As you may already know, I’m a bit of a UI fanatic. There hasn’t been an MMO made yet whose basic UI I find acceptable and adequate to my needs, when they’re not just downright fugly. And while I doubt I could design any to save my life, the gaming world is full of people who can and do and whose talented work I’m happy to adopt. (Tangent: I thought about adding some screenies, but all the mods below have them on their download page and this post is excessively long already.)
Various people have asked me to post what mods I use in EQ2 right now. I was interested to note that they’re more or less the same mods I used back in 2005 — the UI’s shortcomings are the same now as they were then, with a few exceptions — only in many cases the original mods have been taken over by newer players as the authors stop updating them, or are adaptations of existing good designs. EQ2 apparently includes a UI-moosher-arounder now, but I haven’t dared try it for myself yet, and I suspect I lack the programming skills to really do anything useful with it.
I get all my mods from one source: EQ2 Interface, which is a source for mods for other games too. It’s a good, solid site, and certainly the foremost EQ2 mod site that I know of. If memory serves, you’ll have to register an account with EQ2Interface to be able to download mods, but I could be wrong.
You’ll see a lot of Drumstix42’s mods here, partly because I like the base style — which in many cases is adapted from the work of an older modder whose stuff I used back in 2005, Milquetoast — and partly because he’s very good about maintaining and updating his mods. A few of my other mods are taken from the ProfitUI bits I liked, though I found the whole package to be a little hefty for my tastes (that said, many will love it I’m sure, and it’s worth trying out if you want a wall-to-UI-wall solution). Note that the author has stopped working on the mod, though it’s highly likely someone else will take up has taken up the torch and will carry on the work. Most of the rest of the mods I use are Seagoat’s work, who’s been mentioned enough times here that she should need no further introduction. (Thanks to Castillion below for the correction re Profit UI’s ongoing development!)
It’s worth knowing that many UI mods can be further tweaked by playing with the Window Settings option that pops up when you right-click on a UI element, specifically by altering the no frame/frame/titlebar settings to show or hide various elements.
Installing and using mods in EQ2 will can no doubt seem pretty daunting to the uninitiated, though it’s easier than you think if you’re careful and methodical. EQ2Interface has an installation FAQ that’s quite useful and should be read by anyone planning to use EQ2 mods. I’ll come back to this at the end of the mods list, which is probably what you really want to read first.
Quick caveat: my custom UI folder is actually *cough* a bit of a mess. Okay, a huge mess. It’s got bits and pieces left over from mods I’ve tried and not liked, from mods I wasn’t sure I liked so I turned them off (i.e. renamed the xml file) but left them where they were, and so on. It’s possible my eq2_custom.xml file contains unnecessary information — though I doubt it’s downright wrong or my mods wouldn’t work, and they do. I’m just trying to cover my ass here in case you come yelling at me later.
Ysh’s mods list
EQ2 Map — As has been noted elsewhere this mod it can get a bit busy with all the points of interest, NPCs, and other informational bits scattered about all over the place. On the plus side, you can zoom in and out of the map for more detail and you can search for things in a pretty comprehensive list of POIs, which can be a lifesaver when you’re sure you’re in the right place but can’t find the thing you’re looking for (and discover you’re in the wrong place, usually, at least in my case). This mod modifies the eq2ui_custom.xml file but I’m pretty sure it’s smart enough to modify an existing file if it’s not the first mod you’re installing. If it isn’t — check the file after installation — you need to make sure the file includes the line “<include>eq2ui_custom_poifinder.xml</include>” without the quotes just above the line that says “</Page>”.
ProfitUI Market Window — comes in its own package and lets you see sales box contents alongside the broker buy contents, which makes life a lot easier if you ever want to sell anything. Also comes with some handy preset searches and the like (for rares, spellbooks, and so on). Click here for specific installation instructions; this mod modifies the eq2ui_custom.xml file and you may have to make the modifications by hand if the file already exists and contains instructions from other mods.
