Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Carbonite & Questhelper problem

I’ve been a faithful questhelper/cartopgrapher user for ages. It worked out so good that I never thought about Carbonite. For whatever reason, Carbonite also had was considered a somewhat shoddy operation, what with it being payware and all. Since it went freeware, I gave it a whirr and… honestly, I don’t know what to think.

First up – I love it, I really do. While the initial set up give you a package that demands a lot of manual control, everything seems so clear. The quest mob/item areas marked on the mini-map are extremely precise. The different coloring gives you a great picture of where to go and what do. The attached database of important locations, including trainers, shopkeepers and the like is simply great.

This does come at a cost, though. The mini-map is an essential element of the UI, and while high-end players tend to re-work every aspect of their interface, I’d guess most gamers are like me, modifying the existing look, but not going as far as too actually changing anything drastically. Carbonite takes your current UI set up, chews it and spits out something new.

It’s been a few weeks on one of my characters so far and I still need to think how to do some actions. I get lost in the interface and the sheer size of the Preferences menu scares me away constantly. The two concurrent map systems give me headaches, and I still don’t know how to bring it back if I close it by accident. I’m looking in vain for an option to stop my character from shouting out every time a sub-goal is completed, so that everyone in the party knows, which is embarrassing in a dungeon environment. I did find an option that sounded like what I needed, and it turned out that wasn’t it. All in all, I changed something – just not the thing I was looking for.

Carbonite is complicated, because it’s huge. And that’s a good thing, too – I keep stumbling upon new stuff all the time. Just recently I figured out that if an opposite faction player comes into proximity of your character, the minimap lights up and a mini-list shows up, allowing you to target the baddie. This is so great on a PvP server that I’m still not sure if it’s an exploit or not. I’m sure there is more stuff in there, and I’ll write about in a year, when I think I’ll be a tad more competent about it.

So what’s the problem? Well, quest helper seems so simple. Once you detach from the Carbonite clutter, it feels nice to have a few simple menus and displays. What I found is that quest helper is great in lower levels, which is ironic if you consider the fact that you should run Carbonite from level one in order to get the best out of it. On the other hand, the quest chaos in the Outlands can be tamed easily with Carbonite, and it really sped up my priest while going through Hellfire Peninsula and Terrokar.

The jury’s out on the subject.

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