Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gear Score - Our savior or spawn of satan?

There is alot being said about the addon GearScore at the moment. Some people simply say alot about it because they use it. That looks something like this - "DK DPS, 5,5k gs LF raid". Some people say alot about it because they think anyone who uses it are twats. That looks something like - "people use gs to hide their own incompetence".

What's the deal with GS anyway? Where did it come from? Why do people use it? Is it even useful? I think we have to go ask the old folks over at Memory Lane about this one. Maybe they can straighten out some of the question marks surrounding GS.

First of all, it is a well known fact that pug raids generally don't run as smoothly as a raid among friends/guildies. Why this is, is a topic for another post, but it is still so, with exceptions of course. There are always exceptions. This means however that when picking a pug group together you have to take people a little over the top, so that you can overcome whatever barrier the general pug raid always faces (most often poor teamwork). This means you have to put demands on people, on their knowledge, skill and gear. These are overall valid demands, in my opinion. People just want a nice smooth run without any wipes, and will do anything to get it. Failing with strangers just make people go cranky. This has always been so, from the very first pug until the very last, for sure. The way of sorting people from another has changed some over the years however, and this is where GS comes into play.

Remember some years ago, what you had to do to get a group? To convince someone you were the perfect choice for their pug raid? Back then there wasn't many ways for someone to control your claims of imbaness. People usually demanded that you know the tactics of a fight, just like today, but there was no way for them to really know if you did or not. Until the fight had already started and your lack of knowledge had already wiped the raid. The same problem was with gear. You could claim to have a great gear, and there wasn't a good way for anyone to tell you weren't lying except for good old "inspect". Those were the old days, and even then people had demands on their puggers. Only there weren't many ways to control claims with facts.

Then came achievements. Suddenly people could demand proper proof that someone had completed a fight at least once, which had to mean you knew something about it. Waving your achi around became something like a school degree. "Look I made it, I know how to do this". Linking your achi is practically mandatory for most raid pugs going out there, only exceptions being the easier weekly raids and perhaps VoA.

People starting asking questions like - "well how will I get my damn achi without any achi?". A valid question of course. The answer is - with people who don't care if you know tacs and don't mind risking a wipe or two because of it, namely your friends or maybe guildies. It is the harsh truth, and it has always been the harsh reality. Things haven't changed there, it simply has become a little easier for people to check if you really do know tacs or not. Some people say - "well you can know tacs without having done the fight, maybe you've read up on it". True, but reading about it and doing it isn't the same thing. Having done the fight will always be the better of the two. But then again, having done the fight once isn't a guarantee that you really know much about it. But chances are definitely greater than when picking someone who hasn't done it. Other say - "well I have done it, but not on this char yet". Most people I know would invite someone who claim they know the fight from some other char, if the char they wanna join with is at least properly geared.

And then came Armory. Suddenly you could check the gear of someone without having to inspect them. Anyone who wanted to join your pug was just some clicks away from inspection. There was no way to hide and sorting out the bad ones from the better ones had become even a little more time efficient. But yet again, nothing new was actually asked for. People didn't demand anything extra, compared to before Armory. They just checked Armory instead of waiting for you to come into inspection range.

But looking people up at Armory is actually quite tedious. It is slightly more effective than having to inspect them in game of course, although that is actually the method some people still deploy when collecting a pug raid. But anyone who's ever used Armory, quickly notices that not only does it seem to need Viagra to produce a decent uptime, having to switch between WoW and Windows (Mac users are a myth) all the time to check people up can easily become tiring on a slow computer (and trying to find someone with a crazy name can take ages).

Right here is where GearScore makes it grand entrance. As with any other addon, and I know I've said this before, it doesn't actually add anything to the game. It simply shows stuff you could find out anyway in a simpler to reach fashion. Basically, it is there to allow you to check someones gear without having to use Armory at all. It isn't as good as Armory of course, GS is in fact an addon that could use some extra work. As it is it takes no regard to gemming, enchanting or most importantly - skill (which of course Armory doesn't show either and is why you ask for achis), but only gives a rough estimation of the general ilevel of someones gear. And that is exactly how it should be used - as a tool to give you a rough estimation of someones gear, instead of having to tab over to Armory all the time. It will help you decide not between the guy who has 5000 gs and the other dude who has 5100 gs. But between the guy who has 2500gs and the dude who has 5000gs. Ok, I exaggerate some, but hopefully you get the general idea. Someone with 5000+gs will most likely do well in ICC. Someone with 4000ish gs will most likely have more trouble in ICC. Someone with 6000gs has probably plenty of knowledge about their class and current raid content.

Is GS useful? Yes definitely.
Do people rely too much on it? Yes, sometimes.

GS is a tool. Just as any addon. You can't say a tool isn't good, because that depends entirely how it is used and on what. I admit people tend to forget the flaws about GS (and most importantly that gs isn't in any way linked to skill), but that isn't really the addons fault at all. Yes, alot of incompetent people think GS is the easy way to tell if someone is good or not, well they are quite wrong of course. But it does give you a general idea. Never put too much faith into something that doesn't take everything into consideration. Use GS for what it is good for instead - providing with rough estimations, for quick decision making.

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