HUD and UI
It’s been some time since we’ve updated our UI and technology has advanced since we first developed it in 2004. Players now have larger monitors, and the development team has better tools to look at revamping the UI to accommodate the times.
With the update in Dragonflight, we wanted to create a layout that would allow players to customize and move elements of the UI around their screen to better fit their needs. We recognize that add-ons today provide many opportunities for players to customize their experience, but not all players use them. With the help of our user research team, we are working to meet the goals our community needs and add those elements to the base UI. This allows us to add new functionality, improve accessibility, and make aesthetic updates to the art.
A key component to our changes is maintaining the charm and personality of the UI that players have been using for the past eighteen years while still presenting a more modern take. You’ll see with these changes the minimap and health bar appear larger, we’ve removed some of the clutter to provide more visibility to your gameplay as well. As a part of maintaining the charm of the design, we’ve also taken the time to update the gryphons and wyverns on the action bar at the bottom of the screen.
Not only will you be able to move various elements of the HUD around the screen, but each component has various sets of options that you’ll be able to work with. You’ll be able to save, edit, copy, and name it. It will also remember which specialization you’re in so when you switch between then, it will remember the HUD layout that you have for that specific spec.
As with anything in development, it’s still a work in progress. We look forward to getting more feedback from the community as they experience these changes and more.
Another UI intensive project we’ve been working on is an update to the Talent system. We wanted to look at it once more and find ways to provide players with more choice in shaping their character’s abilities. Currently, as you level up, you receive new spells and skills, but that progression and ordering is entirely predetermined. So, we started looking at creating a system that would provide players with a wider set of options.
One of these ideas that we returned to was that of trees. In this case, it’s actually two trees. One tree focuses on class utility while the other focuses on specialization and the expression of your role whether that’s doing damage, tanking, or healing. We want choosing your specialization to be important and want to make sure that when you choose it, it affects the tree in some way.
When you look at the new tree, you’ll notice the class side will have some abilities filled out for free to get you started off in the spec you’ve chosen, but then you’ll have your first point to spend in the class tree which could be something related to that spec or it could be something from elsewhere in the class.
We wanted to make sure that the new system allows players to take combinations of spells and abilities that may not have been possible in the game before. This opportunity also allowed us to inject more art and fantasy into the actual Talent UI itself.
We want players to be able to tinker with the trees and make a lot of changes while not necessarily feeling like you must fully commit. The power really is coming back to the player. It’s not something we want people to feel locked into and so one of the things we’ll be preserving is the ability to change talents at the same kind of frequency as they do now. Players should easily be able to go from their raid night to playing arena matches by taking advantage of a new feature that allows them to save and load their build. They’ll be able to name it, save it, then load it up very quickly.
Talents really are about having a breadth of options and we wanted to give players the ability to hold the building blocks of what make up their class and spec and put them together in a way that works for them.
This is only a first preview of what we are working on, and we are looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts.