The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

November 8, 2010

That Which is Measured, Improves.

Filed under: LOTRO — Cranky Sysadmin @ 3:03 pm

I believe the original meaning of this phrase is that most people work to the metric, not the outcome. I plan to use it in the more motivational way. If you measure yourself, you can improve yourself. The game I currently play, Lord of the Rings Online, allows some basic measurements, but it lacks some of the sophistication in self measurement that other games have.

What I need is a damage/healing meter. The lotro forums are full of posts deriding DPS meters as an “epeen tool”. My feeling is that you can’t judge a tool’s usefulness based on some ill behaved people. What does a damage/healing meter do for me? It allows me to judge the effectiveness of gear without using (probably inaccurate) math based on paper stats. It also allows me to judge the effectiveness of my skill rotations.

The forums are also full of conflicting information about the most efficient use of some skills. Phrases like “I feel my healing is smoother when I do XXX”, or “This skill seems to cause more damage” are common. This doesn’t count as measurement in my opinion. One can get a rough idea of effectiveness based on paper stats, but your accuracy using this method will go down when you consider bugs (shocking that software has bugs), undocumented behavior, and network latency (a big player in some DPS and healing questions). In my opinion, meters give you the most direct information about your efficiency. They also give the raid leader important information about folks who may need instruction on the best way to heal/dps.

Will meters be used to exclude people from raids? Will dumb-asses post a meter of every fight they’re in? Sure. I don’t expect it to change the character of the game though. You will be able to measure yourself and improve yourself. I think that outweighs some showboating or ass-hat raid leaders being ass-hat raid leaders.

With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the combat log. In its current implementation, it gives information on damage and healing. It doesn’t tell you which spell is doing the damage/healing. It also is only timestamped at the top of the file. This means it’s hard to determine how effective a particular spell is, and it’s hard to determine how you are performing in a particular boss fight unless you start and stop the log for each fight.

If I want an after the raid reporting tool, what do I need to do? Well, we can’t solve the spell to damage correlation issue, but we can add a timestamp to our combat log. Fortunately (or unfortunately for performance), the logger seems to close the combat log on each write. This means that we can use an external program to add a timestamp. If we do this every second, we can build a somewhat accurate damage/healing analysis tool.

Since I don’t usually group much, I don’t have insight into how the combat looks like in fellowship. I assume damage is split up by member, but I really don’t know for sure. I’ll have to do some testing. This could turn into an interesting project.

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