? What have I become?), pieces of my UI became apparently ... messy. I didn't like the feeling. Something felt off, weird, crazy, or ready to blow. While many people lauded archaeology addons, I only scoffed. Now, I feel like I might need one or two.
This week's reader submission is from Deadpool, a worgen hunter with a knack for stylish looks and stylish UIs. His setup is simple and has a decent amount of empty space and buffer room, which puts me in a happy place. I like relaxed UIs. More isn't always better, especially in a game like WoW where the most complex the task usually has a super-simple answer.
Show us the UI goods, Deadpool.
My Hunter's UI / multipurpose UI for altsThank you very much for the email and submission, Deadpool. My first thoughts about the UI were how nice and neat everything was, with the use of blue bordering to separate the bottom bar. After the initial reactions set in, the true stars of the show emerged -- a tiny minimap and wonderfully placed buffs. It was exciting to see many of the UI ideals that I hold as paramount in use.
If you're lucky enough to be playing on a nice big wide monitor then screen real estate is not that big of a problem for you. Smaller screens and especially laptops can become a cluttered mess really fast and really easily. I experimented with several pre-made UI's such as Spartan and Nui, but none of them ever gave me "the whole package" when it came down to my personal wants and particular needs. Especially playing on a 17" screen on my MacBook Pro. A decent viewing area and an unobtrusive UI was paramount. So I wanted semi-minimalistic but visually nice too. So I figured if you want one done right for you, ya gotta do it yourself.
I wanted to find just the right mix of aesthetics, functionality and organization. So what I have accomplished in the end is a mix of several UI designs and ideas that I came across throughout reading many of your past articles and did my own tweaking.
I tried to find an easy to read and intelligent design when it came to setting up the button bars on bartender, this particular makeup serves me very well if I'm switching to my warlock, rogue or DK. I've kept everything very symmetrical and decided to make the bottom frame that houses all the bars and meters and map to be semi-translucent to further give the illusion of more screen real-estate.
I've gone as minimal as I can without sacrificing non essential key bound buttons like pots and mounts that aren't super necessary to have as buttons but they cater nicely to everyday laziness. The one thing that really helped to open up extra space was by setting Skada to hide dps in combat and show dps out of combat. Then set the threat meter to open in combat. IMO if you know your class, rotation and spec well you don't need to be staring at dps meters in a raid, attention should be at the job at hand.
My action bar is easily seen to watch cooldowns, with all other bars below very visible and easy to figure out. I've shrunk my pet bar just below the main buttons frame, most of his important abilities are macro'd anyway so it's not like I need to be clicking on them. On the far right there is a row of easily changeable macros for the different pets I have on hand, just swap out the appropriate one to the kill macro keybind to control their special abilities.
I've kept my unit frames easy to see, and placed in the main middle frame. Whereas my raid and party frames show in the upper left and take up very little space (via standard Blizz raid/party frames), after all I'm not a healer so I just need to really know who my tanks are and how they're doing. Chocolate bar is a great add on that is still supported and updated with a lot of great add ons to attatch to it such as switching specs with just a mouse click on the bar, keeping an eye on my durability, etc.
Sexymap stays stock with it's plain square map tucked away at the bottom.
I went with Stuf for the unit frames not only because of it's massive customization but the vanity part of me wanted something cool looking as well. There is an option to have your character displayed as a small 3D image. Again, nothing super practical but I'm going for a nice visual feel when I'm playing.
Now one of my favorite add ons is tidy plates. Tidy plates is very configurable, from just having a simple cool looking frame to having it display debuffs. As you can see on the right are my shot debuffs, serpent sting, concussive shot etc. They are also displayed right above the target for easy checking to see when they drop without taking your eyes off the fight.
Now I understand that disabling the default UI and starting from scratch can be very intimidating but it's actually made quite easy with kg panels and bartender 4. KG panels is not a very user friendly add on to just load and play with however there are some great youtube tutorials here by cychow and redmist.
