Friday, November 20, 2009

The game in the game

It took me a couple of years of WoW playing before I realized that there was a game in the game. The battle for the top positions of the damage meter.

For a very long time I was a naïve young (ahem) lady. My focus was always to get the boss down and I couldn’t care less about who did most or less damage as long as this happened. I also thought this was the case for everyone else. But little by little I’ve realized that many players do care about those meters, even though very few would admit it openly. And yes, even Larísa cares.

Staying alert
Now, just to make it clear: Reporting the dps-chart in the raid chat is generally a no-no in my guild and if we publish them on our forums, they come with an in-depth analysis which deals with other aspects. Rocking the dps meters is not a cool thing if you do it at the expense of decursing, spellstealing, cc:ing, add dealing and other obligations.

But even so, many of us silently run a Recount addon in the background, checking from time to time how we’re doing. You could argue that it’s just silly and very childish, pure e-peen measuring that shouldn’t be done at all. On the other hand, to be honest I think it’s one of the things that can keep us alert when we’re running unchallenging content such as normal ToC25, Onyxia and VoA. Those instances can easily turn into a collect-the-emblems-and-epics-of-the-week grind. We need this game in the game not to fall asleep.

As raiders we’re normally expected to be flasked. Last raid however, it was made clear that it was optional this time, since we did easy content such as Onyxia. Do you think I left my flask standing on the shelf for another night with hardmodes? Did I act as a sensible goblin, saving my gold for better use?

No way I did! I didn’t consider it even for a second! Being cheap, saying no to the steroid boost, would punish me on the damage list, breaking the game in the game, so of course I took my flask.

I know it’s embarrassing to say aloud, but yeah, I care. So shoot me.

Easy come easy go
Apart from the aspect of keeping up the attention in non-challenging raids, I suspect that our interest for those lists correlates to how much love Blizzard currently is giving our classes. Of course it’s more fun to look at your personal dps when you know that you’re fairly competitive, than to do it when you’re struggling for various reasons, be it your class, your gear or the nature of the fights. I bet warlocks loved to check the dmg meters in TBC, while the mages weren’t quite that interested in the charts. Now things have changed.

As Jong wrote in a post the other day:

“When the 3rd moon of Venus is aligned with Pluto, the planet of personal transformation, and the libido in the air is just ripe, nobody is going to touch Arcane Mages on Jaraxxus or the Twins. Nobody. Fights with consistent, controlled raid damage are arcane mages’ territory, so if they smoke you, there’s no shame in your game.”

He’s absolutely right of course. The fact that my mage currently often ends up on one of the top positions for those particular fights doesn’t say anything at all about my abilities as a player. It’s just a combination of decent gear and design of the encounter that happens to work in my favour. Deep inside I realize this, and I know perfectly well that there will be other challenging fights incoming, where I’ll be shamefully humiliated and will struggle even to stay above the tanks.

Easy come, easy go. The game in the game can be a fun addition to keep up some excitement in non-exciting fights. It just shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

And now I really long for some new fights.

Hopefully Icecrown will give us so much to think about that we once again will forget about looking at the damage meters, since we’re fully focused on just killing the boss.


Anonymous said...

Never had a DPS meter...ever.
The Boss goes down or not thats my view.

Yeah sometimes i get curious, but i never let it distract me from playing the game.

Cacknoob ( 9k DPS warlock ) (lol!!)

Stabs said...

Seems very wholesome to me.

I must admit I didn't like seeing it extended to healers but that was because I was playing a Paladin on tank healing duty.

Possibly because I took my duty to seriously too, the other tank healing paladin just used to heal everyone and consistently beat me on the meters (even in fights where the tanks died and we wiped).

At least in Recount it shows Healing Done on specific tank:
Stabs 85% ADD Pally 15% even if he smoked me overall.

jeffo said...

Meters are like the whole Gear Score thing - a useful tool when used properly, but easily misinterpreted, misunderstood, or outright abused.

