Alas, some research on WoWWiki and the #wowuidev IRC channel has revealed that this point—
- Clear differentiation between ‘historical’ nodes and ‘detected’ nodes.
—will be much harder to implement as I originally envisaged. For technical reasons, it’s not possible for an addon to get minimap tracking information, so I won’t be able to show current nodes without resorting to some SexyMap HudMap-style hackery.
That said, SexyMap HudMap-style hackery may not be such a bad thing. The issue in SexyMap is that when you enable the HudMap, the background of the map disappears, so you can’t see terrain features on it, which makes it difficult to assess where a node might be. To work around this, I still want to go with the ‘wireframe map’ idea, although obviously this requires a vast amount of work, to draw custom maps for every single zone.
Another downside to ‘faking’ it is that I have no control over the shape of the map; it’ll just be a circle, and it will have a fixed maximum range. This is in contrast to Gatherer’s HUD, for example, which allows it to show an angled ‘perspective’ view which can help when screen space is limited, and which some may find easier to read.
- Custom node icons, following the theme of the radar style – simplified wireframe shape (or just text), possibly coloured to match the associated herb.
—I want to expand upon. In any given zone there are a limited number of different node types, so rather than just use the herb’s icon as a map/radar marker, I think using custom node textures would work better as they can be both small yet easier to differentiate. The size is important: when you have a very extensive node map, it can get very crowded, so you could reduce the icon size, but then you have tiny 8-pixel blobs that are hard to tell apart.
As an example, in Storm Peaks, the only two herbs you’ll find are Lichbloom and Icethorn, both of which have blue/white icons. For that reason, I could for example use a ▲ for Icethorn and o for Lichbloom. In a zone like Sholazar Basin, where there is more variety of herbs, it could be something like ▲ for Adder’s Tongue, █ for Tiger Lily and o for Goldclover.
Another idea I had is based on the first picture in my first post on this matter:
You’ll notice that the ‘centre’ of the map is near the bottom, which might be another good idea for saving space yet still providing decent range. After all, I suspect people are more interested in nodes in front of them than behind.
Here's a mockup I made of what I imagine the radar thing to look like, obviously in this case without terrain features; I might do one later with those included later.
The small blue circle is the detection range, within which nodes should appear on the minimap assuming they're present. The vertical dotted line is current heading, and the small number pairs along it are distance and time.
It's far from perfect – there are too many dashed circles, for one thing, and it definitely needs some adjustable opacity; possibly it could lose the quite large border too.