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Old 06-13-2003, 02:15 PM   #1
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Default What makes a Caster UI?

This may seem a silly question... but I've been thinking: what specifically makes a Caster UI?

Of course, there may be different answers depending on what class one plays, but I think this could a profitable and interesting discussion, and hopefully helpful for developers as they create new windows and UI's.

- In general, what things are absolutely necessary for a Caster UI?

- What things aren't necessary, or get in the way?

- Are there particular windows, arrangements, or features that are important to have in a Caster class UI?

- Are there things specific to each classes UI's that maybe the others wouldn't have or need?

- What other comments do you have about UI's for Caster class characters?

I'm looking forward to the discussion!
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Old 06-13-2003, 06:19 PM   #2
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Just a little nudge to get the conversation started...

I don't have any pure Casters in my character vault... I'd love to hear from those who have Caster class mains or alts they've played a lot with.. or even just thought a lot about!

What do you think?
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Old 06-19-2003, 01:38 PM   #3
A Gray Wolf
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64 wiz, 57 enc, and 51 shm here. These are just MY preferences. I think the things I like as a caster are:

1.) Streamlining -- Space is a premium when I play enchanter, and even wizard. I need to target quickly when I am quadding and a snare gets resisted, or doing mez, etc. I don't like a lot of UI in the way. UIs that do away with the fluff catch my eye.

2.) Target bar/Cast bar -- I like these to be combined in one bar.

3.) I really like the research component and tradeskill mods that take advantage of the Storyline window.

All the basics apply, of course (percentages, tidy spellbook, custom bank, etc.). I have never paid much attention to the Pet Window, but I am sure the necros and mages out there would like a custom one.
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Old 06-19-2003, 01:47 PM   #4
A Shissar Disciple
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All I play are casters. I look for a target bar and casting bar combo. This is a must. I look for a spell book that catches my eye. I also look for a UI that doesn't have too much on the screen. I don't like UIs that have too much fluff and eat up my screen space.

And just as Eriadoc said there are basics now that are a must. Such as what he mentioned.

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Old 06-25-2003, 02:29 PM   #5
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Also ihmo a way to get to clickies fast epic cleric naturally wants to rez asap on raids. And most ui's don't cover all my availible clickies like kael legs, or my clicky arms. Retired my old cleric but some reason (crazy me can't escape the class) i'm back on one. Best UI i had used a small inventory that i kept in the left hand corner of the screen, nothing overpowering just big enough to hit. I agree with the comments about %'s and having a cast bar inside the target bar that reduces alot of distraction and improves space usage. Spell books and spell idon that are straight forward and pleasing to the eye are great. I LOVE the new left click spell gems and load spell (with lvl next to it) and the spell sets.
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Old 07-09-2003, 02:24 PM   #6
A Gray Wolf
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Default Wizzy Preferences

Level 63 Wizard here...

My UI preferences are 1) Personal and 2) Wizard related (flamers take note)

1 - As others have noted a Target/Casting combo is a must.

2 - Prominent and Oversized Player Health bar. Wizards (and all casters) are wimps and can NOT take much damage. By have a big and promenent Health bar I have been able to save myself many times when I would have tried to fight on with a smaller and less effective health bar.

3 - Prominent and Oversized Mana bar. Wizards live, die, breath, sleep, eat, run, walk (you get the idea) on MANA. It is our most important battle stat. Therefore, I wanna see the mana. Again, wimpy, hidden or obscured mana bars are a nogo for a wizzy. We want em big and prominent in the Player window!

4 - Small, efficient spell book. Wizards are CONSTANTLY meming spells. We need to get to TLs, Nukes, AEs, you name it. And we need to remem them quickly and easily. I can't tell you how much I like the new Spell Meming Groups added in the last patch! But, for a UI Spellbook I want it small and uncluttered - I don't want to have to move the mouse all over a bunch of graphics just to get to a TL. I want the borders on the spellbook to be minimal so that I can position it right next to my casting gems for quick meming.

