Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Women in Armor: Part 3

Further surfing on the subject of women in armor has taken me inevitably to more sites associated with SCA (The Society for Creative Anachronism). is one such, and has among other interesting information, a page about women fighters in history. It contains these anecdotes, which I pass on to you:

In the 14th century, Sir Richard Shaw wrote of fighting and besting a Flemish knight who, when the armor was opened, turned out to be a woman whose identity was never discovered.

Agnes Hotot of House Dudley (born approximately 1378AD) took up arms in the place of her ailing father and bested her opponent in a mounted duel. The family coat of arms show a woman in a helmet, hair disheveled and breasts exposed (apparently she exposed them after the duel to humiliate her opponent).

Pierre Gentien, a French poet of the 13th century, wrote a rhymed epic in which he names some 50 women who, in order to prepare for the Crusades, held and participated in a tournament.

The songs and tales of the time are replete with tales of unknown knights who enter tournaments. Could some of them have been women in disguise?

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Since I Mentioned Armor on Women

This seemed relevant. From a website run by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

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Safefall for Dummies

My bruiser clearly needs more practice.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Combat Art Damage (Revisited)

For this post I'm going to look at a series of Combat Arts, the Bruiser Ability Jab, which Bruisers get at level 1, and its upgrades. Jab deals damage, and nothing else, and has a recast timer of 10 seconds. This study was done on my level 76 Bruiser.

First, I kept STR constant at 73, and looked at what the damage did as combat arts were upgraded. This was the lowest Strength I could acheive on this character without respeccing my AA's and undoing the Character and Racial abilities. I recorded the level of the Combat Art versus the minimum and maximum examine damage in the chart below. I used the Apprentice II versions of each combat art, since they were readily available at the Bruiser trainer.

The chart shows that the damage done by an upgrade is proportional to its level, since both minimum and maximum damage form straight lines.

Ok, so far so good. However, it turns out that increasing STR and holding the level/version of the ability constant does not always increase damage.

The effects appear to be the same for minimum and maximum damage. For example, increasing STR from 443 to 625 does not increase damage for Jab, Knuckle, or Blitz, and seems attenuated for Pummel, whether we are looking at minimum or maximum damage.

My hypothesis is that there is a STR cap in effect for these combat arts that is based on the level of the spell, not the level of the character.

Finally, I show the effect of adding +20 and +95 combat art damage while keeping STR constant at 625 in the chart below.

It is clear from the bars that the damage that can be added is capped. Here's another chart comparing each damage point with and without +95 CA damage.

It's clear that the additional damage grows until it reaches 95 at last three points. The data before that is quite consistent with a cap to added damage of half of the base damage. Blitz(Max) shows added damage a couple of points below that, it's not much, but it's larger than can be explained by roundoff error.

Perhaps there is a per-spell cap to added damage based on level, as well.

Optimizing added damage

How can you trade off added strength for added damage? How can you calculate how much dps an item that offers +50 CA damage is worth, so it can be traded off for haste, double attack, crit chance and DPS?

Without the cap, it would be simple. You would have to determine how often you use combat arts. This data can be gathered from ACT by parsing. If you're a melee class, it's probably on the order of one every .6 seconds. So, you could just calculate the increase as 50/.6 = +83 dps. However, a more complex question must be answered, namely how often do you perform a combat art that the benefit of the +50 can be used?

If your combat arts are already at their maximum addition to damage, then the +50 is useless, though this is unlikely for the biggest CA's at their best damage.

Fortunately, the effect on combat damage can be checked by equipping an item and then checking the change in combat abilities. I think the best way to do this is to know which abilities hit most frequently and account for the bulk of your damage. Then figure out how close you are to capping at the median damage. The closer you are, the less any new addition is worth. It's not exact, but it's probably good enough.

Increasing STR will increase the base damage of spells, which will allow more added damage, so there's a synergistic effect. And as far as I can tell, added combat ability damage is incorporated before any double attack or critical, just as DPS is, and STR. With the gear available in Kunark, particularly the mastercrafted gear, it probably won't be too hard to boost your Combat Ability added damage by quite a lot.

Go for it!

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Effect of STR on Combat Arts

Following up on the post on STR and melee damage, I looked at the effect of STR on a combat art that deals damage. The combat art I used was the bruiser skill Hammer, which my bruiser has at Master II.

I took the same approach as with melee damage, tracking how the minimum and maximum examine damage change as strength increases.

STR seems to have the same effect on melee combat art damage as it has on the basic melee attack. At 600 STR, 30 points of STR seems to be equal to an increase of one percent.

There's some sort of odd glitch in the curve, though. I haven't been able to account for it. I did the test without any enhancements to combat art damage.

