Tag Archives: General Gaming

Good DPS – the Unsung Hero of the PUG

I often read people’s horror stories of their terrible PUG experiences in just about every online game I have played.  I am regularly shocked by the alleged atrocities committed by seemingly average players on other seemingly average players.  We all come to the dungeon entrance with the same goal.  So, what goes wrong in the intervening 30 to 90 minutes?  I have no empirical data to answer that question, so I am going to agree with the masses – it is the DPS’s fault.

I base my hasty conclusion on a personal observation and a stereotype.  Who could find fault in those?  First, the observation.  I have had very few bad PUG experiences in my game-playing career.  While I play less often then most, I probably spend a greater than average proportion of my time PUGing.  I almost always queue as DPS, and I think that I am a somewhat better than average DPS player.  Assuming that I am not consistently PUGing with great, wholly rational players, I have to assume that being good at the DPS role has a significant impact on the enjoyment of my PUG experience.

Second, the stereotype?  Your average player queuing as a tank or healer is better than your average player queuing as DPS.  Why do I make the blanket assumption?  First, tanking and healing are perceived as harder than DPSing.  Second, the tanking/healing skillset is different than the leveling/grinding skillset.  Obviously, this is not universal, and there are bad (or poorly specced/geared) tanks and healers that queue for PUGs, but I have to think on average, if you are brave enough to jump into the queue as a tank or healer, you know something about what you were doing.  On the other hand, while there are certainly good DPS out there, you are more likely to find the lowest levels of skill and maturity taking the “easy way” and going in DPS.

Thus, based on very little actual analysis, I conclude that queuing as DPS means that you are more likely to take a spot in the group from an underachiever than you are to take the spot of an good player.

So, what does it mean to be a good DPS.  In other words, what rules should you live by to make your PUGing more enjoyable as a DPS player and what impact can you have?

Never Talk, Ever.

My first rule actually has nothing to do with how you play and everything to do with how you conduct yourself.  As DPS, no one cares what you think about anything, how awesome you are, or that speed at which you should kill things.  You will not have a smooth trip through a dungeon if you start talking, because everyone in the group assumes that you are a dumb, loud-mouthed, entitled jerk.  Oh, and you are the most easily replaceable member of said group.

With that said, the following are acceptable in small doses:

  • Hi! (exclamation point may be a little too pushy)
  • Ready (but only if asked, unsolicited readies make it seem like you are dictating pace)
  • R (better than ready, you show you are efficient)
  • Nice tanking (only if said following an actual display of nice tanking)
  • Nice heals (see above)
  • Thanks or TY (after rez or port)
  • Good Job or GJ (usually reserved for the end of the dungeon)

Finally, on a slightly more serious note, it is also acceptable to say at the beginning of the dungeon “My first time in here, any tips would be appreciated.”  That shows that you are willing to learn, but not so willing that you would actually read up on an encounter beforehand.  It also gives you an excuse if you die (you will).

But do Interrupt

It’s the tank’s job to interrupt, right?  It sure is.  When the tank misses the interrupt, you can curse said tank out, blame him for the wipe, and shame him until he drops group.  It should only be a few more hours before you get another tank, right?

News flash, even given my singing the praises of tanks and healers above, tanks in PUGs always forget to interrupt.  On top of that, some encounters have more interruptable abilities than the tank can keep up with.  As DPS, you usually have some tools to take that job on yourself.  Next time, instead of being resigned to the big damage that will result from a missed interrupt, do it yourself.  If you have a squishy tank or noob healer, you will make a nice impact on their ability to keep up with the damage from bosses and are much more likely to survive.

Remember the Basics, and Live by Them

Kill shit, don’t die, amiright?  Those four little words, however, are the key to making a dungeon run work.  If you can’t kill something before it kills your group, it’s game over.  This is why so much of the success you encounter in a PUG is dependent on good DPS.  No matter how strong a tank is or how leet the heals are, they cannot make up for the inability of your killers to kill things.  Good DPS, on the other hand, can help make up for shortcomings of any member of your party.

