Sunday, February 21, 2010

World of Warcraft - A guide to creating a custom arcane mage UI

Update screenshot (7/10/2010):

Older screenshot:

Here is a before shot for comparison:

So now that I'm starting to raid a bit more I thought I would redo my entire UI from the ground up. Most of these addons I download from curse using the curse client. I looked at some of the custom ui's at other sites like tankspot to get some ideas but of course I have a lot of my own personal preferences. I didn't really care too much about artwork or aesthetics. I just wanted to place as much information as possible on screen with the more critical stuff centered. The UI has been designed with 1920X1200 on a 24" monitor in mind but it does scale ok down to lower resolutions (I also play on my macbook 13" 1280X800, but you have to enable UI scaling in the options to get it to look right). One general thing to keep in mind is you will want to resize, scale, and position so all these mods don't overlap each other. Pay special attention to dbm, quartz, pitbull, and power auras. Oh and if things ever get wacky type /reload ui

Power Auras
- This has to be the most important mod I have for combat. It basically lets you place any texture, anywhere, any size or orientation, triggered by almost any condition. It's very flexible and works great for any class. I mostly use it to track procs, critical buffs/debuffs, cool downs, and health/mana. Note: These screenshots are a bit dated but my Auras haven't changed.

- The wiki has some pretty good info:

- The first thing you want to configure is Arcane Blast. I borrowed some ideas from this arcane mage export.You need to track when you get 4 stacks of debuff plus a timer for when the debuff expires. You also need to know when Arcane Barrage procs (orange teeth above the toon) so you can cast Arcane Missile. I also have a timer on Arcane Barrage so I know when it expires. So the basic idea is I have a purple semicircle divided into three segments. Each time I add a stack of arcane blast to the target part of the circle gets filled in. When the 4th stack is applied a larger glowing outline of the semicircle appears and I know it's time to cast arcane missile if arcane barrage has proc'd. If it hasn't then I can fish for it or clear it depending on the situation.

You can import these settings if you want to see how I set them up.
1 stack:

2 stacks:

3 stacks:

4 stacks:

Missile Barrage:

Arcane Power:

- I have little triangles that appear that tell me when I have low mana or health. The problem is the low health is a pretty critical warning and it was just a bit too subtle. I changed it so the triangle means below 50% and then I flash a big red "Danger" message when I get below 33%. At that point I'm ready to ice block if the healers can't get to me in the next few seconds.

Health at 50%

Health at 34%

Mana at 80% (time to pop a gem)

Mana at 34% (maybe time to evoc)

- Getting the slowed target to work was a bit tricky because there are so many things that can trigger this effect. I basically had to create two yellow arrows and lay them directly on top of each other because there were too many conditions to fit in one aura.

slow 1:

slow 2:

- The rest of the things I did with power auras are pretty straight forward like the trinkets, icy veins, arcane power, wards, gems, evocation, etc.
icy veins:

trinkets (you'll have to customize the name to match the trinkets you have equiped)

Mirror Image:

Presence of Mind

Mana gems


Fire Ward:

Frost Ward:

Pitbull v4
- This is probably going to be one of the more time consuming mods to configure. But once you get it all setup the way you like, it is well worth the effort. I highly recommend you read the faq and guide first. My objective was to get my player unit frame and target unit frame lower and centered on the screen where my eyes are usually focused instead of the upper left hand corner. Instead, I use the upper left corner for focus and focus target frames.
- I put a hotkey on focus target which I usually slap on the tank. Then I use this macro /target focustarget to easily target what the tank is targeting. Click on nothing and hit your hotkey for focus target to clear focus. This also has implications if you use a sheep macro. I'll have to look into it a bit more.
- I still use grid for when I raid though I could probably setup pitbull to look a lot like grid. I do use pitbull for 5 man instances.
- The main changes I made is adding a 4th bar just for level class information and changed how health and mana text are reported to be formatted basically the same way the default wow frames are. I created a separate layout for target since I like Health:Smart for the text in that case. I also moved my pet frame to the upper left corner underneath focus unit frame but scaled a bit smaller. I also increased the size of critical icons like raid target markers.
- For party unit frames I scaled them down a bit and have no pet frames.