I then ran a series while equipping one item that had +75 Combat Art Damage. Here's the plot:

There's something odd about this plot. The strength values are not exactly the same, since I started with a different item. But where a comparison can be made, it appears that about 25 is added to the minimum damage, and 75 added to the maximum damage, for an average of about 50 points added.

The slight glitch is still there, too, though at a different spot.

Others have claimed that added damage is capped at 150% of normal. But if this is to be the cause of the effect we are seeing, the cap must apply to other kinds of damage boosts as well. At 203 STR, minimum damage is 302. Equipping +75 Combat Art Damage but keeping STR at 203, minimum damage goes up by 25, to 327. But 150 percent of 302 is a lot more than 327.

So more study of +n Combat Art Damage is definitely in the works. In the meantime, STR affects Combat Art damage in exactly the same way it affects melee damage.

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Why They Changed Jumping and Gliding to Not Work With Horses

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Even the Queen?

Yesterday's post of screenshots of my Antonia Bayle illusion got me thinking. I'm not really all that happy with the portrayal of the Queen of Qeynos.

I may be 3000 years old and a pansy high elf, but it turns out I'm straight. I don't mind a little cheescake, not at all. This is not about me being prudish. But it seems to me that the Queen, the Monarch of one of the two major cities in the game, should project some authority. That particular model not only had unrealistic proportions, but the animations included back-arching, hip jutting, and other sexually-charged movements.

I've seen a few other models that do this sort of thing in game. For example, barmaids and dancers in taverns. This seems in character. And the female /flirt emote does it. Which is fine, because it means players choose to do that.

Sexuality is part of life, and we all find it appealing. At a time and place of our choosing. The problem comes when it becomes a category killer. When the only thing of interest or value in a woman is her physical sexual appeal.

Yes, I know that skin sells the game. But there are so many other things that you could do. Let's consider an archetype fantasy female -- Xena, Warrior Princess. She could be my queen any day. Lucy Lawless, as Xena, most definitely projected authority. You wouldn't catch Xena mincing around like that, except maybe for the right person at the time of her choosing.

You wouldn't have to stop with Lucy Lawless' Xena. Another possibility is Galadriel, as portrayed by Cate Blanchett. Not as much skin, but unquestionably beautiful, and with a clear bearing of authority. Which said bearing Ms. Blanchett put to good use portraying another Queen, Elizabeth.

There are other actresses and celebrities who might serve as models, even though they haven't necessarily portrayed queens. Susan Sarandon successfully navigates sex appeal , independence and authority in many films, my favorite being Bull Durham. Ok, that was twenty years ago. I told you I was 3000 years old, what's 20 years among friends? Here's SS in Children of Dune as a princess, showing what I'm talking about.

Though not royal, Gwyneth Paltrow's title character in Emma carried a lot of authority, even while being a bit clueless about her own heart. The photo doesn't show it quite so much, but Emma was more than happy to run people's lives, especially their love lives.

Jane Fonda may be in my age range, but she still looks good, and definitely looks queenly.

And of course, the Everquest icon Firiona Vie may dress like a tramp, but leaves no doubt that she can kick your ass. But then, she's a high elf, we're like that. Blogger Amber says of Firiona Vie:

If there is a single iconic representation of MMORPG’s, she’s it. She’s also a great example of how evil never attacks your midriff, arms, legs, head, or cleavage.

Everquest 2 does pretty good on the "armor does its job score". Plate armor does not develop big holes in certain spots when female toons put it on. Nor does chain or leather. And leather is supposed to be tight fitting. I think that should a woman in the more mundane world put on plate armor, her gender would be less noticeable than it is in-game. However, I think that people like to be able the tell the difference, and have got a helping hand from the artists.

It can be noted that the "around town" clothing for female characters universally shows skin, whereas the male versions are more varied. I note that there is plenty of coverage available in the cloth armor line, now that it can be used as appearance gear, but it wouldn't hurt to have something that looks good but gives a little more range. You know, shoulder and arms, but not thighs? and so on.

Anyway, to sum up. Antonia Bayle's job is to rule Qeynos, command the military, bring order to the streets. Not to lead me around by the nether regions. She does not exist to give me pleasure. Not that she delivers on the promise implied by her behavior. Yes, she is also the sales icon for the game, but good grief, Your Majesty, have a little dignity. You wouldn't ever catch Lucan doing the Chippendale thing, would you?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lucan Sam

For the sake of symmetry, here's me as Lucan D'Lere, the Overlord of Freeport. I had to sneak in to their mage library for my epic weapon quest so I copied his likeness from a nearby statue and got a book that was restricted for his eyes only.

I'm really happy that Illusionists at long last have some illusions that are worthwhile, though I'd really like them to last more than 2 or 3 minutes.

