Like most people new to WoW, I slowly (and painfully) came to discover what threat and dps meant. Once I did, it was like a lightbulb going off behind my eyes. I embarked on a mad dash to get all the amazing addons I could get my hands on, a veritable kid in a candy store. I started with Omen for threat, then got recount, then some map mods, an inventory mod, raid frames, loot mods, HUDs – you name it. And then had another awakening – my UI looked like I was driving a car with a windscreen caked in birdshit.
I tried to clean up my UI throughout WOTLK but never really managed to get it to a point where it seemed to mesh together and look presentable. Making things look good does not come to me naturally. With patch 4.0.1, I decided to throw it all out and rebuild it into a unified UI that would work for tanking (which I love), healing (which I enjoy) and dps (which I love but burn out very quickly on). It would have to be functional first, but I’d take a stab at making it presentable by using kgpanels and restricting the parts of the screen I could use to keep clutter down.
The UI would have to:
- Provide information on threat (how far ahead of dps (tanking) / behind the tank (dpsing) I am) and aggro (in a trash pack pull, are all mobs on me (tanking), or is any mob taking an unhealthy interest in my dress (dps and healing)).
- Raid frames. Once you’re used to them you can’t go back. I need my raid frames to double as cast frames, show me target-of-target, aggro, range, direction, debuffs, health and mana. This is worth a post in an of itself.
- Lots of action bars that are easy to keybind, with paging. So that I can bind my most useful abilities to 1-6, 1-6(+shift), 1-6(+ctrl), 1-6(+alt) and have them on my fingertips at all times. I have big hands and I lose track of the mouse pointer when there is a lot going on on-screen. So I want to play to my strengths. 🙂
- A separate set of player, focus, target and target of target frames that show cast bars, aggro, health and buffs/debuffs clearly.
- A replacement for the built-in range detection – I don’t want the number indicating the keybind going red when a mob is out of range – I want the whole freaking button to glow red. I also like to see my cooldowns and buff times on the action button itself – so if I just did a concussion blow on someone, I want to be able to see how long they’re stunned for and then next, what the cooldown on my ability is for when I need to use it again.
- A unified cooldown indicator. Sometimes you have multiple tools to do the same thing, its nice to know which one is coming off cooldown first. A cooldown bar with time compression is perfect for this as I can see at a glance what the cooldowns look like on my spells.
So this is what I have now:
It is not very polished yet but manages to consolidate the information I want into the lower quarter of the screen leaving the important middle area free to see the action.
I’ll break the UI down into components with a diagram.
The key parts of the UI are:
- Tidy Plates, Threat Plates – this is probably not the best screenshot to show this addon’s usefulness but in a nutshell it shows you nameplates over the head.
- Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text – on the left is stuff that is happening to me – damage taken, healing taken. On the right is the damage (or healing) I am putting out. Above the name plates are procs.
- Deadly Boss Mods – Shows boss abilities, fight mechanic timers and warnings. To raid in modern WoW raids this is pretty much required. If you raid you need this (or a functional equivalent).
- SexyCooldown – shows a compressed timeline showing when spells, trinkets, racials etc are coming off cooldown.
- Pitbull4 – Unit frames. I usually have 4 frames up, focus target (left most, not showing in this screenshot so you have a blank space), player (Majh here), target (Raging Spirit), target of target (Majh).
- Chatter – chat mod that allows me to reposition the chat box, add timestamps, color coding etc.
- Skada – Meter mod. In combat I have it showing threat (like in this screenshot), out of combat it shows either damage, dps or healing depending on what class I am playing. The biggest reason I switched to this from recount was that this shows disc priest absorbs properly.
- Dominos – Action bar addon. It enables me to rearrange the action bars, change how many buttons are shown, if bars are faded out when I am not mousing over them but most importantly – it lets me easily bind keys and mouse actions to spells. My most used ability when tanking is a mouseover+mousewheel up key bind to taunt. 🙂 I also use inline auras to color buttons red for abilities that I am out of range for on my target and buff timers to show what uptime I have on a debuff applied from an ability on a mob. You can see 29 seconds left on my sunder armor stack in the screenshot above.
- Vuhdo – I first got it for use as a healing addon but it does so much more. I use it to see my raid members, range to them, their locations, direction to them (on mouseover it points a tomtom-style arrow towards them inside their raid frame), to see who has aggro (lights up their box and brackets the name in >> <<), debuffs, their targets and targets of targets. So in the screenshot you can see that all dps are dutifully attacking skull and our hunter is dutifully taking out the ice sphere.
- TipTac – enhanced tooltips. I like to be able to see at a glance who a mob is being targeted by, their buffs/debuffs etc. In a nutshell more useful information than the standard tooltips present. I also like to be able to pick where it shows up, what fonts are used and its size etc.
- SexyMap – A map and minimap mod. I use this to hide annoying minimap buttons unless I’m mousing over the map, to see the zone name, co-ordinates and to know who is pinging on the map. Our indomitable raid lead, Kymberrly, is pointing out where people need to run to in the screenshot above. 🙂
I intent to do a much more detailed post on each component in the UI in the coming days to illustrate the value they drive for the informed player – whether it is a tank, a dps or a healer.