I adore my UI. Its been a labour of love for many long years, essentially since 2005 when my shaman started getting into the 50s and there were too many totems to fit on my hot keys. This led to me discovering the Totem Timers addon and since then its been an obsessive-compulsive never-ending quest for improvement. The number of hours I’ve spent on improving, tweaking and completely reworking my UI, it’s practically a whole game in itself. How do you balance functionality with aesthetics? Can you make a minimalistic UI that still gives you all the information you need. Can you access all your abilities without complicated work-arounds, whilst still being able to get a good view of this beautiful World of Warcraft? It’s an epic quest chain.
Finally however, I think I’m finished. Well, not finished, that would be absurd, but I feel like I’ve achieved an optimal balance of all the features I want to include. Sure there’s some tweaking to be done and always will, but I doubt I’m going to change significantly from what I have now. So, allow me to showcase the new and improved Wulfy UI:
This is how my UI looks normally. My main aim was to have something minimalistic with nothing above the bottom 1/5 of the screen space, yet still retaining information and functionality. I’ve also tried to make it pretty, in a simplistic fashion. Its boils nicely down to nothing more than a chat frame, totems frame, unit frames, hotkeys and a map. The principal ways I have achieved this are the careful use of space and the following addons:
Stuf Unit Frames – These are the most customisable unit frames in existence. With them I was able to make something nice-looking that still displayed a lot of info, a portrait and was the perfect size and shape.
pMinimap – This is my favourite minimap addon, as it not only makes your minimap square and good-looking but also incorporates a load of information such as coords, dungeon finder, tracking and more!
Opie – This is a truly brilliant addon which helps you save on a ton of space. It creates a number of highly customisable radial menus which you can call up with the click of a button. This means that any non-essential abilities you have can be bound to an Opie menu rather than sitting on your screen taking up space.
Totem Timers – I believe these are essential for any shaman. See those 8 little boxes next to my player frame? The four bottom buttons each opens up a menu for totems based on element. On the top row there is a button for the various “Call of” abilities for laying groups of totems. There’s also buttons for casting weapon buffs, water shield and earth shield.
Now lets move on to a few more features of the UI. In the picture below I’ve thrown down some totems and triggered bloodlust. You’ll notice the totem timers kicking in, as well as my buffs and debuff windows above the player and target frames. Scrolling Combat Text has also started up on the left, letting me know that my Healing Stream totem is actually healing me (damage scrolls on the right).
My buffs and debuffs are handled by Satrina Buff Frames which is the sexiest buff addon ever made. Trust me. Extremely customisable and easy to use. Notice how only the Bloodlust buff and Sated debuff appear above my player frame, but on my target (still me) it also shows totem buffs and water shield. Thats because I filtered out my own common abilities to avoid spam – a nifty feature.
Now moving onto the juicy stuff – the Raid UI:
Now you see what that gap between the centre and the minimap was for, this is where my raid frames come in. For these I currently use VuhDo, although I have a serious love-hate relationship with it. I’ll gloss over its niggling problems and focus on its good points. With Vuhdo I can heal a raid without having to use anything other than my mouse. Every nifty healing spell I have is bound to a different mouse key. When I hover the cursor over a raid member’s health bar and press a key, the corresponding heal will be cast on that player. Nifty huh? VuhDo also shows me important information such as how long is left on a Riptide I cast, or which party members have Power Word Shield so I won’t waste a heal on them.
In this final shot there’s just a couple of key things left to point out. The first is my cast-bar, Quartz, which is super sexy and you can see incorporates a lag-meter and tells me what I’m doing and to whom. The second thing is that Big Wigs is sending a message (via SCT) about what phase of the fight I’m entering. Sometimes Big Wigs flashes up a timer bar, it depends on the fight. I generally have it only show bars for really important stuff, unless I’m raid-leading and then I turn everything on.
So, thats a brief showcase of what I’ve made. I hope you liked it and I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback!
As a quick summary, here is a list of the addons I use:
ButtonFacade (I use the ‘Apathy’ skin)
Fortress (and numerous Broker addons)
Prat 3.0 – chat window addon
Sometimes Visible addons:
CowTip – Tooltip addon
Align – This addon is a godsend. It doesn’t do anything for the game, but it overlays a grid onto your screen so that when you are customising your UI you can make sure everything lines up properly. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Thank you Align!
Update 21/9/10: For the latest update on what is going with my UI, please see this post!