14 January, 2009

Get Your Eyes Out of Your Addons

This post is in response to the "Don't Rely on Addons to Heal" post over at World of Matticus, found here. This is a subject I feel very strongly about. As I peruse the Elitist Jerks forums, I see many UIs posted in the UI threads that are just god-awfully hard to heal with.


"Addons not make one great."

I can't stand people who rely solely on addons because they feel they're a better healer because of it. Healbot, Clique, Grid, and what have you are not the key to being a good healer. I actually argue the opposite. I feel that addons, when used incorrectly, actually reduce the effectiveness of a healer.


One thing I absolute cannot tolerate is people who have fifteen million spell icons and over nine thousand action bars out on their screens. You don't need that many. I guarantee you, you don't need that many spells out on your screen. I for one (and keep in mind, this certainly does not and should not necessarily apply to everyone) don’t need to see my spells to know what I’m casting. I know F4 is Flash of Light, F3 is Holy Light, 5 is Holy Shock, and F1 is my “Ah crap, burst damage incoming” Trinket + Divine Favor + Holy Shock + Flash of Light button. I don’t need to see them to know what I’m casting.


It’s More Than a Feelin’

Heck, I don’t even need to see my cast bar. I may be alone on this as well, but I can cast through feeling. I know how long a Flash takes to cast, likewise with a Holy Light. I know when the spell is about to end and can preemptively hit my next heal at the same moment my current heal goes off. Honestly, in raids and instances, the only things I even care about enough to have on my screen is Grid with the raid health bars and my target’s health bar. I don’t need to see chat (that’s what Ventrilo is for), I don’t need to see my target’s target, I don’t need to see the boss’s health (some say this leads to healing tunnel vision, but that’s a different post entirely), and I certainly don’t need to see half a million tiny spell icons, most of which I’ll never cast during the fight anyway.


Tips for Improvement

Get your eyes off your addons. You’d be amazed at how much more effectively you can heal if you’re actively watching your raid members. You’ll not only see who is taking damage, but more importantly, WHY they’re taking damage. You’ll also see who’s going to be taking damage (that rogue with A.D.D standing in the fire?) and can react accordingly, preempting most of the damage they’ll end up taking: You can start a heal so that it lands just as they finish taking damage, reducing the total time they spend damaged. Your eyes should be centered in the middle 60% of your screen, not roaming the bottom of the screen staring at action bars.


Furthermore, having a plethora of bars and icons and miscellaneous crap on your screen interferes with seeing aforementioned fire. If you die because you couldn’t see your environment, you’re not doing your job. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is as a (former) raid leader when you have players dying not because of the game (Random Number Generator comes to mind) but rather their own lack of attentiveness. If you have a 5 by 5 grid setup that occupies the middle 4 square inches of your screen, you’re doing it wrong.


Look forward to a new post soon about how to reduce UI clutter and make more efficient use of space. For now, I hope I’ve left you thinking about what addons you use and ways you could make better use of them. I’m not telling you to scrap addons entirely, just to use them well, and scrap what you don’t need. When it comes down to it, you should be watching your raid members because you’re healing the player, not the health bar.


  1. FYI, your post was entirely white in the feed reader. Make sure you're not setting your text color to white manually cause that's what it will reflect on in your RSS.

  2. I completely agree with you - on all of it. I used to be one of those people that had a million buttons on my screen because that's what everyone else was doing - and how pretty! Then I had a major switch in my UI taste and went minimal. While I haven't taken the whole plunge and taken all buttons from my screen entirely, I have a bar of 10 and a bar of 6 for random things that don't belong on my action bar. Everything else is bound and memorized by now.

    I think that if you've played your class for any reasonable amount of time, you would probably know where things are and when to push. I too can throw heals without needing to see anything - I can just tell and push buttons. And because of that, just as you said, I can look around and see what's going on. I can see if things are incoming and announce it, I can let the raid know about events.

    Addons do not a player make.