Archive for the 'addons' Category

30
Nov
09

The neverending story – addons

A while back I did some talking (well, writing) about addons for furies. Quite a bit of time has passed since then, and as is the case with UI’s…they change. And consequently, mine has changed too. This has involved some addons being chucked out, others come in, and yet others staying the same.

The list I posted originally was the following:

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

I’ll spoil the ending, I have actually changed things:

  • SatrinaBuffFrames
  • Bartender4
  • Grid
  • DBM (DeadlyBossMods)
  • Recount
  • Omen
  • Quartz
  • OmniCC

Hard to spot the difference? I swapped AzCastBars for Quartz, simply because I felt like trying it. And it worked out, as well as do some other nice things, so I decided to keep it.

Anyway, the above addons aren’t the whole picture, they’re the combat/fury related addons. Other addons that have snuck their way into my addons folder:

  • Chatter
  • TotemTimers (for when the shammy calls)
  • Clique (oh gosh does it make healing nice)

Still, as addon collections go, I consider myself relatively lightweight. But, if I essentially haven’t changed my addons lineup, why resurrect the dead horse? Because I felt like it, and particularly because the addons themselves are only half the story. The big, gigantic, huge, issue is how we apply them to our UI’s, whether we do it according to the “more is better” principle or whatever other idea that made sense at the time.

Let’s apply the question to my own UI then. What has changed? It might be worth it to look at my various ideas of what makes a UI, the central theme so to speak.

The analogue approach

When designing an interface there are two schools of thought essentially. The one I call the analogue approach, and the digital approach. I first thought of it in relation to synthesizers and other electronic gadgets (it applies to anything electronic essentially). In more visual terms, on one hand you have the apparatus with every parameter having its own knob or dial, so that all the information is visible all the time. On the other hand you have a menu driven interface, which shows you only the barest necessities at all times, while hiding more detailed information in a slick (or not so slick) menu system. But you get a very simple interface out of it.

When I first started playing WoW, I was firmly rooted in the analogue mindset. I wanted all the abilities visible, in an orderly way of course, all the time. In raids, I could see everybodies mana and health, I could see tanks targets, all that jazz. The advantage was that I did not have to open any windows or browse any menus to see something…it was all there (within reason).

The clean analogue

Eventually, as I think happens for every analogue person, you are able to sort through the information available to you, and you decide what is unimportant, and cut it out. Its akin to packing for a camping trip…you lay all of the gear out you want to bring, upon packing you find it’ll weigh too much, and you cut out the stuff you dont need.

This was also the time when I really started taking an interest in how the UI looked, the time of SimpleMap, Buttonfacade, those kinds of things.

Do I really need that?

Granted, I am not one of those people who can cut the UI entirely. Two reasons. The first…I AM A CLICKER! There, I said it, now stop laughing. The second…a visible UI is just part of WoW for me. If it wasn’t there, something would be missing. As a result, I haven’t gone all minimalist, but I have started using addon functionality. For example I have a bar that only shows in combat, full of things that I’d never need outside combat (pots, stones, disarm macro, demo shout, that sort of thing).

That said, as I’ve said before, I am quite minimalist on which addons I install. If I don’t strictly need it, it goes. So apart from one eyecandy addon (Chatter), I have no purely visual addons installed any more. Part of the reason for this was that I, maybe as a minority, do like some of the UI graphics, like the default player and target frames, and the map itself. So I have tried to preserve as much of it as possible, not that its much mind you.

Wot now?

Put shortly: How should I know? I have been using the same addons for 6 months (for the newest one), so my UI is quite stable in that regard. Sometimes it does happen that addons get discontinued, but if you choose the old and popular addons, chances are that they wont. It isn’t so much a case of finding new addons as it is a case of streamlining how the UI works, what the addons do…it is shaping the flow of information itself, rather than changing the pipes.

For a more tangible prediction about the future: I’ll be taking a look at my addons again, as well as my UI as a whole.

23
Jul
09

Furious addons – Omen and Recount

Right, so I set out to present the addons I use for playing fury. Now, the two addons I’ll talk about today are so integrated into raiding that everybody should know about them. And moreover, everybody should be familiar with them. So arguably, I’m wasting my time…and yours too, by telling you about them.

