Archive for the ‘UI’ Category

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re: On Addons – Alternative Interpretation

07/20/2010

My blog rather exploded do to my short post updating my non-use of add-ons.  It was like when WoW.com linked me, only replace the good vibes with many pissed off people!  This is my response to Tamarind/Chas’s reply to my post.  (Very circular, that.)

– First: Background –

A rather long time ago, my SO and I had a fight about add-ons, only at that time I was very much in the “pro” camp, saying many of things that people are saying to me now.  Kel was very much in the “anti” camp.  It made me really laugh today when that fact came to light!  How things have changed since then.

For the record, I have never in my memory -ever- told someone they were a bad healer for using add-ons.  I have never in my memory told someone they would be a better healer by not using add-ons.  I have spoken out against specific add-ons (ie. AVR, Clique for healers without a gaming mouse), but I have never in my memory completely railed against someone using add-ons in general to help them heal, even when asked.

I do not believe using healing add-ons makes you a bad healer.

There, I feel better now.  I have to laugh, as the original post was never meant to be anything but a small update as to why I hadn’t been writing anything about my Zero Add-on Project and a response to the several people who had been railing to/near me that “healing hardmodes without add-ons was impossible.”  If I had meant it to be some huge opinion post, it would have followed my usual format and would have been three times as long!  In fact, I had meant it to be the very last post ever on my not using add-ons because it really isn’t something important to me.  Of course, it had to tap into something that seems to have been brewing in the WoW blogger community.  I’ll never learn when to leave well enough alone, hrm?

– Second: The post itself –

This might get a little long.  Sorry about that!  Tam/Chas’s post is broken up quite nicely, so I’m going to answer it point by point.

Why This Bugs Me: I actually was saddened by the contrite nature some people have about this (and other things), too.  If you feel guilty doing something, then don’t do it.  If you want to do it and don’t feel guilty, then don’t apologize for it.  I’d much prefer that people stand up for their healing practices, even if myself or someone else doesn’t agree with them.  Be a proud keyboard turner, even if it makes me cringe!  If being a keyboard turner makes you feel like a terrible person, then stop being one.

On Tools and Limiting Factors: I understand what Chas is saying here and if every healer was as methodical about their choices, I’d probably have far less of a problem with healing UIs.  The problem, in my eyes, is that Grid goes in generally -before- a healer has taken the time to work through all their other issues.  I think of it as your brother getting himself a really high-tech keyboard with all the bells and whistles before he’s had a chance to learn to play Bach really well.  (Or whatever other composer he’s playing.)  Also, many people view using macros as cheating, but even copying macros from somewhere online has a higher chance of increasing your game knowledge than letting an add-on do it for you.  You’ll at the very least have to see that “target=mouseover” tag several times, which will probably lead the person to understand what that means.

Seatbelts and Safety Nets: Admittedly, I’ve never seen anything in an add-on that would have saved my raid from someone else’s screw up (akin to a seatbelt) if I had it.  I would argue that using a healing UI can make a person -less- methodical.  The base UI can be unforgiving, so healing with it can at times having to really dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s.”  This might be the case with some tanking/DPS add-ons; that is outside my experience, sadly.

A Dog Walking on Its Hind Legs: I can’t speak for anyone else who doesn’t use add-ons, but I am constantly considering ways to be a better healer than I am.  Parses are checked, patch notes are read, fight strats are gone over…  Dare I say that min/maxing my game play is almost a neurotic habit for me!  However, I want to be a better healer inside the bounds of the game and with my own will.  Maybe someday I’ll code my own add-ons that I’ll feel comfortable using, but until then I will have to settle for crunching my own numbers and squeezing every ounce of healing knowledge that I can into my brain.

The Inherent Value of Suffering: This is a very interesting point by Tam that I really had to sit and think about for a moment.  My major issue is that I -do- think there is value in suffering or, more specific to this situation, in doing things the hard way.  There truly is no better teacher out there than suffering.  A parent can tell his/her child over and over again not to touch a candle flame, but learning from this verbal command isn’t nearly as visceral as the child learning from having been burnt.  Perhaps this is a cultural difference, I don’t really know.  From my point of view, a person who has no choice but to internalize the timing on their Wild Growth is going to learn that timing in a far more visceral manner than someone who has a timer to tell him/her.

Skill, Where Lies That?: “Skill and knowledge.”  That has always been how I described the divide.  Knowledge is in knowing the “how, what, when, who and why” and skill is in the doing.  So, if Tam’s goddaughter had really great twitch reactions, she may in fact be really high on the “skill” meter.  However, without enough on the “knowledge” meter, none of that would matter.  The description he gives of dispelling a person is -exactly- what is on the skill side of things.  It is about my being able to get that Dispell off fast enough that my raider/arena partner doesn’t die.  The knowledge part would be my knowing if my partner has Unstable Affliction and not Dispelling if that is so.  In a more PvE example, skill is that immediate reaction to having Defile and getting to the proper drop zone in time.

The Death of the Game Designer: This is a rather… high brow concept, but I’ll try to be concise.  I do not quite see how a videogame based on numerical values is really an “interpretative space,” as Tam calls it, not as far as raiding goes at least.  When I’m roleplaying on my characters, absolutely!  But no matter how much I might wish it, my healing is going to be less on my Disc. priest if I stack haste than if I stack spellpower.  This is not like a purist railing against an interpretative performance of Die Zauberflöte. Nor, to use Tam’s example, is this related to how someone perceives Dumbledore’s sexuality.  Art is fluid, able to be seen from different points of view.  (I majored in English and I loved all my Comp. Lit. courses!)  Videogames are a series of 0s and 1s arranged to work in a specific fashion.  Is Healbot part of the World of Warcraft 0s and 1s?  It is not.  Is the Queen of the Night an example of the evils of giving women too much power?  Who’s to say?

– Third: Some Conclusions –

I’ve gone back and re-read my post many times and I have a hard time seeing where I was “pissing on everyone else’s” decisions nor where I say people are “too crap and lazy too [sic] listen.”  What I see are four small paragraphs on a subject that I have written about before.  I stated my conclusions on the matter as clearly as I could without it becoming, well, -this post- and moved on with life.  I was not nor am emotionally attached to this topic.  (Other than wanting people to stop with the “healing hardmodes without Vuhdo is impossible!” talk.)  I am, however, perturbed by the things that are being put in my mouth.  Heck, I feel the need to say it again, just in case someone didn’t see it the first time.

I do not believe using healing add-ons makes you a bad healer.

What I -do- believe is that healing add-ons in their current form create a dependence in players such as they feel they would be unable to heal without them.  This dependence is characterized in lower knowledge of specific game mechanics and in a less pronounced internal perception of time, including how time relates to healing abilities.  If people didn’t exhibit these symptoms of dependence, I’d have zero problems with add-ons.

I’m sorry if my other post wasn’t well thought-out or written.  It was never meant to be a point of discussion, really.  This will be my last post on the matter as I don’t really enjoy drawing such startling attention to myself.  I’ll get back to posting my theorycrafting numbers now!

P.S.  If people really want to see what kind of healer I am with the default UI, I’d be willing to email a parse or two from various characters.  All the insults to my skills in the comments gave me a chuckle.

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It isn’t a project if it’s permanent

07/09/2010

I just realized today how very long it has been since I’ve used any sort of fancy UI or add-ons.  It was back in March that my UI finally utterly broke with a patch and I decided to return to my Zero Add-on Project.  Believe it or not, I’ve been running the base UI ever since.  9/12 ICC hardmodes and I’m still pulling those little raid frames out to heal.  After so long, the default UI is really -my- default, so I can’t really consider this any sort of experiment any longer.  I’ve had time to collect my thoughts, analyze my impressions and I think I can say it now.

