Brave new world?

Of the many innovations in World of Warcraft, a highly customizable UI
paired with almost limitless numbers of user created addons has been
among the most popular and hotly debated. Many players consider the use
of combat and encounter addons to be akin to cheating, while most
raiding guilds and groups have strict requirements of mandatory addon
usage. Are these addons good for the game or are they one of the root
causes for the perception of a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/72813" target="_blank">decline
in player skill?

Raiding is nothing new to MMO gaming, it has existed in some form or
another since the advent of the genre. But what was once a niche crowd
inside of a niche market is now almost the accepted norm. Many WoW
addons have been created to assist end game players in making the
content more manageable, but was this ever the developer’s
intent?  Did they envision a behind the scenes data analyzer
warning and flashing at players when something bad was about to happen?
All that many of these mods are short is some form of GPS and auto
pilot and they could play the game for you.

Prior to WoW most end game content in the few MMO games that offered it
was done on a larger scale, more players versus larger content at a
much slower pace. EverQuest was a prime example;, early raid content
allowed for 72 players in a single raid in a non instanced environment.
Most encounters were considerably lengthier than today’s
standards and combat was meticulously planned with a pace that bordered
on plodding.  There really existed very little need for a high
rate of data collection and extrapolation on the fly, most of the
challenge here was winning a war of attrition (The first five years
worth of raid content consisted of no potions or consumables of great
value). Resource management and the ability to off tank randomly
spawning adds were the main dilemmas faced back then.
WoW certainly upped the ante in the sheer amount of number crunching in
a raid setting. The pace of this game is frenetic compared to most of
its predecessors and most players struggle to keep up with it even with
the additional help of the game enhancements.  But where do we
draw the line on helpful assistance and outright hand holding?


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style="font-style: italic;">Raid Warning mods do just
that, giving you a warning about important events or abilities

Modifications such as Deadly Boss Mods
or BigWigs serve many purposes -
they allow fast dissemination of information to a group or raid in a
uniform manner which prompts players to action.I personally
don’t feel that these addons are a cheat as they
don’t act on the information, they simply relay it to you in
an easy to understand format (i.e. a very loud beep followed by a
voiceover or a flashing screen advising you to run like the wind). Many
players repeatedly die to the same effects and abilities on attempt
after attempt of the same content even with these aides.  File
these types of mods under the “useful tools”

style="color: rgb(102, 102, 204);">Rotation Managers

A mod horse of an entirely different color is the rotation manager.
While this style of mod, like the aforementioned raid warnings,
doesn’t push the buttons for you, it certainly comes close.

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style="font-style: italic;">Rotation mods advise a
player which ability to use next. Turning WoW into whack-a-mole

FeralByNight and ShockAndAwe are two prime examples of a rotation
manager. These mods monitor your cooldowns and use combat text scans to
determine what the next spell or ability you should next trigger during
combat.  While these mods could be helpful to teach a new
player the best rotation and help them identify patterns, they turn
most players who use them into glorified whack a mole players reacting
to an icon on the screen.  I don’t think turning
raiding into a glorified version of memory was what was intended at the
onset of design, my kindergartener could easily match the box on the
screen to the button on the bottom and that shouldn’t make
her a bona-fide raider. 
Categorize this style of game
enhancement as a borderline cheat.

style="color: rgb(102, 102, 204);">Combat Meters

Combat meters are both the lifeblood and the bane of raid leaders. A
highly useful tool for parsing your raids effectiveness as well as a
means to determine individual strengths and weaknesses, combat meters
often turn into nothing more than a massive scoreboard for nerd egos.
While the desire to excel and be the best we can be is commendable and
should be strove for, that same passion often creates careless mistakes
as players put on their damage dealer blinders and forget to take
notice of the game going on around them.  Often times I wish
this mod only worked for the raid leader and he or she could choose to
share it as they see fit. One of the down sides of faster paced combat
is the loss of the ability to judge individual performance in real
time.  Label these mods, sadly, as a necessary evil.

Can you play WoW without the use of any addons? Would you want to be in
a raid where no one was using them at all? Many may be able to answer
the first question yes, but I doubt many would answer the second
question the same if they were being honest with themselves. The fast
paced nature of World of Warcraft created the need for these addons in
my opinion, not the other way around. As the saying goes
“Necessity is the mother of invention” What do you
think? Are mods the right solution to the quick action of WoW? Share
your opinion with us. Until next week, be safe and have fun in Azeroth.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016