“You look taller on security camera footage. But that’s not really an issue as long as you can hold a martini, smile, and think of England at the same time”
The perfect game would have no user interface at all. You’d be able to tell everything you needed to know about the situation you’re in just by looking at the game itself, and health bars would seem intrusive and cluttered. With Apple showing the world just how effective a minimalist and sleek approach to the user experience is, all creative fields have been influenced. Even videogame user interfaces.
We’re not at that point in MMOGs where I can tell how well-off my Tank avatar feels just by looking at how roughed up the model is and how many Fist of the North Star style jets of blood he’s spraying. Not yet. We’re still at that stage in design where I’ll die and respawn just as pretty as I entered the fight, and I’ll only notice that I have a damage over time effect on me called “Bleeding” because I have an icon above my health bar that says so.
Still, the drive toward minimalism continues, and that shows in The Secret World’s GUI aesthetics. Information is presented with a minimum of fancy borders or dragon bookends and clutter is kept low. Occasionally this actually hurts the game, as anyone who’s tried to find a quest item amidst their 100-cell grid inventory bag can agree with.
Thanks to Funcom’s excellent choice to write their interface in Flash much the same way Bethesda did with Skyrim, there are already several useful and dare I say essential user interface mods available. What are the battled tested and MMO Gamer approved choices?
For those who would rather not interact with Curse as their download provider, the mods listed below are also hosted on SecretUI along with several others that might tickle your fancy.
Without a doubt, The Secret World’s crafting system is at once refreshingly simplistic in execution and a massive bear in resource management. With multiple materials and grades of those materials that go in multiple patterns in multiple amounts it’s easy for an overwhelmed player to just throw their hands up and start committing their Koru runes and Imperfect Metals to the nearest vendor NPC for a pittance and some peace of mind. Ethanolrift saw the need for something more powerful and automated and provided ULTIMATE CRAFTER. Placed in the Data/GUI/Customized/Flash folder, this simple file comes with powerful features like automatic loot deconstructing with configurable quality/item type exclusions, as well as automatically setting your materials into the right pattern and loading the right toolkit when you want to build something. With automated material combining coming soon as of this writing, this may be and most likely will be the number one GUI add-on in The Secret World.
Oh boy, this is a big one. I’m one of the people who will gladly armchair quarterback and say that Recount is a big part of why the community in World of Warcraft is as toxic as it sometimes can be. In the search for understanding the effectiveness of a player at meeting the challenges the game puts before you, 20% of that understanding can come from the numbers a DPS meter gives you, and the other 80% comes from knowing how to interpret those numbers. Not everyone has or even wants to make the effort to acquire that capacity to see what the numbers mean. We live in an age where intelligence and competence are feared and mocked while we watch the second season of Teen Moms. That’s just how it is.
Still, in a game with over five hundred skills that can each be summarized as “Does damage to the enemy, with a twist” and passive abilities that might say ” adds 7.5% damage, with a twist” a DPS meter is the only way you can even begin to sort out the torrent of numbers floating out of your enemy’s head. For the serious enthusiast, there is Advanced Combat Tracker’s The Secret World Plugin but for the rest of us that only want to compare what we have now versus what we had before we spent those 50 action points, there’s Damage Meter. Installed carefully according to the read-me provided, this adds a constantly updating window to The Secret World’s gui reporting how well much your character is translating your 1,1,1,1,2,3 into electro-massacre. Easy as warlocks flaming mages on patch day.
Catagorical’s Enhanced Team Window
Try as Funcom might, they didn’t bring everything to the table with the team window that a healer might want. By that I mean mouse-over targetting of course. Being able to heal someone with an action of the right hand (moving the mouse pointer) and an action of the left hand (pressing cast key) is far more intuitive and swift than having to completely change targets to heal. Catagorical’s mod also streamlines the appearance of the team frame, reducing visual distraction even more.
The Secret World Roleplayer
The last biggie of the current crop and potentially the most important. Like Anarchy Online before it, as the months go by The Secret World’s core fanbase is going to be roleplayers. You heard it here folks, I’m your Scott Steinberg, your Huckleberry, and I say that while PVPers, raiders, and casual questers might float on to the next thing that comes out (There are some pretty fantastic Next Things on the way), roleplayers are going to form the social connections that keep them in The Secret World. This add-on is for them. Funcom included no way to store a profile of your character in the way a game like Champions Online does and for now, this addon helps you save that. In fact, anything can be stored in the space provided by the add-on, so I can see this being useful for more than just roleplayers. The ability to manage your clothes in an easier way is icing on an already fine add-on’s cake.