5 - Casting Gems need to include the text of the spell!!!! With dozens and dozens of spells that all have the same gem graphic (TLs for instance) We need to know at a glance which ones are memed. I hate having to move my mouse over the spell gems and hold the ALT key just to see what is memed, bad news. Having the text of the spell is crucial for casters. I personally like to have the numbers of the slots there also. In the heat of battle I may have forgotten if I put that AE spell in slot 6 or slot 7. I can't afford the time wasted to "count" down the gems to figure it out. With the numbers right next to the spell (and big ones I like) it is a quick glance to know that AE is in Slot 6.

6 - Streamlined Containers!!!!! Casters are always moving gear on and off for resists, cha gear, eb items etc. Small, streamlined containers can make this much easier and quicker. Casters also tend to be more tradeskill oriented and tradeskillers always appreciate a small container mod, so that we can slide em all together on the screen. I love to have my 8 main slots open and all my 16 bank slots open and now even my 2 shared slots open. All at the same time! That is 26 containers! Not to mention my Inventory displayed too! You had better have a small container graphic to make me happy!

7 - Here are some things that wizards do NOT care too much about. Group boxes - bah, we solo most of the time, LOL. Seriously, we do not buff, we do not heal, we do not quicken/kei/sow or rez. About the only time we use the group box is to do an occasional invis! Pet Boxs - bah, the only pets wizards get are lame and uncontrollable. All I need to know is if it is alive or dead and I can see that in my buff bar - get rid of the pet window for wizzies. Friends Window - bah, Wizzies are loners, we have no friends, LOL.

Again, these are just my personal comments and they are strictly WIZARD related. I realize other classes and even other wizzies may have other opinions. These are mine
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:34 AM   #7
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48 mage here. 49 by the end of the day.

I just started using custom UIs a few days ago but my personal favorite is the Celtic skin.

-I like being able to min down my group window.

-The pet window is nice but I usually keep it closed because there isn't much need for it in the groups I get.

-The spell icons/gems and window look pretty cool.

-The player info bar is what I like most. HP, Mana, stamina thing bar, XP, AA XP. Best part is each has the % next to each bar. I got sick of holding my mouse over my mana and waiting.

-This is a personal thing but I'm a fan of the Diablo 2 series and this UI looks like D2 screens.

Those are my reasons for picking that UI.
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Old 09-02-2003, 05:32 PM   #8
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61 Mage, 56 Beastlord, 59 Necro, 51 Wizard, 51 Druid, 50 Enchanter, 49 Shaman here... what can I say? I like casters :-)

As a pet user, I want to see my pet's life directly under my target's life. Something like the drakah target window, with my pet's life added to it (a mod I made a year ago or so). My pet's life as compared to my target's life is critical information.

Also, I want a big attack and back off button. The rest can be small. And forget about putting the pet's life where the pet control buttons are... if I have to look for it, it's not useful.

As a caster, I want a highlighted mana bar. As a necro and shaman, I want a highlighted life bar as well. How many times have I killed myself with canni or lich? You don't want to know...

As a caster, I want to see my current/max weight and resists without opening inventory. As a shaman and beastlord, I want to see all of my stats. As a caster, I don't really care about AC and ATK. I do as a shaman/beastlord.

AA and xp bars are fine. Not critical, but nice to have.

Stamina is useless. Get rid of it. If I should need it for some reason, I'll open up the inventory.

Popup casting bar in the middle of the screen is fine. I know other people don't like it. If not there, it should be prominent.

Names on spell gems is nice to have. Names on buffs is critical.

My name, title, and level is stupid. Get rid of it. If I forget who I am, I can open up the inventory.

Hot buttons and inventory on the screen are necessary. I'd like this to be configurable, but if necessary, I'll just take every possible clicky spot. Less is more, though, so configurable for just my clicky items of the moment would be highly preferable.

With the new spell interface, I'm using my spell book less and less. It can be drab, but I prefer pretty, al la T.King.

Don't clutter up my screen real estate. On the other hand, don't make me search for important information... I prefer to have important info at the bottom of the screen, with casting bar on the left edge, and buffs on the right edge.

