Super Cool Addon: DeathNote

As a healer, I am interested in what exactly happened when someone in my raid dies. As a healing lead, I’m really interested in what exactly happened when someone in my raid dies. Were they standing in the bad? Did the healer assigned to a tank not heal them? Did they pull aggro? Do I need to adjust assignments to get them more heals?

DeathNote is a fantastic addon I’ve just recently installed, and I love it to bits already.

What it Does

DeathNote is straightforward–it provides a clean, parsed browser of death events. Straight out of the box, it just works. You access the main death browser UI by right-clicking on any unit from, and choosing “Show Death Note” from the menu.

This will open the UI seen above at the post header. On the surface, that’s a lot of information at first, but let’s go through it. On the far left, you have a list of all the recorded death events. By default, they are sorted by the player, and timestamped. You can also choose to sort overall by time, to your preference. Hovering over any of the names in this column will display a tooltip showing the last line in the log, aka the killing blow. Selecting any of these death events will display the relevant information on the right side of the DeathNote UI, which is separated into 5 columns.

The leftmost column displays the time–by default this is displayed as the amount of time in seconds before the player died. Clicking on the title at the top of any column will cycle through the display options, in this case seconds from death or real time. Personally, I find seconds from death to be a lot more useful for looking back to see what happened and how quickly. Real time may be more useful if you are trying to correlate events with another player or in another log. Hovering over each line in this column will display a tooltip with the other time format; i.e if you are showing real time, the tooltip will display seconds to death.

The next column, “HP” will show you are bar representing what percentage of health the player had at the time of each event line. Again, clicking on the column title will cycle through your options, or you can click on the gear icon in the upper right of the ui for a menu. HP format options include bar display, absolute health, percentage health, or absolute/maximum. I prefer looking at the bar format because it’s visually very easy to tell how alive they were, as well as spot the point where they were full or nearly so, and how quickly it went downhill. Hovering over each line will display the players health information in “absolute/maxhp (%)” format as well.

Column three, “Amount”, displays the actual value of damage or healing the player took, or if you’re displaying aura changes (as is on by default) whether it was a buff or debuff. This is very handy for seeing the scale of incoming damage and heals. There’s no display options to cycle here, but hovering over each line will display the combat log line in the tooltip.

The spell column is super nifty. On the surface, it will show you what it was that did any damage or healing to the target, by spell name. Useful for knowing what exactly hit your tank for 89,000 damage, but that’s not all folks. Let’s show them what’s behind door number three! If you click on any particular spell name, it will also highlight all other lines of that spell in the browser.

Here, we can see the highlighting of each hit of Electric Instability from phase 3 of Twilight council. If you click on a particular heal, you can use this highlight to see, for instance, how often a healer was landing a particular direct heal on a target. Hovering over a spell name will show you the spell’s tooltip.

Lastly, the source column tells you who did the spell from column four. Again, the hover here will show you the tooltip for the actor, and a click will highlight all those lines in the UI.

Why You Care

You care because finding out why people died can help make changes to prevent it in the future. It can help you identify either gaps in healing coverage, or people who are not on the ball with maintaining their assignments. It can tell you whether or not you had the time to land heals to save someone’s life, or if they stood in the stupid and caused their own deaths. You can also use this information to identify that the incoming damage was unavoidable or not, and if it wasn’t, if the damage is high enough that the target needs more healers focused on them. For instance, I used DeathNote to see that when the tank I was assigned to healing on Heroic Halfus attempts didn’t die because I was being a bads, but because they took 273,000 damage in 6.5 seconds. As a result, we tightened up cooldown use, and had one of our raid healers help watch this tank closer.

Not only does a robust death browser like DeathNote let you see healing and damage, it allows you to see buffs. You can see that a rejuvenation dropped and was not refreshed in a timely manner. You can see whether or not the tank popped one of their cooldowns. It’s information in all its glory displayed to you in an incredibly usable format.

Sharing the Data

Reporting the data to others is ridiculously easy. You can right-click on any line in the UI, and meet with the report menu:

“Report Style” allows you to choose from a compact or combat log line format, and “Send report from this line” does exactly what it says–and the menu allows you to choose exactly where the report will be sent, to include specifying a whisper target, as well as letting you chose from any of the custom chat channels you’ve joined. The report it sends can be somewhat spammy, so use with discretion. But if you’re reviewing a tank death in your healer or officer channels, being able to quickly send this information to others can be extremely helpful in analyzing events. If you are going to do a lot of reporting to chat channels, I’d suggest using the compact format, as well as using the configuration options to remove a lot of the spammy buff loss lines that appear at the end as a player has died, or using consolidation features to combine multiple damage or healing events.

