Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SimCraft: A Walkthrough

One of the things I often harp on people about is to avoid basing their gear, gems, reforges and enchants on the best-in-slot profiles that simulations are built on. The reason for this is because stats don't always scale linearly and some can be garbage in low gear levels while also being amazing at high gear levels. A prime example of this was Enhancement Shamans during Wrath who, after a certain gear level, were stacking Haste above everything else even though Attack Power had been better for them earlier in the expansion. On the opposite end of the scale, we also had Armor Penetration which was unquestionably the strongest stat any physical DPS spec could get until the hard cap. Once you were hard capped on ArP it became completely worthless.

Though Armor Penetration is gone from gear, we still deal with that sort of stat juggling today. Diminishing returns on Dodge or Parry, hard caps for Hit and Expertise, Crit capping, soft caps for Haste and Mastery and all other sorts of complexities and nuances to contend with when deciding how to reforge or gem your gear. The bottom line is that, while the 500 ilvl BiS profile for Destruction may show Mastery as it's top secondary stat (as a random example that I'm totally making up), it doesn't show that Haste is far better up until you're in that BiS gear. Haste breakpoints, talent choices and even encounter mechanics can throw a wrench in the status-quo and, if you really want to min-max your performance, can wildly change your stat priority.

The best practice is not to simply copy/paste what the Warlock thread at Elitist Jerks says, but to run simulations, get your own stat weights based on your gear, and base your gearing decisions on that. We're going to take a very basic look at how to go about doing that.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Evolution of a UI: Continued

It's time for some more UI work. Last time we were getting a general overview of the current UI and laying out what works and what doesn't as well as picking out some annoyances that should be fixed in the next version.

The more I stared at screenshots and thought about placement and other factors, the more I realized that (some issues and annoyances aside) I generally still like and enjoy the overall concept of my setup. I like having the chat box, minimap, raid frames and action bars all together in a nice solid unit. I also like having them lifted slightly off the bottom of the screen to help keep my eyes centered on the action. The things I don't like are significant enough to be really annoying, though. Since one of my primary alts is my Resto Shaman, healing frames are important and large groups like battlegrounds and LFR meant that my attention was down in the corner of the screen instead of on what I am or am not standing in. The buff bars that I've been using for the last four years are becoming gratuitous as raid buffs are consolidated more and I've learned to monitor the important ones (trinkets, Bloodlust, big CDs, etc) in other ways. I don't really need a huge list of buffs going off all the time when I generally only care if I have Kings and Brilliance or not. The HUD elements for monitoring my health and mana are somewhat irrelevant since, due to the theme/styling I chose, aren't visible when what they're intended to show me is most crucial. This means that I end up watching my Player frame for that information which makes the entire addon redundant. Combine that with other issues like bloat and clutter and I still have significant work to do, even if the end result won't look terribly different from what I'm already using.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Evolution of a UI

So, it’s been a fairly annoying couple of weeks in regards to gaming and Internet access. Right as I was getting settled down from the post-launch rush and coming back to writing, escrow finally came through on our new house and, with renters lined up and waiting on our old property, we had to move as soon as possible. I very quickly found myself in a new house (woot!) with no Internet access (boo!) for two weeks until the Verizon guy could make it out. A few hours after I got back online, my video card melted down. Good times, right?
Anyway, I said all that to preface the point of this little series I’ll be working on over the next couple weeks. With my new video card I will almost certainly be toying with a higher resolution and other tweaked settings, so it makes for a good time to overhaul the UI I’ve been using and start from scratch. I’ll take a look at my existing UI and pick out what I like and what I want to fix. I’ll look at what aspects are essential to me based on preferences, group role, regular activities and how my brain processes information and try to reconcile it all with my alts, my addiction to symmetry and my somewhat limited screen space. I’ll also probably spend some time in Photoshop creating custom textures just to personalize things a bit more.
Now, let’s look at my current UI and pick it apart:
Click to zoom