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World of Warcraft: Interface

By Shamus
on Thursday Jul 15, 2010
Filed under:


So I’m playing WoW again, and mucking around trying to remember all my old macros and get the interface just so. Sometimes in my googling about I’ll come across images like this one:


Of course, the game doesn’t look like this until you get to the endgame, and I understand that not all classes turn into giant control panels, but it’s still an amazing thing to behold. I can’t think of anything else in gaming that gets to be this complex. Not X-com. Not the number-crunchy sports management games. Not the turn-based war sims. No RTS game expects you to digest this much input and I’ve never seen this many buttons onscreen at once in any of them.

There are probably games with more strategic depth, but in terms of interface density, WoW (and similar games) are playthings of tremendous complexity.

Comments (100)

  1. Blackbird71 says:

    That’s one thing that really bothered me about WoW; I constantly found myself spending so much time looking at the interface buttons and bars, that I was rarely looking at what was actually happening with my character on-screen. When I did look at the screen, if there was any combat or anything going on at all, it was often far too busy to even see much of anything!

  2. acronix says:

    I agree that WoW in the end game turns out to be something like made with ASCII in a psycodelic background. However, it looks like that screen is quite small (I think it enter four or so times in my screen (which is 1400×900), so it may get less cluttered depending on screen size.

  3. Someone says:

    Every time I see a picture like this one, fond memories of my raiding past engulf me and compel me to return. But then I remember that Il have to redownload all of the interface addons to match the current patches and properly reconfigure them all, and realize that its not worth the hassle.

    It might seem complicated, but you get used to that kind of interface in maybe a couple of days and it becomes incredibly convenient.

  4. gahazakul says:

    I think that screenshot is being made to look awful. Or it has been put together with a mess of mods. The WoW interface is very easy to mod up and if done right you can make a raidable UI that is even less all over the screen than the default ui.

    Here are two shots of UIs that are great raiding setup and don’t look like you threw a handful of spreadsheets at your monitor.


    • ngthagg says:

      Quite right. The first thing an experienced raider will notice about this screenshot is how much of the original interface is still there. In fact, I don’t think anything has been removed. The two cleaner interfaces that gahazakul posted feature no original interface, instead they were built from the ground up specifically for raiding.

      • rofltehcat says:

        I can confirm this. It is a horrible paladin UI.

        An important part of raiding is avoid area effects, positioning yourself correctly etc. and his UI just doesn’t do that.

        I raided for a long time as paladin and for quite some time of that I also used the standard bar layout but my interface was much better and only became a clusterfuck when the config files were corrupted or they released another patch.

        Haven’t played WoW for over 1.5 years. Sometimes I read stuff that itches me to do some leveling and questing of northrend and the next addon but stuff like them just having the RealID idea turn me off.

        • Aufero says:

          The game never looks like that unless you’re trying out new mods for the first time or you don’t know what you’re doing. I raided with several characters in WoW for years, and I never had that much on the screen. (Even my Hunter engineer had less to keep track of than that, with the right macros.)

          Most decent class/role UI mods present you with only the essentials. In this case, with Pally Power you don’t need any of those buffs showing. Most of those potions don’t need to be in the UI, the crafting hotkeys should be somewhere you don’t have to look at them all the time, and there’s no point in having the party UI visible if you’re using Grid and Clique for healing.

          UI mods should clean up your interface, not clutter it with useless crap.

    • swimon says:

      True enough but Shamus point still stands as your UI is ridiculously info heavy too even if it has a cleaner design. I mean there are bars text and cooldowns everywhere ^^.

      This does sort of make me miss the old days of WoW though, raiding molten core was so much fun :D.

    • Ian says:


      Can anyone tell me the addons I need for this (the first image link on gahazakul’s post) setup? That is extremely organized and compact. I like it because instead of having to look for evertyhing all over your moniter it’s all condenced. It seems like it would be helpful not only in my arena matches, but in any raid I might do. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Scott says:

    @Shamus: EVE Online.

