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How to reduce ability delay?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes > Roles
How to reduce ability delay?

rainbowunicorns's Avatar


rainbowunicorns
12.03.2015 , 05:49 PM | #1
Issue
My abilities take longer to cast is greater than their advertised casting time. This results in less abilities/actions per minute, which is negatively impacting my DPS.


Question
Is there a way to minimize or eliminate the extent to which abilities take longer to cast than the advertised time? I would appreciate not only insight into a solution, but also the cause.


Story
I found that my DPS against a dummy was far below the target value per the optimal stats and DPS rankings by Goblin_Lackey (I have stats approximating the 220 recommended). Having done my best to focus on getting my rotation “right”, the gap was still large. I read through the assumptions in that post to see if I was missing something crucial, but I did not appear to be.

Feeling like my rotation was probably not “wrong enough” to cause the gap I was seeing, I decided to look at my combat log in StarParse, to see if my issue was that I was queuing up abilities that were still on cooldown when the current cast had finished (i.e.: ability is on cooldown party-way through the current cast, but it “looks like” it will be ready by the end of the cast), since that would be an obvious place for failure to occur. When I brought my ability usage into Excel and compared the time between ability usages, I noticed that the gap was almost always greater than the ability cast time (which would indicate that there is some pause between when a cast completes and when I activate the next).

Since my problem seemed pretty easy to solve, I played with a dummy focusing only on getting my casts to have no possible gaps, mostly ignoring rotation. Looking at the gaps in ability usage after, I still found that the gap was greater than the cast time of the abilities. I tried setting my graphics to low, disabling flying text, disabling sound, altering the Ability Action Queue Window, and even connecting via VPN through a server in Los Angeles; nothing resolved the issue.

Next, I tried using automated keyboard input for a single ability, to be activated every 250ms, which was both less than half my Ability Action Queue Window, so that the queue should be guaranteed to always have an ability in it. Still, the gap persisted.

I am out of ideas on what I can do to mitigate the gap, and am hoping someone knows of a solution.


Data/testing
I play a Telekinetics Sorcerer, that's what testing has been done on.

All testing was done using zero (0) alacrity rating, with an “Ability Action Queue Window” of 1.0 seconds, and by sending the instruction to cast the ability every 0.25 seconds. The test was halted once Force was almost depleted, so that not having sufficient Force would not end up skewing results.

I tested with each of “Weaken Mind”, “Disturbance”, and “Telekinetic Burst” (the latter twice). The testing of “Weaken Mind”, “Disturbance”, and one of the “Telekinetic Burst” tests was done while naked. For the naked “Telekinetic Burst” test, I first built up five (5) stacks of Telekinetic Focal Point (5% alacrity), so that I could get the largest possible number of casts while also having a consistent amount of alacrity (5%).

I tested “Telekinetic Burst” a second time with the 4-piece set bonus (cost reduction), but still no alacrity. In this latter test, since I had more Force to play with, I built up the Telekinetic Focal Point stacks during the combat, and then cast a “Telekinetic Wave” to indicate the point in the combat log at which five (5) stacks of Telekinetic Focal Point (5% alacrity) was achieved. In the spreadsheet, only the ability casts after that point are included, so that alacrity is consistent, but the building of stacks is in the Parsley upload linked on that sheet.

Google docs spreadsheet


Proactively responding to some questions
Q: The ability use is not written to the log at the exact instant it is cast, and the time it takes to write to the log can vary, does that not make ability cast times in the log useless?
A: Over a large number of ability casts, the average time between them should be consistent with the actual time to activate them. If, for example, an ability takes 0.1 additional seconds to write to the log, then all ability casts will be offset by 0.1 seconds, and therefore the time between casts in the log will be equal to the time between casts in the game. If an ability takes a variable amount of time to be written to the log, but we all abilities are in the log, then any “extra” time to write one ability (which would increase the gap with the preceding log event) will be precisely made up for by the reduced gap with the next log event.

