Raiding Research Online

Exploring and mapping the MMO raiding culture

Archive for the ‘user interface’

The waiting game and Gnome chefs!

November 29, 2011 By: Ladan Category: addons, patch day

One thing that kill videos and slick ads by Blizzard don’t tell the unfamiliar is just how much waiting we seem to do while raiding in World of Warcraft. It’s a classic manifestation of the hurry up and wait syndrome that seems to happen a lot on things like airplanes and queues in the supermarket. It’s not surprising. Often trying to get 10 or 25 raiders back into the right spot in the raid instance and all ready to go on time can sometimes feel worse than herding cats and can probably be blamed for causing the mental breakdown of many a raid leader. During progression time we may wipe dozens of times. In fact, one night I was observing a raid group and I noted that during a 72 minute period of raiding, about 10 attempts/wipes took place equalling 28 minutes, while 44 minutes were spent recovering from being dead, flying back into the instance, gathering at the right spot, taking a short break, waiting on people to come back from disconnects or sudden “afks”, making sure everyone was ready to go, and then beginning again. I realise we don’t always spend the majority of our time waiting to start up again, but this can be a distinctive element of a raid and sometimes it’s nice to make the best of our time raiding, even if we’re just waiting around.

So in the spirit of fun and to help you get through those wait times with a little amusement, I thought I’d share this addon that was written especially by addon creator Olog. Olog has designed some other addons that are used by his own guild and has written others that have been more widely used by the gaming community at large. When I approached him with my idea, he found it quite an amusing concept and agreed to create something which he whipped out in an hour or two. This addon is called Gnome Chef Roulette and the idea is that you have a way to create esquisite gourmet dishes inspired by the “produce” available in the game itself! It’s a game of roulette as you’re going to have to trust your little Gnome chef pal to concoct something appropriate for the occasion. So get cooking and amaze your fellow raiders!


Instructions: Just load it like any other addon and type /chef to open the window. It’s quite self-explanatory but people can either whisper to you or say !food and your chef will automatically produce something fabulous! (You can also just say !food yourself and you’ll broadcast what you’ve cooked as well.)

Enjoy and happy Patch 4.3!

Snow! UI modification! Personality tests! And happy Thanksgiving (to America)!

November 25, 2010 By: Ladan Category: personality tests, raiding, user interface

Wow it’s snowing a lot here in Durham today. I love it. I feel about 8 years old again. Though I don’t particularly like how it’s handled here. Ironically, for a northern European country, we British seem to have forgotten how to cope with it. And yes, I know it’s because we had really mild weather for a couple decades but still…. You’d think we were a tropical island. As I said earlier today to some friends, we either under-react or over-react. Everything shuts down or people act like they have never seen snow before.

But I digress.

So we have the results of our last survey to discuss. Only 1% of you have never modified your UI. And those of us who have only modified our UI once is only 9%, which means that still the vast majority of us has taken some time to modify our UI, from doing it a few times (26%), to about a dozen times (28%), to too many times to count (36%).  We’re a culture that likes to tinker and tweak, to alter and revise. It’s not a huge surprise to me–we have our theorycraft forums, our add-ons, our ranking and progress sites, our combat analysis tools, damage metres, and the like. We want to improve our performance and we like to think about it, and for the majority of us, the UI appears to be part of that process.

In other news, we’re currently collecting and analysing the results of the personality test. If you know of any locations beyond the main locations (Paragon’s site, this site, mmo-champion, and where the site was listed please let me know via PM or a comment on this page? We’re trying to collect all the results we can so we can have as detailed a result as possible.

And finally, to any American readers out there, happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re enjoying your turkey and family time.

New poll up: UI modification

November 12, 2010 By: Ladan Category: addons, Uncategorized, user interface

Dear all,

While we’re all still considering, completing, and posting the personality test, I’d like to draw your attention to a new poll that I’ve put up, about our user interfaces (UIs). We’ve discussed this before and goodness knows everyone loves to talk about it (all of our favourite sites have a ‘post your UI!’ forum thread), but I think it’s such a prevalent issue amongst raiders that it bears revisiting. So please add your vote to the poll!

