Players who put in the time and effort to find a theorycrafting blog are generally skilled players. But what is a skilled player? I like to divide skill in WoW into 2 things, both the ability to correctly deal with the various encounter mechanics ever present in raids, and the ability to choose which is the optimal ability for your rotation, whether it be for staying alive, saving someone else, or (more oft than not for us DPSers), which ability will lead to the most overall damage.
So, we have mechanical skill, and rotational skill. Mechanical skill is learned through practice, clever strategies devised by your guild or copied from others, and through research into boss mechanics, knowing what to do and when. There are a lot of useful tools to increase your mechanical skill, including the dungeon journal, datamining from MMOC, and video/text guides from sources such as Icy Veins, or Fatboss. Watching another guild kill a boss, or chatting with a player who has killed said boss and learning what you need to pay attention and react to is another source of insight. I'm not versed enough in mechanical skill myself to be able to school anyone in it.
Which leaves rotational skill. While mechanical skill helps to keep you and your guild alive, it's rotational skill that beats the DPS checks, shortens the fight (lowering the chances you get to screw up a mechanic and wipe), and makes you look good on the meters. So, how do we increase our rotational skill? We can further divide rotational skill into knowledge and application. In a number based game like wow, there is always a "right" choice in the rotation, always an optimal ability to press (or in some cases not press) to give you the most possible overall, or burst, damage. Knowing which ability is correct is only part of the puzzle, you also need to be able to react to changes in your resource state, and in the number of targets, all while executing your rotation in a fast-paced raid encounter while paying enough attention to raid mechanics to avoid death. This is pretty hard.
While doing reviews for sentrytotem.com/help-me, and looking over various logs for research, I noticed a very interesting connection for every single DK log I looked at. Every single log, from the 10 man normal mode raider to the world 1 25 heroic parse, made mistakes. There was not a single perfectly executed rotation among all of the hundreds I looked at. There was, however, a very large gap between how well a high parse was doing vs. a low parse. While no one played 100%, plenty of people played 95%, and plenty more people played at 60-70%, and the difference showed.
Improving Your Rotational Skill:
Right now, the way we learn our rotations involves looking at a (generally) text based guide for instructions and trying to replicate the rotation listed there. However, those guides are often oversimplified and lose something in the translation into text. So, those who want to be more skilled scour the internet for information, looking to #acherus, theorycrafting blogs, websites like EJ/IV, and forums like battle.net and mmoc, asking expereinced players questions or clarifications, and trying to get a good grasp on what ability to use and when. Then we put that into practice in a raid, and our main source of feedback on whether or not we're doing it correctly is a single number, our DPS. A number that might go down when we do something badly, up when we do something well, and overall stay the same. A number that is heavily influenced by RNG. A number that isn't that useful.
With that in mind, I decided to develop a better way of learning both the knowledge and practicing the skill of an ideal rotation.
Rotationcraft lets you practice your rotation in a controlled environment. When you use a suboptimal ability, it let's you know what the optimal ability is and why. That's the gist of things. Let's take a look at planned features!
- Allows you to practice rotations for multiple specs including Frost DW, Frost 2H, Traditional Unholy, Festerblight2.0, and Blood.
- Let's you practice a particular fight, helping you learn how to time AMS, how to time Dsim, swap from ST to multiple target sustained, and multiple target burst, and back as well. All SoO fights, as well as a target dummy will be available.
- Teacher feature watches you play, informing you of any missed opportunities for more DPS. Dynamic skill settings allow beginners and veterans alike to learn something new. Offers a score at the end of the fight, letting you know how much you missed out on from mistakes, and which mistakes are the most important to fix.
- Timescale slider lets you practice the rotation at full speed, half speed, 25% speed, or even turn based.
- Allows you to change trinkets, tier set bonuses, talents, and glyphs on the fly.
Now, you're either like me, and really excited about this idea, or you don't see the point. If you're in latter tribe, I've got nothing for you, head back to camp.
