Recently Dustin Browder said during an E-Sport conference in Barcelona that the community taught them how to turn Starcraft into an E-Sport. While I don't think WoW is suited to be an e-sport I think it's fair to say many people like to watch it. For a long time something was lacking to do that: A high quality tournament UI, created with love for the details. After more than 200 hours of work a masterpiece has been created by Vadrak:
As there are few people out there that did more for the arena scene than Vadrak I welcome him today for an interview.
Hildegard: Hello and welcome Vadrak. First of all congratulations to ArenaLive, you work is highly appreciated. You know what follows next.
Vadrak: What did I eat today?
Hildegard: Yes! Of course!
Vadrak: For breakfast I had a piece of apple cake (so I guess the cake is not a lie!) and after uni I cooked me some pasta with Camembert cheese-sauce and spinach.
Hildegard: I like that choices. What made you start working on the tournament UI?
Vadrak: It first came to my mind when I was watching a NAO or AJ tournament with friends and there were problems with the unit frames showing the wrong people, games had to be restarted and so on. I think everyone who watched these tournaments remembers that time.
I thought instead of customizing normal unit frames, it would be a better idea to build unit frames from scratch that are designed to fit the needs of an arena tournament and therefore save the nerves of both, organizers and viewers.
Since I was busy with my exams at that time, I nearly forgot about it, until Vishas (he knew of my idea) asked me, if I could program a UI for the European tournaments you just started to organize. It was semester break, so I agreed and gathered my ideas how it should look like and started to create the addon which has now become ArenaLive.
Hildegard: How did the testing go?
Vadrak: Well at first I just invited friends into a group and looked if the unit frame basics were working (like hp- and powerbar), this was a very short period and no big problems appeared back then, because most of those functions already were done by blizzard, so I just had to edit them a bit to fit to the needs of the UI.
As soon as the basics were working, I coded the instant cast icons ( they were inspired by the ones that the old tourney UI used) and we started the first larger test. At that point there were only some small bugs, but nothing that wasn't solvable.
After this test and some feedback I got from the people that helped testing, I wasn't happy with the instant cast icons anymore, so I got rid of them, tried another approach and eventually created that thing I call cast history (the small icons beneath the cast bar) which gave me a headache more then once, but in the end I guess it was worth it.
Then the first real test with the European tournament team took place, with shout casters, streamers etc. which was a very interesting experience and I guess my addon, which at that point consisted only of the nearly done unit frames, did very well.
Well, by the end of the test I had gathered lots of information and could fix most of the bugs, that appeared during the testing. But since I got lots of new Ideas (e.g. creating an easy manageable scoreboard) work seemed to never end.
Then I got contacted by Michael Chapman, who organizes the Curse King of the Hill series and he asked, if he and his team could use my addon for the games last Friday. At first I wasn't sure if the addon is ready for tournaments, but I finally agreed (since there was no real alternative) and one could say, that the KotH became the final beta test for my addon this way. After the event I got some feedback from the KotH team (thanks for that), fixed the last few issues and uploaded the release version to curse.
Hildegard: So, looking forward. What do you think could come in the future as further development?
Vadrak: Apart from some less interesting things, like smaller bug fixes and some code cleaning, I'd really like to further improve the addon in it's ease of use. One new feature, that goes in this direction, is a small plug-in that was written by a friend of mine. It enables you to store teams in a drop down, that will automatically load the name and the player's that belong to this team into ArenaLive. I guess this feature could be really awesome for larger tournaments and it will definitely be part of the next larger update.
Another idea I had in mind is to add a role check, like we know it from Blizzard's Dungeon Finder, where one can choose between "player" and "spectator". Depending on what role you choose, you will either be loaded into ArenaLive's unit frames (player) or your unit frame will be hidden on the tournament participant's unit frames (spectator). The problem with this one is though, that not only the organizers, but also the players would have to install this addon, in order for it to work properly. I guess I'll need to get some feedback for this idea first.
And last but not least: I'll probably help out the shout casters and streamers not to join the arena too early, by simply disabling the "Enter Match" Button for the time it takes until the gates open (1 Minute if I'm right) and re-enabling it after that time.
Hildegard: How far is the step from your addon ArenaLive to a fully functional spectator client, used for LoL or CounterStrike?
Vadrak: That's an interesting question. Although I'd really like to see Blizzard releasing a spectator mode for WoW arenas, I guess we don't need this anymore. Since most of the features you need for a fully functional spectator UI are already included in ArenaLive or can be created with the tools we already have.
The only thing that I and I guess many others are really missing, is the possibility to get a 3rd person view of other players (like with priest's Mind Vision). So it would already be enough I guess, if they just add a button to watch the game from your teammate's point of view as soon as you're dead.
Hildegard: Or even a "enter as ghost/spectator" function. That could be used to extend the spectator client to Raids, Dungeons and Battlegrounds. Could one adapt ArenaLive to help stream other contents than arenas?
Vadrak: Basically it would be possible to do that, but first you would have to do small changes to the structure of ArenaLive, since in the current version it only shows the unit frames inside of the arena. But you could do that without big effort.
Hildegard: So if anyone wants to contact you, has questions about the addon or even wants to create different versions for other purposes - how should they contact you?
Vadrak: If you have any questions, encountered bugs or want to give me improvement suggestions regarding the addon, I would recommend you to leave a comment on the ArenaLive Curse page or use the ticket system at curseforge.
Since the addon is released under the terms of the General Public License, you can freely modify the addon to fit your needs without asking me. But if you want to get some advice regarding the structure of the addon or something like that, then you can also either PM me here at AJ or you can send me a mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hildegard: We come to the end of the interview. Any shout-outs?
Vadrak: Well thanks for having me and yes, I'd like to thank a few people.
First I'd like to thank my good friend Shisei, who wrote the team storage plugin I mentioned earlier. He also helped me fixing a lot of bugs and to figure out as to how to program some parts of the addon.
Next I want to thank Vishas for contributing parts of the spelltables to the addon, Kazot for his ideas and helping me find a name for the addon and Diziet for some feedback/improvement suggestions (some of them will be added in a future build, e.g. bigger Buff-/Debufficons).
Then I've to thank the european tournament team and stunlocked for their testing and feedback and last but not least I want to thank the whole curse King of the Hill team, it was a lot of fun working together with you last week.
Hildegard: Thank you for the interview Vadrak.
Video with ArenaLive - Curse King of the Hill tournament - part one
Video with ArenaLive - Curse King of the Hill tournament - part two
European tournaments - assembling a team