Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Measuring contribution

I received two mails from readers, one about how WoW battlegrounds could improve by using the contribution system of WAR public quests, and one about how tanks in WAR seem to be undervalued in the contribution system. Both subjects serve to show how measuring contribution is difficult, which makes handing out rewards for a group effort difficult.

WoW battlegrounds, especially Alterac Valley, suffer from most rewards being given out just for showing up. That leads to people going afk in the starting cave, or when reporting tools were introduced, going into hiding first and then going afk. If being on the battlefield was enough to get most of the reward, then why contribute? The WAR public quests and scenarios suffer from the opposite evil, they try too hard to measure contribution, and some contributions are simply too hard to measure. You end up getting less points if you guard a flag in a scenario, or if you tank in a public quest, or do other things that are beneficial for the whole group, but aren't measurable on an individual level. As a result players are taught that it is better to behave stupidly, to leave flags unguarded, to not use taunt in a public quest, etc., because MMORPGs are huge Skinner boxes, and we are being trained towards specific behavior via rewards and punishments.

And there isn't really a perfect solution for the problem. Often some sort of mixed approach, rewarding you both for just being there and for your participation, are tried. Typical example are WAR public quests, where loot is handed out based on a dice roll based on just having minimally contributed, plus a modifier that tries to measure contribution. If three people, a tank, a healer, and a damage dealer would do a public quest together, with nobody else around, the WAR system is skewed in a way that the healer would come first in contribution, and the tank last. That is simply a question of weighing factors, apparently one point healed counts for more than one point of damage dealt, and the use of a taunt ability is either not counted at all or given a very low point value. Efficient group combat is often a matter of agro control, and that is hard to measure. And even if contribution could be measured more accurately, then you'd still get situations where the highest contributor rolled low and the lowest contributor rolled high, inversing the rewards for contribution situation. But if there was no random roll involved, there would be no good reason to join a public quest already in progress, so the current system is probably still the best possible. It should be modified to give more contribution points for taunting, because already some tanks just don't taunt at all, because their relative contribution goes up if they let the healer and damage dealer pull aggro and die.

I like the contribution system in WAR scenarios more than I like the WoW battleground system, because at least no one can leech afk. But I am somewhat disadvantaged by the WAR system, because I tend to think strategically in WAR, guarding flags or capturing unguarded ones, and end up with less renown points and xp than players who just fought stupidly for no strategic purpose. Scenarios like Stone Troll Crossing make me crazy, because it is so terribly obvious how you could easily prevent the other side from tagging the third troll stone and winning the scenario, but everyone is too busy to rack up personal kill points to do so. In many WAR scenarios I get the feeling that "capture the flag" is too complicated a concept for most participants, and they prefer to all just brawl somewhere in the middle. But of course a contribution system that hands out more points for that stupid brawl than for doing anything strategic is to blame for that. In total the side that acts more strategically wins more points, but on an individual basis you are being punished for acting strategically. At least tanks end up less disadvantaged in WAR scenarios than in WAR public quests, because being in the middle of the fight and surviving counts for a lot of points.

In summary I think the mix of being rewarded for showing up and for contributing is a good compromise. But the system should be tweaked to give more contribution points for activities that help the group, instead of just measuring points of damage dealt or points healed. Measuring contribution is difficult, and we'll never see a perfect system, but some improvements are certainly still possible.
At a high level, tanking in a PQ is probably easy to measure, simply count the number of hit points potentially caused to each player in addition to heal points cast and damage caused.

What you are correct about is how difficult it might be to measure non-contact participation in RvR scenarios. I suspect the right thing to do is for Mythic to identify various strategic behaviors and begin rewarding them.

In Nordenwatch, they could give RPs for being within a strategic area when no enemies are present.

Those areas could be each of the objectives, and some key hiding/transition points, such as behind a nearby building or something like that.

In that case, Mythic could reward those points ONLY if you stay through the entire scenario, which would have two effects: Not broadcasting where to stand (players still have to figure it out), and encouraging people to continue to participate actively.
I think the main problem in WOW BGs is not the fact that AFKers are being rewarded by doing nothing.

The issue is that they are in the same BG as you and you are seing it!

Nothing more frustating than trying to win a WSG with 2 guys AFKing near the GY.

The solution? Give every player a BG rank based on win / loss ratio (yes, I beleive that in a big series of games you can make a diference even in 40players AV BG) and then match players of similar ranks.

Longer queues? Yes but for much better games as at least you would be playing with / against people who are as effective as you(read here skill, class balance, gear, etc.).

In the end the low rank afkers would all be facing each other in epic 24hours AVs (and some would argue 24 hours AV of 80 top resto druids :)) Who would care about it?

Oh, with that system you should reward players a la WoW style and you would win as much for guaridng a flag point as for zerging the enemy.

Other nice side effect is that you would have more balanced games and even green 70 would be able to kill something or survive for more than 2 GCDs.

If you want to be even more fair give more rewards the higher the rank you have (lets say top rank reveives double tokens / honor). That way you in fact have an incentive to guard the flag if that is the best strategy to win the game.

But this last part is the least important one.
Being a healer in these scenario and PQ's it's nice for once to actually get a pretty good reward out of these (in WoW as a healer it seemed like I was earning very little for my actual heals, but that was quite some time ago). I'm healing roughly 33,000 in T1 scenarios which is 2-3x what the next closest healer is at.

