Patches are time for change in Warcraft be the tiny ones or behemoths like 4.0.1 which we have just received. Blizzard document the major changes that they make but behind the scenes they also make tweeks and major overhauls that go completely undocumented outside Blizz HQ.
As a certified add on junkie the 1st job when logging in is to discover what addons are broken. The second job is to determine if I can still heal the way I have learned to heal during the past 3 expansions which in a very simplistic description is to hover my cursor over a box in the game worls and click a mouse button at the same time as either the SHIFT, CTRL or ALT keys. Sounds simple enough but to do so I use an add on called Clique, which allows me to assign spells to the aforementioned mouse/keyboard click/press combination.
Now to the box I hover over. This is a graphical representation of a player’s health pool and Blizzard provides a tool for this that is perfectly adequate for everything in the game except for raiding. In raiding players receive debuffs that if a healer is not aware of can cause the player to die through insufficient heals or it not being removed. Worse than that it can cause the group to fail at the task in hand e.g the Necrotic Plague on the Lich King fight (the current big bad in the game for those that don’t play). So most players rely on add ons that provide the information in a much more user friendly way, my weapon of choice is a very popular one called Grid.
My interface in game is shown at the top, and below is my Grid layout:
Ths shows me the player name, the buffs they have from me and how long is left on that buff, the number of hit points left on the shield I have placed on them, the value of heals incoming to them from me and other healers, if they are the target of an enemy attack and if they have a very important debuff it is shown as a large icon in the middle of the box, a close up of a player box is shown below:
As a healer this set up is very common, people may use different unit frames or add ons that combine the Clique and Grid method such as Healbot. The alternative is the way Blizzard intended which is the select the target of your heal by clicking on the box and then pressing a key on your hot bars (either using a keyboard shortcut or the mouse cursor), this is how I and most other learned to heal. While some healers continue to heal very succesfully using thi method, I and many others find it too slow as it adds a delay in between you identifying the heal target and actually casting the spell on them.
Without this set up I can heal just not as efficiently and therefore I define these as my 2 must haves, along side these must have I have around 100 addons that perform various jobs, most are just information presented in a faster to access way than Warcraft does it out of the box.
Now most patches that come in will cause bugs in a few add ons, the authors of these add ons usually test their addons on the test server that Blizzard put up for a short time before the patch is launched and usually the Warcraft players suffer very little. Very rarely huge patches come out, when they do, Blizzard are beavering away at the content of the patch until the day it is launched which gives the add on authors little to no chance to get their add on working when the patch is launched. 4.0.1 was such a patch.
I don’t know what was done but pretty much everything was broken when I fired my game up as i have mentioned in 4.0.1 Initial Thoughts, now just 3 day later most are fixed, some have died as the add on author decided that they didn’t want to continue developing the add on and a few remain broken. The authors of these add ons perform this service for free. Sure it is a great way of adding software development onto a CV but that is pretty much the only true benefit I can see from them performing this service. Most are players of the game and while people like me have wanted to explore the new patch and see all the goodness, the add on authors have passed up that and developed their add on so that I could have a better time in Warcraft. That makes me feel pretty selfish for ignoring the little donation buttons I see on their pages on Curse and on their websites. I know Blizzard prevent them from adding links and donate buttons into the add on and that does really suck for them so next time you’re downloading that free software, pause and give a thought to the guy who is working to make your life easier and for you to have more fun and hit that donate button more often.