Also, let me move things around. Drakah's first UI was pretty cool, except that I didn't like a third of my screen real estate taken and it wouldn't let me change it.

That's enough for now :-)
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:05 PM   #9
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65 Mage and only a mage for 4 years (Enokhaon's 4 years birthday was this last august 19th).

Well, seeing as I'm a UI modder my UI fits my tastes perfectly but here's the layout I think works well:

Pretty much all info windows on the right side of the screen.

Upper right player window. Health with pet subbar, mana with casting gauge subbar (still have the popup one appear over my compass), stamina (HAVE to have stamina, jumping makes you escape faster and I need to know when I can't jump anymore) with a breath gauge sub bar (popup still appears too), exp gauge, AA exp gauge, HP as a number, percents to the right of all previously mentioned gauges.

Gauge Health %
Gauge Mana %
Gauge Stamina %
Gauge Exp %
Gauge AA Exp %
HP as a number

Then the group window. Have the group member pet HP show as a percent WHEN THEY HAVE A PET. Don't just have a 0 sitting there all the time.

Target Window. With percent of course.

Pet window (right below target window so I can always see baddie HP vs. pet's HP). Pet controls: I prefer this layout:
Guard / Follow
Taunt / Sit
Go Away

Then buffs with names. Numbering them seems silly to me, but I did in my UI anyway.

On the spell gem window numbers are helpful but showing the names isn't. On my UI I made it so the first letter of each spell name shows next to the gem, but even this isn't necessary.

Spellbook is barely needed anymore so might as well make it pretty.

Inventory slots should stay in the inventory. If I have a right click item, I'll hotkey it. An inventory in the old layout with a big auto-equip area and the copper slot right next to the destroy button is nice.

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Old 09-11-2003, 10:47 PM   #10
A Gray Wolf
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Default My 2 copper pieces...

First of all, I play an Enchanter as my primary. Secondly, I run on an older machine, and cannot use the higher screen resolution settings without experiencing unacceptable lag.

1. Most Enchanters use the mouse a great deal to pick targets. An Assist hotkey is literally worse than useless for an Enchanter doing CC work. Thus my left hand operates the keyboard for movement and hotkeys, and my right stays on the mouse (well, trackball...).

I need all the controls I commonly use to be available on the screen, and concentrated in one area of the screen. Since I am right-handed, this means I prefer the lower-right corner.

2. A buff-bar that displays the name of every buff is absolutely a necessity.

3. Filigree and nonfunctional eye-candy is right out. Screen space is at a premium already, and it's especially aggravating if I have to drag my mouse across that extra 10 pixels 100,000x each fight.

4. I have enough of the hotbutton-triggered AA abilities to be annoyed by having to also put clicky-items in hotbutton slots. I also don't want to have to deal with the wasted space of having EVERY inventory slot on the Hotkey window. Fortunately, I know just enough XML to customize my Hotkey Window to show just the slots for which I have clicky gear.

5. Egad. I REALLY HATE Title Bars on windows. More wasted space, but it's worse than that.

a. Title bars aren't even pretty. Give me filigree any day.

b. If I still need a sign that says "This is the Group Window" after 4 years of EQ, trust me, my UI is the LEAST of my problems.

c. If you hit the wrong spot with the mouse, you end up dragging the stupid window around. Unacceptable.

6. I like a spellbar with a large active area to make it easy to trigger spells via the mouse. Again, displaying spell names is a necessity, not a luxury.


7. I do NOT like the cast gauge and target gauge combined. I need to be able to see the target's hitpoints at all times, and may well need to abort a Mez mid-cast if the target's hitpoints are dropping.

8. I'm not really overly concerned with my hitpoint bar. That's the Cleric's problem.

While this is an exaggeration, it's not much of one. Either my spell lands, and I live, or it's interrupted/resisted and I die. Staring at my HP bar is a distraction from assessing the situation. I'd rather see that extra MOB approaching than see my hitpoint bar bouncing up and down.

I put the casting gauge up by my hitpoint display. That way I can see them both at once, since the casting countdown is what I always end up comparing to my hitpoint total.

