Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I See... Active Abilities

One of the things that I've noticed while playing Aeven is that there is a lot more going on with her than I'm used to. Cooldown management is a pretty important part of the class. On top of that, most of her cooldowns are under 10 seconds... which means that at any given point in time, there may be a couple of abilities that she can use, depending on what the situation calls for.

Until recently, my play style with Aeven has been point and click. Yeah, I know. N00b. I'd gotten to the point with my mage and priest that I could handle most of my common abilities via hotkeys, and I wanted to get there with Aeven, as well. The problem is that just keeping track of what ability was available meant that my eyes were generally on my action bar, instead of on the real action. So I'd tend to miss out on those little details that make combat interesting. Things like mobs casting spells, or calling for reinforcements, or smashing Aeven's poor face into the ground. Things like that.

It was annoying enough while playing solo, but the more I thought of tanking with my eyes on the action bar, the more I realized that I was developing a bad habit. Keeping my eyes off the mobs while running solo? That's OK - I can deal with the occasional brown-trousers situation that may raise. Doing the same while trying to tank for some random aggro-happy boomy types? Not so much.

So, I went ahead and got my hands on the add-on that I've heard is pretty much the solution to this problem: Power Auras Classic, hereafter simply referred to as PAC.

And then I ignored it for about a month, because HOLY SWEET AUNT FANNY, HOW MANY CONTROLS CAN YOU CRAM INTO ONE PANE?!?!

Seriously. PAC is amazingly configurable, so it's pretty intimidating right out of the box. Playing around with it a bit, I figured out pretty quickly that:
(a) I had no idea what I was doing
(b) Despite that, I was still able to get PAC to do something, and
(c) While I was doinking around getting it to do something, the mob Aeven was fighting took the opportunity to inflict some minor un-elective surgery on her with a rusty butter knife.

I managed to find a couple of examples of Paladin auras, but nothing that really seemed to suit my play style. I didn't want strobing lights, or fancy-shmancy subtle shifting colors, or anything complicated! I just wanted to be able to keep my eyes on the action, and see what abilities were available for me. So I'd try someone else's PAC settings, get all confused, die a couple of times while I tried to figure it out, then delete it and go back to watching my action bar until I got disgusted enough to fiddle with PAC again.

Last week, I finally got to the point where I said to myself, "OK, self. Buckle down and figure this out. Oh, and self? Stop talking like Mocker, it's weirding self out." The result of that little bit of cognitive dissonance was a couple of PAC auras that did just what I wanted:

There you go. I can keep my eyes on the mob(s), and yet, I've got something telling me exactly which of my most commonly used abilities are currently available. The icons are far enough to the sides that they're not obscuring anything, and close enough that I don't have to change focus to see what's what.

As time goes on, I'm sure I'll add some additional icons/indicators using PAC. Frankly, what I've done here probably the "Hello, World" equivalent for PAC. There's definitely room for improvement and enhancement here. Still... it meets my needs, and it's definitely helped out. Keeping better track of Aeven's cooldowns has let me boost her single-target dps by about 100 - it's gone from 500-600 into the 600-700 range.

I see active abilities. Which means that I see dead mobs, instead of the spirit healer. All in all, I'd say that's a win.

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