Do we like to modify our UIs? How often do we do it? Does it correlate to raiding performance? What addons do we use when we modify our UIs? Do we get addicted to tweaking it or do we only change when we have to? And, if you do modify your UI, how do you feel if your UI breaks down (especially if it happens 12 minutes before raid start time)?

I have empirical evidence of a lot of variation in answers to those questions. Some of us are almost crippled if our UI is not set up as we’re accustomed (imagine playing on someone else’s computer–egads!); some of us have an add-on addiction (with some having 50+ addons in use at any given time); and some of us take pride in playing with as little ‘help’ as possible. Yes, some of us feel like modifying the UI and using more than the absolute essential addons (boss mod, threat metres) makes the raiding experience less ‘genuine’. As a raider, I say, to each his/her own, as long as it doesn’t screw up the quality of your raiding. As a researcher, I believe, our varied approach to our UIs might be saying a lot about how we like to raid and what we value in the raiding culture.

So if we do modify our UIs, how do we tend to do it?

I  have found a veritable cornucopia of UI variation. In fact, in conferences where I’m sharing my research with academics (keeping mind they tend to have no idea about raiders or WoW), it’s one of the first things I like to show them–as a representation of our adaptability and flexibility. We are not just playing a game, we are creating a unique player-determined visual experience. By modifying the view, experience, and usefulness of the game we make it our own, we want to control the outcome better by modifying the process by which we achieve that outcome.

Some recent video footage from guilds of various fights can give us a nice palette of variation:

And that’s just the start. For every raider there seems to be a different UI.

So why do we like to modify? What makes this seem to integral to the raiding experience? Feel free to comment and vote in the poll!

Post your raiding computer space set up!

October 13, 2010 By: Ladan Category: computer, play space, screenshots, user interface, World of Warcraft

So if you have a chance, go and peek over at the forums. You can post a screen shot of your interface, describe which addons you use, and link any photos of the game space you’ve set up. Less frequented are the discussions on raiding culture and raiding experiences. I’d love to encourage anyone to participate if you’d like. It expands the quality of the research I’ve been collecting this year.

Our latest discussion is about our raiding space set up, more of a way for us to share examples of how we’ve set up our own space for raiding. Feel like showing off?

When a new boss encounter addon came into my life…

November 18, 2009 By: Ladan Category: addons, raiding, user interface, World of Warcraft

So I wrote in my last post that I had decided to try out Deus Vox Encounters in replacement of Deadly Boss Mods. This has been a big change for me. I’ve used DBM for all of my quirky and checkered life as a raider since late 2006. It’s really one of the only addons (in addition to a threat metre and cooldown timer) I’ve used consistently since then.

So how has it been? Some things I love about it and some things take some getting used to. It has some very new-agey sounds that I can’t figure out yet. I was so used to the trumpet blare warning sound that DBM make that I hadn’t realised how accustomed I had come to responding the instant it blared up! This way with DXE I’ve had to pay more attention and try hard to respond. So far not too bad, although last night I did find myself doing a few stupid things during a TOC-10 man because I was too focused on the addon and not paying attention to where I was standing. Shame on me, really.

What I do love are these arrows! And the fancier proximity screen! They look like the arrows on questhelper but much bigger and they help you. For example, if you get paralytic toxin in heroic beasts and need to find someone with burning bile, the arrow tells you where they are and how far away. I like that.

So my personal experiment into “how to get used to a new addon once you’ve used another one for years” is going well so far. I’ll see how I feel in a week or so when I have to decide if I’m going back to DBM or staying with the new one.


New poll! Site use! UI change afoot!

