What makes healing interesting?

Define interesting:wash_flying_small
Wash in the Serenity movie defined interesting as: “Oh god, oh god, we’re all going to die.” Is this the definition of interesting that makes healing more fun?

Or, is healing fun when there is not such a huge threat of death and you can take breaks from spamming your buttons all the time? Is healing 25 people more interesting than healing 5 people? Or, is it the boss encounters themselves that makes it interesting?  Why does a boss encounter have to be hard to be interesting?

Lets think about a couple things developers can do to make healing more interesting:

A) Having more players in a party/raid means we have to manage more health bars and keep track of more people.
B) They can can make it such that the healers will eventually run out of mana, so we have to watch what spells we cast
C) They can make it such that the healers have to cast a variety of spells.
D) They can design various boss encounters that feel different, dynamic, and interesting – rather than making healing interesting on it’s own.

Lets examine A:
We know that raids in WoW used to be 40 people, and that they got reduced down to only 10 and 25-man. So, it can’t just be the number of people in the raid that makes healing interesting.
Maybe what makes it interesting is just having more people to heal. When you healed a 40-man raid, you may have only had 1 or 2 people taking damage at any point in time, so healing in a lot of fights didn’t necessarily mean having more targets to heal.
So, having random unavoidable (or even avoidable) damage that the raid takes will require at least some of the healers to really be “on their toes” and watching everyone so that the DPS doesn’t die. This is why a lot of Ulduar fights have AOE damage, or huge bursty damage to random people in the raid (ie. slag pot).

Lets examine B:
We know that before 3.1 hit, the developers tried to adjust healers’ mana so that we’d run into mana problems (ie. the spirit nerf).
I don’t think 3.1 really caused mana problems for many people, but they definitely want to constrain our mana pools, in hopes that having to make decisions about our spells will make healing more interesting or something.
I know that I’m still not completely worried about mana regen at the moment, and that the change to lifebloom actually saves me more mana than it costs me, due to my switch to not rolling lifeblooms in 3.1.

Lets examine C:
I think one of the biggest current complaints that paladin have is that they don’t have a diverse enough set of tools to use. However, some people seem to be perfectly happy with a small set of tools. I was happy with my shaman healing when all I had to do was spam chain heal & keep up earth shield. However, when I was asked to heal on a druid where 90% of my healing needed to come from lifebloom rolling during Burning Crusade, I know I hated that healing style.
I like my druid’s healing style right now because I rarely have more than 30% or 40% of my healing done during any fight come from one spell. I always have a range of things (lifebloom, rejuv, regrowth, nourish, wild growth, swiftmend) to choose from, and I try to use all my tools appropriately in any fight. What may actually make healing in Ulduar fun for me is having a choice of what tools to use, and using a different combination of tools in different fights.

Lets examine D:

It’s always the goal of game developers to make dynamic fights with different mechanics on each fight: Will there be AOE damage? Will there be adds? What will the boss do? What does the raid have to do?

Learning the strategy for killing a boss is probably the most fun part of an instance. If the mechanic is just “tank and spank” for every single boss, and the major difference is what the boss looks like, then raiding really isn’t fun. If we were happy with just doing the same thing over and over again, we’d all still be in Molten Core killing the same bosses. What makes new raid instances fun is the very fact that they are new. Once they are on farm status, then healing those encounters is not nearly as interesting as it was when you were first learning. So, that’s why I think that the developers focus on having healing being fun by being challenging.

In addition, having to watch your surroundings can make an encounter interesting. I know there were some fights pre-BC where I could literally face a wall, zoom my camera so I couldn’t see anyone, and then just spam heals on the health bars that covered my screen until someone said the boss was dead. Sure, there were always situational things you had to be aware of (ie. You’re the bomb!), but the type of encounters are always developing and changing in a way that requires more and more situational awareness at any point in time. Even when Ulduar bosses are on farm, it’s still going to be challenging to deal with the situational awareness factors for the bosses, unlike Naxxramas, where a lot of them just become easy things you can just heal through. I think the most fun boss in all of Naxx was Heigan’s Safety Dance, where you didn’t have to heal all that much, but it had a high situational awareness factor, that remained interesting even once the instance was on farm status.

I don’t think healing A LOT, spamming all your buttons, and praying that your raid doesn’t die is really what’s interesting about healing. It’s encounters where you don’t have to heal as much (and you have to deal with other things going on in the environment) that actually make being a healer in a raid more fun. When you can take breaks from mashing your keyboard/mouse and have time to see what is going on around you, I think that’s what makes healing the most fun. It’s the chess event encounters & Flame Leviathan encounters that break up the raid and makes the encounters where we are spamming our little fingers off actually more fun.

6 Comments

  1. Magresdas
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I think for some people – including myself – healing just sort of “clicks” with them. While it may sound cheesy, I believe what you like to do in WoW reflects, at least to a certain extent, what kind of person you are IRL.

    Tanks for example, and I know this is true for a lot of tanks I know IRL, tend to be outspoken people who like to be noticed, leading the charge so to speak.

    Healers might be quieter people, gaining a sense of reward from knowing that without them this wouldn’t have worked, not so bothered with topping meters. I know this very much reflects how I view myself IRL. I don’t really like to be in the middle of things – I was serious about a career as a musician when I was younger, only to drop this when it dawned on me that I’d have to stand on a stage and show off to be successful in that business.

    I don’t know if this is how other healer’s feel, and this is definitely not true for everyone. I have met the most modest of tanks and the most elitist cocky jerk healers, but I know that’s how I personally think of healing

  2. Posted May 12, 2009 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    “We’re not gonna die. We can’t die, %T. You know why? Because we are so…very…pretty.”

    Go go Firefly res macro quotes :)

  3. Sebilathal
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Hey Lissanna,

    I think you hit it on the spot!

    “[...] It’s encounters where you don’t have to heal as much (and you have to deal with other things going on in the environment) that actually make being a healer in a raid more fun [...]”

    I read about the blue’s asking on the official forums, what healer’s think would make their healing experience better, but I couldn’t quite put it into words.

    In only mashing my keys, there’s no fun. Most of the fights I can tell within seconds, if me and my group going to survive (ie. heal output high enough) or not. There is nothing more boring / frustrting, than to see, that whatever skill your tanks / dps and youself as a healer bring into the fight, there is just no way to heal through that encounter.
    Whereas I don’t mind trying a handful of times, just to “outsmart” the developers and their creations.

    You just did wonderfully above, that are exactly the words I was looking for, what I think would make healing much more intersting.

    Thanks,
    sebilathal
    Malorne-EU

  4. Posted May 13, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    For me, healing really is about the satisfaction that without me, the group wouldn’t have made it. Knowing that I was able to heal through the rough spots, the extra pull, etc. really makes me feel good. I know it’s not all me as having a responsive tank is equally as important. But healing makes me feel good. And likewise when I heal poorly or someone dies, or we wipe because I made a mistake, I really beat myself up over it. Healing is a passion. You have to want to keep at it and be great.

  5. Shrakzul
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ve raided as a tank and dps (warrior/DK) through to whole tier 7 content. My new druid alt is 71 atm, and i hope soon in naxx and then ulduar.
    I’ve always thought that healer would be a great role to play in a raid … now here i am trying to level and gear one up.
    For me, healing would be interresting because it definitelly is (or at least looks like from my tank point of view) as challenging as tanking but with a completely opposite approach to the encounters.
    The game is fun when new encounters come out, or when we have something challenging to do. Content on farm is much less interresting.
    Learning to be a (hopefully good) druid healer will definitely be something great and fun to do, even in very well known fights on easy raids like Naxx !

    I’d also like to thank Lissanna for the newly added post on healing specs for dual specced druids while leveling. It helps a lot to learn the class/spec before hitting 80 !

    Shrakzul
    Alexstrasza-US

  6. Aelinna
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I like being a healer because :-

    Warm cheesy fuzzies. I like helping people, keeping the crazy furies and spookies up, propping the tanks up as they fly about saving our asses.

    Teamwork. While I’m competitive I also try to respect their slower spells. I find it more obvious as a healer than another that going it solo is totally infeasible, your teammates constantly cover your weaknesses and look out for you.

    Being psychic. Getting the hots up before damage, heals in just after, that takes skill and is uniquely satisfying.

    While I enjoy the nonhealy parts, these are present for everyone so I don’t see them as making being a healer interesting. If anything DPS has to work harder to maintain optimal DPS while moving, people rarely die because you took 1s to move whereas an accumulation of missed dots and instants can add up to fat fail.

    Fights like FL have limited appeal to me, the range of abilities available are inevitably more limited than those of a fullblown player class and therefore less interesting. I do enjoy encounters like Vezax and Yogg, where active mobility and even a little DPS are required. Ultimately Blizz have made the right choice in providing variety above all else, I can very much enjoy standing perfectly still and spamming my heart out at Ignis since the next fight will bring something different.

    I’d like to see RJ spam nerfed and replaced with a more varied mechanic. Perhaps add something to ToL so that self-healing is distributed X% to people within 15yds. That adds a positional requirement, encouraging spatial awareness. I imagine most druids would keep a RJ and slow LB stack on themselves as standard, maybe dropping those for full tank spam or building to a full self tankspam rotation in intense periods.

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  • [...] usually not last, either. I can tank heal (and I enjoy it now) using a mix of HOT and direct heals. I posted a few days ago about what I thought made healing interesting. In the article, one of the things I talked about when defining intersting was that there were a [...]