However. I can *really* see what you mean by the tanks and PQ's. I've died pulling more agro on PQ's from a single heal (after the tank was already damaging the champion) then any other time. I would love to see the tanks rewarded more for - you know, doing their job.

There's certainly no perfect system out there, but I think this works best, for now. Maybe a little tweak here and there but the over all system works (Biased? Maybe...)
Agreed. I regularly win scenarios with my Witch Elf by stealthing up to the flag, grabbing it and running. But what reward do I get for single handedly winning the scenario? The proud position of bottom of the table for renown and xp, woot!
I figured that once you hit max lvl the winning will be more important than the renown points so strategy should be more common. Only lvl 15 so just guessing.
"damage mitigated" should be a tank's measured value.

hell, just throw it into the current scheme. if an OT dpser got an add, it wouldn't be an 'oh no i can't tank that, I'm too busy earning points' kind of thing. they could continue to collect points, but their focus shifts until either the add is dead, or the MT has grabbed it back off him.

i like the IDEA of the system, i just don't like being a tank while seeing it calculate contributions.
Obviously, I can't say for sure how the system works, but what might work is this...

They already give contribution to a player for damage dealt, they need a "damage survived". Damage dealt by an NPC gives contribution to the target. Then, if that doesn't close the gap, add in a taunt modifier such that when a tank taunts an NPC, for X seconds damage dealt to that tank gives double, triple, or some other multiplier to the damage survived contribution.
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jason and isobelle your idea is already implemented - for contribution. If you think it doesn't reward tanking then try again and make sure to always have mobs hitting you - taunt excessively, and see what happens. (well you need a healer for that too :) )

I am not sure about influence or renown.
(ninja edits ftw!)

If you are having a hard time getting high in contribution then the answer is changing your strategy.

At tiers 1 through 3 I have absolutely no problem getting #1 contribution on my tanks and my healers, in fact it is so easy I feel sorry for the dps classes.

You get contribution for everything you do, tanking, healing, killing. I taunt every time the cooldown is up. I want all the mobs on me, I want to take as much damage as I can and live through it. I buff the hell out of everyone. I get in groups, don't go solo. That's my strategy for tanks, people having a hard time should try that.

As a healer, again I dot everything, buff everyone, and try to race to get first to heal.

The only time dps really overshadows tanks and healers in contribution is if there are so many dps, esp. certain classes like marauders that have good defense, that they kill mobs so fast the tank doesn't take damage, and the healer doesn't have much to heal.

But regarding scenarios, it's not all roses. I can run around capping flags, but if I'm not in the middle of the fight I will get barely any renown, even when winning (unless there's some bonus renown for winning that does not show up in the scenario summary window). Renown in scenarios rewards fighting, which is good to stop AFKers, but bad in that it discourages playing defense even more.
I think there is some kind of a threat component built into the contribution. On my chosen I use all of my high threat attacks even if I am not tanking and I find that I come out fairly well on the score at the end. Also I use taunt and challenge on multiple mobs etc. Conversely when I use my high damage attacks and just go DPS I find that I tend to not do as well at the final tally.

Healing does seem a bit too heavily weighted. As the only healer in a PQ it is extremely easy to reach top 5 in a large group without much effort. Actually on my shaman I tend to just cast instant cast HoTs and then run around using scavenging on the mobs and still come out in the top 5. It was very frustrating doing some PQ in a guild group of about 10 when I was always getting a bag and having to take the cash when there were players there that needed the gear upgrades.
I would think it wouldn't be that hard to measure a tanks contribution.

Set a contribution score for tanking (say 1000).

Measure how much damage was mitigated and by who. Divide by the pre-mitigation damage output. Take that percentage, multiply by 1000. There's your score. Same thing applies for scenarios or anything else; you get points for guarding, mitigating, etc... based on how much of the total damage you soaked or otherwise disposed of.

It also wouldn't be perfect, but it would be pretty close. I have no idea how hard that would actually be to implement.
I agree that things aren't quite up to par when people start to think strategy instead of exp and renown. I posted my own two cents as my first post on my blog at
As an aside about Taunt.

I don't know what it is but if I use my Taunt it holds the mobs attention for maybe 3-5 seconds then goes back to whatever it was hitting before. It ALWAYS grabs aggro when I use it, but doesn't help hold it. It seems ot work somewhat akin to "Challenging Roar" as a druid in WoW where you use it everything hits you for a set amount of time. But her eit affects one mob.
@tanking contribution - tanks get contribution for tanking already. I almost always get #1 with my tanks, within the top few for sure. It isn't hard, just stay in combat all the time and make sure you're always getting hit.

@random poster - taunt provides 'snap aggro', it doesn't generate threat. It will force an npc target to attack you, and you'll have a damage bonus until it hits you 3 times to generate bonus threat to keep aggro. It does not, however, generate threat on its own so a high damage ally can still pull it off you very quickly.

Ah then it works exactly like challenging Roar (though CR grabs EVERYTHING and does not increase dmg).

And if thats the case it's sort of wonky, makes it very hard to grab aggro off people. According to tool tips I only have one attack that generates "extra threat" and my dmg isn't near high enough to hold it on my own.

Wouldn't be much of a problem if people could "see" threat (wtb Omen for WAR) because absolutely nobody backs off their dmg when I am tanking in a PQ then I get yelled at for not using my taunt.
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