Saturday, October 24, 2009

RE: Healing and fun

Llyra from the Healing Way blog is starting a series of posts on Healing and fun from the perspective of WoW development. I thought there were a lot of interesting points which I wanted to give my perspective on.

Can healer's enjoy solo-ing? With dual-spec, does this even matter anymore?
So from 70-80 I actually ended up preferring a holy/disc leveling spec for my Priest rather than Shadow. This is mostly because my spirit levels were so high from my raiding 70 gear, that any build with Spirit Tap would have zero downtime, and my spellpower was high enough that mobs would never live long enough for the very long dots to tick to their full extent. In contrast, holy has a spammable damage-up-front spell, and can spec to actually make this damage totally fine for solo content.

With the advent of dual-specs, Llyra discards the idea that this will make hardcore raiders pick a dps spec as a second spec, as they can now min/max even further. While this is totally true for Priests, and I actually do have 2 healing specs on my priest even though I am not a hardcore raider; I don't think this is very true for the other healing classes. I'm not even sure what talent points I would want that I'm not already getting on my Shaman. Maaybe Healing Focus. I've already told you why I don't like Improved Reincarnation. Other than Priests, who have two very different healing trees, the other healing classes are viable in their cookie cutter specs.

How can Blizzard make healing more fun?
Obviously I don't know if this applies to me- I played a DPS class (Rogue) for about a year and got pretty bored, after which I leveled my Priest and that became my main for the next 2 years. I really don't think I'd ever consider playing as my main any class that doesn't at least have the capacity to heal on it. While I do really enjoy the occasions that I get to DPS in my ele spec for a 5-man or for a specific boss where we scale down our healers, it's more of a vacation than anything else; I don't think I'd be happy dpsing every day. DPSing just doesn't seem dynamic enough for me, while healing forces you to constantly be reacting.

That being said, I think the biggest barrier to entry for healers, is that it really is almost unimaginable to be a raid healer without mods. The default user interface just doesn't cut it. It doesn't normally bother me, but I was trying to make a character on the PTR, and I didn't want to migrate all my mods. I found that I had no problems dpsing things there, but I just didn't want to deal with the default UI when it came to healing. I'm sure I could approximate the functions of Grid/Clique (or Vuhdo or Healbot) with the default unit frames and mouseover macros, but it wouldn't be elegant, and it would be pretty miserable overall.

Blizzard has got to be aware that their default unit frames aren't adequate. This would be fantastic if they addressed it some way. In general, I'm having fun as it is though ;)



baren said...

Thinking about dual specs just helped me clarify an idea in my head. I don't think that dual spec providing a DPS alternative make healing any more fun to level.

But before I explain why, I want to mention that I know several Paladins with 2 healing specs. They have their main tank-healing spec, and then an alternate one with Divine Sacrifice (or some such, I'm not clear on the exact talent. It redirects raid damage to the paladin) for raid-wide damage mitigation.

In the post about why I heal, I came to the conclusion that I enjoy healing precisely because I was well prepared for it when it came time for group healing. I leveled Resto from 50 up, running instances all the way. I was tuned and ready when I hit the level cap. And consequently enjoyed the role.

Counterpoint that to my Priest experience, where I leveled DPS and was dragged kicking and screaming into Holy. I didn't know what tools to use; I was bad at it; and miserable the whole time. I quit the game over that experience.

So what I think is this -- saying that it is fun to level a healer because you don't need to level as a healer is not right. Because you wind up unprepared to be healing by doing that. You are not training the skills you need. And that is precisely what the leveling process is for.

- Llyra

Zigi said...

Ahh I see I think I misread your post originally.

I don't know if there was an alliance equivalent, but one amazing quest in Grizzly Hills for Horde is "Ursoc, the Bear God". You get an ally to help you, and you actually get to pick either a tank, a dpser, or a healer. It is totally possible to do that quest just healing. Though gimmicky, it is fun. Maybe if they could make more events like that you could get more healing chops while leveling. Other than that, the other solution would be to make it viable to level in instances, as opposed to having questing really be the only fast way to level.

baren said...

I love that idea -- level in instances. I'm totally cribbing that. =)

- Llyra

Adgamorix said...

Hmm - ok, first - I can't disagree more about the standard UI being bad. Our main healer - and probably the best Priest I have ever played with - uses nothing more than the standard raid frames. I've done it more than once, and it works fine. The biggest hassle is pulling them out.

Leveling in instances is definately viable. If you look at several of the top end raid guilds going into Wrath and BC - all they did was run straight to the first instance and grind it until the xp/hour dropped, and then they moved on to a new instance. Of course this might not be viable for the average player - but with the abundance of high end gear available now, I think it will work in Cat.

I know that with my dual Holy/Prot spec - that's how I plan to spend my time leveling.

The two Paladin specs you're talking about are 51/20 and 51/0/20 - one is heavy on shield and raid mitigation - the other on crit.

Many healers will have a DPS offspec, though our priest is Holy/Disc - depending on the fight. Our tree is two different tree specs as well.

A lot of this will change just with the big talent changes in Cat. I think it's too early to say the sky is falling right now.