AddOn Spotlight focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. We'll look at everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your AddOns folder will never be the same! This week, Fontwing and his Fontflight of the Chatbox destroy Azeroth as we know it in the Chataclysm.
In my humble opinion, the chat addon is probably the most important addon ever created for World of Warcraft. ... Hey, what are you doing? Whoa, all right, calm down -- put down the pitchforks, damage meter enthusiasts. I'll explain. Chat is arguably the most important aspect of a massively multiplayer online game. It fosters communication and community and provides a basic level of interaction to players with other players and the game itself. I remember the days of Ultima Online where you couldn't even send messages back and forth to people in tells. Chat has come a long way in MMOs, so it seems only fitting that chat interfaces evolve with the medium. This week, I will be talking about my two favorite chat addons, Prat and Chatter, and giving some cool, helpful tips to get the most out of your chatting experience in WoW. Saddle up, because you're about to experience ... the Chataclysm.
Confession time -- I can't decide between Prat and Chatter. My recommendation is both. I know, it's an anti-climactic way to begin the article, but it's the truth. Both addons are awesome, and using one or the other is going to give you excellent functionality. It all comes down to personal preference. Prat has more individual options than Chatter, but I feel Chatter is a better experience "out of the box." I currently use Chatter because it ran a little lighter than Prat, CPU-wise. However, Prat has an option to turn off the highest CPU usage modules in your interface menu at the character selection screen. Bearing that in mind, I was a Prat guy for longer than I can remember. Let's start with the basics.
Chatter and Prat are setup based on module -- individual aspects of the chat box that can be enabled or disabled based on the player's preference. Each module has a description available and options associated with it. One important module that not every knows the name of is the "edit box." Edit box deals with the actual area you type into for the chat box. Many people (myself included) like a floating edit box, so that it removes a good portion of the chat box from the bottom, creating a solid block for chat information and input that can be placed anywhere on screen.
Why use a chat add-on?
One of the biggest complaints from many players is that the chat module provided with the WoW client is woefully lacking in features. In the beginning, there was chat, and that was about it. Over time, Blizzard did a great job incorporating really awesome features into the chat system like item linking, custom channels and segregating out "looking fors" for groups and guilds. Before Patch 3.3, for instance, you could not link items into custom chat channels. Chat addons provided the option for it. Now, of course, Blizzard has added in the feature.
So what's so cool about chat add-ons?
Chat addons like Prat and Chatter go above and beyond and add lots of awesome functionality that either was missing from Blizzard's chat or that players eventually demanded. Here are just a few things that chat addons have brought the player base:
- Clickable web links Chatter/Prat allow you to click on web links and bring up a copy/paste window, easily transitioning you over to your web browser to see the content. Wowhead links and strategies are easier to see, in addition to all the horrible, mostly NSFW crap that guild chat decides to bestow upon the lowbies. Who doesn't want easier access to that?
- Remembering alts Possibly my favorite feature, chat addons let you toggle an option that allows you to set a note that shows next to a player's name in chat. A great use of this is to add in people's mains to their alts -- this will show a main character's name next to his alt's name in the chat box. Being able to see alts and mains at a glance is invaluable, making life significantly more worth living.
- Alerts when your name is used in chat Chat add-ons can show you when you have been mentioned in the chat log. I like this feature because I never miss a mention of myself or when someone is inevitably asking for a gem cut or blacksmith item made. It's a nifty little feature that, to me, is worth its weight in gold.
- Clickable invites "Need 3 more DPS for Sarth-3D burn-down. Who wants in?" "Invite." How awesome would it be to just be able to click on that word "invite" and have it instantly invite the speaker of said word into your newly formed raid? What? Chatter does that? Amazing. Why have you not already gotten a chat addon?
- Copy and paste chat log Chatter and Prat both have options to open a selectable field window in order to copy and paste portions of your chat log, another excellent and beneficial feature I probably couldn't live without.
- Logging Have your chat log saved to your computer in a text file. This is resource intensive but is awesome if you're the kind of person who wants to have all of this information.
- Class coloring Chat addons can also color people you are talking to in guild or friends by their class, so you know that guy advertising in guild as a tank is really a priest and is totally lying to you, without having to /who.
- Slimming down on buttons and art If you're the kind of person who likes to go minimal like me, removing all kind of buttons from the chat window is a godsend. I want my chatbox to be a simple box that is there to give me information. The mouse wheel or page up/down are used to cycle through the window, removing the necessity for buttons. The return to bottom button, however, remains for easy access to the most recent communication.
- Tell target Both addons support the /tt feature, which sends a tell to your target. This is an awesome feature for really annoying names that have accent marks in them or for sending individual messages during PvP (I use /tt a good deal during Wintergrasp).
Download Prat at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].
Download Chatter at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].
More power! *grunting noises*
You want even more functionality from your chat add-ons? You've come to the right place. Here is one of my favorite add-ons to give you an even more robust chat experience.
Whisp gives you a new box above your input bar that shows your past messages between the person you want to send a tell to, allowing you to review your history of tells with that person while typing to them. You can set the number of lines to show and how the addon behaves as part of your edit box. Here's what it looks like for me, since I use a floating edit box.
Nifty, right? It's a lifesaver for me, and hopefully it helps you out, too. I have only really used it with Chatter, but I am assuming it works just as well paired with Prat. If you use Chatter, Whisp has an option to import all of your settings from Chatter, to have the addon copy the look of your Chatter window.
Download Whisp at [Curse].
So many people have emailed me to ask me to let people know about WIM, so here it is. WIM, the WoW Instant Messenger, is an addon that changes chat completely for you. The addon supports tells and chat in different windows, much like how Aol Instant Messenger (AIM) puts up windows with individual conversations. WIM supports emoticons, clickable web links and awesome history and copy/paste options. To be honest, talking about this addon is not as awesome as seeing it in action, so take a look at this video. The interface is smooth and looks pretty great, especially if you have the monitor space to spare. If you want a very varied and unique chat experience, check out WIM. Personally, I am just too used to the old way of doing things, but WIM is one of those addons that rethinks a user experience and makes good on that change.
Download WIM 3.0 at [Curse].
There you go -- just a few options for you chat mod-less folks out there. The chat box is one of the most information-dense pieces of your user interface, so treat it with love and care, put in a little time to see all of the options, and you can have an awesome chat experience. My biggest tip: Go module by module on your first set-up, see what each module does and adjust accordingly.