Thursday, August 25, 2011

Timing Matters... A Lot.

You can ask anyone that had ever been on interrupt duty how important timing is.  Even more so in this expansion when it seems that one missed interrupt can mean a wipe.  Raise your hand if you have ever wiped a raid because you missed an interrupt.

~raises hand~

Twice this expansion actually.  Oops.

I am guessing the only people that did not raise their hands were people that either do not raid or do not play a class that was ever tasked with interrupt duty.

That is not what this is about however, it was just the perfect example of how important timing can be.

I am talking about timing while DPSing for the most part.  Timing while DPSing can not be seen as obviously as missing an interrupt and most people do not notice that their timing is off.  When an interrupt is missed damage follows and everyone knows that someones timing was off there.  DPS is not as noticeable.

I've run the zuls 100s of times now so I've seen a wide selection of players of varying gear and skill levels of course but while sometimes you can chalk something up to gear or skill other times there really does not seem to be an outstanding reason why one person is so much different from another.

If someone is wearing all PvP gear and you see them doing sub par DPS you chalk it up to the gear.  If someone has a low item level or used some items to cheat their way into the run that where in their bag you chalk it up to gear.

If you see a rogue without poison on his weapons you might chalk it up to skill.  When you see a retribution paladin that never once used inquisition you might chalk it up to skill.  When you see a survival hunter that never once shot a black arrow you might chalk it up to skill.

Then there are those times where you see people that have great gear, have what looks like a good understanding of their class, are using their entire tool box and yet there is still a huge difference in their DPS.  How is that possible.

Lets take two marksmen hunters in the same gear firing off the exact same rotation.  One does 14K and the other does 17K.  There has to be a reason for this.  They both have the same gear.  They both understand their class and the priority of their shots.  Why is there such a large difference in their DPS?  Can it really be the random number generator that is making that much of a difference?

After reading an article about hunter timing (forgot where I read it, sorry, or I would link it) I decided to check it out for myself.

I took to the dummy and held back.  I did not cast anything until the previous cast was done.  I did 14,400 on the dummy, no cooldowns or buffs of course.  I then did another 5 minute test where I would start my steady shot before the precious one finished and I would hit my instants before my second steady finished.  I did 16,800, same conditions.  I noticed something after doing the second test and went back to the first test so I was not even spamming my instants.  I would treat them exactly the same as I did the steadies and wait for them to finish completely before hitting another one.  I did 11,800 DPS, same conditions.

So we have three sets of numbers to work with.  One waiting completely, even on instants which was 11,800, waiting only on channeled casts, which was 14,400, and hitting things as soon as possible which was 16,800.

You will notice that there is a 5000 DPS difference between the top and the bottom there and any waiting I really did was minimal, perhaps 0.2 seconds per steady mostly.

0.2 seconds between shots and we see nearly 17K fall to about 12K that easily.

Timing matters for all DPS as well.  It is not just hunters, it is every class in the game and even more so classes with channeled times.  I have done 36,000 on the lynx boss in ZA on my mage.  I have done 23,000 DPS on the lynx on my mage too.  I am sure that is all timing being all I was doing was spamming my 2 button for most of the fight each time.  Perhaps my key presses were even 0.01 second off on each one and you can see the huge difference in DPS that came from it.

When you do anything that is channeled there is always a window of opportunity to start casting the next spell before the previous one has gone off, that is where your DPS gain (or loss) will come from.  The better you take advantage of that precast time the higher your damage done will be. (Same for healers too.  You can start the next heal before the previous one has landed but that is another article)

Just like that one interrupt can wipe the raid DPS with bad timing can wipe a raid do to an enrage timer.  If you have six damage dealers all leaving 5K a piece on the table that is 30K less DPS your raid is doing as a group.  That is a lot of DPS.

If someone ever said you can bring an extra DPS and they would do 30K wouldn't you say hell yes and immediately think that it would make all the fights so much easier because the boss will go down that much faster?

