Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh What A Difference A UI Makes

Here's a non-Skyrim related post idea that I had tagged to write about a week ago. I'll try to do it justice now, though we never got around to taking screenshots. It actually ties into Skyrim though, as you'll see in a bit.

(Yes, I'm being a bit facetious here. Normally, you see, I'd feel I have to mention this is a "non-WoW" post. But since all the WoW blogs have recently become Skyrim blogs (amirite?), I'm poking fun.)

As the title indicates, I'd like to wax philosophical about UI's for a bit.  The idea came to me as Fuu and I were doing our 2v2 arenas last week. In the weeks leading up to the Skyrim launch, there was a distinct lack of gaming things to do.  The calm before the storm, if you will.  Fuu took it upon herself to go in and revamp her UI for PvP.

In our raids, she's a tank, and that UI has been customized for her for a very long time.  She'd just started getting serious with me in PvP about three months ago or so.  Before we made a guild push to try and gear for rBGs, I was pretty much the only PvP'er of the guild.  I think one of our mages regularly ran BG's too, but otherwise the rest of our crew only dabbled.  I'd never gotten into high end PvP, but I'd generally gotten all the gear I could without stepping foot in arenas.

The point is just that I've had a PvP UI for ages now.  I use mostly the same addons, but things are arranged in a completely different manner.  I'm a bit of a macro guy (though I've not written a new one in ages), so most of my custom work is done there.  In PvP, seconds can be the difference between life and death.  You need to have the appropriate skills at fingers reach.  I'm talking snares, silences, oh-shit buttons, as well as attacks.

Generally, in PvE, you know what to expect going into a fight.  So while I may shuffle a few buttons around, make a special macro for one fight, etc, I don't usually have to have everything available all the time.  In PvP, it's a completely different approach.  Reaction spells need to be pressed, not clicked (unless you're the fasted clicker in the west).  Attack spells need to be chained with certain CC.  You learn and adapt over time, and a customizable UI is crucial to this.

So Fuu gutted her UI and set up a PvP-centric one.  When we PvP'ed that night, it was like I'd picked up a different partner.  All of a sudden, she was a healing machine, easily able to frustrate opposing players while slinging bubbles like a madwoman.  What a difference a UI makes!  That isn't to say we went undefeated, or there weren't the frustrating moments where we were pwned by our betters.   We still ran up against unbeatable combinations (I have a whole post in mind for how two druids are OP), but it felt like we were now beating the teams we should beat.  There weren't as many frustrating losses where she said "man, I should have done x."  We left it all out there in the arena.  We played our best.

I made the quip about Skyrim because it shows the other side of this.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've died already because of fumbling around with their crappy UI.   Yes, that is my one Skyrim complaint so far: the crappy UI.  I'm playing on the PC, and it's just awful.  I could go into detail, but that's already been done.  Check this out.  I think that about sums it up.  I hope Bethesda takes note and maybe hotfixes some of this, because otherwise, the game is amazing.


  1. Ugh. I didn't think it was possible to make it worse than Morrowind, which interface I absolutely loathed. And yet, it appears they have.

    Definitely waiting for the cut-out bin on this one.

  2. A friend pointed out something I thought was apt: This is sort of what Bethesda does... great game with just a few huge, glaring mistakes. This one is the UI.

  3. Hmmm, I should probably work on that. I just took the holy pally to some BGs last night with a few of the guildies. It went okay at 3-1.
    EotS: win. capped two towers, controlled the middle and ran the flag.
    WSG: loss. Just terrible flag running with most of our side seeming to just out for HKs.
    SotA: win. Not sure why but we rolled right through them on offense and tied them up real bad on the beach on D.
    Twin Peaks: win. We had our DK blood tank running the flag with me healing him and a lock and rogue on escort. Every attempt at killing our flag runner failed.

    Still, I wouldn't mind seeing a post on how you customize for PvP. I click for healing using VuhDo but everything else is pressed.

  4. I need to get Fuu to do that, since she's the healer. She'd have more insight (and probably more buttons than my easy, faceroll DK DPS). I'll pass along the request, but no promises... she's been quiet.

  5. I agree that the Skyrim UI needs massive work. But you still shouldn't have died, at least if it was a sort of fair fight. All you ever need to do is to hit the Tab key which pauses the game and lets you drink all the potions you want or need.

  6. Oh it was completely user fail, I agree. I was fumbling around with buttons trying to pause the game to get where I wanted. Favorites? No. Spells? No. Tab-tab-tab... ah, crap. Killing animation.

    I'm getting a lot better with it now, and when stuff gets messy I've learned to just hit tab and breathe for a minute to figure out what exactly I want. Also, I've stocked up on potions which wasn't really the case early on.