The Daily Grind: Are DPS meters in MMORPGs toxic by nature?

    
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I’ve been thinking about this a bit. On Monday, MOP’s Eliot penned a lengthy piece about addons in Final Fantasy XIV that seemed to be perfectly timed for the detailed discussion on addons, including DPS parsers, held during yesterday’s live letter from the Square-Enix team. Depending on which translation you’re reading, the gist from the Naoki Yoshida and crew is that they have no plans to ever add parsers, and while generally they aren’t actively hunting for people to ban over them, they still have a standing request to the community not to use third-party versions. One translation straight-up has the team calling parsers “toxic.”

I suspect most people who’ve played slightly more serious group-centric MMOs understand why Yoshida would think this; we’ve all met that group who harassed somebody over deeps. But then again, I also saw plenty of player toxicity about combat when nobody had even dreamed up the idea of parsers yet. And sometimes being able to monitor your own performance and rotations is tremendously helpful when testing a new character or build.

What do you think – do you agree with the devs? Are DPS meters in MMORPGs toxic by their very nature? Should studios be discouraging them in their online games?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Ysayle was right

Yes, in that they inevitably lead to some amount of toxicity and little can be done to even mitigate this fact, let alone prevent it.

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SirPufnstuf

Like most of the people here, I agree that it’s a mixed bag. The practical benefits are obvious, but of course it leads to some people being outright jerks. I’ve seen this many times in ESO: a player will do a quick dps check at some point in a dungeon, for example, and just quit because they don’t like what they see. And it’s ridiculous when they do it even when the group isn’t having any particular problems getting through the dungeon, because especially with the normal dungeons not everyone has to be doing a lot of damage to finish them, and fairly quickly.

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mysecretid

I wouldn’t say that dps parsers are toxic; as others have said below, they’re just tools, but certain players do use the data they gather in elitist and toxic ways.

What makes me dislike dps parsers is that those who love them tend to tout them as some sort of objective measure of who’s contributing the most to an online group’s success during battles.

But they don’t actually measure that.

Case in point — in Star Trek Online, my main character is a Science captain commanding a Science-dedicated starship.

What this means is, my ship is configured as a “buff, debuff, confuse and control” ship in combats. I use the various science-y abilities of my captain and his ship to do things like hold enemy vessels in place; disrupt their targeting; weaken their shielding, and so on …

The dps parser always has me waaaay down at the bottom of the list after most battles, but that’s because I’m not so much firing weapons at the enemy, as I am busy setting up the enemy to be vulnerable to those in the group who do deal largely in damage-per-second.

So, the problem with dps parsers is that they’re misleading — they don’t give the full picture of who contributes what in a group-combat situation, even though certain gamers like to think that they do.

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Nordavind

Hide all numbers that can be hidden. This rifle is poor. This rifle is great, use it over the poor one. This rifle is also great, it’s about the same as the other you great you have.

regards,
I love numbers and maths, but in games it leads to elitist pricks, must optimise-syndrome, best build-sickness and all that other crap.

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mysecretid

So good to see you posting, Nordavind! You’ve been missed.

whowutwhen
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whowutwhen

Lol no. Performance metrics are not toxic by nature, how those metrics are used can be.

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Roger Melly

Yes I think they are . Personally I would ban them after seeing all the problems they have caused in guilds and raiding teams .

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Shadex De'Marr

Yoshi P shows his disdain for the use of DPS meters…
proceeds to make every raid fight a DPS race.

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Tee Parsley

When a folks start talking about this sort of DPS thing seriously, I view it as sign the team is not for me.

Especially since I really don’t care for lock-step, simon-sez raid design.

Bereman
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Bereman

I think everyone pretty much covered the “It’s not the tool, it’s the hand wielding it” quite thoroughly at this point…

So a related tangent – the WoW devs, a number of years ago (nearly 10 at this point, actually) talked about why they hadn’t put an official parser/dps meter into their own game, and as part of that response acknowledged that misuse by the community would be a definite concern…though given how friendly they are to third-party parsers, it’s more about that they would need to get it right so it wouldn’t be misused.

It’s a fascinating look at the issue from a parser friendly development team, which I’ll quote here (found it in an engadget article from 2011, but the Blizzard website source no longer exists since it was on a previous version of the forums). Warning: Word Explosion when you click the box.

Spoiler

Will we ever see an in-game damage and healing meter to replace Recount? – Sinthìa (NA/ANZ), Hemodynamic (EU-EN)

We’d dearly love to do this, and it’s been something we’ve been working on, off and on for some time. The problem is that increasingly players place a really high and occasionally unhealthy emphasis on meters, and once there is an official Blizzard-supported meter, then that situation is only going to get worse. Anything that isn’t portrayed in our meters with a great degree of accuracy is going to be misinterpreted and cause forum drama. For example, it’s easy for DPS to inflate their meters on some fights by attacking targets that don’t matter. How do we handle those situations — trust players to know the difference? That’s tricky, especially when the community has a penchant for distilling lots of fights down into a single measurement of DPS. As another example, the Restoration druid Tranquility is intended to fill a role similar to Power Word: Barrier or Spirit Link Totem. Yet the druid cooldown is an actual heal, which greatly inflates their meters to the extent that we see a lot of players complaining about how Resto druids are overpowered. Do we not show Tranquility on healing meters?
On the other hand, one benefit of having easy-to-use Blizzard meters would be getting players to focus on their own personal DPS instead of what the best players in the world are capable of. It makes developers cry when we see a good Fury warrior go Arms and do lackluster DPS just because they read that Arms DPS is higher. (Now, if that player just likes Arms or wants to try something different, more power to them.)
Also consider that damage and healing meters are valued by a pretty small set of the playing population as a whole. New UI features like the quest and equipment systems we added not so long ago, and even the upcoming Dungeon Journal, would be more widely used overall.
So the short answer is that it would be a very useful tool and we suspect we’ll do it eventually, but we have an enormous responsibility to get it right, and even then it could do bad things to the community as a whole.

And even though they are clearly open to it, they still worry about how it could potentially affect the community in a negative way, which is remarkably similar to the concern that Yoshida and crew have regarding them existing in FFXIV, for example. Two very different approaches to third-party mods, while having very similar concerns about an in-house version.

Also interesting is that despite saying they would probably eventually do it…an officially in the game damage parser, outside of the “total damage” one at the end of PvP battlegrounds and such, still does not exist. They may have commented on it again, but I haven’t found anything yet.

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Jiminy Smegit

DPS meters used intelligently to analyze raid data is fine, most raids often require optimization to beat the boss. The issue is more when people use dps meters to analyze a class as a whole, declaring that class a waste of space, ignoring the other buffs or special abilities they bring to a group. I see much more of the latter than I do of the former.

So technically a DPS meter is not toxic but it gives a hook for intensely stupid people to lecture you about why your talent choice/rotation is completely wrong. Conform, be part of the herd, be optimal. That is toxic.