Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do we need mods/addons?

So it's time to battle the mods again, or addons as I prefer to call them for no special reason at all (but I am gonna keep calling them mods because my autocorrect likes it). Typhoon Andrew asks us what our attitude towards mods are, some refuse to use any, some only use the bare necessity and some use mods to do anything, from mounting to selling to eating stuff in the game. I would probably describe myself as a lazy mod user, I normally don't bother getting a mod until someone forces it on me, either a person or the game, and then I can't play without it ever again. I never update my mods until they break however, which means I always get a message from dbm telling me someone in my dungeon group has a newer version. Some mods are quality of life ones for me, like karni crap which prevents me from picking up items I don't want (like fish scales!) or mods that auto sell all the greys in my bags automatically or with a simple click of a button. Some I consider necessary enough that I probably wouldn't play without them eventhough they don't really improve my gaming, like autobar and bag mods. Some alter my gamestyle enough for me to consider them a core part of the game, like mods that allow me to bind my healing keys and to "click" heal. I used to use clique and now I use vuhdo but I know for a fact I could not play without these mods even if I wanted to. I've known annoyance both when trying to convince a fellow player about the necessity of a certain mod, and trying to convince a fellow player that I really don't need a certain mod.

According to Typhoon Andrew Blizzard are expecting players to use mods when raiding and I can understand that. I don't know of anyone who does any serious raiding without at least one mod that affects their gameplay, be it a warning mod like dbm, a timer mod like dotimers or a key mod like vuhdo. But apparently Blizzard have now started to create fights with this in mind meaning you are now basically forced to use mods to be able to raid properly. I can see why this would bother some people, in fact I am not entirely sure I like that concept myself, eventhough I have always used mods when raiding to some extent and will defend their use vigorously if I have to. I know there are people out there who can be awesome players without tweaking their entire game with mods but the fact is the vast majority of us play a lot better with mods than we do without. But that is because there is just so much to keep track of and so much information to gather and the game just doesn't present it well enough for us in most cases.

Sometimes a mod isn't meant to help us do our job better, it's to make the game do it's job better so that we can do our job better (this is something I've written about before). DBM might help us notice that the boss is doing that special skill, because the in-game cues are just not visible enough. In some cases Blizzard have realized that a mod has been a very useful feature to the game and have incoroporated in themselves - like QuestHelper or PowerAuras. The difference is that the incorporated version often is rigid and stumped compared to the original, probably to be easily used by any kind of player. But going as far as saying that they'll create fights with us using mods in mind just feels like Blizzard agreeing with us that they're not capable of designing a style understandable enough for us themselves but have to rely on amateurs (i.e unpaid people) doing the job for them. Basically throwing their hands up and saying "kay, we're clearly no good at this, so we'll stop trying".

If we need mods to help us manage a fight, does that mean we're lazy and/or bad at playing or that the UI mechanics already in the game are too poorly designed? I'm trying to imagine dispelling on Spine without having a mod that helps me see who has the debuff I need to remove. I know that the Blizzard UI-frames are horrendous when it comes to trying to see a certain buff or debuff, and by the time I have located the right debuff on the right person, the raid is most likely dead. And this is just one out of all the things I have to keep track of in a regular raid to make sure we don't all die horrible deaths.

I can agree that probably 90% of the mods I currently use aren't really necessary for me to play the game. The vast majority of them are there to smoothen out my playing experience and save some time when dealing with one of Blizzard many time-sinks. I know this at least, I don't use mods just for the sake of it, I use them because I think I need them. Normally I get another mod because I've realized I can't handle a certain mechanic the way I need to, and try to find something that will help me do so.  In these cases I argue that mods are crucial for me to be able to handle certain fight mechanics and I wonder - is it because I need to become a better player or because Blizzard need to become better fight designers?


  1. ----------------------
    In these cases I argue that mods are crucial for me to be able to handle certain fight mechanics and I wonder - is it because I need to become a better player or because Blizzard need to become better fight designers?

    It's neither. Blizzard has been making more and more sophisticated encounters and each person processes information differently. There's no single "right way" to display information for anyone in any complex fight. So I think Blizzard has adopted the right mentality: create a structure for customized UI and let people build their UI the way that works best for each of them, individually.

    The other option is to make raid encounters extremely simple, so that you don't need to process much which case, you can use a "one size fits all" UI because the information just doesn't matter much so it doesn't matter whether that default UI suits a person or not.

    Personally, I prefer the way Blizzard does it, with increasingly sophisticated encounters and a customizable UI, but I could understand people preferring simpler fights.

    1. I totally agree with you, I like the difficulty and prefer to have my UI as customizable as possible exactly because people play differently and have different needs. I don't think however that Blizzard have succeeded in making their UI this way. Their UI is still stiff, probably both for good and bad reasons, but overall I feel like they could throw in more tools for us tinkerers to work with. Sure they might want to keep it simple for the people that don't care, but there is nothing that says you can't have both.

      My point is, rather than saying they're going to design fights with us using addons in mind, they should make sure their own game has all the tools necessary to take on their own fights. Or at least try to provide said tools. If they did this correctly, theoretically we wouldn't need any third-party addons at all.

      Right now their fights require a certain something from their players, but they throw us out to the addon makers to find the help we need, rather than trying to provide it themselves, or at least that is what I am hearing. I don't like it.

  2. Do we need addons today? Yes for many reasons:
    _Cooldowns aren't very visible
    _Some boss spells you can't see very well
    _Maibox management, what a pain with the default UI!
    _Bar and portrait placement, no way to move those with the default UI, and they're really far far away from where they need to be (ie: close to the center of the screen where you can actually see them without losing a few precious seconds looking for them and not watching the fight)

    Should Blizzard do a better job with their UI?
    Oh my god, yes! It's probably good enough for questing only, but anytime you're going into a hard fight then it becomes way too limited. IMHO they should really integrate some of the most popular addons and/or redesign the worst UI parts.