Archmage Callinon wrote:
Even when you give someone all the information they need to not be awful, I'm afraid you'll find that people still manage to be awful when they're just genuinely bad players. Just because they have all of that information doesn't mean they know what to do with it, it doesn't mean they can react to it correctly and quickly, it doesn't mean they are suddenly a far superior player than they were before, it just means they have all the information they need to not suck.
Certainly there are people that awful, but I'm not arguing that extreme amounts of ui customization can make even a vegetable a top tier player, I'm arguing that it lowers the skill ceiling, and it does.
You and Gillyweeds both make the point that while addons can provide users information, they can't make those users make the right decisions. I touched on this earlier, but I suppose I should have gone into it in more detail. The vast majority of MMORPG decisions are trivial, especially those in combat. The most complicated decisions that people have to make are often ones that can be made before a fight (such as an optimum spec and rotations), and so these end up being things people simply look up and copy from people who are smarter than them.
When I'm in my Inquistor DPS spec for experts, in most boss fights I might be using a lot of abilities, but I'm really only making about 3 decisions each fight: 1) DPS 2) offheal) 3) move. When I dps I use 6 different abilities, but I'm never making a decisions when I use them. I determined the best rotation for optimal DPS a long time ago, and so I merely execute the rotation each time I make the singular decision to DPS. Figuring out the best rotation involved a lot of decisions and complexity, but actually using it is fairly simple and can be easily copied by anyone. If the game allowed it, I could write a script to execute my damage rotation and then just toggle that on and off and it would play exactly as well as I do. There is practically no skill involved.
There is very little room for skill in MMORPGs, and UI customization can chip away at what little is left. The last fight in expert KB involves a fight in a room with a spiked floor where you mostly constantly move around with not so much time for error. However, the spikes do follow a programmed pattern that I have memorized and timed in my head. That takes a little bit of skill, and gives me the ability to excel where someone else might fail. If I had a UI mod that gave me the information about when spikes were about to spawn, then that little bit of skill edge I developed would be gone. It'd be easy for people to dodge the spikes when a mod warns them about the pattern well in advance.
Tic Tac Toe is an example of what happens when a skill ceiling is very low. Tic Tac Toe is a solved game that is very easy for even children to play perfectly. A perfect game (that is, one in which each player makes only moves than can lead to winning and no moves that allow a loss) is a draw, and there are so few combinations that anyone can easily memorize them. There is no skill in Tic Tac Toe, and consequently it is a very boring game to play, because a six year old can be taught in 5 minutes how to always draw against someone who has been playing the game for twenty years.