Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why DPS isn't damage

With all the DPS e-peening going around in WoW I figured I'd at least try to see what this whole DPS thing is about and how it actually relates to damage.

Normally you'd think if you have 600 DPS then you do 600 damage per second which would translate to roughly 36000 damage per minute and so forth.

Now as you may or may not know I have been using recount to record most of the boss fights and various battles and I recently have been paying attention to the figures of DPS vs Damage done in places like Karazhan with groups that are mostly in or around kara in terms of gearing.

What we see from those figures is that it is indeed regularly possible for someone to output a large amount of DPS and still generate comparatively little in damage out and that someone with significantly lower DPS generates comparatively high damage out.

Assuming that all the damage meters I have tested so far aren't completely broken we will have to explain how it is possible for someone to generate say 300+ DPS and still be #1 on the damage charts whilst someone with 600+ DPS only comes in #2

Lets take a step back first and state that everyone dies the same amount of times, the gearing between players are pretty much equal (as far as that's comparable) and all players are doing their best to output the most damage they can (no slackers, afkers, nosepickers, clueless people etc.)

In general most damage meters calculate DPS over the amount of damage you do. Most damage meters have been adjusted to also take in account a certain time window over which DPS is calculated. So assume you're blasting your target with whatever you're using causing x damage over y seconds. DPS will then be calculated by diving x by y.
Where y is your measurement window (5 seconds for example). If you're running around not doing any damage at all then this will not affect your dps (otherwise most people would have <10 dps after sitting around for an hour which is simply not the case in any damage meter I've seen so far).

And this is where the crux of the matter lies. A hunter (just an example) will output significantly higher dps if you check dps over a period when he's actually doing damage. If the hunter does no damage for the time window y then this does not affect his DPS in any way. That's the nature of the calculation.

Which also means that if the hunter goes out and shoots someone with a single arrow and then sits around doing nothing for the rest of the measurement window y then his DPS will be crap for that measurement and his DPS average will be lowered accordingly.

Makes sense so far doesn't it?

Now consider this: The hunter shoots the target with some kind of poisonous arrow that ticks away slowly for x damage per second.
Unfortunately right after he has to make a run for it because some nasty blizzard is coming his way or he needs to get out of a volcano. So naturally his DPS will be lower, because thanks to the poisonous arrow he is in fact doing damage which does result in DPS calculations being made (as opposed to no calculation being made if he doesn't do damage).
Of course the DPS for those 5-10 seconds he's running around will be terrible, but it is in fact measured and averaged out with his overall dps because that poison is ticking away for whatever damage it does per second.

Now lets take this step further and look at a 'Damage over Time' heavy class like a warlock.

Generally warlocks dot up a target and then proceed to pelting it with whatever spell they like to use (shadow bolts for example).
Now whilst he is pelting shadow bolts and his dots are ticking away the warlocks DPS is calculated by adding the damage of all the dots and the shadow bolt hits in the measurement window y and then deviding it by y.

Now it's the warlocks turn to move but his DPS calculation continues because his dots are still on the target.
This is good stuff since you're still outputting damage, but really bad for your DPS calculation because it is only calculated over the dot damage which is generally low but consistent over a longer period.

Now consider fights where there is a lot of movement (shade of aran for example). Warlocks will still dot up their target thus forcing DPS calculations. Hunters will generally run around and squeeze out a few damage 'spells' resulting in DPS calculations only when he/she is actually doing damage.

This means on average the hunter's dps will be as high as always (burst damage) but for the warlock counterpart the DPS calculations were mostly done over ticking dots rather than dots ticking and the usual shadow bolt spam.

Which in returns results in the warlocks DPS slowly degrading to the 'pure' DPS from the dots whilst the hunter simply skips a few DPS calculations because he's not doing damage at all.

The warlock however is continually doing damage. And no matter how little the damage from dots is it will add up over time thus resulting in a much larger damage done figure.

So yes... you can do 300DPS and still be #1 on the damage list and yes... you can output 600+DPS and still be on the bottom of the damage list.

DPS is a normalization that can help show how you are doing compared to other players preferably of the same class not a way to rate people's equipment, effectiveness or skill.

For that you will simply have to go take them to an instance and look at the damage that was actually done.

Monday, April 14, 2008

PVP and me

So the last few days I have had a quick introduction to PVP by a fellow warlock and my good old lock is now somewhat heavily invested in scrounging up alterac valley marks.