Last edited by eidolonfaer : 09-11-2003 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 09-26-2003, 01:55 PM   #11
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Vert/Solaria are damn close for a 65 mage that raids and occasionally solos/pet-groups.

Yes, keep it very clean and clear -- casters are constantly checking the status to make decisions on what to cast and when.

Spell bar -- needs to be obvious when refreshed. Solaria seems better than Vert was on this. No spell names, just clear icons. If you are using your mouse to click to cast, you are *off* any raid I am leading immediately. Post-patch now, make the spellbook button easy to right-click so I can quickly get the pull-down menus if I need to quickly create a new set. Make the gems big enough so I don't miss if I need to swap out a single spell.

Spellbook -- What's a spell book? Everything now is /mem setname or right-click on an empty icon.

Casting bar -- MUST have clear marks at 10% and 20% remaining for chain-casting pets. For 5-second pets (max hasted), 20% is one second. For 10-second pets (typical, without AAs), 10% is one second. MUST be the same width as the mob health and nearby so I can make a duck/switch assist/cast decision.

Key Information: Casting time, mob health, mana, pet health. Make these bars the same length, vertically aligned with each other. All (except casting time) need NN% for a slew of reasons.

My health? Yeah, curious, but really not my worry. Just put it somewhere where I can glance at it quickly. If I am getting hit, just let me know when I have to give up on waiting for the mez and take other action.

Stamina? Hmmm. What is that for again?

Hotbuttons -- make them large enough so I can clearly see what my clickies are. Give me access to a few of my bags and slots (customizable) right there so I can swap them out mid-battle as needed.

Socials -- I keep all my pre-made /assist MT_01 keys there. Need access to them if we get to a third-line MT. Small is fine, just large enough to be readable.

Buff bar/bard bar -- "glance-able" icons. 14x14 is probably too small, 22x22 is plenty big. Need names clearly there, as well as a very obvious way to see beneficial vs. determental. Need a slot-indicating thing so I know how many slots I have open.

HP/Resists -- about the only player stats I need to be able to glance at. Quickly tells me if I have drifted out of bard coverage, lost a buff, or forgot to swap back in a main piece after using a clickie. Weight is useful, but I have all 100% WR bags, so I am not one to comment.
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Old 11-04-2003, 05:04 PM   #12
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Originally posted by itchyban

If you are using your mouse to click to cast, you are *off* any raid I am leading immediately.

I wasn't aware that the average raiding player is so impared as to be unable to "click" a spell gem. Maybe some people don't like using alt + number.

Oh yeah... i like the horizontal spell bar with normal icons.
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Old 11-29-2003, 01:17 PM   #13
A Gray Wolf
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Yeah, Itchyban's crack about using the mouse to trigger spellcasting got on my nerves too.

But then, he's a Mage.

/assist MainTank_01
/pet kill
/castspell 2

Brief nap

/castspell 2


I use hotkeyed stuff lots more as my Cleric or Wizard than as my Enchanter. But having to pull targets via mousework quickly and accurately really changes your focus. Especially since you're not doing the same thing all the time. One to Mez, One to Slow and Boggle, one to Pacify, one to Blur etc... I'd need more hotbuttons. The Enchanter has to juggle too many different functions at once to rely strictly on hotbuttons for targeting and casting.
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Old 12-04-2003, 09:51 PM   #14
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It's not that people can't click their spell gems, but it is a proven fact that the keyboard is faster than the mouse. If you are using the mouse to cast spells, you will be slower than a person with equivalent reflexes who uses the keyboard.

Personally, I have rebound the eight spell slots to the keys qwerasdf for faster access, because I think Shift-# is too slow and hard on the hands. Keyboard targetting is faster than mouse targetting, and is often more accurate. When I do need to use the mouse to target, my left hand is still over my casting keys, which is much much faster than moving the mouse all the way back to the casting bar.

As for what I like in a UI ...

As an enchanter, I need a clear unobstructed viewing area so that I can see all the creatures and target them. I can't take a viewport with the wrong aspect ratio, like a dashboard UI, because it hides things.

