From yesterday’s Warhammer Online Devchat:
“The UI will be totally customizable in terms of appearance and utility. For folks who understand what it means: Itâ€™s all Lua-based, so experienced modders will be right at home in WAR. We actually have a super-select handful of beta testers playing with it already.” – Josh Drescher
Unfortunately it is what it is. UI Mods will be in Warhammer Online and from what Josh says it appears they are aiming this one directly at the enormous UI community we saw in World of Warcraft. I don’t hide my blatant dislike for UI mods but I should clarify that the majority of my UI angst is directed at the little word in Josh’s quote: “utility”. That’s a scary word when referring to mods. In WoW the UI was so overly customizable for the sake of “utility” that it corrupted a great deal of the game.
Mods can corrupt gameplay
A few years ago there was this real handy mod called Decursive – anyone remember that one? With the press of a single button you could cleanse anyone in your group of raid of any ailment they had (corresponding with your class’ abilities). It was such an advantage since you never had to target anyone or really even be aware of what was going on in the fight that it handicapped anyone who used it. Over a very short period of time it became a requirement (at least of my server) in every raiding guild that you had this UI mod. How about the infamous CTRaid? You weren’t even allowed to join the raid if you didn’t have it! The basic experience of the game was altered to such a degree that these UI mods were required to play when in reality players could get along just fine without them. CTRaid was a hand holder and an ezbutton that automated too much gameplay.
The game should be designed to accommodate all the foreseeable UI needs. Since it’s foolish to think you can cover all the bases from launch it’s reasonable to assume that the UI team, devoted to the UI, should stay on and continue to evolve the base module to meet the growing needs of the players. The bottom line though is that there should never be enough ‘customization’ that a mod becomes a requirement – that means the devs have failed.
Mods in a RvR: Recipe for Disaster
Warhammer Online’s central focus is PvP (RvR). The introduction of UI mods that are allowed to alter utility and functionality to the extremes that we’ve seen in WoW should be prohibited. Mythic needs to take a stance right now and declare that their game will not allow outside influences such as UI mods to corrupt the gameplay. Can you imagine with me for a moment the ramifications that a “Decursive” would have in RvR? A group without Decursive would not stand a chance. How about reactive mods? Can you imagine how detrimental it would be to have mods in play that will use abilities for you when someone else uses a triggering ability? It nears the point of automated gameplay.
It’s taken Blizzard years to correct many of the heinous atrocities that plagued WoW’s gameplay all in the name of “UI Mods”. If WAR releases and makes the same mistake it will be a nasty stain that might never come out. I would be very interested in hearing from Mythic on this one.
Not all UI Mods are bad!
There are actually some really neat things to come out of UI modding that aren’t just cosmetic. In EQ2 there is this mod called EQ2 Atlas and although it arguably “spoiled” the adventure and gave away the location of everything in the game it was still a really handy tool for players who (like me) get lost easily when trying to do quests in large zones. I also really like and support mods that change the look of the basic UI, provide a more interesting and accommodating use of hotbars, and make gameplay more comfortable for the individual by eliminating some of the clunkyness standard UI’s tend to have. I think the ability to customize what you’re looking at when you play is a fantastic idea. There are some really creative people out there who made some fantastic looking mods for WoW and EQ2 and I used those mods. I think the limits of appearance customization should be nearly limitless.
If done right UI Mods can be a really great asset for Warhammer Online.