Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Does Blizzard Hate Healers?

I was going through my reader and came accross Larisa's post about Ghostcrawler blogging about healers. Naturally I ended up reading GCs blog post and I wanted to post a reaction. I had erased my comment about 10 times already when I realized that I might just need a bit more space than the tiny white box they give you to comment, so I figured I would just post a reacion on my own blog instead.
Ghostcrawler speaks about having to restrain resources. Mana was according to him (and a lot of players) a non issue in Wrath and this had to change to make healing more fun again. He also speaks about wanting to make the healing more challenging and not the 'boring faceroll' it is today.

I have to be honest....if you feel healing is a boring faceroll in the current environment I think it can only be due to two things:

1. You're done with the content. 
Your gear is of such a level that you're simply done with that content. No healing system in the world should change this, at some point you have to get the feeling that you're growing, that you've mastered certain content, and that you're the hero being able to beat the villain. If they would take this away, the whole hero feeling...well, I might just have to find another game to play. I play this game to win, I love challenges, and if I'm not ready for a certain villain, I can accept that. But if I am ready, and if I beat that villain many times over I want to indeed feel heroic and have an easy time with him eventually.

2. You're a bad healer. 
Yup. I said it. If you think you can faceroll through this without even losing mana, and you're not under category 1, I think you're a bad healer. Why?

Because your raid apparently felt they had to bring in more healers so that the raid would be succesfull. And if this wasn't the case then why didn't some of you switch to dps to make things go faster? You could decide to go for the challenge, but you didn't. You decided to take the easy road instead, you decided that you preferred facerolling.

My group is the number 3 casual 10man, and the number 6 on 10man achievements on the server according to guildox. And we have a competitive realm. Where 7 guilds have finished LK10 heroic and 2 have done LK25 heroic. Not top of the world, but certainly not too shabby either. I think I can safely say that I know what I'm doing when it comes to heals.

And I have never felt, at any point of this expansion, that I could faceroll content that was appropriate for my gear and experience level. The only reasons that I can faceroll content is when we bring more healers, or when we go back to older content.

My 10man raid team has been doing the 10man ToGC for the past few weeks and we run it with 2 healers normally. While we have all gotten a frostbrood dragon we still didn't manage to get an argent pony every week.

So if you think you're a good healer and you're doing gear and experience appropriate content, and still you can faceroll through content? I simply don't believe it.

The Point Is

You probably think by now "What the hell is she doing, randomly insulting people...does she also have a point?"

Actually, yes I do.

According to GC, healers are more fun when they are struggling over resources. And when they talk about resources everybody immediately focuses on mana. A large part of the commenting audience agrees and cries that Wrath has made the state of healing too easy.

My problem with this is that it's not the only resource a healer has to deal with. Healers deal with quite a list of resources even:
- Time
- Target's health
- Own health
- Location
- Cooldowns
- Knowledge of the fight
- And coming up, moreso than before, mana.

I honestly feel that this last resource restraint wasn't needed as much as it's currently implemented. I also don't believe that the amount mana restricts healing currently will make it more fun for healers. Challenges are only fun when things are just out of your reach, but you can succeed when you strain yourself and put in an effort.

Climbing a hill top with an average physical condition is fun, and reaching the top is rewarding you with a great view. Climbing Mount Everest is not something I would recommend though.

And I think a lot of healers who are now crying so loudly that they need more challenge, will be some of the first to cry when they find out exactly how difficult and straining things have been made in Cata.

I also believe that a lot of healers simply won't survive and they'll droop back to being dps. Hell, I've been poking around Cata since alpha and I've been ready to throw in the towel several times. And believe you me, I'm a healer, through and through.

Consequences? Less healers available, PVP will be horrific for healers (and hey Dawn Moore and I finally agree on something), and those who stick with it, will be praying for the burden to become less heavy.

Back to Ghostcrawler's Post

Do I believe that Blizzard is intentionally setting healers up to fail? No, of course not. I believe that most of the  Blizzard designers love this game every bit as much as we, the players, do. I also believe that they do this with the best intentions possible.

The players cry out in unhappiness with the current state of the game, so Blizzard had to change some things.

I simply think they made the scale tip in the other direction.

If healing is compared to a good soup, and Blizzard is the chef...In Cata they added a Red Savina Habanero spice instead of a bit more salt and pepper. And food that hot is an acquired taste.


  1. It is interesting actually that they assume that healers are bored because it's too easy and that's why they're making it harder. I'm not so sure it will make healing become more attractive to the broad masses. As a matter of fact it might end up the opposite way: when healing becomes more challenging, fewer players will be prepared to try it. I wouldn't be surprised if the healing shortage will increase come Cataclysm. We'll see.

  2. I think you have completely misread the whole post that GC made.

    When mana is not a resource, where do you go in order to make encounters more challanging? Yep, the "whack-a-mole-model" Where you have to have 2-3 healers spam the tanks in order for them not to get two-shot. If you think that model is the most fun and interesting way to heal... well, you and I are very much not alike. And I have to say, that i think you are the first person I've met who is mourning this 'loss'.

    Sorry that you have lost your twitchy whack-a-mole healing fun. Welcome to the "think about what heal you are throwing" Cataclysm.

    (I exaggerate because I care!)

  3. If healing is too easy because there are too many healers, the obvious solution is more DPS checks so raids can't bring extras.

    As Larisa said, I also think there may be a huge healer shortage. So many have healed because it's a guaranteed raid spot and if you can convince a raid to overstack healers, isn't too hard. Once that's gone and healing is hard, bye bye healers.

  4. It seems many game developers and blogging pundits assume that challenge is always desirable or else a game isn't fun. This is a faulty assumption, and it drives a lot of bad decisions, even if they are made with the best intentions. Challenge can be fun, but it needs to be variable and be controllable by the player, so each individual can choose their own difficulty setting as their moment to moment tastes vary.

    Sometimes I want to go solo a dungeon and push myself to the edge. Sometimes I just want to putter around and be a demigod among noob murlocs. Challenge isn't always fun. It can be, sure, but constant challenge can get just as boring as constant ease, but with added stress on top. That's *not* good game design.

  5. @Dwism: I would like to go to a model where I have to decide which heal is needed, not which heal I can afford.

    I hate having mana issues I admit that I would rather be casting than just stand there and wait till I have enough mana. Or actually stand around and hope that I will still have enough mana later. Or actually heal and pray to the wow gods that a miracle happens and I can still heal at the end of the fight. That to me does not define 'fun'.

    We have never reached the model where it matters which heal you cast, but I don't think that making it so healers will run dry is the way to go either.

    @Klepsacovic: Yup, already when the first healing model came out and everybody was wildly enthusiastic I said to Thror...well that's the end of any pug healer.

    @Tesh: I actually do enjoy having the option of challenge. Which is why I absolutely adored the Wrath model.

    This expansion offered normal modes accessible to a lot of people so they too could see the gorgeous instances created. And Wrath also offered heroic modes and achievements for those willing to go the extra mile.

    Unfortunately when you offer both easy and hard, many (if not most) people will do the easy and then say they're done. And then continue to complain about not having content anymore.

  6. Oh, definitely, you just have to ignore those who complain when the solution to their complaints are already in the game. It takes a spine to tell players to stop whining and play that part of the game over there that answers their complaints.

    I do like a good challenge sometimes, too. Challenge has its place. It's just not for everyone or for every moment, and assuming that it is plays rather arrogantly in my book.

  7. I love hot stuff too, but every day would upset my stomach I think ;)

    And when I read the description of that pepper I'm not sure if I would like it that hot o_O

  8. Shy, I agree with 100% - I am bitching and moaning about the mana restrictions because mana is the LEAST INTERESTING factor to consider when balancing your healing. And the point about 2-healing vesus 3-healing is a really interesting perspective - I never quite thought of that way before. Thank God we 2-heal :)

  9. @Tesh, Shy: I think that both Wrath and Cataclysm had easy and hard modes for different people at different times. In Wrath, HM raids, and some late normal raids, was the difficult content. Everything else, including H 5-mans, was easy. In Cataclysm, normal 5-mans, and eventually H 5-mans, are easy. Raids and H 5-mans are now hard. Rep rewards are now the only easy purples. They just changed where hard content begins. Its no big deal in my mind.