Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Should We Need Addons?

Personally I do not know what I would do without my bartender.  It is a resource that I have gotten so used to using that I feel naked without it.  It lets me put my bars where I want them, size them as I want them, hot key them easily, you name it.  I like the freedom of design that way and really wish blizzard would step into the 21st century of gaming and give us that freedom without the need of an addon.

With that said, I can live without it.  I just prefer not to.

Same goes for altaholics.  It does not help my game play any but it is a nice tool to have to let me know what characters have what and when I have mail about to expire.  I really like the tool, but I can live without it.

Nearly all my addons are like that.  I love having them and I do believe they make my life easier but I do not really need them.  They just make life easier.

Even the addons I most rely on the most like DBMs and healbot I can do without. 

For healbot all my spells are mouse over spells anyway.  Worse case scenario would be I use the in game frames and click the numbers to cast the spells.  Heck, I do that with healbot for the most part anyway.  Even the things I have bound to my mouse I still hit my keys because that is how I am used to playing.

DBMs is another story all together.  For some people it seems that they can not move from something unless there is a mod telling them to move.  For others they use visual clues or audio clues and do what they need to based on those.

I personally would not let someone raid without having DBMs.  I think it is required.

But is it really?

It makes learning a fight easier for sure but once you know the fight you really never need DBMs again.  It makes life easier, much easier.  It is really not needed however, at least not if you are even a half way decent player.

This is where all those added resources become a double edged sword.

I have a healer in my guild that is in a word, amazing.  She doesn't use any addons because she has horrible lag and the addons make it worse.  She got into raids just to fill in because at the time we needed someone.  She was aware she would be replaced and was okay with that.  As it turns out she did so well with no healing add ons, no DBMs, and a latency that hovers around 2K that she earned a space even if she was only a fill in.

There is a tank our guild picked up a few months back and when he joined in we dragged him though 6/12 for T11 before something happened that made me question if he had DBMs installed.  I asked him if he had DBMs.  He said yes.  We went and downed another boss and he said to me, thanks for calling out the taunts, it really helped, was not always sure on that fight.  I said, didn't DBMs flash up for you to taunt.  He said no.  He had DBMs, but it was not working.  Holy crap.  He went through 6 bosses with no DBMs looking like a pro even on fights he had never experienced before.  Skill trumps all any day.

Both cases, the healer and the tank, these are great players that would be made better with addons.  If they are that good without them could you just imagine how good they would be with them?

Addons make good players turn into fantastic players.

Now for the second edge of that sword.

The sheer number of people that I have seen stand in bad because "DBMs didn't tell me to move" is astounding.  Some people use addons as a crutch.  They can not walk without it.  They need it to get through even the most mundane things in the game. 

These are not necessarily bad players, they are borderline players that the addons turn into bad players because they learn to depend on them to much.  They get into the comfort zone that the addon will always tell them what to do that they lose the ability to think for themselves.

There was a shadow priest in a ZG run last week that died to the devastating slam twice in a row.  The tank said, you need to move from that and you know what the priest's response was?  It is not my fault, DBMs seems to be lagging and didn't tell me to move.

That is the perfect example of what I am talking about right there.  People get dependent on addons and because of that addons create bad players.  It was the priest's fault.  It was their fault for not having a brain capable of thinking on its own.

How many of you healers out there had your healbot go goofy when someone drops group in the middle of a pull?  I'd be willing to bet we all have experienced that.

A good healer adjusts and will keep everyone healthy and finish the pull and wait for healbot to fix itself after battle.  A bad healer starts healing the DPS that is moved into the tank slot as if they where the tank and the real tank dies because the display changed.

One uses the addon to make themselves a better player and the other uses the addon because the addon has turned them into such a bad player that they can not live without it.

So the question is, should we need addons?

The short answer is no.  A good player will do just fine with none of them.  They are just a tool to help them get a little better.

The long answer is yes.  The game has evolved to the point where addons are expected and where most people have become so dependent on them that they can no longer play without them.  Being they can not play without them it is at the point where you can never trust anyone that does not use them.

I love my addons, don't get me wrong, but I think the service they have offered has hurt the game and the skill level of the players more then it has helped them in the long run.  Perhaps the game would be better off without them.

I have no intention of giving up my addons but there are some players out there I think would be much better players if they learned to play without addons for a while.  Playing without them teaches you to think for yourself.  Playing without them teaches you to react on your own.  Playing without addons makes you a better player.

Perhaps all those people out there, like the shadow priest I mentioned, could use a blast from the past and play the game for a month with no addons. 

I'll make you a bet I know what would happen.

If that priest ever played a month with no addons the next time his DBMs bugs out on him he will not die to a devastating slam twice.  He will move.  He will move because he learned how to move without having an addon to tell him too.  He will move because he learned how to actually play the game.


  1. Interestingly, when Firelands came out I forgot to update DBM, and we worked on Shannox for a while and I kept neglecting to update DBM because I found it entirely unnecessary. Maybe that's just coincidence, as Shannox has no real timers to keep track of or anything, but I found it entertaining and actually held off getting it until we had him down, just to do it. (In retrospect, I should have gotten it not for the self-benefit, but for the "Immolation Trap on me!" /say announcement which helps others.)

    Ironically, not having DBM was more of a detriment when we went back to tidy up T11 content on certain fights like Atramedes, where knowing how long before an air phase or Searing Flame was actually really useful information. It was certainly doable, but I found the lack of timers to be the real disadvantage, not "get out of fire" warnings.

  2. I know what you mean, but do you really think that playing without addons would make people better players? I reckon that for every person who stands in the fire just because DBM didn't tell them to move, there are three others who managed to improve their dps after looking at their numbers on Recount. (Without a combat log parses you have pretty much zero feedback on your performance!)

    To be honest, I think Blizzard fully expects people to use addons these days, to a point where it can get quite annoying. When we were doing Baleroc for the first time the other day I had huge issues because I had an outdated version of DBM and just could not for the life of me make the healing buff/debuff information visible in any meaningful way, as I couldn't get it to show up on Healbot and there were no visual or audible cues for it in game either. After a while we just took a break only so that I could update my DBM, see the information that was absolutely vital for our survival and actually contribute to the fight.

    I thought that was really frustrating, and it reminded me of trying to organise bite orders for 25-man Blood Queen back in ICC. Some fights are just so complex these days that the logistics of organising them would just be insane without addons.

  3. Sigh, Healbot...I know good players use it, but for the life of me I still don't see why. I know I can heal anything my priest is geared for (or even close to maybe geared for) without it.

    The only raid addons I can see being thought a necessity is DBM and Decursive; one for the warnings it provides (and that can be done without if a person pays attention) and the other for making life bearable in removing magic effects, etc.

    Recount/Skada type addons are not as needed as some folks like to think they are, but they do provide decent feedback info and when used for that purpose are good for an individual to up their game play. When used to flash the size of an epeen...well, I am not necessarily impressed. I am old school on it, the only stat of any real importance is a dead boss and not how grandly you led the pack in DPS on a failed attempt.

    As far as other addons that provide convenience, sure and I use those. Bartenders always seemed to complex to be my favorite, and instead I use CT_Mod to set up my action bars, but that truly would be a case of individual taste. Altoholics is good for keeping mail from expiring and checking who has what though it does not work unfortunately on two or more accounts on the same server. However it does work across servers on the same account so that is good.

    One non-essential addon that I use and love is my Mini-map Button Frame. Keeping the mini-map clear of the clutter of buttons is just so nice in my opinion.