This week, and for awhile now it seems, everyone has been getting all fired up about players using combat parsers. A lot of people are worried that Rift is going to turn into World of Warcraft 2.0. As in any debate, players are on both sides of the fence. The main defense I have seen for the use of parsers is that raid leaders need to be able to single out the player who is auto-attacking or not measuring up to the rest of the group.
I don’t know if it’s really necessary to have a parser to be able to determine if a player is not engaged though. For example, I used to raid as a destruction warlock on Horde and on a warrior with a small guild on Alliance during the Burning Crusade expansion. In my Alliance guild, I noticed a warlock who was using one spell over and over again with absolutely no other skills in the rotation. I noticed this because I had a warlock and knew what to do with one, but also because I actually paid attention.
The point is that most anyone can spot someone who is not pulling their weight in a group. There are also skill animations and effects that can show you that someone is doing more than auto-attacking or if they’re using the same skill repeatedly.
Another point is this: what if a person’s poor performance is for a lack of understanding, not necessarily apathy or laziness? While one may have good intentions for using a meter another will use it to call the person a bad player.
The main problem the community has with parsers used to scrutinize a group’s performance is that regular people are going to get compared with over-achievers – as they did in World of Warcraft. Some people are perfectionists and will spend more time than the average person working on higher DPS or they may know a way to exploit their way into big numbers. But what about regular old Joe Shmoe gamer who does good damage, but isn’t doing as well as the best of the best? What happens is that Joe Shmoe is now expected to do as good as the best of the best and if he doesn’t, he’s called bad DPS, and excluded from raids.
I can empathize with this fear because I remember joining a Vault of Archavon pick up group back in World of Warcraft; I did 6,000 DPS while others were hitting much higher numbers. 6,000 DPS was still considered decent, yet when I won a roll on a piece of gear that was a huge upgrade for me, I was yelled at by a higher achieving player who proclaimed me bad DPS that didn’t deserve it.
That is what happens when everyone owns a meter. The highest standard is considered the norm and all of the average to above average players are left in the dust by the ones who figure if one person can do it, than everyone can. This may not be the case now in Rift, but most people have seen how the meters can be used negatively and they don’t want it to change the game they love.
On a different note, it always seemed to me that watching your numbers was more relative to PVP. In a competitive environment, being better than the opponent in order to kill them obliges you keeping track of your damage and kills. This gives the player an idea of where they stand, but even then, it’s not a concrete system to go by. Any number of problems could make your numbers reflect poorly in PVP, but at least it seems to make more sense to gauge it there. In a PVE situation, players should be working together as a group and not worrying about aggressive competition.
In short, I can understand why everyone is so upset. I have always been on the side of the fence that is against measuring people based on numbers. Numbers can’t tell a raid leader everything about the player. Just like my numbers, when I worked at Gamestop, didn’t tell my manager that I was awesome with the customers – just that I didn’t sell enough subscriptions.
I have no problem with individuals using a parser to monitor their own progress or to find out an approximation of what build does the most DPS, but please don’t expect everyone else to follow suit. There was a time when the vast majority of gamers didn’t focus on how much damage they were doing. The only reason most started to monitor their DPS was to measure up to what others expected of them. If a player is doing their job in a group, than that is all that should matter. Let’s get back to the basics: get through the dungeon, beat the boss, experience joy, and get loot.
How do you feel about parsers? Do you use one or are you against them?