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Addon Spotlight: Tidy Plates

Addon Spotlight 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. This week, Tidy Plates makes its long-awaited spotlight. You can stop emailing me about Tidy Plates now.

Addon Spotlight truly is fueled by users just like you, considering how many emails I get about Tidy Plates. "Why haven't you talked about Tidy Plates yet? It's absolutely amazing." There's a reason I haven't talked about this particular mod before, and I'll get to that explanation, but for now know that I am happy to introduce Tidy Plates to those who don't know of its existence and reintroduce the 'plates to the already faithful.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

Patch 3.3 PTR: Blizzard tweaking nameplate visibility

Zarhym has posted information about an interesting change in effect on the PTR right now. Blizzard is tweaking the way that character nameplates (those names that you see floating above everyone's heads) works. First, nameplate vision has been extended, so that you can see player names from farther away. They've also adjusted some line-of-sight issues, and players will no longer be able to see nameplates through anything that blocks line-of-sight (so no nameplates of players hiding behind doors or walls). And multiple nameplates in one space will now overlap -- we'll have to see exactly what this looks like on the PTRs, but it sounds like a big group of the same mobs (i.e. Onyxia whelps) will now just have one nameplate to share.

Interesting stuff (and I didn't realize that some of this stuff, especially the nameplate overlapping, was even possible). Zarhym has a few other notes in the thread about how you can change or update the options on the PTR, including a checkbox to turn on or off totem or pet nameplates. Elsewhere, Ghostcrawler says that it's not just line-of-sight, as Arena pillars and other "objects" won't affect the nameplate view, but doors and walls will. If you're on the PTR, keep an eye out for these changes, and note that Blizzard is still asking for feedback. It's unknown which of these changes (or others) will end up on the live realms in the future.

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard

Interface Changes in Patch 1.12

I find some of the interface changes included in patch 1.12 to be quite interesting, and they follow the recent trend of integrating popular addon features into the core UI.

Feature number one on my list is the new "floating combat text" functionality. You'll find options for it under the interface options menu (see right), and it mimics the Scrolling Combat Text addon, which shows combat information floating over your character. I've always found this to be a more convenient place to view information, but it can be too spammy at times. And, if you've never played with Scrolling Combat Text, I'd recommend giving it a try now that it can be enabled without downloading anything.

The look of the addition is dead-on, though it's a bit less customizable than the real thing, which allows you to select more precisely which messages you'd like to see, as well as customizing colors and fonts. This simplified interface may be more accessible to more users, however, as the number of options Scrolling Combat Text provided could be a bit daunting. However, I may end up sticking with the original, because I prefer to be able to resize the font used.

Of special interest to me as a healer is the new name plate functionality. If you aren't familiar with the phrase, name plates are the little health bars that show up over enemy and friendly NPCs when you hit the "V" key. In the past, name plates would only appear above hostile targets and NPCs. It's long been on my wish-list of features to have the ability to have name plates over friendly targets as well - for ease of seeing the health of players around me when either ungrouped or in a scattered raid, where you may not necessarily be near your own party. (Battlegrounds, anyone?)

Now, if you check your key bindings (see above), you will see a binding for showing name plates (for the existing functionality) as well as one that allows you to show friendly name plates or all name plates. Combined with the battlegrounds change that automatically groups players on joining, and my priest may have to respec holy and go back to trying to heal in battlegrounds.

Next up is a feature that came as a complete surprise to all of us - iTunes integration. This is a Mac-only feature, as, apparently, the Mac development team managed to get it working first. If you're running the Mac client, you'll see the above options at the bottom of the list of key bindings, allowing you to bind keys to basic iTunes functions.

The final feature addition, at least that I noticed, is the new auto self cast checkbox in the interface option. I've used a feature like this before - as part of CTMod, and probably other addons as well. With this option checked, if you do not have anyone targeted when you try to cast a friendly spell (a buff or heal spell, for example), it will automatically be cast on yourself. In some situations, and for some character classes, this can be very useful - allowing you to keep a hostile target selected while casting useful spells on yourself. But it can be difficult to get used to, especially for healing classes who frequently use little but friendly spells.

Filed under: Patches, Add-Ons

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