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Addon and UI tips for new WoW players

Each week, WoW Insider's Mathew McCurley brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same.

Can you believe there are people out there who have yet to play World of Warcraft? It's totally true. In an attempt to be investigative and thought-provoking, I've begun writing a few pieces on bringing brand new MMO players into World of Warcraft more than seven years after the game's initial release. For the purposes of experimentation and all that jazz, I turned off every single addon while my ... subjects ... toiled away.

It was uncomfortable at first watching an addon-less screen, but bearings were gotten and life went on. However, there were a few points of the user interface that were not necessarily troubling to my brand new player, but moreso gave a feeling of being "lost" on the screen during moments of tense combat or heavy movement.

I wrote down the observations that I believe new players can benefit the most from. With little to no customization needed, these addons and tips can greatly enhance a new player's starting experience while removing some of the tedium of certain tasks mixed with hard-to-explain concepts. Maybe we can even get some of these features in game as part of Blizzard's new player initiative.

Tide talents over until Mists of Pandaria

You have no idea how badly I want Blizzard to just throw away talents right now, immediately, much like the release of patch 4.0.6, because there is nothing more confusing and off-putting to a brand new player than a wall of text and pictures. My test subject was so excited to see a new panel open up on the menu bar only to be greeted with more choices, more reading, and discussion about abilities she hadn't even gotten to train yet. Seriously? At level 10? The aspect of the talent system that worked best, ironically, was the specialization part, where my new player quickly read the descriptions of the class, liked her pet, and chose Beast Mastery based on the description.

So until Mists of Pandaria destroys talents as we know them, make talents a no-brainer for new players. I'd tell you to grab an addon like Talented or Talent Planner, but both projects were abandoned some time ago because, well ... talents. Instead, you get to be the addon this time. Talents are important to a character's scaling power, and making sure your new player is filling out that tree, even haphazardly, is worth it. Hand hold with talents until Mists of Pandaria, since then the system is just easy-peasy.

Selling vendor greys -- not as easy to explain as it sounds

Our lives are shaped by the language of MMOs -- we grew up with it, lived it, played every game in the genre. Even if you weren't an MMO gamer, by the time Mario 64 rolled around, you pretty much had a handle on how to navigate through a 3D world, could grok the fact that an object could be behind another object and you had to run around, and knew that there was a relative set of physics that affected how your character interacted with the world.

The problem arrives when you have someone who doesn't necessarily possess that muscle memory or motor skill set, especially with a mouse and a keyboard at the same time, with buttons to hold for moving your eyes. It's a strange and foreign concept that reminds me of the early days of film, when people in theaters didn't understand that "cutting away" to a new shot after people walked through a door meant that people had walked through the door and were in a new space. Conceptually, that's not easy for someone who doesn't understand the language of movies.

Vendoring grey items was one of those conceptual ideas that sounds easier to explain than it is. First, you have to establish that there is an economy and that economy is practically limitless. Then, you have to explain sources of income. One such source of income are items specifically designed to be worthless to you but worthwhile to any vendor in the world, because this item's purpose is to be sold. Can you see how this becomes a bit of a headache?

Rather, why not install something like Sell-O-Matic 2 for your brand new player, making the act of gray item inventory management a thing of the past? These addons can be configured to sell all gray items in your bags immediately upon clicking on a vendor. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love go from item to item, reviewing its color, and making a decision to sell.

Download Sell-O-Matic 2 at [Curse].

The number of people who read quests

It's strange, the things you learn about people when they are in unfamiliar worlds. I thought this new player to be an avid reader of good and bad fiction -- but well, not here. This was a different person, someone weird and primal, who cared not for words and prose but looting and finishing quests. Who knew?

With the absence of reading quest text comes the atrocious consequence of new players who get frustrated when they do not understand how to complete a quest. Getting something like Quest Helper gives new players a more plain-language, right-on-the-map explanation of certain quest elements that will make your new player's experience just a bit more fluid.

Remember, brand new MMO players don't understand the language or concept of "spawn locations," much less the idea of patrols and adds. Quest Helper (or any quest addon that you prefer) can pull all of those concepts together and, in practice, it will slowly become apparent how things work.

Download Quest Helper at [Curse].

Next week, I'm going to do an Addon Spotlight all about recommended addons for returning players coming back for Pandaria and the Scroll of Resurrection. What would be your biggest addon tips for the old guard coming back to see the new worlds ahead?

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 mat@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

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