When a lot of information is a bad thing

Out_Of_Order_by_gajol

This week at work, we had a few days where one of our two entrance doors were out of order. The sensor on it was faulty, and it led to the door being temperamental as to whether or not it would detect if people were nearby to automatically open. So we switched the electronics in the door off, and put up a sign apologising to customers that the door was out of use, and to ask them to use the other door, barely two paces away. The miniature social experiment I observed afterwards when I had a few slow starts in the morning, or in the evening was quite interesting. While I didn’t collect any data or anything like that, it was still amusing to see the results that followed:

  • People walked up to the broken door, found it didn’t open, and walked off, assuming we were shut – we had to run out the door telling them that we were open, it’s just the first door they tried was faulty. Most of the time they looked at the other door, noticed the sign, and laughed at themselves for not noticing it and came back in.
  • Some stood in front of the inoperative door, waited a couple of seconds looking at the sensor or doing some kind of ritual dance (ignoring the sign on the door), then walked over to the other door.
  • People walked past the operating door that opened for them, stood a few seconds at the broken door, stepped back to wave at the sensor, then walked back through the open door.
  • Some weren’t paying attention whatsoever and walked straight into the broken door, expecting it to have already opened.
  • Finally, one or two who couldn’t get in the broken door, walked through the operating door, then told me that the broken door was in fact broken. Depending on their tone with me, I either politely thanked them and said that we were expecting someone in to fix it soon; or told them we were aware of it, and gestured toward the big sign stuck up in the middle of the door.

I’m pretty sure there were other anecdotes surrounding the broken door for when I wasn’t working the till, but overall I had to laugh at the amount of different reactions to the broken door, but more importantly how many people ignored the sign that was stuck onto the door explaining the situation. It then got me thinking possible reasons why the sign was ignored – as I said I don’t have official data to back this up, and I didn’t ask any of the customers why they didn’t notice the sign, so it’s all speculation purely on my behalf.

Some people may have been distracted in their thoughts, just purely not looking at what’s on the door, and just expecting it to be a door that opens for them. After all, that’s what automatic doors are supposed to do, especially when they’ve worked that way for many years and all of a sudden it just doesn’t. However, the main conclusion I came to is that we have a lot of information already on our doors that’s only really applicable to a small percentage of the time. We have signs stuck on the doors explaining our opening times, what services we provide in-store, what cards we process, signs to tell customers that we do have an online store that does deliveries to the customers’ homes, and even some others that I can’t remember right now. While we thought that a sign in a colour scheme that didn’t match the overall theme of those other signs, as well as a big, red CAUTION at the top of the sign would get people to take notice, I was still surprised at the amount of people that didn’t acknowledge it. To them, it was likely just another sign on the door that most likely wouldn’t have affected them as they went for their fortnightly shop in our store.

PrettyUI

So what does this little real life anecdote have to do with anything in terms of gaming? Not an awful lot, but considering I’ve spent pretty much no time this week in games, I thought I’d try to link something up between the two. I got to thinking about UIs and the amount of information they can present in games, how some UIs can just be full of pretty looking fluff that is there to please the eye (as pictured above – after all, why not if you’re going to be looking at it for multiple hours per day). Some are just clogged up with information in that you may as well be playing a text-based game. Some can be minimalistic so that only the important information is right where you need it.

It all comes down to personal taste and how you can process the information on your screen: If you feel like being an air traffic controller while you game, then go and give yourself a ton of information to process; if you don’t want to just be presented with a whole load of boxes displaying information, go and download kgPanels to make your life on WoW a little easier on the eye; if you know your keybindings through and through, and have a good sense for your class and the game, go for the minimalist approach and just have what’s important at that time for you. I’m personally the first kind of player – for those that have seen my UI in one of my earlier posts everything’s kind of… There. Since my burnout of WoW, the UI’s only gotten more deprecated, though I have scaled the ability buttons down and moved a few things around here and there from when I was raiding on Nagrand. It’s very messy, I’m well aware of it, but it’s what I’ve gotten used to and I’m pretty sure I’d be lost going for a different approach. I could cut it down to the minimalist UI like the one below, but as I’m an altoholic, I’d be lost having one UI for my Druid(s) and knowing the exact keybindings etc for them, but then on alts I’d forever be wondering what button does what.

MiniUI

However, I know my faults when it does come to me and my UI – adding new things to it. I’m so used to how my UI looks 95% of the time, that when I add a new WeakAura for a specific boss fight, I have to add a sound or make my character say something so that I actually do notice it. I know it took me more attempts than I’d like (as in, not fixing the problem straight away after the first fail) on Malkorok heroic to notice a ball spawning underneath my feet in the first 30secs, because I’m too focused on how much time left I’ve got on potion, trinket procs, engineer tinker proc, Celestial Alignment, Incarnation and matching those to DOTs, Starsurge procs, and when CA runs out to start casting Wrath instead of Starfire for a few casts, that I end up not watching the small ball that barely poked out of my big Boomer butt. I love the first 15-30secs of a fight as a Moonkin, don’t get me wrong, but put a subtle change to the fight in that time period and I will either screw up that crucial early DPS pace or the fight mechanics. As another example, on Fallen Protectors we all had to make speech bubbles for when we were affected by Sha Sear. It’s going to be fun to purge all those WeakAuras and make new ones when WoD hits, that’s for sure.

What Addon Could You Not Live Without?