Q: You did not provide a measure of your ping, does that not contribute?
A: It might, but it should not. If the “Ability Action Queue Window” is, in fact, a queue of size one on the server, then my ping is irrelevant so long as the next ability gets into that queue before the ability currently being cast finishes; that is the entire point of an action queue. If it is still relevant, my ping is generally in the 30-60ms range, though I have seen it spike to 165ms before.
. ∑ị▔▔▔▔ị[█)

Ryuku-sama's Avatar


Ryuku-sama
12.03.2015 , 06:24 PM | #2
There is a nice little stat given by Starparse and on Bant spreadsheets... APM. Actions Per Minute. Or how many buttons you push every min. Considering TK has no channels to screw this up, the APM Bant gives (49.7) should be almost exactly your own.. So you should have 48.5-49 APM to be close to perfection and 45+ to be excellent. Note that APM for TK will vary because of how many time you reduce Mental Alacrity CD.

After checking everything.. Your APM is 39.63. The APM your tests with TKBurst should give is 42. Try it out again.. And if you can't seem to ever get close to 41-41.5 buy spamming ONLY TKBurst, I don't think we can help you at all.
"If it wasn't broken, we shall break it. If it is balanced, we shall beat it until slow and painful death follows. If it is overpowered, it is working as intended." - Bioware 2015

rainbowunicorns's Avatar


rainbowunicorns
12.03.2015 , 06:35 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by Ryuku-sama View Post
There is a nice little stat given by Starparse and on Bant spreadsheets... APM. Actions Per Minute. Or how many buttons you push every min. Considering TK has no channels to screw this up, the APM Bant gives (49.7) should be almost exactly your own.. So you should have 48.5-49 APM to be close to perfection and 45+ to be excellent. Note that APM for TK will vary because of how many time you reduce Mental Alacrity CD.

If your APM is low (likely), you are doing your rotation too slowly. And if spamming GCD abilities without any alacrity gives you anyless than 39-40 APM, you have a problem no one here can fix
Yes, I am aware of APM. This post discusses how abilities are taking longer for me to cast (based on the logs) than the advertised time to cast them. That each ability takes longer to cast than it should necessarily pushes APM down. As I noted in the post there exists a *possibility* that I had the computer press the ability key ever 0.25 seconds to eliminate human error and deal with the occasional lost packet.

While it is possible that there is no solution, I would like to think that I am not the only one to have experienced this problem, and that perhaps someone has experienced it and has a solution (or can at least explain it).
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
12.03.2015 , 06:40 PM | #4
Your methodology is excellent. I wish more people asked questions this way…

Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for you. Your log looks like that of a player who isn't correctly using the ability action queue, but having a queue of 1 second and automatically pressing Burst once every 250 milliseconds basically rules that out. You're absolutely right that the queue should have the next item in it.

The only thing I can think of is that there are some timing pathologies that we're missing. Half the ability action queue is indeed the break point for guaranteeing entry. You're at 1/4th, but 250 milliseconds isn't actually that much time. Your ping is around 60ms, so that's 190 milliseconds left to account for. Add in input lag caused by the game engine (let's say another 20 ms, which is actually less than I think it is), and server sync lag (could be as much as 100% of your ping, or another 60 ms) and we can account for a fraction of that. We're still left with 110ms of unaccounted time, so I'm not sure if that's accurate.

When I play, I do tend to spam my ability repeatedly (far faster than 1/250ms) when I am in an action queue window. You could try that (set the automated keyboard frequency to something like 1/40ms; my music background suggests that I'm spamming my abilities right around that rate when I parse). I'm not sure if it will fix the issue though.

It's possible that this is an underlying bug with the game engine that you've surfaced
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. 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)

December 13, 2011 to January 30, 2017

ceazare's Avatar


ceazare
12.03.2015 , 07:44 PM | #5
Did some quick tests to see if it's an isolated case. I got similar results though. Average time of 1.589 s for Disturbance and 2.09 s for Telekinetic Throw as Balance
Pelara <Titans>
The Red Eclipse

rainbowunicorns's Avatar


rainbowunicorns
12.03.2015 , 09:05 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
The only thing I can think of is that there are some timing pathologies that we're missing. Half the ability action queue is indeed the break point for guaranteeing entry. You're at 1/4th, but 250 milliseconds isn't actually that much time. Your ping is around 60ms, so that's 190 milliseconds left to account for. Add in input lag caused by the game engine (let's say another 20 ms, which is actually less than I think it is), and server sync lag (could be as much as 100% of your ping, or another 60 ms) and we can account for a fraction of that. We're still left with 110ms of unaccounted time, so I'm not sure if that's accurate.

When I play, I do tend to spam my ability repeatedly (far faster than 1/250ms) when I am in an action queue window. You could try that (set the automated keyboard frequency to something like 1/40ms; my music background suggests that I'm spamming my abilities right around that rate when I parse). I'm not sure if it will fix the issue though.

It's possible that this is an underlying bug with the game engine that you've surfaced
A very reasonable suggestion, and thorough explanation, thank you. I had not considered that 250ms would be insufficiently frequent when a considering all other factors that add delay.

I have added another sheet to the spreadsheet linked in the original post, re-doing the test and procedure from the second "Telekinetic Burst" test (4-piece, 0 alacrity, etc.), but this time sending the instruction to cast the ability every 0.04 seconds (40 milliseconds). Unfortunately, the results appear to be approximately the same as sending the instruction every 0.25 seconds. After repeating several times, I could not get as large a continuous dataset as with the last, I guess I was unlucky with procs (or lucky last time), but 400 casts is probably still a large enough dataset to see a trend.


Quote: Originally Posted by ceazare View Post
Did some quick tests to see if it's an isolated case. I got similar results though. Average time of 1.589 s for Disturbance and 2.09 s for Telekinetic Throw as Balance
They say misery loves company, and I am glad that I am not alone in having this issue. Also, thank you for taking the time to do some testing, knowing I am not some sort of special snowflake case is reassuring.
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
12.03.2015 , 11:07 PM | #7
Do you have other classes to test with? This really sounds like a bug, and I'm curious if it's universal.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. 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)

December 13, 2011 to January 30, 2017

Eksenia's Avatar


Eksenia
12.04.2015 , 05:02 AM | #8
Hi! As far as gear goes (because it wasn't explicitly stated in OP), do you use ops gear, ie. set bonus and left side pieces called mk-1? The comms gear stuff is A TRAP if you ask Admiral Ackbar and myself because it is very endurance heavy and power starved and will yield way lower results!

As far as ability delay goes, once I too tried the ability queing thingy because it's fun to try new stuff. It didn't at all work as well as the traditional hammer-the-keybind-like-you'd-want-to-hurt-it-when-the-cast-or-GCD-is-nearly-over method. Have you tried using said traditional method to compare? For me the outcome was substantially different using aforementioned traditional method.

Regards,

rainbowunicorns's Avatar


rainbowunicorns
12.04.2015 , 05:05 AM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
Do you have other classes to test with? This really sounds like a bug, and I'm curious if it's universal.
I have sub-65 Warrior, Inquisitor, and Trooper, which I expect means they don't have the talents/features unlocked that make long-term spamming of some (actual) ability feasible.

After I get home from work, I will try with the basic/free attack on my Trooper and post an update.
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
12.04.2015 , 12:39 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by rainbowunicorns View Post
I have sub-65 Warrior, Inquisitor, and Trooper, which I expect means they don't have the talents/features unlocked that make long-term spamming of some (actual) ability feasible.

After I get home from work, I will try with the basic/free attack on my Trooper and post an update.
I think the inquisitor in particular would be very interesting, but the Trooper should also be revealing. I can't decide which scenario I like less: if this is a bug with the whole game, or just with one class.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. 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)

December 13, 2011 to January 30, 2017