    • Friend of Dragons says:

      Ah, EVE… I have fond memories of trying to keep one eye on my fleet, one eye at an enemy fleet and their tons of important numbers, one eye on all the people in the local channel, one eye on the things being said in fleet channel, one eye on my ship status, one eye on my primary target, one eye on my secondary target, and all at the same time and in the middle of a battle, no less :D

      • Roll-a-die says:

        Raid Healing in WoW is like that, as is non-main tanking. Take ques from the raid master on vent, take ques from the boss on the chat window, take ques from the people who don’t have mic, take ques from the bosses movements, keep an eye on your mana, keep an eye on your primary target, secondary target, and get ready for when the tertiary targets roll out, make sure to pick up the slack of your other healers. Keep an eye on your agro meter, keep an eye on your health, manage to time your cooldowns so you don’t run OM, make sure to keep buffs up. Literally, going through everything I had to do when I was raid healing, I really don’t know how a managed. That’s not even count what you had to do over the day to get ready for raid.

        • Bobknight says:

          arn’t games suppose to be… fun?

          • Roll-a-die says:

            It was an adrenaline rush from hell. It WAS fun, is was difficult, yes, but incredibly fun.

            • Someone says:

              Indeed, you can probably get more adrenaline staring at colorful character whacking each other on your screen than basejumpers get throwing themselves off buildings.

              Of cource the definition of “fun” is subjective. DPS players (people who do all the damage) also claim to have fun, even though all they do is mash the same 3-5 abilities in rotation until they get distracted by shiny objects in their room, step in a fire, pull aggro and die.

              For healers and tanks (people who have well armored characters taking all the damage and keeping the monsters busy), fun might be single handedly saving the entire raid from an imminent FUBAR, after five people do something egregiously stupid and die. Thats a bit of a paradox of healing/tanking, as long as everything goes smoothly you might get bored, the real excitement begins when things go south (which is most of the time).

              The interface example in the post is unoptimised and awful.
              Heres an example of a pretty clean raid tank interface

              • LassLisa says:

                That reminds me how much fun I had with my affliction-spec Warlock in TBC. It was almost too bad when I got good enough gear that Destruction became a more powerful spec, but watching the damage meter go up over the course of a raid was still a nice reward (“hah! You have a tier better gear than me and I’m tied with you for damage! Awesome!”). We were lucky that our tanks were so good we hardly ever had to worry about aggro, but there’s still all the other raid events, AOEs, spawns, etc to avoid. DPS gets to have fun too =)

                I did find that playing a tank or healer was much more satisfactory than DPS in normal instances though (in large part because it cuts back on ‘bad PUG’ possibilities).

                Regarding that interface, I’m not sure how the person using it is going to tell that they’re standing in an AOE, being approached by something they need to avoid, etc. Or that someone else is about to need intensive healing, in multi-mob fights.

              • Zukhramm says:

                Personally, I can’t find grouping, and even less raiding in WoW fun. The boring seems to scale up with the numbers of players instead of down, which is a problem in an MMO.

                • One of my favorite times tanking was as a bear through Shadowfang with some terribly geared people. (Our Warlock was in all grays). They didn’t know the instance except for my friend’s Elemental Shaman. It was fun because I was constantly dealing with the next stupid pull and in constant panic “OH MY GOD GET AGGRO ON EIGHT THINGS” mode.

        • Rhys Aronson says:

          It’s too bad WoW Healing is just a game of red bars go up. I much prefer the Guild Wars system which involved protection magic so it makes the healer analyse the situation and determine who is in danger before they are.

          For what it’s worth, a more complex UI does not a more strategic game make.

          Take a look at Guild Wars, even though it has much deeper strategy it is a fairly clean UI and only has 8 skills because positioning and movement is everything.

          This was my UI last time I heavily PvP’ed not sure how similar it is to the default as everything is movable within the game.


      • Chakan says:

        Flew and lost my first interceptor last night, apparently they don’t hold well to a couple full flights of T2 light drones. Until you get a hang of the interface and the basics of pvp, you really should stay out of anything larger than 5v5, not that you can always help it. Still, it was a good night, and I only lost a Malediction, so it wasn’t too bad.

        On the bright side, CSM has said they’re going to be improving the UI for EVE soon.

  6. BarGamer says:

    This was one of the reasons I left WoW. I just got sick and tired of “working” in order to have fun.

  7. Factoid says:

    I think a lot of games get this complex. Turn-based RPGs definitely have this many controls but they also have the common sense to not put them all on one screen. That’s the big difference with WoW…people seem to WANT everything all within one click. That may be convenient but man is it ugly.