Still here? Let's talk practicality. This is a ton of work. It may take quite a while for me to do, but I'm confident I can do it. I'll be spending a fair bit of my free time on this project in the coming months, but I'm already at the point where I feel feedback on current progress will be helpful, so at the time this post goes up at 6 PM EST on Friday, May 9th, 2014, I'll be looking in #acherus and my friends list for about 5-10 beta testers to give me feedback on the current version of Rotationcraft. Here is a list of all the currently finished and (hopefully) fully function features, as of the time of this post.
- Spell casting system complete
- Spell tooltips complete
- Rune/runic resource system, including regeneration, death runes, and correct spending complete
- Action bar and spellbook GUI complete
- GCD and CD system complete
- All spells required for single target unholy rotation (other than army) complete
- Buff and debuff system (diseases) complete
- Pull button, and linear boss health drop for SR complete
- Exit button complete (it's important!)
Updates on my progress will be posted here on my blog. The next expected feature to get coded is the teacher component, which will be bundled with the timescale feature and released as a public testing version in about a month. I plan to have the project finished a few months in advance of WoD, and changing the mechanics over will be a lot easier than coding them from scratch. By the time WoD does release, I'll hopefully have added in all of the bosses for the first raiding tier.
So! Quick Recap and FAQ. Not that I've been asked any questions yet.... but maybe this will save you the trouble?
Q: Where can I get me a copy to try out? I want to give feedback on the program!
A: The project is currently in a limited testing state. When a public release is ready, it will be announced on the blog, so just keep your eyes on it.
Q: Where can I leave feedback on the idea?
A: Here in the comments! I'm curious as to any potential features you think are not worth it, or any ideas for improvement.
Q: How many people are working on this project?
A: As of this post it's just little ol me.
Q: I think the idea is dumb, and you're wasting your time.
A: Well, that's not exactly a question now is it? Don't worry, it's my time to waste. If the project ends up being a total failure, that's the only real risk.
Q: I think the idea is great! How can I help?
A: Leave feedback in the comments on the idea! When the project is ready for it's initial release, I'll need plenty of help to test it and fix any bugs. Also, it needs an icon (a program without an icon to click on looks silly), so if any artists more skilled than I (read: every artist, ever) wants to give it a shot, let me know. Reminder, Destiny Softworks is still looking to hire an artist! See the Destiny post.
Q: We're Blizzard, and you've stolen our art assets. We're going to shut down your website and sue for you large amounts of money.
A: Ahhhhhhh! Please reconsider. I've put in a © Blizzard for the art assets in the info of the program. If you have any objections to rotationcraft, I will shut down down the whole thing. Don't shut me down!
Q: Do you have any plans to support any other classes? This would be really cool for my alt!
A: It's a huge amount of work just to get DKs up and running. On top of that, I don't know enough about other classes yet to be able to fully implement their mechanics, and teach the program what the perfect rotation is. So, no current plans to support other classes. If you're interested in representing another class, and are versed in c# programming, send me a message somewhere or other. (Twitter, #acherus, comments, where-ever really).
Q: What platforms will Rotationcraft run on?
A: Windows, mac, and linux. If it wasn't such a hassle to distribute a mobile app, I would put it on the Iphone/Ipad as well.
Q: Ask me a question so I can put it here!
Q: Ask me a question so I can put it here!
Q: Ask me a question so I can put it here!
(Disclaimer: It might come out in 3 days, it might take 3 years, though I sure hope not. I could die tomorrow and it would never get finished. This is a project which will take a lot of my free time and doesn't stand to reap me any profits. I'm doing it because I believe it will help people, and while that is all well and good, sometimes life takes a priority over such hobbies. So don't try to hold me to a release date. It'll come out when it comes out. )
(Second note: I'd love to have the opportunity to do this for a living. Blizzard, if you're reading, I'm looking for a job. On the one in a million chance this ends up happening you can disregard the above note about release dates, and feel assured that it will instead come out soon™)