Monthly Archives: August 2010

Efficiency – Measurement and Balancing Issues

Just some food for thought.  Now that we are essentially entering the balancing phase of Beta by the sounds of it.  Not in it myself, so can’t say from direct experience, just from the tone of the blue posts and what information is getting released on official and fan sites.

We have heard a lot about fast and inefficient, the efficient and expensive/slow nuke when discussing changes to healing and to a lesser extent dps roles.

The problem with Efficiency is how to define it in the World of Warcraft context.

In simplest terms this is a 2 variable issue, for example DPS and HPS or Damage per Second and Healing Per Second.  But the term efficiency that is thrown around the most are DPM and HPM or Damage per Mana or Healing per Mana and the cast time is thrown in there such that the DPM/HPM is an increasing value directly related to cast time.  So as cast time goes up so does Mana Efficiency.

The interesting question now becomes does this trend hold when we go to DPMPS and HPMPS or Damage per Mana per Second and Healing per Mana per Second.

For arguments sake lets throw some random numbers at the issue.

[table id=1 /]

So using these vague numbers we see something interesting based on 3 metrics of efficiency.
XPS – slow
XPM – slow
XPMPS – medium

Lets try some new numbers to see if we can get a fast, slow, medium result.

[table id=2 /]

With these values we get.

XPS – fast
XPM – slow
XPMPS – medium

Now when I was coming up with these numbers it was a real balancing act to get the results I wanted. The interesting part was I did not have to change the slow very much just change its cost. Because of this interesting dynamic I hope people are keeping a close look at the mana costs on the large nuke heal. Not just as a % of base mana but what that actually translates into within a class and on a whole. If your base mana is only 20-25% of your entire mana pool that means that Int on the gear is more important and base mana really really needs to be brought inline with one another across all classes with mana.

Now these three values being simple enough become orders of magnitude more complicated when we throw Haste/Crit/Mastery Bonus into the mix.

I really don’t have an overall opinion on all of this.  It was just some things I was thinking about when it comes to balancing healing and dps cast times and effectiveness.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Blizzcon Ticket Purchasing Window – AKA the Internet Lottery from Hell

I have been stewing upon this topic for a while and whether it was worth posting and bringing it up or not.  While I look for the next thing to talk/complain/suggest/contemplate I might as well.

Before I get to my thoughts on how to improve the experience lets take a step back and actually look at the problem by asking a few questions.

  1. How many players of Blizzard Games would want to attend Blizzcon?
  2. What is the maximum capacity of the current venue?
  3. What percentage of the answer to question #1 is the answer to question #2?
  4. If ticket price was raised slightly to rent more and therefore increase the answer to #2 does the answer to #1 end up less than #2, if not then it may be time to rent even more space and raise the ticket price slightly.
  5. What time is it?
  6. No seriously what time is it and by which clock are you using?
  7. When do tickets go on sale?
  8. No seriously when to tickets go on sale and defined by which clock?
  9. What is your current internet latency to the server?
  10. What is the official world clock time?
  11. What is the difference between official world time and the time on the server?
  12. What is the difference between your local clock and the official world time?
  13. Are you using your computer for time and do you set its time automatically from a time server?
  14. Does Blizzard’s server actually use the official world clock time server?
  15. So do you know when you need to click refresh to be able to by tickets given all of these variable some of which are unknown?

The end result is that no one really knows when you will be able to attempt to buy tickets and actually stand a chance to acquire them.  If many of these are actually based on the official world time then you have a good approximate guess.

I believe the figure tossed around was somewhere within the first 30-45 seconds, if not less, all people who were able to obtain tickets were already in queue.  That is really an unacceptable system.  If it is going to be a lottery then well lets make it an actual lottery.

New System – Based on Beta.

So what I would imagine would be where there is a time period for Beta tickets to be sold, say over a 2 week period.  Every 48 hours a new lot of “winners” would be sent notifications that they could log into and purchase tickets.  If they don’t buy them by the next interval they forfeit the chance.  Now they could also call in and purchase them by phone and what ever other methods are currently in place.  Some sort of verification code would be needed and the ticket limit would also be in place.  This should be done via accounts and not the individual game accounts, especially after Diablo is released.

For example say 30K tickets are available and lots of 1000 accounts are chosen randomly.   So Monday 1000 notifications are sent and say 90% actually want to go so from the first lot you have 900-3600 tickets sold since people can buy up to 4 tickets with actual purchase data a better model could be built to determine how many lots on average you would need.  Then at the end you just do smaller lots until you sell out.

This would be much more orderly and would put the randomness on Blizzards RNG rather than variations in time and space.  In the end I may not end up being able to go to Blizzcon again under this system but at least I know it was not because I could not refresh fast enough or did not guess the time differential correctly.

Posted in Blizzcon

Kaeley: The Kingslayer

Well my Mage Kaeley was able to get in on a LK 25 Kill last night.

So I want to give a shout out “post” for the group that helped me acquire the title, achievement and the ability to unlock hardmode 25 man content in ICC if it is wanted.

The guild was Chambers of Shaolin on Elune-US of course and here be a link to their website.

This was just another way to thank them for inviting me into the raid to get the aforementioned benefits.  Yes I paid them some gold and it was a very reasonable amount.

I have some more thoughts on the whole ICC experience, not my experience with CoS or the guild some of my characters are in Conspiracy, the instance as a whole after 8 months, but I will save that as a separate post.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Mentoring System!

Just saw this on

According to the interview some time in Cataclysm after launch so 4.1 at the absolute earliest there will be a mentoring system implemented like City of Heroes.

To Quoth Blizzard and SC2 “Hell it’s about time!”

I have to say that 5 seconds of video is one of the best 1 liners than can be used to describe many features we wish to see in World of Warcraft and other MMOs.

Lets just hope this feature does not go the way of the Dance Studio.

Posted in Uncategorized

Alliance Battle Cry – “For Lothar!”

Some Background from WoWWiki

Anduin Lothar

Sir Anduin Lothar, the Lion of Azeroth, was the last true descendant of the ancient Arathi bloodline, a knight champion of the Kingdom of Azeroth (later known as the Kingdom of Stormwind) during the First War, and the supreme commander of the armies of the Alliance of Lordaeron during the Second War. He perished in combat at the base of Blackrock Mountain against the orc Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer just before the end of the Second War and the closing of the Dark Portal. He is considered one of the greatest warriors of all time.

There is a lot more in the wiki article I just wanted to include a little of it here.

Now I got this idea from a comment in the post The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warriors in Lore and completely agree with it.  Which is why I am making this post to run with the idea and bring more attention to it, I hope.

Donny J. Canup Aug 13th 2010 2:42PM

“For Lothar!” A battle cry the Alliance can truly be proud of. If any Alliance hero has ever been named that’s more prominent than Lothar that hasn’t had some sort of npc in game it has to be Lothar (Come on, CoT has to have him eventually!). Lothar has been one of my favorite characters in WoW lore and because of that it kills me that very little info is out there for such a legendary figure as he.

As for the article… Nice!

Warriors in Warcraft are for sure the backbone of all armies (even Blood Elves) and deserve a bit of recognition for those who are heroes and why.

Well not much more to say about this.  It has always been a little boring playing Alliance because we don’t have a catchy battle shout.  I think this one is a bit better than the default “For Lordaeron”, which is no longer Alliance controlled, or “For the Alliance”.  As for suggestions/requests for the future it would be cool as said in the comment from if there were some Caverns of Time interaction for more lore around Lothar or at least add some quest lines.  Hell even some stuff in the Human/Alliance  Archeology profession would be a cool way to tie some threads into the setting.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Moonkin LVL50 – Is it really that easy?

Well I have my new Druid to level 50 and I have to say that I am not sure if it the class mechanics or just the heirloom gear but single target nuking is easier with Balance than with any of the other casters I have leveled to date.

My cast sequence is the following:

  1. Root
  2. Moonfire
  3. Insect Swarm
  4. Starfire
  5. Starfire

By this point 90% of the mobs I face +/-2 levels of me, as long as all spells hit, are dead.  I remember having to run around like an idiot or take a bunch of damage in the process on every other caster class with a few exceptions with warlock.  With warlock the pet or fear replaced the root.  Now for fun I also made a video of it just to show but have not yet had a successful upload to youtube.

