Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Tale of Two Addons

I am forever on the hunt for different addons to improve the feed of information to my brain while playing.

When I reinstalled WoW on a new computer, I decided to try out Mik's Scrolling Battle Text, to see if I liked it.  I did, and all was well.  But recently, I realised that I was missing certain facets of the previous combat text addon I used - Scrolling Combat Text (SCT, and Scrolling Combat Damage Text, SCDT).

Today I have been playing around with each of them, to see if I could make either of them do exactly what I wanted, and here I'll present to you my findings.

What both addons do
These addons are for displaying information on your screen relating to the damage, buffs and healing that your toon deals or receives. They can both be configured so that the information can appear in different locations on your screen and in different fonts, show icons, sounds, and so on. To different extents, you can also limit the spells or types of spell shown. Both addons allow events to be moved between frames.

Scrolling Combat Text (and SCDT)
The image at the top of the post is my original setup of SCT. SCT adds damage events to your screen, and contains all of the animations and event stuff.  The SCDT component is specifically for your own outgoing damage.  I'm not quite sure why there are two seperate addons for it, but without SCDT you can't see your own damage.

SCT is extremely configurable - in fact I'm sure I haven't ever used most of the stuff it can do. I can change the shape the text follows, I can make it appear over nameplates, I can change the size and font and colours, and a whole load of other things. I found the default font in SCT clearer and easier to see, and I really liked the curving and alternating animation because it didn't clutter up the screen too much.

SCT shows an alert when certain spells becomes available. For example, when playing my mage, if the target becomes frozen, I can cast Deep Freeze. With Mik's I had to set up a Power Aura to let me know when it was available, but SCT pops up with "Deep Freeze Available!"

SCT only uses two frames plus a "Message" frame for buff and debuff messages - one frame shows healing and the other shows damage, but you can move any events to either frame.

Mik's Scrolling Battle Text

Mik's uses slightly more memory than SCT, but one of the main drawcards with Mik's is that it has spam-reduction built in. When firing off AOE effects or multiple HoTs, messages from the same spell within a certain time are combined into one message, reducing the amount of text on the screen. In the image below, the 4117 number refers to the total damage done by the 3 hits.

The other thing Mik's does is that it tells you what you have just looted, along with a sum of how many of those items are already in your bag, which is invaluable for quests or general gathering when you only need a certain number of something. For example, as I gathered eggs for Noblegarden I knew exactly how far I had to go to get to 100 eggs without having to open my bags and locate my chocolate stash - Mik's told me how many I had as soon as I looted an egg and received the chocolate. In the image below, I looted a Worg Haunch, and that made a total of 3 in my bags.

To try to make the damage numbers stand out more, I changed the master font to be slightly larger and to have a thin outline. I turned off incoming damage completely because I don't think I really need to see that, although I'll monitor that in the next raid to see if my brain uses it subconciously to tell me I'm standing in something.

Mik's allows you to create new frames for messages to appear in - I made an extra frame for all healing events to go into so I could move them off to the left side.

I can't use my preferred animation of curved and alternating text with Mik's.  I will also miss the spell availability messages, but I can make power auras for those so it's not too much of a problem.

The image below shows my final altered setup of Mik's. If I had been healing, the green numbers would have shown to the lower left side, moving downwards.

I'm still not completely happy with it - I might try moving the messages somewhere else since they are quite spammy in the same area as the damage text at times. If this fight had been using SCT, there would be a mess of numbers all over the place.

In Conclusion,
I've decided to stick with Mik's for now. I should mention that this is mainly for DPS - while healing I don't really have time to look at pretty numbers so Mik's was ahead to start with due to the spam-reduction.
The differences are small and not game-breaking, but I think I've tweaked it now to my liking. Still, I'd like to hear your opinions. Which combat text mod do you use?  One of these or something different? Are you an expert in Mik's or SCT and can help me with the limitations of either?
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