Healing add-ons do more damage than good.  I’ve heard healing with base UI is like “eating soup with a fork,” but I’ve come to see using Vuhdo or the like as “eating rice with a fork,” instead.  (A fork and soy sauce!  GASP!)  By making healing a simple matter of point and click, it removes the finesse of doing things like making macros or learning each of the unique debuffs so that you can spot them.  Instead, Clique sets up your macros for you and the raid UI turns the affected person’s bar a funky color to tell you to Cleanse/decurse.

I don’t think I have ever had a conversation with a raiding healer where they said “oh sure, I could totally heal without my add-ons.”  These UIs make healing easier, but they do so in a way that causes players to become dependent on them.  It is like back in elementary school when we learned our basic arithmetic.  When faced with having to learn multiplication, I asked my teachers why we should bother when we could just use a calculator instead.  The answer to that is very apparent to see immediately after WoW patches.  Healers scramble to update their add-ons so that they can get back to raiding, since they’ve convinced themselves that it would be impossible otherwise.  We forget how to do longhand division because we depend on programs to pick up the slack for us.

Most likely, I’ll never become a crusader for the viewpoint that everyone should give up their fancy UIs, simply because I don’t see it being possible.  Humans are by nature creatures who want to do as little work as we can get away with.  Because of this, healing add-ons are rampant and the overwhelming majority of raiders are committed to their use.  So I think I’m going to keep myself to being an example that it -is- viable to raid without all the shortcuts, without overly taxing ourselves.  When people say that it isn’t possible, I’ll be able to counter that without having to get on a soapbox every time.  Maybe by just existing, I’ll be able to help break some of the dependence out there.

Edit:  I didn’t edit the text itself, but I wanted to point people to the follow-up post here. There are a lot of words being put into my mouth.  Thanks!

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Return of the Zero Add-on Project

03/24/2010

Patch 3.3.3 has complete destroyed my UI, a UI that I haven’t updated since I got it back in Ulduar.  It has been the most stable, easy-going UI I’ve ever seen, but now I’m going to have to download a whole new set of add-ons and spend hours configuring them.  What this means for us all is…

It’s time to go back to my Zero Add-on Project!  (I’m feeling far, far too lazy to bother with more than just Gladius, is what I’m saying.)

Last night, I logged on to turn all my battlegrounds tokens into honor and to run one of the new random ones.  I was assaulted by a headache of extreme proportions as I entered an Isle of Conquest.  The base UI is simply horrendous for healing that many people at once.  It makes me very glad that I didn’t heal in Vanilla; staring at all those tiny boxes gave me a headache like you wouldn’t believe.  It wouldn’t take much to make it so you can resize the base UI’s raidframes separately from the rest of the UI and it would be a giant help for those like me who don’t need giant buttons, but also don’t want to go blind squinting at the screen.

Even worse is the position of the self and target health bars for PvP.  Putting all the way in the top right corner is a travesty.  I have to take my eyes off of the action around me to see if I’m dying or if the enemy I’m targeting needs to be Dispelled.  Having it so you can move them in the base UI would eliminate a large reason why many people don’t use it.  I’ll see if I can come up with new ways to deal with the situation.  I -did- make myself my focus at one point and moved the focus bar right in the middle of my screen, which helped.  Unfortunately, I actually use my focus for things, so it made some of my macros rather useless.

Most likely, I will be continuing without any add-ons for at least a few weeks.  We’ll see how it handles hardmode raiding!

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Day 2 of Zero Add-on Project

02/05/2010

Okay, this isn’t -quite- the same as the other day, as we don’t have official raids on Thursdays, but I did run about a million VoAs and I did something I never thought I’d do.  I PvPed without add-ons.  Madness!

My initial impression of druid healing with base UI was actually more in line with how I felt about healing with the priest, in that it was actually easier than on the paladin.  I think the main reason for that is there are no life-threatening abilities that must be maintained or you wipe.  Druids are able to just go down the line, Rejuving, and pause to cast a Wild Growth or a Lifebloom on the tanks every few seconds.  Very similar to priests, actually.  Once I got into the rhythm of it, I found that very little had changed from healing with add-ons.  Maybe I’ve internalized those HoT timers by now or something.

