Posts Tagged ‘LFD’

Sundering Along: The Next Generation

03/09/2010

After 5 years of playing Horde side, I made a gnome warrior.

My friends and I turned to the dark side are checking out how the the other half lives.  Personally, I’m curious to discover why Varian Wyrn isn’t a raidboss we get to kill for loot and put his head on a stick.  (Slaughtering him for a bear isn’t enough.  I want a trinket called “Varian’s Ego” with a tooltip:  “Suffocates the room with self-righteous fury.  Chance to make party members kill you out of sheer annoyance.”  It could be a two-boss raid.  I nominate Garrosh.)

Despite my newfound love of reading quest text – its new! – I hopped back into LFD, because I needed a tanking high.  I’m leveling with a sword, a board, and in prot spec.  Some things, I suppose, never change.

Bad call.

I encountered what is hands-down the worst healer I’ve ever seen in 5 years of playing WoW.

Perhaps you think I kid?

I do not.

I zone in, and do the usual healer check to guess the pace I should pull the instance.  He’s in gear with no bonus int or spellpower.  Cool.  Probably a good idea to take it safe, since I’m new to Alliance-side myself and untwinked.  With no other casters, running SFK is a great opportunity to gear up a healer.

Uhoh, Righteous Fury is up.  Not a big deal – I usually produce enough threat that it doesn’t really matter – just something to mention to save future tanks some headache.  The silent refusal to take off Righteous Fury is a little strange… but no harm, no foul.

Time to pull.

Bam, the Worgen is taunted off me.  Hand of Reckoning, how I despise you.  “Mind not taunting them off me? Reckoning does damage, but is a taunt.”  Ugh.  No response, more taunting.  Even still, I guess, I can taunt it back.  So, irksome, but livable.  No need to prod more, it’d just drive everyone crazy.

This brings me to the bad part.

The rogue (as rogues often do) was bouncing forward and had pulled something new.  Charge, thunderstomp, they’re mine… but oh crud I’m almost dead.  Yay lifebloom + potion + cooldowns.

We live.  I exhale, and eat some food.

Next pull, the rogue lets me get first.  The rogue being mostly dead, I figure this is a subtle healer trick to keep the dps tame.

I was wrong.

The healer didn’t heal me.  To the point that the rest of the group kept asking him to heal.  Reminding him to heal.  Begging him to heal.  To add insult to ignoring my injuries:  he even judged wisdom.  Sure, I had a full stock of bandages, a nice stack of healing potions, and a lifebloom cooldown.  I’m also an obsessive cook, which was great once everything was dead…

But that doesn’t mean I’m a healer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when healers contribute some damage.  Speeds things along, keeps the game interesting, I get it.  But… we still need a healer.  Please.  Like, when I have 100 hp, and the curse does around 200 damage a tick.  Now is a great time to heal.  Not to taunt another pull.

Oh yes he did.

Thank goodness for whoever bandaged me while the ghost-wolves descended upon us and I desperately ate the last of my food.

Alas, the healer never said a thing.  (How do you ignore someone that never speaks?  I never ignore people, so this is new territory for me.)

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Sundering Along: Alas, Azeroth, I hardly Knew Thee

03/08/2010

So long Azeroth, and thanks for all the fish.

After 112 runs (and 14 deaths… one of which was intentional, oh BRD key), I’m level 60.

I will now ominously hover over Hellfire in victory.  (Adorable undead laugh here.)

If there is anything I can say about leveling via instancing, it is that the levels go by absurdly fast.

The early 40s were a blur.  Each Mara Purple was a 10-15 minute exercise in learning how to avoid being gouged.  (As a warrior, use Shield Block at the start of the satyr pulls.  Try to get a revenge off on a satyr, if they’re both up when SB wears off.  Alternating that and Concussion Blow gives the best chance to avoid a dps-killing gouge.)

The late 40s were over in the blink of an eye.  I barely had the time to finish the quest to summon Hakkar in ST.  (Highly recommended – the fight is a fun addition.  There aren’t many event-fights in WoW anymore, and this is a cool bit of variety.)  Alas, I saw none of the cool drops from the 40s.  No Sang’thraze.  No Jang’thraze.  And so no nifty sword of swirling skull-doom.  No dragon sword.  No strange dagger of limited use.

The 50s, I’ve loved.  I immediately took my engineering to 375, for the helm and trinket.  (Nothing else comes close for tanking.)  Added bonus:  I’m now miniature.

Blackrock Depths is a wonderful instance.  It has enough variety (and enough options for bosses) that I never quite got bored with it.  My second group (at level 51) was able to clear not only Prison, but continue on to clear the entire instance.  Most fun I’ve had in the spire for ages.

And the quests.  Oh the quests.  I’d forgotten how many fun quest chains there are for BRD.  There is nothing quite like rescuing the princess, only to be told that by doing so, you’ve ensured that the dwarves will be reunited under a (probably) evil and crazed ruler.  Or at least the mom is likely nutters.  (Sidenote:  possible Cata fight?)

If you’re planning on doing the the BRD quest chains, grab them once its possible that BRD-Prison can be the random – they each involve multiple trips, and often killing NPCs that are off the beaten path.

My next goal – Scholomance has two quests I adore:  The Lich, Ras Frostwhisper and Dawn’s Gambit.  I highly recommend both chains, even if they send you across the globe.  But have impressive visuals, and the response of players who didn’t even know what you were doing is possible – nothing short of golden.   Oh, and I’d love a classic Onyxia key.  (Warlord’s Command is done, contemplating getting Seal of Ascension to tempt groups into UBRS…)

Apparently, LFD has other plans, and I’m to do Ramparts immediately upon hitting 61 (where I now am, after turning in quests).  Ok, I can live with that.

I have to confess, though… I’m sad to leave the Old World behind.

There are so many instances I never got the chance to explore (DM, Scholo, Strat, UBRS…).  There are too many instance-based quest chains I’m leaving undone (Tier 0.5, how awesome you would be… or even Tier 0).  It is a real shame that almost all of the level 60 content is completely ignored, whether leveling via dungeons or via questing.

Maybe next time, I suppose.

Next up (for real):  time to hit 62, for a better Engineering helm, and a completely ridiculous shield from Sporeggar – Honored (I have an old stockpile of rep items for them, apparently).

WoW Mythbusters: Gearing for Heroics

03/03/2010

Come patch 3.3.3, it will be possible to vote kick players immediately – from the start of the instance.

So, you zone in, and see that the mage has a gearscore of 2k… do you boot the player?  Does their bad gear mean a longer run?   Does kicking actually benefit you? It you think vote kicking the undergeared dps means a shorter run, two things must be true.  First, it must be the case that higher gearscores are generally associated with higher damage output.  Second, it must be true that more geared groups will clear heroics more quickly.

The results:  the effect is tiny

  • TL;DR: Better-geared dps certainly do more damage, but the effect on the speed of the run is fairly small. A 1000-pt increase in gearscore results in a 50-second shorter instance.

Part 1:  Gear and DPS.

As before, I’m using data on approximately 100 runs through LFD, where I collected information on the performance of players.  For this section, I’ve excluded my own characters from the analysis.

In order to make the numbers comparable, I’ve re-computed DPS to be

DPS = total damage done / time in combat of the highest dps in the run

This penalizes players who are afk or late to enter fights, which happens surprisingly often in these runs.  (These players are doing less damage, slowing down the run – and if that is more likely for players with a given gearscore, its important to penalize appropriately).

Below, I’ve plotted the relationship between the adjusted DPS of players and their gearscore.  The points are coded by the class of the player.

Surprise to nobody:  better gear means more damage done.  Regardless of class or instance run, an additional point of gearscore is associated with a 1 dps increase, for the average player.

But does the link still hold between gear and the time to finish an instance?

Part 2:  Gear and time to finish

At a basic level, if more geared DPS means a faster run, then the higher the total gearscore of the DPS, the shorter the run should be (on average).

Below, as a first cut at the data, I’ve plotted the relationship between the time to finish the run (in seconds) and the total gearscore of the DPS.*

The relationship might be there, but it isn’t strong.  However – instances vary in how long they take to complete (in particular, because of the intro scene, Culling of Stratholme takes much longer than the other instances).  So I need to control for those effects.  In addition, because the gear of the tank has an effect, I’ll need to account for that too.

Below is a partial regression plot of the time to complete a run on the total gearscore of the group.  (A partial regression plot is like a scatterplot, but the plot is controlling for the effects of the instance run and the gear of the tank.)
Accounting for the instance being run and the gear of the tank, higher gearscores are associated with shorter heroics.  Raising the total gearscore of the dps by 1000 shortens the instance by around 50 seconds (I’ll try to find a way to add the results of the regression to wordpress… in what follows I’m interpreting those results).

In other words, replacing the 2k gearscore mage with a 4.5k gearscore mage (the average for DPS in the sample) would shorten the instance by just over 2 minutes.

But what about the tank?  The tank’s effect on the speed of the group is roughly sixfold the effect of the dps.  On average, a 1000-pt increase in the gear of the tank results in a 5-minute reduction in the time of the instance.

(I should note:  the gear of the healer has virtually no effect on the speed of the instance.)

Part 3:  So what does this mean?

I want to be clear – I’m not endorsing kicking anyone from heroics based on gear.  The difference between “omg, this guy is in all greens and heirlooms” and a 264-decked ICC’r… is about 3 minutes off the run.

Three.  Little.  Minutes.

So what you need to ask yourself – is `saving’ at most 3 minutes really worth being a jerk, and raining on someone else’s day?

Consider this my little plea to relax while playing the game, and just enjoy the run.

[Confirmed – But don’t be a jerk]

Related note:  stop dropping Oculus.  Its 2 minutes shorter than even AN.

*For the attentive, yes, I was in a 50-minute PoS run.  I died both digitally and inside.

WoW Mythbusters: LFD Gear Matching

02/25/2010

A second rumor I’ve heard about the LFD system is that it does match-making based on the gear of players.  Under-geared players will tend to be matched with well-geared players, and vice-versa.  The dungeon finder will therefore create groups that should be able to clear, even for fresh 80s.

TL;DR:  This appears to be true – LFD involves a matchmaking system that places less-geared players into well-geared groups.

Second Approach: Group Gear Levels

Suppose, for a moment, that the set of players I’ve grouped with is representative of the population of WoW players. (Yet, somehow, nobody got booted from these runs / acted like a jerk / was a complete and total idiot… so given whats been blogged about, this might be a heroic assumption.)

If the que was going to randomly assign groups, it’d pick 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 dps out of the assortment of players I’ve been matched with.    On this random assignment theory, LFD would produce groups that were both under and overgeared – which I’m going to approximate by looking at average gear scores for each group.

LFD, if it is matching groups based on gear, should distort this distribution. I’m guessing that Blizzard is mostly concerned with avoiding “wipefest” groups – and so ensures that freshly-leveled 80s aren’t placed together into heroics.  I’d expect this would yield under-dispersion: fewer groups with worse gear.  (This would also alter the distribution of average and higher-geared groups, but the effects are more ambiguous).

I’ve simulated the distribution of average gearscores given the players I’ve observed over ~100 runs, and compared it to the actual data.  The plot on the right graphs the average gearscore each group I’ve encountered in LFD, by type of instance.  The plot on the left shows the estimated average gearscore of each group, had groups been randomly generated.

The LFD system is preventing under-geared groups from forming:  my model random group generator produces some groups with abysmal gearscores.   Some groups would have an average gearscore of under 3k.   I never observed any groups with this level of gear, even on my worst-geared characters.  (Note:  its still entirely possible to clear heroics with this gear – just not at the pace generally expected nowadays.)

By preventing under-geared groups from forming, LFD produces fewer all-star groups than would be expected.  The average average group score (ha – confusing or what?) is slightly lower for LFD than expected.  To see this – look at the peaks of each distribution.  For the random groups – on the left – there are many more groups around the 5k average.  The LFD peak is slightly lower – around 4.8k.  LFD is also producing more groups with 4-4.5k averages than the random generator model.  Why?  Because its raising up the otherwise-undergeared groups to this level.

These effects occur regardless of heroic ‘type’.  (Some players que specifically into ICC-5 and ToC-5, for upgrades via drops, so these instances should have distorted distributions – but the effect occurs, regardless of heroic type.)

What does this mean?  Its unlikely that LFD is producing groups randomly.  Instead, its newbie-friendly, ensuring that the worst geared players are matched with players with better gear.

[Plausible]


PS:  Admittedly, this would be easier to do with data on the overall distribution of gearscores, the distribution of tanks, etc.  But please stop me before I write a webcrawler.