Hi, my name is Linedan…
…and I’m an addon addict.
It’s pretty amazing, really, that Blizzard made the WoW interface so extensible. I remember in the old days of the original Everquest, where the UI was the UI and that was that, period, end of sentence, and attempts to alter it one tiny bit would get you banhammered with lightning speed. (And what a godawful UI it was, at least before changes in one of the early expansions.) But not so with WoW. Here, you can download literally thousands of different addons to tweak your experience in Azeroth exactly the way you like it. Don’t like how–or where–your character’s health is displayed? No sweat, take your pick of unitframes. Don’t like that big clunky bottom actionbar with the dargons on the end? Here, have umptysquillion different bar mods.
But there’s a dangerous, inconvenient downside to this endless tweakability. Without fail, come time for a patch, especially a big “point-zero” content patch like the one that dropped yesterday…your shit is gonna break sooooo hard.
It started off small, as most addictions do. In the beginning, there was Cosmos. But Cosmos kept trashing my chat channels, and eventually, I found the nice, all-in-one CTMod, pieces of which I still run 3+ years later. Then I decided I wanted a better set of action bars, so I tried a few different bar mods before settling on Trinity. Then I discovered the sheer Heaven-sent high of XPerl Unit Frames. After that, it wasn’t long before I was waking up in dark alleys after a bender of chugging BigWigs modules and mainlining Titan Bar plugins.
One of these days I’ll do a detailed “here’s my UI, you can stop laughing now dammit” post. But here’s just a partial list of what I ran during 3.1.x, unlinked because I just can’t be arsed to link everything…
- Unitframes: XPerl
- Bar mod: Bartender4
- Timers/buff mods: ElkBuffBars, DoTimer, Quartz, OmniCC, NeedToKnow
- Gear: ItemRack, Rating Buster
- Raid and combat mods: Grid, oRA2, Deadly Boss Mods, Scrolling Combat Text, Omen, Recount
- RP: FlagRSP2
- Appearance mods: Tekticles, TipTop, FuBar plus a lot of Fu stuff
You get the idea. Now I know there’s some duplication there; I don’t really need four timer mods, probably. I only use NeedToKnow for timers when I’m in Arms spec and need to keep Rend up on my target–and honestly, I may switch to Power Auras for that anyway, given the good stuff I’ve heard about that addon. (See? It just gets worse!) But after all that tweaking and downloading, I had a fully-custom UI that was set up just the way I wanted it, with everything arranged just so…more or less.
The problem is, of course, the administrative nightmare of keeping all that drek current. It’s hard. Half my addons were out of date before 3.2 even dropped. I’m slack about updating stuff like DBM that changes frequently, unless it’s obviously broken. Now throw in a large content patch that will cause half or more of those addons to break, sometimes spectacularly, and you see why I completely write off doing any playing on the day and night of a patch release. (Well, that and lately, Feathermoon and the Cyclone battlegroup in general have been down longer and more often than any other set of servers when Patch Day comes.)
So there I was this morning, in front of the computer at oh-dark-what-the-fuck, starting to pull down addons to get ready to raid with No Bads tonight, assuming they get some new hamsters to power the server. I got a few unpleasant shocks, as usual, worst of which was that XPerl, my beloved, awesome unitframe, wasn’t yet updated for 3.2. This is Not Good, friends. My UI, like a lot of others I’ve seen, has all the frames down near the bottom, where I can see them without having to flick my eyes to the top of the screen. (The layout is largely inspired by Anna’s UI, though it’s not nearly as cleanly laid-out.) Moving those frames back to the top left with the Blizzard default frames…uh-uh, kids. It would not be a good thing with me trying to tank Ulduar.
So, somewhat frantic, I grabbed the Pitbull unitframe package…and then spent 45 sleepy, sunrisey minutes beating the damn thing into submission with all sorts of virtual sledgehammers until I got it looking the way I wanted it. I still miss my XPerl, but this’ll do for now, and who knows, it might grow on me. That’s how I’ve tried many other addons…a patch breaks one and it’s not updated on release day, so I grab something else just to try and wind up sticking with it.
(I note that even as I write this on Wednesday afternoon, XPerl has been updated to version 3.0.4a, which is patch 3.2 compatible. I think I’ll probably try Pitbull tonight, and then if I don’t like it, back to XPerl I go.)
I know some people who have broken their addiction to addons and have gone back to a more vanilla interface. Blizzard is actually making it easier to do so, really, as they seem to be very attentive to the better user-written addons out there and incorporate their functionality into newer versions of the game (without breaking the ability to use the user-written versions, which is a damn nice touch). Me, I’m too weak. I can’t do it. I’m too used to the crutch of having Omen dancing in one corner of my screen while my target frame sits near the bottom with pretty cast bars in between, and having six or seven nicely lined-up small 12-button bars bottom center. To me, the default UI looks like a hideously inefficient use of space.
But take heart, default UI-users. There’s always my wife. She has seven level 80s, that’s three more than I do. She raids with me on her feral druid Rashona and is consistent top-two DPS in 10-man and top-four in 25-man, cranking out 4500+ dps with ease. And she does it with a UI that’s 100% bone-stock except for FlagRSP2 and Deadly Boss Mods.
Oh yeah…and she clicks half her abilities, too. How’s that taste?