BASICS PART 1
BASICS PART 2
REDMIST'S KG PANELS TUTORIAL
IMPORTING CUSTOM PANELS 1
IMPORTING CUSTOM PANELS 2
Bison for buff bar
Class timer for buff / debuff visual countdown bars
Quartz for cast bars
MIK Scrolling Text
Skada for dps and threat meters
Chocolate bar (with adds)
Stuf unit frames
Blizzard standard party and raid frame interface
Thanks for the opportunity to show off my UI, hope this helps out anyone who has really been wanting to do something new. Comments appreciated.
Everything on this UI speaks to me. Look at all the tiny utility button bars! I love them. I can just imagine all the fun mounts, potions, and miscellany I could stick on those bars. These are the things that excite me.
I envy the tutorial makers, I really do. If I had the time to make videos that went through the UI setup process, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Instead, I must rely on the genius of others and their support for the community. Deadpool listed some amazing tutorial videos by cychow and redmist. If you've never dealt with an addon or are looking to learn something new about the WoW user interface, do a search on YouTube. You will be pleasantly surprised how many videos are out there on subjects you might have thought too esoteric to warrant the time.
When I get around to it, kgPanels needs a new definitive review and post. Once that happens, I'll be proud to feature these tutorials. Everyone should check it out because of the fact that kgPanels is one of the most useful addons as well as simple enough to be a good learning tool.
Lots of space
Back in my youthful days, my interface had to be formulated in such a way that if this game were not World of Warcraft and instead were Tetris, the entirety of my bottom screen would vanish into nothingness. These days things are much different. I enjoy space between my addons. Too much clumped up in one area without some sort of hard border or no-man's-land of opaque background just boggles my mind and shuts down my dumb, aging brain. Everything has adjusted.
It was nice to see space and breathing room between Deadpool's addons. The only hard border is the top blue hue, with the rest of the bottom bar suspended in statis -- a very smooth look. This UI does not confuse me or startle me or hurt my brain, and I like that.
A tiny minimap
Look at the little minimap! It is sooo adorable. Oh, my god. So tiny.
Deadpool understands something about the minimap that not many people do -- it's not really worth anything unless you need to find someone or are gathering. That's not to say the minimap doesn't have purpose, function, and place. Not at all. I just feel as if we designate much more room on our screens than we might need to to Lord Minimap of Addonia.
You can pull out so far on the scroll wheel to zoom out enough that the size of the minimap can be smaller than you think without sacrificing much in terms of viewability. In addition, with an addon like Minimap Button Frame, nothing will live or float around the border of your minimap, allowing you greater flexibility in placement.
The benefits of a big monitor
Yeah, yeah, I know -- it's a dumb copout. But seriously, have you thought about getting a bigger monitor? It's 2012, and I haven't given you the best advice you've ever gotten this year: Have you thought about getting a bigger monitor?
Monitor prices are going down every day, and it's tax season in the United States, so you'll be getting that refund check soon. A 21- to 24-inch LCD monitor is usually the best for the WoW user interface. If you're coming from a non-LCD screen, your life will never be the same. Do they even make CRT monitors anymore? There used to be this massive black Dell CRT in my college dorm room that I would hit my head on sometimes because it jutted out over my headboard. Eventually, I moved the desk.
These days, monitor displays are so good and video cards push so much power that you're going to get a really nice image out of your computer even if it's not the greatest rig. Spending just over $150 can put you in better place than you were at, now with one less hand-me-down. Also remember that online and brick-and-mortar stores have sales on electronics such as these during choice holidays.
What about Deadpool's UI?
I didn't talk much about Deadpool's UI because, really, I just like it. I would add in my own little personal flair, but those are not for this column. Everyone adds their own little touches. Keeping the minimap small opens up a lot of space on the screen, and the lack of borders (see appendix IV: Important Border Topics) means that addons can float against an semi-opaque background and never present visual problems.
Home is where your hearth is -- as well as where you store your addons. Deadpool's setup makes me feel warm and at home. The multiple utility bars really did it for me. You could tell, right?
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.