Heads up! (Part 3: The Middleweights)
This is part 3 of a five-part series.
- Part 1: Introduction – What they are, what my methodologies are, and a brief recommendation for the attention-span-impaired.
- Part 2: The Lightweights – I look at the low end of the spectrum in terms of size, but not necessarily, as you will see, short on usefulness.
- Part 3: The Middleweights – I compare the various virtues of those apps that try to ride a line between features and efficiency – and how well they pulled it off.
- Part 4: The Heavyweights – I look at the big guns, the ones that bring it all to the table – hopefully!
- Part 5: Summary and Conclusions – Here there be charts! I also take a shot at naming what I, personally, consider to be the best of the three categories, and why.
The middleweight HUD addons generally focus on giving good value for their size. They don’t push hard on being all-encompassing, but they usually bring all the needed features to the table. With that in mind, it comes down to execution, style, and efficiency. The winner is one that does the best in these three areas.
500K represents a pleasant trade-off between features and efficiency. The difference between this and one of the more feature-rich addons is huge considering the incremental increase in features that they offer. The author has made some informed choices that really pay off in execution.
The elements of the HUD are in the form of exaggerated rings around the center display. Pet rings are smaller versions of the main rings, but are fixed in location, unless you wish to unbind them, in which case they go from being smaller rings (very distinctive) to full sized rings (not so easy to pick out).
Configuration was pleasant enough, with the controls all making sense. However, rather than offer one configuration pane with three tabs or sub-panes, you actually have to invoke the three different panes direct from the command line. ‘/archud config’, ‘/archud modules’, ‘/archud custom’ actually looks a lot worse in aggregate than it feels in the moment.
Elements of the HUD can be varied to some extent. Rather than provide high levels of variability, certain sensible presets are offered, such as “all health to the left, power to the right”, or “player left, target right”. The available options should suffice for 90% of the users of such apps.
Each ring can also be moved around relative to the center. You CAN overlap rings, which can be confusing, but this also offers intriguing possibilities. Additional (non-standard) rings can be added, but as of this writing, only (de)buffs appear to be available.
Profiles are not supported, so you cannot easily have a special configuration layout for each alt. For the typical user, this won’t be an issue. For the power user, it will impact on special setups per user or class.
There are actually two DHUDs out there, "DHUD 4", and "DHUD for 4.0". They vary slightly but also share many similarities.
I’m very taken with DHUD’s interface look and feel out of the box, and it has a lot to offer. The styling is compact and extremely functional, with just enough flexibility to make most people quite happy. Rather than give the user full freedom on where everything goes, some reasonable decisions were made that will fit most people.
This variant is “owned” by one MAD1111CAT ((Yes, the spelling is correct, plus or minus a 1)) who has retained the more traditional look and feel of the addon based on its 3.0 base.
Its assets: a lighter weight than its sibling. More complete UI feature-set. Familiar look and feel.
Its liabilities: clunky configuration interface. Features that belong in beta (to be fair, warning is given). Profiles are rather odd.
Let me explain Profiles. In this case, setting a toon to use the “default” configuration should, in practice, result in all toons using that profile to inherit the settings of that profile. In other words, I set things up once, and never have to tweak again.
What seems to be *actually* happening is that several config settings are being reset between logins. Not enough to force a lot of annoying backtracking, but enough to cause pauses during the “getting used to my UI all over again” phase that follows every single login. I was never able to nail down exactly what was happening, but it was very confusing.
The great thing about this version of DHUD is that it is fully integrated with the Blizzard config panel. I figured this would result in a smaller memory footprint, but in fact this addon has a much broader butt than its cousin. I have no idea what to attribute that to.
But, moving on – the design of the config panel is very nice. Everything is clearly labeled, and there is virtually no “I wonder what that means” when you look at the controls and tooltips. Very nicely done.
Unlike most, this app supports a “config mode layout” that mocks up an interface so you can see the effects of your changes. The previous version of this addon errored out when I used that feature, but this one seems to have fixed it. I did not have the opportunity to exercise it as fully as I wanted.
Config bar textures can be change between two existing ones. The software also supports a “custom texture” feature, where you can name the filename (I guess?) of the texture to use directly. In the case of DHUD4, “texture” also includes the shape of the bar. Not knowing what I needed to make this work, I left it untested and filed under "Cool story, bro."
For the HUD itself, you have two layout choices, plus the outer rings can be assigned to a number of special values, such as Focus, Target of Target, and Threat.
In general, DHUD4 is a very solid and useful addon. Smaller footprint and more layout choices will make it a favorite of the mid-range fans.
Note: the author of this addon has dropped in to comment on part 5, so be sure to read the comments over there. I will also update that post as well.
He clears up the lineage a bit, and points out that DHUD4 represents the direct lineage of this addon (he also created DHUD2 and DHUD3). The memory footprint issue seems to center around the use of the DogTags library, which allows for fully configurable strings. This adds a feature to the software that DHUD for 4.0 does not appear to support. In other words, nothing comes for free, but this is a good tradeoff.
FusionHUD advertises itself as a lightweight, highly configurable HUD addon. This is not false advertising, as it turns out. With five “bars” on display, it was settled around 180K, which isn’t bad at all.
The “bars” themselves are ultimately configurable. The addon comes with no preconfigured bars at all – you build every one yourself, as for general shape, size, type (health, power, or threat), and position. Everything is completely open as far as position goes. On the other hand, color is not configurable.
Configuration of these rings (bars) is put together very well indeed, integrating smoothly with the Blizzard addon config panel and presenting a minimap icon. The biggest complaint I have here is that you’re not allowed to change the ‘label’ of the bar in the config panel. the first bar you create is labeled “Bar1”, and that’s that. You can’t really figure out which is which from just looking at the labels. This isn’t much of a problem early on, but after a few days you may forget which is which by relying on memory, and have to spelunk a bit.
Class specific stuff is handled either via the generic ‘power’ bar (i.e. it figures out what it is for you) and a special “class bar” that supports some classes’ special abilities, such as threat, shards, runes, etc. Eclipse was there, but I’m not sure what exactly was being presented. It didn’t match up with other presentations I’ve seen.
Profiles are not yet supported, but they are on the author’s to-do list, as are timers and buffs and things like that.
My biggest complaint about this one is that the graphic rendering is very primitive. As you can see in the screencap, using the same layout shape for all bars resulted in some serious jaggies and non-interlocking pieces. I men, not to be fussy or anything, but it’s daringly close to ugly like this. Now, I realize that I’m to blame for this configuration, but it might be helpful if it came with a bit of a starter kit.
Functionally, it’s fine. Aesthetically, I’m not going to stare at this through a whole raid.
I remember first hearing about this addon, and it almost immediately broke on the next patch, until Nukin picked it up. The same seemed to happen again at the turn of Cataclysm. Fortunately, it was picked right back up. It’s hard to keep a good HUD down.
And it IS good.
MetaHUD very closely resembles DHUD in appearance, which I find agreeable. The display is compact and clearly understandable. Of the class-specific stuff, I really liked what was done with DK runes.
It is still a work in progress; not all power types are included, for example, though what are covered, are done well.
To further the similarities with the Mad111Cat variant of DHUD, the config panel for this one is likewise not entirely state of the art. It is functional, but not intuitive. You don’t get sliders for HUD size and position, for example.
The ‘default’ profile does not load automatically for toons that have no profile selected (seems to me, that should be ‘default’). I’m not sure it’s a bug or just a poor design decision. It’s not fatal, and once you get each toon’s set-up finalized, it’s a non-issue.
When I used Fubar, MetaHUD had an icon it would put up on the bars. That icon did not migrate to the new “LDB” broker interface, and Fubar-to-broker shims don’t appear to be working.
This version of the software currently has a bug that only showed up during raids for me. I have, sadly, turned it off for now. I’m hoping it gets fixed.
That’s it for the middleweights! In the next installment, I take a look at the Big Kahunas – the heavyweights.