Configuration Options

Hey, speaking of those configuration options… DeathNote is set up in a way that you can install the addon and immediately use it as-is, but there are a fair amount of configuration options for the display, collection, and dissemination of information that can prove rather useful.

At the top of the Death Note browser, there is a little orange triangle you can expand to view various filter options for the display. In order to obtain a more concise view, especially for reporting to chat, removing some of the buff gains and losses will cut down on a lot of clutter. The Damage and Healing tabs give you options to consolidate consecutive hits or heals. For example, instead of seeing 8 different lines showing you how your add tank on Nefarian got clobbered by all the adds they’re kiting, it’d show you a single line for a melee hit (x8). Similarly, it’ll combine multiple consecutive HoT ticks, which is great for turning a page of lifebloom ticks into a single line with a cumulative heal total. Alternately, you can use the threshold sliders to hide events under a certain amount, allowing you to remove something like Healing Stream Totem spam. When consolidate information, it will display a range of times, or a list of combined heals, which may go outside the default column width, but the entire browser window, as well as individual columns can be resized.

Lastly, one of my favorite options the ability to turn on automatic announcements of deaths.

If done appropriately, it’s super awesome. The first night I ran with DeathNote installed and announcements set to whisper, the raid leader warned people that it was on, and what was going to happen. At the end, we asked for feedback about the mod, and our crew was overwhelmingly positive about it, at least the ones that spoke up. If you turn this option on, when someone dies, you will send them a single line whisper with the event that killed them.

I conscripted a friend to demonstrate the tell, since I didn’t get a screenshot during the raid. One of the comments a guildie made about the announcement tells was “And it’s not spammy at all!” And it’s not, to the individual getting the tell. If you are the arbiter of deaths, it can get a little spammy on the outgoing end, but that’s a price I am completely willing to pay in exchange for making our raiders aware of what caused their deaths. By only sending someone the last line, it’s not always going to paint the whole picture; someone who’s been standing in lava the whole time can still get finished off by an unavoidable boss mechanic, but it is usually relevant. The “Announces/10 seconds” throttle setting can also help cut down on your outgoing tellspam. If that many people are dying close together, it’s likely a common event and things are headed towards a wipe very quickly.

Information is a Tool

DeathNote provides a lot of lovely information, and information is a beautiful thing. But it’s also just a tool, and any tool can be used to bludgeon people over the head as opposed to performing a useful function. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking over logs to analyze what your healers are doing to not just use it as a means to harp on them for not landing a heal in the 2.6 seconds that a tank died, but rather to troubleshoot and instruct. There’s feasible limits for reaction time, and what people can do to save someone. A tank that goes from full to dead in 2-5 seconds without getting a direct heal likely doesn’t mean that your tank healer was inattentive. With their tank at full, your healer may have used that moment to refresh a buff, drop a totem, or recast a Healing Rain on the shared tank position.

Problems are going to look like a tank that slowly spent 10-15 seconds dying without getting heals, especially if it happens chronically. You’ll also have to consider the class when you’re analyzing heals. A Shaman or Paladin on a tank should demonstrate regular use of their direct heals, but if you have a Druid assigned to a tank, and they’re mightily spamming Healing Touch, but are letting their HoTs drop, that’s still an issue. A Disc Priest may show gaps in direct heals, but if you look at buff gains, you’ll see that these gaps coincide with shield use. Analyzing the deaths of random raid members as opposed to a tank with dedicated healing may take a little more finesse. A death log will show the people who didn’t get enough heals and died, but it won’t show you the other people your raid healer was saving at that time.

You will always get a better reaction by approaching someone as a partner to solve an issue instead of just letting them know they’re a problem. If you start a conversation with one of your healers with a question, for example “Hey, can you tell me what was going on when [tank] died?” you’ll get more constructive work done than demanding to know why they had 2.6 seconds between refreshing rejuvenation, or why they didn’t heal someone for 5 seconds. Odds are, a decent healer knows that they let something drop, and will tell you what the problem was, and how they’ll fix it. If they don’t, you can use the log to instruct them on what sort of things might have been possible to change events.

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