Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WoW - addons

Addons addons addons... I spent about half the weekend and most of yesterday evening trying out various addons ranging from new castbars to such things as damage meters and whatnot.

The goal was simply to maximize what I could get from my addons without using too much memory or suck up too much bandwidth. Additionally the idea was to standardize my UI for all my characters.

The default WoW UI deserves a lot of credit but I never quite managed to get used to the L shaped layout of the toolbars and the cycling toolbar on the bottom left.

So off I went into the merry land of curse gaming to dig up a selection of useable addons.

On my shortlist of needed addons:

1. A coordinate tracker that shows your current coordinates and mouse coordinates on your map 2. A damage meter to calculate total damage over time (to help improve your damage output)
3. A threat meter to be able to make threat management a little easier
4. Something that would display instance maps since I always get lost in instances
5. Something that'll provide me more information about an item. Disenchant value, ah value etc.
6. Shiny new customizable toolbars so I can put spells where I want them rather than to put them where blizzard wants them
7. An improved castbar, preferably something that would take latency into account so that you can keep casting smoothly even if you're running 600+ latency

What I didn't want was class specific stuff or raid oriented stuff. This is just clutter to me and detracts from the standardization of a ui.

Last but not least I wanted to have a 'small' set of addons especially considering the fact that it reduces the time you need to maintain your addons after a patch.

And now on to the nitty gritty...

I downloaded about 30 addons to cover the various functionality that looked worth trying. I already knew that I wanted to try Trinity bars for my UI bars so that's the only addon I downloaded in that department...

After install I fired up all the addons at once and scrapped the ones that gave me errors right off the bat. After that I cycled through the addons, compared the functionality and scrapped the ones that were too memory intensive or too 'blah' (meaning it gave me a feeling of 'blahness' and thus was rejected).

So after much deliberation and filtering here's the list of addons I ended up with and something that you might want to know: Addons do not add latency!
Well some addons do request some extra data from the server but it turns out that WoW will simply disconnect you if your addon is sucking up too much bandwidth ;)

Addons do however eat up memory... and lots of it when they're poorly written so I had to keep this in mind.

Initially I wanted to give you all a list of addons that didn't qualify... but apparantly there's a limit to the length of a blog post and I doubt you'd be all the interested in my craplist.

Instead I give you the list of things that actually made the cut:

Koordinator: A simple location addon that shows your current location and if your map is open shows the coordinates of your mouse pointer. Since everybody communicates all locations in coordinates this addon is perfect to assist in finding things. On top of that it's fairly lightweight.

Recount: Recount tracks damage of various people around you and has dozens of settings to parse data in a certain way so that you can look at your damage in whatever way you prefer. Very handy for tracking damage on a very very large scale but also makes it possible for you to test various spell rotations for optimal damage. I'd take the results with a grain of salt since I had no way to verify if the results were anywhere near accurate.

Omen: Omen is my threat meter of choice. A lot of people have it installed and for my solo use it's perfect to see when I am building threat faster than my pet. Omen has helped me significantly in doing maximal damage without aggroing the mob off of the pet / tank.

Atlas: Atlas comes with a number of informative addons such as atlas loot. The main reason for me to pick atlas is because it provides me with a few decent and marked instance maps... I'll still get lost... but at least now I can guess the general direction I need to go without having to tab out of wow.

Auctioneer: Auctioneer lets you scan auctions and figure out average prices of items. The fun part here is that auctioneer builds a database so that you can check what the average price over time is rather than to guess based on what's currently on the AH. Good for anyone who likes to make a few gold on the AH.

Enchantrix: A good way to see disenchant values of items and it also adds a nice function to scan the auction house (together with auctioneer) for deals on items that could be disenchanted for profit. Always handy to turn on since it gives a clear indication of what the item is worth to your (dis)enchanter.

Trinity Bars: Trinity bars has come a long way. I tried it in the past and didn't like it but the newer version seems a lot more sturdy. The amount of options can be confusing at times but this is definitely a solid addon to add / remove buttons to a toolbar, change the layout and even the shape of the icons as well as determine the size of the toolbar. It even goes so far as to let you autohide menus which can be incredibly useful for things you don't use often anyway. The only caveat here is that it doesn't allow you to modify the default chat and map windows which would've been nice (or I haven't found the feature yet).

Quartz Bar: Quartz is an absolutely positively great castbar. Aside from the standard castbar stuff quarts provides you with a handy meter for your damage over time spells. More importantly quartz adds a little red bar to the end of the cast bar. The length of this bar is dependant on your current latency and allows you to start casting your next spell when the first one doesnt appear to be done yet.
Basically quartz takes into account your latency and shows you (by means of the red extension) when you can start casting a new spell without upsetting the WoW servers.
If you're suffering from medium to high latencies you will love this addon.

All in all a nice bunch of addons.
Sure I could add some more to tweak the map and chat windows as well as do some other cosmetic stuff but for the time being I am quite satisfied. I'll probably post a screenshot of my GUI once I am done playing around with the general layout of things.

don't expect much from the screenshot... I am not into fancy GUIs, I just want the buttons nicely grouped and within appropriate clicking distance :)

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