the red badge of courage

January 26, 2009

I’m looking for ways to use the new armoury character achievements and statistics pages to sort my sample into the various types of playstyles – raiders, arena players, BG PvPers, and last-but-not-least the good ol’ carebear.

The name of the game is to partition the sample, so we can see what gear, stats, talent builds etc are preferred by each type of player. In particular, I’m interested in doing some reports on BG twinks, since this seems to be the most under-analysed group of players in the Blizz-o-sphere.

Traditionally, playstyle analysis has been done using gear. If a toon is kitted out with purples from the most challenging raid dungeons in the game, then you can draw some pretty safe conclusions about their playstyle.

The armoury XML provides several pieces of data on the source of each item. The web sites that do this for a living combine the armoury data with other information on how challenging it is to obtain each piece of gear (using for example the loot tables of the end bosses)  and come up with raid rankings, guild progression lists und so weiter.

Can we do the same using the character stats? The answer would seem to be yes. After all, we now know exactly how many arenas, BGs, instances and raid dungeons each toon has done. And we have several measures on how well they have done: the number of BGs they’ve won, the total honourable kills and killing blows that they’ve amassed, and the number of times they have died – which may turn out to be a useful negative indicator of how well-tuned the toon is for a specific activity.

The problem is to find a set of measures that have a good correlation with the type of playstyles we want to analyse. We want to sort the data into groups that contain only the characters which are tuned for a specific part of the game, and minimize the inclusion of players who are just doing things for variety (eg the raider who BGs for fun on non-raiding nights).

In theory, the character stats should be a more reliable way to do this than gear, because gear is one of the easisest things to change. Our raider-and-casual-BGer example probably has two sets of gear. But they probably don’t respec when doing a few BGs, so the armoury snapshot might find them with a raiding spec and PvP gear.

But, in practice, the character stats will have some of the same fuzziness in them – if you mostly raid but BG on the side, what is the correct cutoff level for each stat to put you in the right group? I don’t have an answer to that yet, but I’m working on it…

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