  8. Nelson Minar says:

    Yeah, that screenshot is deliberately bad. There’s redundant elements (Grid and party frames). And the overall resolution looks quite small, maybe 800×600 or 1024×768.

    WoW’s customizable user interface is an underexplored topic. It’s really quite remarkable, particularly the way you can load significant and complex game-enhancing addons with sophisticated logic. I can’t think of another multiplayer game that allows that much user customization except Warhammer Online.

  9. MattK says:

    At this point, you’re pretty much just playing a MUD with a mouse; just watching numbers and reacting, barely able to see the graphics in the background.

  10. Emm Enn Eff says:

    That’s a pretty horribly bloated UI, Shamus.

    There’s a lot of redundant information, a lot of information that you don’t need to know at a glance in combat, and a lot of UI elements that can be shrunk.

    90% of my UI is condensed in the bottom 25% of the screen. Much of it only fades in when I mouse over it, or based on context. For instance, only 12 of my skills are visible – hitting a Alt/Shift/Ctrl key will replace that skill bar with another of my skill bars. I don’t click my skills, and I really don’t need their icons taking up real estate.

    Likewise, I don’t need a frame for displaying the 25 people in my raid, and a second frame for displaying the 5 of those people in my group.

    In the end-game, there’s about… 30 buttons that I get to hit. 4-8 of them make up 98% of my skill use (Depending on class). The rest are very situational, or are no-brainers. It’s nowhere near as complicated as an RTS.

    I will point out, however, that using the default UI in end-game raiding is a “noob trap” (Despite the frequent protests of some of my guild-mates, they would be better players if they looked into a custom UI)

    • Jabor says:

      I’m pretty sure using the mouse to activate skills is a noob trap.

      It’s slow, imprecise, and clutters your interface – all you really need to see for your skills is cooldown status, and you don’t need a huge button for that.

      • Roll-a-die says:

        Quite, unless you are a healer, you shouldn’t really be touching your mouse, except when you have to activate something not mapped to your numbers.

        22222342222234222223422223422222345, should be all the input into your computer you get when not healing.

        Grid and Click are a godsend for healing. NEVER use healbot, it has, or at least during BC, had, about a half second lag to when you started your heat.

        • Skip says:

          It hasn’t done that for, well, the entire time I’ve used it, which is basically the last couple of months of BC and the entirety of Wrath. Grid/clique and HealBot work the same way, doing the same things with about the same responsiveness. The difference is that for a healer who has never set up either, HealBot comes out of the box configured about 85% usable, and Grid is about, oh, 0.0004% usable. And if you ask someone, they’ll say, oh, go install these 17 grid addons.

          There are some exceptions – for Druid healing, at least, Grid ends up better because there’s simply more that you need to keep track of, and after you’ve spent many, many cycles getting it configured it can do it. But in geneeral the two are comparable these days.

          • Roll-a-die says:

            Grid uses less memory, thus causes less lag when you run it with other memory intensive add-ons. Healbot robs ram like looter during a natural disaster. It’s not much of a problem when you have plenty, but the way I was running back then, I had a fairly low end computer, and thus a fairly low amount of ram, thus it caused a massive amount of screen lag. Add in that once you get Grid and Click up and running it’s far more configurable, and much more modular. Not sure if Healbot has this now or not, but Grid will track debuffs as well.

        • Moriarty says:

          you shouldnt touch your mouse? gotta love those keyboard turners

        • Ian says:

          I always have my hand on my mouse. You pretty much have to if you want to move around quickly.

          I agree that hotkeys should be used far more than clicks when it comes to activating abilities, but if you need to react and move quickly to avoid instant death (hello Sindragosa) you’re certainly not going to be able to do it by using the keyboard. Additionally, on fights like Professor Putricide, you simply cannot let go of the mouse if you’re melee DPS due to the sheer amount of movement that’s required. Let’s not forget that clicking on nameplates is far better than attempting to tab target. The tab targeting system in WoW seems to prioritize idle enemies over enemies that you’re in active combat with, which can lead to some very deadly (and embarrassing) accidental pulls if you happen to hit the wrong mob with icy touch…not like *I’VE* ever done such a thing… <_<

          I cluster all of my abilities around the movement keys. It allows me to use the mouse for quick, precise movements, gives me the ability to easily click on long CD abilities (why would I give, say, “Summon Gargoyle” its own key when I can only use it every three minutes and it’s not a life or death move?), and lets me readily pan the camera around to increase overall raid awareness.