Ironically enough despite the large quantity of pvp people out there no one seems to know anything about pvp. Or at least not the people I have spoken too. Presumably the l33t1sts and the ikantspel crowd know more but it'd take me longer to decrypt their ramblings than it would just reading a random pvp'ers blog.

So I am completely in the dark on how this pvp season thing works. I'd say there would be a new season at a regular interval, but what that interval may be seems to be generally unknown and even big blue doesn't want to shed light on that.

Which means after 3 days of a few hours of PVP I am now sitting on about 25k honor and something in the neighbourhood of 50 alterac valley marks and no idea whether or not it would be a good idea to spend them on something.

It's awfully tempting but also utterly pointless if I accidentally burn up all my points / marks just a short time before the next season.

On the mechanics side of things everything is just like pve only the targets move around a bit more erratically. Beyond that I can't really sense any form of stratagem driving either side of the valley.

Essentially this means I will go for the honor cap (75k apparantly) scrounge up as many marks as I can in that honor period and with a little luck the next season will be here before I start spending all those points.

After that it's back to pve for me because PVP isn't as challenging as I thought it would be in the battlegrounds (as long as I can keep those stabby rogues off me that is) even with pve gear.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not "Just a game"

I try not to get myself stuck into debates between that whole hardcore vs. casual thing nor do I particularly enjoy anything that offsets one group of players against another.

Until you understand the motivation of the developers and designers behind the game you cannot make assumptions that actually reflect the truth. It will always be a biased opinion.

There is however one longstanding sin against all gamers that permeates real life and game life alike.

The statement of: "It's just a game"

Often used by people that are tired of whining, more often the tool of grievers to downplay the overall anguish they can cause people.

The fact of the matter is that it's not 'just a game'.

Yes it is a game, but anything you do for a certain amount of time becomes an integral part of your life and as a result elevates a game to be more than just a game. It's a community, it's an experience, it's a vent, it's different things to different people.

The general attitude of "It's just a game" shows a complete lack of understanding. The fact that we play in a virtual world doesn't make our experiences less real. If someone comes in and ruins your gaming experience then this does affect how you are the rest of the day and how you treat the people around you.

Game experiences can and will impact real life and often moreso than real-life events simply because anyone can become someone in a game.

So next time you feel the need to say "it's just a game" think for a second... think about how bad your day would've been if you just got fired from your job, you log into wow only to listen to someone say: "It's just a job".

Is it really? Or was it an integral part of your life that you've gotten used to, knew how to handle and that gave you a certain amount of security and maybe even had a little fun with?

Just because it's not important to you, doesn't mean it's not important to others.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Guild Loyalty

Loyalty is dead. Not because I declared it to be but simply because it is. When I was a wee gamer during the days of muds and a while after right until the advent of the more modern MMORPGS guilds were so much different.

You joined a guild practically for life, guild hopping was frowned upon and would generally get you permanently unguilded if you did it too often.

People were invested in their guilds, would rise up to pick up tasks, throw themselves with dedication at whatever roles they got and were generally 'happier' people for it.

Sure there was drama, sure guilds fell apart but there was very little motivation to get up and leave a guild unless it was completely non-compatible with your playstyle in which case you wouldn't have joined it in the first place.

WoW seems to be the complete opposite. People join guilds as long as they feel like sticking around and will happily switch if they even get as much as the prospect of more short term gain. The people that want power generally only seem to want it so they can clean out the bank before they leave...

Just the other day we had someone leaving to join a 25 man raiding guild. Now I know for a fact we are knee deep in kara and have good relations with another guild that's past kara but has manpower issues so it stands to reason that we are maybe a month or two away from doing the first 25mans ourselves.

And here is exactly where my understanding ends.

Why would you choose to leave a guild in which you have already built up good relations and a decent name for yourself, where you have a solid if not guaranteed chance to end up on the raiding roster for kara and 25-mans in the future, for a guild that offers you the chance to raid a 25-man now but in which you have a decent chance of dropping right off the raiding roster if you're not good enough.

It's practically guaranteed that someone will know you're a guild hopper and as a result you'd be hard pressed to find any real support in the new guild you're in. In which case you sacrificed your good reputation with an entire guild for a single 25-man raid.

Maybe my views are skewed... or completely outdated. But I really don't see why anyone would pursue short-term goals if you can work towards getting a better position in the long run instead.