5 man instance:

Bartender 4
- What I did to save some screen real estate is I created two full bars of buttons that stay hidden all the time with all of the buttons hotkeyed. These are my most frequently used spells and ones I have the keyboard shortcuts committed to memory and have developed that muscle memory needed for best performance.
- One thing to note is that bar 1 is treated special and is the bar that is visible during vehicle combat encounters like in the start of ulduar or malygos. Since I have bar 1 with my first set of hotkeyed buttons and is usually hidden I had to use a custom condition for visibility. First I position bar 1 near the button overlapping my already existing bars. Then, I use this custom condition: [bonusbar:5]show;[vehicleui]show;hide
- This way the bar is usually hidden unless I'm in a vehicle fight. I suggest you go joust or try the quest Aces High to make sure it is all configured properly.
- Other than that I used two groups of 9 buttons on each side for less commonly used actions which do not require a hotkey scaled down to 90% size. I use buttonFacade to make them look a bit different from my main set of buttons. I also do duplicate a few of my hidden buttons here if I care to see their cooldown. OmniCC really helps with that superimposing a countdown over the button.

Here you can see the 2 bars that are usually hidden. Note that where bar 1 is positioned overlaps the other bars because it is usually hidden except when I'm in a vehicle:

I temporarily moved bar 1 up for easier editing:

Vehicle Combat:

- I also have 2 vertical columns of buttons on the right side that are always hidden until I mouse over them. These are actions that I usually don't need in a raid but often use like teleport, switching weapons between main/lance/fishing, cooking, etc. Yes, I like having a LOT of buttons:

Sunn Viewport Art
- That big black area on the bottom is the sunn viewport art. I really didn't care about the art but just wanted a viewport mod. A viewport mod lets you change what area of the screen the world is rendered to. So basically I exclude the area at the top where titan panel is and the area at the bottom where all my buttons and data are. This allows you to place all those informational and UI controls outside the rendering area and see more of the world.

Without Viewport

With Vertical viewport checked (also this is how it looks out of combat):

Grid: I still like these unit frames for seeing the status of the entire raid. The main changes I made were having the health bars be horizontal instead of vertical. I also added mana bars. I use grid to track arcane brilliance/intellect and focus magic buffs. Under status|auras you can easily add your own buffs to track. So I have a little square in the upper right corner on the frame for everybody in the raid who has arcane brilliance/intellect and a square in the upper left corner if they have focus magic.
Sexymap: I like square maps and the ability to hide the buttons until you hover over the map.
ElkBuffBars: Nicely sorted, easy right click to remove a buff.
DBM, Decursive: Must haves for any mage that raids.
MikScrollingBattleText: Just a cleaner look instead of all these numbers floating everywhere. It gives you nice control on where combat text is displayed.
IceHUD: It's kind of nice to have mana, health, and threat data all right there but now that I have Pitbull configured it's a bit redundant. I might drop it but but for now I'll leave it.
Omen: Make sure you have an alert set to report to MSBT. That really helps get my attention if I'm about to pull aggro.
Recount: Damage/dps meter.
Prat: I like having a bit more control over my chat window including scroll wheel support.
EavesDrop: I just added this one. It's a nice compact little combat text window with summaries.
Shieldmonitor: I love this for gauging how much fire/frost ward/x shield is left. Good if you run with Incanter's Absorption and like to live life on the edge a bit.
TitanPanel: Lots of info in very little space.
Wow Instant Messenger: Handy to make sure you don't miss a whisper. I configured hotkeys to easily hide/show all chat windows.
Cowtip: Handy to resize and move tooltip text so it doesn't overlap anything critical.

Older shot during 10 man icc raid (before I got sunn viewport)

Recent 25 man ulduar raid (some minor tweaks: Moved cowtip lower so it is just above the black area, moved quartz focus buff bar to the top left corner just below the focus unit frame because that is what it belongs to):

- I do run quite a few other mods but these are the main ones that impact the UI.

