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Reader UI of the Week: 3D spell effects eye candy

Mathew McCurley
June 12, 2012

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Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

Now this is awesome and share-worthy to the extreme: a UI built around incorporating 3D spell effects from WoW into the UI elements that support them. Using a combination of WeakAuras, ingenuity, and lots of beer, Kait:Auras was born. Is it impractical? Yes. Is it awesome? Double yes. If you're going for eye candy, pack it with sugar and calories.

Just when you think you've seen the last out of the World of Warcraft UI, someone comes along and breaks the game with a poison swapper or allows you to draw a phallus army all over Dalaran. That sense of adventure, that the whole game could come crashing down at any point because of some enterprising young upstart, was what fueled the fun of the addon community and development -- the off-chance that your addon, in the grand history of addons, would change the world. Making the game better was one thing, but the unintended and often hilarious consequences of giving Blizzard such a (relatively weak) headache is kind of fun.

Watch the video above, check out what the UI is capable of, and then read on! You'll definitely have some cool ideas after this one.

Hi Mathew,

I made a UI that does something a little different, so I thought I'd share it. Namely - 3D spell effects from the game, put into the UI layer :-)

(the following is more or less pasted from the youtube page description but I realised it was exactly what I wanted to write to you anyways so repeating myself seemed silly)

I discovered recently that the "3D Model" aura type in WeakAuras addon is not only a list of NPC models and stuff, but also models used as spell effects in the game. I started to browse the list and my mind became somewhat blown. There are tons of cool effects, animated in a way that just is not possible within regular addons. On top of that, you can easily layer up the effects to produce some really unique stuff.

So I decided to make a PvP UI that included some totally gratuitous eye candy, but remained (sort of) minimal at the same time. 6 hours, 5 bottles of beer and 45 Weak Auras later, this is the result.

One bit of functionality that stands out as possibly hard to use is relying on a single number (albeit a large one) to convey your own health. To rectify this I made several blood splat auras and sounds that trigger at various health thresholds, and are guaranteed to catch my attention.

Namplates are needed for this UI, but I always use them anyways.
[EDIT - They're Tidy Plates. Forgot to add them to list at the end of the video]

Outstanding issues: it needs a good pet solution. I could replace my characters name with a pet % HP (after all, I know what my character's name is). So far I only played this UI with mage though so it's not such an issue. (pet actionbar is below the main bars faded out, pet cast bar never need imo you just need good pet control macros).

Stuff that features in most of my UIs is present here also:

  • Functional action bars all hidden. Learn to keybind :-) Bars are for OmniCC cooldowns.
  • Target portrait doubling as a player cast bar.
  • Chatter chat frames right-justified to be symmetrical. Mmmm... symmetrical.
  • Minimap on the right for a classic non-symmetrical look. Hey, I'm a complex kind of guy.
  • Extensive Satrina Buff frame filtering to show (de)buff I want to see and cut out the noise.
  • Minimal Raid Frames. It's a UI for Ranged DPS. You die, that's your problem.
Main addons used:
  • WeakAuras
  • Stuf Unit Frames
  • KGPanels
  • Tidy Plates (Clean plates theme)
  • Bartender4
  • Button Facade
  • Satrina's Buffs
  • Chatter
  • Sext Map
  • TipTop
  • BattleObjectivesMover
As background info, other UIs I made (one's that I'm proud of) are: -- Making healing sexy -- Custom moonkin eclipse bar -- Converging UIs and graphic design


Awesome job, Kait. An animated UI, while totally impractical for all sorts of reasons, is still awesome and can be utilized in very cool ways. If you've ever played the Dead Space games, the interface in-game is very animated and tied to the game itself rather than an invisible layer above the action. It animates well in the game's "real" world. In WoW, we see animated UI elements in a vastly different way, mostly as status effects above our characters head, a buff/debuff window, or an animated change in our physical representation.

I love the idea of animating the target icon for each class, considering Blizzard itself has begun adding in animated UI effects for class-specific spells, procs, and abilities. Could Blizzard use some more animated UI elements (optional, of course), or does the UI need to stay more on the static side for you?

Personally, I think well-done animations can work fairly well on the user interface. I was a big fan of the power indicators in the Warhammer Online interface, which would animate how much firepower you had as a bright wizard or your battle stance as a black orc. Much like voice acting in MMOs, animation on the UI can be done well in very specific ways.

What do you guys think about animating directly on top of the game world versus a static overlay?

Gallery: Reader UI of the Week gallery | 267 Photos

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.

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