Oh boy, do I have a treat for you all this week. Laar is our UI subject this week, and I was immediately impressed with not only Laar's courageousness to tri-spec for a heroic raiding guild but at the ease with which the World of Warcraft user interface turns on a dime. No other MMO UI out there can transform itself so quickly to become something utterly new from spec to spec.
Going tri-spec is daunting. I don't know if that's the type of dedication my brain can handle these days. College, maybe. Back then, I could multitask. Now I'm an old, sad man. Don't let my shame and sadness get you down. Let's take a look at this awesome UI!
You've got the floor, Laar:
Hello Wow Insider and Reader UI of the Week,Thank you for the submission and email, Laar. There are some great lessons to take away from Laar's tri-spec setup, especially for those of you out there interested in playing multiple specs. World of Warcraft did something very good with the dual spec idea, changing the way players approach their characters. One character slot became two or even sometimes three. Dual spec was a grand thing that is downplayed in the history of WoW, but I believe it will get its due.
This is the current iteration of my druid mains UI (Laar-Bleeding Hollow); everyone knows that druids can fill every role and within my guild I take that to near schizophrenic extremes, so my UI needs to reflect that.
We are 5/8 DS heroic at the time I am writing this and for Dragon Soul I Heal, DPS, and Tank all with this same UI. I've been a healer as long as I can remember but after a guild collapse a few months ago I picked a server at random and just transferred to see what would happen and after being accepted into a new guild as a healer they went through a bit of a rough patch and ended up needing multiple roles filled. At that point in the expansion I was a bit burned out on healing so I stepped up to the plate as I saw this as a chance to sort of unshackle myself from healing and from there my UI began to evolve itself into some sort of multi-purpose monster.
Another 'special need' I built this UI for is a sort of concentrated simplicity. I play on a laptop and as such I don't have very much screen space, so what I do use for addons needs to be concise, yet eye catching and pretty (I like the pretty addons).
My UI is still a work in progress as every week I seem to tear it down and build it back up again in different configurations, always using the same set of addons but striving for just a little more flexibility and cohesiveness. Any suggestions that would help this goal are much appreciated.
Out of all the addons I am about to list I would have to put PowerAuras Classic and Action Bar Saver as the ones I have found offer the best ease of transition when you play all three roles every single raid night. The ability to write auras specific to each form and/or spec as well as change my entire bar configuration in one text command make respecing while the rest of the raid does trash a simple 1-2 minute affair, I am pretty sure it now takes me longer to change out my glyphs than respec and convert my UI.
Quick explanation of the change: when I change over from Bearcat and Cat specs to Bearcat and Resto Grid gets dragged over to where Ovale used to be, my Resto set of action bars gets imported from Action Bar Saver, and my Power Auras magically morph into ones relevant to healing and voila! I am good to go.
Anyways here is the list of addons I have incorportated into my UI, I'm excluding things like bag addons and whatnot as it has no bearing (unintentional bear pun go!) on the real meat of the UI
- PowerAuras Classic: I am addicted to auras, I sometimes have to restrain myself from making too many.
- Action Bar Saver: Absolutely invaluable for changing bars between roles and specs quickly.
- Ovale Spell Timer: My Ovale has the code replaced with the priorities found on the Fluid Druid forums.
- Skada: Especially when healing, I need to know exactly what happened when something goes wrong.
- Bartender: My favoured bar addon.
- Button Façade/Masque: I like pretty buttons.
- Shadowed Unit Frames: I've tried a lot of different unite frame addons, and like SUF best for it's simplicity and customization.
- Grid: Raid frame replacement. I picked it up back in wrath because I liked the HoT trackers, and never looked back.
- Move Anything: I like to move stuff.
- eAlign: I like all my things to be neat and symmetrical
- Sexy Map
I've included screenshots of how my addons change, illustrated with my mastery of MSpaint. Again any suggestions for improvement or criticism are welcomed and encouraged.