  11. scope.creep says:

    Did you know that images are not displayed correctly in Google reader for this blog? Somehow they lose the twentysidedtale/ part of the url.

    Of course, it could be me. Or a nefarious plot to force a pageview++ in order to see the purty pics.

  12. Novotny says:

    DCS Black Shark. That’s a complex interface. God help me, I’m trying to learn the damn thing.

  13. Matt says:

    Having been an endgame raider, I can tell you that that screenshot is just deliberately bad, but also that there are people who have UIs like it. All I can tell you is that it doesn’t HAVE to be that confusing or complex. One of the best things about WoW is that while leveling (and then in endgame) if you progress through the content naturally, you’ll learn over time and it won’t feel so confusing.
    However, heaven help you if you get tossed in the thick of it, as pictured in the screenshot. The good news is that Blizzard’s default UI is quite usable, and getting better all the time. I’ve healed plenty of endgame content without all the addons that often are assumed to be necessary.

    • Warlockofoz says:

      That doesn’t look deliberately bad to me, it looks ‘I’ve played the game enough to reach the level cap and installed the addons my guild told me to use’. I’ve seen far worse.

      • Moriarty says:

        nah, the chat size is far too big for an accident, also he has his combat log drawn out in a way that interferes whith his standart chat and didn’t even scroll down.

        • Warlockofoz says:

          I’m happy to stand by my first comment. I’ve seen raid screenshots with five different chat windows open (raid, party, guild, whisper, general), plus combat log. There’s no in-game ‘Setting up a raid UI’ quest :D

  14. Wonderduck says:

    If that’s what the UI looks like, there’s absolutely no chance I will ever, ever touch WoW. Give me something simple.

    Like decoding the human genome.

    • SatansBestBuddy says:

      That’s not what the UI looks like.

      WoW’s User Interface is one of the most modifiable UI’s ever made, and the one pictured above has been modded to look intentionally bad, as evidence by the low resolution and redundant information.

      The game proper is much, much easier to play than that garbled mess, maybe easier to look at and understand than Warcraft 3, and you can actually mod it to be even cleaner than that, too.

  15. Josh R says:

    Looks pretty similar to most MMOs… I remember someone linked their endgame LOTRO skillbar and it looked pretty much identical to this screen.

  16. Galenor says:

    Oh, niiiice! Your atypical robot healer who has got so many mods, they’ve merely got to breathe and the raid’s healed, buffed, and ready to go. And the boss is dead.

    And now, I shall try to explain it.

    On the left, you have the party interface. The bod at the top is him. The four smaller others are in the same raid group. The little icons underneath them are buffs, and on one person it says “Chain heal” in a golden bar – that’s the skill they’re casting right now. The boxes next to all but one’s name is their target.

    The green pasture in the middle is probably a mod called Click. A healer can assign skills to buttons, then click that button on a person in this grid to do that spell. IE, I bind Flash Heal to Mouse 1. If I then Mouse 1-click on Shadon’s green box, it does that spell on him. It’ll even predict how much HP it’ll heal with a translucent green bar! The coloured bars under the green ones are mana/rage/energy.

    The box on middle-right with the bar chart and “Healing Done” is Recount. This mod tracks the damage the damage-dealers do, and/or the healing the healers do. It’s basically so that elitist jerks can mock those doing the raid minimum and eject them for a 7k gearscore monster truck.

    The list of stuff on the right with times is a buff tracker. He’s monitoring the buffs on everyone, and can replenish them if they run out.

    The boxes surrounding the bottom and right are skills, macros and food. Yes, all of them.

    At the top, you got Titan Bar. This displays misc info for you on optional top and/or bottom bars. This fellow has put up stats like his armor durability, his total dosh, and the amount of bagspace he has.

    Everything else (which is not much) is self explanatory! :D

    • Roll-a-die says:

      Robot pretty much describes a raiding healer, along with the constant threat of being yelled at or kicked for perceived failures because healers are the easiest ones to blame for a wipe. WHEN YOU PULL AGRO OFF THE FUCKING TANK IT’S GOING TO BE A WIPE.

