This is a stick

stick_0

It’s a good stick.  It can be used for many things.  It can be broken up and used to make a fire, it can hold up a tent, you can sharpen it to use for hunting wild boar, use it to make defenses against Alliance Marauders, add a string and get another stick for a bow and arrow.  It has many uses.  It all depends on the person looking at it and how they view how it should be used.

This came up the other day
logs

I use to look at logs, when I was active on Shadowpriest.com I would look over logs of people looking on ways to improve their performance.  It was a fairly straight forward task.  Check choices in Talent trees for a point spent on something non-optimal, look over DoT up-times on targets, were they over 98% were they letting things fall off, not casting Mind Blast enough.  It was a simpler time.

It was also a time of what’s your gear score, your gear is too low, no pug group for you.  It did not matter if you were an exceptional player and had 1 really bad piece of gear holding your score down, people used the gear score add on program to make judgements about you as a player based on what something said.

I do feel that Warcraft Logs, World of Logs, Simcraft, all the work that the Theory Crafter’s put in to working out stat weights for priorities, all the research that raid leaders do to discover what may be a hang up with their raid group, all the work that players do to squeak that last 1% out make these sticks for measurement very valuable to players and even to Blizzard.  They can see what people are doing that may be different than how they designed encounters.  But there is also a down side to it.

When people use the stick to measure other players worth, to single them out with data.

“See!!  You are the reason we cannot progress!!”  All your fault. 

But why is it my fault?  What does it all mean?

I’m not exactly sure, but see?  Look at the numbers!! You are lower than others in similar iLvL gear!!  All your fault!!

So what do the numbers say I should be doing better?

I dunno, Numbers!!!!!!

Ok that’s a bit extreme and comical.  But there is a ring of truth to it.  Not everyone understands how to read logs.  The fact that there are multiple ways to play your class at max level based on talent choices adds even more complexity to the mix.  Back when you had the “Cookie cutter builds, this is your raiding spec, it was simple.  You had values that were consistent based on a set way a class was played.  Even when we could reforge our gear to get a better stat for us over something with a lower value. Now it is more complex, what may be optimal for a specific fight may not work as well for someone who’s gear is better suited for a different form of play.  Or perhaps the fight requires them to play with different talent choices and it is just not comfortable to them to play a certain way.  The end result being that some people use logs or Sims to determine whether or not a person can play with others.

So what are they doing exactly?  They are adjusting how the logs interpret the data recorded so that you will get a better result by doing what you are supposed to.  They are awarding a higher value to adds in the fights, i.e. A boss is worth 1, the adds are worth 1.2.  It’s not a huge increase, but it allows people to see who is tunneling the boss when they should be DPSing down adds.  Making adjustments so that people cannot pad the meters to rank.  Sure there will always be those that will ignore areas they need to move out of to get those top numbers.  But at least the system will be a bit more favorable to those that do try to do the fights properly.

Is it a perfect stick?  Sadly no. Like anything in real life, someone will always try to find a use for something to make others feel like less of a person.  Be it to show off how great they are because they have an awesome stick of awesomeness, or to deflect some blame onto others.  There are times I think back to the days when I raided and looked at the logs and saw finally those magic 98% up-time results, the decent DPS, the high healing numbers some times beating out the healers.  Those were the glory days of playing for me.  When I felt that I had something to bring to the raid.  Now?  I honestly don’t know.  I cannot farm the optimal gear to play multiple ways, if I could even do so.  I work out in my head the best way that feels the most fluid to me.  I am sure if I did raid, that anyone reviewing the logs would look at my performance and say sorry.  You just don’t have what it takes.

Perhaps it is too much homogenization of the classes, you don’t really “Need” to bring specific classes, and some groups will tend to take the best classes and players to down bosses.  Leaving the rest to Pug Normal or Heroic or run LFR.  I think having them is a valuable tool for finding where improvements need to be made, but at the same time I realize that as the years pass, more and more of those that truly understand all of the numbers and the math behind it, go on to other things.  And we may reach a point where we look at the stick, kick it around a few times, try to figure out what to do with it, and wonder.

If I could ever give one piece of advice to anyone making a decision about sitting someone because the numbers say they are not an asset.  Look at that person as a person.  Not just some pixels you play with to kill Internet Dragons.  There is a person with feelings behind that screen.  Maybe they are dealing with a lot in real life but don’t want to share, maybe they have other problems.  Don’t just arbitrarily say sorry your benched.  Try to figure out what they might be doing wrong.  We all have to relearn our classes every expansion, heck, sometimes even during an expansion. Offer to help research the why something is off, offer to test some things on the training dummies.  We need to be willing to teach, even those that are veterans to the game, if we want this game to survive.

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