Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Warcraft 101: UI Elements for the new player

So, we’ve discussed a bunch of theoretical items that you need to know while playing World of Warcraft.   

 This week, I’d like to get into a bit more of the technical side of things, and start by looking at the UI.
What is a UI, you may ask?  It’s the User Interface, all the fancy nobs and gadgets you use as a player to navigate around in the world.

First, we will start off with the MOST important part of the UI, YOU!

Or rather, your character.  This is how you will view your avatar, in the third person, over-the-shoulder view.  You have the option of a first person view, achieved by using the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in all the way through your avatar, but you lose a lot of viewing angle if you chose that position.

When you are running through the game world, you can also change your camera angle, or even see your character from the front, by clicking and holding the right mouse button, and maneuvering it around to how you want it to look.  You can have a view from your character’s feet, or all the way to overhead as well.  If you move off the 90 degree angle from the back of your character, once you start moving, the game will snap back to that position.

Before we move onto specific other elements of the UI, there is one term I would like to discuss, keybinding.  What that does is tell the game when you hit a specific key, the game should do a specific task, from casting a spell to opening an information box.  If a UI element I am discussing has a default hotkey, one set by Blizzard to work on initial startup, I’ll mention it in that section.

So, next, we have our character information sheet, Shortcut C.  This is where you can see any gear you have equipped on your character, as well as the stat boosts that gear has provided for your character.  You can also switch gear on and off in this pane.

Another character information element is your character summary, with which has a default position on the top left of your screen.  This will tell you, at a glance, approximately how much HP and secondary resource(mana/rage/energy) and your character level.  You can personalize it a bit in the game option menu, and turn on a percent or numerical value overlay for exact numbers.

The final element of the UI that I will discuss this week is the action bar.  This is located on the very bottom of your screen, and contain a myriad of customizable boxes, and has a couple of other elements as well.
First off, we have the action bar proper, which contains your spells and abilities that you choose to use.  These are bound to the keys 1 through = on your keyboard, though that can be changed if you so choose.  Directly above those are two bars, one partially filled in blue, and one in green.  The blue bar is your XP bar, and shows about how much you need to move up a level(Since this character is max level, the XP bar is hidden by default).  The green bar is optional, and tracks a specific reputation that you choose in one of the other menus. 

Above that, we have secondary action bars that can be enabled through the options menu.  You can assign hot keys to these, but there are not a lot of extra keys to go around.  I usually put potions and spells I don’t use very often up there.

Icons for your bags are on the very right of the action bar, along with several buttons that bring up other elements of the UI that can be accessed using hotkeys. and I will be discussing those briefly, along with several other UI elements, next week!

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