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I just read this article on WoW Insider. In it, Matthew talks about the challenges of playing well into the night – where sleep deprived Priests fake disconnects, and instances that should be quick, clean walkthroughs become extended corpse runs. While Matthew’s experience was surely frustrating, it came at just the right time for me.
As you can probably guess from reading my posts over the last few months, I haven’t been playing much. Correct that – I haven’t been playing as much as I used to. Most of my time online has been some solo work on Amanna, and playing around with some new alts (level 19 Warlock and level 17 Shaman). Basically a lot of personal drama combined with the disintegration of my guild has contributed to little time online, and basically no time in instances or raids.
So, when I had a couple hours over the weekend to kill I logged in to see what kind of trouble I could get into. Almost immediately, I got a /pst from one of the few remaining 70’s in our guild wondering if I was interested in a Steamvaults run. Heck yea! Not only had I not done any instancing for longer than I will admit, SV was perfect in that I still need to build CE rep for my Earthwarden.
I know, I know, you don’t have your Earthwarden yet??? Hey, sometimes that thing called “life” has to be attended to for a while…
Anyway, I got the invite and the group was a PUG. If I remember right it was me, a Pally, a Warlock, a Hunter and a Rogue. Everyone was from different guilds.
Well, you probably can guess the punchline – it was a horrible run. Multiple wipes even before the first boss. I was really thinking it was me; that I was too rusty or something. And that probably did contribute a bit to the bad run, but you know what? Sometimes, as pointed out in the WoWI article, you just have a bad run. I’ve done Steamvaults plenty of times before and had flawless runs in less gear than I’ve got now. Plus, it doesn’t help when you’re in a PUG where no one wants to mark, the rogue is sapping the right target but in the wrong mob group, and the Shaman keeps whining “I can’t heal you if you’re not in my line of sight.” Well then MOVE, dammit!
So, yea I’m probably a bit rusty. But you gotta accept that you’re going to have a bad run here and there. I guess my time was this past weekend.
One thing I did notice is that my my new custom UI was more of a hindrance than a help. I actually miss the lower resolution a bit. Text on the screen is really small and my eyes aren’t what they used to be. Plus, maybe I was just too used to my old action bar setup, but I’m having a hard time adjusting to this new layout. With the amount of addons in the package, my framerate really took a hit also. Now, that’s not to say that the ADUI package didn’t open my eyes to some great addons that I wasn’t aware of, but I’ve found that I probably don’t need around half of the stuff that’s in the package.
So, one decision I made out of the run is to move away from the custom package and rebuild my UI from the ground up, getting back to something more like what I used to have, but integrating the addons I found out about by using the package. In the tradition of BRK’s recent Omen overview (which was great – thanks Damh), I’m planning on documenting the rebuild and posting it here in case there are others out there looking to build or just revamp their UI and could use some help. You all probably know more than I do, but hey – it sounds like a fun project.
Okay, Sunday morning and I have to take my wife’s car to the shop, but I promised to get a couple screenshots up of the ADUI package. This will be a quick post, without much explanation, so you’ll get to see what the package looks like pretty much “right out of the box”, then a second sreenshot after I spent a couple days playing with the setup.
This is an old screenshot from my Barender 3 setup post, but fairly representative of what my old layout looked like.
I’m still trying to come up with a good option for sharing screenshots and this will become even more of an issue if I start writing more on ADUI. I’m going to use Flickr for now, but if anyone has a better option, please let me know. (I’m not a big fan of photobucket due to the constant and irritating ads and popups).
Okay – that’s it for now and should give you a good idea of what the package looks like. I have some brief comments attached to the Flickr photos on a couple of the specific add-ons. I’ll keep posting on this topic, but for now I gotta run. (If you want to see the screenshot larger, click the shot to get to Flickr, then click the “All Sizes” link above the picture.)
Like you, I would see screenshots of cool, custom user interfaces from time to time on the forum boards and think that it would be cool to have one like that. But it seemed like whenever you did some research into setting one up, even using a compilation, you had to be a WoW programmer to get them up and running, let alone keep them stable. I don’t know about you, but I want to spend my time playing, not messing around with my UI.
Well, a couple posts ago, when I was lamenting my add-on mess and you all recommended focusing on Ace add-ons and using the Ace updater (thank you again, btw), I came across a bunch of compilation packages on Curse. If you follow the link, bypass the “new today” and the “hot today” at the top of the page and sort by top rated a little further down. Seems many of the packages use Ace add-ons. Well, I started poking around and caught the bug again. This time when I read the install instructions, they seemed pretty simple. So I thought, “hey, maybe I’ll give this a try!”
I checked a couple out and looked at the screenshots of some of the more highly rated ones. I ended up liking ADUI (All Deuce UI). No particular reason, I just liked the way it looked, plus the fact that it was one of the top rated compilations.
Well, just like updaters, it seems that compilations have gotten a lot better. I downloaded ADUI, unzipped it, followed the install instructions and I was up and running with my new UI. And it looked pretty sweet.
Okay, it wasn’t quite as easy as that, but almost. I’m still sorting through some of the details, and I haven’t played with all the add-ons yet, but I can say that it’s a pretty painless way to get a great looking UI. Another side benefit is that the players that take the time to put together a compilation generally include the best add-ons in all categories and they seem to concentrate on Ace add-ons. So you get the best of the best, and you can keep them updated via the auto-updater.