WoWScrnShot_072813_001507So, my UI is pretty messy most of the time. I have plenty of areas that could be tidied up and made to look prettier, but it’s a functional mess to say the least. 5.4 dawned on us last week, and as always there will be me grumbling that I’ll never pay for Curse Premium, but only being able to update 2 addons at once when you’re nearing 100 (of which about 30 needs updating on patch day alone) really does begin to suck. And every single time, someone asks why I have so many addons. Do I really need that many? Most likely not, but there are a few key addons that I probably couldn’t live without. Could I nail them down to a single one that I possibly couldn’t live without? Let’s find out.

Addon List

Well, here’s the embarrassing part to begin with. Currently ingame at the moment while standing in front of Ordos I am using 212MB on addons, the largest culprits being Wowhead Looter, ArkInventory and one of my Auctioneer modules. Otherwise, I have:

  • Advanced Trade Skill Window
  • Altoholic
  • AMFG Lazy Symbiosis
  • Archy
  • ArkInventory
  • AskMrRobot
  • Atlasloot
  • Auctioneer
  • BalancePowerTracker
  • Bartender4
  • BattlegroundTargets
  • BattlePetQualityNotifier
  • BGDefender
  • BigBrother
  • BLTRaidCooldowns
  • CollectMe
  • DBM
  • EnsidiaFails
  • EPGP
  • EPGP Lootmaster
  • GladiatorlosSA
  • Gladius
  • GoGoMount
  • GTFO
  • Healers Have To Die
  • LoggerHead
  • LoseControl
  • MikScrollingBattleText
  • MinimapButtonFrame
  • MogIt
  • NPCScan
  • OmniCC
  • Oqueue
  • Outfitter
  • Paste
  • PhoenixStyle
  • Postal
  • Prat
  • Quartz
  • RaidAchievement
  • RaidBuffStatus
  • ReforgeLite
  • SellJunk
  • ShaOfFearAssist
  • Skada
  • Stuf
  • TidyPlates
  • TipTac
  • TomTom
  • TradeForwarder
  • TradeSkillMaster
  • VuhDo
  • WeakAuras
  • WIM
  • Wowhead Looter
  • ZygorGuides

Quite a long list, I’m sure you’ll agree. Some parts of it can easily be pruned down, and some I don’t activate unless I’m partaking in that part of the game (Gladius, HHTD, Auctioneer, etc), but it’s still a massive list. Some just make the screen look more palatable (Stuf, Tidyplates), some are leftovers from raid leading (RaidBuffStatus, BLTRaidCooldowns), some are decent quality of life changes (Postal, ReforgeLite), and some are for achievement purposes (RaidAchievement, CollectMe). Of course there are those for raiding (DBM, Skada) as well as those for PvP (Battleground Targets, GladiatorlosSA) too, which are a godsend. But out of all the addons listed above, I’d probably say the one I’d miss the most if I had to get rid of all of them would be Weak Auras.

397a6f502de90291263ab598fb52c217

Following on from the might of Power Auras, Blizzard decided to have a go at their own version of the addon, and created visual HUD images and sounds whenever a specific ability procced. This is all very nice and that, and for the casual player these effects are tremendously useful. When you get into raiding, especially heroic raiding, these simple ability Power Auras just don’t hold up too well on their own. Weak Auras is an incredibly powerful addon that will allow you to track pretty much anything. I can’t even wrap my head around all of the features and how to work them just yet, and often ask people or google for their Weak Auras to get a full pack of pop-ups on my screen. Theck over at Sacred Duty has an excellent collection of Weak Auras for many classes, and many raiders also swear by it for different encounters.

For example, on Durumu I had both GTFO as well as a weak aura to tell me if I was standing in purple stuff in the maze during Disintegration Beam phase. On Malkorok there was a Weak Aura I saw that could tell me how much of a shield I had, and if it was low I could call out for heals or yell at someone nearby to take the pool instead of me. There’s plenty of other encounters that has use for Weak Auras, like Amber Shaper’s vehicle HUD, and more. In PvP, I can track enemy buffs and debuffs so I know when they’ve used a specific ability, such as Cloak of Shadows, AMS or even have a Cyclone on them. I can track enrage effects for my Druid, Hunter and Rogue to make sure to dispel them if necessary, and my Priest, Shaman and Mage have access to magical buffs that I can purge or steal.

As a raider, I could live without DBM. Blizzard have massively improved their encounters so that anything special does have something easy to track, for example energy bars on Iron Juggernaut, Malkorok or Tortos. Or there are big warning signs that appear in the middle of your screen to tell you that something is about to happen. Skada is always nice to keep track of how well you’re performing (assuming you use it correctly) and I’ve left Omen in the dust long ago in favour of Blizzard’s threat bars – plus with 500% threat there’s little chance for me to rip aggro after the first 15secs into the fight. For PvP, although I’d be even more terrible without them, I could live without Gladius in arena if I set my current macros aside and created new ones especially for PvP/arenas. I could live without Battleground Targets and just use name plates to find targets to CC or to kill. When I play the AH, I’ve found no better addon than TSM to help me with everything – and although the quality of life coming from that addon would be severely reduced from no longer having it, I think I could live without it.

But I’d have to say that WeakAuras is the one addon I couldn’t live without. How about you guys? Are you particularly keen to stick to something like Battleground Targets, because your scene is more PvE than PvP? Maybe you’re stuck on a dead realm and you can’t live without Oqueue? Have an excellent weekend, and I’ll see you for another article on Monday!