3 reasons why we need damage meters

Gordon from We Love Spitfires has been writing some cracking guest posts recently, such as this rant about the lure of the damage meter at The Noisy Rogue.

A damage meter is an addon which informs on how much damage everyone in your group or raid has been doing. They have other settings also – you can usually track healing, dispelling, and a variety of other interesting statistics. A very full-featured damage meter like Recount can also tell you which skills each person used most often and illustrate it with funky pie charts.

And like gearscore, the damage meter addons have become so popular that it isn’t unusual for people to boot others from instance runs purely on the basis of the damage meter output without taking into account other factors. For example, just because an overgeared tank can put out 4k dps, it’s not fair to expect a newly 80 dps class to put out the same amount. And as another example, the dps meter doesn’t take into account any time spent buffing, crowd controlling, or doing anything valuable which doesn’t contribute dps.

So why do we need damage meters?

1. It makes the game more fun for DPS players

Playing dps in an MMO isn’t a role which offers a lot of feedback. When a tank or healer fails, they will know immediately. But as dps, you are one of many people all hitting the same enemy. You can even just stand at the back, switch on auto attack and read email, and no one will notice. I know for example on my warlock, once mobs are gathered for an AE and I’m channelling rain of fire, I have 6s to quickly switch windows and check twitter. I mean, hypothetically of course :P

The damage meters give players the feedback which they cannot get via the game interface. And lots of it. Suddenly dps players have a constant source of challenge in the game. They can try to beat the other dps players, or even just try to beat their own previous high damage score on a fight.

Instead of being bored (or as well as being bored in some cases) the damage meters give 19th run of the same instance some more meaning. It’s a constant challenge to try harder, to position better, to stay alive longer and to show the results in terms of more damage.

2. Raid leaders can figure out who needs to improve

Imagine you are leading a 25 man raid. Your raid wipes because they hit a hard enrage timer and you are pretty sure that the problem is just that your raid is not putting out enough dps.

This is quite a common issue. But there are 15 dps players and you don’t know which one/s are the issue. If you did, you could dig deeper – is it a spec issue, a rotation, poor gear, bad reactions? The person can work on their play. And it might be something very simple for them to change.

Better analytics via a damage meter (and a log parser) can provide a lot of helpful information. Morale improves when players know exactly what the issue is that each one might need to work on, it’s much more productive than yelling at 15 people, “just …. do better!!!”.

3. Players can learn from each other

Sometimes you will be in a group with another player who has the same class. But the damage meter says that they’re doing much more damage than you are. Why might that be? Trying to answer that question might involve inspecting the other guy’s gear and spec. It might involve checking via damage meter which abilities he is using most often. It might even involve just asking him for advice.

But without the damage meter to show that the other guy is getting better damage outcomes, a player won’t even know to look for pointers. Sometimes, knowing someone is a better player means that we can try to learn by copying what they do.

I also know that when I first started raid healing on my priest, many moons ago, I learned a lot from comparing the healing and overhealing on my meters to everyone else (overhealing was a factor back then). And even better, I could tell when I was improving.

Issues with Damage Meters

So damage meters definitely make the game more fun for a lot of people. The three factors above represent very real problems which damage meters help to solve.

But the underlying issue is that people don’t use their damage meters wisely, they aren’t good at interpreting the results or taking account of other factors, and Wrath design is heavily skewed towards raw damage being the most effective strategy in many fights. And also, the competitive side of damage meters brings out all the morons.

MMOs for me were more fun when they weren’t just about the damage. I think the damage meters make for a ruder population. I prefer the atmosphere in games which don’t offer them.

But they do serve some very important functions, I’ve used them to become a better player in WoW, and you can too.

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17 thoughts on “3 reasons why we need damage meters

  1. Damage meters lead to funny things like letting players totally new to the dungeon/raid do vital things like the clicking at Magtheridon. So that the experienced players with better gear could fight in the DPS race with the other DPS players.

    Addons – boon or bust? Guys who like to mod a game like others like to tune their car love the LUA language and modding in WoW and think every game should have it.

    I think they allowed Blizzard to slack for years when it came to developing the UI, and they allowed too many mods that simply should never have existed. Battle ground joining mods, Boss Mods, Mods that uncover the whole map, -> quest mods, mob maps, etc. etc.

    I am constantly arguing against people who are not content with the ability to move and resize UI elements in Guild Wars and Champions Online. Sometimes they tell me they only want to “skin” the looks of the UI, but I think this already is opening Pandora’s box.

  2. Thanks for the kind words!

    I’ve got mixed feelings about damage meters. I agree that they can be very useful for players wanting to improve their performance and raid leaders measuring stats and even to make the game more fun for DPS classes yet, as you said, it also brings out the worst of us and in the hands of a moron can really ruin the fun.

    I liked the damage meters in EQ which could only run a log in the background and it was a lot harder to paste the output into the chat window. It meant that the results really were about analysing the data post-game and not just showing off or insulting people after every fight.

  3. They’re very much a two-edged sword.

    What I’m finding in Age of Conan (where they are not as commonly used) is that a lot of dps is just terrible. We wipe on level appropriate content and you’re left with the very strong impression that the fight simply took too long.

    I find the whole “wee, look at me, I’m better than you” aspect annoying as I’m usually tanking or healing.

    I think I’m doomed to be irritated either way now. If people don’t use them and are bad it’s annoying that the group underachieves but if people use them and gloat about being the best player ever it’s annoying too.

    WTB lost innocence with relation to meters.

  4. In the end, statistics and data are a loyal servant who can be pressed into “proving” almost any point you wish to make, as long as you’re selective about which data points you present. Saying “the new Ford Behemoth goes farther on a tank of gas than any of it’s competition” without saying that it’s got a bigger tank is no different from telling the shadow priest “your DPS sucks” without taking into account the time she spent bubbling the party and off-healing when everything went to hell.

    On a brighter note, it’s been quite some time now since I’ve noticed anyone Recounting in heroics.

  5. Like a lot of good things, there will always be somebody who turns that good thing to a bad or selfish use. Damage meters are no different.

    I like that feedback I get from a meter like Recount, it let’s me know a lot of things about a fight that I can improve upon, damage being one of those.

    Of course morons will be morons, but they exist everywhere in life, we will never escape them. I use damage meters to judge myself, and myself only…not others. I think as long as they are used for this purpose, to improve one’s game performance, they are a very good thing.

  6. If I never play another game with dps meters, it will be too soon. You can have them. They lead to nothing but elitism and an undue sense of entitlement. If that’s “fun” then I guess WoW is the right game for you, since nearly all we read about these days is all the forms of elitism that have taken over the game.

    Not that I mind the concept of addons, I don’t. In fact, I not only used several in my WoW days but I was co-author of a popular healing addon and took over development of an RP addon. I do have a problem with *relying* on addons though, because it means you’re not really *playing* the game, you’re playing the UI/addons.

    • I think the problem of any kind of metric based games/ scores is that people focus on whatever can be most easily measured (like dps). And because they’re gamers, they focus on it with the intensity of a zillion laser beams.

      I preferred raiding with larger numbers where the law of averages meant that the better players would make up for the worse ones and if raid dps wasn’t high enough, you just brought more people.

      I prefer PvE games which are more about utility and puzzle solving than hammering out pure dps also. But it doesn’t mean that the meters can’t be useful.

    • This sort of wholesale rejection of a tool doesn’t make sense to me. While Recount can be misused in ways that can be unpleasant, so can other tools. It would be foolish to get rid of hammers just because you got hit in the thumb once. If there is blame to be assigned, why not look at the hand holding the hammer? Recount serves a useful role in helping to evaluate the performance of the raid. When performance matters, some degree of ‘elitism’ is inevitable and probably desirable.

  7. I think you summed up the value of a damage meter on “damage, but missed other things. It doesn’t just provide simple damage done in a certain fight. Remember, it can also show how much actual damage is done on a add and that shows if the DPS actually switched to the adds. Or how much damage is done by a certain ability of the boss.
    it can also help the healers analyze the death of who ever in the raid. Seeing as how many seconds a tank did not get the heals or if someone stepped on something they shouldn’t be. maybe you’ll even see how much interrupts a person did or should not be.(In case of a interrupt rotation or a boss fight like LDW heroic.)
    It is very chaotic in 25 man raids, thus it is possible that a person would hide his failures. But with the damage meters providing the information, there is no way you can cover it up.
    Damage meters are a good thing to have, no mater your position. Do not forget it’s other functions and treat it as a simple meter for pure damage done.

  8. In EQ2, I don’t mind them as a curiosity when other people have them and occasionally post stats for us to look at in group chat. It’s the ones that either post after EVERY fight and yell at people for not “pulling their weight” or post after every fight that they topped the damage parse to show off that bug me.

    Outside of raiding, that’s completely unnecessary. So long as the mobs are dying and we aren’t, the numbers on the parse are immaterial to me. And to most people I find in PUGs as well.

  9. Nice post. When I’m DPSing or on Raid Heal duties I find these things to be very usefull for self motivation. I’m trying to do my best and watching my performance helps me to stay focused. I cant recall the last time I posted to raid/group except when someone else did first….and rather selectively (yes Mr PuGMage you have highest DPS, but if you look at Damage Done your bottom. Please Shutup and stop posting meters, kkthnksby.)

    They’re also usefull for spoting the person who’s just not trying. We’re not talking about someone tabing during AoE to read twitter…we’re talking about the t10 geared rogue who only DPSs on Bosses and is on /follow for all the trash, the Mage who’s leveling his staff skill or the tank thats not using any tanking abilities.

    Friendly rivalry between DPSers or RaidHealers is also a good motivator and can help push group/raid performance. I’ve certainly broken down my play style, re-assesed my priorities and rotation, re-glyphed, re-speced, re-gemmed all to try and get a bit closer to the damn Druid(s) on Raid Heal. Did I ‘win’…who cares…but the raid gets a focused motivated healer. Tanks and Main-Tank healers have different motivators (like not being dead)

    • If I’m checking the damage meters on my tank, it’s really just to make sure we have enough group/raid dps to clear the instance.

      They don’t add much interest to the tanking game, which is really why tanking is the best role to take if you aren’t terribly competitive. I don’t think people realise this. It’s also rather more forgiving than dps or healing once you have the hang of it.

      • Well I’ve been known to check out the meters while healing or the rare times I tank….to see who’s worth saving first :)

        I mean utility is a big part as well…the high DPS idiot who keeps pulling aggro and standing in the fire isnt going to get any breaks. But I’ll admit if I have choice between saving people as a healer it tends to go
        Me>Tank>OtherHealer>HighDPS>LowerDPS. As I said if High DPS is a dick they dont get saved…so now you know all you PuGers….

  10. Ya, the meters are double edged, for me as a tank the only use they serve is post wipe to analyze the cause, and I find the constant spam after every trash pull annoying to say the least.

    I do love the other data you can get from recount, healing/interrupts/ect. Makes it easier to target the issues a raid may be having.

    I’ve also saved a rogue from being booted from a raid with a quick post of interrupts. His dps was a tad low on the fight (Jaraxxus), but his interrupts saved me from taking a ton of damage. It also made it painfully obvious that the mage wasn’t even trying to spell-steal forcing me to either eat what the rogue missed or interrupt/reflect it myself.

    The mage is now on my ignore list due to his constant QQing about how his dps is lowered when he has to spell-steal, and the rogue is now a happy addition to the guild.

    I guess meters aren’t a bad thing after all :)

    • That Mage is an idiot. Stealing the buff on Jara is amazing. If I was the only Mage in the raid I could usually post 12-18k dps on that fight due to spellsteal.

      If he thinks it would hurt his dps, he is an idiot.

  11. I am a Frost Mage. I am usually depressed when people post DPS meters. Let us ignore the mobs I snared/ CCd that wanted to munch on our healer, or the buffs and Fish Feasts I bring, as well as my ability to live where others keel over, and instead lol at the “low” dmg done. I do love it when I out dps folks that really should be doing better and they post Recount.

  12. Pugging outland instances I had a shadow priest that was on the low end of the level range for the instance complaining that his DPS was low, mostly due to his spells being partially/fully resisted. But he was slowing runners and pulling anything that went for me (healing) off of me and so on. Couldn’t convince him that he was awesome though :(

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