Home > UI and Addons > When Addons Step Too Far

When Addons Step Too Far

I’ve always had a peculiar relationship with addons. The game I came from had none. We didn’t have boss timers. We had members of the raid sat at the other side of their PC’s with stop watches timing the AoEs and announcing them in game. After a certain amount of time, people were expected to handle this themselves and as with most things, you gained an inner feeling for when things were due to occur. No warnings, no boss timers, just your own knowledge of the encounter and your own ability to react to what was happening around you.

When a new MMO, Aion, launched last year, there was uproar on the forums when a discussion began about whether the developers should allow addons to be developed (and used) in game. People were very split on the issue but there was a strong feeling from some of the community that they did nothing but dumb down the play experience.

A few years ago when Nihilum were still the top raiding guild (and yes, I know I mentioned them yesterday), I read an article about their recruitment. One thing mentioned was that their GM, Kungen, particularly liked old Everquest players. For reference, this is the game mentioned above. Why? Because he believed that raiding there made more reactive, responsive, alert players.

WoW is a little different these days and boss encounters are more complex and undoubtedly designed with the idea in mind that most people use boss mods. They work by providing us advanced warning that an ability is about to happen. This allows us to move, stop DPS, spread, stack, switch target or otherwise respond in whatever way is appropriate.

Today I had this addon linked to me.

What Does it Do?

Essentially, it adds additional visual effects in game to aid with certain boss mechanics. There are a number of examples on their wowace page, ranging from displaying where Malleable Goo will hit on the Putricide encounter (and it’s “splash” area) to where to stand with your tombs on Sindragosa. I’ve taken some stills from their youtube movies. Apologies for the quality, but they’re directly from videos. You should get the idea however.


Below we see the addon running on a Sindragosa 25 raid. It’s visually displaying where the players marked for tombs should stand.

Obviously, these positions are perfectly calculated to prevent any splash damage between the players, as is shown below.

Professor Putricide

Below you can see it displaying where the Malleable Goo is going to hit on the Putricide encounter. Again, it takes into account the splash damage from these and marks the “danger” zones with red circles

On the heroic version of Professor Putricide, one of the key mechanics that your raid has to learn is the tracking, monitoring and passing of the Unbound Plague. This addon clearly marks that person, again with a circle, signifying precisely how close you could potentially be before passing it.

The screenshot below shows the player with the debuff marked clearly.

The next screenshot shows the plague being passed over to the next person.

I’ve blogged a few times in the past about what I believe makes a skilled PvE raider. One core trait for me, is the ability to concentrate. It sounds very basic but so many players watch TV while raiding or perhaps have a second monitor playing movies or just browsing the internet. The skills required to be a good raider are not something that you’re born with, they develop through practice.

Consider when you first level a new character to 80 or when your class is altered in such a way that you need to master a new spell rotation. This will feel awkward at first. A great deal of your concentration is sucked away by trying to keep the rotation perfect whether this be not clipping a dot, not letting a dot fall off a target entirely, or ensuring your cooldowns are used in a timely fashion. The more you practice, the better you become and the more natural your rotation comes to you. Before long, you can perform it in your sleep. This frees up more of your attention resources to focus on other things – such as what is happening in a boss encounter.

The same thing happens in reverse. When you first learn a new encounter, there can be various environment effects occurring that you need to react to. Until you’re comfortable and familiar with these, they will take up most of your attention and your DPS will likely fall. As you become familiarised with the encounter, your reactions to the stimuli (the events in game) becomes more natural too. Your DPS rises and ultimately, the boss will die.

This is how we learn. For most of us this takes form through repetition. Some people learn faster than others, that’s just a fact of life. However once all your raid have mastered the mechanics, your kill will come shortly after. Most subsequent kills happen with a great deal more ease because you have developed the skills and the reactions to deal with the encounter.

