21/11/2012

Theorycrafting And Performance

I'm bad at theorycrafting and theorycrafting is bad at for me. Back in school, maths was always one of those subjects that I never really cared about (even though I was pretty decent at it anyway), and as a result I've pretty much forgotten everything I ever learned about dealing with numbers if it was taught to me after the age of ten. The other month I found an old book of maths exercises from my teenage years, and holy crap, I had no idea what any of it meant. That's one reason for me not to like theorycrafting in MMOs.

The other is that it always seems to go hand in hand with performance pressure. I often say that I'm not a competitive person, but looking at it right now, I don't think that's entirely true. I don't like open competition, and I find it boring and annoying when people brag a lot. But secretly, I do care about everyone's performance. I love seeing that I'm the best at something. I won't mention it, but it's something that's nice to know, and to know that other people know it too, even if we don't talk about it. If I'm not good at something on the other hand, especially in a co-operative game, I'll constantly fret about letting the team down and being a burden on everyone. Can't have that! I suppose that wanting to carry my weight is not a bad thing, but it can create stress too.

The first reason is part of why I always liked playing healers in WoW. Healer theorycraft tended to be a lot "softer" than that of other roles. There were general guidelines along the lines of "crit doesn't really do anything for a holy priest", but other than that it pretty much came down to whatever felt right for you. You could justify focusing on spirit if it gave you better control of your mana pool, even if it didn't give you the biggest heals on the block. It wasn't just about a single measurable figure that you had to chase.

The second reason is why I rather like the way TOR handles damage meters. Since the game doesn't allow addons, there generally aren't any... but there is a built-in combat logging function that can be parsed by an outside application to simulate live meters for yourself if you really want them, or else you can have everyone in your raid upload their logs to a site like Torparse, to analyse events later on. Basically that means that the information is available if you're pushing raid progression and want to know where your group's strengths and weaknesses lie, but 99 percent of the time nobody gives a damn about anyone else's exact numbers as long as things die, because it's not like you can really know what exactly your group members are doing anyway.

I'm not denying that pugs without meters have their disadvantages by the way. For example I'll never forget that Lost Island hardmode run where my group wiped on the second boss about fifty bazillion times, and I couldn't quite place my finger on what was wrong. We were dying to a variety of things even when nobody did anything blatantly stupid, but somehow our progress felt painfully slow. Then we finally had one attempt where everyone survived until the boss enraged... and still had forty percent of his health left. Right, that's what had been off.

That's when we finally called it, because it was obvious that we didn't have the dps. The funny thing was that both of our damage dealers were really nice chaps and didn't want to give up, but I convinced them that we were way too far off. Still, in the end I'd rather be unsuccessful with friendly people occasionally than have to put up with everyone obsessing over meters all the time - and that includes myself. I guess if you're an MMO player you probably don't mind staring at bars of some sort, but it's all too easy to start spending more time staring at meters than paying attention to what's actually happening in the game world around you, and that's kind of sad.

Anyway, where was I going with this again? Right. I'm a pretty agreeable person, and tend to adjust to whoever I'm hanging out with at any given time. BoR very much brought out my more laid back side, and it was fun. But now I'm surrounded by people who talk about swapping out their mods and practising on target dummies and... despite of not being massively inclined towards optimising my character if I don't have to, I can't help being affected. Nobody's exerted any kind of pressure on me (unless you count people smothering me in helpful advice and wanting to give me stuff), and I don't think I've heard anyone moan about my healing yet, but it's there again: that weird feeling that I have to compete. Somehow, with someone. That I have to get better than I am right now, though I'm not sure to what end. (The current TfB HM group is drowning in healers as it is, so it's not like I'm pushing progression or anything.)

I suppose there's nothing wrong with wanting to optimise for the heck of it, but it's quite a drastic gear shift in my play style, and it's giving me a bit of whiplash. One moment I'm thinking, "must find better talents/gear/mods/augments", and the next I'm like: "Screw that 0.1 extra bonus healing, I'll just be over here with my kolto and be happy with being adequate." I'll need to find a balance.

9 comments:

  1. Remember to just be you, Shintar. It's kind of hard to do that when you're in the midst of raiding like that, but you can do it. I've seen you do it in both here and over on your old blog, so it can be done.

    One of these days we should just chill somewhere in-game.

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    1. Lol, trust me, there's plenty of me going around. :) This is just one aspect of the game I've been thinking about during the last couple of days.

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  2. Theorycrafting for us healers in my guild, there are 2 of us both being sorcerer heals, involves putting down a purple pool and when someones healing changes we discuss what changes were made. Simple and easy, with no meters. I kinda like it that way.

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  3. The way in which healing differs from DPS is that you need to heal only as much damage as is incoming and not a speck more. The key is choosing heals that won't run you out of resources and at the same time keep the group where you need it to be. You need to anticipate and be ready for the big spikes and save your big guns for those times. A lot of people can't handle it because they get crazy if there's a point where they're not casting (then they call it "boring"). I see standing doing nothing as regenerating mana/whatever that you might need in a few seconds or as an opportunity to reposition.

    DPS, on the other hand, more is always better - with the caveat that people get so entrenched in their optimal rotation, they get flummoxed when there is movement or random boss mechanics that make them have to THINK on the fly and adjust.

    Sometimes I wish the guild were running meters, but most of the time I don't miss them. I don't run personal meters right now because I'm afraid of hurting my pc's performance and also because without any baseline of comparison (i.e. the rest of the raid) it doesn't feel like the information does me much good.

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  4. Hehe Your a good healer, I wouldn't of spent soo much time trying to recruit you otherwise :P

    And I wouldn't worry about optimising gear, Viice doesn't, he just goes for the standard Campaign and then augments. His argument is that you shouldn't have to change anything.

    As for having too many healers, I simply feel we don't have enough tanks :P If we had 2 more tanks we could run 2 TfB HM groups a week (without using alts) :P

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    1. Hah, I thought you were "recruiting" me because I had talked to Dallas about maybe wanting to join but couldn't make up my mind.

      I wouldn't say I'm worrying about optimising my gear... it's just this "new thing" I've discovered and it's exciting right now. I swapped a spare mod out earlier and it made my hammer shot heal for three points more. Squee! :P

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  5. I only optimized my gear because I had nothing else to do with it. As long as the group is happy with my dps (Never had complaints) i'm OK with what I do.
    I'm not saying it isn't nice to look at combat logs and see my name top. But all I really care about is being in a group with competent people who don't struggle to do their job in the OP.

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