Most of the DPS issues I think we see in the game are not really a gear issue or a skill issue.  It is a timing issue.  People are not timing their abilities to the best of their capability.  Sure, there are a lot of bad players out there, there are a lot of people that will suck no matter what, but there also a lot of fairly acceptable players out there that would turn into good solid players if they could just pick up that 0.1 second per ability.

There is another factor that should be mentioned.  Latency.  No matter how good of a player you are.  No matter how quickly you can spam your skills.  No matter how knowledgeable you are at your class.  Latency will always limit you to a maximum potential much lower then your actual maximum potential.

There is a reason why the top guilds in the world ask people what computer their use and their specifications for that computer.  They need to know that you are not leaving any DPS on the table by not having a machine capable of allowing you to do your maximum potential.

If you are ever having problems with your DPS and start wondering why someone in the same gear as you can beat you when you know you know your rotation, it is a timing issue.  Nothing more.

If you are a raid leader and you see some people doing sub par but are usually much better perhaps they are having problems adjusting their timing to the fight and it is not really that they are doing bad, it is just that they are learning to fit their timing in better in that particular fights requirements.

From my own personal experience I have seen my DPS go up as I got more used to a fight and learned when I would need to move and how I would need to move.  As I better understood what I needed to do during the fight I was able to adjust what I did around those movement requirements.  I timed things better and my DPS went up in subsequent attempts.

DPS is a role of continuously learning.  Every fight you have to learn your timing over and over again for that particular fight.  While latency can limit you some the only thing that will ever really limit a damage dealer is how quickly they can adapt to the change between each fight.  The faster you adapt with your timing, the better you will be. 

When you are having issues sometimes it might be best to stop thinking about the DPS you are doing and start thinking about the timing of your shots.  You will notice, if you concentrate more on timing your shots so you never have any down time and are always doing what you should be doing, the DPS will follow on its own.

Worry about your timing first and you can look at the numbers after the big baddie is dead and everyone is rolling for their nice new shineys.

Timing matters... a lot.


  1. I'd just classify it differently. Knowing your rotation priorities is not a matter of skill, but a matter of caring, i.e. not being a slacker. You can be very hard working at knowing everything you have to know about your class and still suck. If you suck, you can't be called skilled.
    What you call timing is what I would call skill (or at least part of it). Take a look at this video: . It's a video every WoW player should watch.
    Queuing your next ability is not a concept that is obvious or even remotely clear in the game, I believe it's something not many people understand and use to their advantage, although it's actually the most vital thing you can do to improve your damage, even more than the right rotation, talent build or enchants/reforges/gems.

  2. That is a nice video. Never saw it but it really just tells people what is common knowledge. However, common knowledge is not really all that common from what I have seen.

    Still, even knowing it, it was nice to see it again.

    I kind of stumbled on queuing my next ability early on because I spammed my keys and noticed I was actually starting the next ability before the previous one finished. It was not skill that made me find it. It was being impatient and spamming my keys. lol

    Every since then I try to squeeze every extra second I can get into my rotation. More time means more shots means more damage.

  3. This reminds me of something I have wondered about dps timings for awhile.

    In Wrath, at some point in the expansion, we were having threat issues on one of the bosses and I suggested to the dps they wait a couple of seconds before piling in because it wasn't a dps race. They didn't like this idea, and one of the reasons given was that the first couple of seconds of the fight made a huge vast difference to the final numbers on the dps meter. Like, if one player started dps and another of similar skill started a couple of seconds later, the difference between them on the damage meter at the end would be huge - way more than just the damage done by a single 2s cast time spell.

    I can see this is true but never could figure out why. I wondered if it was something to do with the implementation of the dps meter.

  4. Really, really insightful post. Mostly with those shocking numbers (from testing) to back it up.

    Especially as an aspiring hunter who's looking to get competitive and striving to top those meters. This has actually made me evaluate my game.

    - Jamin