Lets return to what does make a good player? Attention is part of it for sure. DPS who aren’t concentrating and are slow blowing cooldowns or slow moving into DPS increasing effects (think the shadow crash on General Vezax in Ulduar) will put out less damage than the ones who are 100% focussed on their job. The ability to play dynamically is also vital. There maybe times, as a shaman for example, where something needs interrupting or purging. An add could be slowed if you throw a frost shock at it. Most classes have a range of skills that they bring to a raid and the better players with utilise all those skills without someone needing to prompt them. They can see what is going on around them and they can react to it. A good raider isn’t the one who tops the meters while standing in fire and ignoring that everyone else is needing to interrupt to cover their personal unwillingness. A good raider is the one who does all the small things that make a kill smoother (or make it possible) whilst still maintaining a good level of DPS and not stressing the healers by taking unnecessary damage.

Where am I going with this? Simple really, all these skills come from practice. They come from paying attention to what is happening around you and learning how to play your class to it’s fullest potential. If you start to depend on addons to draw circles around “danger areas” or to visually tell you where to stand, then what is left to think about? This kind of play doesn’t help to develop or create truly skilled players. It encourages people to not think so much when they play and allows lazy players to continue. All encounters are difficult when you’re first learning them but it’s through practice that we become better players and progress together as a team.

There is a reason many cutting edge guilds will ask potential members whether or not they can play without addons. This is precisely the environment that can occur on PTR testing. Raids can’t grind to a halt because someone’s addon didn’t get updated or stopped working for another reason. The reality for most of us is that we don’t play in those guilds either by choice or otherwise. Never the less, should we not be aiming to still be the very best that we can personally be? A dependency on addons to be able to perform doesn’t help you to become this.

For those who are wishing to give this a try, you can download the addon here. It works alongside BigWigs, Deadly Boss Mods and DXE (you will need to keep your boss mod as it doesn’t include timers and the like).

Categories: UI and Addons
  1. April 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I do agree – in a perfect world we would all play with people who are able to concentrate and learn and practise in the way you describe. For me the addon isn’t such a personal boost, but RELIEF because other players in the guild will find it beneficial.

    For you in a cutting edge guild I can see this not being revolutionary (and even harmful for the reasons you describe) but for a casual guild which for social reasons is stuck with less apt players, this can provide welcome relief from wiping yet again because another player doesn’t quite -get- mechanics. I raid with a couple of people who simply have difficulty processing information in the way the game presents it, and I don’t want to exclude them from raids.

    Also I still hate malleable goo.

  2. Jen
    April 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve always been one to have alot of addons. At one point it was just clutter, and I decided to cut down. Personally I think the game is very hard to play without certain addons. Of course, Blizzard didn’t intend for the game to be impossible to play without them, hence the default ui. Blizzard have basically adapted. They know most of us use DBM or equivalenet, grid etc. Because we are making our lives easier, Blizzard are challenging it by making content harder and harder.

    That could be completely untrue as I never played in Vanilla, but alot of people I have talked to said fights in Vanilla weren’t as chaotic, they were more just tank and spank.

    I don’t think using addons is a bad thing, and I know you don’t mean that either. I personally use a custom ui known as Tukui, it does the job nicely by keeping things neat, and isn’t a memory hog. Addons have made the game easier, definitely. But I still feel the challenge. I use the big addons such as Grid, my ui, Power auras, DXE, Quartz. The rest are just minor tweaks.

    • April 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

      I agree with you 100%. I think encounters are now designed with addon use, particularly boss mod use, in mind.

      Some addons, I love. As I said at the start I have a very odd relationship with them. On the one hand I can get so excited looking at people’s UIs or new addons. On the other with some and with this one in particularly, I sigh and wonder whether people aren’t just wanting an addon to do all the work for them rather than to make themselves more effective in their own roles.

      I’m currently using a modified version of Damia’s UI and I’m loving it. I usually hate compilations but she’s truly out done herself with this one. I’ve changed a few things to be more suitable for an elemental shaman but the basic design is hers.

