Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Meter Madness.

The developmental philosophy change I most applaud is that the barrier to entry for raiding has been significantly reduced. It is, in effect, as low as it has been since post-1.4 UBRS (that's Upper Blackrock Spire for you young'uns) allowed 15 randoms a reasonable expectation of success so long as they had bought/borrowed/stolen a clue. Unfortunately this newly rediscovered accessibility has combined with access to metered statistics which results in almost obsessive meter watching. These meters are being used not to benchmark their own performance but rather to judge their performance against their peers, a pretty absurd proposition.

Highest DPS Doesn't Mean Most Valued Player.

I have a confession to make. In my second VoA-10 PuG I was pretty stoked when I topped the DPS chart, but really I had no right to be. Remove my DPS and replace it with the average of the other 5 DPSers and the encounter would still have been downed easily. In retrospect the absolute DPS value I attained was much more important because it was a character developmental benchmark to judge future performances on.

As long as the raid DPS can meet the DPS requirement to down the boss before the enrage hits relative performance between players is fairly meaningless. Other measures, often not captured on less than a WWS-level readout, tell a much more detailed and hence valuable story. Take VoA for instance. You're rocking 2.7k DPS but like a nub you've spent a quarter of the fight eating 2k/sec in a gas cloud, stretching your healers unnecessarily and reducing the chance of beating the encounter. Or you may have pulled aggro once or twice because you haven't kept an eye on the tanks threat level. Sorry mate, but the MVP is going to the Druid who kept your sorry ass alive when he shouldn't have had to.

Similar nub-tests are abound (many raids run an add-on for Satharion for the specific purpose of tracking those caught in lava waves) but simple DPS meters never capture that l33t DPSers idiocy. As encounters increase in difficulty the punitive punishment for this lack of awareness will increase but only then will this lack of skill be obvious and highlighted.

Absolute Healing Returns Are Meaningless.

Lance[1] eloquently describes just how complicated data analysis truly is, and how data capture of healing performance cannot tell the whole story. Qualitative and quantitative analysis go hand in hand, and meter watching is the most superficial form of the latter. The psychology of healer meter watching is subtly different from that of the DPSer and often is used to decry just how underpowered their class is because they are low on a meter. Relevant analysis which may take into account timing, efficient use of GCD's and passive regen amongst other metrics as well.

The best Healer communities rigorously analyse encounters, spells and glyphs for theorycrafting purposes and never rely on absolute values to judge the worth of a classes healing. They understand the value of fast-heals vs slow-heals and the efficiency trade-off necessary in order to be effective in the healing. Perhaps most importantly, these communities work under a system of mutual co-operation rather than antagonism.

Never, ever ask for healing meters. This goes double if you aren't playing a healer.

Newsflash: Different Encounters Suit Different Classes

Sorry to break it to you but sometimes you're dominating that chart because other classes are limited by the fight, for example encounters with PBAoE suits ranged DPS, periodic stuns suit classes which can front-load DPS, etc. In addition, other players may have special roles they need to fulfil so the raid is successful (tranq shot rotations, add kiting etc.). Don't believe that your DPS is in any way more important than these crucial encounter-specific roles, nor that your high DPS hasn't caused problems which other players have had to make allowances for.

A Reversal Coming in 3.1?

The low entry requirements for Naxx, VoA and Sarth need not be replicated in Ulduar/[Random Dragon] Sanctum/3.1's Other One-shot raids. In fact, in order to provide guilds with a genuine skill progression path these raids should be a Tier in difficulty above what we currently see. More difficult encounters with a higher requirement for skill will hopefully encourage players to appreciate other factors to their gameplay than the bottom-line.

Meters To Judge Your Own Improvements.

Meters do have their uses yet on their own they can't provide a firm baseline from which improvement may be judged. DPS Classes scale supremely well with raid buffs and so the absence of a particular class can impact disproportionately upon your personal DPS, but this may not be captured in a conventional meter. In 10-man raids this effect is even more significant as raid composition tends to vary significantly. WWS logs will capture this information and more besides and the act of WWS logging and look-up tends to run counter to the meter whoring most often seen.

If you have a stable 10-man group it can sometimes be a good measure of improved performance for particular encounters but you have to be careful not to chase meters to the exclusion of other factors. As Josh might say, 'The Dead Don't Do DPS'.

And if you really want to find out your own DPS... GET YOUR OWN DAMN METER!.

Asked for a Meter Reading?

Display a 'damage taken' meter rather than damage done. That tends to shut people up.

Further Reading

[1] http://lancebit.blogspot.com/2009/01/doctorate-in-healing-primer-for-healing.html
WoW Webstats
Recount DPS Meter at Curse Gaming


Lance 04/02/2009 08:09  

Thnx for the reference there, I am glad some people read my mumblings :)

Metering is often used for the sake of metering and not as a tool. There are lots of information in meters which are situational and require a more broad 'context awareness'. Using them carefully, they become an asset (yet not exaustive). Abuse them and they lead you in the wrong place. It works like that in almost all `research methods' in real life, no reason to be different in wow.

As far as the difficulty is concerned, I like to think Blizzard attempted a normalization period to allow more people in the 'raiding culture'. When it comes to that, it seems it worked. Now it remains to see if the `natural selection' filter will return :p


BigFire 04/02/2009 15:11  

DPS meter is there to weed out slackers. I'm used to topping the chart tanking through Heroics. But I really don't want to carry the sub 1000 DPS mages anymore.

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