Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Subtractoff: An Addon Guide

no, not THOSE addons
Today I wanted to kick off something new and potentially helpful to those who read our blog. It seems that no matter what I post, be it picture or video, someone is always asking me what kind of addons I'm using. I remember a time when I didn't know what an addon was. Just a lowbie level 40 hunter wandering around only doing green quests, I had yet to realize the hidden potential (and issues) of these strange zip files.

I'm going to make a basic assumption that most readers know what an addon is. The idea of this mini-series is to introduce people to addons they may not know about or give insight into how to configure an addon to increase it's potential. Any and all suggestions are welcome, as is expanding on what I'll already post about an addon. I try and mess with addons and learn them in / out but there is always the chance I missed something.

Load up your curse client and grab a beer; Welcome to Subtractoff.

Addons?
Addons are one of the things that helps WoW stand alone in the gaming market today. There are not many developers that give almost free reign to develop these third party modifications - Blizzard almost stands alone. With this power and responsibility comes a variety of issues (both good and bad) that are hotly debated, oftentimes without even realizing an addon spawned the discussion. Several official WoW features have come directly from an overwhelming use of an addon. Here are some examples;
  • In-game Calendar - Raid Calendar
  • Reactive UI Notifcations - PowerAura Classic
  • Detailed Quest Information - Questhelper / Carbonite
  • Dungeon Journal - AtlasLoot
  • Auction House Improvements - Auctioneer
  • Moveable UI - xPearl / AG Unitframes
  • Raid Frames - Healbot, Grid, VuhDo
  • Equipment Manager - Outfitter
And the list could go on forever.....

Source
There is a limitless sea of sources for WoW addons - yet a microscopic pool of established, safe, and trusted ones. With the mighty power of the internet you can potentially find addons anywhere you look, however the very nature of addons makes it a dangerous gamble to make. I realize with the advent of the authenticator accounts are harder and harder to compromise, but it is still a concern. Whenever you are downloading third party content you MUST to make sure it's from a reliable source. So if you can't trust the Google search, where can you turn? Simple, conglomerates. There are a few big name sites that offer hosting for addon developers and a rating system for the "consumers" in order to create a comprehensive and trusted resource. This is of course advertisement driven but that is no bother. Here are some large addon source sites;

Curse.com
Wowinterface
Wowmatrix
WowAce

Installation
Installing these addons can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. The most basic (and ironically the hardest) method is to download the addon, unzip the folder, place the folder in the WoW, Interface, Addons folder, then starting your game. With this method you can directly install the addon to the correct area, however you may not know if there is an update big or small.

Another method is using an addon manager. Curse provides this, packaged as the Curse Client. It is a stand alone piece of software that once installed will index your addons and their versions. It will connect with the Curse Network and check for updates. The free version will let you update 2 simultaneously while the paid version allows full one click updating. You can search, read comments, leave comments, download, install, uninstall, reinstall and rate directly from this piece of software. It can be extremely powerful.

ACP menu addition
Spotlight - Addon Control Panel
What would a mini-series on addons be without a feature piece? Boring, that's what. So for my inaugural spotlight, I'd like to feature an addon that gives you complete control of.......drum roll......YOUR ADDONS! That's right folks, Addon Control Panel is a one stop shop for all your addon managements needs. Given that addons do use computer and game resources (and can interfere with what you are trying to accomplish) ACP allows you to do 2 very important and useful functions;
  • Allows you to turn addons on and off WITHOUT logging out
  • Allows you to create addon suites you can load / unload depending on your need
For anyone who is a raider, you know how annoying it can be when right before the first pull someone says "oh wait, I need to turn on/off an addon" and you see them sit down (while they are logging off). With ACP you can do this on the fly with a simple UI reload. That within itself if great...the ability to create suites is even better. You can create a suite for AUCTIONING which includes JUST those addons you need. Same for raiding, pvp, or just hanging out around in org / sw.

Main ACP Menu
Suites menu in action
 So there you have it. A fast and dirty run down of my next blogging project. I hope you all like it and remember if you have suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments below!

No comments: