Addon Spotlight is here to brighten up your day, illuminate your soul, and add to your already impressive interface folder. Welcome, friends. This week, Blizzard's Ask the Devs round 3 focused on user interface questions and answers, and after my quick addon picks for the week, I want to delve into some of my own personal analysis of those answers. I think the Ask the Devs style is a good one, and I was pleasantly surprised at their answers this time around. I think it is easy to ask softball UI questions, but we actually got some cool answers.
However, we also like to spotlight addons in this column as well. Raiding is fun, right? Of course it is. Raid leading, however, is probably less fun -- herding cats and all that. I've got two quick picks for raid leaders, and then we'll jump into some Q&A.
In my most recent Reader UI of the Week column, the two addons I am going to talk about today were featured serendipitously, as I have been planning on a raid tools Addon Spotlight for a few weeks. "Good," I thought, "a reason to do both in one week."
The first of these addons is Magic Targets, a great addon for raid leaders interested in seeing what targets their raiders are targeting, as well as their status. You have optional auto-marking of your target and focus target, as well as listing the number of people targeting any given mob for fights in which add switching is crucial, like heroic Atramedes, Maloriak, heroic Magmaw, and others. Fast target swapping and pinpoint DPS are the new names of the game for many encounters.
There is even some cool tie-in functionality with Magic Marker that populates your Magic Targets list with the marked targets. Most everything is customizable, and raid leaders will love the ability to make sure that their raiders are following target priorities. Go forth, raid leaders, and call out those fools in Vent or Mumble with the proof to back it up.
Download Magic Targets at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].
TimeToDie is a very simple addon that does a very simple calculation for raid leaders -- this addon will give you an estimated time until a boss or mob dies by looking at your raid or party's DPS. Enrage timers be damned!
Personally, having a little timer that gives me an approximation for how long a fight is going to last is nice for cooldown usage and anticipating when to blow some more important health cooldowns. Long fight left? You might want to hang on to that healthstone a little bit longer.
Download TimeToDie at [Curse].
Ask the Devs tackle UI questions
The Ask the Devs Q&A rounds are being churned out, and the third iteration hit close to home for us UI junkies. A lot of the questions were predictable, like the usual crop of "Where do addons stand in terms of development focus?" However, some stand-out questions got answered with some pretty deep analysis.
One such question was asked about whether addons have simplified the game content to a point that player skill was eclipsed. The gist of the answer is basically that Blizzard has shifted the design focus of encounters in game to be more attention-focused and not necessarily addon-related. Movement fights are a big draw for Blizzard because an (allowable) addon cannot move your character for you -- the character's decision-making is still what separates victory from defeat. Addons enhance the experience by giving you customizable readouts for the information Blizzard is already giving you.
Blizzard is careful with addons and does not usually ban an addon unless it either breaks gameplay in some fundamental way (AVR), quite literally breaks the world (GearScore data sharing), or is necessary to play or be competitive (Antiarc's poison swapper for rogues). In the last example, Blizzard even changed the way rogues worked in game to compensate for the addon's DPS-increasing prowess.
So, the real takeaway from the questions and answers should be that Blizzard has no intention of letting addons make the game too easy to play, because at the end of the day, you still have to move your character and perform your role to complete encounters.
The biggest recent surprise has been the announcement of the new UI feature allowing you to change the order in which your characters appear on the character select screen. While this might not seem like a huge deal for a lot of players, this has been a feature that seemed relatively easy to accomplish and has been requested by the playerbase since the game's inception. Technical problems aside, I am glad that this feature is coming in patch 4.2 because it is another example of how valuable quality of life changes are to Blizzard. Thank you!
Blizzard and meters
One question answered was whether Blizzard would be adding its own threat and DPS meters to the game. While threat meters are an easier sell for Blizzard, DPS meters are another story entirely. The problem is that Blizzard's admirable goal of UI bloat stands in the way of just sticking the meter onto the screen -- too much crap on your screen gives the average player too much to take in. I like the idea, however, of adding in DPS statistics to the achievement pane or making your damage statistics part of the collapsable character pane. You can check it out, or you don't have to -- just click that little plus sign.
UI bloat is another theme that I got from this Q&A session. At this point in time, Blizzard has to be very careful with what it adds to the WoW interface so as to keep it as svelte and tidy as it already is. I give the default user interface crap for not having all of the features I want, but that doesn't mean it also isn't, in my opinion, still the best default user interface in an MMO in the last generation. RIFT's level of default customization is wonderful, but as for general design goes, WoW's simplicity is excellent and welcomed.
What did you guys think of the Ask the Devs on UI issues? If you asked a question and didn't get it answered, what was it?
See you guys next week!
Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. If you're new to mods, Addons 101 will walk you through the basics; see what other players are doing at Reader UI of the Week. If there's a mod you think Addon Spotlight should take a look at, email firstname.lastname@example.org.