AutoAttack bar — a windup bar that looks just like the in-game CA/Spell casting bar, except it tracks melee and ranged weapons. I never knew I needed this until I used it, and now I’d find it hard to live without. Auto-attacks can be a very large proportion of one’s damage in EQ2, and it’s worth having a visual reminder so that you can time your other combat arts/spells to take melee or ranged attacks into account. When you first use it it’ll appear in the middle of the screen, but it’s easy enough to reposition, resize, and tweak. Make sure you read the instructions on the download page (linked above) — you’ll need to alter the eq2ui_custom.xml file to make this mod work.
Drum’s UI Target/Implied target elements — I like the details included in this mod. It’s not really a must-have though, just a personal preference. I’m a habitual inspector of folks I come across if they happen to be wearing something weird and wonderful; this mod makes that a matter of two clicks, rather than having to unroll a right-click menu or typing /inspect_player Charname in chat, which I usually can’t be arsed to do.
Drum’s Persona Window — I’m currently trying this out and somewhat on the fence about it. It presents a lot more information at a glance than the base window does, but that makes it somewhat busy and, ironically, hard to glance at. Also, the faction bars on the faction tab seem to be a little borked (they extend beyond the window size) but that may be just my setup.
Drum’s Maintained Spells window — the text on this is bloody hard to read (at least at my rez), but it’s very handy for characters with lots of buffs and buffs that can be placed on individuals. It also tracks how much is left on wards and the like. You can swap between standard (just icons) and extended views by playing with the no frame/frame options in the element’s window settings.
Drum’s Chat window — A little extra functionality over the base window, but my main interest in it is that it’s a lot more compact and, to my eye, cleaner than the base client version.
Seagoat’s Knowledge Book — a cleaner, more compact version of the original. Definitely optional.
Seagoat’s Inspect Player window — another optional one and again, cleaner and scrunched up. Ysh does not like wasted UI space!
Drum’s Hotbars — hotbars with all the goodness retained and none of the bloated padding of the original windows (try making the background of the default hotbars black and you’ll see what I mean). Includes recast timers, though these seem to be a little buggy on initial login: they don’t appear quite where they should until you mouse over your hotbars, at which point everything updates and looks perfect again. Further tweaks can be made through the window and hotbar settings options (right-click on the hotbar).
Seagoat’s Compass & Clock — let me see at a glance where I am (yes, I need this sometimes!) and when I am, both in Norrath time and in Earth time. For some reason the day/night cycle element doesn’t always know where it should be when you log in or zone (until you mouse over the main element, and it’ll snap into place), but I suspect this is similar to the hotbar/timer issue and not something modders can easily do anything about, if they can fix it at all. Note that this is actually a patch for someone else’s mod — a very common occurrence after years of modders coming and going in the game — but all is explained in the notes on the linked page. RTFI!
Experience bars — I’ve been flipping between Seagoat’s and Drum’s for the last couple of months and I still can’t quite decide which one I prefer, so you can have links to both. The screenshot I posted the other day uses Drum’s, but in the meantime we’ve swapped machines around a few times and I’m back to using Seagoat’s. Be sure to check the screenshots on Seagoat’s bar to see all the different ways in which it can be configured!
Drum’s Guild window — again, more compact than the original, and I prefer how the info is laid out. Very optional.
I’ve been trying out a series of group windows to find one I like that also incorporates the “click to cure” functionality (very handy for healers) where you can click on a detrimental effect to cast a cure without losing your current target. However, I haven’t found one I’m willing to recommend just yet. I liked Drum’s group window but the det-effects were just a bit too small for these ageing eyes to see, even if it does have c2c.
Spell positive/detrimental effects windows — these are the ProfitUI versions; I just took the specific ones I wanted out of the package and used them alone. They are smaller than the originals (as usual for my UI preferences), and there are a few different versions you can pick such as stack from bottom, stack from top, start left/right and so on.
Seagoat’s quest journal — shows the quest list and details in a size-by-side arrangement instead of the vertical stacking that’s used in the default. A few other tweaks for compactitude and the like.
