03
Jul
09

Addons for the win?

Addons. Love’em or hate’em…they are here to stay. By now, it’s a “standard” part of peoples WoW experience. There are literally thousands of them, and quite a few places to get them from. So, are addons at all necessary? And the concise answer is: no. I raid with people who have absolutely zero addons, and as long as you know what to do, and how to decode the information ingame, then you can raid fine without addons. So naturally, one asks “why use addons at all?”.

The main advantages to addons are twofold:

  1. They give access to information that might not be very well presented by the vanilla game
  2. They allow you to redesign the UI to look like you want it to

Re 1.: The stock UI was designed to be simple, and to work for all classes. This is no mean feat since the classes in WoW have many different mechanics, so the fact that Blizzard have made a working UI is a nice accomplishment. However, there are shortcomings, especially when you look at cooldowns and short duration buffs. Here, the standard UI often falls short. Believe it or not, this is very likely by design. Blizzard prefers simplicity, so if you don’t need a bell here, or a whistle there, then you don’t get it. My current prime example is the gear manager. Outfitter had a small sound to indicate when you swapped between pre-defined gear sets. The Blizzard gear manager doesn’t

Re 2.: Let’s face it, there’s no way that the standard layout will appeal to everybody out there. It’s a by now market standard (meaning that you see it in just about every MMO, from AoC to Spellborn), and the graphic theme will not be to everyones taste. Some like it intricate, others like it clean, and when Blizzard opens up for modifications then modifications will happen. Some people prefer blue velvet, others like their green Chesterfields. Some will probably scoff at it, but aesthetics are a vital component of WoW, more vital for some than others of course.

So, we want addons. Many addons! But how in the world are we to actually select them all? Based on what? It’s a bit like being dumped into a huge vat of jellybeans and…well perhaps not. But the process of selecting which addons one wants can be a daunting one. It is of course up to every person to decide which criteria to use when selecting addons. My own are:

  1. It (the addon) has to do something the standard UI can’t or doesn’t
  2. It has to do something my current addons don’t or can’t
  3. Preferably, it should include features from other addons that I already use

1. and 2. eliminate addons that are purely showy or flashy. Too much clutter and too many blinking lights make my UI look like a christmas tree. It may be pretty, but you can’t see how fast you’re going. Would you drive a car where the speedometer was obscured by a lovely chain of christmas lights? Didn’t think so.

2. and 3. keep the numbers of my addons low. A new addon should be able to replace one of my others, and add something new and/or clever. This is the “if it ain’t broken, your Lada will work just fine” criterium.

But why this need for keeping addon numbers low? It’s not like RAM is an issue these days. The answer is simple: complexity. Whenever you add more parts to a machine, the chance increases that errors occur, and that unforeseen things happen. Ghost in the machine? Yeah right, I hear you think. But haven’t we all had this very problem? Before you answer “nope”, imagine this: you bring home your latest PC game, and it just wont work, or it crashes after 2.3 minutes. After hours of trawling through troubleshooting post, you come across a post that says “the problem that causes the graphics card to crash is an audio codex XPX12398.12294. Just upgrade it and you’ll be fine.”

In short: The more bits you add, the more trouble you potentially have. And I like my WoW time to be hassle-free. I don’t want to have to log off and on 1000 times to check the addons if there is some strange problem. The fewer, the better, at least in my book

Finally, we’re at the stage where I’ll get to a list of my addons currently in use:

  • SatrinaBuffFrames
  • Bartender4
  • Grid
  • Chatter
  • DBM (DeadlyBossMods)
  • Recount
  • Omen
  • AzCastBars
  • OmniCC

And that’s that. In the coming period of time, I’ll treat all of them in turn, listing what they do well (and not so well) and how I use them. I’ll try to list alternatives for each of the addons, but in the end, its not the object of this series to make a comprehensive addons list. Rather, it is a look at some addons that address issues specific to furies. Of course, WoW (and especially raiding) isn’t all about furies. Even the most fanatic of warriors can’t afford to entirely ignore the rest of their raid/party. Hence, not all of my addons are purely related to furious combat.

As usual, any and all comments are more than welcome. As they say, the more the merrier.

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