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Who's That Girl?

Hey, that woman looks familiar somehow. I've seen her around somewhere, you know, with a crown on. Oh yeah, it's Queen Toni, who reigns over Fish's Follies, in Fish's Ale House twice nightly except Mondays.

Eh, what's that? Oh, Your Majesty. I beg your pardon. Umm, yes, there IS an uncanny likeness, isn't there? Are you sure you've never been to Fish's? Er, of course not, no.

As it happens, Your Majesty, it was just my little joke about the new illusion I got while undertaking my epic weapon quest. I got to look like you for a few moments. Queen for a Day, as it were. And I must say, I look good as you. Especially the hair. I just love red hair, but you knew that didn't you? You didn't? Never mind.

I got this illusion from the Antonia Bayle statue nearby the mage tower in South Qeynos. I used it to pick up a book that was reserved for only the Queen's eyes, so shhh! I don't know if it will still work for me when I finish the quest or not, and it only lasts about 2-3 minutes. So I can't go adventuring as AB. Not just the models appearance, but her animation is, shall we say, not very Queenly.

Just to show my bonafides, here's a shot that shows my name tag.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Effect of STR on Melee Damage (and Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds)

The toughest thing to figure out of all is what effect STR has on damage output. Yes, it makes it bigger, but how do you trade off an item with, say, 10 fewer STR but a +1 Double Attack? Will it increase or decrease your output DPS?

I won't answer that definitively in this post, but in this post, I'll look at the effect of STR on auto-attack melee damage.

Gathering actual data on melee hits is very difficult. In order to get estimates that are accurate to one part in one hundred, or one percent, it would be necessary to gather data on 10,000 melee hits. This would have to be done at each strength level sampled. I consider that infeasible, so I did something else.

Namely, I looked at the effect that increasing STR has on the minimum and maximum damage shown in the persona window. It used to be that when you examined a weapon, the effect of your STR and other modifiers on the output damage of that weapon was shown in the examine window. This is no longer so. The examine window will always show the same damage, regardless of your strength. Below, we will refer to that as the nominal damage or perhaps the examine damage. In the persona window, the minimum and maximum damage values of the weapon, as modified by STR, are shown. We will refer to that as persona damage.

Prior studies have led me to believe that damage is rolled as a uniformly random number that falls between minimum and maximum persona damage, with a small chance of exceeding maximum in an "exceptional hit" tail. I calculate average damage as simply the average of the minimum and maximum. I expect that this will give us a good idea of the STR diminishing returns curve, and the effect of this tail can be ignored for our purposes.

Ok, on to some data. First, I looked at the Bo of Flowing Blood. Here's a chart of Persona Damage versus STR.

I also calculated the ratio of persona damage divided by examine damage for minimum, mmaximum and average damage.

The Bo of Flowing Blood is a 2-handed weapon. Just to make sure, I ran these numbers for a one-handed weapon, Dabner's Chitin Shredder. The proc on this weapon was ignored.

It is entirely clear that STR acts as a multiplier to weapon damage. Which means that the effect of STR on autoattack damage is entirely independent of weapon speed or dual wielding. Which is a good thing, in my view. Additive damage favors fast hits, multiplicative damage is neutral.

Ok, so what are we seeing? At the top of the range shown, about 650 STR, adding 20 points of strength increases the ratio by about 0.025, which is an increase of about 0.7%. Presumably this translates to an increase in auto-attack DPS of about 0.7%. I estimate that at this level of STR, +30 STR is equal to about +1.0% in autoattack damage.

You can see that the curve is flattening out some, and it will very likely continue to flatten. I'll be studying the effect of STR on Combat Arts soon, though I expect it to be multiplicative, with exactly the same ratios.

As a rough guide, 30 STR is roughly a one percent boost to
damage output. This will aid greatly in deciding gear tradeoffs, as long as you remember to favor parameters that are small, since the most efficient allocation of points will always be an equal distribution of them.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Items and DPSmod

I thought I'd list a few items obtainable through crafting, quests, or purchase that boost DPSmod. I'm excluding items that drop from raid mobs, even though some of them are quite good. I prefer to focus more on stuff that can be done independently, and on what can be done to leverage yourself up to the raid level.

  • The Assasin's Stud drops in Crypt of Agony.

  • The Belt of the Scorpikis Lord offers a +1DPSmod, and can be purchased from the Scorpikis faction merchant in Jarsath Wastes.

  • The Ivy-shrouded Earring of Tunare is the reward for a quest line in Faydwer, which I expect can be soloed by a level 80ish character. There is some discrepancy between the Allakhazam listing of this item and the EQ2i listing. Both list it as giving +8 DPSmod, but Allakhazam adds a proc that adds an additional +6 DPSmod. The stats are lower than you'd see on a tier 8 piece, but the DPSmod could well be worth it.

