Friday, August 15, 2014

Addon Highlights - Pascal's Choice Awards

I actually play on a laptop full time - I own a small foldable table with a built in mousepad and that's it. That's my "battlestation".  All of my computers for the last eight years have been laptops. I was recently able to afford this one two years ago and it was worth all $1,300.

My laptop, while fairly powerful, has a couple of limitations. It has some positives, like it's easy to take with me and it doesn't shut off when the power goes out, but it also has negatives.

Along with needing a cooling pad and costing more to fix when it breaks, it has a very small screen. My laptop has a 14 inch screen, which translates to not having a lot of space on for a fancy UI. I'm a function over fashion person to begin with, though I do feel a tinge of envy when I sit down at someone's desktop and they have all the space in the world to do whatever they'd like with their UI. Not all of my mod choices are related to reducing memory usage or making the most out of my tiny screen, but here are a few of my favorites.

I use quite a few addons to get a set up that both fits comfortably on my screen and gives me all the information I need. I have scaled everything down so most of my UI is pretty tiny. One of the most useful addons I use is Viewport.

"Sunn's Viewport Art allows you to change the size of the rendered world area (viewport) and adds textured artwork in the non-rendered areas."

This means that I can squeeze actual UI elements into the bottom of my screen while moving the actual play area of my screen up some - the result is that I can still see any action occuring toward the bottom of my screen without obstruction. It does not "squish" the visible play area, it just changes its shape, really the only difference you'll notice is that you seem to be zoomed out further. To be honest, I don't use any "artwork" on the bottom half of my screen - it's just black, mostly because I've compacted my chat boxes, action bars, minimap, and damage meter over top of it.

Probably my second favorite addon is Threat Plates (which requires Tidy Plates). Threat plates will show enemy health bars larger, red and with red arrows on either side when you have aggro, or alternately when you don't have aggro while tanking. This mod makes it incredibly easy to make sure you have threat on all of the mobs in a group of trash. It's helpful for when you're dpsing, too, as the health bar will transition from green to yellow when you're about to pull (or lose) threat, though the largest benefit is noticed while tanking. It almost makes ensuring you have threat too simple - the health bars fluidly and obviously changes. The mob you are targeting will have a solid bar while other mobs' bars will be slightly translucent. The only thing to make sure you're aware of is that the bars only change because of threat, so if you are being targeted because the tank is disoriented, the bar will still be green.

In the category of mods that use very little memory, I use Grid2 as my party/raid frame. Even as a dps main, I want to be able to know what's going on with the rest of my group - I need to know when to rez or clutch heal in emergencies. I don't understand dps who don't have a visible raid frame, even if I can't heal or rez I want to know if the tank is having trouble staying alive or if there's a couple dead healers.

I prefer Grid2 over regular Grid because Grid2 is faster and asks for less out from my computer. My laptop is good but it's still a laptop, so I have to conserve where I can. The biggest issue isn't a reduction in frames or gameplay quality, but rather the fact that the laptop will overheat. Grid2 still does everything I need from it - it shows me people's health, if they're dead, or out of range, and you can modify it to show indications for buffs/debuffs and threat.

I use plenty of other mods, but I wouldn't want to use up all of my material in one post. We'll do some more addon features later - stay tuned, especially if you are in the business of little known, working mods that use less memory.

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