Tobold talks about fear of the sub-optimal today, and incidentally I was going to sort of write about that as well today. Or rather, I wanted to talk about Recount. This and Healbot are two addons that appear to have been broken quite significantly by 4.1 - even though I downloaded versions that were supposedly compatible with the patch, they've both been quite good at turning the game into a slide show for me, so I eventually decided to disable them for the time being whenever I didn't need them, and this made me think about when I need Recount at all.
It's fun to think back to what the game was like for me before addons. Being a healer, I could afford to run without a combat log parser for quite a while, but a hunter that I was playing with quite often was always talking about these mysterious numbers that he got from some addon, so out of curiosity more than anything else I eventually got it too.
Since then I've slowly gone to having it running pretty much all the time. While soloing I generally don't look at it, but as soon as I get into a group I want to know whether my performance is up to snuff. So I was rather confused when I ended up pugging a few instance runs with my low-level warlock and realised that, without a combat log parser, I had no way of really telling how I was doing. My general impression was that I wasn't doing very well, as a mob with 4k health was usually down to 3k before I'd even finished casting two dots on it, but I couldn't tell for sure. This made me rather uneasy for a while, but seeing how nobody yelled at me about it, I eventually managed to relax and enjoy the ride. Things were dying quickly and smoothly, so what did it matter what percentage of the damage was mine? Everybody was participating and seemed to have fun.
Pugging heroics on my hunter was a slightly different case, because unlike my lowbie warlock, I know how to play my hunter, so even if I couldn't see any numbers, I was sure that I was pulling my weight simply based on past experience. In fact, I was probably doing more so than many of the other damage dealers I ran with, but I didn't really know so I didn't care. The Grumpy Elf made an interesting comment about pugging the other day, saying that when I DPS and my DPS is more then the tank and the other two DPS combined it is annoying thinking I have to do all the work. Talk about a problem created purely by numbers in your head! If you didn't have the dps meters to look at, would you really feel annoyed by having to attack a mob for a little longer? As long as it doesn't cause problems or even wipes, I doubt that many people would even notice. And of course nobody would berate anyone for their dps or stress about their own with no numbers to back them up. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
Though there is another side to this of course. Last night I was in guild group for ZG that was having real trouble on Jin'do for some reason. I have to admit that I did miss Recount then. It wouldn't have been able to solve all our problems of course, but there were certainly a lot of things I was wondering about that could have played a role in our failure. How much dps were people doing? Was everyone attacking the spirits? Why did the tank go down so quickly there? I keep running oom way too quickly, am I overhealing or using my expensive spells too often? These are all things that are very difficult to gauge in a fight like that, yet they do matter. And that's why we do need addons like that I guess, and why people are afraid of the sub-optimal - because sometimes you have to play very close to optimally to beat the game. It's just a shame that it trickles down into the easier aspects of the game so readily, making people fret even when it really doesn't matter.