Monday, August 24, 2009

PowerAuras, the Best AddOn You've Never Used!

Some time back I was doing research for the boss Prime has been stuck on (and is still stuck on) for the past couple months: Yogg-Saron. Now that the new raid is out we've been getting even less time with this old God and our attempts lately have been... well... see for yourself.

To be fair though, that was a wipe and we were running around purposefully tapping the clouds to see how many we could spawn at once! We are actually finally making solid progress on the boss, which makes me happy.

But I digress. In the video I watched, there was an AddOn that periodically flashed on screen that caught my eye. Here is the video in question, and the flash I'm talking about is the red swath that periodically frames the person filming at around 1:55.

Meghan helped me identify what was going on, since she also plays a mage named Fawynd. It turns out the mage in the video was proccing free pyroblasts and the indicator was meant to warn her so she could react without having to watch a buff list like a hawk.

The AddOn(mod) providing these warnings was called PowerAuras, and it can be found here.

So I went about setting these up on a couple of my characters. The menus weren't exactly user friendly but with a little exploration I was quickly able to figure them out. The end result is that I can focus more of my attention on what is going on in the game and less on my interface.

For my shaman, I set up a blue indicator midscreen to warn me when my mana regeneration buff, Water Shield, was inactive and a smaller fiery indicator on top of my screen when my weapon was no longer buffed with Flametongue weapon. I got even better results with my death knight tank, setting up a large indicator for when Rune Strike was usable, when a free Howling Blast procced and another to warn me about when Horn of Winter wasn't active much like the Flametongue warning for my shaman.

The uses are endless, really. You can configure them to warn you about anything from being stunned or silenced to when valuable procs are active like Clearcasting or a trinket buff. The most creative of uses I've seen was posted in the UI section of the official World of Warcraft forums.

If you've ever played Gears of War you'll recognize what he did with PowerAuras in the following image links:

Light Damage
Moderate Damage
Heavy Damage

The different indicators were displays of how much damage the player had taken. This would be an excellent means of tracking health without having to constantly glance back down at your unit frames. Odds are slim that a player would miss that giant red splotch midscreen on low health, but it can be quite a surprise when you get your face planted in the dirt after neglecting to check a player frame tucked away in a far corner of the screen.

I feel that the only real drawback to this mod is the configuration. It has an amazing number of options packed into a small space and it can be offputting in the beginning, but once you get it set up properly it can be one of the most unintrusive and informative mods at your fingertips. To that end, I've set up a short tutorial below.

Tracking a Buff With PowerAuras

Once PowerAuras is installed and you've loaded up the game, type in the slash command /powa to open the list of effects. You'll see that I've already set up a couple for my shaman but I'll be setting up another here to display when my Water Shield buff is not active. This is a simple and easy use for PowerAuras as Water Shield is a buff I like to have on myself as much as possible. The spell itself does have a visual cue in game in the form of an orb of water orbiting my character, but in the heat of combat when the spells are flyin' it's much easier to see a PowerAuras indicator than the in game orbs.

To create a new effect click the new button.

The options can be confusing at first, but I promise there isn't much here that isn't some other AddOn's configuration menu. Whenever you are at this window it will only affect a single effect, so you'll need to edit each one individually to your tastes.

Effects are also saved on a per-character basis so you won't see a warning you set up on your mage clogging your screen on your rogue.

Focusing on only the top half of the menu first, I'll pick a texture. You can adjust the highlighted slider to scroll through the available textures or, for more advanced users, set your own textures for use. The textures have the .tga extension and can be edited in GIMP.

For this example I'm going to use a shield texture, since it will be the Water Shield Buff. I'll also adjust the color to blue to represent water.

On the bottom half of the options menu is where you link the texture to the correct conditions. For this example I'll set it to display when the buff called Water Shield is not active.

And the end result is that when the Water Shield buff is active nothing is displayed. But when the buff needs to be re-applied a blue shield centered on the screen will display. This will be an easy visual cue during a heated battle that my mana regeneration buff has faded and should be recast when I have a free second to do so.

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