Cheers, Laar –Bleeding Hollow
My second main was a paladin, back in the days of healing or nothing in The Burning Crusade until Blizzard smiled down upon us holy warriors, defenders of the Light, and made us great tanks for crappy jobs. Whatever -- people were paying attention to us. Druids, months earlier, would be granted the elite status of "awesome tank on Morogrim." The necessity for dual spec was born.
If you're going to make a multi-spec UI work, you have to have some pieces of the UI that will act as tent pole structures. Having a basic foundation that works for any spec is what you're going for, because it's easier to tinker with one or two addons rather than reset the focus each time you swap. You'll confuse yourself more than you'd think.
Start with addons that have no business moving -- chat box, damage meters, player frames, unit frames ... you're getting the idea. If you can even build two specs into the same button combinations and peripherals, you're going to save yourself a lot of heartache and trouble.
Laar's tent pole pieces include the borderless action bars, chat box, and the stalactite-esque top addon matrix. Stalactites are the ones that drop down from the top of cave ceilings, right? Stalagmites grow upwards? Tune in next week on Reader Geologist of the Week.
I used to be adverse to practically anything on the top of the screen, but over the course of the last six months or so, I've been much more accepting of my addon neighbors to the north. To be quite honest, I think a lot of that acceptance had to do with the rigidity of The Old Republic's UI and having my eyes forced to the top of the screen. You broke me, Bioware.
More than meets the eye
Laar's UI has secret sauce that makes it extra special -- when you swap specs, things change. Yeah, yeah, everyone has that built in. Well, we've all got a lot of things the same, don't we? I like the way Laar deals with the necessary changes without making the procedure too complicated.
The major changes needed when swapping between specs are usually action bar and raid frame locations. For the raid frames, set a macro for a lock/unlock key on your frames, and you can just pop it open, drag, and drop. For the action bars, the built-in interface's action bar saving is a bit lackluster for our needs, so go with Laar's recommended Action Bar Saver. I even did an Addon Spotlight on it a few months back. It will suit your needs.
Get it? The UI transforms? More than meets whatever I quit.
There are many easy ways to screw up a dual spec, tri spec, and (coming in Mists of Pandaria) quad spec (for druids, at least) UI. Common pitfalls include too many addons changing too much between specs or two unique interfaces that are difficult to swap between. Complexity is the enemy and the heart of the problem for many UI builders.
Think of it this way: What absolutely needs to change? Everything, at all times, does not reach out and strive for the dynamic. Sometimes things just don't have to move or flash or disappear. Sometimes we ignore those things as the gameplay shines through, arguably, and hopefully more of the time than not. Which pieces of your UI are not spec-dependent and have a bit of permanence on the screen?
Once you've figured out what doesn't have to change, figure out the pieces of the puzzle that must change fundamentally. Do you have a Razer Nostromo and Naga for healing but a simple keyboard and mouse setup for DPS and tanking? Do you have a Logitech G-series keyboard with multiple macros bound, but only for one spec? How easy is it to swap profiles on the fly? Can you do all of this from the laptop you're currently borrowing from a friend while on your flight to Miami in hot pursuit of an international diamond thief? You signed up for the raid and I will dock you DKP, diamond thief or no.
Action Bar Saver is a good addon if you're looking to save more action bar slots per spec. Power Auras is ubiquitous but warrants mention because it displays auras based on spec. Spec is the best way to categorize your things because it is fairly universal, much like armor set names from the Blizzard Equipment Manager. It's just a nice feature to have, really.
Take your time. Laar most likely put more time into the UI than he ever would tell you, mostly because those discrete UI sessions happen in between raid boss pulls. We have to make the best use of our time, after all. "I need to log real quick -- I've got a little lag." ... yeah, right.
Revel in your absurdity
Own how crazy you are, tri specs. Own it. Stand atop the highest cliffs and scream to the world that you're nuts, you play three specs on one character, and you have no bag space to prove it. I'm proud to be in your company.
Laar's UI feels lived in and safe. Since this setup was designed for a laptop, the addons stay light, the screen space stays clear, and the world is a simpler place. Take a simple goal and a complicated playstyle, but don't let one get the better of the other.
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.