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Gear Progression and Threat Scaling

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes > Roles > Tanking
Gear Progression and Threat Scaling

Xerel's Avatar


Xerel
02.25.2012 , 05:00 PM | #1
I've noticed this myself, and seen others talking about it as well, there seems to be a problem with the scaling of threat generation for tanks.

As it stands now there is no way for the threat generated by tanks to keep up with well geared DPS classes. The root of the problem is a lack of scaling for tanks from stats other than their primary.

Here's a greatly simplified example:
Quote:
A tank and a DPS both receive a hypothetical item upgrade, this item has 5 stats on it and each stat is 10 higher than the item it replaces. For the sake of simplicity we'll assume each 10 stat increase is equivalent to a 1% increase in the effective contribution of that stat. Let's assume the DPS is a Marauder and the tank is an Assassin.

The Marauder gets: +10 Strength, +10 Endurance, +10 Critical, +10 Surge, +10 Power

Everything except the endurance increases the damage output of the Marauder, this gives him a 4% increase to his damage, and a resulting 4% increase to his threat.

The Assassin gets: +10 Willpower, +10 Endurance, +10 Defense, +10 Shield, +10 Absorb

Only the Willpower increases the damage and threat the Assassin generates, this gives a 1% increase in damage and through his self-buff a 1.5% increase in total threat generation.
Of course this example is *extremely* simple, and there are a ton of other factors involved such as talents, threat reducing skills, relative stat totals, etc. The point is even if you take all of those extra things into account the tank is still going to see a significantly smaller increase to threat output than the DPS for the same increase in item power.

The results make it easy to conclude that no matter how well the tank plays at some gearing level any competently played DPS is going to outstrip the threat generation of that tank.

When that gearing level is reached is up for debate, and depends heavily on player skill and class, I've found myself that when I was fresh to 50 and just starting HM FPs that the balance felt fairly good, and if I played well I was able to have good control over the encounters. Now, I'm doing mostly HM Ops and finding that our better geared DPS are able to pull single target aggro quite regularly. I can only assume this will only worsen in the next tier of content.

Some might say that these are problems that can be countered with better play, such as: DPS holding back and giving tanks a lead at the start, suggesting tanks wear some DPS gear to help offset it, or even implying that the tank must be doing something wrong for this to be an issue. Unfortunately though, I don't see those as solutions. The UI gives so little feedback to players that short of just standing there doing nothing, they have no way of knowing when they need to do something about it. DPS gear isn't an option on hard/nightmare modes, and no matter how well the tank plays they'll eventually fall behind at some point due to the lack of scaling.

I think a proper solution would be to give tanks a way to scale their threat output through the accumulation of defensive stats. An easy way to do this would be to allow the 50% threat modifier built into every tanking stance/aura to scale with the total of their defense, shield, and absorb. Primary stats already scale threat for everyone and Endurance for no one. Scaling that modifier would allow tanks to keep up with DPS, without sacrificing survivability, and without affecting things like PVP balance.

alifaraaz's Avatar


alifaraaz
02.25.2012 , 08:31 PM | #2
Interesting post. I've not started Ops yet so I'm not speaking from experience - But I can see how it could eventually become a problem as gear progresses. Hopefully this thread makes BW aware of a potential problem before it really occurs.

Kitru's Avatar


Kitru
02.26.2012 , 12:30 AM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by Xerel View Post
As it stands now there is no way for the threat generated by tanks to keep up with well geared DPS classes. The root of the problem is a lack of scaling for tanks from stats other than their primary.
First off, your greatly simplified example is so simplified as to be completely pointless. The disparity in stats and effectiveness is nowhere near as much as you think.

First off, you have to realize that roughly 2/3rds of your damage capability is determined by your MH and OH slots: weapon damage and either Force or Tech Power. If you don't believe me, go and look on your character sheet under the Force tab and hover over your Force Bonus Damage. You'll have *way* more Force Power than you will standard Power even if you're stacking as much as you possibly can. Since Force/Tech Power and weapon damage scale exclusively based upon the rating of the item in question (specifically the hilt or barrel) rather than based upon the specific enhancement in question (Resolve hilts do not do more damage than Force Wielder hilts), the majority of our damage and threat scales identically with those of pure DPS classes: the 66% of our damage that arises from our MH and OH are equivalent to 100% of the damage that a DPS class deals thanks to our 150% threat mod. The remaining 33% of a character's DPS is made up by the stats that actually appear on everything else: primary stats, acc, power, surge, and crit. Every piece of gear has roughly half of the non-Endurance itemization focused upon the primary stat. The other 50% is focused upon the secondary stats (either mitigation stats or additional DPS stats).

So, since tanks are sacrificing 50% of their 33% additional threat generation in exchange for tank stats, we can do some pretty simple math. Since it's all scaling at the same rate, for the same level of gear we can make some pretty simple calculations:

Tanks will generate 123.75% "standard" threat: 1.5 (threat mod) * (.66 (weapon and offhand) + .33 * .5 (everything else)). A DPS will generate 100% "standard" threat: 1.0 (threat mod) * (.66 (MH and OH) + .33 * 1 (everything else)).

Since the secondary stats actually do a *lot* less than you actually think (rating matters more than the secondary stats, in all honesty), the scaling "problem" doesn't actually exist. The problem is that, when running content, it's *very* common for gear disparities to exist within the raid, especially between the top DPS and the tank: when the DPS gets a new weapon before the tank, the tank is going to have some problems. The only times you should be having threat problems are within the first 10-15 seconds of a fight (wherein threat hasn't been established well such that minor variations in performance, such as those created by lucky crit strings or poor RNG on the part of the tank), in those situations that threat is intended to be a problem (re: the threat drops that the devs have sprinkled liberally throughout the bosses so that you actually have to use your incredibly fast recharging taunt), or in AoE scenarios wherein the DPS refuses to attack the same target as you (which is pebkac).

I've run content on my Shadow with DPS that outgears me remarkably well and had no problem holding threat except in those given circumstances. Threat gen is perfectly fine. The people that scream bloody murder about it don't know what they're doing and weren't expecting the devs to maintain such a tight threat ratio (a 1.2:1 ratio is really tight, especially when you compare the 3-4:1 ratio that is generally "standard" for most games). It's times like these that I cite what has become something of a mantra when dealing with whiners in game: TOR was designed to be different than pretty much every other MMO on the market. Stop trying to interpret TOR how you *think* it operates and was designed and instead focus on learning how it *actually* operates and was designed.
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Xerel's Avatar


Xerel
02.26.2012 , 06:08 AM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Kitru View Post
First off, your greatly simplified example is so simplified as to be completely pointless. The disparity in stats and effectiveness is nowhere near as much as you think.
You're right, when looking for a simple way to demonstrate this issue I didn't take into account how significant the MH and OH slots were to overall damage. However, I think your numbers are off as well.

Your 66/33 breakdown of damage seems reasonable enough for tanks but it doesn't hold up so well for dps. I did as you suggested and looked at the breakdown on the character sheet of my marauder, it occurred to me that just looking at damage isn't very accurate, since of course it doesn't reflect all of the secondary stats. So to get a better picture I compared all of the offensive ratings. I totaled up the stats, and pretended they were all just straight power, and converted them to damage. When I did that I found the breakdown to be almost exactly 50/50 or 50/25/25 when you split primary and secondary stats like you suggested, not much of a surprise since damage just mirrors item budget at that point.

Quote:
So, since tanks are sacrificing 50% of their 33% additional threat generation in exchange for tank stats, we can do some pretty simple math.
If I've done my math correctly(and there's every chance I haven't, it never was a subject I cared greatly for) it would seem that we're actually sacrificing 50% of our 50%, not 33%.

Your revised equation should then be as follows:

Tanks will generate 112.5% "standard" threat: 1.5 (threat mod) * (.5 (weapon and offhand) + .5 * .5 (everything else)). A DPS will generate 100% "standard" threat: 1.0 (threat mod) * (.5 (MH and OH) + .5 (everything else)).

I'll be honest, the idea of 123.75% was already feeling pretty tight to me, though you seem comfortable with it. How would 112.5% feel to you? Snug at all?

You really were correct though, it may not be a scaling issue so much as just poorly(IMHO of course) designed. When I wrote my first post it was more of knee-jerk reaction to the trend I'd been seeing in Ops. I can think of more than one time in that other MMO where tanks had run into issues with DPS threat zooming right past them, and despite all it's flaws I really do enjoy this game and want it to succeed. The prospect of tanking with a heavy reliance on the taunt button sours that somewhat though. Perhaps I'll finally have to learn-to-play.

Quote:
It's times like these that I cite what has become something of a mantra when dealing with whiners in game: TOR was designed to be different than pretty much every other MMO on the market. Stop trying to interpret TOR how you *think* it operates and was designed and instead focus on learning how it *actually* operates and was designed.
No doubt many songs will be sung about your triumphant banishment of yet another ignorant troll. But I would like to ask you something, why are you so eager to give the developers the benefit of the doubt? It's not hard to find aspects of this game that were either poorly designed, or poorly executed, what makes you so sure this isn't just another example? Where does your faith come from?

