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The Future of Progression Tracking


insaneric's Avatar


insaneric
05.06.2014 , 05:37 PM | #1
Hello SW:TOR community,

I was planning to make a very long post about my opinions the current state of progression and changes that could be implemented to improve it (both by Bioware and by us). I have however decided to cut down on what I have to say in order to get some key points out in time to be discussed before the release of Nightmare Dread Palace.

For those of you who don't know me you can call me Fuyri and I've been involved in the tracking of world progression since 2.0, you can find the latest thread over here.

The topics I want to touch on before NiM DP are the issues surrounding progression tracking and what to change for the next tier of content, and how to effectively test content without spoiling it once it goes live and how to deal with bugs and exploits throughout various points in release. So lets jump in.



Progression Tracking

There's no flawless method of tracking progression and whichever method the person/s running the tracking choose to implement there will be complains.

Verification of Kill Times:
Spoiler

Ranking Systems:
Spoiler

Speed Runs:
Spoiler

So most of the issues/debate regarding the progression tracking method is just a matter of choosing the best option. The exception is that Bioware should change achievement timestamps to be a set time (not local time).



Testing Content

Each wave of content there's an argument about if everyone should be allowed on the PTS to experience the new content or if we should be waiting until it hits live and the progression race starts. I'll summarize some of the points in each arguments and give a couple of ideas for possible solutions.

How the PTS damages progression:
Spoiler

How the PTS improves progression:
Spoiler

Alternative Solutions:
Spoiler

So in conclusion we need some sort of testing and while the current state may not be ideal but there's no perfect solution right now and nobody should be discouraged from taking part either in the PTS or in Progression because of this.


Handling Bugs and Exploits

Problems with the fights can be discovered at any point during the progression cycle. Ideally they'll be found while the raids are being tested on the PTS. But can be discovered during progression or even slip though and be found a few weeks later.

Discovered on the PTS
Spoiler

Discovered during progression
Spoiler

Discovered after progression
Spoiler

So remember; remain calm, don't take advantage of exploits, give constructive feedback and wait for it to be fixed.



Final Words

Congrats to everyone on your Nightmare Dread Fortress kills and progress. I hope everyone enjoys testing Nightmare Dread Palace, if you haven't yet get that PTS fired up and get going.

I'll be working on a new spreadsheet when I gets some spare time that will demonstrate some of the improvements that I'm hoping to make. Feel free to give feedback either now or when I finish that up, I'll try to respond to any relevant messages.

Fuyri
Darkness Tank Assassin Madness DPS
The Fuyri Legacy

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
05.06.2014 , 07:00 PM | #2
I'm going to weigh in on just a couple points…

Boss Verification

There is no reason for the achievement screen + UTC + game clock method of boss verification to involve any human error at all. We're already using spreadsheets to track progression. It is actually quite easy to modify the raw data sheet of the progression tracker to allow for either verification method with no human calculation. I would be more than happy to help out with the development of this feature if you would like, since I know your time is limited. With the method I envision, you would be able to input either a UTC kill time or a UTC time, an achievement time and a game clock time, with the ranked verification computed from whichever input is given.

Given that some guilds forget to UTC timestamp at the time of the kill, or want to change their mind after the fact about participation, allowing both verification methods would substantially lower the barrier of entry to world progression.

Anyway, as I said, I would be happy to help out with the spreadsheet in this area, since I'm very certain I know how to massage Google Docs into doing exactly what I describe above.

PTS

I'm a strong advocate of the PTS only containing a nerfed version of the content. I think we all expected this with Nightmare DF, and most guilds expressed a significant amount of dissapointment that the live version of Nightmare DF wasn't really changed from the last few PTS patches. Remove the nightmare power buff on the PTS, and then balance the magnitude of the buff for live based on player feedback and metrics from the PTS. Scripting bugs are isolated, and the live progression race remains challenging and a step up from what had previously been seen.

As things stand, with full form content available on the PTS, we are effectively participating in a race where the starting gun is fired a month before the race begins. Maybe this is "fair", since technically everyone could start running when the gun is fired, but there's clearly something very fishy about it.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Streaming Dilettante on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

JDotter's Avatar


JDotter
05.06.2014 , 07:15 PM | #3
UTC is fine not hard having a firefox/chrome window open and might delay it 10-30 seconds but isn't a huge deal. Yes, people forget honestly thats on the guild or player.

I like the combined point system but feel the current system is fine. I honestly don't pay much attention to the points, I look at it as first-last and enjoy knowing who killed it when/where. As the current iteration of NM DP looks it will be a login boss and council will be the big prize as Brontes was. I don't speak for anyone but when I look back at past progression and DF I look for who killed last boss first, and who got speed runs.

Way speed runs are tracked is fine IMO. I feel killing the boss first is far more prestigious than doing a operation to near perfection. Don't care which way it gets tracked.


PTS is fair ground while I prefer it to be tested internally I don't think that is plausible. The caliber of progression players and the staff bioware could use to test would be totally different.

