Friday, April 25, 2014

UI Evolved

Part of my responsibilities as Raid Officer for Bandage Brigade is assisting enthusiastic new raid leaders and helping to mentor them. One of our officers who has been playing wow for some years has decided to head up a Flex team on Saturday nights. The only catch is ....he has never raided before, except for LFR but if you know me you know I don't count that as raiding.

So he's been talking with myself and the other officers and shoring up his knowledge base and we came across the discussion of add-ons. An early Zen Wiping post touched on this but sometimes its easier to see things than to just read some vague armchair philosophy. 

With that in mind I humbly submit three kill videos I've made over the years and a critique of the UI used in each. 

To start off we have a kill from Firelands with my old guild Distorted [A]Icecrown. The boss is Lord Ryolith and I'm playing my mage Airistal. The UI is... well just watch:

So thats not super horrible but there is a lot of redundancy and a lot of stuff that is just going by to fast to be of any use during a bos fight. I have three cooldown trackers, three combat logs (I'm counting the scrolling combat text, four if you count recount) and it is just very noisy.

So we skip ahead two years and now I'm healing on Airibear for Bandage Brigade [H]Area52.
I've switched over to elvUI and fiddled with it a bit. Let's look:

Much cleaner but we still have that combat scrolling text which I never look at during a fight and my player frame is redundantly reproduced in the raid frames. In addition to that there are icons and warnings all over the screen. When healing I get focused on my raid frames and don't notice the other stuff as often. Finally its hard to tell from this video but the DBM bars are set to their default behaviour so by the time I figure out that such and such a bar matters to me and begin trying to Spirit Shell the raid it's too late.

The UI isn't bad but it needed a bit of work and finally one day I had had enough and this popped out:

Now we're getting somewhere. I removed my frame because I have a box in the raid frames that shows me. The colored boxes above those icons at the bottom is my mana bar but it only shows mana from 50% to 0. Why? Because until 50% I don't really care how much mana I have. Its not until 50% that I'm going to begin planning for Hymn of Hope or a potion of focus.
Then there are the icons there below the mana. Those were created in Weak Auras 2 and show abilities that are used rarely (maybe twice an encounter...maybe) and also have a long cooldown.
Next up are my raid frames. These are simple, they show the name of the raider and as they take damage the black becomes their class color. There is no mana bar, because I don't care how much mana someone else has, they will call Hymn if they are low and thats the only thing I can do to help, well that and take over healing duties. The white numbers show absorb shield amounts and if I could make it a bar instead of a number I would. There is also an elvUI add-on there to glow the frame if it receives AOE healing which is really nice. Then raid buffs and debuffs. Simple.
Above that I have some cooldowns. The left side is for short CDs that I cast frequently, Penance, Smite, Devine Star, Holy Fire. These icons show both a solid "I'm Ready!" icon and the spinning clock icon to indicate how much longer until it is up again. When its not ready and the clock is spinning I have it set to desaturated which makes it even more visually different than the ready icon.
On the right we have icons for spells with longer cooldowns. Some of these I use when ready but with a minute or more until they are up a spinning clock would be distracting. Others I may hold for specific events, like Spirit Shell.
Above those weakauras is a weakaura created global cooldown bar. This just tells me that I'm under the effect of GCD which is helpful sometimes during combat but is also nice when trying to determine if a spell has a GCD, if it doesn't I may add it to some macro or another as you can have multiple no GCD spells along with one GCD spell in an autocast macro.
Then we have my cast bars for player and target. On the sides are two more weakauras for my two DoTs. Above all that is a big weakaura that says "Hey cast Archangel, its up with 5 stacks".
Beside my raid frames I have more weakauras, two show me that my dispells are on CD and how much longer till I can dispell again. Then I have one for certain debuffs like Galakras's flames or Gift of Titans during Sha of Pride.
Lastly I've recently added Big Wigs and ditched DBM but even in this video with DBM you can see I moved the bars and warnings so they were easier to see and appeared bigger at 15s instead of 5 or 10 or whatever the default was. This makes SS use easier.
Over the target frame I have an icon that says cast shadow word death and one that says dispel this shaman buff and though its not seen on this video in the lower left I have some weak auras for trinket procs and for tracking toxic storm targets.
The bars on the left side are raid wide cooldown trackers which is nice but it would be better if they showed which raid cooldowns were available instead of which were cooling.
The UI is fairly clean and it works well. Big Wigs is an amazing replacement for DBM and I highly recommend it and its plug-ins. 

Also for raid leading I use Raid Buff Status and Ora3 and am trying out Hermes to cover that problem with raid cooldowns.

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