Prologue: I wrote this post last week. After this was posted, I received confirmation from twitter courtesy of Asros that the log would be self only, and a preview of the log coming in 1.2 courtesy of Kadomi. I highly recommend checking out both those links & thank them for their help! My opinion remains unchanged though: a game with a crippled self-only combat log will not support the difficult, engaging encounters & the raiding community I love in WoW. My sub remains canceled. Thanks for reading & feel free to disagree below. Original text follows.
I have been pretty exuberant about my love of SW:TOR on twitter for the last few months. I certainly don’t regret buying the game, and I firmly believe that, looking back at my library of games played, it will remain one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. But like so many, my excitement quickly soured once I reached endgame. This is unfortunate, because I find myself with a rather large amount of free time now that Something Wicked is one night clearing. Spare time I rather hoped SW:TOR would fulfill.
Unfortunately, I find myself, like so many other peers of mine, cancelling my subscription. SW:TOR, we can’t see each other anymore, and it’s not me. It’s you.
Raiding without a combat log sucks.
There are so many things that have frustrated me about endgame in SW:TOR. I’m not going to list off them all because Patch 1.2 (the “Jesus Patch”) promises to fix almost all of them. But guess what patch 1.2 doesn’t have? A combat log. And that’s my #1 biggest complaint.
It’s so massively frustrating to spend a couple of hours with the nice Sage/Sorc simcraft tool to play with my mods & then log onto the game…. and realize that I can’t really see the effect of any of it. It sucks to forget some cooldowns, feel guilty, then realize that the only person who gets impacted is like, me, and my personal honor. It sucks to play with cooldowns and popping them at different times and to have no feedback at all about their relative impact. It sucks to realize that the people who built the (very impressive) Simcraft tool are still struggling to understand the impact of a stat like Alacrity on dot ticks and the GCD because we don’t have access to basic, basic performance information. It sucks to die to an ability and to realize you’ve no idea how hard it hit or what it was called.
I had no idea how much of my fun raiding was caught up in this stream of information that I completely took for granted… until I had to play without one. It sucks.
Yeah. I know. The combat log is coming…. supposedly.
We’ve heard this tale for a while now. I’m the one who’s always drooling over what the devs say, and I admit, the SW:TOR ones push all the right buttons. On December 21, we heard this from Georg Zoeller:
I have no problem with players min-maxing. I’m min-maxing myself. We do have pretty good… the tooltips are pretty good. The information on the items I think is pretty good. We’re right now lacking a bit is in the evaluating your performance or your group’s performance. Umm what I can tell you is there’s no conspiracy where we’re like we’re hiding this so people aren’t discriminating against other players. If you want to, you know, run a very competitive operations group and you wanna improve, having this data is certainly interesting. Umm and we’re not against it, it’s just right now not in.
High priority, eh? Well, it’s been three months and all we have is “Don’t worry guys, we plan to put a combat log in. Someday. Not in Patch 1.2.” I like their definition of high priority.
Oh, and speaking of patch 1.2 and the combat log that’s not in it, I’m also really confused about what kind of a log they plan to add. Self only? Everyone seems to think so based on what the devs said at the Guild Summit, but I have been unable to find a definitive quote. Here’s the best transcript I could find (cough… that Zothen could find) of the Operations & Flashpoints panel:
Q: Threat meters, dps meters – are they coming? what is bioware’s stance? A: we want reliance on in-game visual cues but that is not we say we won’t give you dps and threat meters. We will have them in but just not in 1.2. We you to have control over what other see about your character – we went for the middle ground – in 1.2 you will be able to use a simple input in the chat system to see what defeated you. we also have a very detailed combat log you can write to your disk – someone enterprising can use it for their guild to see their performance but it will be out of game (3rd party).
Alright. There are some good plans here. Out of game? That’s fine. Written to hard drive? That’s fine. All I want is a WOL Live Log type thing. I don’t care about in game.
Self only? “Your performance?” Well, that’s not a combat log. It’s frankly a pretty poor substitution for a combat log and it won’t cut it.
A raid as a group makes mistakes and learns from them.
Let’s talk about why I think a self-only combat log is dumb.
My guildmates always get mad at me for my twitter screenshots because about 90% of the time I post a kill shot, I have my recount on Deaths instead of something epeeny like DPS. Well, guess what. That’s often what I’m looking at on a progression kill. I wrote a post a while ago about my first raid with SW– one of the very first lessons I learned like, one hour into raid, was to figure out what killed me every time I died. It’s a habit now, if I die, I look at what killed me and how hard it hit me. So my recount is set on deaths quite often.
Not just my deaths either. I want to know what killed the whole raid. Newsflash: when there are 25 people in the raid and you are working on a boss as a team, it’s pretty useful also to know what mistakes the other 24 people make so that you can make sure to avoid them yourself.
Raiding is a team sport. We are working together. The performance information that has to do with what I am doing is 1/25 of the picture and frankly, it’s of limited utility to me. I want to learn from the mistakes my cohorts make, and when I make a mistake, I want that information to be shared with them so they can avoid it. If someone else dies from something, I want to know how hard it hit them.
SWTOR doesn’t get it. Our first couple SW:TOR nightmare mode raids were just awful. “I wonder what killed me?” or “___ killed me but I wish I knew what the ability was or how much it hit for.” And it’s nice to know what killed you, but are you soloing that boss or are you in there with a team? Don’t you want to learn from what everyone has been doing? Isn’t that the whole point of teamwork?
DPS checks are a group effort, not a solo endeavor.
