Reader UI of the Week is an interesting experience for me. There are moments of awe, moments of sadness, and (more than you probably would guess) moments of utter perplexity. Today's submission from Steppinrazor features a peripheral that many players have been asking me to do a spotlight on: the Razer Nostromo. Once developed by Belkin, the Razer version is the updated model, still created in partnership with Belkin but featuring spiffy new features.
Many people ask me about peripherals like the Razer Nostromo, and while I would love to have an answer for them about the usefulness of something like the Nostromo, I can't give the best account. I'm a keyboard and mouse guy, through and through. However, there is nothing on the books that says I can't bring in someone who seems to know what he's doing with a peripheral as versatile as the Nostromo.
If you've got an interesting UI setup that features peripherals out of the keyboard-and-mouse box, let's see them! Email your UI along with an explanation of your addons, setup, and other details to email@example.com. The community will love you for it, I promise.
Steppinrazor's UI -- Nostromo, peripheral-based UI, shaman UI, shocktacular
Whatcha got for me, Steppinrazor?
Howsit Mathew,Thanks for the submission and writeup, Steppinrazor. You get a pass on the DPS meters because you are an orc shaman -- the true shaman and best race ever -- but do not let your orcish brothers down. On your next screenshot, I expect to see meter-topping goodness.
As a long time WoW junkie, my UI has seen dozens of revisions. A great number of my tweaks have been inspired by your column, but there was one facet that I have never seen (Though I may have just missed it): What about players with unique peripheral setups?
We all know that WoW players all take different approaches to their button mashing, I've known great key-binders and not-as-terrible-as-you-would-expect clickers, but all types are limited by the number of buttons within easy reach. After years of compromise, I feel I now have the peripheral setup that requires none.
Many years ago I used a Belkin Nostromo N52, and loved it dearly. The poor thing finally bought the farm after hundreds of button-mashing raid hours. I replaced the old workhorse with a Razer Naga, that I also love dearly, but it could never fully replace the Nostromo. In terms of design, both are amazing devices, but asking your thumb to do the work of four fingers can make for a sore thumb by the end of raid night.
Now I use both the Razer Naga, and the Razer Nostromo to allow the use of 32 individual buttons without moving my hands at all, with an additional 18 available while holding a single modifier key.
You may ask, "Good god man why?" To which I would respond, "In the dark days of Shamanism we had an awful lot of spells, and many obscure spells and totems that we hardly ever used, but every once in a great while that one totem would prevent a wipe." These days, things are much easier on all the classes in terms of overall spell book weight, but I still have no trouble finding a home for all these hotkey slots. With so many abilities at my immediate disposal, I find the my response time is instantaneous, greatly helping with both raiding and PvP.
While these peripherals are plug and play, I wasn't happy with the packaged UI setup that Razer provides for the Naga, and they seem to have never considered that a single user would operate it simultaneously with a Nostromo. (They said I was mad!)
Fortunately, the provided UI mod was a Razer branded version of Dominos, and the Razer key-binding/loadout tools are really quite good. I set up the Nostromo to be my main work horse, with the Naga providing two tiers of support.
The other elements of my UI are pretty standard quality-of-life mods that probably don't need much explanation, but I have included the full list nonetheless. My goal with the overall aesthetic of this UI was clean, organized, and functional simplicity. To that end, I usually turn of MSBT for bosses that require a lot of not-standing-in-the-fire. To keep everything consistent, I did some re-skins of omen and recount, to match the chat box. I also made a few changes to the appearance of SUF, to emphasize the data and buffs/debuffs that are most important to my toons. I also highly recommend using Power Auras to help track debuffs and procs.
Deadly Boss Mods
Mik's Scrolling Battle Text
Power Auras Classic
Razer Naga (Dominos)
Shadowed Unit Frames
Mahalo nui loa for your continued contribution to the community and all the great UI ideas!
Steppinrazor, Team Hawaii on Thaurissan
P.S. I swear I pull more than 14k. I was the 3rd charge target. xD
The focus of Steppinrazor's UI is, quite obviously, that it is peripheral-based. He keeps no traditional keyboard (and for that matter, no traditional mouse) in sight. Many players choose to go the peripheral route because they are more comfortable with gaming products than just a keyboard, which can range from a thing of ergonomic beauty to a flat rectangle with awful buttons. I've mentioned my hate of most keyboards back in my review of the Razer Anansi.
We've got the trifecta of WoW peripherals here with Steppinrazor's UI. Not only is there a Razer Naga thrown into the mix, but the Nostromo and a complex set of modifier keybinds. Steppinrazor, I am so proud.
One peripheral at a time
Let's start with the Nostromo layout. I have not been privy to trying out the Nostromo yet, mostly because it appears not to have as many buttons as I would like. The system is unique -- each of the Nostromo's buttons is remapped to F-keys and number keys, and then abilities are assigned to the Nostromo through a recreated layout in Dominos. Spot on.
I've talked about crafting your action buttons into mirror setups of the keybinds that you are using, to familiarize yourself with the layout and instinctively know where to put your hands. This is especially true with something like the Nostromo that you are not presumably using at all hours of the day for your regular, day-to-day activities in front of the computer. The time away from your peripherals is time that you're not hitting those buttons. Anything to make the muscle memory easier, right?
The one concern I have with remapping the entire Nostromo is how Steppinrazor strafes. As a tank, I strafe a ton in movement or positional fights; maybe DPS these days isn't so strafe-heavy? It is easy to move your character with just the mouse, since you can by default press and hold both mouse buttons to move forward. The movement thing just struck me as odd.
My impressions of the Nostromo from just looking over Steppinrazor's UI and button layouts is that the peripheral can be a crazy-unique way to play WoW, as long as you've got the chops to configure everything the way you want it to be. I do not know how I would live without WASD-movement keys, but I'm sure I could get by. Maybe one of these days, I'll get to try it out for myself and then do a review for you great people.
Of Nagas and modifiers
The Naga really shines in Steppinrazor's setup because of the versatility that the mouse must exhibit. Since the number of buttons overall is going to be less than that of a standard keyboard, modifier keys make this UI into a workhorse. By assigning the Naga's buttons to use a modifier key and then tacking on one more modifier key, Steppinrazor has doubled the Naga's button prowess and left open the numerical keys themselves.
Again, the Naga's layout is replicated on screen with two action bar displays, letting the user have a physical manifestation of the buttons he is pressing in game with a familiar layout. I love the use of modifier keys, and I think that the biggest takeaway from this submission is how powerful modifier keys can be. Look at how much you can get out of a mouse like the Naga! You could get even more if you bound modifier keys together to form crazy-giant modifier strings. Then you would probably conquer the world.
The rest of the UI is standard fare, with party frames that are larger than I would like, especially for a DPS class. Other than that, the classic bottom-row approach works, and the various addons sit and play nicely. Most of the UI feels very standard -- and when you're working with a unique peripheral combination, that might not be a bad thing. You're coming in with so much that you already had to change about the traditional playstyle that it must be nice to just have some things set out as default. Dominos are the big deal, anyway, allowing players to craft these setups and not have to fight the UI with long rows of action buttons that do not mimic the device used in the slightest.
Thank you very much for the awesome showcase, Steppinrazor. The use of peripherals is something that I would like to cover more, because our UIs are as much an in-game manifestation of our playstyles as much as they are part of the out-of-game machinations of how we play. All I have to say is that's a pretty cool concept.
Now, just tell me how you move your character, before I go insane.
See you guys next week.