In the past Blizzard has made changes to the default user-interface (UI) or added new features which had been previously part of popular addons. Most recently, it seems Mists of Pandaria will be incorporating the ideas seen in an addon called QuestHubber, which is a fantastic idea. It is very nice to see Blizzard taking ideas from the community and putting them into the retail game. In keeping with this idea, I would like to make two recommendations for features that should become part of the default UI. This is based entirely on my attempt to play my main, a Warlock, in the Mists of Pandaria beta where addons are currently disabled.
The two most popular action bar addons are Bartender and Dominos. Both are functionally equivalent. The most-used features allow players to: (1) move their action bars anywhere on the screen; (2) resize their action bars; and (3) control the number of spells allocated to each row or column. There are, of course, other uses for these addons but those are the ones I feel are at the heart of what they do best.
But why should the function of these addons be part the default UI? I feel it is because of how simple and yet important they are to many players. When I logged into the beta for the first time I had to rearrange the spells on my action bars. Not just because of the change to many abilities, some of which are no longer there and others which have been added, but because my action bars on live look like this:
Go ahead and chastise me for being a “clicker.” I proudly admit it. I have tried using keybinds but I simply cannot get into it, no matter what game I play. As a result, my action bars are arranged to reduce the distance my mouse needs to travel in order to click the most-used spells. That is something I cannot accomplish with the default World of Warcraft UI because it only utilizes horizontal space and not vertical space. Beyond my mental inability to utilize keybinds, there are also persons with physical disabilities who have a much easier time using abilities by mouse-clicking them than pressing a key on a keyboard. Blizzard has already implemented the Move Pad in response to those needs. Being able to manipulate action bars more freely would be a nice compliment.
The default UI allows you to add more action bars but the bars themselves cannot be changed. Having twelve horizontal places to put new abilities is nice, but a 6×2 grid is much more mouse-friendly. The best I could do with the default UI is try and re-arrange my spells so they roughly line up in the same positions across two vertically stacked bars, but it simply is not the same.
Addon popularity is probably a factor to consider when deciding whether an addon’s features should be incorporated. While not a definitive source of information for addon popularity, curse.com should at least provide a relevant basis for determining what is popular. According to Curse’s statistics as of the time I write this, Bartender and Dominos have a combined monthly download of around 173,000. That is in the top eight most downloaded addons this month. And I am sure Blizzard has access to date which would far more accurately show the popularity of those particular addons.
Simply put, action bar addons have become a staple for much of the playerbase and I feel the functions they provide are essential enough to become part of the game itself.
My main is an Affliction Warlock. I have been Affliction since the release of Icecrown Citadel during Wrath of the Lich King. Until that point I had never used a DoT timer addon. The only DoT I had to manage as Demonology was Immolate, and it was not very difficult. That changed completely with switching to Affliction where DoT management became much more important.
Generally speaking, the Affliction rotation consists of using Haunt on cooldown, keeping up Bane of Doom, Corruption, Affliction, and Curse of the Elements, and filling downtime with Shadow Bolt unless the target is below 25% health in which case you switch to Drain Soul.
Without utilizing an addon, the only way I can see what DoTs are active is by looking at the portrait of my target. The DoTs are listed in the order they were applied, so in order to see which was is expiring first I would need to either estimate the time remaining based on the clockwise shading of the DoT icon or hover my mouse over the DoT to see exactly how many seconds remain.
That draws far too much attention away from the rest of the screen because it would need to be done constantly over a boss fight. Knowing exactly how many seconds are left on a DoT is crucial to properly executing the Affliction rotation. DoTs can be refreshed without losing a tick if they are refreshed in between the last and second to last tick. Take Bane of Doom for example. It ticks ever 15 seconds and lasts for 60 seconds. That means after 45 seconds pass, I can reapply Bane of Doom and not lose a tick from the original cast.
But Bane of Doom is the easy example. When haste is factored into other DoTs, the window in between ticks changes and determining how much time is left without looking at a mouseover tooltip is impossible.
DoT timers alleviate this problem by listing all damage over time effects (even bleeds for melee classes) on a target in a way that easily allows the player to see what needs refreshing next. This is a screenshot from my preferred addon, aptly named DoTimer, in action.
The bottom spell is the one which will expire first and it changes dynamically as I play. I could not effectively play an Affliction Warlock without it, and I feel strongly that my fellow Warlocks would agree, though they may use alternative addons such as Quartz or ForteXorcist.
The default UI needs to be expanded if Blizzard intends for people to be able to effectively play a DoT heavy class, such as Affliction Warlocks, without addons.