November 15, 2009 By: Ladan Category: raiding, screenshots, user interface

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the visits so far. It’s still a pretty tiny site, but the response to my poll has been great! Very interesting. Please feel free to tell others about it and invite them to add comments or post on the forum. I hope you don’t feel like you have to write a book to accompany any upload, by the way. Even if you just post your UI screenshots without much said, that’s very helpful to me.

I’ve put up a new poll for everyone to vote in. I’m curious to see how often we like to change how our UI looks. This is admittedly vague but I’m trying to see how often we change things. I, for one, have only modified my UI a few times. I get anxious about changes because I’m worried that it’ll cause me to miss something important during a raid.

We’ve been chattering in guild a bit about a new raid encounter management addon, Deus Vox Encounters. A few guildies seem to like it. Most guilds tend to use Deadly Boss Mods. For non-raiders, these are software programmes that helps you manage the chaos that can happen during a fight with a particular boss. For example, you could be fighting a boss who periodically throws a ball of goo on random members of the team which can damage everyone around you within a 20 metre radius. Standard practice is to run away from those  you are near to protect them from this damage. So these software addons function to help warn you when something bad like that happens during a fight. They will typically make a big loud sound or crease flashing lights. I’ve used DBM since I started raiding, about 2 years ago. The idea of trying something new with something so important makes me nervous, but I’m giving it a go. Let’s hope I don’t wipe the raid!


What’s in a UI?

November 10, 2009 By: Ladan Category: user interface

I think one of the most impassioned areas of discussion amongst raiders is the user interface (UI). Thanks to the ease with which gamers can customise their user interfaces through the use of addon software, aside from the actual visual graphics of the game itself, the mechanics of how the game is interfaced with can differ wildly. You only have to watch a few videos of boss encounters on youtube or, say, tankspot, to see that everyone incorporates different functionality into the interface. For some it seems to be all about minimising distractions, for others it’s about maximising information and data, and for even more it’s about easy access to important functions. And somehow the original interface that Blizzard designed for WoW isn’t quite good enough. Most raiders will suppress a gasp when they learn that someone is raiding ‘old school’ with the original interface. They just won’t see the logic of it.

And no one seems to like anyone else’s UI but their own. I’ve got a few here that I’m posting with the permission of their users because I think they nicely illustrate how different things are. I’m going to start with my own first. I’m admittedly pretty low tech when it comes to how I set things up, which probably accounts for my low performance at times :) . I ended up copying the UI that the former raid leader of Chi created and liked some of the functions, though I do remember spending days whinging and fussing over the fact that I couldn’t see my original little character button (the one that’s in the upper left hand corner in the non-altered WoW user interface) because that would often tell me if I was suddenly combat (a handy bit of info if you are trying to herb, which I do a lot in game). So now my interface has about 3 character buttons because I couldn’t figure out how to remove the other two. I’m on the verge of trying something new–just to see how I respond to trying something new–but haven’t got a clue as to how to set it up properly.  We’ll see how that goes. :)


That’s pretty impossible to see, but you can see the buttons in the middle. I seem to like that. I also found that I prefer more screen over more text and info. Other than my cooldowns and pertinent information from DBM, I’d rather not see too much. I find my eyes don’t quite know where to go.

Now here, on the other hand, is my friend Varil’s screen. He’s packed with information and guidance. He’s one of the main tanks in Chi and I’m well impressed that he has so much information racing across his screen while he’s dealing with the mayhem of up-close and personal melee madness.


Now, one thing I want to point out here is that Varil is in the middle of a very hectic encounter with the first of the Northrend Beasts on heroic mode. It’s inevitable that a lot will be going on. My screenshot, on the other hand, is of me staring into a room and nothing is happening except for some chat in the bottom right hand corner.

The use of UIs is an area of particular interest to me, so I’m starting a section on the forum where I hope you will upload your UIs and share a few things about them:

  • Why did you set your UI up this way?
  • Has changing your UI helped you improve your performance? If so, how?
  • How often do you change your UI?