The Default UI and Its Flaws

30 10 2010

As you’ve probably noticed, in patch 4.0.1, Blizzard introduced what is essentially a default-UI version (WoW Insider gives a brief explanation of it here) of Power Auras, a mod that let you create large, visible notifications for procs, debuffs, any number of things. At first it was confusing–I didn’t know what meant what, and big things were popping up on my screen confusing me during combat. That quickly passed as I became familiar with new talents and abilities. And while the WoW Insider post I linked above says this about Bizzard’s auras:

It’s simple, it’s effective and it’s pretty. I was really impressed with these ability notifications because, frankly, there aren’t really any options. The system is just … there. Believe me, it’s a plus. Sure, there are options to turn it on or off and set the opacity, but that’s all you get. Fewer options, in this case, is better,

Blizzard auras

No countdown to be seen

I have to disagree that fewer options is better. The images are nice, yes, and it’s good that we can set the opacity, but frankly, that’s not better than Power Auras. This isn’t really a complaint, seeing as how this is the case with almost all basic UI elements that are inspired by addons–the Blizzard version is functional but not customizable. But rather a plea that raiders do not use these over Power Auras or similar notification systems.

Timing is everything

The most important feature that the Blizzard auras are missing is a timer. When Killing Machine or Rime procs (the two Frost DK auras), I need to know when they’re going to run out so I can plan my next few abilities appropriately. It’s also crucial to know what’s going on with other abilities. Again taking the example of Frost DKs, Unbreakable Armor, on a 1 minute CD, needs to be used often, and Power Auras will help while Blizzard’s won’t.

I haven’t yet had a lot of experience with the raid UI, but my guess from looking at the options is that it has about half the functionality of Grid. When I healed as a Druid, one of the most important uses of Grid was seeing where my buffs were and how long was left on them without having to click on players individually. Grid does this–admittedly with a fair amount of setup–and does it well.

 

Raid frame options

Limited options

Too much is too much

On the opposite side of things, some default UI stuff just does way too much. Again, this comes down to a lack of customizability, but leads to a problem of too much information busying up your screen. The default Floating Combat Text is a great example of this. Realistically, you don’t need to see any kind of damage in a raid environment, but it is nice to see when you hit a big crit or something. It’s also really important to see certain things, like immunes, parries or misses since that can either mean you’re positioned wrong or have been standing in something bad (e.g. dust clouds). You don’t need to see your DoTs ticking, your pet’s attacks, other raiders’ hits, white hits, etc. I set my combat text to display the following:

  • Any incoming damage above 3k (probably will raise this once Cataclysm raiding begins since health pools will be much larger)
  • Outgoing damage above 5k (this means I don’t usually see non-crits or white hits)
  • Parries, dodges, misses, immunes, buffs and debuffs

    Floating Combat Text

    Can't control the flow of numbers

That’s the really important stuff you need to see. Blizzard’s combat text just isn’t this flexible. And your level of addon customization should ideally reflect how seriously you raid. If you do 5-mans and that’s it, well, most of this stuff won’t matter. But in a 10-minute long boss fight, it’s extremely important to see what matters most in a clear and understandable way. Lack of information or missing something in a cloud of text is no excuse for a death. So get customizing!

Like stats, raiding UIs should be min-maxed

For raiders, the barrier to entry is already steep. If you want to seriously play your class, there’s a lot of information you need to know, and more and more comes with each patch/expansion. 4.0.1, for instance, introduced entirely new abilities, a new rune system, more glyphs to work with and an easier way to switch glyphs around, and reforging. Addons are simply another aspect of this. Many great addons do far too much or far too little out of the box, such as MikScrollingBattleText, of which I use a very pared down version. 

So when you’re going into your next raid, pay attention to exactly what you’re using the default UI for and how you could do it better with addons. No matter how much Blizzard incorporates addon-inspired ideas, these will almost never be ideal for any serious raider.





One-Handed Weapons: A Death Knight Conundrum

21 10 2010

This has bugged me ever since I started Dual Wielding as a Death Knight. It still bugs me to this day. And it bugs me even more given the recent hullaballoo over simplifying stats and making sure each class has access to properly itemized gear. Changes in this vein include: all healers getting mana regeneration from spirit, reforging and the removal of ArP in favour of mastery (ArP was worth more to classes that did lots of physical damage compared to classes like Paladins and DKs whose rotations include magical damage). So what’s bugging me? Where are the one-handed weapons itemized for DKs?

Agility One Handers

Bad itemization, bad!

Oops. This post has been edited to reflect the truth

As excellent commenter Argon pointed out, not only can Fury Warriors also use one-handed DPS weapons again, but there are also a number of properly itemized one-handers for DKs and Fury Warriors that have popped up on Wowhead. So instead of deleting this post, which I considered, I’m going to turn it into a more positive one.

Thanks, Blizzard

Since 4.0.1 hit the servers, I’ve been noticing a lot of little things that just make life easier and more fun. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to give thanks.

  • ONE-HANDERS WITH DPS STATS AND STRENGTH! (Thanks again, Argon!)
  • General UI improvements (everything looks a lot prettier and is generally more elegant now, especially the spellbook)
  • Guild achievements and leveling
  • The amazing transformation of Haste and making it a useful, interesting stat for DKs (it’s really cool to have a stat that isn’t a straight DPS increase like most are)
  • The new glyph system

That’s all I can think of for now. There’s lots more. The only reason I didn’t include reforging in the list is because it’s just so complex and I have yet to wrap my brain around my feelings toward it.





What’s Changed for Frost in 4.0.1

17 10 2010

As I continue to hit stuff in Frost spec, and read more EJ things, I keep noticing things that changed from pre-4.0.1 that might not be so obvious. So here’s a list of the changes and a brief explanation for each one. I’ll update for any changes I notice in future/commenters make me aware of.

DnD only costs 1 Unholy

Big changes to Death and Decay

The List:

  • Use KM procs on Obliterate rather than Frost Strike. With the new patch and talents, OB hits harder than FS, so all Killing Machine procs should be used for OB. Do not, however, wait for OB runes to come back up if you can FS. Delaying attacks is almost never a good idea given how close to GCD-capped the rotation is.
  • Frost Fever no longer HAS to be up for us to do any semblance of damage. Yes, diseases are still great, but the talents that buffed our damage by a lot when FF was up are no longer, so it’s safe to DPS down low-health adds without applying diseases. If you’re using Glyph of HB, however, you’re still going to be applying FF as you run towards the adds anyways.
  • Don’t pestilence for low numbers of adds, just HB+tab cast Plague Strike. Pestilence lowers disease damage by 50%, and so now it actually is more profitable to cast PS, tab, and cast again. HB glyph takes care of FF, and when casting lots of HB vs. OB you get excess unholy runes, so use them on PS.
  • Howling Blast is no longer affected by Killing Machine. This is a bonus for single target damage but a big loss for AoE damage; no longer can you crit on 10 targets at once with one HB. Frown.
  • Death and Decay costs one Unholy Rune! Holy crap. This is what happens when you don’t pay attention to changes for a while, then log in and have a number of WTF moments at the things that changed. Obviously, this makes it a lot easier to fit into AoE rotations, and so should almost always be used. Especially true because HB-AoE rotations leave excess Unholy Runes, as mentioned earlier.
  • AMS no longer energizes us with RP when absorbing damage. It only does so if you have the talent in deep Unholy. This sucks, but really, we have few excess GCDs so it’s not a big thing.
  • Runic Empowerment means you have to stay on your toes. This is a change for all specs, but it means that your rotation is even more priority-based than it was in previous patches. Having random runes popping up unexpectedly (and with no internal cooldown) is both a frustrating and incredibly rewarding experience. It really makes DPSing more interesting than it was previously, and also makes the ability to see runes clearly (requiring a good addon, Magic Runes being my favourite) and react quickly a lot more important than pre-4.0.1.

What else have you noticed that’s changed for Frost, or DKs in general?








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