UPDATE: 2/24/2010

- So I did a little bit of rearranging. After adjusting the viewport it threw all my power auras off so I've re-centered them around my character.
- I also wanted a bit more space for the chat window so I could fit a few more lines. To do this and increase the bottom black area I collapsed the two groups of 9 buttons on either side, made them horizontal and scaled them down a bit. I actually scaled all the other buttons down to 90% too. This gave me more vertical and horizontal space to play with. I was now able to squeeze Eavesdrop down in the corner and still give more space to the other windows.
- I also decreased the font size to 12 on the buff bars and also decreased the height so more buffs could fit.
- MSBT static text area is now above the player quartz and shield monitor bars instead of below it.
- Disabled focus target unit frame in pitbull. It had an * symbol next to it meaning it uses a lot of CPU. Granted I'm running on a core i7 860, 8gb ram, hd 5850, win 7 x64 but still I noticed a bigger hit in framerate in the last 25 man raid than I would have liked. I'll see if this makes a difference.
- Disabled all icehud bars except threat. It's the only bar I still glance at. For all health/mana information I rely on power auras and the pitbull frames.
- Overall, I think this is a much better split between the panel at the bottom and the viewport.

UPDATE: 2/27/2010
Here are a few more raid 25 shots

- I added one more mod: SexyCooldown on the lower left hand side and made it vertical.

Update: 11/3/2011
- I figured it's time to do a little update on what mods during a raid I currently use which have changed a bit in the last year. You should be able to find all these on curse.

- addon control panel
- action bar saver 2c
- arkinventory
- aura frames (this is now what I use for buffs/debuffs)
- bartender 4
- chatter (great for figuring out who that alt is)
- clique
- combustion helper (still need fire on alys)
- coolLine (this is now my cool down bar, simple but less buggy than the other ones)
- custom player power bar alt (quite a few recent raid encounters make use of this bar and it's nice to be able to move it around)
- dbm
- decursive
- eavesdrop
- free refills
- gogomount
- Grid
- grid indicator corner text
- grid indicator side icons
- grid mana bars
- grid status dungeon role
- grid status hots
- grid status raid icons
- gtfo (a must have, right up there with dbm)
- loggerhead (I use worldoflogs a lot and this way you'll never forget to record a log again)
- mage nuggets
- mik's scrolling battle text
- omen
- omniCC
- pitbull v4
- postal
- power auras classic
- quartz
- recount
- sell-o-matic 2
- sexymap
- sunn viewport
- tidy plates
- timeToDie (critical for arcane so you know when to start your final burn phase)
- tiptac (my preferred tooltip addon now)
- titan panel

One that I dont' use that I know a lot of arcane mages use is

I've customized pitbull to do what I need:
Layout editor, normal, texts, lua:power, custom code (shows mana %):

local cur,max = Power(unit),MaxPower(unit)
if max > 0 then
return "%s || %s%%",Short(Power(unit),true),Percent(cur,max)

UPDATE: 3/3/2013
- Here is what i currently run while raiding:

action bar saver
aura frames
free refills
GridStatus Hostile Unit
Mage Nuggets
Mik's scrolling battle text
pibtull unit frames 4.0
sunn - Viewport Art
Tidy Plates
Titan Panel

The biggest change is dropping power auras for weakauras and man it was a pain but well worth it.

