Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free Yourselves

A post at Ms Elf got me thinking. Go read the original, but I'll paraphrase one snippet here. Basically, she's saying that most fights stress healers in ways that they don't stress other players, specifically DPS. If DPS stands in the fire for a brief moment too long, its usually something that a healer could technically make up for. However, if that healer chooses to not correct for that error, and the player dies, everybody screams "where's the heals" rather than "why'd you stand in the fire".

And I'll even add to that by saying that the DPS player will actually look even better on the ego stroking meter, since they were pew pew'ing during those precious seconds that they should have been moving, thus making it a nasty cycle reinforcing bad behavior.

One way to stop the cycle is to instruct healers to not heal DPS who stand in fire for brief moments. We're not talking about players who just flat-out stand in fire, few people have issue letting those folks die. Rather, I'm talking about the ones who are sluggish to move out of it in favor of finishing off that long cast or getting in another shot or two since Bestial Wrath is up. This is a difficult solution because your healers might not see where the damage came from, only that one of their precious babies took damage so they'll heal 'em up.

Another way to fix it is for raid leaders to perform closer scrutiny to combat logs. Examine your DPS players and see what damage they take. Rather than the reactive yelling at healers for failing to heal, lets get proactive and instruct players to more effectively avoid incoming damage. Movement might lower our standings on the beloved damage meters, so this would only work for sophisticated/organized raids, and would never succeed in a PuG where DPS e-Peen is King.

Ms Elf quotes a Blizzard forum post where somebody suggests another alternative. Blizzard could design a mechanic that puts responsibility where it belongs.

The quote uses Anub'rican and his spikes. Make the spikes pin the player in place and they can only damage the spikes, not the boss, until they break the trap and escape.

This would be an outstanding mechanic. HOWEVER, here's the catch I'd like to add. Well, one of two possible catches.

Catch A) The trapped player takes no damage while trapped. Damage done to the trap by the player in the course of escaping the trap will NOT be reported to the combat log. IE, the time in the trap does nothing but sap the epeen of the DPS'er because all the properly alert and mobile players avoided the trap and continue to pew pew.

Catch B) The trapped player takes damage, BUT cannot be healed. So the penalty for DPSing your own trap too slowly is that you die and nobody can help you, thus subjecting you to public humiliation and also no epeen since you do no dps when dead.

I absolutely love the idea of forcing more individual responsibility.

However, I do subscribe much more to "win as a team, lose as a team". My greatest joy in the game is tackling content with my team. The shared experience of knuckling down and defeating challenges together is the most fun for me. So I don't want every fight to be 25 solo players standing in the same raid dungeon.

But it never hurt to mix in a mechanic or two that very visibly places personal accountability on each individual.

Inner Demons in SSC were kind of like this, however they miss the mark. A tank or healer needing to DPS his/her Inner Demon required that player to sort of step out of their normal raid job/duty.

A mechanic that teaches/forces players to move from the fire quickly simply reinforces the behaviors that lead to success through out all raiding.


Abe_Froman said...

I completely concur with this.

I've always felt that DPS was a little overrated on most fights and only a couple (Patchwerk and Razuvious for casters) could really be epeen showcases (in which case I'm obviously the John Holmes of Mages. Heyooo!)

Most of the time it's the things that aren't tracked in such detail that matter the most. Decursing on Noth, moving to avoid blizzard on Sapphiron, kiting zombies on Gluth, running to the right spot while injected on Grobbulus, and of course, not dying to firewalls and fissures on Sartharian just to name a few. While it's possible to track some of these things, they don't get nearly the attention that "scoreboard" statistics like DPS get.

This is not to say that DPS isn't important, but merely to reinforce the idea that it isn't as important as successfully navigating the game mechanics, and its importance is somewhat overstated by the fact that it's a lot easier to measure exact DPS than it is to measure successful navigation of those game mechanics.

Abe_Froman said...

After reading my comment I'm not sure if I made my point clearly enough, so I'll try to restate it here in one sentence:

A good DPS player should be measured as much by how well they navigate the intricacies of each boss encounter - and by extension, how much healing they don't need because of this navigation - as they're measured by how much DPS they put out.

It's too bad that there is no way to measure the amount of attention that the healers didn't have to waste on you because you knew what you were doing during the fight. That would be a really good way to show who is the real John Holmes for all boss fights :)

Anonymous said...

I see your point Abe, I would say though moving out of the fire, decursing etc are the base skills that all DPS (everyone really) should have. Damage done is the performance stat, avoiding damage is like the solid fundamentals. Its only important if its not there - not that it always works that way :)

Bad raid leaders will only look into DPS (probably just recount) - good ones will look into the "fire" damage, decursing, misdirects, cc, threat etc but will still expect you to do high DPS and judge you on that. Mostly because as a DPS'er thats your job.

I would say that a "good" dps'er is one who avoids the fire AND does massive dps. If your dps is cut to 1300 because you spend so much time concentrating on dodging the fire you ARE underperforming as much as the guy doing 5200 dps who needs his own healer.

If there is one thing that I really don't like though its mechanics where failure by one or two people almost inevitably leads to a wipe - eg Solarian, Archimonde, Thaddius.

Personal accountability is great - provided you can do the fight without them. Wiping because 1 or 2 people just can't get it is the most frustrating thing ever (as last week's 11 Thaddius wipes will attest - we can nearly 20 man it now though).

Heigen is perfect in this respect - if you can't dance then enjoy watching but as long as 1 tank, 1 healer and a dps or two get it you can go forever.

Anonymous said...

1 more thing to add to my comment above - anyone else notice how you can tell who your star performers are by how the tone in their voice when someone asks "where are we going next" and you say "dancing..."


Amava said...

I'm on the fence regarding whether the encounter should still be do-able if a person fails the "move out of the fire" trick.

On the one hand, yes, I totally see the annoyance factor that comes up if a player can't survive and that wipes the raid.

On the other hand, that's exactly what I like about a test like this. In current "ground fire" situations, a player can choose to eat damage and force his team to make up for it. In the proposed mechanic in my original article, it is a tool that helps (A) teach people to survive a gimmick that is re-used in every single dungeon (thus is a pretty good thing to get good at) and (B) give raid leaders a very visible, very unambiguous view of who cannot perform.

In a 25-man raid, you'd need to be able to survive one or two DPS players going down (or becoming less effective due to "trapped by spikes"). I think its best that "lose a single player, lose the raid" should be reserved for hard-mode encounters that raids actively choose to engage, while the less-hard-mode can absorb a few dead players and still come out with a boss kill.

The "bad place to stand" mechanic is used so frequently, I do think that Blizzard would make the raiding experience better across all skill/hardcoreness levels if they trained players to handle it better.