Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pimpin' the Interface, WAR Style: Part II

I figured it was about time for a followup to my initial post about altering the UI for WAR. Unfortunately, Mythic hasn't done much of anything to address UI issues and make their default UI more acceptable (in fact they made it worse by introducing an annoying global cooldown flash that appears on ALL your buttons EVERYTIME you use an ability. I had to download an addon just to disable that 'feature').

So, I am now up 19 addons! Much more than I generally want to maintain, but every one feels needed and or useful at the moment. Click the link below to read all the details and see the screenshots (click on the images to see larger versions of the screenshots).

Here is a basic screenshot of what my UI looks like when I'm not doing anything in particular.

The square mini-map in the corner is provided by Custom Map. In addition to being more compact than the default mini-map, it also allows you to zoom out to region map feature, and displays info about your current influence level for the area you're in.

Simplified group and warband health displays provided by Squared. Has a ton of settings available. I have modified the class colors, the bar size, the text, disabled showing buffs for others and chosen a texture to give the display some pizazz.

Vertigo allows for creation of action bars. You are still limited to the six that the game comes with, but you can define how many buttons they have, and how many rows and columns each bar has as well. Excellent addon for those who like to customize their action bar layouts.

I have a four action bar setup. You can see my main action bar at the bottom. It uses three pages and is controlled by PlanB, which makes it auto change pages based on the progression of my Plan (Black Orc mechanic). Though this hasn't been updated in a while, it still works like a charm. Highly recommended for all Black Orcs and Swordmasters.

The bar on the right hand side has various potions and miscellaneous abilities. Most of my other abilities are on the other two bars which are hidden using Phantom, which is an addon that lets you hide all sorts of basic UI windows and parts that the default UI doesn't allow for. I have run into some issues where it won't reshow previously hidden bars. Something to do with configuring it on a different character. I'm not sure of the details, and it hasn't bothered me enough yet to look for a fix. But the author for it is one of the most respected and active modders for Warhammer Online, so I feel confident the issue will be fixed sometime soon.

War Effort is the little graphical display at the top, center-right of the screen. This addon shows the current status of all T4 zones, including current victory points for the contested zones. The display can be toggled on and off with the little 'W' icon next to it.

In this second screenshot, you'll notice that my current target has red vertical bars around them. These graphics are courtesy of Target Ring. This addon makes it much easier to keep an eye on your targets in a crowd. It uses green bars to denote your friendly target (unfortunately, I didn't have one at the time of this screenshot).

Clean Unit Frames are used to show health for myself, my target and my friendly target. Just a simple layout, without any unneeded fancy borders or graphics.

Duff Timer gets rid of the annoying cluster of buff icons (the number of buffs, debuffs and DoTs in this game is insane) that are constantly shifting and changing during battle, and puts them into a nice, timed display that includes the name of the effect. You can configure, move and size buffs and debuffs separately for yourself, your target and your friendly target.

The black boxes in the bottom corners are courtesy of SNT Panel. Pretty simple mod. It lets you create background panels that can be moved, resized and made transparent via the default UI configuration options. I use this for my chat windows, because the fade-out really bothered me and made it hard to see the text depending on the brightness and color of the terrain I was in. It took some careful resizing and placement, as well as help from a chat mod called Chatty Cathy to get the chat windows looking good in relation to the panels. Chatty Cathy allows you to remove the fluff from the chat windows, including the tabs and scrollbars. A simple slash command redisplays these items if you need to resize or change settings for your chat tabs.

Dammaz Kron is THE must-have mod for anyone that wants to track their PvP kills and deaths. It's very full featured and even integrates directly with your Tome of Knowledge. I'm so impressed by this mod, that I've included a screenshot of it, just to try and encourage others to check it out.

Then there are the addons that can't be seen in the screenshots.

alertMod - This mod allows you to change the size, vertical location, and duration of the text for the alert messages that pop-up in the middle of your screen, for example, the notification you receive when gaining a level. The default text is rather large and can be annoying when it appears in the middle of a fight.

Aura - Lets you configure pop-up icons and/or text messages that appear when certain events occur. As one example, I have an icon that pops up over my character's head when my health drops below 40%. Helps me quickly and easily know when I need to fall back or drink a healing potion.

Think Out Loud - Another mod that wouldn't be required if Mythic allowed you to put more than one action into a macro. This mod simply allows you to say configurable text when using abilities. You can even set the percentage chance that the text will fire.

Global Cooldown Remover - The flash appearing on ALL of your icons is especially annoying when you have multiple action bars. This mod simply removes the global flahs for that 1 sec global cooldown. This is one of those mods that I never should have needed to begin with. But when I had 4 visible action bars on my screen, seeing all of the buttons light up everytime I used any ability was driving me insane.

Realm Status - This is another RvR mod. This one has a couple of different features. One is that it shows you a summary of all victory points for all zones. This display can be shown and hidden with a simple slash command. But, the feature that I find most interesting is a pop-up window that informs you of any change in VPs for any T4 zone. Mythic isn't very good about accurately updating the status of keeps (and since the RvR addons rely on information that Mythic provides, they are generally slow to update as well), but when I see a popup window telling me that the victory points for a zone have changed by 15+ points, I know that a keep has just been taken.

Lib Slash - Required mod for slash commands.

Clean Cast Bar - Simple but sexy looking cast bar.

So there you have it. I actually consider this post a sort of mid-term update. The modding community for WAR is getting better at what they do, and the addons are becoming much more versatile and slick. I already have a couple of new ones that I'm keeping an eye on. Look for another WAR UI post in a month or so, hopefully with better screenshots as well!

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