The Daily Grind: How do you set up your MMO user interface?

    
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The other day I logged into Star Wars: The Old Republic for the first time in a while, and I once again felt jarred by how unorthodox the user interface layout is in that game. I quickly moved the chat window from the upper-left to the lower, and the minimap from the lower-right to the upper before I could breathe easier. Maybe I’m a creature of habit, but that’s how I like my MMO format, especially when I’m jumping between games a lot and don’t need vastly different layouts.

City of Heroes was even worse. I have vivid memories of spending way, way too much time dragging around UI elements and paging through settings for each and every superhero I made (and that was a lot). I just couldn’t enjoy myself in that game until the interface was the way that I liked it.

How do you set up your MMO UI? Do you have specific tweaks that you like to make every time you start up a new game or character? How do you arrange your different elements? Bonus conversation: Do you lean heavily on mods to help with these modifications?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I don’t usually screw around with UI’s too much. I don’t really want all my games to feel and look the same. I will change keybinds however. I for Inventory not B for Bag. That sort of thing.

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Oleg Chebeneev

One thing I always do is relocating character frame from top left to mid bottom if game allows it. Much easier for my eyes to track health when looking at close to character frame than somewhere aside

here is screenshot of my UI on Project Ascension:comment image

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Barry Klontz

I prefer the minimap at the bottom right. I have 2 screens, and I find it easier to look at the minimap when it is on the bottom right. The top I don’t use as much for informational things as it is not as natural for the head and eyes to look there if your monitor is at normal head height viewing.
I leave chat at the top left, very minimal.
Though with swtor you can have multiple setups. I swap my setups often, depending on the fight and needs of the fight. Or if I’m just running around.
No ui. No minimap. No chat.
All debuffs. No debuffs.
I have one that I typically run though. And I prefer if my ability bars can match the look of my nagga mouse, 3×4.

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Schmidt.Capela

The top I don’t use as much for informational things as it is not as natural for the head and eyes to look there if your monitor is at normal head height viewing.

I’m wondering how high your monitor is, as when using the recommended monitor height as defined by OSHA (top of the monitor slightly below eye level, center of the monitor 15°–20° below eye level) I find the top of the monitor to be easier to focus on than the bottom.

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Schmidt.Capela

More than the position of elements, I go for the gaming equivalent of the “dark cockpit” design principle: UI elements that aren’t currently showing anything I need to care about are muted or even invisible (though with some kind of toggle I can use to quickly make them all appear), UI elements that I need to pay attention to pop up and flash to catch my attention. I also tend to reduce as much as possible non-functional UI art, as that is simply wasted screen real estate.

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nomadmorlock9

It does depend on the game to be sure. I have to agree with you on SWTOR. If they are going to have the same elements as WoW, they might as well be in the same place. Mini map is always in the upper right, chat lower left.

After coming to appreciate ESO’s immersive minimal UI, I always do my best to scale, remove, or relocate as much as possible to free up viewing area.

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Loopy

I keep my UIs as vanilla as possible. I prefer to respect the artist’s artstyle and vision instead of gearing everything towards functionality and practicality. I know it might sound counterintuitive, but i feel more immersed using the default UI and all the art that comes with it (e.g. side gryphons in WoW).

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Person Dude

I usually just leave the UI as default.

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Hirku

I scale the UI so I can actually read it and then shove it as far from my character and the main viewing area as I can get it. One UI element touching so much as a toe on my character is a big no-no. I also disable all Player nametags and set HP/Mana/Cooldowns to display as numbers rather than just a bar.

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Bryan Correll

I scale the UI so I can actually read it

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a default UI that I could actually read without squinting.

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IronSalamander8 .

The CoH UI was great but even then the way you could not only move stuff around and recolor it, but make the action bars into various geometric shapes was the best I’ve seen without mods. I don’t know how often you’ll need an L-shaped hot bar, but it was still nice to have that option.

I tend to make the UI pretty minimal as I prefer to see the world and my character more than the buttons and such but I do some tinkering in pretty much any MMO I play. Ever since I switched to mostly hotkeys over clicking the abilities many years ago I’ve been less worried about visibility of the abilities and more of assigning things to similar controls. For example in SWTOR all my interrupts were the ‘5’ key regardless of class. My Razer Naga makes this even easier to implement while playing too although it took some getting used to.

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rafael12104

I even use key mappings across games, or at least as close as possible. It really helps IMO with new games once I have my hotkeys all setup.

I won’t play an MMORPG without my Razer Naga these days. Lol. I suppose I will break down and not use it someday, but the function of that damn mouse is second nature.

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rafael12104

Yeah, I spend a lot of time on the UI. I’m a minimalist when it comes to bars and buttons. I want the UI to be as unobtrusive as possible so that my field of view is more immersive. I want to limit any reminder that I’m playing an MMO.

Generally, I don’t use mods. On occasion, there might be UI mod that is just too useful to pass up. But many of the newer games have sophisticated GUIs that allow you to isolate what you want to see.

But there is the rub, I need to see many things at once too. I need to see cooldowns and procs, I also need to see buffs and status effects. So, the minimalist approach doesn’t fair well even with a good GUI that includes audio and visual cues.

Here is the best I can do right now on B&S. There are no buttons of convenience. Btw, it helps that I’m not a clicker, but I can’t escape the fact that I need to see buff and status CDs as well as action CDs.

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rafael12104

Here is the example.

Screenshot_180915_003.jpg
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Utakata

Don’t forget to hit “i” for Inventory! <3

…yeah, I am also a minimalist to doing set up. But this case, doing as little setting up as possible. :)

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rafael12104

“I” should always be inventory. If a game has the default otherwise, it is quickly changed.

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Utakata

“b” for inventory in WoW. :(

Specus
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Specus

Since I have a G13 gameboard, I just remap the gameboard so that all my games are as similar as possible to each other. It really helps with muscle memory when switching from one game to another. Most of the time, I don’t even remember (or care) whether inventory comes up with a ‘B’ or an ‘I’, since it is always button G12 on page 3 of my gameboard.

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Kayweg

Very much the same general approach here as you have.
Unobtrusive being the main thing.
In that example pic i would have dragged the chat box even further down to the left bottom and the center element (assuming it is just one element) all the way to the center bottom.
Looks like that health bar could just sit above those two skill icons at center right without obstructing them.
UI in the middle of the screen does my head in, i basically refused to even start playing BDO until i had figured out how to remove that.
Also, mini map top right, of course :)

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rafael12104

Ah yes. A fellow minimalist. The only reason I have the chat box there and at that size is because of clan and friends. Turns out, I use it more than I thought as I found out when I shrunk it down to half its size and moved it down and to the left as you suggest. I was missed a lot of messages. Lol!

Yes, the tiny icons at the bottom of the screen are one element, which sucks as I would like to choose what to show if anything.

The minimap and quest log I remove once I’m done questing.

I’ll check out the healthbar though, that sounds like a good idea. Thanks!