      • Dys says:

        If a healer pulls off a tank, that tank sucks serious ass.

        • Roll-a-die says:

          Dps can pull off the tank, at least inexperienced dps who don’t know how to manage agro. Which is what I was referring to, people blaming the healers when it was their own damn fault they pulled agro and died.

          • Dys says:

            Oh, sure. Tho most things kill dps so fast blaming the healers must be a heroic act of narcissism. I tend to find in our raids that the people who pull are the experienced dps who just can’t be bothered to watch their threat. Usually hunters. The crap dps just can’t do enough damage to pull.

            Sorry for misreading :)

  17. Marlowe says:

    It’s like all those mid 90s cyberpunk SF flicks (and FMV games – check out Ripper) featuring depictions of cyberspace came true. Avatars riding around on the backs of translucent blue crystal winged horses. 500 icons outlined in glowing neon.

  18. DougO says:

    The truly ironic thing is that (1) that’s a pally, which means (2) 98% of the time they need about 6 buttons total to fill their raid role. [I say this as a pally MT] That’s the UI equivalent of an Obfuscated-C contest entry.

  19. Phil says:

    Its a Paldin with HealBot (bars in the center) damage meters (or healing done in this case) and PallyPower for handling the paladin buffs. Plus, the screen resolution is crap, because that person’s computer is probably low-to-medium-end. Bump up the screen resolution 2x or 3x and things get much less crowded.

    P.S. I don’t play any more, I used to roll a dorf Priest.

  20. BaCoN says:

    My UI is like, a BILLION times nicer looking than that one. Soooo much cleaner. I despise clutter, I see no need for meters all the time, I CERTAINLY get rid of my party frame if I’m in a raid, and I rarely need to look at anything for more than a fraction of a second, because my Grid is right next to the interesting bits in the middle.

  21. Ern'st says:

    That’s a fake, brah

  22. Nick Pitino says:

    That picture is the stuff of nightmares to me.

    I have stared into eternity and it has stared back finding me wanting…

  23. X2-Eliah says:

    Oh wow, that looks like a colourful party UI.. And is that a glimpse of a low-poly 3D GAME I see in the free space?

    On a different note, to people who suggested their own choices, they don’t really look much better, about a third of the screen is still taken up by stuff.

  24. Adam P says:

    For the uninformed, the default UI for WoW does not look like that. That is also not what a typical healer’s UI looks like.

    On WoW.com (a fansite), they run a weekly feature showcasing their reader’s UIs: http://www.wow.com/category/reader-ui-of-the-week/

  25. Davie says:

    The only game I’ve played with an interface even nearing that level of complexity would be Sins of a Solar Empire.
    It’s a lot to process, but it’s still manageable. I do see the telltale signs of addons, which cluttered up the interface ridiculously. When I played WoW, I always made sure to have no more than two windows open at a time. It remained quite playable.

  26. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Kinda reminds me of an xkcd strip: http://www.xkcd.com/763/

    Moral of the story: if you don’t teach people how to do something, they will find their own way of doing it.

    And it will be so wrong.

    So very, very wrong.

  27. Danath says:

    Problem is that people will not use 90% of those buttons, but you need that shit there… JUST IN CASE you need those buttons. That’s the real problem.

  28. Ixidane says:

    Holy jesus. If it wasn’t for my years of experience, I’d never even be able to tell where they were or what they were fighting with that monstrosity. The UI itself must be the raid boss, and if you can successfully perform your roll, you get extra loot.

    I see several people commenting that this is fake. While I’m fairly sure this is correct (given that this is a BC raid and this guy is using Recount which as I recall wasn’t introduced until Wrath due to the guy who made Damagemeters, the then standard meter addon, quitting the game), I know many people who raid with atrocious UIs just like this. Some people have not only the buff icons up at the top in huge size, but also a separate buff mod which adds timer bars for their durations, both running at the same time.

    I can’t understand how anyone could raid like this. Only 25% of the game world is actually visible. There are buttons for things which shouldn’t even have buttons assigned, like the Deviate fish or the bandages. Or the Flasks. Or the food. Why is there a thing on Titan panel at the top showing XP to next level when this guy is at max level? Why would anyone need to see every single static buff that each party member has on them at any given time? What exactly is the point of the 3d photos of people on the party frames (if anyone knows, other than “take up space and be useless”, let me know. I’ve been wondering this for a long time)?

    • Danath says:

      Hate to tell you, not fake. As a healer this is common due to the amount of shit you need to keep tabs on. my shaman isn’t much better. Most of my screen is taken up by bars and cooldowns and boss timers, with about 30% of my screen actually visible.

      • Aufero says:

        The last healer I played regularly in raids was a Shaman, and I had nowhere near that much on the screen. A good UI setup with Grid, Clique, Power Auras and Deadly Boss Mods should take care of everything you need to know with 80% of the screen still visible. Heck, you don’t even need a totem mod anymore! (True, I ran Omen and Recount as well – but I didn’t have them visible while raiding.)

        I doubt the above UI is fake, but you don’t actually need to clutter the screen like that.

      • Ian says:

        This most certainly is not “common.” Having this much of the UI consumed, regardless of raid role, is dangerous because it makes it incredibly difficult to see dangers in the world.

        I’ve downed everything in ICC except for the Lich King and can honestly say that, without a lot of hand-holding, a healer with an interface that looked like the one in the screenshot would very likely die to most of the second wing bosses simply because their field of view would be so tiny.

        And yes, I do play a healer (my 80 priest is dual-specced holy and disc), so I definitely understand the requirements of a healer UI. It absolutely does not need to be that cluttered.

        • Danath says:

          Personally on my shaman my UI is that cluttered, although it’s mainly because of trying to watch my cooldowns on so many abilities using ShockAndAwe addon.

          I personally have no problems with it, warning cues from raid addons and simple situational awareness of how to move in the fights have worked fine for me, I’ve done everything except LK myself. (I pug)

          I’m usually enhancement, but there’s quite a bit of stuff on that screen that doesn’t need to be there, but it doesn’t mean it’s fake or untrue. My priest in vanilla and paladin in TBC had a screen very similar to that and I spent most of my UI time trying to free up more space. WoTLK is slightly different, but shaman is a cooldown whore and I have trouble keeping track of timers, although maybe powerauras would help, I’m too lazy to try it out.

    • Ryplinn says:

      I hate to nitpick, but Recount was first released in early to mid BC–June of 2007.

      Original Elitist Jerks thread by addon author

      The 3D portraits, in a sane UI, serve the dual purpose of looking pretty and allowing recognition of your target without having to process the textual information of a name, although 2D portraits would serve the same purpose.

      And all of the crazy action buttons are there because the player is either trolling or loco.

    • OEP says:

      I was using recount in kara…

  29. Jenx says:

    One thing that might require this many controls? Pfft easy – any big roguelike game. More or less all letters on the keyboard + capital letters + extended commands + who knows what else.

  30. OEP says:

    That is an ancient screenshot. Looks like somewhere in Black Temple. One thing that people neglect to mention is that WoW is extremely customizable. With a little knowhow you can raid with much less. I personally like a lot of information because I lead raids, but if your job is simpler, then you don’t need as much.

    This post on wow.com has a few examples of wow ui’s


  31. Conlaen says:

    Thats a pretty atrocious resolution there (like 1024×768?). From the healthbar stack in the middle this is a 25-man raid, and really my screen never looked this cluttered even back when I was doing 40-man raids. Also, you can scale the action bars to make them smaller. I’m sure some people played like this, but thats only because no-one ever explained to them they didn’t have to.

  32. Mark says:

    Seems like an awful lot of trouble for harvesting bear spleens.

  33. Ian says:

    I ended up rolling a mage the other day because I was bored of playing my 80s and decided to roll with the stock UI for a while (with Carbonite, because Blizzard’s quest tracker still leaves a lot to be desired). So far, going from a UI that I tailored for raiding to the big, bulky Blizzard UI has been interesting, yet not all that jarring (of course, considering my new mage is level 15, there isn’t a whole lot to press right now).

    Of course, if I were to try to play any of my 80s on Blizzard’s interface I’d probably be highly annoyed. If nothing else, being able to easily bind keys to arbitrary buttons is a godsend.