  • The Judicious Easyloader fabled adornment line can be used to add a +DPSmod of up to +12 to a thrown weapon bag. I haven't tested this, but it seems to me that this must be an addition to DPSmod under all circumstances, not just ranged combat, just as the other stats on such a bag add under all circumstances. This adornment is made by tailors.

  • Bow users don't need to lose out; the Judicious Composite Gear line of adornments, made by tinkerers, provides the same DPSmod as the Judicious Easyloader, but can be applied to a bow. For the same reasoning as above, I believe this modifier will apply to all autoattack, not just ranged.

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DPSmod, Spells, and AA's

It seems that DPSmod is every bit as important to overall damage-dealing as Attack Speed. However, it isn't as easy to boost this modifier, which hasn't been around as long. So how do you get more? Certain AA lines will provide a boost this modifier, and certain classes have buffs that provide a boost. In particular, Coercers get a very large DPSmod buff, the highest version of which is called Impetus, in symmetry to Illusionists, who get a very large Attack Speed permanent buff, the highest version of which is Rapidity.

Dirges get a group DPSmod buff line called, at its highest level , Riana's Indignant Sustain. This is in symmetry to the Troubador Attack Speed buff Rousing Opus.

Warriors have AA abilities to increase both DPSmod(Seasoned Veteran) and Attack Speed(Slayer's Speed).

Brawlers get AA skills that boost their Melee Crit chance, but little that boosts either Attack Speed or DPSmod. Except for the notorious Brawler Strength line, which skills cannot be used with any weapon. This limits its usefulness to Brawlers that are leveling up, since high-level weapons are going to be worth it for the brawler, even if they must give up the Strength line to use them.

Assasins have a self-buff that increases DPS (Villainy and upgrades), and Rangers have a self-buff of Attack Speed(Hunter's Instinct and upgrades).

Brigands and Swashbucklers get short term buffs of both DPS and Attack Speed - Deceit and Ruthless Cunning.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

The DPS modifier

One of the stats you will find on your persona window is the DPS modifier. This modifier has an intrinsically confusing name. When I'm talking about "DPS" am I talking about the modifier on my persona window, which is buffed by items, spells and combat abilities, as well as some AA lines? Or am I talking about my overall, parsed, Damage Per Second so let's adopt some overall terminology.
I will write, at least in this post "DPSmod" when I mean the modifier, and just plain "DPS" or "damage/sec" when I mean overall, parsed or theoretical, damage-dealing performance, which can come from many sources, be it criticals, attack speed, +damage, good weapons, etc.

Ok, so what does the DPSmod do? First, we note that it is on a diminishing returns scale, just like Attack Speed is. So it has a hard cap of 200. The rollover says that this modifier "increases DPS by X%". Anecdotally, I have heard it said that it makes autoattack hit harder.

So I made some runs with my level 33 Assasin. Assasins have a self-only buff that boosts DPSmod. To a value of 38, which the rollover says "boosts DPS by 41%".

I was dual-wielding a piercing weapon in my primary hand, and a slashing weapon in my secondary. I fought the rust monsters (which were gray to me) on the shores near the Butcherblock docks, both with and without this buff on, and looked at an equal number of attack, with and without this buff. I sorted them by size, and produced this graph:

Doing the same thing for the secondary (slashing) weapon, we get this:

There's some oddities in these data, but first let's look at this chart of the ratios between DPSmod of 38 versus DPSmod of 0 for various statistics.

This dataset is consistent with the hypothesis that a DPSmod of 38 makes all autoattack melee hits 38 percent harder. Though the performance in this run was a bit lower than that, perhaps 35 percent. We also note that the slashing damage from the secondary weapon was helped more, and it was helped in a very odd way. The minimum damage produced by the primary (piercing) weapon was not very much larger under a DPSmod of 38 than under a DPSmod of 0. In fact, we note on that there is a fall off the normal line at the extreme left of the red line in the first chart above. Somehow, the minimum damage of the piercing weapon wasn't increased by 41 percent.

By contrast, the secondary (slashing) weapon seems to have a flat spot at the extreme left end, the minimum damage seems to be a tad higher than you would expect. But while this second effect could be due to roundoff error and a small sample, the low minimum of the primary (piercing) weapon does not seem to me due to small sample size.

In any case, overall the hypothesis that DPSmod affects how hard your autoattack hits seems confirmed. As such, it seems every bit as important to overall damage-dealing as Attack Speed. And when you are trading off the two, remember that you will get more benefit out of boosting whichever modifier is smaller, both because of the diminishing returns scale, and because the most efficient allocation of some fixed number of points is to have both numbers equal.

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