DPS Meters and the Problem with E-Peen

If the game is an MMO, I’ve likely played it at some time.  If it had high-end PvE, then I did that too.  If it allowed modifications, I used them, liberally.  Wildstar is no different.

While stock UI and tools are fine and dandy for leveling, in today’s more aggressive top tier content, additional UI modifications are near required.  If you were to compare WoW at launch to today’s version, you’d find dozens of UI mods from the public that were incorporated.  The stuff that isn’t in base package today deals mostly with two ultra competitive things – the market and raiding.  By and large, this applies to other MMOs as well, where the top tier players end up with mods because they care about being the best, while those who don’t have mods care about having fun.   Most MMOs were pretty good at allowing the right amount of mods.  SWTOR, not so much.  ESO, they were put in to fix design issues.  Wildstar is just a set of mods to start off with!

I’ve been adding and removing mods for some time now.  Discussions always come about where mods are a form of cheating and I can’t disagree with that statement.  But I also think that mods allow you to move above the routine and focus on the big picture.  I often refer to the mission on Farside with the “simon says” minigame.  You need to remember a 16 color pattern and replay it.  Once I completed this mission, I told myself I had beaten it forever and installed a mod to auto-complete from that point forward.  I did the same with the “tap/hold/dance F” to complete missions as well, after having done all the possible permutations.  I’ve got market mods to help with inputs, price points, value calculations and a few others.  I have a UI mod to make raiding easier (grid-like) as the default mod is crud.  I have a mod that draws lines to resources because the default map view is awkward.  What I didn’t have, up until yesterday, was a DPS meter.

I hate DPS meters as a meter of power.  One of their sole purposes is to make people feel bad.  “Oh look, I did 50% more than you, you’re cut”.  Until we had gearscore (which is akin to linking car types with driving ability), DPS was the go-to stat for PvE.  If you didn’t do X DPS, then you were garbage.  I know as a Rogue I was often times at top of chart but I took some DPS loss to help increase overall raid damage.  A buff/debuffer with decent DPS is a common role I take in MMOs.  Espers in Wildstar are in that bucket today.  But then you get someone else staring at their numbers and actively trying to beat everyone else rather than trying to get the group through content.  Or a “leader” complaining that your DPS is too low without understanding why.  There’s certainly more value in raising everyone’s damage by 4% than raising your own by 10%.  Yet that is a concept few people seem to get in an age of “me me me” and “go go go”.

I think Wildstar is forcing a change though, in particular due to how interrupts and moments of opportunity (MoO) work.  It is often times more effective to interrupt an ability to reduce the need to move, than it is to use a high DPS ability and risk missing or getting hit. It is even more effective to stun an enemy as they take a near 50% increase in damage taken MoO state.  Getting a MoO often means improving a stun ability while reducing the damage of another skill.  It’s counter-intuitive to the WoW-masses but anyone who steps into group content without at least 1 stun on their bar, shouldn’t be doing group content.

But I put in a DPS meter for one main reason – combat logs.  I am an avid analyst and numbers are my crack.  Seeing the detailed breakdown of my skills, timing and cross-buffs allows me to tweak a few things here and there.  Set ability priorities.  Time buffs/debuffs for the right mix of other skills.  I’ve built damage calculators/models in the past, and meters + dummies are a huge part of that.  So last night I started to put theory to practice and on the minimal boss fights we did have, I realized my patterns needed work.  An immovable dummy vs. running around like a headless chicken are quite different affairs.  A few tweaks here and there, improving some skills, realizing that others on paper look good but are impractical in practice is forward movement.

I think with the advent of shared raid logs taking up a larger portion of the discussion that DPS meters become a bit less relevant.  They make great subjective tools, or indicators, but as an objective measure of player aptitudes, they are sorely lacking.

3 thoughts on “DPS Meters and the Problem with E-Peen

  1. I hate what DPS meters have done to MMOs overall, but I’m a stat whore so they’re still awesome too. I really like ‘score’ mechanics in my games in general, but I do wish MMOs could come up with a fairer, less 1:1 with reality system to vaguely simulate arcade scoring systems and give players an additional bit of friendly competition. Exact numbers tends to lead us down a slippery slope to ‘job performance numbers’ which should never factor in a game.


    • I think WoW’s recent trials attempt was a good metric for what DPS meters evolved into being – gating mechanics. Can you maintain X activity while we shoot at you for 3 minutes? Teaching people to move from red, or use interrupts or triage heals is so much more important that that little bar on the graph.


  2. Yeah, in high end raiding DPS meters (or things like Warcraft Logs) aren’t used as bragging tools, they’re used as measures to see who is playing as well as they should.

    If A and B are both the same class, both have the same role on a fight, both have about the same gear, both have about the same damage taken, but A is doing 20% more damage than B…that’s a problem. Player B is doing something wrong and it matters because it makes boss fights far harder (or impossible) when people aren’t performing where they should be.

    …but then your average player turns it into a bragging tool or is incapable of analyzing it correctly and just looks at the results.


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