The response to my Power Auras Spotlight last week has astounded me. I have been receiving nothing but good wishes and comments from so many people perplexed by Power Auras who are now using it for simple tasks. Next week, we will delve a little deeper with Power Auras for a bit of an advanced class.
That is all for another time, however. Today we discuss a different style of unit frames -- the H.U.D. An acronym for "heads up display," HUD references an interface style like that of the information meters on your car or the targeting system on a fighter jet. HUD-style unit frames have pros and cons and aren't always the best thing for everyone's playstyle. However, their straightforward information approach as well as points for style make HUD displays a compelling alternative to the regular batch of unit frame modifications out there. The best HUD, in my opinion, is IceHUD.
For this Addon Spotlight, we are going to first talk a bit about the category of the addon and then get to the specific addon itself. First, let's tackle the unit frames category as a whole. The WoW user interface is broken up into many portions. This particular portion -- the unit frames -- shows player and target data, targets of targets, health, mana, spellcasting and countless other data entries. Unit frames are important. They are one of the more important conduits of information about other players and enemies that you encounter. For many people, it is the only conduit. When most people think about unit frames, the traditional Blizzard-esque box containing a portrait, health, mana and other assorted information comes to mind. HUD-style interfaces take this information and present it in a wholly different way.
The gist of the HUD unit frames layout is that the blocky information hubs of regular unit frames are replaced with bars detailing health, mana, casting and so on that can be placed wherever you like. I like to imagine it as the Scrolling Combat Text of unit frame information placement -- to the left and right of the player's character are bars that show their health, their target's health and mana and a host of other informative bits that regular unit frames can show.
I am of two minds about HUD interfaces in general. On the one hand, they are not for me. Personally, I have been playing massively multiplayers for so long that the traditional unit frame setup is ingrained into my playstyle and well-being, and a HUD hasn't changed that. On the other hand, having an interface like IceHUD opens up an amazing amount of possibilities for user interface customization. Routinely on Reader UI of the Week, for instance, we discuss space-saving tips for players. Unit frames are one of the biggest offenders in terms of space hogs. Therefore, anything that can alleviate some clutter pain is good in my book.
Features I like
IceHUD has some pretty awesome features. First of all, it's a modular addon, meaning pieces of the addon can be turned on or off depending on the player's needs. Modular addons score high in my book because of how customizable they are, especially for players with slower CPUs.
Second, IceHUD comes equipped with various class specific bars, including combo point counters and Slice and Dice timers for rogues, a sunder tracker for warriors and much more. Addons with built-in class functions get more good marks because of their ease of use and one-stop shop mentality, which is excellent for those of us who do not want to clog up our interface folder with too many different addons.
Third, IceHUD has lots of textures and setups available out of the box. Being usable out of the box is a big deal for a lot of users, and IceHUD doesn't disappoint. The basic layout is simple and with just a little bit of tweaking, you can be well on your way to some awesome bars.
I don't really have too many sticking points that aren't about style, and I don't think that it would be fair to knock points off of IceHUD just because it isn't my preferred method of personalizing my unit frames. I will stick to the quantifiable issues that I have.
IceHUD is not a complete unit frames replacement. While the HUD interface replaces your player frame, unit frames, target of target, etc., it does not function as a raid unit frames replacement nor a comprehensive battlegrounds tracker. If you are going to be using IceHUD, I would recommend keeping Grid, Pitbull or another unit frame mod around just for raid setups. This is not a failing of IceHUD, per se, but it is something to note when deciding if you want a complete unit frames replacement or want to piecemeal a few together to get complete functionality. Having another raid frame or battleground frame also adds to the space, defeating the space-saving features of IceHUD in a raid or battleground environment.
A few tips
Here are a few tips when using IceHUD or any cast bar addon out there. Some people are confused by the name of certain cast bars that Blizzard names. The big one is the "mirror bar," which is called such because it mimics the spell cast bar in function but displays timers on effects on you like fatigue, breath and others instead of spells cast by you. When moving bars around in IceHUD, remember that the "MirrorBarHandler" bar is the one you want to move when dealing with fatigue, breath, etc.
Another tip is to plan your Scrolling Combat Text around curved IceHUD bars, if you use them. The IceHUD target bars can provide a great resource and guide for aligning your Scrolling Combat Text and providing a more cohesive user interface experience on the whole. If everything is moving in curves, there is a wonderful sense of satisfaction as it all moves together.
The bottom line is that you are going to either love or hate the way IceHUD does unit frames. Personally, I'm a fan, even if it's not my cup of tea. I can appreciate how useful this type of addon would be to a lot of different classes, however, and for that I am grateful the option exists to do your unit frames in a very spiffy-looking way. Kudos also to IceHUD for including some awesome textures in the default package, making it easy for even a novice to make some really cool effects.
Download IceHUD at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].
Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. Power Auras, Power Auras, Power Auras, POWER AURAS, Power Auras. And remember, Addon Spotlight is fueled by viewers like you, so if you have a mod you think we should take a look at, email Mat at firstname.lastname@example.org.