Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Training Dummies: why they’re cool

@Zells - sepia stone - smallFor some reason I’ve been hearing a lot of people bashing training dummies in zone chat lately, and I feel like most of them are completely missing the point.

Here are some statements I’ve heard repeatedly:

1.”It’s a false number, actual combat is different.”

Yes, actual combat produces radically different DPS data than the training dummy due to a variety of factors.  However, the DPS stat conveyed by attacking a training dummy consistently gives your top-end DPS under perfect personal conditions – it’s a control number.  That means the environmental variables are reduced, and we can compare apples-to-apples.

If you tell me you just did 25K on a certain boss, that number doesn’t mean anything to me – was it higher because that boss was susceptible to your attack type, or because you had a perfect storm of crits and procs?  Or is that number much lower than your usual because you had to do a lot of evasion?  By contrast, if I tell you I can do 21K DPS on a training dummy, you know precisely where I am, and have a much better chance to gauge how effective I’ll be in a party.  That’s what a control number is.

2.”They don’t actually help with anything.”

Zells: Well, maybe they don’t help YOU, but…

If you want to test a particular kind of attack to see if it triggers a proc or special ability, it can be really difficult to find the right conditions “in the field” to accurately assess that, particularly if you need a large sample size for extensive testing of meta-data.  And it can take time to wander around and find the right kinds of mobs.  But with a training dummy in your back yard, all you have to do is go try the attack and see.

3.”They don’t actually help with anything”, part 2

Smoothing out your rotation is a big part of raising your DPS.  You’ll switch abilities around your bar a lot when you’re trying to improve, and having a way to simply practice going through the motions is hugely helpful in terms of developing the muscle memory for real combat.  For real.

4.”You just like it ‘cuz it’s pretty.”

Okay, not JUST because it’s pretty, see above.

But also: y’r damn right I like it ‘cuz it’s pretty.  Aesthetics and visual appeal are a big deal to me, and so is the role-play and personality aspect of my characters.  Being able to have a combat dummy in some of my character’s houses enriches the game experience for me.  If aesthetics weren’t important, we wouldn’t have dozens of armor motifs.  If the community didn’t enjoy having custom-made, personality-driven spaces in the world, we wouldn’t have player housing.  Just because something doesn’t have value for some players doesn’t mean it isn’t providing value to the rest of the community.

Lastly – you are correct, my combat dummy IS pretty, thanks. 🙂fight club

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