Friday, April 23, 2010

What's wrong with the WoW UI?

(Can you see what is going on behind those frames? Neither can I.)

I've talked about addons before and I usually note that people who play with absolutely no addons are either Terminator-like geniouses or not very good players (unfortunately, most likely the latter). People do look down on these non-addon users, that's a fact. And I concluded last time that the beauty about addons is that they allow you to costumizes information display and skill execution so that it suits your way of playing. I also stated that a vast majority of the WoW players would gain alot from using at least some addons for some areas of the game (depending on the way you play of course) and that the standard WoW UI simply doesn't cut it. So what is wrong with the standard ui anyway?

Once you give it a closer look, and compare the standard UI to what it could've been (like what addons can do) you quickly notice there is quite much lacking here. On the defense side, and I talked about this last time too, Blizzard has had to create a UI which must suit any player in any class playing any spec and etc... It has to be able to do it all for anyone. And this very thing is probably what the problem is all about really. Because even though this is a fact, I don't agree about most of the solutions with the UI being the best one or only one. Here are some of the things that annoy me the very most about the standard UI;

First of all you wonder if the UI is designed to work with the game at all. Just open any panel and you'll see that it blocks a huge chunk of your screen. Can you move it? No. Can you resize it? Definitely not. The bags, the quest log, the calendar (oh holy Spaghettimonster is that thing bulky or what?) and actually any screen you want to look at means you will have to pause your game play because you can't actually see what you're doing. Does this make sense? Many other mmorpgs have customizable UI's as a standard, Guild Wars and Fallen Earth just to mention two. I can't think of a very good reason that Blizzard hasn't gotten around to throwing in some code to make the UI less bulky and in the frickin way (I realize it's not that simple, but on the other hand it's a rather big issue that deserves some attention). And if the reason is about not forcing people with bad computer to play an overloaded game, then just make the UI optional through an option panel like the graphics are now.

Other things that annoy me is the "all or nothing" think of the UI. You can't close down a portion of it (to see something!), but gotta keep it all up or close it all down. Yet again I come to think of the Calendar. You can't just see the tab with the event info to the right, no you've gotta keep the entire calendar monster up to see it. Another theme on this is the fact that you can't craft something without the craft window up. Say you've got a 100 saronite ores to smelt, you've got to keep that mining profession window up at all times. Can you move it so that it doesn't block the entire left part of your screen? No. Oh wait, isn't that where Blizzard also have chosen to place the party frame? Which you also can not move in the standard UI? Yes of course. Great planning there.

And because you can't resize them, you'll only be able to browse a set number of frames at the same time, usually around three depending on what frames you wish to look at. But if you're looking at something really big, like the Auction House, you can forget that you can look at a profession frame or character frame at the same time. No, you have to close the AH down to do that. Not very efficient if you want to check what mats you need for a certain craft or if you've already got that gem in your gear.

And changing stuff takes such time! If I want to keybind something using an addon it takes 3 seconds. If I want to do it using Blizzard UI I have to go into "Esc", "interface", find the proper button in the list and then choose the keybind. That takes at least ten times longer than with the addon and might turn out wrong in the end anyway. This is the fact with most of Blizzards UI when compared to addons.

Ok I admit, I haven't used the standard UI for so long that I'm not completely sure about what Blizzard have implemented along the way. Because another issue with the WoW UI is that it simply lacks some very needed options. Think about all the addon solutions we had to work with that eventually became part of the standard UI because Blizzard realized that it was needed for efficient (and thus fun) game play. Some of these include;
- Quest Helper
- Wardrobe to switch between two (or more) gears, which should have been implemented the second Blizzard wanted people to collect special resist gears and the like.
- A way to plan how you'd like to place your talents without actually having to place them.
- Scrolling Combat Text, so you don't have to look in the combat log to know what the heck is going on around you (which is what I did in the early days of my WoW play).
- A slightly better AH although still a long way from something like Auctioneer.
- A threatmeter, which still isn't very clear but at least something.

And here are some areas that still need a lot of polishing;
- The bags. Everything is wrong about the bags. You can't sort items or search items in them which is just plain horribad. You don't have any way to check what lies in your bank or on an alt without having to relog or go there (which is such a waste of time).
- Well the fact that you can't actually move or resize anything, like I've said some times now. Please please do something about that. And while we're on it, the fact that you're barely able to customize anything about the frames, like what buffs/debuffs you'd like to see and etc. Things that actually matter alot when fighting tough raid encounters.

So to conclude; the problem with the Blizzard UI is that it is extremely rigid, bulky and uncostumizable. Trying to play efficiently with it is like trying to thread a needle with boxing gloves.

No comments:

Post a Comment