  34. Meredith says:

    I always wonder about games that have to be extensively modded to be playable/enjoyable. Shouldn’t these things just be useable out of the box without me having to go to all this extra effort? The more I hear about the end game of WoW, the more I know it’s not a game for me. It just sounds like so much work, and then the only reward is more work.

    • Tizzy says:

      I think there might be a certain wisdom in this attitude: rather than trying to figure out exactly what the players want, try to make the game easily moddable and let the players figure out exactly what they want.

      It’s modders who end up doing a lot of work: as a simple player, all you have to do is wait to find out which mod seems to work the best for the community.

  35. Vipermagi says:

    A question that is barely related: That guy has 4 buttons with the Holy Light icon. Does WoW really re-use icons that often?

  36. Deoxy says:

    Heh. Hehehehehe.


    That’s pathetic. Try Dwarf Fortress. It makes that look like child’s play.

    There was a great thread in the forums recently… Ah, here it is:

    “Casual vs Hardcore vs Dwarf Fortress”

    • Dys says:

      In point of fact the DF UI, as opposed to the actual game mechanics, is very sparse.

      Which is kind of the point. Working out ANYTHING in Dwarf Fortress is a legendary challenge, since you’ll have to go through half a dozen menus to even find out why the information you need is not available to you.

      Having a button on the screen which MAKES SOMETHING HAPPEN is like some kind of impossible dream in that game. Getting anyone to do anything remotely useful is positively herculean.

      • Deoxy says:

        Yes, but at the same time, the “view screen” is, be default, absolutely miniscule, and there ARE button commands all over the place… just not the ones that you almost ever use. It has all the disadvantages of the screen listed above (and then some), but with almost none of the advantages.

  37. Quicksilver_502 says:

    wow is childs play compared to the insane complexity of eve. its like that screenshot but at the start of the game.

    • Chakan says:

      I don’t feel like EVE is that complex, once you’ve done the tutorials, you understand the basics, and can decide what you want to do in the game, going from there. I think most people skip the tutorials, then realize that they don’t even know how to move their ship, or what the difference between warping and jumping is, and just give up.

      Though, admittedly, the UI could use sprucing up, which would make it much more open to newbies. Hell, I’ve only been playing for 5 months, and I know most everything except how to run corporations and ship names.

  38. Dys says:

    Ok, so in an attempt to be definitive, there are two basic things wrong with that shot.

    The first is resolution. More pixels means more space to spread things out. Or at least, it means the elements are smaller in their default sizes. I play at 1680 x 1050 and the main bar is actually small enough that I have addon windows to either side of it.

    The second issue is that many of those elements, and many of the buttons, are duplicates of things elsewhere on the screen. As people have said, you don’t need the party interface up in raids, and with Pallypower active, you don’t need any buffs on bars.

    I disagree with those people who advocate a custom UI, simply because it will break with every patch and you cannot rely on it to function all the time. I do not like people stopping raids for ten minutes because they have to fix their stupid UI. Use the blizzard default, and set it up as best you can.

    Incidentally, that is definitely from the Burning Crusade, several of those Paladin buffs no longer exist since the coming of Wrath.

    All of which is incidental to the real subject at hand, which is the information density of a WoW UI. Tbh I think that screenshot is something of a canard, since it’s not actually that dense, it’s just a mess. The streamlined custom UIs linked in the comments are actually better representations of the sheer amount of information used by a raider during most fights. It makes me wonder if there’s any way to determine an optimal layout.

    As for raiding being work… any game becomes work if you push it to the extreme. Taking on a challenge with trusted friends is rewarding in a way few other things can be.

    • OEP says:

      Hmm, you advocate against against playing with an optimized UI because it “might” break with patches that come at most every few months? And any raider worth his salt would fix his addons before the raid.

      That is like saying we should all walk because cars “might” break down. If a patch breaks your custom UI, so what? Then you use the default one until the custom UI gets fixed. You certainly aren’t worse off. At least you didn’t have to suffer the default UI for most of that time. Having to plod along with the default UI is a terrible thing.

      Now if you are saying you prefer the default UI, that is a different thing altogether, more power to you. But avoiding something better just because it might break seems foolish to me.

      I currently use 105 addons, and the x.x.x.x patches almost never affect them. The x.x.x patches break maybe 1 or 2. Only the x.x patches affect any significant number, and those usually get fixed in a day or 2. I have never missed or significantly delayed a raid due to an UI issue.