_gideon's Avatar


_gideon
02.26.2012 , 11:13 AM | #5
I miss Warhammer's guard. Worked mostly the same as TOR's guard except the guardee's threat wasn't simply reduced, it was siphoned to the tank.

Kitru's Avatar


Kitru
02.26.2012 , 01:46 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Xerel View Post
No doubt many songs will be sung about your triumphant banishment of yet another ignorant troll.
Actually, I wouldn't consider you a troll. You thought you had a legitimate grievance and attempted to provide some logic and math to support it. Your only fault was in not getting the proper numbers to work with your math, which largely stems from not realizing how heavily weighted certain slots are towards your damage.

Quote:
But I would like to ask you something, why are you so eager to give the developers the benefit of the doubt? It's not hard to find aspects of this game that were either poorly designed, or poorly executed, what makes you so sure this isn't just another example? Where does your faith come from?
Well, to answer the first question, it's because they're Bioware. I've yet to play a single one of their games that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. They've also been *very* reactive to player concerns, *way* more than pretty much any other MMO I've every played, assuming those concerns are actually legitimate.

As to my assurance that the tanking threat generation isn't going to be completely outclassed by DPS damage as gear increases, it's largely due to a realization of how the devs designed the game. The devs didn't want threat to be a joke consideration; most of the bosses in the game have threat drops specifically for the tank, the threat generation is remarkably tight compared to DPS, AoE threat gen is actually remarkably poor compared to AoE damage capabilities; and I actually *like* that and agree with them on it, especially since they also made it such that tanks and healers don't have laughably poor DPS.

What many people see as "poor design" simply because they don't *agree* with the design, I see as *excellent* design because I both agree with it and because I try to do the math before attempting to rat it out. Every time I've done the math for some mechanic, I have *always* been amazed at the foresight that BW has put into the design of the game; the conversion math behind Power and the general design of damage calculations is *incredibly* elegant. Nothing really feels poorly designed. Honestly, my only problems are with a specific few bugged mechanics, which is largely excusable because you've got to forgive a bug or 2 in a game as large as this, and some marginal balance concerns between the classes. There *are* some design decisions they made that I disagree with (delaying tank stances til 14; the slow acquisition of Shadow abilities; Trooper AoE *amazitude* right from the start; Kinetic Ward's overall design; not having purple crystals on Repub), but I see those as differences of opinion, rather than factual examples of poor design, and am willing to overlook them since I operate under the assumption that, even if I don't like it, they have some internal design justification for it.
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Xerel's Avatar


Xerel
02.26.2012 , 03:57 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Kitru View Post
Actually, I wouldn't consider you a troll. You thought you had a legitimate grievance and attempted to provide some logic and math to support it. Your only fault was in not getting the proper numbers to work with your math, which largely stems from not realizing how heavily weighted certain slots are towards your damage.
Right, I failed to take into account the impact of weapon slots to overall damage, when I looked at it in more detail I understood that. I also found however that you were overestimating their contribution. Is the design still as elegant if your own assumptions miss the mark?

Quote:
Well, to answer the first question, it's because they're Bioware. I've yet to play a single one of their games that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. They've also been *very* reactive to player concerns, *way* more than pretty much any other MMO I've every played, assuming those concerns are actually legitimate.
I've also enjoyed many Bioware games over the years, but it's safe to say I don't hold them in quite as high a regard as you do. I suppose this is largely a matter of perspective; while you praise them for addressing the concerns of players rapidly, I find myself questioning why they weren't able to get it right on their own the first time. They're not exactly blazing new trails here.

Quote:
As to my assurance that the tanking threat generation isn't going to be completely outclassed by DPS damage as gear increases, it's largely due to a realization of how the devs designed the game. The devs didn't want threat to be a joke consideration; most of the bosses in the game have threat drops specifically for the tank, the threat generation is remarkably tight compared to DPS, AoE threat gen is actually remarkably poor compared to AoE damage capabilities; and I actually *like* that and agree with them on it, especially since they also made it such that tanks and healers don't have laughably poor DPS.
And it may have turned out your realization of the dev intent wasn't accurate, personally that would cause me to reevaluate any conclusions I'd drawn from it.

I think the remainder of your comment here is just where we diverge on what tanking should be. I believe that threat should matter, but it shouldn't be the endall of playing a tank, I don't want to just be a DPS class with a threat modifier, the current tuning on threat gen steers it in that direction. I think tanking should offer a unique role in encounters, just like healing should also(hopefully) offer a unique experience separate from DPS. I also think the large amount of threat drops present in the current end game content is evidence of poor design, I don't find any compelling gameplay value in seeing how quickly the tank can press the taunt button(although I do enjoy mission critical interrupts, go figure).