Instead of talking about what Omen and Recount do for a living, I’ll discuss their value in a raiding situation. More precisely, I’ll ask the question: “Do these venerable veterans, these old faithfuls amongst addons, do they even have a place in your addon suite at all?”

Eh wot? How can I say that they’re not worthwhile to use? The answer is, I havent really said that…not directly anyway. So let’s get on with it shall we.

The basic premise of Omen is to show you how close you are to grabbing aggro. In the old days Omen could show you your threat level on all mobs in the surrounding area. Blizzard rather neatly cut that out from under Omens legs when they introduced their own ingame threat meter.

So essentially, Omen displays the raw data from the Blizzard API while the Blizzard threatmeter shows you the polished data. Aside from a few scaling factors, we get exactly the same data. Roughly speaking, Omen is now more about presentation and less about distinct functionality. If you’re the person who prefers bars and numbers, then Omen is for you, but if you prefer the green/yellow/red dot system of Blizzards UI, then there isn’t a distinct need in my mind. Alternatively, there is the Simple Threat Meter which shows you a single vertical aggro bar. Essentially its the bar version of Blizzards threat indicator.

The advantage of Omen is that the extra numbers gives you extra details. You can see what everybody else is doing, something that can be valuable in some fights. As a part time tank, I can furthermore add that the TPS readout of Omen is a nice indicator of who is going to overtake you soon, in situations where you’re only marginally ahead for some reason.

Onwards to Recount. Recount is a damage meter, but it isn’t limited to that. In fact, I’d say that damage meter is a misleading thing to call it, since it’s more of an analysis tool a la WWS. Does everybody need this feature? Whether you need it or not, is a matter of some debate, but most people can certainly benefit from the post combat analysis options it offers.

As a DPS’er, I can say that “heck yeah, DPS measurements are worth it!”, but I’m not going to, mostly since I like being obnoxious. On a more serious note, a damage/DPS meter is not intended to be a competition tool (even though it always ends up being one). Rather it’s intended to be just that, a yardstick for measuring your performance. “Booohoo, U say that becuz U suXX0rz”. To that I say: “No U”, and go wash my mouth out with soap.

Now, if Recount simply showed DPS or damage bars, I’d say “no, don’t get this”, but seeing as Recount does provide a detailed breakdown of which abilities you’ve used, it helps in more ways than one. It does have a bit of a memory footprint, but then, it does pull a lot of data every second while in use. This data includes hits, glancing blows, crits, misses, all that good stuff that actually tells you (rather than your stats) how you are performing.

So what is the gist of my ramble?

Omen:

  • Yes if: You like lots of numbers next to your aggro bar (i.e. a detailed readout)
  • No if: You want something as simple as a traffic light

Recount:

  • Yes if: You care to analyse your performance after combat
  • No if: You just want to go “Is my DPS higher than that other guys?”

Now, if I had just posted that, without the previous nonsense I would’ve saved the internet from yet more junk. Oh well, can’t win them all.

22
Jul
09

7 principles of UI design

A bit of pointless surfing the other day led me onto a page outlining the “13 principles for display design“. Since addons essentially are software specifically designed for human-computer interaction, I came to think how these 13 principles could be given a UI-addonesque tone.

Now, bringing “real” interface and display design into a game might not be your cup of tea, but if there are a few pointers to keep in mind when laying out your UI, why not use them? After all, it might help. Anyway, my version of the 13 principles of display design, which we can call “the 7 principles of UI design”:

  1. Legibility
  2. Redundancy and multiplication
  3. Proximity
  4. Multiple resources
  5. Similarity avoidance
  6. Simplicity
  7. Predictable/logical movement

1) Your UI should be legible and easily so. If you have to squint to read your ridiculously cool font, or if you have to shine a torch onto your screen to read the leet shade of green text…then your UI is not legible. If you are going to follow only one of the principles, this is the one.

Example:

  • Tolkiens elven font is probably very cool. But try to imagine a scrolling combat text in it? Not really.

2) This is the “if one is good, two is better” principle. The most clear information systems often use two or more forms of communication, often redundant forms. The classic example is the traffic light which uses two redundant forms of communication; colour and position of its lights. Either, on its own, is perfectly sufficient, but by using them both it becomes so much clearer. The key concept here is to have several indicators for critical bits of information.

