Saturday, February 9, 2008

Venturing the World of Macros

Macro. It sounds really as something special when you're a newbie. When I heard about it for the first time, after a few months of playing, I realized it probably was a good thing, but I didn't see it as something that was within my reach, that really concerned me. I had all trouble in the world putting my ordinary spells on the action bars, using them wisely. To make macros - that had to be just for the pros. Another world than the one where I lived. Oh, you just had to have a look at it to get scared off. There were slashes, parentheses, semicolons, if here, if there... This was plain programming! Were you really supposed to write the code of the game, not just play it?

Time passed and I realized more and more that I did miss out something essential. I just had to read the macro discussion threads in the mage forums I usually visit. Just a simple thing like being able to eat and drink at the same time with a single keystroke or click... That would save me one slot on my bars, which were more and more crowded. Not to speak of how it would minimize the clicking. Still I felt a resistance, which I still have. When I log into the game I do it in order to play. Not to sit around for hours, fixing all kinds of settings.

Finally it was the Curator in Karazhan who actually forced me to take the step and start making macros. For those of you who never have met him, I can tell you he's got a specialty: he throws out little nasty flares which hurt. Hurt a lot. And the key to win is to get them down instantly. Without using a macro which helps you targeting them as soon as they appear, it will be quite hard. At least for me, being crappy at catching targets that are moving. Of course you can use the tab key, but it will still take longer than if you have a macro. So my very first macro was:

/target astral flare

To create it was quite self instructing, you do it by pressing Esc, then chosing Macro and finally New. Give the macro a name, chose a symbol for it, and then write it down. Pull the symbol to your action bar. Done! If you don't want to mouse click it you can do as I do: bind the symbol to a certain key. You do that by Keybindings, which you also reach by Esc. In my case it was the Swedish letter "ö", which happened to be free. So every time I go visiting the Curator, I spam "ö" and by that I win several seconds for each flare that is coming flying towards me. I don't have to mess around with my mouse anymore; I can go straight for the flares.

Soon after that the flare macro was followed up with a similar "target chain"-macro. At Illhoof, another of the inhabitants of Karazhan, who I pay regular visits to, you need to quickly get rid of some chains, which now and then catch someone in the raid and cause a lot of trouble. A similar macro, but a different target.

The success of the target macro made me more confident. Now I've got a little macro collection, which is still growing. For instance I've got one macro which enables me to throw the new, nice quicker-casting-spell Icy Veins as well as using my trinkets as soon as the cooldown is down. And I don't even have to think about it, since I've tied them to my main spell fireball, which I cast 90 percent of the time in a boss fight (Thanks to my blog friend Consentire who put me on the track!).

I've got another macro which stops the spell I'm about to throw and immediately casts counterspell. It's a huge improvement, since you're often in a situation where you want to cast it instantly.

A favourite macro of mine is my sheep macro. It enables me to sheep a mob, then attack another one, and whenever needed I can resheep the first monster with one key stroke, without having to shift target. I simply sheep it nice and easy by pressing the 8 key, which has been my sheep bottom ever since the start, and then keep nuking the monster I was nuking. It looks like this:

/clearfocus [target=focus,dead] /clearfocus [target=focus,noexists] /focus [target=focus,noexists] target /clearfocus [button:2] /clearfocus [target=focus, noharm] /cast [target=focus,exists] polymorph

Macros can also be very simple, small things that make your everyday life in Azeroth a bit easier. My latest addition was a small macro, which opens the cooking book at a left click and make a fire at a right click (I like to sit by a cosy fire warming myself sometimes when there's waiting time). Now I'm thinking about adding another line so that a click on the middle bottom will make me cook blackened basilisk, which is what I cook in nine cases out of ten. And all of this will then just take one single slot on my actionbar.

I still find the macro language quite hard to understand. There are some commandos I don't quite understand. But I don't have to! It's a bit like if you're collecting stickers. You don't have to invent all of them by yourself - you can just as well trade them with others. If I get your favourite macro, you'll get mine! There are plenty of websites and collections that you can copy from to your own macro collection. (Just one warning: don't try to write it down manually, one single space too much or a dot in the wrong place will destroy the whole macro.) Then you don't have to think so much about how it comes that this text combination will have certain effects - what's important is that it works!

As time has passed I've realized that I was all wrong in my view about macros. They're not just something for the pros to bother about. On the contrary, newcomers probably are the one who would benefit most from getting a few macros. They're just perfect for us who are fumbling with the bottoms and the mouse, us who are a bit slow, find it hard to find and shift targets, who want to have everything easily available on the screen and therefore are short of space. The professional players - they'll manage anyway, with or without macros.

So if you're standing there hesitating like I did - stop doing that! Be brave enough to take the step into the macro world. You won't regret it.

No comments: