Sharing information in fights: Everyone’s a critic

I think we can agree that yelling at people in frustration is not the best way to pass on information. (See yesterday’s post and comments.)

But when we’re playing in a group in a MMO, a lot of information needs to be communicated quickly. Are we trying to focus fire and if so, does everyone know what they are supposed to be hitting at any time? Do you need to ask another player to remove a debuff from you? Have you just used a cooldown that your tank or healer or dps needs to know about? Are you going to assume someone else’s role because they just died in combat?

A lot of our abilities are designed to interlock with each other. A buff from one player might significantly affect the abilities or optimal ability use of another. If you have debuffs, you need to know when to use them. When you think about it, that’s a crazy amount of information that needs to be assimilated quickly.

So how do we do it?

  • Pre Pre-planning. This is where you discuss the fight and tactics in detail on a bboard before you even step into the instance.
  • Pre-planning. If you know what will happen in a fight, you can pre-arrange the kill order, any crowd control, any other tactics, and roughly when significant buffs will be used.
  • UI. We rely heavily on the user interface for information about when players have buffs or debuffs active on them. This is automatic information provided by the game (and the UI addons, if you use them) and doesn’t require anyone to actually say ‘I’m poisoned!’
  • Flashy graphics. Some spells just come with very unmistakeable graphical effects that no one can miss if they’re paying attention.
  • Boss cues. Some bosses will cue before they make a special attack with either a graphic or some kind of yell. Games don’t tend to use pure audio cues; I’d like to think this was in respect of deaf gamers but it’s probably just because they know a lot of people play with the sound off.
  • Text and macros. Sometimes the easiest way to inform your group or raid when you’ve used a cooldown or buff is to macro in an automatic comment on group or raid chat when you activate it. eg. ** Just used Bloodlust ** The only problem is … not everyone reads text chat in the middle of a fight.
  • Shout on voice chat. Best saved for if something really unexpected happens and pre-arranged plans have to change on the fly. Also probably best left for the raid leader.
  • We don’t. No one says or types a word. We just assume we roughly know what they’ll be doing and go with it. (Really common in 5 man instances in WoW these days, or any content where it isn’t critical to micro-manage.)

Either way, it is a huge amount of information to process and I think regular raiders often forget how enormously overwhelming it may have felt when you first tried a raid, particularly as a healer or debuffer.

Broadcasting Taunts

Given the sheer amount of information flying around, I’ve always tended to the cautious side when I’m deciding which of my abilities and cooldowns to publicise. I was thinking about this lately because with the heroic beasts fight, we do a lot of tank switching in the first part. So I picked up an addon which would automatically tell people on the raid channel when I’d used various different abilities. What I really wanted was to let people know if a taunt had failed, but I figured I might as well add an inform about Shield Wall also (it’s a tanking cooldown).

You know the worst part? Not people complaining about spam because actually no-one complained. I got the impression it was felt to be generally useful. Nope, the most difficult part about automatically informing your group when you use an ability is that … they automatically also get informed when you press the button by mistake.

You don’t realise how naked this makes you feel until you try it. I mean, OF COURSE I press taunt at the wrong time sometimes. So does every tank who ever lived, unless they have it bound somewhere really inaccessible. If it’s not being broadcast, you just whisper to the other tank afterwards and apologise. They’ll shrug it off, we all do it. If using taunt by mistake means it wasn’t up when you really needed it then you can always fake that it missed or failed. But if you broadcast your abilities, then suddenly your entire raid becomes a backseat driver. Or at least it can feel that way.

So one positive side to broadcasting my taunts and cooldowns? You can bet I’m way more careful with them now. There’s no doubt that it’s made me a better player, in that sense at least.

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9 thoughts on “Sharing information in fights: Everyone’s a critic

  1. In Aion I had a panic button that shouted “Elyos! FIGHT” or “RUN” if the opposing party was supposedly too strong for us. F9 and F10.

    I am against automation addons of all kinds that yell “X poisoned” or something like that. They definitely make things easier, but I don’t like that they support lazy and unfocused gameplay.

  2. Hey Spinks. Appreciate that someone is admitting that “not standing in the fire” is actually quite difficult. And in the rants about content getting too easy, a very valid point!

    As for the addon you installed: Its not the only addon that have allowed you to “BigBrother” your raidmembers. Most of the standard addons we have (like Recount and oRA) are quite intrusive, but most players dont use their full potential. Still, when I lead raids I use these (and others) to show me anything from lacking buffs to who died of what. Then ofcourse there is things like WWS and World of Logs which really leaves nothing to the imagination, and any mistake or cockup is visible for the guild to see.

    Some times I adore the preciseness that can come from using these tools. Other days I wish I could return to a time when hanging around, not making a fuzz and occasionally move out of the fire would target you as a solid player.

    T.L. Taylor (a brilliant game studies researcher) proposed that Bossmods are like a 26th raidmember (or 41st in her case writing about MC). It gives warnings, it delegates, it keeps time. It does quite alot of things that we would otherwise have to arrange for raidmembers to keep track of.

    I guess your tank addon can be seen in the same vein; a non-human raidmember that talks for you.

  3. Sometimes you don’t need a macro or add-on to let everyone know you screwed up. I was in an Ony25 PuG a couple of weeks ago — during Phase 1, everything started off fine until Ony turned, mid-Flame Breath, and wiped one side of the room before turning back to the tank. One of the OT’s used Mocking Blow on Ony — it was right there in the combat log. Knowing this guy I’m sure it was an accident (he raids while drinking, but isn’t generally mean-spirited), but denial was futile. If he had simply owned up to it all would have been fine, and it probably would have been worth a laugh. Instead, he argued, let fly with a series of F-bombs and left the raid.

  4. Oh, combat logs have a huge amount of information in them. But it’s not really convenient to check them during a fight. I find with the macros, if you want someone to know as soon as you used a cooldown, it’s an easier way to make that automatic.

    And Kristine, I agree. It’s like having a pet robot that just shouts out your moves, as if you were in an anime. Actually it would be funny to shout the moves in that style …

    *** IMPERVIOUS SHIELD PRINCESS USED SHIELD WALL ***

  5. I think the bigger problem is that too many raid instances don’t allow for error like that, so you have to exhaustively pre-plan and stuff. First I heard of an add-on that annouces your moves though. In FFXI it was a line of party chat before each move.

    I wish that they could get away a little from the whole “fail an instance, wait a week or so to try again” model. It forces people to be professional to the point where you do shout at the healers and feel bad when you accidentally activate a move at the wrong time. Raids really need to be about fun more.

  6. My tanks in EQ2 both have macros that a) inform the group that a taunt has been thrown in groupchat, and b) do an audible emote so if the group’s playing with sound on they can hear that I did it.

    Kinda funny having a high elf female shadowknight shouting “You are SO dead!” at the mobs. Granted, it does get a little old after a while, but by the same token — they know I’m doing everything I can to hold aggro too.

    • I used to raid in a group with a tank who had a macro that played when he pulled a group which would randomly shout one of a selection of bad pickup lines.

      eg. “Hey! Orc Leader, grab your coat, you’ve pulled!”

  7. I think its more important when its fail notices.

    I’m not talking about player based incompetence finger pointing (I dislike that, most of us are human and make mistakes) I dislike mods like ‘Failbot’ I mean for example most tanks in WoW arent hit capped meaning that they can miss on occasion. If a critical ability misses early knowing that can be important.

    Ie ‘Taunt failed:- I do not have aggro’ means the DPS needs to hold off a bit longer on the nukeage. this sorta thing saves raids.

    I too like to have fun in raids but failing just ‘cos people didnt have a critical peice of info isnt much fun either (in this case Tanks cant really be hit capped as their itemisation focuses on Survivability)

  8. This problem exists with any mods that rely on button clicks. For instance, In DBM, if you set up custom timers linked to your abilities, clicking that ability again will restart the timer, regardless of whether the ability has cooled down or not.

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