Interfacing: Cross-class addons

20 01 2010

A computer terminal is not some clunky old television with a typewriter in front of it. It is an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it about.

I’m an obsessive player. With 3 accounts, 7 classes at 80, and the last three in levelling in Northrend, I think that’s pretty obvious. It brings its own rewards and unique problems, but they are for later posts. What is does mean is that every time I log on, my User Interface (UI) must reflect the needs of my playstyle, the class, and for dual-specced toons, the role of my character.

Your UI can help or hinder. Understanding the boundaries of your interface with your computer, and the informational flow between you and the game can turn a limited player into one in a position to have a greater influence on the game and the other players. Consider a tank with the native UI and playing in first-person-boss-navel view, versus the ranged dps or healer standing 30 yards from the action, camera extended 20 yards behind them, with addons showing who has what threat, who’s standing in the fire, and who’s just about to become the grey-screened-audience to the rest of the encounter.

If you regularly play multiple toons, then you will know that some UI set-ups favour some classes and roles more than others. Hunters have little need for Decursive (certainly no need beyond informational), while Holy/Prot Paladins have a scaled need for Healbot. Bank alts have little requirement for  Cartographer, but will all your toons really need Auctioneer?

Here’s my list of addons that I’ve found have improved my active (by that I mean activities like questing, raiding or PvPing) gameplay, or simply enhance the look and feel of the UI to a point that I believe improves its functionality:

  1. Altoholic: Provides reams of information about the toons on your account (bag and bank contents, professions and secondary skills, worn items, achievements, crafting cooldowns, and more), and feeds that into a central interface that is accessible to all your characters. A guild mate asks for an enchanter but you are on your JC? Simply open up Altoholic and link your alt’s skill in /g. For those with multiple accounts, it does allow (security-controlled) cross-account communication, though due to a previous incarnation of Altoholic making that feature a little clumsy, I haven’t tested this for a while. If others runs Altoholic, it will allow some information transfer between those toons, such as mail notifications.
  2. Autobar: Places class-common (such as food and drink, hearthing/porting, trinkets, etc.) and class-specific (e.g. lock spells, hunter aspects, paladin blessings) onto drop-down bars. Frees up an inordinate amount of action bar space.
  3. Autoprofit X: Automatically sells grey items, and can be set to auto-repair if you so desire.
  4. Badboy: Tired of gold-spammers whispering you? NO? Then you won’t want this addon that will block incoming whispers based on keywords used by GS, and then automatically reports them. Has an extra that prevents Level 1 whispers which can cause communication problems, but I think it’s worth the stress reduction.
  5. Bagnon: I will cover this at a later date I think, along with a few other addons that to me represented mini-paradigm shifts* in how I viewed the interface. It’s a sleek inventory management interface that offers a little overlap with Altoholic but with less fuss.
  6. Bartender: Another A-list player that requires further attention. Modify your action bars to improve your gameplay.
  7. Button Facade: This isn’t simply about whether you like round or square buttons. The clarity of the data you have about cooldowns or whether you have the energy to activate the spell all improves how you play. Find the style you are comfortable with.
  8. Free Refills: Do you want the be the ‘Druid who can’t’? Why ever run out of mats for your utility or buff spells? FR sets up stock replenishment for any vendor-sold item in the game, be it buff mats, food, drink, cakes, pies, flowers or motorbike mats.
  9. IceHud: What this offers you will be highly dependent on what other addons you run and what information you like to play with. My use of it has diminished over time to one simple module, the Range Finder.
  10. Mounted: Get rid of keybindings for all your different types of mount. Run Mounted, drag the icon from the macro menu to one spot on your action bar, change the Mounted Settings to accomodate your most and least favourite mounts, key bind it, and then never think about it again.
  11. Pitbull: Raid Frames are one of those UI functionalities that offer greater reward the more you invest. They also change based on what works and doesn’t work, and they are the part of the UI I spend most time on. Pitbull3 is my current RF of choice, but your mileage may vary. Not sure what we mean by ‘raid frames’? Think party bars, raid bars, target bars, cast bars… more at a later date.
  12. Postal: Bank alts especially love Postal. My scribe, the one who lovingly means I never have to worry about repair bills, receives around 1100-1200 returns from the AH every two days. One-click, and I have 50 mails returned. Wait a few seconds, and it’s ready again. It even tells you the total gold received at the end of a batch of mails.
  13. Prat: You may find this necessary or not; for me it’s a quality of information. Gives me a lot more control over my chat frames, and can alter the way that I receive chat-based information.
  14. SexyMap: Not just sexy, but a great mind and good sense of humour to boot. A customisable mini-map… and gives good massage.
  15. Addon Control Panel: Left this one to the end because it’s the boss. It allows you to manage your addons from within the game, so you never need to logout. The real winner for me is the ability to set up ‘Addon Packs’. Going raiding and need to disable 15 different profession-based addons that mean you dc on the whelps every. single. time? Activate your ‘Raiding’ profile, reload your UI and you’re ready for action. You’re in her lair and the RL forgot to bring flasks? Activate your crafting addon there and then without a log. (or just use the default interface… sometimes, just sometimes, the wheel doesn’t need re-inventing).

All of these addons are easily available through the major sites like curse.com, wowinterface.com, et al. Google is also your friend… but that’s for another post.

*Are these even possible?

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