Quote:
What many people see as "poor design" simply because they don't *agree* with the design, I see as *excellent* design because I both agree with it and because I try to do the math before attempting to rat it out. Every time I've done the math for some mechanic, I have *always* been amazed at the foresight that BW has put into the design of the game; the conversion math behind Power and the general design of damage calculations is *incredibly* elegant. Nothing really feels poorly designed. Honestly, my only problems are with a specific few bugged mechanics, which is largely excusable because you've got to forgive a bug or 2 in a game as large as this, and some marginal balance concerns between the classes. There *are* some design decisions they made that I disagree with (delaying tank stances til 14; the slow acquisition of Shadow abilities; Trooper AoE *amazitude* right from the start; Kinetic Ward's overall design; not having purple crystals on Repub), but I see those as differences of opinion, rather than factual examples of poor design, and am willing to overlook them since I operate under the assumption that, even if I don't like it, they have some internal design justification for it.
To sum up your thoughts here, criticisms leveled at Bioware are explained away in four distinct forms:
  • The 'whiners' are ignorant of Bioware's divine intent.
  • Bugs.
  • Relatively trivial things you're willing to accept some small fault in.
  • Bioware knows best(even if you can't explain why).

At the risk of getting completely off topic I'd love to hear your justification for the messy state of Crew Skill perks. They've been for me one of the clearest examples of design lacking foresight, could you shed some light on what I'm missing?

Kitru's Avatar


Kitru
02.26.2012 , 05:31 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Xerel View Post
[*]The 'whiners' are ignorant of Bioware's divine intent.
I don't believe that BW has some kind of "divine intent". They're not perfect. But it *is* their game, and it's their business how they weigh certain mechanics. If it doesn't match how some people *believe* those mechanics should be weighed against one another, it's not because BW didn't do a good job of maintaining those effects. It's because the players in question want to press their own preconceived opinions about how the game should operate upon a game that isn't designed as such. This is the primary region where player complaints about threat lie: they don't like the fact that BW designed the game to have tight threat gen between tanks and DPS and for the mechanics to actually cause threat to not simply be a consideration at the start of the fight. Because they don't like that part of the design, they think it's wrong. Rather than simply adapting to the game, they want the game to adapt to them.

Quote:
Relatively trivial things you're willing to accept some small fault in.
First off, it's not a question of fault. It's a difference of opinion that I don't necessarily agree with. I think that the developers could have done a better job with some class progressions, but I can understand why they did it. There isn't a "right" or "wrong", nor is there a "better" or "worse". It's simply another way to lay out the leveling path or whatever the case might be.

Quote:
Bioware knows best(even if you can't explain why).
Actually, I don't think that Bioware knows best, even if I can't explain why. If I did, I wouldn't have been one of the people that made it known and proved that Shadows were subpar tanks up until the improvements of a few weeks ago. I think that, if they chose to make a specific design decision that I don't agree with or can't quantify, I assume that, since they've demonstrated a remarkable amount of intelligence and foresight in most other aspects of the game, that there is some internal logic behind the decision. Just because I don't agree with something doesn't make it wrong. I'm only going to make a case with something that shows some *demonstrable* poor design. A tight design for threat generation isn't demonstrable poor design. If anything, the fact that they've designed threat to be so tight means that they've done an excellent job of designing the game to follow through on that model. The only time something is a problem rather than a design decision is if the design decision doesn't work properly or generates actual balance problems with the game. Since threat *isn't* a problem, as elucidated by numerous people that have never had a problem when played properly and in equivalent gear levels, it's a question of agreeing or disagreeing with BW's design decision concerning threat management rather than the mechanics and scaling of threat management. Since the *mechanics* aren't flawed, I don't have a problem with it.

Quote:
At the risk of getting completely off topic I'd love to hear your justification for the messy state of Crew Skill perks. They've been for me one of the clearest examples of design lacking foresight, could you shed some light on what I'm missing?
Don't get me started on the Crew Skills perks. The Crew Skills are, by far, the poorest designed system in the entire game. I *readily* admit that BW screwed the pooch where the Crew Skills are concerned and hope that they do *something* to balance them out. I don't have a personal opinion as to what they *should* do to balance them out since there are too many problems and too many wildly varying solutions. I just want they to do *something*, which they've said they're doing in 1.2. Since they've said they plan on addressing it, I can be patient, though don't misinterpret patience with satisfaction or even blind trust. There is a lot they need to fix and there are a lot of ways they could screw up fixing the Crew Skills.
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