From March 3, 2013
From March 3, 2013

- From top to bottom, left to right:
row 1:
- individual timers to track each rune of power
- Time left on arcane missile proc
row 2:
- Big read flashing icon if I'm not currently standing in a rune.
- Time left before arcane charge drops off
- stacks of arcane charge
- arcane power (ready/time left for buff/CD time)
row 3:
- flamestrike cooldown
- mana gem (from mage nuggets)
- time left on alter time
- mage bomb (ready, time left, count)
- ice barrier (time left, cd)

Weak aura exports.  I can't take credit for most of these because I found them on various forums:
Alter time:

Arcane blast/charges/missles:

Arcane power:

Mage bombs:

rune of power:



Thursday, February 11, 2010

World of Warcraft - Life at 80

So I've been pretty casually playing wow for about 10 months now mostly doing 5 man instances with real life friends once or twice a week. having recently hit level 80 I was like what now? I want to see more of the end game raid content so my goal was to gear up as efficiently as possible without having to stick to any kind of strict schedule. My time to play is rather sporadic and unpredictable. So this is what I've been doing with my first ever level 80 character (Maggiegordon - Mage).

Argent Tournament:
- do the Aspirant & Valiant quest chain
learn to joust:
It's pretty easy once you get the timing and pattern down.
You'll want to be able to joust because the first phase in Trials of the champion 5 man
requires you to joust.
Get champion at least once so you open up the ability to purchase from the quartermaster. I'm not sure what becoming champion of the other factions buy you but I'll find out soon.
- do the black knight chain
I find champion seals not really worth grinding for unless there is an heirloom item you want for an alt. I think I did end up purchasing one 10 seal item for my main.

Argent Crusade Daily quests:
watch the video in the wiki.
Apparently you can get lots of gold in about 20-30min. I haven't run these yet but I'm guessing these are the dailies most people are running?

Before you start grinding randoms you should equip a tabard from one of the wotlk factions. They are cheap (usually under 1g) and you gain rep for every kill in a level 80 dungeon. It's free rep for no extra work. Grinding rep will get you access to purchase gear and patterns that you otherwise wouldn't have access too. Just open up your char sheet, look at your rep, pick one, wiki it to find where to go to buy the tabard. At this point I recommend swapping out your xp bar and sticking the faction rep you are working on as the bar. I would start with Kirin Tor and then Wyrmrest Accord if you are a mage.
The ones that are available are:
Wyrmrest Accord
Knights of the Ebon Blade
Argent Crusade
Kirin Tor

Dungeon Finder:
Start running normal random and start collecting triumph emblems. You get 2 for the first random normal you run each day (reset happens sometime during early morning). You should gear up pretty fast just from drops in normal random. Once you gear up enough some of the heroic ones will unlock (you can always check to see what is unlocked by going into dungeon finder and picking a specific dungeon to see the list). At that point you can start running random heroic. First one that day gets you 2 frost emblems, after that you can run as many randoms as you want and you will always get 2 triumph. You always get 1 triumph for every heroic boss you kill even if you choose a specific heroic dungeon but you only get the bonus 2 triumph from random. - Start planning out your gear. You'll keep getting purple lvl 200-232 gear upgrades from drops. At this point most people will be greeding (they are just there for the emblems) so you should upgrade pretty fast at the start. I would shoot for at least 4 pieces (get your set bonus) of a tier 9 (level 232) set first because it is pretty easy to grind out triumph emblems. (of conquest)
- it doesn't hurt to announce to the party if you are new to an instance. Usually the leader is pretty good about explaining things if needed.

I have 4 pieces from this set:
I actually have a better chest piece from a drop.
- As you gear up use wow heroes to easily see where you can upgrade (missing enchants, belt buckle, gems)
At around tier 9 I would start getting the epic gems/highest enchants b/c it's gear you will probably hang on to for a while. The lower level stuff just get the cheaper gems/enchants b/c you will probably swap those out fairly quickly.
- I had no idea until a friend explained to me you can put any gem into any socket. You just won't get the socket bonus unless you meet the color requirement. Also don't forget about secondary colors that can match 2 colors:
There are three secondary colors:
* Orange - matching Red and Yellow
* Green - matching Yellow and Blue
* Purple - matching Blue and Red
Also, while planning your gems you should consider any meta gem requirements:

Other stuff you can buy with emblems:

Sons of Hodir:
You want exalted with these guys because they are the only people who will sell you a shoulder enchant inscription. What I did was do that long quest chain listed above, the dailies one time, and bought around 200 relics of ulduar from the AH and that got me to exalted pretty quickly.