First, kill things quickly, in the right order (whatever the tank says), without pulling hate.  What impact does being good DPS have on the group by killing shit fast and right?  First, if you have other, really bad DPS, you serve as a counterbalance.  If your other DPS is closer to average, you help to shorten the fight and take pressure off your maybe undergeared tank or healer.  Again, participating the interrupt game further assists your tank and healer.

Second, stay out of the bad.  We all know that dead DPS is no DPS.  Moreover, the more damage you take, the less time the healer can spend healing the tank.  If you are doing your job and staying alive, you can get by with a fairly weak tank or healer.

In Summary, I am Awesome

Actually, not so much.  There are plenty of players who are better than me who have sworn off PUGs due to their horrible experiences.  The major difference I have seen is that they often play the tank or healer role.  Assuming my assumptions are correct (double-assumption, FTW!), by queuing as DPS, I have increased my chances of eliminating a very bad or very immature player from the group.  I also have the benefit of being one of the least likely in the group to be yelled at when things go to hell, unless it truly is my fault.

What’s in a Name?

After trying to explain to a new group of potential guildmates how to pronounce my character’s name for, I don’t know…maybe the 12th time, I started to think about why I chose and continue to stick with such an annoying in-game moniker.  In the end, I guess it’s the same reason that many others in this genre of games have stuck with their names – recognition by friends and consistency across multiple games.  So, where did it all go wrong?  Why did it all go so wrong?

It started in 2006 or 2007 with my relatively (for me) long career in WoW.  I had played City of Heroes as my first MMO for maybe six months or so, and those commercials for TBC were so tempting.  My character in CoH was a blaster (ranged DPS) named Green Wind.  His bio said something clever like “Named for the malodorous gust of wind from which he received his powers.”  Looking back on it, this was the high-water mark for character names.

Coming from playing ranged DPS in City of Heroes, I decided to pick up a similar role in WoW.  I settled in on the idea of a Night Elf Hunter, not knowing the stigma that would attach to such a choice for the rest of my WoW playing career.  I started thinking that Yngwe would be a good name for a NElf Hunter, patterned after Yngwie Malmsteen, the speed metal guitar virtuoso.  Not that I am a fan of his, I just thought the name sounded right.  And this is where things started to fall apart.

First, as you may be able to tell from the previous paragraph, I spelled the name wrong.  Noob.  Second, the way I pronounced it in my head, and the way i told guildmates to pronounce it when I was first introduced to Vent was wrong.  I heard it in my head as “Ying-way,” and that is how I told people to pronounce it, and it is what I am known as to this day.  In reality, “Yngwie” is pronounced “Ing-vay.”  Double-noob.

So now, I am branded with a nearly unrecognizable and unpronounceable name.  Even those who recognize it and know how to pronounce it are mystified by my version of it.

My WoW-playing is pretty firmly in the past.  The Firelands turned me off pretty strongly, and nothing I have seen since has been tempting enough to seriously return to the game.  I made a couple of half-hearted tries since then, but none took for more than a couple of weeks.  After WoW, I spent a few months back in City of Heroes, and landed with some old guildmates in SWTOR for over a year.  I dabbled a little in GW2 and currently, I am running in the Marvel Heroes beta and Neverwinter.  I have yet to make a clean break with the Yngwe moniker, yet you may find me in various games under a different name.

My strongest effort at breaking the Yngwe mold has been branding myself as “Skerik.”  That name also derives from a musician, this guy.  He has a crazy persona, and I am fond of the name.  At some point, it became my name of choice for tankier characters, and as my playstyle shifted in that direction, it became my name of choice in games like TOR and Neverwinter.  Thankfully, people seem to have an easier time pronouncing Skerik than Yngwe.

Coming full-circle, however, I have run into numerous games where I have tried to select both “Yngwe” and “Skerik,” yet neither name is available.  In GW2, people simply took both names.  In other games, like Neverwinter and Marvel Heroes, I was previously registered under the name Yngwe, and had to create a new account for one reason or another.  So, what name did I choose?  “Ingvai” – the phonetic spelling of “Yngwie.”  The bitter irony of it all is that people seem to have just as much difficulty pronouncing “Ingvai” as they do pronouncing “Yngwe.”

I think the lesson I have learned through it all is that talking is highly overrated.