As part of our special patch 2.2.0 event, we're reaching out to a number of the AddOn authors who have developed the AddOns we've all grown to love in World of Warcraft. Whether it's a Unit Frame, a bag mod, or a threat meter, you've probably used at least one of the AddOns these folks have developed. This particular interview is with pastamancer, developer of Grid - an AddOn that has become synonymous with raid healing.
Curse: Could you tell us a little about your background in World of Warcraft and how you got into AddOn design?
pasta: I've been playing since the open beta. I had been interested in addon development for a long time but had no idea what to start with.
Curse: What was the first AddOn you worked on for World of Warcraft?
pasta: My very first addon was very simple. It automatically left general chat when I entered The Barrens and re-joined it when I left. Later on, I got a better feel for addon development by submitting patches for AGUF.
Curse: How has being an AddOn author changed the way you play World of Warcraft and how you interact with fellow players?
pasta: Aside from taking a few months off from raiding to work on grid, it hasn't changed the way I play. The people I raid with have been very good at providing feedback and I used them as beta testers when Grid was still in heavy development.
Curse: By the same token, has it changed your view of the work Blizzard has done with the game?
pasta: It gave me an appreciation for the amount of work that went until the interface and the design trade-offs needed to make it usable by everyone.
Curse: How badly did WoW 2.0 affect the AddOns you were working on at the time? Did it require you to re-design any of the core features?
pasta: I was still working on Grid when the news about 2.0 came out. I had to completely re-design the layout system in Grid to use the new SecureHeaders.
Curse: Were any of your AddOns "killed," so to speak, by WoW 2.0?
pasta: Nope. Grid is my only publicly released addon.
Curse: So you developed Grid - a raid frame that has quickly become one of the most popular in the world for healers. What ultimately brought on the decision to create the AddOn?
pasta: Maia came up with the the original idea for Grid about a year ago. Square raid frames with vertical health bars and small colored status indicators. The goal was to have raid frames that provided all the information needed for a healer/decurser in a small amount of space.
I had been thinking about how unit frames should work behind-the-scenes and came across Maia's post about Grid in the WoWAce forums and posted my thoughts. We worked together to create what would be the successor to Detox and Squishy.
Curse: Are there any future plans for Grid, such as new features or maybe a revamp to the design?
pasta: Jerry is working on pet support in Grid. That's the last major feature planned for Grid. The ease with which additional information can be displayed in Grid (via modules) allows me to keep the core relatively simple.
Curse: Are there any AddOns you're working on that haven't been released yet? If so, would you care to talk about them?
pasta: I'm not currently working on any new addons because I've been very busy both in-game and in real life.
Curse: Looking forward, there's talk of 3.0 having a similar impact on AddOns as 2.0 did. Does this concern you at all and make you think twice when an idea for a cool new AddOn pops up in your head?
pasta: As long as Blizzard endorses "smart users, not smart buttons" I don't think I have anything to worry about. I'm interested in giving people the information they need to make intelligent decisions.
Curse: If you could change one thing about the World of Warcraft API, and how it limits certain AddOn functionality, what would that be?
pasta: I'd love to get target information in the UNIT_SPELLCAST events for other players. It doesn't really restrict addon functionality because it can (and is) being worked-around via SendAddonMessage (behind-the-scenes addon communications).
Curse: Thanks for the interview, pastamancer! Is there anything you'd like to say to your AddOn fans, or to Blizzard?
pasta: I'd like to thank Blizzard for opening up the user interface for customization. I'd also like to thank everyone that has contributed to Grid by writing code, writing documentation, translating, writing modules, submitting bug reports, or feature requests. Grid wouldn't be what it is today without all of you.