Adding to UI compilations is a fine art we talk about on occasion here at Reader UI of the Week. Some things are easy to fit into a preexisting setup, whereas others are much more difficult, unable to fit in a premade UI's rigorous framework. Puddinpop, a blood elf paladin from the Saurfang server, has submitted a UI that features many additions to a basic RealUI setup smashed together with some of the design elements of LUI.
On top of the challenge of expanding on work already existing on the screen, Puddinpop takes the challege a step forward with a gigantic monitor. Sometimes it is just as difficult to design a UI around a much larger monitor as it is with a laptop or smaller screen. Many of the same concerns are present, just in a slightly different way. Fonts may be too small versus too large, UI elements might just never be noticed, and you could actually be straining your eyes to read too-small text. Big monitors can be a burden.
Let's get to it, then. Start us off, Puddinpop:
Thank you very much for the email and submission, Puddinpop. My initial reactions to the UI are that it is truly amazing to see this game in all its Warcraftian glory. People still give WoW's graphics guff, but I continue to stare on in amazement as Blizzard keeps cranking out pretty artwork, textures, and models. It has to be something in the water over there.
I spend so much time reading WoW Insider ~ and particularly Addon Spotlight ~ every week so I can build and and adapt and evolve my interface day by day that I really thought I ought to submit my love-child of an interface for inspection. I know you did the gender-analysis last week, but this isn't about the fact that I'm a girl. It's just my baby and I'd love to share it and maybe see what you think.
My bestie and I started playing WoW in October last year and we immediately hated the UI; we're Mac users, we like things clean and functional and very slick. Early on, we found the RealUI suite and fell in love with the minimalistic nature. The problem, of course, was my bestie plays on an 11" Macbook Air and the pixel fonts were killer on that screen. In time, we adapted things to suit our situations (I play on a 27" iMac) and gradually came out with out own offshoots of the same concept.
As stated, my starting point was the RealUI suite which makes great use of oUF, nibIceHUD and Aurora for a very clean base. But on a 27" screen it was just /too/ spartan; so I began to experiment with other addons. A friend recommended LUI which had some amazing UI elements that were very stylish without being obtrusive, and importantly had some great scripting to allow for buttons that hide and show UI elements as needed. So I began to pick and pull and slice apart both addons; I /loved/ the use of Raven in RealUI and I adored the health bars, so those stayed. Over time, things evolved and I'll do my best to outline the structure.
My Unit Buffs and Debuffs are handled by Raven (which allows for some great countdown bar timers for tracking de-buffs), I use Skada for DPS, Omen for threat tracking and Grid for unit frames. The usual, you know? Just set out in a consistent and smooth style so they don't feel like individual elements. But it's the little details, quality of life things, that make my UI really lovely to use. Aurora presents an amazingly sleek UI base, addons like Clique make quickly casting hands on my party a snap and the amazingly indepsensible Guppet allows for some of the easiest management of mounts and pets a girl could ask for. My bag addon of choice is Adibags and I couldn't live with behind-the-scenes tweaks like Factionizer, Auctionator, Undermine Journal and NPC Scan.
If you're beginning to see a pattern here, it's because the majority of the addons I use I learned about from this very column!
Anyway, here's the final breakdown of the addons I use, unabridged.
- NPCScan (Tracking rares for BoE world drops from my transmog sets would be impossible without this)
- Bugsack/Bug Grabber (These two mean that the 42mb of addons I run don't cause issues when they don't like each other)
- Adibags (Simply the most amazing bag mod I've ever used; especially for the armor set grouping)
- Advanced Trade Skill Window + Professions Vault (These save my life when dealing with professions like engineering that have so many sub-items that make up items)
- Auctionator + The Undermine Journal (I never have to worry about knowing market prices again; and given I farm so many BoE World Drops for Transmog, this gives me good prices to sell for)
- Aurora (I just couldn't play WoW without this beautiful creation)
- Badboy (Because gold farmer spam shouldn't need to be a thing)
- Bartender (This makes up the foundation of my bars, obviously)
- Masque + Buttonfacade (To pretty up those bars!)
- Chatter (I couldn't live without the quality of life enhancements like persistent text entry)
- Clique (Option Click a target to taunt off them in Grid? Please!)
- Deus Vox Encounters (It's just prettier than DBM, I'm sorry. And I'm a Mac using girl, so I love my pretties~)
- EasyMail (Select All > Get attachments. Need to know more?)
- Factionizer (Suggestions and tracking for reputation farming)
- Fishing Buddy + Gathermate (Does anybody NOT use these?)