Doing arenas and battleground without add-ons sucked a bit more.  I was harder pressed to keep myself alive, especially in the BGs, because my health bar was way up in the corner.  That was quite annoying.  It wasn’t such an issue in arenas, as I was running twos, so I had my partner and I pulled out right in the middle of my screen.  In arenas, it was trying to target the enemy healer to Mana Burn or whatnot that gave me issues.  Not to mention that you get used to your UI being set-up exactly how you want it and changing it for something as reactive as PvP just makes you nuts.

Oddly enough, when I was going some random 5-mans last night, I found that healing those with the base UI was -more- annoying than healing raids.  The group interface is really terrible, especially when you play with small buttons.  All the health bars are smooshed up in the top left corner where it’s completely out of the way.  I usually have the tank focused and pull the focus frame to the middle of my screen, but I keep having to glance up to look at the group’s health.  Annoying as all get out.  At least with the base raid frames, you can move them and put them directly in the middle.

Tonight is more raiding for me, this time probably on the druid for ICC-10.  (She’s my strict 10-man character.)  We’ll get a good view of how hard it is for raid healers to heal without any bells and whistles.  So far?  I’m finding this whole experiment to be a true test of skill, but I think it would be utterly doable for any healer out there, given the time and effort.

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Day 1 of Zero Add-on Project

02/04/2010

So the first day of raiding sans any add-ons has passed and I’m left feeling rather headache-y from it all.  I like having my hotkeys as small as possible, since I don’t need to actually -look- at them, but the side effect of doing that in the base UI is the raid frames are made tiny, too.

Screenshot or it didn't happen.

Screenshot or it didn't happen.

We did ICC-25 up to Festergut and the weekly raid boss (Ignis), so I didn’t get the chance to see what it was like on the difficult encounters yet, but so far, not having PallyPower is the most annoying thing in the entire world.  Having to click on each class in my raid frames to buff them every 30 minutes is just terrible and annoying, especially as we only had one warlock and one mage.  Terrible, terrible.

My raid leader was more concerned with my not having DBM, but that actually didn’t turn out to be all that big a deal.  Or at least it wouldn’t have been, if the raid frames were a touch -bigger.-  You can see the tiny debuff icons in that screenshot there, how small they are.  By the end of the night, I was doing better in dealing with them, but at first it was really hard to watch for the right icons.  I had to give the other healers the cleansing/reactive healing assignments at first because of that.  Without DBM popping up a warning on which people have Mark or whatnot, it was hard for me to react with my usual speed.  The only fight that gave me issues on this is Saurfang, though, and I’m pretty sure that by next week, I’ll be back up to my usual speed.  (My not missing DBM is probably helped by the fact that I didn’t update that add-on until very late in ICC.  I was raiding without it for about a month.  Shh!  Don’t tell my raid leader!)

Another add-on I was bemoaning the loss of was PowerAuras.  I never realized just how much I had come to rely on that little puppy.  I found myself way over-refreshing Beacon of Light in utter paranoia of it dropping at a bad time.  The lack of my usual buff bar add-on didn’t help, either, as the buff icons for your target in the base UI are incredibly small and incredibly badly placed.  But some wasted mana on over casting the silly thing was worth not having to worry about getting a tank killed.

Not having Recount made me a bit nuts, too, if only because I had to keep asking people to link me the DPS meters.  Not to mention that I never had any clue if I were slacking or if my assignments were crappy, since I couldn’t see the healing meters.  Not something that made healing any harder, just made me bite my nails.  Speaking of nail-biting, not having Chatter had me living in -terror- of making badly timed MTs.  I have so many different chat channels and some of them are a little… adult and hilarious.  MTing from one into raid chat because I just hit “enter” and started typing would have been so embarrassing.  (Getting a screenshot where I wasn’t talking in one of my secret channels was a little difficult.  Thank goodness for NPC chatter!)

After 25-mans, we did a quick 10-man for the weekly raid and I raid healed on my Disc priest.  It was surprisingly easy to raid heal without add-ons, at least on her.  (I assume I’ll be healing on my druid before the week is through.)  All I had to do was to watch for Weakened Soul to drop off the raid frames and then see if there was any spike damage to deal with.  Very, very easy.

