One of the puzzles I have been trying to sort out the entire time I have been back in Final Fantasy XIV is why exactly the community as a whole seems to be friendlier to other players. I’ve talked about the various literal “social engineering” missions that the development staff have made in order to spin things that would normally be a negative as a positive. When I see the new player bonus in a dungeon I actually get excited rather than frustration over having to potentially teach someone new mechanics. Quite honestly I am wondering if it is something far more simple than anything, a line in the sand that the folks running the game drew long ago and have since reinforced numerous times. In Final Fantasy XIV running a DPS log parser is not only unsupported by the game, but it is actually an actionable offense. This has had an interesting chilling effect on some of the elitism that you normally see in communities.
Since simply mentioning parsed logs in private free company chat can end up with a GM knocking down your door… it changes the way folks interact with the data gained from log parsers. That is to say people are still parsing the logs, but the first rule of “FFXIV-APP” is there is no “FFXIV-APP”. This means that no one gets called out in the middle of a pug for having “weak dps” and no one is standing around in “trade chat” linking their latest boss kill. The players that do parse, do so quietly and in secret and I believe in the end this makes the “meters” less of a competition and more of a personal diagnostic tool. It seems that once you take this competition out of a community it has some pretty wide reaching trickle down effects. I’ve always thought of dps meters as a distraction, and back during Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, we had rules against mentioning them or linking them in raid chat. I largely just found the automated spam annoying, but it also seemed to cause players to focus on things that were less important than the mechanics of a fight.
The problem is that meters are a double edged sword. Eons ago while the earth was still cooling I needed a add-on called Omen in World of Warcraft to let me know how I was doing on threat. Later on these features got rolled into Recount, and Skada and the rest of the meters. As a result I simply got used to running the meters all of the time, but after a point they were no longer needed. Tank threat became a non-issue with the introduction of Vengeance to help mitigate the lower damage that tanking characters generally had. Once introduced into my life I started feeling like I needed meters all the time to let me know how things were going. I became addicted to the metrics and numbers associated with raiding, and as such spent a good deal of my time staring at bars and percentages rather than actually playing the game. Some weeks back I talked about being frustrated with the current state of my mods, and actually went so far as to start installing several of the addons that I had been using.
One of the addons that ended up getting pulled was Recount, because I had this plan of switching over the Skada. The funny thing is that I got interrupted during the middle of what I happened to be doing, and while Recount absolutely got installed… I never went so far as to install another meter. The first time I noticed was during a raid a few weeks back, but since I was so used to NOT having meters in Final Fantasy XIV it didn’t bother me terribly much. This combined with the fact that I knew someone in the raid was going to parse our logs anyways caused me to simply ignore the fact that they were not there any more. The end result was that I felt generally happier about my night of raiding. I spent more time in the moment of the game play rather than focusing on how I was doing versus this player or that in the meters. I decided to just go with this and run without meters for awhile to see if it improved my overall outlook on the raid.
Happier Without Meters
The funny thing is that I actually think it did. World of Warcraft stopped being a competition for me and more of an experience. Sure the fights are still nowhere near as engaging or enjoyable for me as the ones in Final Fantasy XIV but I am spending more time “in” the fight and less time worried about other non-important things. The funny thing about this is that apparently it had other effects on my game play as well. The constant concern about how I happened to be doing may have been actually holding me back from actually doing well. I figured I was still firmly in the middle of the pack dps wise, until after the Flamebender Ka’graz fight one of our mages said something that made me curious. He said something to the effect of “I can’t believe I was beat by a protection warrior”. To which point I confessed that I had installed my meters some time ago, and had no clue how I was actually doing anymore. To which my raid leader responded “Well, Bel, You Did Well” and linked me the url of the live parse.
There are a lot of mitigating factors behind my performance and I know this. For starters I recently got the four piece set bonus and for gladiators it essentially increases everything useful to us by 20%. More than that I think the absence of meters caused me to stop worrying about every button press and rely more on what I knew I should be doing when I should be doing it… instead of trying to second guess myself all of the time. In essence I stopped caring about my performance and just started playing the damned game, and while it most definitely improved my levels of happiness it also seems to have actually improved how I was performing. I am just not a hyper competitive person about most things, and accidentally eliminating that stimulus from my game experience seems to be a net positive for me. I know that there are always going to be meters tracking my performance but I also feel like so long as they are not in my face all of the time I can try and ignore them. Now I am not suggesting that you uninstall your meters, and that it is some new path to happiness. However for me it seems to have given me a new lease on a game I was starting to hate playing.