Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Starting Over, Building a New UI from Scratch - A Guest Blog Post from Natrii at Natriicraft

The User Interface or the UI as it is commonly known is the core of your player expense in World of Warcraft.  Most of us have come to know that our basic Blizzard UI is far under par for anything but questing, and even then it can be lacking. You may have noticed its faults (especially if you are a healer) and started plugging in various addons to make life a little easier.  Maybe you used something simple like Quest Helper, Omen, or Healbot. As you progress through content from quests to raids your view screen gets smaller and smaller as more and more interfaces are added onto your window. Then one day the screen begins to look more like the control panel from a spaceship than a video game’s screen. While I love graphs and numbers as much as the next guy, I wouldn’t mind at least seeing the Lich King as I spank him, and that leads us to this post. By the time you finish the steps I’ve listed below you’ll turn that cluttered mess of a screen into what it’s actually supposed to be: a functional, straight forward UI.

The First step: Gutting your UI

The first thing you will want to do is Disable ALL your addons. It doesn’t matter how much you love addon A or how you possibly cannot function without addon B, disable them. It may feel like you’re killing a dear friend, but think of this as addon therapy. You will enable them later, but for now we need a clean slate.

The Second Step:  Getting your Basics: Setting the groundwork.

Now that you have all your cluttered addons gone it is time to go to Curse.com and pick up a few things. Curse is a free and simple site which is great for managing addons, as well as ensuring you’re getting virus free content. Download the client to manage all the addons a little more simply: it will inform you when they’ve been updated, and prevent you from having to constantly go back to the site to manage them. The second thing I highly recommend is an addon called Addon Control Panel or ACP: this light weight addon allows you to turn your addons on and off without exiting the game. And last, but certainly not least Mini Map Button Bag: This small addons condenses all your mini map clutter into one button. These addons really just help you manage the rest of your content easier, so while they’re not necessary I would highly recommend them.

The next step is to start by managing your unit frames(party/raid frames). I would recommend Xpeal, Pittbull, Shadowed UI, or Grid. All of these options are highly customizable to your needs and are quite straightforward. After you’ve decided on a unit frame it’s time to move to toolbars.  These will allow you more mobility with your toolbars, and thus give you more options in customization. You can never go wrong with Bartender 4 or Dominos. TO add a little spice to your UI try using Button Façade to add new skins. For background I use Sunn View Point Arts. It has 9 skin packs at the moment leaving plenty of options of customizations, including your own art. As for a map addon, Sexy map is the current favorite amongst players which will really just make your map look nicer.

After you have down loaded this set of addons, It is time to log in and set them up.  If you used Sunn all you will have to do is set your skin via interface addon menu. As for your unit frames and bars you will need to position them where you would like them. If you have opted to use an addon such as Button Façade, you merely need to select a skin for it in the same way you did for Sunn.
The Third Step: Function-Based Addons.
This is it, the fun step. The time where you get to download and enable all the addons that you feel you cannot live without.  This is where you make your UI shine; give it the true customization you want. These you must do by your own judgment, but if you are lost on what you need fear not for I do have a few recommendations.
Class Addons by Class:
Druid: Feral by Night(kitty dps), BadKitty(kitty dps), and Squawk and Awe(boomkin)
Hunter: Shot and Awe, Spell flash: Hunter
Mages:  Portal Box(all your portals in one place), Mage Feaver, and Scorchio 2(both to keep track of your Spells, procs, and CDs)
Paladins: Pally Power(seriously get it if you ever plan on raiding as a Paladin. Lets all pally buffs be set up by  1 person)
Priest: MF Clipper, Shadow Green light.(both addons for a shadow priest to maximize dps, in MF clipper’s case make you cry)
 Rogue: Rogue Focus Classic, Stun Watch
Shaman: Shock and Awe(elemental), Shaman Friend(kkeps track of things suck as your wind fury procs and shield status).
Warlock: Necrosis(warlock toolbox), Forte Exorcist(keeps track of about everything).
Warrior: Warrior proc Alert.
Addon by Functionalty:
Cool down addons:  Doom’s Cool down Pulse, Sexy Cool downs, Ora2.
Combat Text: Mik Scrolling Battle Text.
PVP: Gladius(arena Frames), Afflicted 3(keeps track of enemies CDs).
Healing Addons: Clique, Healbot, Vuhdo, Decursive, and Grid. Special note on healing Addons, These must be configured. See each Add-on’s guide for more info on configuring these addons.
RP:  Gryphon Heart item/rep and Battle Cry.
Addons all player should have:   Omen(threat meter), Recount(damage meter), Atlasloot(know your drops), Auctioneer(dominate the AH), and Deadly Boss Mods(must have for any raiders).
Addons that All player Have they should not have, but do anyways:  Gearscore(Epeen Meter, flawed system but still a must have for the pug raider to know where you stand)
My Most Recommended that I have not listed: Outfitter(save your armor set ups), Panda(generally helpful for professions.), Quartz (cast bar that monitors and calculates your latency).
The Final Step: Sweeping the Dust Away
Note I have not even scratched the surface on all the addons you can possibly have, but this will give anyone a starting point. What you put into your UI is your own choice, with that I leave you with a few parting tips. Your UI is not set in stone. Missing something? Add it. Don’t like an addon? Remove it. Make your UI your own. It is your portal to your character, make sure you like it. And finally, Read the guides for your addons. Some addons are more or less plug and play and move where you want, but other requires a massive amount of configuration. I cannot emphasize enough read about your addons, an addon is useless if you do not know how to use it.
To end this I would like to thank Redhawks for allowing me to do this post. And request that he does not LOLcat this to death, 1 at max please. Any other questions about UI setup or any of the addons here please check me out and Natriicraft.blogspot.com or email me at natrii@gmail.com.

1 comment:

Shadowspawned said...

Nice post for anyone interested in customizing their UI. One addon I would recomend is called ALign. It puts a grid up on your screen that you are able to resized ansd allows you to line up the UI elements symmetrically. It can be found on Wowinterface.com