It's interesting though how easy it is to get suckered into the meter game. My main is a healer where it's not as important, but I've gotten my lock up to 80 and in heroics and a couple of raids, and that's given me a whole new perspective on the meter game. It's surprisingly easy to get suckered into that game.

Dw-redux said...

i think every raid guild does this.
And not just the DPS btw.
Healers do this a LOT too. Usually they count in dispells and overheals too. Its a great fun way to raid. And I do not think that anyone would scorn over this.

(unless you posted meters after every fight you where on top on... and im SURE you do that ALL the time, even if you deny it here!! :D)

@ Jeffo You are totally wrong when you say that healers don't care about meters, its all they care about.
Healers are never fighting the boss, they are fighting each other, mostly in good spirit -mind you.

drug said...

I think DPS meter often provide a pretty decent representation of single targets, while ignoring some external factors (does the dps switch the target when he should? Did the dps have RNG bad luck and had to move all the time?)

So I think all things considered, DPS meters are a good thing and have led to many people trying to find information about maximizing their damage output. All guilds I've ever been in handle DPS meter very maturely and most of the time in form of WoL/WWS.

Heal meters on the other hand don't really help to judge a healer. Which I find a little bit sad. Most analysis of healing meters is somewhere between "lol look how much more I healed" vs "omg because I stuck to my healing assignement". So in fact most healers agree, that heal meters will give you a little information, but not that much.

I think that's a bit sad though. DPS meter will lead to damage dealers optimizing their UI/addons for raiding, it will encourage them to optimize their rotation or maximize trinket usage.

Healers on the other hand are often much less theory-crafting interested, have much less knowledge about their talent tree and do a lot less to optimize their throughput than damagedealers. Damage dealers don't want to be at the very bottom of the meters. Healers don't care. So it's a lot easier for a bad healer to go unnoticed in a good healing team, than a bad damage dealer between DPS.

Hatch said...

No shame Larisa. I care about them meters too. :)

Just as long as it's a game you play with yourself and no one in the raid tries to make it into a competition between people out in the open, because then it just breeds conflict and bitterness.

Ooke said...

I play an enhancement shaman, so I don't even look at the top 5 :P I think everybody should have to play the DPS that's naturally at the bottom for a few weeks to get an appreciation of what it means to be on top. It also scares me when I'm in a group and I top the meters, it either means I played my best and/or I'm in a group with fail players.

as long as I'm respectfully ahead of the tank (if the tank doesn't outgear my by a whole iLevel) and we were nowhere close to an enrage timer I'm happy. (but as an aside I count 10% of everybody else's DPS as my own :P)

even when healing I don't look at how much was done unless it was a brutal fight. Did my targets die? Was there anything I could have done? Did they GTFOOTF? if no then IWIN!

tyra said...

The only time i will leave recount up during a fight, is a spank and tank like XT or XT hardmode. Other than that, recount only comes up just after an attempt. I used to like it, and i used to link it sometimes too (payback for being a BC cat druid tasted very very sweet..), nowadays i only compare to myself. Maybe i'm a little arrogant, but most of the time i don't feel like i have competition.
We only have 1 or 2 dps that can keep up with me on a regular basis, and we link the meters after every fight just for the lolz :) 9/10, the only difference is if it's a ranged friendly fight or a melee friendly, so there isn't bitterness. I thank god everytime they're in the raid... it's lonely on top without feeling someone on your heels.

Anonymous said...

I believe dps meters are very important. Not every fight is a decurse fight, and dps is responsible for killing the boss. If a player cannot maintain good dps while avoiding fires, etc, than he's not contributing to the fight as much as others.

If a tank dies, it maybe dps's fault for not killing the boss fast enough. If healer dies, it maybe dps'rs fault for not killing the boss fast enough.
It's not always tanks/healers fault if the other one dies.