- Grail + Wholly (Working thru Loremaster at the moment this addon pair is just indispensable)
- Grid + Grid Corner Icons Plus + Grid Mana Bars + Grid Dungeon Roles + Grid Raid Debuffs + Grid Status Icons (I'm a tank. I like to know when my other tank has X stacks of Y debuff. It's a nobrainer~)
- Guppet (I learned about this from you guys here! It's just... well, I'm well working toward my 100 Mount Dragonhawk now)
- I Interrupted That (These /can/ be obnoxious, but they tend to be very useful, too, so my team knows what to expect)
- LUI Core (The prettiness around the edges of my screen)
- MikScrollingBattleText (I think this is another one of those ones nobody would ever want to live without)
- MogIt (I'm a big transmogger, and this makes building and collecting sets of beautiful armor just a simple task)
- Monomyth (Automatic quest accepting, highlighting of highest value rewards, et cetera)
- NibIcehud + NibRealUI + NibSpellAlertConfig + oUF + oUF_RealUI (These make up the remnants of what I kept from RealUI and are the entire reason I love my UI.)
- Omen + Skada (DPS meters aren't important to me as a tank, but it's good to know who's chasing the charts because they'll probably be an issue on Omen soon)
- Outfitter (I have about 30 outfits. Big surprise, right?)
- Overachiever (I've only been playing a little while, but I do so covet my Achievements already)
- Raven (I can't imagine playing without Raven's debuff bars showing me exactly how many seconds are up on Fading Light)
- Van32's Combat Music (Hey man, listening to Nine Inch Nails' "Just Like You Imagined) while fighting a giant dragon is pretty amazing..)
- WIM (I play WoW primarily as a social outlet, so the whole IM-like popups for my whispers is just beyond useful.)
Phew! So that's the entire list.
I know this has been wordy, but I guess I jus' wanted to get across how you can move from a very minimalist Pixel-Font based UI to something very... monstrous, and it doesn't have to be ugly. Interface elements can come together and give you something very prettiful.
I hope you like it!
~Puddinpop (Saurfang Horde)
With such a large screen, you'd have to create segments or quadrants where aspects of the UI would live and operate, while keeping your eyes on the so-called prize. There are many different setups and configurations that can work for this type of large screen, and Puddinpop has gone with a smack-dab middle approach.
Raid focus is unquestionably at the middle of the screen, with raid warnings and the rest of the endgame accoutrements. Health and status bars sit faithfully to the side, flanking timers and cooldowns. It's a very focused setup that keeps everything raid and combat related in the same space.
The advantage of the focus area type of UI like Puddinpop has is that you reduce copious amounts of eye movements and darts across the screen. As you confine your eyes to a certain area of the screen, you have made yourself some boundaries to stay within. On top of the forced boundaries, you are able to clue your brain into thinking about certain types of gameplay or getting into the right frame of mind when playing. I know that when I'm looking at my raid addons, I approach information processing differently than when I am, say, doing archaeology.
The premade UI
While we are fairly familiar with the RealUI and LUI setup, it is nice to mention the basics of this type of prefab user interface. LUI, RealUI, and many others work to change a large portion of your user interface in profound ways, mainly to be a sort of one-stop shop for all of your interface needs. This is very attractive to many people who would rather deal with one or a few addons versus a potential suite.
The biggest downside to a premade, total UI conversion is that every addon in the pack has to be updated essentially to let the whole run as competently as it did during a stable release. While this isn't too much of an issue right now, you can bet that once Mists of Pandaria hits, there will be some significant addon updating going on.
Is a premade UI right for you? Maybe. Try it out! If you don't like what's going on, uninstall the addon. Remember to first make a backup of your existing UI, as some premade, full UI conversions change settings of addons you may already have. To be safe, copy your addons folder and WTF folders in a different directory, and use those to restore if something goes wrong.
With great space comes great responsibility
Having a large monitor and plenty of space to roam around means keeping your crazy in check. Remember, having all that space doesn't mean you need to fill it with stuff. Chronic addon installation is a real and dangerous thing. The amount of players out there drowning in addons is more than you could possibly imagine. We must help them.
Just because you have room for something doesn't make it essential. Remember the golden rule -- simplicity is usually better than making something too complex. Need a ton of little addons in the same place? Why not try looking for a dock or LDB bar of some kind and group them all together? Addons too small? Try increasing the scale and keeping the same amount of information, but make it look like more space is being used up.
When I first got my widescreen monitor, I suffered from this same issue. I had too much new space and not enough information to fill it, so I started to load on the "cool stuff." After a few crashes, some slowdowns, and just a general blah-titude about the new setup, the old UI got scaled up and tweaked a bit, producing a better result.
Pretend like you're moving into a new house but you're taking the same furniture
The key information to take from Puddin's UI is how to build around the static pieces of the already-laid framework. Build out and around already existing addons, keep things relatively the same size, and keep space open, especially if you've got a larger monitor. Consistency, like Puddin' says above, is key.
I say it all the time, but I mean it -- work slow, and work one addon at a time. You'll be amazed at how simple addin on to RealUI or LUI can be. Take a look at Puddinpop's setup, glean some ideas, and see if you like the station-esque setup. This is my raiding station. This is my farming station. You get the idea.
So there you have it -- a nice, simple, and great-looking UI that smashes together loads of different styles and somehow comes out smooth on the other end. I like it. If you'd like to see your UI on Reader UI of the Week, send an email and some screenshots to email@example.com today. You won't be disappointed. Special props to some beta UIs that use the new movement tools to create something totally new from the default interface.
See you guys next week.
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.