Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

I did some UI tweaking over the weekend, and cleaned up my view. Now I have a full view of what's going on around me. It occurred to me that many user interface views for raiders are very, very cluttered. This must change. Time for a lecture on UI, add-ons, and being able to see what you're doing.

The screenie above is a pic of my UI on Sunday during our quality time with Illidan. If you notice, I have a clear view of what's going on immediately around my character - this is very important for a melee character, as there are very frequently point-blank abilities that a boss will use that will put melee in grave danger. On Illidan, his Flame Crash ability is a prime example - you've gotta see that flame patch happen and make sure to stay out of it. Seeing danger, recognizing it, and moving away from it must happen in seconds, otherwise major damage is absorbed and the result is more often than not death. Another example is the Illidari Council fight in Black Temple. If your UI is cluttered and you're not watching your health bar, it's very easy to not notice a Consecration, Blizzard, or Flamestrike happen between all the spam on your screen and the spells constantly hitting Gathios, especially if you have spell effects turned down low. A more relatable example to those who haven't been in Black Temple is Al'ar during phase 2 - if you're standing on the glass in the middle of his room and a Flame Patch spawns underneath you, it's hard to see even without a cluttered UI. It's curtains for the melee if they can't read & react. Keeping your UI clean allows you to keep alert.

How do I keep my UI clean? I get everything I can as far away from my avatar and the middle of the screen as possible. If you notice in the screenie, there's a large black strip along the bottom of the screen. The bottom black strip is a dead zone in my screen that's add-on created - it's a viewport mod that shifts the game view up. I then place as many things as I can down in that black area, getting them off of the playing area. From left to right, you see my chatbox (Prat mod), my skill bars (Bartender add-on), my personal unit frame and my PallyPower blessing management add-on, and my mini-map (simpleMinimap). Those normally take up a large amount of space on the default UI, but I have scaled them down a bit and stuffed them in my viewport dead-space (created by Aperture). For things that I can't fit down there, I make an effort to stuff them into corners to keep as large an area in the center as I can un-cluttered. The lower left is my main tank windows (oRA2), the upper left and along the left side are my raid frames (X-Perl), the upper right are my buffs (Buffalo), and the lower right is my threat meter (Omen2) along with my tooltip (Cowtip). The lower part of the playing surface also has my target and target-of-target frames, as well as the DeMon add-on, which I have set to track the status of Judgement of Light, Wisdom, and the Crusader.

With this set-up, I never have a problem seeing and avoiding danger. Case and point: earlier on the night this screenie was taken, our Illidari Council kill saw both rogues and the feral druid die in area-effect damage spells. I avoided them because I could see them.

Don't play blind, keep your view clear! If you play cluttered and are in melee, you're opening yourself up to a world of potential hurt.

6 comments:

Honors Code said...
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Honors Code said...

Thanks for the post.

What resolution do you use?

UI mods have always been a struggle for me. How difficult are the mods to set up?

Josh said...

I play windowed and I believe my resolution is 1024 x 768, if not 1200something. I'll check when I get home.

Most of the mods are pretty intuitive. X-Perl unit frames have multiple tabs and self-explanatory options, and comes configured in a way that you can use it "out of the box" with few if any edits if you wanted. I tend to hate add-on configuration so I tried to get the simplest, most intuitive mods I could - simpleMinimap and Aperture have hardly any options, they're just plug & play for the most part.

Setting up your UI in the most effective manner for you is more time than anything. Install one mod, tweak the positioning and settings until you're satisfied, then install the next one, tweak the settings and then edit your settings for the first mod as necessary, repeat as a recursive function.

When I check my resolution later, I'll also provide a complete add-on list if you like, and I'd be happy to assist in any way I can in recommending specific add-on settings if you have difficulty.

Honors Code said...

I would appreciate the list, just remember I'm Prot, so you can skip any Ret specific stuff.

I can't tell you how lucky you are to have found a T6 guild that runs a Ret Paladin. Unless it's Hyjal, I'm being benched more and more often for Warriors/Druids.

Michael said...
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Michael said...
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