Also, two add-ons in particular, AutoBar and Trinketmenu, provide you with action buttons not connected with your “official” action bars. I was close to running out of action bars in Bartender the way I have them setup, but with these two add-ons, I’ve been able to free up a lot of buttons.
I can’t speak for the other packages, but the ADUI developer has also included what he calls the Deuce Commander, a Fu-Bar plug in that gathers all the add-on control menus under one consolidate menu, by add-on category. Very nice. There’s also a little bolt attached to the mini-map you can use to bring up a similar control panel. It’s got a drop down with all the add-ons listed. Select the add-on you want to modify and up comes it’s graphical control panel. Very, very nice.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t downsides. You are messing with your UI and there can be consequences. Right off the bat, you start dealing with scaling issues since all the artwork in a particular compilation download is geared toward a specific screen resolution. Also, while you can backup your current Account and Interface folder should anything go wrong, you may have a lot of re-config time getting your compilation setup the exact way you want it. Also, since compilations tend to have lots of add-ons doing lots of things, it’s not always obvious what config you need to go into to tweak (or turn off). Sometimes, you can’t even figure out what’s doing what….
Well, I’m still tweaking and playing. In addition to the consolidated configuration menus listed above, there’s lots to like about ADUI including a great FAQ and forums for support. The add-ons included generally appear to be very good in their category. For example, inventory management is through ArkInventory. I had never used this particular add-on before and I must say it is great. This trend of using not the most well known add-on, but rather a more cutting-edge one continues by using Omen for threat management. Of course this cuts both ways as Omen is compatible with KLH which many of your guildmates are probably using, in that it can receive KLH data but that data gets unreliable past the first mob. So you need to decide for yourself how cutting edge you want to be. The good thing about a compilation though is that you can simply turn off any add-on you don’t want to use and replace it with another.
So how complicated is the install? Like I said, it was very simple. The install instructions, straight from the online forums, are:
- Step 1 = Download ADUI
- Step 2 = Make a ‘New Folder’ in your ‘My Documents’ called ADUI (or whatever you want).
- Step 3 = Place the Download into the Folder you just created.
- Step 4 = Open up your World of Warcraft Folder
- Step 5 = Rename your current Interface and WTF Folders (i.e. Interface_Backup, WTF_Backup)
- Step 6 = Move or Copy the Interface and Fonts Folders from ADUI to your World of Warcraft Folder.
- Step 7 = There are 3 WTF Folders, WTF_1400, WTF_1280, WTF_1680, in the downloadFind which folder which matches, or closely matches your screen resolution and delete the others.
Rename the Folder WTF.
Rename WTF\Account\”YourAccountNameHere” with the name of your account (make sure it’s all in caps)
Rename WTF\Account\Accountname\”YourServerHere” with the name of your server
Rename WTF\Account\Accountname\Servername\”YourCharacterNameHere” with th name of your character
Install the WTF and Interface Folders in your root WoW Directory
- Step 8 = Download and Use the WoWAceUpdater to update your mods!
That’s pretty much it. When you type in your account name make sure it’s all in caps. Also, if you are running 1024×768, like I am, then that download is in a forum post.
Now just log in and admire your new screen. Okay, it’s all messed up and your Bartender setup is hosed, but it does look nice, doesn’t it???
I’ll be posting following articles on this topic as I get more under the covers on this one. In fact, I’ve created a new category of “Custom UI” to keep track of them. For now, here’s some initial steps to do immediately to save you the time it took me to figure them out:
- First of all, after you install the package but before you run the Ace Updater for the first time, be sure to disable auto-updating of both AutoBar and AutoBar Config (find them in the installed list, right-click, and ignore). The developer of AutoBar is recoding it from the ground up under the same name. So if you update it, it basically becomes unusable. Download and install the old version.
- Type /ttip to change the text scale for tooltips if they are too small.
- Re-configure SCD. The developer has a LOT of notifications turned on and they were very distracting.
- Check out the Common Problems FAQ on the ADUI site. It’s got answers to the top 20 or so n00b problems and will save you a lot of time and research up front.
- Probably the next thing to do is reconfigure your action bars. Surprisingly, all my buttons were still configured, but I had to do a lot of work resizing and moving the bars to get it to fit where I wanted.
- Do your guildmates a favor and make sure to configure your party and raid frames before actually joining a party or raid. Your frame add-on probably just got replaced (or at the very least, updated), and odds are your frames need re-setup. Have a fellow guildie or two /i or /ri you to a group when they have some time to kill so you can set up.
My final analysis? It’s easy to say installing and configuring a custom UI is a lot of busy work just to make your screen look prettier, and there certainly is a fair amount of work involved in reconfiguring. However, the compilations out today pull together the best of the best add-ons and picking a package focused on Ace modules makes it trivial to keep them up to date with the WoW Ace Updater. In the end it’s not just about a pretty screen, it’s about functionality, usability, and maintainability, which these packages deliver. Should we hate them if they’re pretty?
I had planned on posting before and after screenshots of my setup. As I am getting ready to leave for a few days out of town, I’m posting this for you to chew on, and I’ll continue the series with screenshots when I get back. I’m sure everyone would also love to hear your experiences, good or bad, with compilation packages; especially if you have Druid-specific setups.