Othesus’ Active Quest window — this modifies the window that shows the details of your currently “active” quest. EQ2 doesn’t let you track more than one quest at a time, incidentally, which is a shame. This mod adds a great deal of functionality such as a drop down menu for the most recently updated quests and several clicky buttons that will open links in the client-based browser to some of the more common EQ2 info sites (such as the EQ2 wiki, which in itself is a great resource). I don’t actually use the clicky buttons a whole lot, but when you need it it’s nice to have it at your fingertips, and the quest-dropdown and navigation options are something you really miss once you’ve become used to them. (NOTE: You may want to patch this to include the new Zam db instead of the old Allakhazam one. I’m not a huge fan of that site so I haven’t bothered.)
My inventory, bags, bank and container windows (that’s 4 separate links) are all Seagoat’s creations. They are extremely compact and may not be to everyone’s taste, but I love them. The merchant window I use is Drum’s.
Last but not least I’m using Drum’s version of the very handy InfoCenter. This mod contains a wealth of easily-accessible information on things like classes/spells (which is currently out of date after the recent spell/CA name streamlining), what mounts where at what cost, housing, some crafting and harvesting info, adventuring writs, heritage quests, and a ton of other stuff. You can even customise it with your own information if you want. Make sure you follow the installation instructions given on the download page.
Installing custom UI mods in EQ2
As noted above, you should read the EQ2 interface FAQ first. I did however find it a little daunting at first, which is often the case with FAQs written by people who know what they’re talking about but forget that novices won’t. Maybe my extreme layman’s version comments will help if you find the FAQ confusing.
1. If you want to use your own UI folder, like I do, you’ll have to create it yourself. The custom UI folder needs to live in the UI folder that you’ll find in your main EQ2 installation folder — standard windows XP installs would have this in somewhere like “C:\Program Files\Sony (or SonyOnlineEntertainment)\Everquest II”. Inside this Everquest II folder is a UI folder, and inside that one is where you create your custom UI folder. You can call it pretty much anything you like except that the name must have no spaces or special characters — so MYUI is fine, but MY UI is not, nor is MY-UI. This is where you’ll unzip your custom UI elements.
2. If you’re installing EQ2 Map first, it will create a custom UI folder for you called, cunningly, EQ2MAP. It will also modify (or create if necessary) the eq2.ini file that lives in the main EQ2 directory (unlike every other UI mod file) so that the game knows you’re using a custom UI and knows which folder to look in for said custom UI elements. If you already have mods installed in a custom UI folder, the EQ2 Map installer is smart enough to check and should install in whatever folder you have listed in eq2.ini.
3. The “eq2.ini” file is the one that tells the game where to look for your mods. This doesn’t exist by default and may need to be created — the EQ2Interface FAQ has an excellent guide on making this, though if you’re familiar with .ini files in general you’ll know how to proceed. The main thing to note is that it mustn’t end up being called eq2.ini.txt, which is why the FAQ goes into agnoising (but vital) detail. Some mods will do the legwork for you — EQ2 Maps is one of them provided you install it first, as is the auto-updating version of ProfitUI Reborn.
4. EQ2 mods work by replacing a base EQ2 client version with the modded version. So if you want a different set of bag windows, having an eq2ui_inventory_bag.xml file in your custom UI folder will load that info instead of the basic client info. If you’re not seeing your marvellous new UI mod, chances are the eq2.ini file doesn’t contain the information it needs to look in the right directory. See 3 above.
5. Installing most mods is simply a matter of extracting the right file into the custom UI directory. Some mods are a little more complicated because they might need more than the bare-bones eq2ui_element.xml file (like image files), but all the ones I’ve listed contain very comprehensive instructions. I tend to hold on to the downloaded zip files, if only because it gives me the mod author’s name — I also used it initially to figure out exactly what UI element was called what when it was in my custom UI folder, so I could be sure I was removing the right files if I decided I didn’t like a mod. The file names (e.g. “eq2ui_inventory_bag.xml”) are pretty self-explanatory once you have a bit of experience with EQ2’s interface.
6. It’s worth making a note of whose mod you’re using, because there’s usually no way of telling either from the name (which is generic) or from the mod’s contents. On the other hand, if you’re not planning an “EQ2 mods” post and you’re not a compulsive UI-trier-outer like me, you can probably do without.
Okay, my head is about to explode. If this is useful for people I may make it into its own page for easier reference. Feel free to ask questions — I’ll answer if I can, and if I can’t chances are Seagoat can. ;)