Now with video!

This second part got me thinking that I may with assistance of Lissanna make a video guide to the various classes demonstrating various techniques for when Cataclysm launches or at least shortly thereafter.  I remember and really liked the BRK video guides on playing a hunter in different encounters and so will most likely not wander into hunter land but most of the others I may experiment with.

Also anyone reading this that may be interested in collaborating on the whole L2P video initiative let me know.

Posted in World of Warcraft

New Theme for Cataclysm

Well this is the first of several new themes I am working on and when Cata finally launches and Blizzard updates the fan-site kit for it I will most likely redo and update the themes again with the images there and not just some editing of images from the current Cata website.  I noticed a few css issues with images I will have to resolve and the a few link css styles to update as well.

This theme is definitely still a work in progress but I could spend days/weeks tracking down the last little issues and I would rather run with it as is at the moment just to get away from such a default theme that I was using.

Posted in Uncategorized

Metrics – Scalar Limitations and Ignorance

This post is really about problems with the way the player base measures results and just a few issues that I end up having with them.  This is more of a rant/brainstorming post so beware of rambling and possible correct and incorrect use of mathematics.

Tools to measure performance, not success but performance.

  • Gear Score and Clones – this type of tools tries to assign a value to a player based on the gear they are wearing at a point it time.  Some of the more advance tools also compare iLvl and the stats on it to the spec in question.
  • The earlier form of measurement was the DPS meter again sever limitations especially when looking at healing.
  • Combat Log Parsers more advanced Meters.

I am sure there are many other tools that I am not naming directly here but every tool that I know of either measures information out of the combat log or looks at what characters are wearing.

For example consider the following diagrams.

In this diagram we show left to right time increasing and in most fights we hope the total damage done is positive so we see and increase in total damage as time gets larger.  So dps would be Y/X for the duration of the graph.

In this diagram we have Total damage and # of creatures.  As more creatures are added and we have a multi-target ability the total damage increases as we add more creatures to the mix.

However the reality is more complex than these simple diagrams.  In the diagram to the right we see 3d version of the previous 2 and we see that if you use AoE and increase # of creatures over time you will get more damage overall and if you boil this down to 1 scalar number DPS you are loosing all context of what the Scalar even means.

This is just a very simple demonstration of how most tools we use to evaluate performance end up giving us meaningless data because we use the output single dimensional value to evaluate players while removing all context.

For example on the boss targeting dummy in Ironforge my mage without blowing cooldowns will average about 5K DPS as fire or arcane on a single target.  Now when in the Lich King fight in phase 1 I will tab target everything up every 30 or so seconds and put living bomb on them.  During this phase while casting Scorch/Fire Blast/Insta Pyro on Burning Streak Proc and Blizzard near the end will rock 10-13k DPS.

So now which is the correct number to say as my DPS?

Now my WoW-Heroes score at time of writing is 3061.  Is this my metric of performance.  The answer is no it just states what my gear and enchants are worth.  It show my potential maximum, but not what I will or will not do, in an given context.

Now these diagrams are just as oversimplified when looking at 2 into the 3rd dimensional diagram because there are many more factors to add further context to the problem of evaluating other players or your own performance.

Other factors to consider.

  • FPS – How much interface lag are you experiencing when rendering graphics.
  • Latency – What is your Ping/Round Trip time to the server.  Remember DPS is Damage per Second so that .2 second round trip time is .2 seconds where commands are delayed and slower casts/key-presses = few abilities being triggered over a period of time and therefore less damage being done.
  • Interface/Add-on Lag – How much memory and processor time are you add-ons to track people using the wrong level of spell or the latest Peggle game causing your responsiveness to go down while rendering information not important to what you are doing.
  • Was your kill/heal sniped.  Were you in the middle of casting your “IWin” spell or heal and someone else killed the mob or healed the target so your damage or heal = 0 and goes into overkill/over-heal.
  • Do you have a lot of AoE spells that are part of your normal rotation?  Do you lack multi target attacks?