      • Dys says:

        Essentially I rank reliability above appearance.
        Admittedly utility is more important than either, but most custom UIs are not about utility, they are about prettiness.

        I imagine a dedicated raider will always find a way, no matter what goes wrong, but I’ve had enough experiences in the past of people logging on five minutes before raid on a patch day only to wail in guild chat about how none of their addons are working.

        If you can run 105 addons… a hundred and five? Jesus man, I have maybe ten at most. Inconceivable! If you can run that many addons and still cause no grief to your raids then I commend that level of skill. Most people can’t, in my experience. Most people end up with a chaotic mess like the pic in the post.

        Personally I’ve no interest in taking the time or trouble to customise a UI only to have to do it again next time a big patch rolls around. Just lazy I guess :)

  39. HeroOfHyla says:

    I never played WoW much (just a couple of the free trials with friends), but I always liked Final Fantasy XI’s interface:
    It was originally designed for PS2, so the game is navigated with a keyboard or joystick. Playing with the mouse is possible, but clumsy. I really like having all messages in the chat log, rather than having a message pop up in a window summarizing a quest like in WoW. It feels much more like an impassable wall of text when it’s all presented at once rather than a few lines at a time in the chat log.

    The interface is nice and uncluttered, with only your HP, MP, chat log, name, and status effects always visible (and those can be hidden by pressing scroll lock on the keyboard, or a button on a controller), and everything else accessible when needed.

  40. Yerushalmi says:

    The opposite of interface density is input density. Ever play the flight simulator Falcon? The game quite literally has over five hundred possible inputs – nearly every key on the keyboard executes a different command when pressed alone, when pressed with shift, when pressed with Ctrl, when pressed with Alt, when pressed with Ctrl+Shift, when pressed with Ctrl+Alt, when pressed with Alt+Shift, and when pressed with Ctrl+Alt+Shift.

    It’s awesome.

    • Deoxy says:

      You should try Dwarf Fortress – sounds like your sort of game.


    • (LK) says:

      I always hated this aspect of flight simulators, too.

      Misguided geeks of the genre will pass it off as simulating the complexity of the aircraft but it’s utter B.S., an aircraft has all those commands placed as buttons or switches on an intelligently designed control panel, where each location is home to a logically placed function.

      With a keyboard all such inputs are non-intuitive and the control scheme requires tens of times the amount of rote memorization with zero intuitive cues. It’s horrid that some people think flying a real aircraft entails that density of horrible ergonomics.

      Interactive cockpit control panels in flight simulators were certainly a boon. There, you can look for the actual switch instead of remembering the arbitrary 3 button combo for it.

  41. (LK) says:

    And I complain about EVE’s viewscreen feeling cluttered…

    The game catches a lot of flak for being hyper-complicated and having a brutal learning curve, but I’ve never been forced to operate with a UI mess like that.

    Not once have I glanced at all the buttons I’m managing and pined for something simpler such as a space shuttle or a wheelbarrow full of slide rules.

  42. Grom says:

    The interface add-ons are hugely helpful and you become accustomed to them. They help significantly in raiding and most will allow you to customize between characters. Also, as said previously this guys screen is small and you can make that about 30% of the size shown.

    Once my play time wound down, I wound log on to realize that there was a new patch…rendering my default add-on setup incompatible. Then, became the process of identifying the bad add-ons, finding replacements, learning how to set them up, finding incompatibility issues with my existing add-ons, and after a couple hours of this…logging on.

    It destroyed the ability to revisit the game occasionally. It was all or nothing for me…and it’s been nothing for 3 years now.

    It sucks to log on and use the default interface with a powerful character. It’s like driving a sports car with a restrictor plate. You’ve got this big shiny toy that you know could be soooo much better.

    (Playing a priest without grid, the lag correction add-on, dot timers, improved party frames, etc. is just an frusterating exercise in trying to track everything these add-ons would be doing. The thing I liked was that it freed up MORE screen space if done correctly…then in a boss battle it’d look like a NASA control room again..but at least there was a toggle switch)

  43. Madcat says:

    MY WoW screen is close to looking like that, but the thing is it gets to a point where when you go back to the basic UI you cant play lol.

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