WoW Macros And Addons And How I Hate Them

I’ve been banging my head against a wall for the past week now with macros and addons in World of Warcraft. I’ve been programming for 10 years, hold a first class degree in Computer Science, and used to build levels for Doom using DCK, a DOS-based sector editor that required a degree in Astrophysics to master (I was widely considered a child prodiogy after I developed my third level) yet somehow, for the love of Tim Berners-Lee, I can’t get my bloody macros to work.

I loved the DCK book when I was 12. In fact, I got caught loving it once and was asked to leave the library.

I loved the DCK book when I was 12. In fact, I got caught loving it once and was asked to leave the library.

I keep flipping between the thought that I’m either trying to be too smart and perform actions and just aren’t possible with the macro system or that I’m a complete retard who can’t fathom the most basic of commands that even spotty 14 year olds employ to annihilate me in Battlegrounds. Is there some secret cult of Macro Magicians out there that I don’t know about who lurk in the shadows, teaching those able to find them the unholy secrets for knocking 1.2 seconds off their response time, granting them the winning edge in an already unbalanced PvP system? If so, I hope to God I can find them.

Macros in WoW are a truly silly affair. They don’t offer anything substantial and just tease us with the prospect of being able to power ourselves up and cut down the inane amount of hot keys we already have. Macros are the programming language equivalent of a lap dance – offering just enough to get us worked up but not complete enough to give us what we really want. After battling with them for a few hours I find I need to go bury myself in some real code in order to satisfy that (slightly worrying) itch.

Then, of course, on the other side of the coin come the addons. Third party scripts and bits of software designed to simplify the game to utter redundancy and ineptitude. No wonder people complain World of Warcraft is too easy. Install Tauntmaster and it will render all of your skill at tanking obsolete, turning the entire thing into a game of “click the shiny button when it turns red”. My Grandma could do that and she doesn’t even know what a shiny button is.

What happened to the purity of our games? Why can’t we just leave them be and play them as they come? I’ll tell you why (not that you were asking): auto-condimentation. We’re so used to piling on the salt and extra cheese that we forget to taste our food before we do it. And let’s not forget the concept that maybe the Chef served us the meal exactly how he wanted us to enjoy it. Macros are salt, addons are tomato ketchup and they’re ruining the fine dining of our games. And yes, I just equated World of Warcraft to fine dining, feel free to crucify me for it, I offer no excuses.

I don’t care if a macro can allow me to use a single button to switch between stances or cast the stance appropriate spell. I don’t care that addons let me see everyones threat per second or their gear score or what underwear they’re wearing. I hate them all.

P.S. Apart from QuestHelper. That one rocks.

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  5. Why I Hate Item Progression


  1. Rohan says:

    What are you trying to do with macros that is so hard? I’ve always found WoW macros to be fairly straightforward.

    • Gordon says:

      I want to have a macro that switches me to Battle Stance, Charges, casts Hamstring and then switches me back to Defensive Stance. And another one that equips my sword and shield, casts Shield Bash and then equips my 2 hander again.

      • Rohan says:

        You can’t do the first through macros, at least not on a single button press. I don’t think you can do the double weapon switch in one macro for the second, though you can do one weapon switch + ability.

        The basic rule of WoW macros is that all lines are executed simultaneously.

        That’s not strictly true, but it’s a good way to think about macros and what’s possible and what isn’t possible. You can’t really do consecutive actions across multiple GCDs with one button press, though you can with /castsequence.

        For example, you can do your first request with

        /castsequence reset=5 Battle Stance,Charge,Hamstring,Defensive Stance

        But you have to press the button 4 times.

  2. Longasc says:

    Questhelper removed even having to read the quest text. OK, it is mostly not worth it at all, but “follow the green arrow. the green arrow is your best friend” is getting old, too. :)

    No external macros, no lua modding of the UI – I am strictly against it. Cryptic, NCSoft and ArenaNet in particular offer people some abilities to modify the UI to their liking ingame a lot, but nothing more. And this is good.

    Both macros and modding in general either give people a competitive advantage or they become so mandatory that you cannot make do without them. They can also destroy gameplay. Convenience is nice, but many games have already reached the point where automatization has gone too far.

    • Gordon says:

      I think a flexible UI is enough. The WoW UI is poor because you can’t even move stuff around but something like the native EQ2 UI was great because it was so flexible and customizable without having to use addons.

      And yeah, I realised the irony of my P.S. statment after I wrote how I liked QuestHelper :D It is kinda exact what’s bad about addons…

  3. scrusi says:

    I think Blizzard did a commendable job making sure that macros and mods don’t go too far as automation goes. I find nothing wrong with their LUA interface, in fact I believe that it’s both one of the reasons why the game has stayed enjoyable for me for so long and why the default game UI is now as good as it is.

    So many of the things that we see commonly in MMO UIs these days have come from the WoW modding scene in the first place that I don’t dare to think about how terrible MMOS would still be if Blizzard hadn’t provided us with such an extensive modding interface. To stay with your food analogy, salt is very useful to modify a dish to individual tastes. I regularly add salt to my own portion of dishes I cooked after the fact so that it fits both my taste and that of my guests. And if the cook is terrible, even ketchup might help.

    I’ve dropped MMOs due to terrible UIs before, games that could have been saved with good mod support. Even if game designers were infallible (which they clearly are not) it would be impossible to create a UI that suits everyone. Mods fix that.

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, I take your point (and nice food analogy btw :) ), but I feel addons in WoW seem to have become a little extreme though. Healbot? Tauntmaster? These are designed to actually totally change the way we play certain roles and really do simplify things beyond the original design. I imagine it must be hard for Blizzard to balance things when they know half the population is using easy-mode addons and the other half aren’t.

      • scrusi says:

        I have never used Tauntmaster, but there have been addons in the past that clearly did too much. Old Healbot and old Decursive come to mind as well as macros (I had a very good 1-button pvp macro for my warrior back in vanilla). Blizzard has come down on these before and if Tauntmaster does too much I suppose they will come down on it as well.
        So addons can clearly do too much and developers need to take care that they don’t, but that doesn’t completely condemn them in my eyes.

        Also, if I can easily macro an integral part of the game, the game isn’t really well designed now, is it? That’s a topic for another day though.

      • Bootleg says:

        I play as a healer, and recently switched from healbot to Vuhdo. What do you consider extreme about healbot?

        My experience with healbot is that it doesn’t really do anything I couldn’t achieve through the standard UI. Regardless, at a base level, I still have to choose what spell to use, when to use it and who to use it on. There’s no automation involved. (unless I’m not using it to it’s full potential)

        Deadly Boss Mods… That’s an addon that may go to far. “I don’t have to know anything because DBM will hold my hand and tell me what to do and when.” That’s a bit of an exaggerated look at DBM but it’s not far from the truth.

  4. ScytheNoire says:

    I feel the complete opposite way. Addon’s (and macro’s to a lesser extent) are the only reason I kept on playing WoW. It had/has a horrible standard user interface, the layout is illogical (character info should be bottom center, not top left), and it’s not how I want it. Addon’s allow me to make the game UI to actually suit the U-part, the User, that’s me. All games should have customizable UI’s that allow addon’s, or at the very least, allow me to move and alter all aspects of the UI to suit my needs and the way I like it laid out. I’ve quit a number of MMO’s quite quickly due to horrible UI’s, especially one’s that don’t allow me to alter them and use the illogical character info in the top left, out of my main viewpoint (which is bottom center).

  5. Dustin Moore says:

    I just barely got into macros as a WoW beginner. I realized since I’m an avid PvPer I have to cut out crucial seconds. I didn’t realize WoW supported all those addon programs. As long as they limit them to what they can do I see no harm in it.

  6. nugget says:

    Other than lack of interest, Addons and macros are my single largest reason for not resubbing to WoW.

    After over a year, I simply cannot face the idea of updating all my Add-ons, tracking down those that have died, and finding replacements for them, rewriting all my macros, after updating from my probably now-so-obsolete-versions that I’ll have to rewire the entire thing (ctraid et al)…

    The very thought gives me a headache. XD

  7. Brian says:

    My real problem with the addon system in wow is not so much the automation. Blizzard created an addon system to avoid any responsibility towards maintaining a decent UI imo. Don’t like something about the UI? Go find a mod or make your own!

    What sucks is you end up with a game that without mods won’t show your whole raid with health bars for healing.. arguably doesn’t support enough button slots for all the skills and consumables you need at your fingertips.. you get a poor UI, terribly unsuited for playing the game. And instead a bunch of programmers are out there maintaining mods that they’re not allowed to sell. And we players are forced to either 1) deal with patching and adjusting to it when mods stop getting updated or 2) run without addons at a disadvantage.

    Addons can be cool in some ways, but I feel Blizzard should still make some attempt at maintaining a competitive UI without requiring third party mods.

    • Gordon says:

      It’s a very good point. I don’t think the Blizzard UI is all that bad but yeah, a lot of MMO developers are going down the route now of just letting others do their work for them (in regards to UIs and add-ons – QuestHelper is a perfect example of this). It’s a tough call as to which is best because although it means it’s the responsibility of amateurs to maintain their work, it frees up the time of the developer to do more useful things.

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