So I bring all of this up so that hopefully going forward in Cataclysm Blizzard and or the Player-base can come up with new ways for us to evaluate ourselves and others and not loose as much context while doing so.

Along these lines it would be useful to have repeatable solo quests that award multi level achievements on a character and or account wide basis that reflect scalar achievement results on different skills used in solo and group play.  Therefor the achievement will bring a common context to go with the score and therefor the score becomes a vector rather than a scalar.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Logistics This!

So as I was perusing Restokin I came across a blog post by primalprecision.

SC2 Replay Match feature in WoW?

This is a solution to one of the logistics issues I was talking about in my post the other day.  The funny part is I was in SC2 Beta and have the regular version of SC2 and I completely overlooked this feature when thinking about ways to improve some of the tactical tools we have for raiding and other group play.

I would image this would need to be a feature of the wow log mechanism on the server preferably but for load issues will most likely need to be on the client end.  However when this feature is activated it would have to record the maximums and not the default interaction range.  Which even if it does not normally render the information graphically it would need to be recorded.  There is a script about this type of issue at WoW logs for those making the log file for raid.

Additionally this feature would also need to be something usable at anytime so it would end up being a separate client.  In essence this would need to be a Blizzard released Demo Stage client that interacts with the game files but not necessarily an active server world.  You would want it to interact with a server instance just so that players would not be able to load zones and models they should not be able to but this here is like the ultimate sandbox toy for many different types of players.

I can see this being the penultimate tool short of having access to your own 3d modeling software for Strategist and Machinima makers.

This tool needs to be made!

Posted in World of Warcraft

Rated Battlegrounds and Raiding

While I was working on my post about Logistics and a few of the issues involved and the lack of tools by Blizzard to help facilitate the logistical issues with large group content I have also been pondering how are the rated battlegrounds going to work?

Currently in WoW our Raid Frames will support 1-40 people but since tBC we have had raid sizes of 10 and 25, so roughly 4 years now.  In battlegrounds we have 10-40 man raids which fits into this paradigm as far as interface capable.  The issue is that is has been stated that you can’t join a random rated BG you have to go in as a group or raid.  Now the aspect that is missing is what defines the group.  Is it going to be like the Arena system and we need to have an established team or will we be able to pug a group on our server and join as group/raid?

These issues need an answer additionally what % of the raid must be in group before entering the BG, 25%,50%,75%?  Will we now have PvP focused guilds solely to fill the 40 man requirement of AV or IoC?  Will AV and IoC get revamped so they work with 15 or 25 man groups and at least make the upper limit of PvP interaction the same as PvE?  If they don’t I can almost say now that you will almost never see a rated BG game of AV or IoC the organization required for not PuGing the BG is silly in the current game environment.

I can see 2 simple ways for this system to work.  Both require 25 man raids being the largest in organized competition.

Organized System like Arenas

Here you have a Rate BG charter or some item like the Arena team charter and you can have up to 50 characters on the charter, enough for 25 people to have 2 characters on the team.

You form a raid consisting of members from the charter and queue for 10, 15 or 25 man rated BG.  This is proportionally equivalent to the 2,3,5 man make up of Arena teams.

Distributed System the in between Random BGs and the Arena System

Here you just require a full group of 5 to sign up for a rated BG like a random BG but it requires a minimum number in the group 4 or 5 so you don’t need to form a raid.  Ultimately 5 will most likely be the requirement so you don’t have partial groups when forming the larger raid.  This in between system at least allows the matching system to build raids of equivalent average skill and gear without putting all of the organization work on the player base given the limited tools Blizzard gives us to organize.

Don’t get me wrong the tools blizzard does supply are on average the same tools most companies give to support their MMOs and actually Blizzard in most cases gives more but that does not mean there is not room for improvement in the MMO market.


In the end I think the rated BG system is going to be a really good feature in Cataclysm and I hope we find out more about it “soon” and we hear something about the testing going on in the Beta concerning it if it is even implemented yet.

Posted in World of Warcraft