Friday, December 19, 2008

Healer Mechanics

There was a nice thread in the newish Healing forums about Healing Mechanics. I was going to only paste a snippet but the post bears listing in full (with my comments in bold):

Can we have a discussion about healing mechanics? No QQ, no 3.0.8 distress, just a raw mechanics discussion. I'm not talking about class balance here, just the raw mechanics of what does and does not work as a healing implementation. Let me give you a few examples of things I think are overall issues with healing mechanics.

Healer Competition:
While most of PvE is cooperative, raid healing is stupidly competetive with poor support mechanics for multiple healers healing the same damage. It also creates an environment where faster spells are artificially more valued because it means your heal actually works. To overcome this with communication and mods takes an unproportional amount of effort. Playing two different healers in two different "ages" I can say this is unfortunately true. In the end everyone says they don't care how you heal someone as long as enough players stay alive to beat the encounter. So my attempts to keep healing fun by trying out different heals, usually ends up with me finding the best, most efficient heal to spam. No matter how many times we say healing meters don't matter or how skewed they can be (how do you get a dot heal off when a circle of healing will overwrite it; what do paladins do in the age of aoe damage, etc) someone will always look at the meter and assume the top person is the best. It will be interesting to see how things pan out with the circle of healing, wild growth nerf.

Healer Reduction:
Start 25-mans with 7 healers (or even 8 in some cases). Drop down to 4 healers as content becomes farmed. Start new content - need 7 healers again. This seems to be the place where hybrids can shine, when you need healers use your dps paladins, shaman, druids and priests. I don't think this is much of an issue. But if you like healing, having to dps would be a pain (yeah you won't read that anywhere else).

Bored Healers:
1 healer can pull over a million in healing on the right fight. Fights like Noth might have 200k in healing total. You can only heal as much damage as the raid takes. (This definitely leads to burnout, a healer kinda reaches a plateau, while dps always have more to strive for.)

Great DPS makes the fight short. Great tanks keep everything locked down. Great healers ... make everyone else think the fight just isn't that hard. Underlying mechanics mean that spectacular healers don't shine anywhere near as well as spectacular dps/tanks. This is why sometimes I like doing 5-mans more than anything, there is no one else doing the healing but me, so your contribution stands out more. Also priests can shine when crap hits the fan, but that usually requires players making multiple stacked mistakes. A situation if you're smart you try not to find yourself in very often (pugs).

Lag Double Dip:
While everyone in the raid has to react to events during encounters, for example Thaddius' polarity shifts. But while other roles have to do this a few times per encounter or as often as once every 30s, healers do this on every single cast. This makes healing more dynamic than other roles in most cases. It also means lag (link latency or server lag) affects healing roles twice as much as DPS/tanks.(Not sure what is being said here, have to review it later.)

UI/Interface Issues:
The base Blizzard UI is terrible for healing. A lot of encounters are easier if you're staring at the boss and see a cast start (for example: Loken) rather than staring at health bars. Having to either get a mod or macro every single ability is dumb.(It is amazing Blizzard has done nothing to improve the raid ui since original launch.)

Healers have a PvE spec, a PvP spec, and a DPS/questing/dailies spec. Dual-spec suggests that healers are only supposed to do 2 out of those 3 things. It should not be unreasonable to allow PvP healers to have a tri-spec option.(I wholeheartedly agree with this but I'm jonesing so much for dual spec I'm trying not to be greedy.)

Healer's Fault:
Stand in a fire? It's the healer's fault. Get crit while tanking and die? It's the healer's fault. Not enough DPS so the healers run out of mana? It's the healer's fault. Trying to do an instance in mediocre gear with no CC? It's the healer's fault. If a mechanic is supposed to be a gauge of skill, there are other ways to handle it than making healing really really hard. Thaddius is a successful solution - a nice exception to the rule. (Sigh, other than dps simply being more fun than healing, I think this has to be the second reason players quit healing. Healers are held accountable for things that aren't really their responsibility. I can only assume progression, hardcore guilds don't put up with the crap that healers are at fault for everything. But in the 11 million player world the majority either assume or expect healers are there to make up for their shortcomings. As you can imagine its not a fun place for healers' to be - especially when you're blamed for it instead of thanked or at the very least (and would be fine with me) just not blamed.)

Loot Distribution:
DPS casters are rolling on every single piece of caster gear. Healers are excluded from anything with +hit on it. The heavier the armor you wear, the more loot you can roll on.(Sometimes games expect players to do the right thing, to share, think of others and be considerate, but as we all know this is farthest from reality. In a short time of grouping again I've been b*tched at for rolling on hit gear although I requested to only be considered if dps didn't want it in the first place. Apparently hit gear should rot if no dps is there to roll on it. Never mind some hit gear have all the other stats a healer could use.)

From Cafooh - Healer Exhaustion:
As a healer, you have to pay 100% attention 100% of the time. Even 5-10 seconds of talking to your roommate or trying to answer a phone call can and will cause wipes and deaths. The ramifications of anything less than 100% of attention are faaaaaaar less severe as a DPSer (or even as a tank, as I am finding with the DK). You are constantly staring at the screen and reacting instantaneously for hours and hours. No other role is even close to as demanding or as straining as healing.(I think this is less prevalent now that 40 mans are gone, but I always like to share how as a priest I felt I couldn't look away for a moment for months of raiding, only to find out later a dpser would go afk for dinner for at least 30 minutes every raid - he had a buddy let him go on auto-follow.)

Leaving issues of class balance aside, if there was one thing you would change with regards to healing mechanics, did I list it? If not, what would it be?

Some of these things I feel as a healer you decide yourself to put up with them. For instance you should know you have to have a good attention span. And deciding to do it for hours and hours is all on you. But some things where a dpser not flipping out that you share their gear, or dpser/tanks realizing what steps they need to take to be more responsible for themselves would be a nice change that wouldn't even take much effort on their part. The ui is all on Blizzard. They've got fine examples, would it screw up too much performance to include them? But in the end if you end up bored or burned out, nothing helps but quitting at least for a while. At least that was the case for me.


Artorin said...

I think the reality is that healing is something you have to want to do to enjoy. If your guild needs a healer and you hang up your 2h mace or dps gear to pick up the healing slack then you are going to experience all the issues that were mentioned. Healing like tanking is often a thankless job. I allways kind of looked at the game like DPS is a game, Healing is a responsibility, and Tanking is a job.

There are times where healing can be extremely boring or extremely stressfull... and other times when its just plain fun. Sure staring at raid bars for 4 hours doesn't let you see the pretty instances or even what the boss looks like half the time. But staring at a bosses health for 4 hours isn't really all that exciting either. Of course the worse view is that of a tank... staring at a bosses crotch for 4 hours....

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