  3. Monsieur
    April 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Exelent post 🙂 I actually recently quit WoW, and resubbed fairly quickly of course. I had deleted the game and the addons, and installing it again I decided I was going to play without addons. When raiding as elemental, it’s hard but not really a gamebreaker. It just takes a bit more. As resto it’s a nightmare 😮 Shaman is already pretty whack-a-mole, but without addons it pushes me even more towards reactive healing. Wich is fun, and quite effective tbh. I just get reeeally tired 🙂

    • April 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      I think there is a danger with addons that you can install so many and start to forget what some of them even did. It’s easy to get very carried away with them and unless you’re very careful about what you’re downloading, you can also end up with (as Jen mentioned) a memory hogging UI that in turn zaps your FPS.

      I can’t imagine trying to raid as resto with the default UI. As elemental, I think I could manage it (although no where near as efficiently as I do with my own setup) but as resto? No 😛

      • April 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm

        Every now and then I completely delete my UI and start again from scratch with the basic bars. It’s the only way I’ve found of keeping the ‘clutter’ down 😦

      • April 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

        It’s really easy to spot things that look a really neat idea and just download them 😦 And then end up with a zillion addons 😦 I get drawn to flashy addons 😦

  4. Jen
    April 23, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    This may seem like a really odd question…but have you got horses? I just clicked on your name and it went to a horse blog…if so, that would be very weird indeed, I was horse mad for 10 years…

    Zing :
    I agree with you 100%. I think encounters are now designed with addon use, particularly boss mod use, in mind.
    Some addons, I love. As I said at the start I have a very odd relationship with them. On the one hand I can get so excited looking at people’s UIs or new addons. On the other with some and with this one in particularly, I sigh and wonder whether people aren’t just wanting an addon to do all the work for them rather than to make themselves more effective in their own roles.
    I’m currently using a modified version of Damia’s UI and I’m loving it. I usually hate compilations but she’s truly out done herself with this one. I’ve changed a few things to be more suitable for an elemental shaman but the basic design is hers.

    • April 23, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      I do indeed :p The horsey blog isn’t active these days so I should remove it from my profile really.

      One horse and two donkeys at present (along with one dog, two cats, two house bunnies and a new puppy arriving tomorrow :p)

  5. Maker
    April 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I think this addon will be fantastic for those of us who already know the encounters as a supplemental tool. Eg: As the ladies have mentioned above – Avoiding Malleable Ooze.

    For those that don’t know the encounters, it’s a great learning tool, but the person may not necessarily know why they’re doing certain things. Some may even go so far as to use it as a crutch.

    I think I’ll be giving it a shot this weekend to see it in action.

    Ultimately Blizzard will decide whether this addon goes too far and whether they’d like to bring some of the “play” back into the game.

    The most extreme example of an addon going too far was a guildie who used an addon to tell him what spell to cast next in his rotation. Unfortunately for him, the rotation being used was out of date and so his dps still sucked. Nobody knew until he mentioned that he disagreed with my rotation and it wasn’t what his addon was telling him to do.

    I also recall in the early days of Ulduar that most of our healers were so dependent on Grid, that when it broke one patch, we couldn’t raid at all. We only managed to do FL. Only two of our healers used Perfect Raid and were able to keep us up through the trash, but the strain was ultimately too much for them to 2 heal a 25man. 😦
    (FYI: Perfect Raid is awesome and has some decent customization.)

    • April 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      See, now I have to wander off to investigate “perfect raid”. I should have better things to do on a friday night 😦

      • Maker
        April 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

        What did you think of Perfect Raid? All it does is present the raid in the form of bars. I have mine as a long column on the left when I’m dpsing and slightly off-centre when I’m healing. Simple and not as messy as seeing other raid frames with all those boxes.

  6. Breaker
    April 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Wow man, I have to agree as far as these thing hindering personnal skill, but I find them helpful when I just can’t keep up with all the chaos in 25 man. I’m a disc priest, and occassionally find myself accidentaly stepping where I shouldn’t. This doesn’t mean I’m bad at my job, just that it takes a little stronger reminder to keep me on track, which these provide… Meh, the way I see it, if you feel you need it, use it, if you enjoy the challenge, nothings stopping you from not.

    Also, enjoying everything you write so far, love reading your boss guide. (^.^)b thumbs up!

  1. May 21, 2010 at 10:44 am
  2. May 26, 2010 at 12:43 pm

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