Examples:

  • Cooldown bars that change colour as the time runs out (DBM does this for example).
  • OmniCC counts down with numbers that start out white, then turn yellow and red.

3) Proximity; the close grouping of related pieces of information. Basically, if a task requires two or more different sources of information to be successful, these should be grouped together, so you avoid having to look at the top right, bottom left and on the floor between your feet to make sense of the in-combat messages. For a warrior this could mean having the rage indicator close to the ability cooldowns. Note that it’s very possible to cram too much information into an area, causing it to become cluttered and unreadable.

Example:

  • Party/Raid frames that group people together as well as show mana, to allow the healer to see his/her mana whilst keeping an eye on the health of the party.

4) This is related to the redundancy point above. The human minds ability to process information increases if the sources of information touch upon different senses instead of all using the same one. Too much of one thing will lead to information overflow. In plainer terms, instead of having all your addons only display visual information, use audible cues too, especially if the audible signals are distinct and clear.

Examples:

  • Omens aggro alert.
  • MSBT dings when my health drops below a certain percentage.
  • DBM plays the “Run away little girl! Run away” sound bit from Karazhan when walls of flame appear in the Obsidian Sanctum.

5) If something is vital to know, or to be warned about, do not make it look like anything else, especially not something humdrum that you use all the time. It needs to be distinct enough that it doesn’t get drowned in the general cacophony that is a raid UI. Is everything shades of red in your UI? Make your death warning blue. Things that are visually distinct stand out just by being there. Again though, moderation is key. Keep the very distinct warnings and items to a minimum, so that your eyes don’t become “immune”.

Example:

  • Blizzard changing the colour of the Sartharion Shadow Fissures from red to blue. Too many player AOE effects were already red, making them hard to spot.

6) Simplicity…don’t we all know the acronym “keep it simple, s…..”? There’s a reason for it, actually there are several reasons. The first and foremost is, the simpler you keep things, the less likely they are to break. But, in terms of user interfaces, it is an advantage to present the relevant information as simply as possible, thereby using as little of the users brainpower as possible. I know it sounds a bit daft, but the less mental processing is used dealing with the information, the more is free to be proactive, to think ahead. And being able to think ahead makes the user a lot more efficient in general.

Example:

  • Grid shows you how much a players health deficit is, rather than show you their total health. The deficit is more useful to healers than the total health since they are concerned with bringing them back to full health.

7) The final principle says that if something moves in your addon, it should be in a predictable and logical manner. The traditional example here is a thermometer where the indicator rises as the temperature goes up. Since a UI is a personal thing, there is no hard and fast rule about how things have to move. However, if something moves, it should move in a fashion that’s logical to the user.

Example:

  • A threat bar in a threat meter than grows as threat increases.

There we are. 7 principles (not rules of course) to keep in mind when setting up your UI (or making your addon). They’re not a checklist, rather they’re a pointer as to how to improve the smooth runnings of your addons. The most important thing to keep in mind, is that the UI is a tool rather than a work of art. While some people might dispute this, the basic reason for using addons is to improve information flow and accessibility of the vanilla UI, especially in a raiding situation.

As with most things, the central thing is this: do what works for you, not what you think would work for others. If the above can help, so much the better.

20
Jul
09

Furious addons – Bartender4

So Bartender…what to write about it that hasn’t been written before. It is, alongside with a few others, basically a staple of the addon cloud these days. Of course, there are alternatives to it, as there always has been, but Bartender is probably one of the best known action bar addons there is. It’s simple to use, and it functions mostly without fail, most of the time.

Setting up Bartender is nearly self explanatory, so a “how to” post or a review style post will mostly just rehash the same thing that has been repeated over and over. Instead of doing that, it could be worthwhile to examine something related to the concept of action bars; how many buttons do you actually need as a warrior? And how many functions need be visible?

The answer is that there is no definite answer. It depends so hugely on your playstyle (are you a clicker or keybinder), preferred UI layout (are you a minimalist or do you need absolutely every button visible), and of course…personal taste. So why even discuss it. Well, partially, it fills out the page, and partially because its an interesting study in ergonomics to see how people lay out their UI. It’s interesting since Bartender essentially is an addon that allows you to manage your UI real estate, so as to make your UI efficient.

