Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I need combat logs

WOW spoiled me.  For the longest time I had access to the best tool available for maximizing your character's effectiveness in an RPG - the combat log.  I could find out whether or not my models were correct, how game mechanics actually worked and get real data on average monster statistics.  I find myself wishing for all of this while I play Diablo 2 and DnD.  DnD at least has few enough actions that I could record everything if I really wanted to but it does have the problem of a very relevant gameboard and tactics that are very difficult to record unless you have extreme amounts of time available.  D2, on the other hand, has no such recording possible at all.  I suppose I could eventually teach myself enough about coding to write a mod that captures all combat results and gives me good logs of the data involved but not only would I have to write the mod to do the data collection I would have to write a data analyzer too.  D2 has complicated enough mechanics that parsing the reams of data and displaying it usefully would be awesome but would be a huge undertaking.

The iconic example is crushing blow.  Crushing blow in D2 works roughly like this:

1.  If you hit a monster, check your Crushing blow % to see if it procs.
2.  If it procs, the monster loses a % of its current health that depends on weapon type and monster type.
3.  The % health lost varies between 25% for a melee weapon and a regular monster with 1 player in the game and 1.4% with a ranged weapon on a boss with 8 players in the game.
4.  Once the crushing blow occurs the weapon's regular damage is dealt.

So how much of my damage is coming from crushing blow and how much is coming from my regular damage?  I have no idea!  I know that having 100% crushing blow is good because certainly it makes me kill things more quickly and it isn't that hard to achieve but I can't effectively test how good it is in any way.  Taking off all my gear that provides crushing blow means my character doesn't work properly for other reasons and it would compromise the data even then... and that even assumes I can figure out how effective I am against a wide variety of targets with different tactics, locations, defenses and numbers.  It just isn't possible to say with any reasonable amount of certainty how good crushing blow is and how much I should prioritize it.

This makes me crazy.  I have just as much fun poring over gear lists and endlessly iterating on my best possible gearset for my character as I do killing monsters.  Hell, when I am levelling up I actually spend half of my time in town enchanting, gemming and tweaking my gearset instead of just going out and blow up the enemies.  Every 5 levels or so some new equipment becomes available and I go back to tweaking and enchanting again to reoptimize for encounters that can't possibly be hard.  It clearly isn't an efficient way to level but it is tremendous fun.  I want to optimize perfectly when I do get to the endgame in particular but there is so much data I have absolutely no way to acquire.  This makes me wonder what will end up becoming of my paladin spreadsheet for WOW.  I have been updating, tweaking and maintaining it for years now but I am losing interest in doing so due to not playing WOW anymore.  That spreadsheet was a huge project, something I poured myself into, and soon it will lie abandoned, slowly becoming obsolete.

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