For four or five weeks I have been planning, postulating and procrastinating about writing a UI post, in part because I was unhappy with my own UI and partly because I hadn’t really seen anyone looking at a UI since before ICC from the blogs I read. Needless to say, on the very weekend I started actual work on the post, Sylvaneart posted on the topic as well. I found his diagram of a focus area extremely useful as a reference for each of the addons I looked at, and his list of requirements throughout the post are also handy. For my own post, I wanted to look at my own UI and point out the good, bad and ugly, and then try a similar exercise with a couple of downloaded compilations.
My own UI is a mish-mash of retaining what worked and adding things in when I needed something extra. I have highlighted certain elements of the design in a handy traffic light system. Firstly, I like IceHud as a very visual representation of my health and energy – when using such an energy-capped class, managing your key resource is vital. I also like having combo-points displayed right in the centre of the screen. Just to the right of IceHud is MSBT to keep track of outgoing damage. My buff list could use some work though, I often find I miss key elements of fights because my buff list is set up incorrectly. I have also indicated TellMeWhen as amber because I find the timers often drop from 2 seconds remaining to 0 without going through 1 at all – this may be a latency issue but a better timer system might be useful. In terms of what is bad about the UI, the Pitbull unit frames have become steadily more irritating. Any bad things on the ground invariably spawn under the big blocks for me or my target, so the positioning definitely needs adjusting.
The first addon suite I downloaded was Opthimus UI, and despite following instructions as best I could and attempting to edit a couple of addons, I ended up with a rather messy screen:
For my second attempt, I tried Arp UI and had a little more success:
In green, I have highlighted the target debuffs, which have my own debuffs in colour and other player’s in monochrome, which is a really nice touch. On the amber side of things, the distance of the scrolling battle text is better than my own UI, but it needs toning down a bit to prevent it from overwhelming my eyes. The button bars are also on the amber scale, as I really like the smoother look and feel to them but the buttons themselves are too small. On the bad side of things, the player and unit frames have similar issues to my own and the chat is way too small. It’s worth noting that there are a couple of other good points about the UI I have not highlighted, with the minimap, chat modules (where Guild Say & Whisper is seperate from General/Trade) and the dot timer all being very good.
The final UI compilation I tried was TukUI which is a highly developed and highly used compilation. The coding for it seems remarkable, as with a single addon virtually every element of your UI is modified. Again, I have a picture with some elements highlighted:
With Tuk, I either loved or hated various elements of it. Firstly, there are buttons along the side that reveal when the mouse is hovered over them with the game menu and character menu, which is very good for reducing screen clutter. Secondly, the look and feel of the target nameplates is excellent and the highlighting of a selected unit is good. Thirdly, the power auras that I normally find distracting clutter have been used well here without a HUD display. On the flip side, combo points are very badly laid out. Despite having 5 combo points on my target, the only indication is buried a long way away from the action. Debuff timers are also buried above the target frame. The button bars are too small and split strangely, especially when you page buttons due to shapeshifting.
Looking at the three compilations I have tried, there are some lessons that can be learnt, the main one of which for me is that I need to create my own UI. I like various elements of each of the 3 compilations I tried (even Opthimus, the first one that did not work properly, had some useful ideas through the haze of unconfigured addons), and disliked others. In part 2 of the post, I will take a look at building a UI using some of these elements.