Originally, when I installed Bartender, it placed my action bars down in the left corner. I was used to having two bars in the bottom left corner (from the standard UI) so it didnt feel out of place at all. It was only later that I moved the bars to the middle of the screen. And why? Mostly because of looks to be honest, but part of it was to cut down on mouse travel time between the buttons and target selection. Some take this concept to extraordinary heights by placing their main action bar just below their character on the screen.

Wait woah woah. Buttons slap bang in the middle of the screen? Atrocious looking! ‘Tis true…buttons in the middle of the game world don’t look awe inspiring, do thy? “I’m sorry mister Varian Wrynn, but your face seems to be a big clickable button with a fireball on it.” But they don’t take your eyes off the action, so you could argue that they’re in the most convenient place. Thankfully Bartender has a setting to show bars in combat only, so you can have the best of both worlds.

Most of the visibility and paging options in Bartender are for people who like to click. In fact, it’s very much a clickers addon, however keybinders can find a use for seeing their action bars even so. Bartender comes with handy indicators for when you’re out of power for an ability as well as out of range of your intended target. If you furthermore use OmniCC or another countdown addon, you will have an at-a-glance overview of your current combat situation.

bartenderThis is my Bartender configuration. I have a sidebar along the bottom right for mounts, but this is essentially it. The bottom bar pages with stance, although it is very rarely used these days. OmniCC figures prominently (the white and yellow numbers on the bars). The Shoot button, Intervene and Intercept buttons show the “not usable” red colouring.

Roughly, its divided into three categories. 1)Commonly used abilities (bottom bar), 2)Stances, shouts and CD abilities (top bar), 3)The rest (middle bar). The middle bar is where most of the clicking goes on since it isn’t keybound to anything. It consists of semi frequently used abilities, things that do have CD’s but are still used nearly every time they come off CD.

Close observation reveals quite a number of abilities that aren’t on the bars. More buttons take more space however, and increase the clutter level in the UI, especially when buttons are arranged in a grid. While a grid saves space, it is easier to lose sight of a particular button somewhere in the middle. One solution is to subdivide a larger grid into smaller sections, so that instead of say an 8×16 button grid, you would have a small separator along the middle to create two distinct 8×8 grids. This is probably a subject all of its own, so I’ll refrain from further discussion and instead just say that based on my experience in WoW, a 3 row grid gives the right balance of easy overview and number of buttons.

More close observation will reveal that instead of Bartenders limit of 12 buttons per row, I only use 10. Although I’m a clicker, I still use the number keys on my keyboard for hitting abilities on the lower bar. And I’ve found that hitting keys to the right of the 0-key takes my attention away from the onscreen action for too long. For the same reason, the mostly used abilities are placed on the 2-5 keys as they are the keys closest to the WASD keys. At this stage, it should be said that my setup may not work for you. It touches upon ergonomics, where the external factors are as important as the game-factors. How big is your hand, how is the keyboard shaped, which keys do you use, etc etc. There’s no right and wrong here, only what works for the individual. It’ll take a bit of fiddling with, but in the end, getting the right setup will make playing easier and quickers, as well as reduce the risk of straining your hands and wrists unnecessarily. It may not seem important at first, but with a bad setup your hands may well start hurting after 4 hours of raiding.

Bartender is a workhorse of an addon. Rather like Lego, it’s a set of building blocks that you can push around your virtual real estate until you find a setup you like. While there are limits to what it’ll allow you to do, the possible number of combinations that can be achieved is near endless.

14
Jul
09

How to set up SBF the warrior way

Saying that “you can do X and Y” is all very good, but saying “here is how you do X and Y” is a lot better. So, to deviate from my addon presentation momentarily, I’ll go into more detail about my SBF setup. SBF has a few things that aren’t immediately intuitively logical to the first time user, so I’ll try to remove a bit of the mystique, as well as show what it can do.

Let’s take a look at the options frame then.