Watch your hit
You want to get to your hit cap pretty early on if you can. If you are missing a level 82 or 83 boss your dps will suck.
spell hit is well explained here:
But basically heroic 5 man bosses only go up to level 82 so you can aim to get to hit cap for level 82 bosses for 5 man as you gear up and put the rest into dps. Then as you gear higher to start raiding get your hit cap all the way up for level 83 bosses. Balance out your gearing up between hit and dps as it makes sense.

Hit calculator:

Once you unlock frozen halls icc 5 man instances you'll want to do this one time quest chain for 6 frost.
Start with "Inside the frozen Citadel". Using the specific dungeon feature in dungeon finder works well. Read up on the encounters because even on normal these are a bit more challenging than the other dungeons. On heroic there are some nice tier 9 loot drops in there. Loot is also pretty good in toc heroic (and is also tougher too). Once you complete this chain you will have done all 3 new 5 man instances with a nice little story line quest.

Use wow heroes site or gear score (they are calculated differently)
to see where you sit for the different raids. Once you are high enough and your hit is good enough then start picking up the weekly raid quests
Where you have to kill some specific boss in a raid. Most guilds run weekly raids just for the quest. It's a fun way to grab a quick 5 frost and 5 triumph and get to see some of the end level raid content without committing to doing a complete raid that would take much longer.
- You can also check your gearscore addon online now:

And that's as far as I got so far. In two weeks you can pretty easily go from lvl 187 gear -> tier 9.

Good Raid Strategy Videos: (great site for raid strategy videos)

PvP - Wintergrasp:
- So yeah up to this point I have NEVER even tried pvp. I had about a spare 100 triumph emblems so I bought 2t9 of the furious gladiator set to get at least some resilience gear. I headed out to wintergrasp to gem and enchant those pieces for resilience and spell penetration. I had around 1000 stone keeper shards just from doing random heroics.
- I dual spec into frost and changed up my glyphs.
- 15 min before the start of wintergrasp (You can see time remaining until start in the map) I found a battle master and queued up.
- Moonrunner is pretty much all alliance so we often win. Defense it is. It was pretty chaotic. I really had no idea what was going on. I never got a vehicle. I just ran around, followed the crowd, attacked anything red, and umm died.....a lot. At least there is no durability death penalty and I like the auto rez (no need to run back to the corpse) so it's not that big of a deal.
- I completed all the dailies and earned a few marks of honor and around 20K honor points:
- So at this point I guess I could spend some of the honor points on more pvp gear. But I can see if you just turned 80 even some of the pvp gear you can earn would be better than quest rewards and would be a boost even in pve until you get better gear.
Captain Dirgehammer sells some nice gear for honor points. The list below is wrong. He now has off set items like gloves, bracers, trinkets, rings, etc all at ilevel 245. He is located in stormwind next to the target dummies in old town in champions hall.
Captain O'Neal sells uncut epic gems for 10K honor each:
- Don't forget you can also convert stone keeper shards into honor points:
30 shards = 2000 honor.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Seagate 2TB 5900 rpm Hard Drive

I noticed some of the larger capacity seagate drives that have been going on sale at places like Fry's lately have been 5900 rpm instead of 7200 rpm. I picked up my 2TB back on black friday for around $130 and just got around to installing it last night. So I ran some benchmarks to see how much of a performance hit there was when compared to a seagate .11 1.5TB 7200 rpm drive.

First the 5900 rpm drive (win 7 x64):

7200 rpm:

There are some odd dips in the 5900 hdtach graph. It might be because I had simplify media and air video services running which scans that drive. Hopefully it's not a sign of a bad drive.

So yeah there is a pretty significant hit in throughput dropping down to 5900 rpm. It should be fine for storing large amounts of media (which is what I plan to use it for) but I wouldn't want to use one as a boot drive. Also, the newegg reviews seem to indicate a pretty high failure rate. Here's hoping I got a good one.