Why are kills via hit always credited to the killing entity (e.g. a monster killed by the initial hit of fire trap will give life-on-hit to the trap not the player), while kills via DOTs applied by anything are always credited to the player (the degen of fire trap, or poison applied by a zombie, etc). Wouldn’t it make more sense to also credit DOT kills to the applying entity?
Because hits are immediate and thus there’s an implicit guarantee that the thing dealing the damage exists at the time the thing taking the damage dies. The direct effects of the kill can be assigned to that object, and some things, such as experience, can be “passed up the chain” because the game can ask that object who is ultimately responsible for things it kills.
Damage over time is caused by applying a debuff to another object – after which the debuff is attached to the target, but independent of the thing that applied it.
When your minion, totem, trap, etc inflicts a damage over time debuff, if the debuff was set to identify the minion as the killer, that object may have been deleted by the later time when something dies to that damage over time, in which case the kill could not be correctly assigned – the object that actually killed no longer exists, so it can’t be given the direct effects of having killed something, and neither can it be queried to find another object it has a relationship to for passing experience, etc up to. In some cases, a newly-created object might have re-used that id, which would make things extra weird.
This also gets extra weird in cases with conversion trap, since that makes you ultimately responsible for kills by a converted monster, but only while it’s converted – if it unconverts before the kill, that kill would be assigned to the monster itself, or its owner if it’s a minion/totem/etc. So even when objects exist, the fact that the chain of “kill ownership” can dynamically change.
There are long term plans for a more complicated system that will be able to track whole chains of these relations as they dynamically change so that it in such cases it can skip applying any direct effects but still maintain the parts of the kill ownership chain for things that do exist and correctly “pass up” things like experience. But for now this is a mostly-harmless bug that has some slightly weird consequences but doesn’t disrupt anything very much, and is far superior to players missing out on those kills entirely, so this isn’t a high-priority fix.
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The term hit refers to an effect that applies a discrete amount of damage to a target instantaneously. The damage can be mitigated down to 0, but can never be negative. Damage dealt by hits always has one of 3 damage sources (attack, spell or secondary, but note that damage over time never hits.) and is combined of any 5 damage types (physical, fire, cold, lightning or chaos).
Besides the amount of damage, its type and source, ‘hit packages’ also contain certain mechanics and effects, such as: