An Opinion on Macros and AddOns in SW:TOR

This screenshots expresses the magnitude WoW can change with addons.

As we close in on two months of the anticipated and well enjoyed game, by Beararms, Sephalon, and I, issues and bugs have come and gone with the normal development cycle of any new MMO.

Yes, some features have been missing that the playerbase has deemed “mandatory”. Features that are essentially assumed these days. Yes, there are bugs that are incredibly annoying. Although, some things latch on to people more than others. What has recently been a call to arms by the customers is the state of AddOns and Macros.

I have to admit; I’ve never spent as much time on a game’s forum to find the latest news and updates to the game or learn what my fellow players are experiencing as I do TOR’s. Sometimes what people believe and say is depressing, others, it’s quite enlightening.

Personally, I feel like Macros would be a great addition to TOR, while AddOns should remain out of the question.

I know you’re asking yourself “Why, Mordil? Why allow macros but leave out the possibilities of addons?” It’s simple, in my opinion.

I recently read a forum post explaining the benefits of macros, and it blew my mind like a nuke inside a warehouse. Before that post, I saw them for simple things such as /1 [Insert Guild Spam here] or /target [Name of Rare Mob]. I didn’t have the know-how, or the cunning (need to stack more!) to figure out its capabilities, as listed in the OP of the forum post.

If BioWare’s developers were to control the use of them akin to WoW, and not like Rift – I’m all for it. I’d love to use it like I saw in the post.

However, I will argue to the death that AddOns – in principle – will destroy a game. Especially since we, as an industry, have seen what people want in an MMORPG for the last seven years of 3rd party development for WoW.

It’s unavoidable that people will make comparisons to WoW – regardless of what you do – because that is the benchmark of the industry, and because of that, studios need to see what it is that players regard as “necessary” and what is “extra”.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes. I’m speaking on things like Omen Threat Meters, Recount, Deadly Boss Mods, and the likes. ALL of these mods are unnecessary to me – if the developers realized the need, and implement something to server their purposes in the native UI. Their existence should be built in upon community feedback, rather than built by the community out of necessity.

I feel this way from years of experience from being a noob just before Wrath of the Lich King, to now, with raiding. Having to learn what addons were, how to get them, how to use them, and how to min-max required the subject of addons. I have never been a fan of requiring someone to download something extra just to play the core game.

Add on (zing!) the fact that min-maxing ruins the “fun” aspect between classes as you try to top the charts, and I start to turn as green as your cliché alien at the thought of Recount being TOR-enabled.

My solution:

  • WoW already has a pretty simple built-in Omen Threat Meters that enables tanks to see who they have threat on, who has threat, who’s gaining threat, etc., etc. – incorporate this.
  • Add a combat log. I know – as a fellow game programmer – that you had them at some point, to make sure the class, during testing, was shelving out the correct output. This will satiate the thirst of those curious to know just how much damage they’re doing – while still keeping the posting of Recount charts in general chat.
  • You already have the infrastructure to include DBM – it’s your codex system. Give codex entries for every flashpoint, operations, and world boss we may encounter, and tell us what abilities they have. WoW just implemented this in Patch 4.3 and it’s helped casuals to learn encounters at a fair rate, without showing them like in a TankSpot video, or DBM. Give us the lore in the codex entry plus experience and credits after we down them, and we’ll call it even.

I can’t express it further than that. It ends up subjective at that point and even then – petition for it to be included into the UI, rather than petition for the including of API for AddOns.

What are your feelings on Macros and AddOns in TOR? How about in general gamedom?


  1. Hmmmm My feeling is that the combat log thing can be dangerous.
    At least in LOTRO, if I’m not mistaken, when you had very low addon support people used combat logs with external programs to get real time dps-stuff.

    And if you see Mumble, for example, it is open source and has a hook that makes it write stuff INSIDE your game. I can clearly see someone using that, given the size of SWTOR. Actually, even if you could see only your damage, I still see someone making some client-server arrangement where in guilds you could be required to have the dps meter so you can all compare among yourselves, thus breaking both the points of combat log for analysis later, or combat log just for personal analysis.

    It is possible. As I said, this is considering that swtor is huge in number of players. Otherwise I don’t think anyone would come up with that. But you get a bunch of minmax people, and someone will be up to it. Just my 2 cents though….

  2. Ive always been agains macros and add ons – I never understood why in a game we want things to be more automated, making us less participants and more as observers, wheres the skill in pressing a single button and have the computer make your character slice & dice your opponent, teleport to the nearest city sell all your stuff without any input from you.
    Its like giving your girlfriend a sex toy, then just sitting back and watching …………


    ok bad example but you get the drift.

    Also add ons that tell you when to press the button —– whats the point any idiot can press a button when hes told to. Its a game your supposed to be showing off your l33t skills, not how well you can do as your told.

    I would be interested to know what it was that was said in the forum that “blew your mind like a nuke in a warehouse” though.

  3. Well, I got almost only the TL:DR; part of the post.

    You can set-up a macro so that, for example:

    1 – Cast Firebolt
    Shift+1 – Cast Firebolt at a focused target (you /focus someone and they become your focused target, it is a bit like having 2 targets)
    Ctrl+1 – Cast Firebolt at a mouseover target, without having to select/lose your current target.

    Substitute firebolt for plasma shot or whatever skill name :)

    I think this was what the guy missed the most from macros. The macro doesn’t play for you – it adds “depth” and opportunities for you to “show skill”, whatever those words means.

  4. Before that forum post, I never looked at macros as being more powerful than mounting / dismounting + chat spam buttons.

    But, then again, I didn’t have much programming / code knowledge either.

  5. I mostly agree with you Mordil, except on one point. No combat logs.


    Well, this is a topic that could be debated on a forum thread and take 1,000 pages. So I’ll try to keep it brief.

    Combat logs inevitably lead to DPS/healing/threat meters, which leads to forced min-maxing, e-peen contests, and all manner of NOT fun things. (And just because you don’t allow in-game addons doesn’t mean you’re going to prevent those from happening – which is moot in SW:ToR anyway, because they’ve been promising an API for addons since several betas ago at least.)

    All those addons scrape the combat log for their data. No combat logs, no data. No data, no dps meters, no threat meters, no healing meters. And along with that, none of the endless whining about dps or healing imbalance, none of the abusive and derisive behavior towards other players who “aren’t pulling their weight because they do 10% less dps than they should”. No obsessive min-maxing, because no one really knows with absolute certainty exactly which build is best any given situation – which means you can spec and build to have FUN, and not spec a certain way just to be allowed to participate.

    And this is coming from a player who’s good at all the speccing, min-maxing, topping DPS while managing threat, etc. I just don’t like it. It makes it feel too much like a job.

  6. Nice post.

    I don’t totally agree on putting macro’s in SWTOR, unless they make the macro’s so that you don’t gain any beneficial in combat like get in the right stance then use the skill you want and then switch back. But for example making it easier to put raid marks easily switch specs and gear at the same time (not that’s in SWTOR), and more of those simple tasks.

    For addons you’re completely right, I’ve played WoW without addons first, and later on I started using then and even make a few of my own addons. But I can’t say that addons are an improvement, I more likely to say that people who need addons in order to play good/correctly are just lazy and don’t use or looked for the game current/original tools that where build in.

    I’ve played several F2P MMO’s and I can’t say I needed addons or macro’s for them, we just learned how to play the game and figure out how to down a boss by trail-and-error (one of the best learning curves). For SWTOR I think they don’t need it and people should start using there heads instead of addons telling them what to do or even doing stuff for them. WoW has put most of the peoples expectation for MMO’s way to high. A game is there for a little challenging entertainment otherwise I could better watch a movie.

  7. @Gonzales “….. to ‘show skill’ or whatever those words mean ….”

    What I mean by those words is this (and i do expect the flaming to begin here — it normally does, but please keep it civil):

    If you play the games as was originally meant to be played they required you to coordinate you fingers, set your keyboard up in the best manner to your style, to manage your own timers and cooldowns efectively. By using macros all this is taken away from you and handled by the computer. It watches your timer for you and effects the next move in the sequence with split second timing.

    Doing it yourself meant you had to time moves properly to ensure that you didnt leave openings inbetween moves for others to counter and get their attacks in…. macros mean there is no human error, if you press your macro before the other guy you tend to win.

    To my mind Macros seems to be effectively dumbing down the game – you go on google, copy & paste the relative macro for your character – and there you go … a ready made well ‘ard character – no skill required .

    Also why dont we all call for macros in singleplayer games like skyrim or for example on console games …. ill tell you why, they are more fun to play properly the only difference is with MMO’s macros allow u to effectively “cheat” to get one up on the other guy.

    The other reason i am anti macro is that people who don’t like to macro are effectively forced to macro to keep competetive or be content to lag behind those that do.

    Remember keep it civil (this discussion usually deteriorates from here)……

  8. Don’t worry Xaras, I consider myself quite civil (most of the time haha)

    But really, I think that the [target=whatever] is nice to have in macro’s. I don’t think you have it anywhere else. And this is what the guy on the post seem to be missing the most.

    Just imagining a PvP scenario for example. Two teams, 2v2, dps+healer on each team. One of them has a /cast [target=mouseover;mod:shift]Interrupt;Interrupt macro. All this macro does is cast interrupt on your target, or on the target your mouse is over if you hold shift.

    So one of the dps can interrupt the healer just by pointing at him and SHIFT+1, while the other has to click, select the healer, press 1, and then click back and select back the original target. I really don’t see how this would be “cheating”. Personally, I can even say that I think the game should have non-macro options to make use of mouseover and focus easier.

    I don’t think this kind of macro is really “cheating”, but this is just my oppinion. You still have to aim the mouse and press the correct keys, except that you press a new key (or hold a modifier key) instead of clicking on your target.

    Now about macros that just change stance then cast whatever then come back… yeah, I agree they do too much. I didn’t really consider them when I wrote my post, I was basically thinking about macros that are “simpler” (does this word exist?) – cast non-combat res if I’m not in combat, in-combat res if I’m in combat, having 2 different spells for different situations on the same hotkey. I don’t think these are broken or “cheating”.

    Again, if you are talking about macros that change your stance to defensive, equip a shield and a sword, do something, get you back with a 2h and get you back to berserk all by just smashing one button I agree against them. But I really see no evil on targeting, in-or-out of combat macros, macros that warn that you are using a cooldown on someone else (not everyone has to use voice chat).

    DocHolliday: I agree. No combat logs whatsoever. Just like I said in the first comment, guilds will start forcing people to share/upload/whatever the combat logs, then the player base will shift towards min-maxing attitudes and soon you will need complete and real-time readable combat logs.

    I don’t play SWToR but I can imagine the min-maxers freaking out with changelogs: “omg this skill got buffed! Was it so weak?” or something like that haha

  9. I think everyone would agree that aimbots in FPS and bottingin general is wrong and should be stamped out.

    Why is macroing any different, like aimbot it reduces the amount of control and skill you have to have over your characters to get results and immediately gives you an unfair advantage over those that dont use it.

    In other discussions onthis topic in other forums the arguement is always ” its your choice not to use macros – but you are free to use them too” yet noone would say that of aimbot in FPS. To my mind no difference, both ruin the game.

    On the point of add ons – look at that screenshot in the article – besides my earlier points of simplifying the game, cheating, sucking the fun out of the game ……. it just looks awful, text, meters, and crap all over the screen – you can hardly see any of the action. It ruins games on so many levels

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