Friday, December 12, 2008
"Oh taking your advice I'm looking on the bright side And balancing the whole thing"
So... lets... Talk... User Interfaces.(couldn't resist sorry)
WoW is not the first MMO that allows for users to customize their interface but it has gone far and beyond what any other game I can recollect has done beyond the cosmetics. A healer's choice in MODs and how they craft their UI has a large impact on how well they do. The first thing to remember is it has to feel right to you. If you don't feel right with your UI and where everything is then honestly you wont do as well. I personally feel that the UI is 10% data feed 10% placement and 80% cosmetic. Lets be honest healers, we're going to be seeing it a lot might as well be pretty to us.
Let me show you mine.
annnnnd Here's a list of the mods I use
Now here's what works for me. First of all, the main thing anyone needs is good unit frames. I use Perl classic for party / target / target of target. Durring a raid the party on the left is hidden, so far no way to remove it completely but it doesn't really bother me in the 5 mans. Mine is hidden and Mine has been replaced by the big diablo 3 orbs at the bottom. That's my health and mana bars. Flashy, yes, effective, yes. Reason for them is two fold. The orbs are aesthetically pleasing but more importantly they put a HUGE reminder in front of me, about my own health and mana, something that even I after years of doing this still lose track of in the heat of a tough boss battle (yeah exploding on Illidan was fun). Healers often suffer from tunnel vision, focusing on the raid and the tank more then themselves (we're selfless like that), so my suggestion to you, put YOUR health and mana in a place HIGHLY visible to you. Some people prefer to just move their frame lower center, some use HUDS. No matter your method make sure you have a reminder of when to heal yourself.
For raid unit frames I use GRID. I adopted it some time ago and it gives me everything I need. It notifies me when a person has aggro, it gives me their health, mana, rage, energy or rune power totals, it tells me when they are cursed poisoned or diseased and it tells me who is targeted for heals and the rough estimate of how much healing is incoming to a person. This allows me to prioritize heals and keep my overhealing low or know when a tank really needs more healing. Find raid frames you like and use them. There are a lot of options to choose from for them.
Second important thing is to have your buttons and macros easily accessable. I use bartender 4 I admit I'm a clicker. I don't like key bindings because I keep my keys clear to get-my-ass-outa-dodge if I need to. I click and use the number keys to cast. Most of the time I'll click a target in GRID and then hit my healing button (2-6 = heals for me). The main thing is I keep everything I need to cast close together and visible front and center this way I'm not looking all over for one specific ability. I also give my pots and food and stones its own little section above my map so I can always see them as well.
My map mod I use chinchilla with Cartographer and Gatherer
so I can keep track of where my guild is, but also move the map to the lower right out of the way and turn off a lot of the features like the calender button, and turn useful things on like Coordinates. Since my attention is usually towards the bottom of the screen for unit bars and other information it seemed logical to place the map down there for easy viewing.
In the upper right you will find RaidCooldown I use this during a raid to track who has burned what cooldowns so I know when to use mine, or when I shouldn't be yelling at a druid to combat res someone =P (but that's more of a raid officer / leader thing if you are not just an information junkie)
I also use fubar with pluggins for many of my mods as well as Mods like Big Wigs for raid warnings and Cellular to keep my in game tells in order and easily accessible. These are just information consolidation for me.
Arguably the most important mod I use is my totem mod. I choose Yata. It provides me with totem timers I can move, totem cooldowns, and a movable, scalable totem bar. The bar itself is very handy. Right clicking on the bar on any totem icon casts Totemic Call so I can drag totems or recall them for one last burst of mana for a heal if I need to without searching for the ability. It's also handy because when I mouse over one of the fours slots, it builds up from that slot all available totems from that school. If I move my mouse up and left click on one of the totems not on the main bar, it places it on that main bar instead of what was there. It allows totem sets to be fluid, which is really good if you have more then one shaman on a raid, it helps cut down unnecessary totem overlapping.
The casting bar you see there is Quartz. It is important to have a good casting bar and here's why. Blizzards is good but it doesn't account for server > client lag, and it doesn't always give you an accurate casting time. Quartz gives you your real time casting time, with any push back from damage you recieve, and gives you a "good to cancel zone" with accounting for your lag. If you look at my picture up there you'll see a little red at the end. As soon as my cast bar is in that area it's safe to "cancel" my heal by jumping or moving and start another. That means the lag should be enough within that red zone that the original heal will go off without cancelling and the second heal will already be started. Ever have an "oh shit I have no clue how you died" moment in a raid? Lag would be the reason why, even if you didn't see it. In that fraction of a second you weren't healing, you missed your mark. Getting and learning how to use a casting bar like Quartz there is a must in my opinion for all healers.
My trend, if you didn't notices, is information gathering and consolidation so I can see whats going on, target the party/ tank quickly, and roll my heals accordingly.
So here's the How to get going key points so to speak.
1.) Get a unit / raid frame mod that will allow you to keep tabs on your party and place it in an area where you will easily be able to float your eyes between that and your abilities. (Grid still gets my vote and at one point in time was required of all my healers in a raid =P)
2.) Place your own unit frame in a highly visible area so you can track your health and mana. Letting yourself die is just embarrassing =P (and yes it still happens to me =[ lol)
3.) Shamans get a totem bar that works well for you. The simpler the better. Totem caddy and things like that just take up too much memory.
4.) keep your main abilities key bound or on the main action bar (1 through " = " ) so you can easily roll your hands across the keys while you are selecting your team mates for fast efficient healing.
5.) Get a casting bar that accounts for latency and get comfortable with it. It will ensure there is no downtime between heals on healing intensive fights and will help you visualize the heal and get used to timing the casts with your connection speed.
6.) Place key items in areas where you can easily see them without having to draw away from everything else. Healing is all micromanagement really, just make sure you keep everything you need in a tight package.
7.) make it aesthetically pleasing to you. You're going to be staring at it all night long it might as well look pretty to you =D
8.) Experiment with placement and trying things out. Test it out in a battleground (no durability lost ftw). I tell all my healers to do this, it helps you get used to your UI while having little to no consequences.
9.) Try to not let it become something like this
Later tonight I will post a list of useful macros I use for things like Earth Shield and Weapon buffs etc etc. =D Hope this helps