Overall, the night gave me a headache.  It… doesn’t seem to have effected my performance much, though.  (I’m starting to understand why we can five heal Festergut so easily.)  Most likely this is helped by the fact that I have always been a fan of hotkeys.  My healing will probably be up to full strength again by Saturday night.  I can only hope that I can deal with the eye strain by then, too.

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Zero Add-on Project

02/01/2010

My computer is well known for being highly temperamental (at least once a month it absolutely refuses to work for a day or two [insert sexist joke here]), but it’s finally gotten to the point where I can’t even start it up.  Frustrating as all get out, let me tell you, as yesterday we were scheduled for Anub-25-hardmode.  As such, I’m going to be raiding for the next few weeks on my SO’s computer, a computer which has exactly zero add-ons and which is allowed zero add-ons.  Not even Recount!

I plan on writing about my experiences going back to the base UI and what it feels like to have exactly no outside help to heal fights.  I invite anyone else out there to join me in a week (possibly two!) of raiding and learning and probably frustration.  It’s experiences like this that I feel helps me learn about myself and grow as a WoW healer.  If some other bloggers or readers want to have their own growing experience and join me in a week with no fancy tools, I think it would be fantastic.  Right now I’m predicting that the add-on I’m going to miss most is PallyPower…

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A quick peek at my UI and some non-indepth discussion

10/02/2009

Let me right up-front in that I am -not- really very good with changing UIs.  I downloaded the one that I use from wowintereface.com and edited it enough to make myself happy with it.  And I am really happy with it!  Not happy with the picture too much, though. 😛  Next time I promise to have someone focused and be casting so you can see it.  Also, you can’t get the exact UI I have anymore, since the author as since updated it, but I got it from Couture!

Pink is for Paladin!

Pink is for Paladin!

As you can see, I have a large amount of open space to work with, especially for a healer!  Very important for me to avoid standing in fires.  Also, I always have Recount open, as I’m my raiding group’s healing lead and it’s important for me to know what’s going on.  Also, and this is my favorite, I -love- the vertical raid interface!  Tons of healers (dare I say most serious raiding healers) use Grid, but I’m really bad with how blocky it is.  The vertical set-up is just the happiest thing for me!  I even have Pitbull set up so that I can see debuffs, specifically ones I can Cleanse off.

You’ll notice I don’t have crazy amounts of buttons, as I like to keep things very streamlined.  The bar on the left is my “always the same” bar with my most important keybinds.  The bar to the right is my “constantly changing” keys.  The little bar on the bottom stays the same, generally, as it is my non-important bar, mostly with attacks and out of combat things.  (I really need to move my mana potions up to the more important position, but I never used them until the Illumination nerf and old habits, eh?  :P)  I should point out that I DO NOT use Clique and I think it’s actually a very poor tool for healers, as it makes you move with your keyboard rather than your mouse.  You can get just as much speed and power out of using mouse-over macros with your keybinds, without having to sacrifice your mobility.  If you have a mouse with more than just the basic right and left buttons, however, macroing important spells to a few buttons is a good idea.  I have my center one macro’d to Cleanse, which comes in handy more than I ever dreamed possible.

Please note PallyPower!  How any paladin does -anything- without that, I’ll never know!  Even nice for 5-mans!

I also have Powerauras on there, as I have this tendency to forget to rebuff my Seals or switch auras.  I have it set up for Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield, as well, along with the DBM timers I have for those.  (The timers show up above the little target-of-target window you see there.)  Powerauras is a great add-on and very useful, although I do wish there were a way to have it show when those buffs are on -anyone- in the raid.  Here’s hoping they get that figured out at some point, as I can’t always have my Beacon person as my focus. : /  I was going to set it up to let me know when my mace procs, but… well the GIANT bubble you see around me makes it pretty obvious.  LOL

Hopefully, I’ll be able to touch on some of this stuff more in detail later, including specifics. 😀  Ciao!