If you're doing hard modes and don't look at a meter, you're probably an exceptional player, and would be killing bosses faster had you had a meter and analyzed it.

If you're doing normal modes, but not hardmodes, than you probably could be doing hardmodes had you analyzed the meter. ... well not just 'you', but everyone in guild.

Carra said...

I always used to play with my meter running. If I wasn't in the top five at the end of the raid I was seriously messing up.

Those DPS meters are very good to find out players who don't put up their weight. It certainly shows when two players are of the same class and have roughly similar gear. When one player does half more then the second the second one is doing something wrong.

They also show another important thing. The one on top of the meters is usually he who stays along most of the time. If you die five seconds into a boss fight you'll see your position drop like a rock. You really have to pay attention to your surroundings so you do not die on something stupid.

All in all I think being competitive on the meters is a good thing for everyone. People will concentrate more.

HP said...

My boyfriend LOVES the jarraxus fight as an arcane mage. He tends to do well in recount charts, especially with me as his secret weapon! I like to call myself his extra trinket - I even proc too! =D

In his own words, he feels like it makes raiding fun for him by keeping him on his toes. I think it is good to have some friendly competition as long as it doesn't hurt the raid.

Lite said...

As an officer/Raid Leader in my guild Recount is one of my most invaluable tools. Looking through the meters after a fight - be that in a progression raid or a farmraid - It tells me who did damage to what. Who forgot to kill the adds when needed and who did the most friendly fire due to his or her own stupidity. If 2 arcane mages with equal gear differ with 2k dps in a fight where RNG isn't a major factor I want to know why the other mage failed and if I should stop taking that person to progression raids due to general slacking/tunnelvision.

Raddom said...

I feel that tools, like recount, are important, in that they promote competition. I remember when I first started raiding, I didn't even make the list... Overtime,however, I began to rise the ranks.

Sure, I may not always make 1st place, but I still am way better than back then.

Anonymous said...

Having read all these replies i can see a trend. You all prefer to beat each other rather than the encounter...surely you have this arse backwards?

Yes i can see the point of at least one person in raid having recount if its a timed DPs fight ( Anub phase 3 springs to mind )

But if everyone is so busy trying to beat each other, you are missing the entire point of blizzard making these glorious enounters, you should get a bigger "kick" from killing the boss than getting in the top 5 DPS.


Forget about the "DSP RACE" or the "PURPLE PIXELS". Its the challenge you lot should be concentrating on.

Cacknoob (The infamous!!)

Kromus said...

I love DPS/Healing meters. I think its good for personal reflection and a little bit of private (yey I'm doing really well).

I use it for motivational purposes, and very rarely say "my DPS is better than yours" unless its a joke, for example.

"Kick healerx from the group, his DPS sucks" :D Just hope they get the joke and don't rage about being a healer, though. Haha :D

Within guild I think DPS meters are obsolete as your all good.

Dw-redux said...


I think it is you that has it all backwards. If you never check any sort of stats on your dps, how do you know that you are giving it your very best to help lift your weight in a raid?
If you never stop to analyze if you are doing your best - well... then I feel sorry for you. Both in game and on the outside. If you just go along and never reflect on anything that you do.

Plus it adds a lot to the social side of a raid to have some friendly banter about dps.

And I don't see anyone in these posts enjoying topping meters more than beating the encounter. I'm sure those people exists but they aren't anywhere to be seen here.

Shamrockgirl said...

the only thing i don't line about meters is when ignorant people look at them. the other night on ToGC Jaraxxus there was a DPSer claiming that my heals weren't high enough. when you looked closer you would see that i was dispelling the boss more than the mage and we still weren't having people explode from the incinerate flesh. if they had bothered to look at the overheals or the dispell meters they may not have made such a stupid comment.

G-Rebel said...

@Ooke: I play an Enhancement Shaman and am always in the top two in my guild raids. And we have a diverse group of good players.

