Keep track of everything.Raiding successfully in World of Warcraft, at the very highest end of the progression range, requires the use of mathematical skills many of us haven’t used since high school.

Then why can’t the makers of the game accept this and incorporate it better into the game?

To step back and explain:

Web sites, even open-source software, do a flourishing trade in parsing logs to show precisely who damaged what for how much, and who died from what, and when bosses cast what abilities to what effect.

If you’ve not raided in WoW, suffice it to say that the game, as shipped, is insufficient to complete the content contained therein. I’m not even talking about UI mods or boss timers. I mean strictly the external software that parses combat logs. In order to succeed at raid content, you’re virtually required to use software that is not in the box to even know what is going on in a given fight. Rog once referred to WoW raiding as World of Excelcraft. I wouldn’t go that far, but then again, I don’t mind spreadsheets.

I’m as guilty as anyone else; my raid group uses StasisCL parses, and they’re fantastic. But I actually _like_ combing through neatly ordered rows and columns of data to try to parse out a story. When I was a newspaper reporter, one of the best skills I had was being able to read a municipal budget and quickly figure out what the story to be told was.

But should a game that we pay money for require us to comb through spreadsheets like an accountant? Bliz has done a great job of incorporating popular UI mods into the default UI. The game now features a built in threat meter, quest helper mod (coming in 3.2) and raid warnings — none of which were available in the vanilla WoW UI.

It’s easy to say that encounter design shouldn’t tune encounters such that minute parsing of combat data is required. And with WoW’s current multi-mode raiding, where bosses have easy and hard modes, it often isn’t. But for the most challenging raid content, it still is, and I don’t see any way to tune encounters to multiple difficulties and be faced with players wanting as much data as possible at their command.

Shouldn’t the game provide a built-in combat log parser, too?