MMO Theorycrafting UIs, Mods, and Gadgets 5 Comments

The Case Against Damage Meters

The more time that elapses between me and my hardcore raiding days, the more of an MMO luddite I become. I mean, I am an internet nerd who loves working with information streams and optimizing processes, and one of the things I liked about WoW in the first place was the openness of data. How much threat do I have? How much dps was I doing in this particular five seconds of the fight? How much damage does my bubble mitigate on average?

As with a cross-server LFD system, though, while I like the idea of a detailed combat log and damage meters I rarely like the implementation. I had a somewhat heated discussion about this on another site and the argument in favor essentially came down to: “But how will I know when other people are being terrible without damage meters?”. What I didn’t see is a good reason why we all need to be policing each other for poor video game performance.

I mean yes, if you are one of the top ten World of Warcraft progression raiding guilds in the world, then statistics and numbers and performance evalutations are definitely tools of your trade. However, the reason why there are fights with such tightly tuned enrage timers, for example, is BECAUSE players have so much information and are able to min-max to such a minute degree. If a group is able to determine the exact DPS per person needed to kill a boss and enforce it by only bringing players who meet that standard, game developers feel obligated to punish groups that are 1% off that mark.

An end-game without damage meters could not have that degree of finesse, and while it’s not very hardcore of me to say it.. I would be okay with that. Maybe I’m getting old and soft, but I would be interested to see large group content where the keys to success are teamwork, practice, and people who enjoy playing their class and know what they’re doing even if they’re wearing a slightly suboptimal hat because it looks pretty. Not that there should be no place for ultimate min-max raiding, it just doesn’t have to be the overwhelming design ethos.

That all being said while I think hardcore raiding has made damage meters seem like a game requirement, I don’t think these folks and their hobby are actually the problem. The problem is that while it’s reasonable in context for a top 5 world raid leader to examine logs and assist/berate people who are 1% off their target numbers, this attitude trickles down to the pug dictator who starts spamming slurs when someone is performing below maximum expectation in a Baradin Hold random. We, the players, generally don’t seem to know when to stop using game data to beat each other over the head.

Fortunately, I think there are plenty of options for a compromise on this issue. I would like to see personal damage meters, and Bioware has expressed some interest recently in adding that exact thing to SWTOR. I like optimizing my characters and improving how I play them, and my data nerd side would enjoy having access to numbers for this purpose. I also like the idea of a scoreboard shown perhaps at the end of a flashpoint, much like that seen at the end of a warzone. Give me aggregate totals at the end of the session, and not just damage output but healing and damage taken and interrupts and dispels. (Heck, give medals when certain goals are reached, like SWTOR PvP.) Finally, I do think SWTOR needs to add some kind of “cause of death” report to indicate to a player why they died, as some of the fights can get pretty chaotic.

I’m not saying that everyone should be forced to play with Willy The Window-Licking Melee Hunter, but there are certainly ways to tell when someone is doing nothing (no movement or casting, or extremely delayed response times) or perhaps is not sure what to do (running the wrong direction, standing in the ranged pack shooting as a melee class). To go back to the original question, without damage meters will you know when someone is doing 15% less DPS than they optimally could be? Nope! Probably not even a little bit.

And I am perfectly comfortable with that in SWTOR.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    January 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I agree; but I think the issue is also a problem with the basic design of the game, as each class has a rotation to do optimal damage. The result is that the gulf between “noob” damage (or someone who doesn’t bother with EJ and goes with what feels right) and “pro” damage is HUGE. I mean we have “the window licking melee hunter” who might do 5k…maybe…and a hardcore hunter who would do 20k+ in the same gear without breaking a sweat. Even with how easy LFR is if you have enough people doing only 5k then the difficulty of the fights goes way up. The 20k people then don’t want to have to carry the 5k, especially if, aside from increased chances of success, they get nothing for doing so. I mean when I do LFR (and I am usually in the top 5 DPS) I do my best because it increases the chances of group success but it still sucks when I lost out on an upgrade (Vishanka…) to some hunter who did half that.

    Maybe if the developers could get it to the point where even Willy could do 75% of the damage of the hardcore even if he just mashes Arcane shot (or the Warlock that spams fel-fire) then things like damage meters would feel less necessary. That of course comes with other drawbacks, which I won’t go into.

    Sorry for rambling, I do understand the case, and I kind of like the idea of not having damage meters.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Somewhere along the line, we seemed to lose track of the fact that WoW is a game, rather than a job. I’m as guilty as anyone. There’s no going back and I still enjoy raiding in WoW; but my min/max days are gone. I staff raids based on keeping folks invested and having fun, rather than best possible outcome. If it costs us progression, I’m fine with it.

    I hope SW:TOR takes it slow.

    I’d like more information about how I’m doing. I’d like to be able to compare myself to a world class player, even if I’ll beat myself up with the results. I do not need to see your results and no one needs to have their failings published to the world via World of Logs.

    Making me laugh during a spectacular wipe has always been more important than why it occurred. I’d like to know my own failings, but I do not need to know yours. I’m embarrassed that I lost track of that in WoW and am determined not to let it happen in SW:TOR.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    “I’m embarrassed that I lost track of that in WoW and am determined not to let it happen in SW:TOR.”

    That is almost exactly how I feel. You and me both, mister. :)

  • Reply
    February 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    IMO SWTOR simply needs a ‘training dummy’ area where a damage/heal meter is active. Let me optimize my rotation and see what helps me improve, what stats are weighted more heavily (and not from doing complex math equations out of game!).

    The damage meter doesn’t even have to be active during actual game combat but let me fine tune my character without being ignorant to the impact of my attribute distribution and rotation changes.

  • Reply
    The Gear Chase & Why Can’t We All Just Get Along
    May 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

    […] a long, windy set of url clicks, I ended up at Herding Cats reading this blog post about damage meters. It’s a pretty interesting post and I think you should read it. In a partially related, yet […]

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    %d bloggers like this: