Saturday, June 25, 2011

Built-in damage meters?

Someone asked about this on the DPS installment of Ask the Devs. They answered that they are working on it:
Q: Will we ever see an in-game damage and healing meter to replace Recount? – Sinth├Ča (NA/ANZ), Hemodynamic (EU-EN)

A: We’d dearly love to do this, and it’s been something we’ve been working on, off and on for some time. The problem is that increasingly players place a really high and occasionally unhealthy emphasis on meters, and once there is an official Blizzard-supported meter, then that situation is only going to get worse. Anything that isn’t portrayed in our meters with a great degree of accuracy is going to be misinterpreted and cause forum drama. For example, it’s easy for DPS to inflate their meters on some fights by attacking targets that don’t matter. How do we handle those situations -- trust players to know the difference? That’s tricky, especially when the community has a penchant for distilling lots of fights down into a single measurement of DPS. As another example, the Restoration druid Tranquility is intended to fill a role similar to Power Word: Barrier or Spirit Link Totem. Yet the druid cooldown is an actual heal, which greatly inflates their meters to the extent that we see a lot of players complaining about how Resto druids are overpowered. Do we not show Tranquility on healing meters?

On the other hand, one benefit of having easy-to-use Blizzard meters would be getting players to focus on their own personal DPS instead of what the best players in the world are capable of. It makes developers cry when we see a good Fury warrior go Arms and do lackluster DPS just because they read that Arms DPS is higher. (Now, if that player just likes Arms or wants to try something different, more power to them.)

Also consider that damage and healing meters are valued by a pretty small set of the playing population as a whole. New UI features like the quest and equipment systems we added not so long ago, and even the upcoming Dungeon Journal, would be more widely used overall.

So the short answer is that it would be a very useful tool and we suspect we’ll do it eventually, but we have an enormous responsibility to get it right, and even then it could do bad things to the community as a whole.

I played vanilla for several months without it occurring to me that I should be maximizing dps. I played it like other role-playing games, and in other role-playing games it doesn't much matter. So long as the mobs die, they die.

Having a built-in damage meter would be an excellent step for two reasons. One is that it would provide guidance to new players on what they should be paying attention to. Second is that semi-new players would get this vital information without needing an addon.

The describe a problem with attacking irrelevant targets, but there's no way to fix that, so don't bother. Besides, with the simple meter I have in mind--just a single number somewhere on the screen--nobody would see anyone else's damage meter, anyway. This highly limits the ability of people to pointlessly boast.

Another issue they describe has to do with healing. There are more issues than they list, however! Basically I don't think it would help to include a healing meter in-game. In a 5-man, your hps in the same as the incoming dps -- that is, the healing you do will always match exactly the damage done to the party. As such, there's nothing you can do to change it. In a raid, you only improve your own hps by subtracting someone elses, which is otherwise known as sniping. In short, I don't think a built-in healing meter would help new healers do a better job.

I'm very glad to read that Blizzard is considering adding a dps meter. However, I don't think they need to think about this quite as hard as they are. Skip it for the healers, and only show the dps of the player themself. For anything else, let people go to add-ons or log analysis sites.

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