Do MMOs Need Parsers?

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The other night in a low level dungeon roulette, I had a DPS player pulling very low numbers attempt to tell me how to heal. The tank, clearly new, was losing aggro to me, and this guy seemed to think it was my fault. In what I’m sure he thought was my best interest, the guy gave me unsolicited (and wrong) advice about my class. I didn’t say anything to him, but I wondered— if his appallingly low numbers were on display for everyone in the group to see, would he be so quick to dole out advice?

This is something that happens all the time in the non-raiding scene. Feel persecuted? Grab an arbitrary number and talk about your top-tier DPS. Want to prove to a helpful player that you clearly don’t need their help? Cite more arbitrary numbers. When parsers aren’t integrated into the content itself, it makes it easy to fudge numbers and talk big, as few people will call you out on it. Even better, the people who can call you out on it are technically in violation of Square Enix’s Terms of Service, and eligible for a ban.

People will be rotten regardless of whether or not parsers are a thing, but I can’t help but listen to that little voice that says we should have them in the game. If you look at the content, it’s evident that Final Fantasy needed parsers integrated into the game long ago. A game with content as hard as Alex Savage, with difficult DPS checks littered throughout the fights, should have some official way of measuring what kind of DPS players are putting out. It’s a double standard to put DPS walls up in front of players, and not give them the tools to get better. Good players will seek out those tools, of course, but what about new players, or players who have heard nothing but negative press about parsing?

Parsers are bigger than some jerk in a dungeon boasting about his huge numbers (which, in the thousands of dungeons I’ve run, I’ve never actually seen). This is about helping people the best they can be, and making the tools readily available for every player— not just those in the hardcore raiding scene.

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Final Fantasy is notoriously bad about not preparing players for endgame challenges. There’s a stark skill gap between players who wait for content to be nerfed, and players who hit new content headfirst with everything they’ve got. Square has done a bit to help new players, giving them things like Guildhests and small trials to help them understand and improve their classes, but this ultimately leaves them in the dark when it comes to optimizing and improving their gameplay. Why put an impenetrable wall up in the form of Faust or A3S which demand optimized gameplay and then essentially tell the players, “Whatever rotation you’re using is good enough! Just keep bashing your head at it until you don’t wipe!” This doesn’t seem like the right way to help the raiding community.

If anything, the talent drain we’ve seen on big and small servers everywhere during this patch could have possibly been stemmed by better players helping new and struggling players to tighten up their rotations and improve enough to clear harder content. But how can players do this when parsers aren’t just frowned upon, but illegal to use?

Ultimately avoiding parsers is just a way to hide from reality instead of taking responsibility and stepping up to the plate to be better at something. Sometimes you have to hear that you suck to improve. It’s not fun, but it’s part of life, and coupled with constructive criticism, it’s one of the best ways to get better. It’s a symptom of our culture that we constantly run from responsibility, but this is a skill that will follow players into everyday life, and we shouldn’t be afraid to bring that into the game.

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To be fair, it’s a valid concern that parsers might run off the more casual players who comprise a majority of Square Enix’s revenue. I don’t think this means we shouldn’t have them at all—rather that Square should be careful with how they integrate numbers into the game. This might be on the way with the promised training dummy instance in 3.2, which seems like a careful enough strategy to start getting players comfortable with numbers. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

I just can’t seem to villainize parsing as much as the community seems to want to. At the end of the day, parsers are a tool. They’re only as bad (or good) as the people who use them.

What are your thoughts on parsers? Do MMOs need them? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “Do MMOs Need Parsers?

  1. First of all, nice post! I believe it depends on a mmo really. If a mmo is a more of a casual style mmo, without raids and some extra hard dungeons, you don’t really need parsers. You can see if someone really sucks at what they do and then kick them out from the party. I believe that in that type of mmos it would just make a community more toxic, because everything would be about numbers when there is really no need for that. In more serious mmos, however, I believe parsers are a must have, because it can often happen that you just don’t do inuf dmg like you are supposed to do, and you’re not even noticing it, specially in raids. It can really affect your performance and make it easier for you to improve your dmg or heal output.

    1. Yeah, I definitely agree! One issue with Final Fantasy 14 is that it kind of has both a hardcore element and a casual element. That being said, most of the community skews casual, which is why parser integration has been so controversial for us. Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed my post!

  2. I don’t really think MMO’s need parsers. They are helpful, with the right games. I believe there needs to be a system to help players make sure they are doing things correctly. Many people that are new to the genre don’t know about maximizing rotations or when to do abilities correctly. I think FFXIV fails at this. I honestly think most games should have something they can guide them a bit on how to do specific rotations or abilities. Experienced players will either learn by ability description, or will take the time to research on line. This separates casual players from more serious ones, and when you get a mix of both, it can cause a bit of issues. Least they are coming out with systems to help alleviate some of the issues. I’m curious to see how the next patch will have the training dps dummy checks.

    1. Final Fantasy has definitely dropped the ball in that department. I’m clueless when it comes to DPSing, and I’ve noticed that when I make a DPS class, it completely leaves me in the dark as to positionals or rotations. I have to scour the internet just to find these things, which I feel is poor design. I’m looking forward to seeing the dummies in 3.2 as well. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Agreed! I don’t think that parsers are a problem but the way that people use them are. To measure individual or group damage output is great. It’s not really any different from recording pulls to see where things go sour or get a better grasp on new mechanics. However, to use that information to kick, harass, or verbally abuse someone because they’re not hitting the desired numbers is bad. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way to escape that, other than simply being picky about who you raid with – people who use parsers to measure their self-worth would just turn to achievements or gear instead.

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