Private testing would be next option but we are already a small progression scene sending 1-2 guilds to privately test content and sit out of the race would leave us with smaller numbers.

Progression on pts, don't like idea at all.

Think people wanting to push for world firsts kills all understand the pts is fair game and the effort you put in will show up come live. This last pts push Carl wasn't around and we got stuck @ draxxus shield bug and missed a week but that was our own doing for being bad/ un-organized that Tuesday and lacking leadership when Carl wasn't able to sign on.

Think only way to look at it is PTS is fair game use it as much as you want. Or a mass petition to bioware to do in-house testing, but if the "implant" scenario was any indication of what bioware thinks of the progression crowd I doubt anything will change.

I think the way people handled bugs this last pts was good, Reckoning posted the Brontes bug it was fixed. The infinite implant bug was fixed once bioware got wind of it. Not sure if the Draxxus bug has been fixed, I know I filed a report when I found out about it.

wnRRR's Avatar


wnRRR
05.06.2014 , 07:39 PM | #4
Hey Fuyri,

First of all i want to thank you for tracking the world progression and always thinking about how to improve it. You are doing that very well !

I'm going to give my own opinion, not "Seven Stuck's one"...

Regarding Verification of Time:
I see the problem, if you forget to take a valid Screenshot, but if you call yourself a progression guild, you should be able to take a Screenshot after youve killed a boss.
Obviously it would be the best solution if BW changed the Achievement System to be standardized, but as long as BW doesnt seem to change it, we have to work with the current system.

Regarding Ranking System:
I really like your combined System, already thought of something like that at the DF NiM Progression, 'cause the number of killed Bosses should be more important than the time you kill it.

Regarding Speed Runs:
I agree with you, from my point of view it should be seperated, but i have no problem with treating it like a separat boss

Regarding Testing Content:
Personally, i hate all the whining about the PTS… it's just the way it is, and i dont think BW is going to make a change to it, so we have to deal with the situation.
Furthermore it shortens the time of live progression, which - i believe - is a reason that people play SWtOR and not other MMO's.

Regarding exploits on liveserver:
I agree with you - nobody should take advantage of bugs. But if there was a guild that does not adhere to the agreement, how would you punish them if BW does not? Would you ban them from your progression tracking?
Who decides if a specific strategy is only "cheesing" or already exploiting? ... the Community?
If we have a look at our strat for Corrupter Zero: the whole raid is standing within 4 yards to Corrupter except one rDPS, so that we only have one Concussion Mine. Is it clever? is it cheesing? or is it an exploit?
... in my opinion this example is clear, its simply clever , but what if theres a not so clear case in DP NiM?
I myself have no clear answer, it is probably easiest to take the "opinion of the community" (if there is one).


Once again, thanks for doing this
TruBlood - Powertech

insaneric's Avatar


insaneric
05.07.2014 , 06:17 AM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
IThere is no reason for the achievement screen + UTC + game clock method of boss verification to involve any human error at all. We're already using spreadsheets to track progression. It is actually quite easy to modify the raw data sheet of the progression tracker to allow for either verification method with no human calculation. I would be more than happy to help out with the development of this feature if you would like, since I know your time is limited. With the method I envision, you would be able to input either a UTC kill time or a UTC time, an achievement time and a game clock time, with the ranked verification computed from whichever input is given.
Thanks for bringing this up, I've never thought of using multiple time inputs, it would cut down on any errors and reduce the workload during progression (although will still be a little bit more than currently). I do like the idea and will build it into the prototype. If implementing it this way, I'd probably go for a from achievement time only as it'll be perfectly accurate for everyone rather than giving an option of either.

I should be fine making a the spreadsheet myself but if I have any problems I'll give you a shout, thanks for the offer also any further ideas are always appreciated.

Quote: Originally Posted by JDotter View Post
I like the combined point system but feel the current system is fine. I honestly don't pay much attention to the points, I look at it as first-last and enjoy knowing who killed it when/where. As the current iteration of NM DP looks it will be a login boss and council will be the big prize as Brontes was. I don't speak for anyone but when I look back at past progression and DF I look for who killed last boss first, and who got speed runs.
With a more combined system it would display what you're looking at more clearly rather than rooting through the later pages. I really think ranking number of bosses killed primarily is a better method, it's just a matter of deciding if points should carry forward from different bosses as a secondary score or just base it off the time of the latest boss.

Quote: Originally Posted by wnRRR View Post
Regarding exploits on liveserver:
I agree with you - nobody should take advantage of bugs. But if there was a guild that does not adhere to the agreement, how would you punish them if BW does not? Would you ban them from your progression tracking?
Who decides if a specific strategy is only "cheesing" or already exploiting? ... the Community?
If we have a look at our strat for Corrupter Zero: the whole raid is standing within 4 yards to Corrupter except one rDPS, so that we only have one Concussion Mine. Is it clever? is it cheesing? or is it an exploit?
... in my opinion this example is clear, its simply clever , but what if theres a not so clear case in DP NiM?
I myself have no clear answer, it is probably easiest to take the "opinion of the community" (if there is one).
This is the issue I hope we never have to face but I expect at some point we will. I think if Bioware is unwilling to step in the opinions of the community are what should make the decision.