When we as a group fail to make a DPS check, I want to look at what everyone’s doing — not always to judge but also to wonder which classes are optimal for what. I know my class and love my class. Rets are very, very good at certain kinds of DPS (burst, certain kinds of extended single target, long term cleave with many targets) and really fucking terrible at other kinds (2-4ish targets, target switching, short term cleave). There are about 100 other things that affect whether a ret will be a good or bad class to use, but you know what? It’s important for me to know my classes strengths and weaknesses so I have a general idea of where my strengths will be best used and what sorts of damage breakdowns to look at to see if I’m doing my job right. Guess where I learned this information? Research. World of Logs. My performance as a part of the whole raid’s performance. I didn’t just theoretically put it together from learning how my class works or simming myself on a target dummy. I familiarize myself with damage breakdowns and whenever I move through logs, I compare how I do to how other classes do in all different types of raiding situations.
I’m good at some things; I’m bad at other things. Sometimes I personally could stand to work on some tasks; sometimes my high or low relative damage is a reflection of my class’s strengths or weaknesses. Or what I had done in that fight wrong that someone else did right… or what I did right that other people did wrong. I have to see what my performance looks like in the larger, grander scheme of things. Simcrafting my DPS and hitting a target dummy, these are such a very small picture of what I actually do in a raid. I have to know what the whole, entire attempt looked like. I have to know how my DPS cog fits into the machine as a whole. There are so many fights where it has been critically important to break down damage by player, by class, by target to figure out how we as a group could shift what we were doing to better beat the fight. Or, conversely, break down a fight by damage taken — by how much damage we take from or soak from an attack– to alter positioning or healing or whatever we need to.
All of these metrics are group metrics. Self-only is just one very small part of the picture.
Just looking at what one individual person is doing… sure, it can help that particular person optimize their gear or their rotation, but it does not provide the data that we raiders need to really analyze, attack, and beat a truly difficulty encounter as a group. And if you don’t like playing with others, then… well… that’s the whole point of raiding!
SW:TOR bleeds out raiders
So I do understand that I fall into the category of WOW players that SW:TOR players hate. I probably live in Mom’s basement, raid 6 days a week, and feel good about myself by linking recount in party chat to noobs. (/rolleyes). Yeahhhh that’s definitely me and my little 12 hour guild, we aren’t real people, just trolls.
According to this thread, that’s pretty much who we are.
If this massive 2000 post plus discussion regarding the SWTOR combat log is to be believed, any raider that wants a combat log just wants it to troll others. The anti-combat-log forces don’t want one– they will fight for their fight to be free of judgement — and if we elitists really only want it to better ourselves, then we should be well and happy with a self-only log.
Do they really understand the part of the community that they so willfully denigrate? I’ll list off the sorts of people who would consider a combat log (like me) vital to our enjoyment of the game. How many people enjoy reading theorycrafting threads and seeing what people like my blog cohort Theck come up with? How many people — not just raiders, but people– happily benefit from and really enjoy reading about and discussing how precisely their classes work? How many people read those massive, massive EJ threads and enjoy them even if they don’t raid? I know back when I was a huge noob, before I even raided, before I even hit the level cap, I loved that kind of thing, I ate it all up. That kind of analysis is one of the reasons why I love wow– and I don’t do it; I read about it! How many people use addons like DBM for encounters complex enough to require it? How many people appreciate detailed strategy posts like the kind that Sunnier, or Icy Veins, or Tankspot write?
Do you want to guess how much information all of these people use out of a (raid wide) combat log to do all the things they do? A lot.
Those players who want to raid compelling and extremely difficult encounters, and to learn, and to share and enjoy…. these are the type of player that SW:TOR is losing in droves. One by one, I see raiders of all walks of life, from the casual to the hardcore, realizing that SW:TOR isn’t worth their $15/month anymore. Almost every current WoW raider I know has left SW:TOR. I was the last to go of at least five in my SW:TOR guild alone.
Does SW:TOR really care about providing truly difficult, compelling endgame content?
I would like to say yes. Sure, they messed up some tuning, and their encounters were buggy, but a lot of their ideas were stunning. I can see a raiding game in SW:TOR somewhere. I really did like a lot of the PVE content they’ve pumped out so far and it looks like they’re committed to learning from their mistakes and providing more. Many of their comments at the Ops panel, with regard to their UI improvements and Nightmare Mode tuning, are spot on for what I want to see out of the game.
But the combat log is the sticking point for me. It has to be there before I resub, a full hard-drive written raid-wide combat log. I honestly don’t believe you can design encounters as engaging, as fun, and as challenging as I want them to be while also denying that raid access to the information we want to analyze.
Unfortunately, I think they’ve already made their intentions (actions…. not words) clear with regard to their log plans.
And I mean, that might not be a bad thing. Maybe that’s the game SW:TOR wants to be. It’s a beautiful, lovely RPG with a great storyline – many great storylines – and perfect for all kinds of players. Maybe it really wants to have a more casual, more story and RPG focused endgame, even if that means losing the raiders such as myself.
That might be a great game. It’s just not the game for me.
Editor’s Note: When I emailed this to him, Theck told me to tie this post into WOW a little more. OOPS. Sorry. I’m the ret paladin on a prot blog; you should never expect me to be on topic at all!
Anyways, hopefully you all see the WOW relevant part. SW:TOR has taught me to appreciate some of the things that I take completely for granted in WoW…. like the combat log.
The vibrant, engaging community we have — which includes theorycrafters such as him as well as including Ranty QQ McRantersons such as myself — is something that I just cannot see SW:TOR supporting in their current plans for the game.
I might be done with WOW raid content until pandas crash land into my Azeroth, but this is still a better raider’s game than SW:TOR looks like it will ever be.