Mark Dall Interview - CharacterInfo

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Hello, This is an EXCLUSIVE interview with Mark Dall, creator of CharacterInfo WoW MODIFACTION! Please enjoy this interview, as it is my first one as the new WoWFiles Interviewer. This is the original interview: Daniel: Could you tell us a little about your background in World of Warcraft and how you got into AddOn design? Mark: I've played WoW since open beta, because I didn't get into the closed beta. I got interested in addon design because prior to playing WoW I played Asheron's Call, which had an even stronger addon system, one that was created and maintained by the players. Turbine eventually broke compatiblity with it, and here I am. I was active in that system and immediately knew WoW was the game for me since for the first time ever, and MMORPG developer created a game with a built-in scripting system. Until WoW and as far as I know, only FPS game had built-in scripting. Daniel: How has being an AddOn author changed the way you play World of Warcraft and how you interact with fellow players? Mark: Well, the only change it has made is that I can spend less time bothering people and wasting their time when looking for groups. Sometimes my guild asks me to run the tool against their characters and post the informaiton so they can see it, which is fun. I find myself using my program once or twice a day. Daniel: What was the first AddOn you worked on for World of Warcraft? Mark: Hmm. I don't really remember anymore. Mostly I've only tinkered with the actual addons. I've only written a few tools for WoW, I guess the first one would have been a program I wrote that would take all of your installed addons (or a subset of them that you selected) and create an MSI file out of them. I wrote it as a way to easily give my wife and kids that addons they needed to be able to enjoy WoW better, like Decursive back before WoW 2.0. Later it occurred to me to make it available to other people in case GMs wanted to distribute addons to their members. It didn't work out too well because most people won't install an MSI file due to the security risk of installing executables. (Which is why I wrote it to let people make their own MSI files, but oh well.) Daniel: Whats the name of your most recent addon? Mark: Well, I called it CharacterInfo when I uploaded it, but the name of the executible is buildinfo.exe, because that's all it did at first - look at the talent 'build' of a character and assign them a label. Daniel: What gave you the idea to make your Modifaction in the first place? Mark: There were many times when I was waiting for group, using the /LFM tool, that I'd see characters who might or might not be able to fill tanking or healing roles. I could either ask them, look them up in WoW Armory, or blindly guess that they could do what I needed and invite them. WoW Armory took too long, and since I knew it was in XML I realized I could write a command line tool that would just take the info I cared about and show it to me. Later on I realized I could also use a tool like that to compare my gear to other people's gear, to see where I stood. One thing the armory doesn't do is show you the average level of your gear, so I added that to my program. That way, if you see two warriors (for example) in the queue, you can see if either of them spent their talent points in protection, and you can see if one of them is drastically better geared than the other. It's certainly not the only things that matter, but when you're dealing with total strangers, it can help. (I mean, we all know super geared people that aren't great at playing, and vice versa.) Daniel: Do you have a planned future for the addon, or are you done with CharacterInfo? Mark: I have more planned - I recently added the ability to dump what their equipment is and where it is from, which can be fun. More recently I added code to display the relevant stats for each class and 'role' - for example, a prot warrior will display things like dodge, parry, and block, while a holy priest will display +healing, MP5 while casting, and MP5 while not casting. I still need to add similar code like that for hunters. Finally, I may give it a UI at some point. Daniel: Are there any other AddOns you're currently working on? Mark: Nope, that's all for right now. I also wrote and uploaded a small command file that uses 7-zip to convert RAR files to Zip files, but that's all. Daniel: Thanks for the interview, Mark D. Is there anything you'd like to say to WoWFiles, fans of your AddOns, or to Blizzard? Mark: Just have fun playing, WoW is a blast and so is writing code. Take care!
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