Lay it down for us, Scyian:
Thank you for considering this UI and for your coverage of "Addon Spotlight" and "Reader UI of the Week." Since I started following those columns, tinkering with addons has become a huge part of how I enjoy WoW. Few games have such a flexible interface and such a vast repository of existing addons to shop from.
While the UI I've settled on isn't as artistic as others that have been featured, it has a layout that works well for me and seems to be fairly unique. It is inspired by one of LED's recent compositions, though done with different addons and adjustments.
The two main goals are centralizing important elements and hiding everything that isn't crucial. As a melee DPS who's constantly in the muck and having to strafe, turn and run in order to stay on target, I don't want to look very far from the action to get the information I need. Thus my health, energy and rotation bars are in the center of the screen. Just to the left are my debuffs, incoming damage and boss timers. In the end, nearly all the "stuff" I need to track is contained in 4 square inches of space next to my character.
The downside of clustering things in the middle is that it takes space away from the actual environment. Hard to get out of the fire if you can't even see it! This problem is solved by making many elements smaller, click-through and semi-transparent.
KGPanels: More than just pretty bars! Among other things, it will hide the minimap in combat unless I'm in a vehicle, a battleground, or mousing over the map for pinging.
Pitbull4: Health bars are transparent when full and colored when damaged. This allows the frames to be non-obtrusive when things are going well and to stand out when attention is needed.
Satrina Buff Frames: Couldn't live without 'em! Player debuffs are so easy for me to miss with the default placement.
NeedToKnow: Important player buffs and target debuffs are tracked with this addon below the player frame. Everything else is on mouseover.
OmniCC + CooldownButtons: Logarithmic cooldown bars like SexyCooldown look great, but the simple static icon is easier for me to track and more compact.
I know that hiding the action bar completely isn't for everyone. It works well enough on my main character since I've played with the same keybindings for nearly two years, but it is a liability when switching to an alt. Thus, I've added some scripts in KGPanels that will "sticky" an action bar if you click on its name (the grey words at the bottom of my screen). This is shown in the fourth screenshot I sent, along with the LDB pluggins and ArkInventory bags displayed.
Any comments or suggestions would be quite welcome. Thank you again for looking at this -- hope you find it interesting!
Scyian, Earthen Ring (US)
Note: Feel free to edit this email should you decide to feature the UI. I know I can be a bit wordy sometimes. :)
LED's tank UI
Thanks for the awesome submission, Scyian. I know the big focal point of the discussion here and in the comments is going to be the lack of action bars displayed, even during combat, so let's save that for last. Before we get to that, I have some pretty nice things to say about a user interface that goes against the "bottom bar" mentality that I do like to spotlight here.The bottom bar mentality versus free-floating
These days, the bottom bar mentality has come to be the default in most WoW
user interfaces, mostly because of the traditional user interface setup of massively multiplayers. Star Wars Galaxies
, rest her immortal soul, swapped the action bars to the top of the screen, whereas Dark Age of Camelot
pulled an interesting vertical twist. Both interfaces were fairly well thought out and accessible, but the predominance of the bottom bar was steadfast into the new generation of MMOs.
Some games in the MMO sphere used the bottom bar mentality but added their own flairs. Warhammer Online
, for instance, used a bottom bar set-up with different UI element for each character class. Blizzard transitioned over its expertise with bottom bar user interfaces (the StarCraft
and the Diablo
series all sport user interfaces that are focused on the bottom of the screen) and crafted the default WoW
UI similarly for each class.
The bottom bar mentality is fixed in many people's minds, mine included, as being something of a space-saving template. It just feels right most of the time to have all of your UI elements happy and compacted to the bottom of the screen. But free-floating user interface elements offer something bottom bar interfaces don't most of the time -- a certain degree of freedom.
Scyian brings up an excellent point about free-floating UIS -- elements can get in your way, especially if you need to click through those elements to hit enemies, move or interact with the environment in any way. The simple way around this is that most mods (kgPanels and others notably) have toggles that allow for mouse clicks to either pass through those windows or interact with them. Careful manipulation of your addons can allow you to keep information-gathering addons like DPS/threat meters
free-floating and allow mouse-clicks to pass through them. Only the information floats, which keeps you from having to peck around with your mouse pointer for an empty space.Hiding it all
We have discussed previously
how awesome minimalist, hide-everything Dalaran UIs are for the UI connoisseur, especially when admiring some of the awesome scenery the game has to offer. Recapping the tips real fast: Mouseover or hide in combat your action bars and other addons, scale addons to a smaller size, and make occasional-use bars easily accessible with Opie
The double LDB bars
aren't my style but work well enough for the setup Scyian is going for, especially with the list of windows. I would love it if he could post some of his kgPanels scripts, since it's a subject I have woefully failed to keep up on. This type of on-demand user interface is wonderfully conceived and illustrates how a careful understanding of the information you need around your character can transform into something like this.Inaction bars
Hiding the action bars permanently has been both a goal and a curse of mine. On the one hand, I know my abilities and where they are located like the back of my hand. On the other hand, I love OmniCC
as a cooldown tracker and think it suits my playstyle better -- not to mention, I'm adding new buttons all the time. Out of combat, it is a no-brainer to hide your action bars. Hiding them all the time takes nerves of steel.
Now, Scyian acknowledges that this set up isn't for everyone. It isn't. Actually, it's a tough sell. The reason that it deserves a highlight, however, is that one day, it would be wonderful to have a default user interface that almost looks and feels invisible. Scyian's UI aims to get there, in small steps.
Hiding your action bars is controversial, so I'm just going to ramble about it a little bit. I would imagine that enough keybindings would allow you to remove your action bars completely or potentially use a different type of key setup. A warrior I used to raid with had every ability keybound to a letter key, much like a real-time strategy game. He only kept his action bars around because this all took place years ago and, to be frank, we never really thought about getting rid of them. It seemed so novel ...
No bars is a gutsy move that I applaud. Take chances! Live dangerously! Come Cataclysm
, though, you may want to turn those back on, as tons of new abilities will be hitting and new rotations forming. There might be a bit of a relearning curve to deal with.
Awesome UI, Scyian. Gorgeous.