Updated Thu, Apr 22, 2010 by Cyrak
The AVR (Augmented Virtual Reality) mod has been sweeping through WoW lately and deserves a look. The mod essentially allows you to 'draw' on the ground similar to how when you watch a football game the commentators will draw on the screen. Sound interesting yet? Thought so.
Who needs John Madden when you've got AVR?
AVR allows you to share your drawings with members of your guild, raid, and party as well as allowing you to 'whisper' them to other players. You can share them with anyone as long as they have the mod installed. The creation process begins by creating a 'scene' which is like a save file for you to draw on, and from there you can apply a 'mesh' to the scene. Meshes are individual images that act kind of like a layer in Photoshop. You can move them independently of the rest of your images and alter or delete them without affecting the other parts of the scene.
The mod uses map coordinates to tag the image to a certain location. These locations are universal, so if you drew an image in the barrens it would also exist in Icecrown Citadel. The images are tagged to Z-Axis as well which means that if you drew your mesh high up on a cliff then it would appear up in the air in a less elevated zone.
It is very easy to make scenes invisible if they are bothering you or to delete them when you have no further use for them.
Drawing these mods with a large degree of detail can be time consuming albeit very fun. It's useful for delineating areas where people should stand or showing people where a Boss needs to be tanked. This utility makes it a useful but not necessary mod that is more of a gimmick than a serious game changer for raiders. That's where AVRE comes in.
AVR Encounters is a new mod that is still in Beta stages. It automatically draws AVR meshes while in combat in order to visually display certain threats or encounter mechanics. For example: is your guild having difficulty with moving away from Malleable Goo on Professor Putricide? No problem.
Simply turn on AVRE and run away from the marked areas. This is a great crutch mod for players with slower reflexes and less situational awareness who might have difficulty moving out of 'bomb' type mechanics. It doesn't stop there though.
AVRE has been integrated into several fights like Sindragosa where it will draw Raid Icon shapes on the ground for her ice tombs in the air phase. Deadly Boss Mods will mark the players with the icons and AVRE will show them exactly where to stand. No thought required!
The potential for this mod is almost limitless if the developers put in the effort. It can be used as a kind of raid-wide version of Power Auras that disseminates vital information quickly and visually so that less skilled or experienced players aren't required to read raid warnings or set up complicated mods. They will simply have to learn simple visual cues. Many difficult and new gimmicks introduced in Icecrown Citadel can be boiled down to 'don't stand in the fire' with the help of AVRE.
In my opinion this mod is either going to revolutionize casual raiding or it is going to force Blizzard to remove the functions that allow AVR to operate. I raided in the days before Deadly Boss Mods, threat monitoring addons (KTM ThreatMeter only came into existence half way through Blackwing Lair), and efficient raid frames and UIs like Grid. The fights back in those days were much less complicated with simple gimmicks, but they were new to the players and equally important the players didn't have UI mods that allowed them to process and display the huge amounts of information that the UIs of today can.
AVRE could be the next DBM that allows players to react even more effectively to what Blizzard throws at them, and in turn allow Blizzard to design even more convoluted and complicated encounters. It would take a more qualified person than myself to determine whether this mod is exploitive but I definitely think it is hovering on the boundary.
Give AVR a try if for no other reason than to draw doodles to your friends during raids. It's a fun mod, and it's certainly unlike any other one that has come around recently.