My health, mana, group health, pet, target and casting bar should all be very close together so that I can monitor the whole party state at once. I like to have the casting bar the same size as the target bar for close timing. Important chat windows should also be very close to the status bars.

I prefer no names in my spell bar. I always put the same spells in the same slots, and I can press Alt to make sure they are the right ones. The spell bar must be vertical, or roughly vertical, so that the spell names are all legible.

The spell book should not have overly busy pages. The artwork of the book should not distract from the spells. I find the right click menu cumbersome and annoying to use, so I still memorize from the book when I need a spell that is not in my spell sets.

Any button that has no keyboard equivalent should be large. Small buttons are slower to use.

I like having my XP and AAXP bars in a visible main window so that I don't have to open my inventory all the time when I am feeling neurotic about xp.

I like having my stats visible because it is quicker to check my stat totals than it is to figure out whether the correct buff icons are present in my buffs window.

The UI should be usable by any class. I play lots of characters and it is very distracting if the same information is displayed differently for each one.

I prefer images over labels. There is way too much necessary text in the UI to be adding unnecessary text. A picture of a book is much nicer than the word "Book" on a button.

I prefer fantasy themes over sci-fi themes, since this is a fantasy game. I don't like too much graphical clutter, but I do want the UI to be pleasing to look at, since I spend an embarrassingly large fraction of my life staring at it.

Last edited by Xymarra : 12-04-2003 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 12-08-2003, 04:53 PM   #15
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Kind of random, some things that popped up in my head as I was reading.

I have a severely cobbled together UI, all bits and pieces taken from this site, and I have NO way of being able to track down who built what part.

And for the curious, I have a low 50s druid and a quickly rising chanter, plus equivalent to lvl 60 clericing experience.

I have a combined group/target window, where the target's health is HUGE. I like this. I KNOW, EXACTLY, what % life my target it at. The Group members show their name, their % life, and which F-key is theirs. Thus, I don't have to think about which one they are, my skin tells me. (I can't find the option to fix this, but my skin does not show me who is in the group if they're not in the same zone. Ugh. PITA when someone dies and they're like, 'rez me', and I can't find them or anything.)

NO FRILLS. Like Vert, but even less. I modded my container xml to be 30x30 pixels instead of 40x40, and I'm thinking about taking them down to 28 or 25. I like my containers open and small. I want to know the name of the container I have open; my spit and mortar are right next to each other, are both 6 slots and both have a combine button. I do NOT need that container graphic.

As for Title bar on chat windows, /shrug. I just want to be able to move the window and resize it. Once I saw a mod, and I wish I had known at the time how to extract this, that put the casting gauge in the top of every chat window, between the title bar and the text in the window. Thus, when I have a Main box, a Spam box, a Guild box, a Group/Tell box, and another box for the various chat channels, that's 5 casting gauges that all work at the same second. It took I think 3 casts to realize that I really liked that.

Give numbers everywhere. % life, % mana, etc.

I, personally, really adore this hotkey bar:
With the advent of the hotkeyable command /autoinventory, the only thing I ever need to open my inventory for is to see if i have any plat on me. I can see Gear, Bags, Hotkeys, Stats, XP/AP (hm, maybe i should look into putting a manabar in that, /shrug), 99pct of anything I ever want to know, at a glance and just out of the way enough.
I've seen hotkey boxes that do the same, but are more square. I just like that I can see it all at any given time, and did I mention it's SMALL?

Visible spell names on BUFFS is a MUST, preferrably with invisble background. Visible spell names on memmed spells... /shrug. As a togglable option would rock, but I don't think UIs support that. I can see how people would want that, but I personally would not. I cast 7 out of 8 spells by Alt+# anyway. Anything with a name, like buffs or spellbar, needs to be VERTICAL, not horizontal.

Having my name visible without opening inventory... I have ALL my characters use the SAME ui layout; I got a layout i liked and C+Ped the data to the other ui ini's. When I 2box, it's kinda handy to know who i'm looking at, esp when I 2box the druid and the cleric. Otherwise I try to CHeal with the druid, and that doesn't really work ^_^.

My 2p ^_^

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