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Tunnel Vision – A Healer’s Bane

Is your UI set up contributing to tunnel vision?

As a raiding healer, and perhaps a moderately obsessed UI fan – I find it always important to be certain that my UI is providing me the information that I need. The most important piece of information is the health and well being of your raid through raidframes. I would say the vast majority of healers use either Grid or Healbot as their raidframes. Personally, I prefer Grid over healbot for a number of reasons, but that is not what we really need to discuss here today.

Just by having your raidframes in a ‘grid’ set up, it can really make you focus on the ‘whack-a-mole’ mini game too much, ignoring everything else around you – healer tunnel vision. (dun dun dunnnn!) You sometimes can be too focused on being sure that you are healing your targets and guaranteeing their safety and livelihood that you didn’t notice that you were standing in a giant patch of fire, 3 Dark Orbs are coming at you when you have Light Essence, or that you are standing too close to your neighbor and will chain Blood Nova.

NoStockUI did a post similar to this in the past, but I do want to build upon that.

Let’s take a look at the following 3, very common layouts.

1. Grid in lower corner.

This layout allows you to free up a good deal of your UI allowing you to see a lot of the background. Which is great, however your eyes are focusing on the lower corner of your screen, forcing your peripheral vision to do a lot for you. In the past I have had my raid frames in this lower corner and raided very successfully – it just does take some training to get yourself used to being aware of your surroundings.

2. Grid in middle of the screen.

This layout allows you to be very aware of your raid since the focus of your attention is in your main line of sight, and further it allows you to see if you are being flanked by a creeping fire or something else. The downside to this, your player’s immediate area is very difficult to see and avoiding things like void zones or rocket strikes can be a bit obscured. If you do decide to use this layout, I strongly suggest you leave the direct area around your player visible by setting it slightly off center; either to the left or the right.

3. Grid lower middle section of the screen.

This is my preferred placement of my raid grid. It allows you to focus towards the middle of the screen, see a good deal of your flanks, as well as see the bulk of the instance ahead of you with minimal obstruction. Downsides to this, is if you focus too low on your grid, you can lose some peripheral vision benefits. Ive found having grid 1-2 inches above the bottom of your screen can be very helpful.

Some people really enjoy the mod Viewport. Viewport sets aside a portion of your screen to NOT be for the game camera, and only for action bars, grid, dps meters, etc… However, as a healer I feel that putting your Grid into a section that has ZERO game camera view can be risky and actually contribute too much towards tunnel vision since you have a ‘silent’ background. One of my earlier UIs (which is still in the Derevka UI section of this site – I’ll update it soon, I promise!) has a KGpanel that is semitransparent at the bottom of the screen. I feel that the semi transparency really helps with keeping tunnel vision at bay. My current UI, has a gradient that allows for the most important sections of my UI to be clear, as well as providing some aesthetic shading for easier reading of the chat and meter windows, shown here – in a 10 man raid (25 man the grid continues to the right with groups 3, 4, and 5).

My current UI is inspired and modified off of Bati’s UI, a fellow Priest Blogger and end-game raider. My Grid is bordered by my STUF Player and Target Frames, topped by ForteXorcist which manages my cooldowns.

None of the options discussed here are inherently any better than the others. When trying out different Grid placements, keep in mind each of the cons I have noted here. Grid placement can play a major factor in your Tunnel Vision – see which works better for you.

What kind of Grid/Healbot set up do you use? What do you do to combat Tunnel Vision?

At the end of the day, tunnel vision is something every healer has to battle: focusing on the raiders you are assigned to protect as well as keeping your eyes on the ‘real game’. (not that whack-a-mole isn’t fun)… it’s just that this version provides purple epics, not tickets that you can trade in for an asbestos stuffed teddy bear.


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Written By: on December 31, 2009
  1. I use Vuhdo and have it on the upper/middle right hand side of my screen. This leaves most of my screen free to see what is going on, and I am not staring at a giant screen of bars.

    But then I also use the stock UI so I don't know if that makes a difference.

  2. Hey, I really like this UI, very slick, nice modification of Bati's. I'd love an upload of this one^^

  3. The way I found to cure my own tunnel vision was through the use of an add-on called 'Power Auras'. I symbols in the center of my screen to show, for instance, when CoH was off-cooldown. This meant that I had to keep focus on the middle of the screen also, and not permanently at my raid-frames, which are situated at the bottom-center of my UI. So, the theory is, train yourself to keep switching focus between raid frames and the center of your screen, perhaps with the use of another addon you need to watch.

  4. Yup we're a big fan of power auras – derv even wrote up a blog on basic functions and set up for it here. It's a slick mod.

  5. Been using DXE boss mode and I like how it is always making some sound for something, and arrows to let you know which way to run away to. DBM also lets you know if you standing on the carpet of doom.

  6. I do something similar – I put the grid right under my feet. I use ctviewport (available on the CTMOD site) to change the aspect ratio of my screen – there's a nice black bar under my feet and I'm not obscuring anything important with the bars. Here's a screenie I took of my priest's setup.

  7. I strongly agree with your preferred placement, Derevka. Keeping Grid or Vuhdo near the other things you need to see (whether you're standing in fire, whether a boss is turned towards you, etc) is a great idea. Since I started doing this, I feel like I have more awareness and less eyestrain.

    I prefer the healing UI to be under the character since Grid is often configured to be wider than it is tall. I used to have Grid to the right of my character, but the wide Grid frame drew my focus too far away from the center of the screen.

  8. I'm different to many people in that I have moved away from the center/bottom placement for my raid frames.

    I *used* to have my frames under my character, but I found that it made me constantly anxious that something was "behind" me (eg void zones, fire, mobs) that I couldn't see. I find it much better to "lose" a chunk of the corner of my screen rather than a chunk right near my character.

    Does that make sense?

    With the frames right under me, I am constantly worried that I've created a big blind spot right near me. I'd prefer that I had a blind spot in the far corner than close to me.

    Of course, many people will argue that having Grid in the corner means I'm not watching my feet and I won't see fires etc – but I find a free centre screen makes it easier for me to see what is surrounding my character, not harder.

    I've tried both, and in the end, I've gone back to a side placement, because it truly is better, faster, safer for me.

    However: I still have a 19 inch screen. Many people have MUCH larger screens, and I believe this plays quite a large part in frame placement preferences.

    If I had a huge screen, I doubt I would want to keep scanning across a gulf of 12 inches or so, back and forth between my frames and my character. If this was the case, I have no doubt in my mind that I would choose a near-my-feet placement.

    With a small screen though, a corner placement is better for me, because the travel is minimal, and it reduces clutter near my character.

  9. I see just below your fame for your toon is the COH and POM icons. I'm guessing those icons will flash or something then they are off CD. Is ForteXorcist the addon to set this up?

    For me, Firefighter really made me shake up my UI to avoid tunnel vision. I cleared everything in the middle third of the screen like you. Only thing is I can't see where you placed your DBM.

  10. Great commentary so far on this post!

    @crankyhealer I'm not a huge Viewport fan as I said in the post, it has too 'silent' of a background, and contributes to tunnelvision for me at least. If it works for you, awesome!

    @Keeva with a 19" monitor you do probably have some advantages when it comes to that. I agree.

    @Peng yes its ForteXorcist

  11. I definitely prefer keeping my healbot frame to the left-middle, otherwise known as 9 o'clock. I might try the bottom-middle placement for something different on my next raid.

  12. i'm using healbot in the center bottom of my screen.
    as i play on a 24" screen that leaves me plenty of sourrounding area of my char to see and enough space for other add ons.

    one thing i use is mikscrolling battletext (?).
    i configured the incoming periodic dmg in fights with aoe (lady deathwhisper's D&D) to be displayed all across the healbot interface so if i want to keep on healing i have to move out. a dead healer is a bad healer after all :)

  13. I use X-Perl in the middle-bottom, with DBM notifications slightly above, my focus frame (assigned heal target) to the right of raid-frames and power auras over my character for time-based info I might forget (Disc: Power Infusion off CD, Weakened Soul not active; Holy: Weakened Soul & shield not active, serendipity stacks & timer; both: Inner Fire not up).
    As blackdawn says, using power auras gets me used to flicking my eyes up and down between raid frames & character to try and keep some extra awareness.

    24" screen definitely means I have to try and keep as much of my important info in the middle 1/3rd of the screen otherwise I just lose track too quickly if it all goes crazy.

  14. I think you have to understand your strengths. For me i put my healing "grid" in the top right corner because i have what i call "shooter's eye" where i can process alot of information indirectly with my right eye alone. Still leaving the middle clear so i dont stand or see something coming.

  15. I'm convinced that Blizzard had it right with the default UI: the place for health bars is on the top left.

    The things you have to worry about as a healer are generally at ground level. That means blocking your view of the ground is always a bad idea. The screenshot showing Grid right at the player's feet had me cringing: it's just asking for the player to step backwards into a patch of flaming death.

    My UI has an unobstructed view from the center of the screen downward. The health bars are at the top left rather than top right, because the top right gets used for all kinds of default UI crap (map, paperdoll, quests, timers, vehicle icons, etc.)

  16. I think screen size plays a big part in how you set up your UI. My main is a Shaman, and especially before totem bar came out (and even now to a lesser degree), I found that I had so many abilities that my 3 ability bars took up the bottom center of the screen. Because of this, I have always used Middle Left for my raid frames (I use Healbot).

    Thanks to one of these comments, I just realized what the mod is that reserves the bottom of the screen for addons/etc., so I may have to try that since it will help alleviate my concerns of not being able to see something important.

  17. I notice your grid does not show pets. Shame on you!
    :o P

  18. I like they your Screen looks. is there a way to get that off Curse as a addon pack set up for holy priest

  19. Stunning story there. What happened after?

    Good luck!

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