There are instances when using a cheesy and frowned upon method to progress (such as the case of TFB skipping bosses) which if allowed would have made the tracking system not work as intended. Here we can prevent it by properly planning rules for every eventuality but if something is missed it needs to be dealt with for the greater functionality of tracking even if there's a reprimand for something that is morally debatable for if it should be allowed or not.

In a case where there's a debate as to if something is clever/cheesing/exploiting it's where the community needs to make that decision and decide upon a suitable outcome. If the community is split I don't think just reading the forum posts would gives a clear picture of what action should be taken as some voices are louder than others, I would hope to approach the top guilds and get one path of action from each of them and find a middle ground from their opinions.
Darkness Tank Assassin Madness DPS
The Fuyri Legacy

Hoot_IV's Avatar


Hoot_IV
05.07.2014 , 04:27 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by insaneric View Post
Thanks for bringing this up, I've never thought of using multiple time inputs, it would cut down on any errors and reduce the workload during progression (although will still be a little bit more than currently). I do like the idea and will build it into the prototype. If implementing it this way, I'd probably go for a from achievement time only as it'll be perfectly accurate for everyone rather than giving an option of either.
Unless I'm mistaken, I believe people can manually change the times on their computers which would reflect in game and on their screenshots?

Quote: Originally Posted by insaneric View Post
In a case where there's a debate as to if something is clever/cheesing/exploiting it's where the community needs to make that decision and decide upon a suitable outcome. If the community is split I don't think just reading the forum posts would gives a clear picture of what action should be taken as some voices are louder than others, I would hope to approach the top guilds and get one path of action from each of them and find a middle ground from their opinions.
It is up to BW to decide what is clever/cheesing/exploiting and how to handle what they deem bad behavior. If the community decides, there is nothing but biased opinions and potentially false accusations.
<Death and Taxes>
| Furyan - Marauder | Furyyan - Operative | Ghillie-soot - Sniper |
| Mitigait - Assassin | Saraph - Juggernaut | Infuriate - Mercenary |
| Furiate - Powertech | Shockingly - Sorceror|
<Arts and Crafts>
| Nayruf - Sentinel | Wo-ot - Scoundrel | L-oot - Gunslinger |
| P-oot - Shadow | H-oot - Guardian | Daann - Commando |
| Craftimus - Vanguard | Mo-ot - Sage |

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
05.07.2014 , 04:47 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Hoot_IV View Post
Unless I'm mistaken, I believe people can manually change the times on their computers which would reflect in game and on their screenshots?
Achievements are always shown in current game time. Thus, you want a screenshot which shows simultaneously the following three elements:
  • Achievement time (in game time)
  • Current game time (the in-game clock)
  • UTC overlay

From the latter two elements, you can obtain the precise game time offset. This combines with the first element to obtain the precise UTC time of the achievement. Without editing the image or faking the overlay, you cannot falsify this form of verification. As long as it is one image (and not multiple) which shows all three of these elements, that is.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Streaming Dilettante on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

Hoot_IV's Avatar


Hoot_IV
05.07.2014 , 06:57 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
Achievements are always shown in current game time. Thus, you want a screenshot which shows simultaneously the following three elements:
  • Achievement time (in game time)
  • Current game time (the in-game clock)
  • UTC overlay

From the latter two elements, you can obtain the precise game time offset. This combines with the first element to obtain the precise UTC time of the achievement. Without editing the image or faking the overlay, you cannot falsify this form of verification. As long as it is one image (and not multiple) which shows all three of these elements, that is.
Well, actually you could, using photoshop, etc.
<Death and Taxes>
| Furyan - Marauder | Furyyan - Operative | Ghillie-soot - Sniper |
| Mitigait - Assassin | Saraph - Juggernaut | Infuriate - Mercenary |
| Furiate - Powertech | Shockingly - Sorceror|
<Arts and Crafts>
| Nayruf - Sentinel | Wo-ot - Scoundrel | L-oot - Gunslinger |
| P-oot - Shadow | H-oot - Guardian | Daann - Commando |
| Craftimus - Vanguard | Mo-ot - Sage |

Khevar's Avatar


Khevar
05.07.2014 , 07:13 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Hoot_IV View Post
Well, actually you could, using photoshop, etc.
If an "unknown guild" or "known low-skill guild" were to Photoshop their way to glory, you can bet your pants that players on the same server would seek out the winners and inspect their achievements while in-game.

Falver's Avatar


Falver
05.07.2014 , 09:17 PM | #10
I'd like to chime in that the point system is flawed in a lot of ways. Guild 5/5 ranking lower than guilds that are 2/5 because they didn't do the UTC clock/verification that day is sort of silly.

On the final stage of clears, 5/5, it should be ranked by order of kill for the final fight, in some way or another.
The Harbinger
Claimed - Thirteenth - Falver
<Phobos> is recruiting to fill in multiple raid groups. Apply at http://fearphobos.com/