DPS can and does fluctuate depending on many factors, indeed. I can heal a short fight if a healer goes down and I show up woefully far below the tank in DPS, does that mean I suck? No, it means that the success of the group is always more important than my personal standing on the DPS charts.

I just make sure that I only compete with myself and don't worry about everyone else. If I do my job I'll be invited back.

Larísa said...

@Cacknoob: hm... how do you know that without a dps meter? You're doing it in the closet obviously. Just like everyone else!

@Stabs: Healing done meters are treacherous things, hard to interpret correctly is my impression. We had a trialist who recently had to leave the guild. His answer was to post an overall meter of the total healing done, him in top in the guild forum. Just to make us understand what we missed I guess. Not the most cleaver thing to do I'm afraid.

@Jeffo: I don't recommend anyone to get sucked into it. It can add a bit of extra attention from the dps, I believe, but main focus must be on other things ofc.

@Dw-redux: honestly, I've NEVER ever posted a meter to anyone. Honestly. Would make me feel quite embarrassed.

@Drug: yeah, analyzing healing seems more complicated. But then I've only dabbled a little with it an an alt, so I don't know very much about it.

@Hatch: Yeah, it should be handled discretely and for your own enjoyment and motivation.

@Ooke: It's a bit unfair that the shaman buff bonus doesn't show that way on the dps chart. But I'm glad that at least you can rejoice in it, no matter what.

@Tyra: Oh, I agree. I would never ever think of watching it during the fight, no way. The screen is cluttered with all sorts of addons as it is, I don't need another one.

@Anonymous: yeah. Sometimes it isn't a pleasure to watch Recount. I know my weak spots. LIke the Hodir fight, where I tend to spend too much time running around surviving and too little time nuking. I cringe at the thought of looking at the dps chart. But I do it anyway since the only way I can learn and improve is to look at my mistakes, trying to figure out how to make things better next time.

@Carra: yeah, I've learned that, definitely. The dps chart won't give you any handicap because you're a fragile mage. A dead mage doesn't do any dps, period.

@HP: Awww... he's specced IA and you shield him, I guess? That's romantic!

@Lite: yeah, studying them deeper gives a ton too. There's so much more to look at than just the pure damage.

@Raddom: A great feeling, isn't it?

@Kromus: it's definitely for self motivation and reflexion. Not for bullying anyone else, than you've gotten it wrong.

@Shamrockgirl: oh dear. That sounds annoying. Although I don't quite get the thing about dispelling incinerate flesh... I always spellsteal the power buff thing, but incinerate flesh??? Have I missed something?

@Ge-rebel: I think the dps chart is more important if you're a pure dps than if you'e a hybrid, sometimes emergency assisting on healing.

Shamrockgirl said...

i think you pushed all of what i was doing together... yes, i was dispelling the boss (shown on the dispell meter), AND i was healing the person with incinnerate flesh (this shows on overheal meter unless that person is actually taking damage)... in addition to trying to keep the complaining moron alive.

gnomeaggedon said...

I think I care more about the DPS meters now as Squidly than I ever did as Gnomeaggedon.

For Gnomer they were a tool to measure himself. Was I doing all the extra things that were requires and still placing well on the meters? How did I do this time in an encounter vs. last time? What were the reasons for the increase/decrease etc.

On Squidly it allows me to predict the potential success or failure of my PuG.

No DPS above 1,500, all below the tank? More healing is going to be needed and I better contribute to the damage while keeping everyone alive.

We kicked the one person doing more than 3,000dps from a ToC run the other day. Everyone else was below 1,800. When asked why, the answer was simple. He did less damage than anyone else.

One of the DPS spoke up and said "Damage is irrelevant, DPS is important".

To which I replied, dead DPS do no damage and has the highest DPS in the group he had a higher level of responsibility to stay alive - which he couldn't because he liked to bath in the "green".

So yeah meters aren't important, boss kills are. Where your DPS gets in the way of the boss kill, the meter matters