When Addons Step Too Far
I’ve always had a peculiar relationship with addons. The game I came from had none. We didn’t have boss timers. We had members of the raid sat at the other side of their PC’s with stop watches timing the AoEs and announcing them in game. After a certain amount of time, people were expected to handle this themselves and as with most things, you gained an inner feeling for when things were due to occur. No warnings, no boss timers, just your own knowledge of the encounter and your own ability to react to what was happening around you.
When a new MMO, Aion, launched last year, there was uproar on the forums when a discussion began about whether the developers should allow addons to be developed (and used) in game. People were very split on the issue but there was a strong feeling from some of the community that they did nothing but dumb down the play experience.
A few years ago when Nihilum were still the top raiding guild (and yes, I know I mentioned them yesterday), I read an article about their recruitment. One thing mentioned was that their GM, Kungen, particularly liked old Everquest players. For reference, this is the game mentioned above. Why? Because he believed that raiding there made more reactive, responsive, alert players.
WoW is a little different these days and boss encounters are more complex and undoubtedly designed with the idea in mind that most people use boss mods. They work by providing us advanced warning that an ability is about to happen. This allows us to move, stop DPS, spread, stack, switch target or otherwise respond in whatever way is appropriate.
Today I had this addon linked to me.
What Does it Do?
Essentially, it adds additional visual effects in game to aid with certain boss mechanics. There are a number of examples on their wowace page, ranging from displaying where Malleable Goo will hit on the Putricide encounter (and it’s “splash” area) to where to stand with your tombs on Sindragosa. I’ve taken some stills from their youtube movies. Apologies for the quality, but they’re directly from videos. You should get the idea however.
Below we see the addon running on a Sindragosa 25 raid. It’s visually displaying where the players marked for tombs should stand.
Obviously, these positions are perfectly calculated to prevent any splash damage between the players, as is shown below.
Below you can see it displaying where the Malleable Goo is going to hit on the Putricide encounter. Again, it takes into account the splash damage from these and marks the “danger” zones with red circles
On the heroic version of Professor Putricide, one of the key mechanics that your raid has to learn is the tracking, monitoring and passing of the Unbound Plague. This addon clearly marks that person, again with a circle, signifying precisely how close you could potentially be before passing it.
The screenshot below shows the player with the debuff marked clearly.
The next screenshot shows the plague being passed over to the next person.
I’ve blogged a few times in the past about what I believe makes a skilled PvE raider. One core trait for me, is the ability to concentrate. It sounds very basic but so many players watch TV while raiding or perhaps have a second monitor playing movies or just browsing the internet. The skills required to be a good raider are not something that you’re born with, they develop through practice.
Consider when you first level a new character to 80 or when your class is altered in such a way that you need to master a new spell rotation. This will feel awkward at first. A great deal of your concentration is sucked away by trying to keep the rotation perfect whether this be not clipping a dot, not letting a dot fall off a target entirely, or ensuring your cooldowns are used in a timely fashion. The more you practice, the better you become and the more natural your rotation comes to you. Before long, you can perform it in your sleep. This frees up more of your attention resources to focus on other things – such as what is happening in a boss encounter.
The same thing happens in reverse. When you first learn a new encounter, there can be various environment effects occurring that you need to react to. Until you’re comfortable and familiar with these, they will take up most of your attention and your DPS will likely fall. As you become familiarised with the encounter, your reactions to the stimuli (the events in game) becomes more natural too. Your DPS rises and ultimately, the boss will die.
This is how we learn. For most of us this takes form through repetition. Some people learn faster than others, that’s just a fact of life. However once all your raid have mastered the mechanics, your kill will come shortly after. Most subsequent kills happen with a great deal more ease because you have developed the skills and the reactions to deal with the encounter.
Lets return to what does make a good player? Attention is part of it for sure. DPS who aren’t concentrating and are slow blowing cooldowns or slow moving into DPS increasing effects (think the shadow crash on General Vezax in Ulduar) will put out less damage than the ones who are 100% focussed on their job. The ability to play dynamically is also vital. There maybe times, as a shaman for example, where something needs interrupting or purging. An add could be slowed if you throw a frost shock at it. Most classes have a range of skills that they bring to a raid and the better players with utilise all those skills without someone needing to prompt them. They can see what is going on around them and they can react to it. A good raider isn’t the one who tops the meters while standing in fire and ignoring that everyone else is needing to interrupt to cover their personal unwillingness. A good raider is the one who does all the small things that make a kill smoother (or make it possible) whilst still maintaining a good level of DPS and not stressing the healers by taking unnecessary damage.
Where am I going with this? Simple really, all these skills come from practice. They come from paying attention to what is happening around you and learning how to play your class to it’s fullest potential. If you start to depend on addons to draw circles around “danger areas” or to visually tell you where to stand, then what is left to think about? This kind of play doesn’t help to develop or create truly skilled players. It encourages people to not think so much when they play and allows lazy players to continue. All encounters are difficult when you’re first learning them but it’s through practice that we become better players and progress together as a team.
There is a reason many cutting edge guilds will ask potential members whether or not they can play without addons. This is precisely the environment that can occur on PTR testing. Raids can’t grind to a halt because someone’s addon didn’t get updated or stopped working for another reason. The reality for most of us is that we don’t play in those guilds either by choice or otherwise. Never the less, should we not be aiming to still be the very best that we can personally be? A dependency on addons to be able to perform doesn’t help you to become this.
For those who are wishing to give this a try, you can download the addon here. It works alongside BigWigs, Deadly Boss Mods and DXE (you will need to keep your boss mod as it doesn’t include timers and the like).