Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.
Welcome back readers! This week marks the end of my look at compilation addons. I hope this series has been interesting and helpful. It was neat seeing an evolution if you will as we looked at oldies but goodies CTMod and Cosmos to newer compilations like MazzleUI. This week I wrap everything up with a look at the Mirage UI compilation (formally called Insomniax Recompilation) Originally Insomniax Recompilation was a collection of addons that the author liked and felt best represented their type, with a few small tweaking here and there for compatibility. Now the Mirage UI has grown and evolved as the author uses presets to form a nice layout using the included addons, much like the MazzleUI compilation I reviewed last week. How does this compare? Read on to find out.
From Insomniax to Mirage
Mirage was originally called Insomniax Recompilation; named after the author's gaming clan of ten years. Eduardo Lucero, the author of Mirage, has been making mods and addons for nearly ten year in a variety of games. He has since moved on to newer pastures, and as a result Insomniax evolved into MirageUI. The author is quick to point out that while he has added to and edited some of the addons in the compilation; he is not the author of each and every addon used. In his own words:
"While a I put a lot of work and time into maintaining and improving this compilation including some minor coding and artwork please do not forget that all the individual mods that make up the compilation come from many talented and different authors; for us mod authors credit for our work is more than often the only thing we will ever receive, please do not forget to give proper credit where it's due, taking credit for someone else's work is not only uncool and rude, it's demoralizing and will only be detrimental in the development of free add-ons."
I wanted to point this out in particular as I think this is a noble sentiment and that we should all be reminded of the hard work and devotion all addon authors dedicate for our enjoyment, and to give credit where credit is due.
Looking through the Mirage
Mirage is a compilation in its simplest form, but this is by no way a bad thing, just that it's a collection of addons the author thought worked well together with a few tweaks for compatibility sake and so all the addons jive with one another a bit more smoothly. I'd even go so far as to say it's "Mazzle Lite" as the two share many of the same design philosophies such as incorporating stand-alone addons into a greater whole. Some of the addons featured in MirageUi include but aren't limited to:
- Advanced TradeSkill Window
- Bartender 3
- Bagnon, Bagnon_Core, Bagnon_Forever
- Cartographer (and many plugins for it)
- CT_Core with CT_BuffMod, CT_ExpenseHistory, CT_MailMod
- Damage Meters
- Fubar (and many plugins for it)
- GFW_AdSpace, DisenchantPredictor, Gemologist, HuntersHelper, TrackMenu
- KLH ThreatMeter
- Satrina Buff Frames 2
- ScrollingCombatText, ScrollingCombatText - Damage
- Simple Minimap
- TipBuddy (by Aezay)
- WoW Instant Messenger
- X-Perl Unit Frames (Tweaked for MUI Compilation)
- Graphical enhancement Addons
- Sunn Viewport Art with MirageUI ArtPack
- ClearFont1 (MUI version)
- Raid Addons
- BigWigs (and many plugins for it)
I struggled trying to figure out the best way to review MirageUI. Like my Mazzle review, it's not proper to review each piece of the compilation separately as I've either covered or will cover them. However the difficulty comes in trying to figure out how all these addons fit together as a greater whole. Mazzle had a special control panel with a lot of custom artwork and presets that joined the addons together and blurred their lines. Mirage on the other hand puts all these addons in a bag, sprinkles in a little custom artwork with one layout and calls it good. The thing is, it works out pretty well. I want to think anyone could take a handful of tried and true addons and bundle them together and it would work out just fine, but I think I'm underestimating the care Mirage's author took in selecting the included addons. So while you may think you could do what Mirage does yourself (and you could with time invested and inclination), there is something to be said for the convenience of a "one stop shopping" compilation such as this. Conveniences such as not having to worry about compatibility or tracking down updates for each addon you use. Almost all the addons come from multiple authors, but they don't look splintered or feel disjointed. While Mirage comes with a preset layout, you can move the interface's elements to how you please, as well as add your own addons to the mix without them appearing completely out of place. This allows for more freedom than MazzleUi where additional addons stood out more.
While Mirage gets the job done, you could say it lacks a little polish. Remember in grade school art class and you had to glue a collage together? Some students used glitter or colors to hide the glue, while others didn't. Mirage doesn't hide its glue, yet is still an attractive collage. The other downside to Mirage, like all compilations, is that it's take it or leave it. You either like the assorted addons it provides or you don't. I apologize for this rather unorthodox review of Mirage. Overall Mirage is a great compilation for just about anyone, but at the same time doesn't do anything too special.
We began our look at compilations with CTMod, an addon package that's practically as old as WoW. Still alive and kicking as the team is still updating and tweaking features. CTMod's goal is to enhance the basic WoW UI without radically replacing it. With this mantra CTMod is a great package for people new to WoW and addons, or wanting a minimalistic and clean interface. Next was Cosmos, and like CTMod has been around since WoW's release. Cosmos goes a step beyond CTMod offering a bit more functionality. The Cosmos team set a lot of standards in their day but seems to be a little stuck in the past. Players wanting more than CTMod and who have a moderate amount of experience should check Cosmos out. Next MazzleUI shook things up offering an eye pleasing modern layout wrapped in the unique Mazzlefier control panel. This compilation is a great way to radically change your interface with minimal time invested. While it may seem daunting at first, the Mazzle compilation holds your hand as much or as little as you need it to, making this compilation great for all ranges of players. Finally, like Mazzle, Mirage bundles tried and true addons that work well together. While it may not be as flashy, it gets the job done.
I hope this look at compilations was helpful, even for users who like to hand pick each addon for total control can learn a little about how addons work together and can use the ideas shown in their own interface, while others who just want to log in and play can do so with a helpful interface without all the hassle. Next week I'll be looking at and comparing popular Heads Up Display or HUD addons. Thanks for reading!
Matthew will continue spending more time building the ultimate UI than actually playing his Mage and assorted alts in his quest for usability nirvana.