SBFconfig1

First off, there is the whitelist and blacklist concept. The tooltips for both these (and in general in the options screen) are very clear and helpful. The whitelist shows what you tell it to, nothing else. The blacklist is the exact reverse; it shows you everything except what you tell it not to. The “frame unit” frame indicates the origin of the buff. It is rather a long list, but it is luckily intuitive. It’s especially interesting to note that there’s a “mouseover” option, which could be helpful to healers or tanks. “Player” here naturally refers to…the player character. The “Show buffs” and “Show debuffs” can both be ticked off, or you can choose which you want to see. In this case, only buffs are ticked, since SBF1 is a buffs frame.

The keys to making SBF dance are the “spells” and “filters” tabs. They both do the same general thing in each their own way, namely to filter buffs and debuffs to various frames, which is ultimately why you want to use SBF.

At this stage, a quick rundown of my frames is in order:

  • SBF1: Buffs
  • SBF2: Personal/short duration buffs
  • SBF3: Debuffs
  • SBF4: Slam!
  • SBF5: Targets target debuffs

SBF2 is really the most interesting frame since it’s where I put the buffs that are important to me, i.e. warrior shouts and the cooldown abilities.

SBFconfig2

This is a screenshot of my filters tab. As you can see, it contains the warrior shouts, the warrior self buffs, Loatheb’s Shadow, Heroism, and Fungal Creep. These are the essential buffs I need to watch in combat, and they’re all (partially at least) controlled by me. The “n=” denotes that its the name of the buff/debuff and the statements that involve the “&” are conditions I set. For example, the “&my” means a buff that I have cast, while “&c” refers to a buff cast only by my class. Note that the latter one is a remnant from earlier versions of SBF and as such its actually redundant.

For those of you that don’t understand the filtering language, fear not, because I used the spells window to set up the filters without ever having to type a single bit of gobbledegook. Let’s take a look:

SBFconfig3

Provided you’ve encountered the buff before, select it in the list on the left. In the middle you then have a few options. If your frame is a whitelist frame, merely click on the “show this buff” tick box and it should start appearing in the designated frame. As an example, I’ve ticked off my Battle Shout. Since I want it to show up regardless of who cast it, I haven’t ticked the “cast by me” box. You select whther you want a list of buffs or debuffs with the tickbox on the right. Note that only spells you have actually encountered in combat will show in the list since SBF is not psychic. It takes its information from the game itself, so if you haven’t encountered it, it wont show. However, you can, provided you know the name of the spell, type it in manually in the filters tab.

SBF2 is a whitelist frame as said. In a blacklist frame, the “Show this buff” box becomes “don’t show this buff”, since it will by default show everything unless told not to. As such, I’ve set my SBF1 frame up to be a blacklist frame. I don’t need the shouts showing up in that frame, so I’ve set it to exclude those.

The final frame I have is the “debuffs on the tank” frame. Why is that useful? To be honest, for a DPS’er it’s ever so slightly irrelevant. But being a warrior I sometimes need to tank, and having to switch profiles in addons midgame is something I detest loudly. So, I have a frame to show what debuffs are on the current tank. It is only relevant in fights like Gluth and Razorscale, but since its a vital bit of information for the tank, I like to have it plainly visible.

SBFconfig4

The frame is set to whitelist and the frame unit to targets target, which ensures that I always see the status of the current tank (which includes myself when I’m tanking). I have deliberately kept the number of buffs low in it, since there a) tends to be only one buff of interest per fight and b) I want it to be visible(!) For the same reason, I’ve made it rather big in my UI, so that when it does pop up, it isn’t missed. It isn’t a frame that sees much use, but on fights like Gluth it comes in very handy.

“But…you haven’t mentioned anything about feature X!” Too true, I haven’t. SBF has many more features than I have described in the above, most notably the Buff Flowing feature. It’s a whole topic in itself, and if you’re interested in it hop over here. However, the above setup should see you well on the way to discovering the true power of SBF. For the people thinking “that’s only for warriors though” I have only to say that, with slight variations on buffs shown in frames 2, 4, and 5, I use essentially the same setup across my range of characters.

A final word should be said on the display options in SBF. Each frame can be set to display times, icons and/or bars. So whether you prefer the Blizz style rows of buffs or the Elkano style stacks of bars, SBF caters for your needs. It’s even possible to have the buff bar in a different location than the icon itself, so if you have a fancy UI that needs buff bars to be detached from their icons, you can do that too.

