Snow and procs


(Short post today, this is the view out my back window, and I see significant shoveling in my future. *sigh*)

There is an extremely technical, math-geeky discussion going on now over the RealProcsPerMinute (RPPM) mechanic for trinkets and enchants in WoW. You can read about what RPPM is here, and you can read the blog that started the discussion here, along with a link to Blizz’s response. It is very heavy stuff, don’t say you weren’t warned.

But for us non-theorists, the bottom line of this discussion is that in trinkets/weapon enchants that have the RPPM mechanism — which I think are most these days, unless they are on-use items — there is a huge bug that gives them super-powers on the initial boss pull. Apparently this gigantic bug has existed for two years.

There are several implications to this, the most noticeable one being the absolutely ginormous damage numbers you frequently see on initial pulls. This is even more magnified if the RPPM effect is triggered by a spell cast rather than a spell impact, because buff applications count as spell casts (!) Another implication is that most simcrafting for the last two years has been on the significantly low side (the most recent SimulationCraft version fixes this).

Blizz has said this will be fixed, but not before 7.0, and they have indicated that in general they do not like the idea that raids can blast out huge damage on a boss pull so they will be nerfing other aspects of that phenomenon as well.

Now, from a player point of view, this is all pretty insignificant — really, how many people are upset that their procs give more damage than expected under certain circumstances? But from a project-management point of view, it should be pretty troublesome to Blizz.

First, how did what seems to be such a humongous bug survive for two years? Does Blizz do no numbers testing or monitoring at all once they have written new code? It is not like there aren’t tons of raid statistics available, measuring every combat number imaginable. This just reinforces my opinion of the entire dev team doing what is optimistically called “balancing” but what in reality seems to be a couple guys gazing blearily at some graphs, saying, “Looks fine to me.” I understand, as evidenced by several dev public comments, that they are pretty solidly anti-simcrafting, but come on, the entire system is built on theoretical numbers and probabilities, put on your big-geek pants and do some serious number crunching along with analyzing real game play results. It’s called Quality Assurance, Blizz, look it up.

Second, ironically one of the main reasons Blizz implemented the haste-based RPPM system in the first place was so it would be easier to “balance” and tweak various procs. No further comment from me on this.

Third, on Celestalon’s point that “Overall, we’re attempting to cut down the on-the-pull cooldown stacking, and this is just one angle that we’re attacking that problem from.” — why exactly is this an evil practice? The whole point of cooldowns, I thought, was to be able to use them at critical times, and one of the marks of a skilled player was being able to stack and sequence controllable CDs intelligently with non-controllable ones.

Fourth, has it occurred to Blizz that if they cannot notice what seem to be huge flaws in their own code, that maybe they need to rethink either their fantastically-complex pseudo-random algorithms, their use of them for almost every aspect of the game and thus inevitable unintended consequences, or their testing philosophy and resources? They continue to give the impression that they are operating like a couple guys in a garage. Just sayin’.

Last, but certainly not least, the idea that my ideal simcrafting number has been on the low side for two years just makes me even more depressed than ever about my own puny and dismal actual numbers in comparison. Really, I could have lived without this knowledge.

And on that note, since I am already depressed, I guess I will go shovel some snow.


About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

4 Responses to Snow and procs

  1. Grumsta says:

    If Blizz want to stop players having to rely on Simcrafting they should remove RNG from procs entirely, and make it absolutely obvious whether any one item of gear is an upgrade or not without having to rely on Icy Veins or Ask Mr Robot (which fundamentally disagree with each other, and then are poo-pooed by Altered Time geeks). [Even this late into the xpac there are arguments over whether haste or mastery is best for Arcane Mages and what the breakpoint is, or even if there is one. A mere mortal like me just enchants, gems and hopes for the best quite frankly].

    I think most people use Simcrafting to work out which trinket combination is best in conjunction with their other gear to produce statistically the most damage overall. As any Arcane Mage will tell you, the RNG swings during major CDs will make an insane difference to your dps contribution. I can press exactly the same buttons at exactly the same time, and my opening salvo damage can easily vary by 200%. Personally I think Blizzard should address that idiocy first.

    It’s probably why it’s taken the sim community so long to point out this problem to Blizz. They’ve also had the numbers in front of them all this time. The fact that until now there haven’t been any Patchwerk-like fights has meant that the dps figures were very much theoretical and realistically unobtainable due to mechanics. Now we have armies of mages with 795 rings banding together to nuke down bosses in seconds, and that’s probably when the real numbers blew the simmed numbers out of the water and they twigged something was wrong.

    At least it’s been identified as a problem now well before Legion is released. I hope to see far more “on use” trinkets and for Blizz to finally get it into their thick heads that RNG is a really poor substitute for solid and simple planned design.

    • Fiannor says:

      I had to chuckle over your first paragraph, because I too finally have just thrown my hands up and adopted the “whatever” approach to gear. The huge irony of all this is that the whole reason Blizz gave us for eliminating reforging was that it was too “mathy”, causing people to have to rely on sites like AMR to decide on gear. (!!) Well, they sure fixed THAT problem, because it is now so complex and convoluted that even AMR, IcyVeins, or the Pawn addon are as perplexed about the gear as the rest of us. But then, as you know, I have long thought that the entire secondary stat system is broken beyond repair.

      This whole mess (RPPM) just compounds Blizz’s problem with class and spec balancing issues. Rather than making it easier to tweak the numbers for balancing, it has introduced yet another chaos factor into the equations, exponentially increasing the number of possible unintended consequences. (The game equivalent of a butterfly flapping its wings in South America resulting in a typhoon in Hong Kong.) One practical result is that some specs — like the Arcane Mage — end up with an over reliance on RNG for their damage, a situation that is, as you say, “idiocy”.

      Because I am lazy, I tend to favor passive trinket/enchant procs over on-use ones, but I am beginning to think I should take a second look at on-use ones — especially after the next great pruning in Legion. Hey, I will need SOMETHING to mash while I am twiddling my Beastmastery thumbs during combat!

      • Grumsta says:

        Mirror of the Blademaster is my favourite trinket in WoD because it’s on-use and situational. Fire it at the wrong time and the boss stands 5 yards out of reach of all that juicy dps. Get it right, and watch clusters of adds that your helpful DK team mate GFG’d into its clutches melt away.

        It becomes part of my rotation sure, but there can be times when you hold off because it’ll be more useful in a few seconds, or for specific tasks like Visions in the Kilrogg fight. That’s the kind of game play I enjoy.

        I guess we should be grateful they didn’t make the dps Legendary ring RPPM too….

      • Fiannor says:


        I have Mirror, too, and I am constantly calculating its timing, location, etc. You are right, it does make for engaging play. However, I suspect that some LFR tanks tend to lead trash mobs out of it exactly because of its cluttering ground effect. I am not really sure why Blizz changed its visual from the intended mirror image one (similar I assume to the Mage spell) to the green flashy thing with the whirling blades. I don’t play a melee class, but I have a lot of sympathy for them as they have to contend with more and more visual clutter on every fight.