As always, feedback is more than welcome, whether good or bad. Have an inventive use for SBF that you want to share? Or ideas for how better to use it? Shout out. Addons are a work in progress (isn’t everything), so there is always room for improvement.

06
Jul
09

Furious addons – Satrina Buff Frames

The first addon I’ll go over is quite possibly the most important one I use during combat. I’m not speaking of Bartender or Omen, but Satrina Buff Frames. Like the name suggests, it displays buffs and debuffs. Since nearly everything in combat has a buff of some sort attached to it, tracking these can mean the difference between a wipe and a win.

SBF works with entities called buff frames. Each frame shows a number of buffs, arranged in columns and rows. They can be set to grow left, right, up or down according to your wishes and needs. The standard setup features a frame for buffs and a frame for debuffs, just like the normal UI does. But that’s just the beginning really.

To make an example of my own frame setup. I use five different frames, placed in various corners of my UI. One for buffs, one for debuffs, one for warrior buffs, one for Bloodsurge procs, and one to check for debuffs on the tank (useful for tanking Gluth for example).The buff and debuff frames are placed next to the minimap. While nice to have, they’re not central to combat, so I’ve moved them away into a corner. The warrior buffs frame contains short duration buffs, either cast by me or related directly to my combat. So, things like Battle Shout, Recklessness, Heroism, Death Wish, and Loatheb’s Shadow go in here. Its situated close where I’m constantly looking so I can always see what’s happening to me and my DPS. The Bloodsurge proc frame contains only a single entity: the Bloodsurge proc. It pops up right below my character so that I can’t miss it.

The final frame is, as mentioned, for debuffs applied to the current tank. So in fights where debuffs to the tank matter, I can see when to aggro (if I’m tanking). You aren’t limited to buffs on yourself or the targets target however. You can show the buffs and/or debuffs of any of your party/raid members, party pets, focus, focus’s target, or even the vehicle you’re in. Essentially, you can track any buff on any person in your group, for whatever reason you might care to have.

Furthermore, you can route things into different frames, depending on their remaining time, i.e. you can create emergency or “act now” frames. You can also sort buffs, so that ones cast by yourelf get shown whilst identical buffs by others don’t (this can be useful for tracking Bleeds or even Battle/Comm Shout). This leads me into the filter/spell system, which is one of SBF’s strengths (and weaknesses too, see below). The filter system is essentially the nuts and bolts of SBF. It is a tiny scripting language and it can do a lot of things, but unless you want to get into it, you don’t have to. It is possible to configure SBF entirely without writing code.

The major downside to SBF is its daunting configuration screen. Like other highly configurable addons (Pitbull and Grid for example), it can be a daunting job to set up. And unlike Grid or Pitbull, if you don’t take the time to set it up, you’ll have something that performs just like the standard buff UI. A big part of this complexity arises from the filter system. If you don’t know code, it will look like gobbledegook, and this can be offputting to many. A further small kink is the fact that, at first, you wont have any spells in the spell list. SBF adds spells it encounters to this list, but before you encounter it, you cant set up a filter for it. Essentially it means that you can’t preprogram anything before having actually been in the fight. However, in the grand scale of things, this is a very minor point. Any new buff or debuff will merely show up in your “standard” frame when you first encounter it.

If you’re currently using Elkano’s Buff Bars and Power Auras (or any other buff addon of choice), should you change to SBF? While I’d like to say yes, I’ll also say “if it works, don’t fix it”. Changing what doesn’t need to be changed is not necessarily a good thing. That said, if you’re like me, having one addon that can do the work of two (or more) is a good thing, if the addon is good at what it does, and can display what I need it to.

And this is where SBF shines. It does its thing extremely well. It may be a bit of work to set up, but when it is, you’ll have access to all the buffs you could ever want. Want to see whether the sunder count in the middle of the screen? Done. Want to see Mortal Strike on targets target? Done. Want to see bleed effects on the healer? Done. If its a buff or debuff, you can track it.

Pros:

  • One single addon for all types of buffs, debuffs and procs
  • Highly customisable

Cons:

  • Can be daunting to configure at first
  • Filters can’t be done ahead of time

Without doubt, SBF is a staple addon in my addons list. While no addon is indispensable or irreplacable, SBF sets a high bar for others to jump over.

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.