Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are healers responsible and dps just having fun?

Last week Rohan of Blessing of Kings wrote a post about Warhammer. I just threw an absentminded eye on it, since Warhammer honestly doesn’t interest me a bit – I’m totally stuck in WoW as it is. But then there was a passage, which wasn’t just about Warhammer, but about WoW as well, which made wake up, abruptly:

“The healers are the ones being responsible, letting the DPS have fun. When I'm DPS in a group, I feel bad that I'm making the healers work, while I'm having fun.”
I’ve never played a healer myself, but it felt like if I suddenly got access to the brain of a healer. It was ust like the guy looking out of the eyes of John Malkovich, if you remember that brilliant movie.

So that’s how it is! You healers are feeling responsible. All the time. You work. And we, we just mess around mindlessly, having a fun time.


That could explain the “healing burnouts” I’ve stumbled upon a few times in the game – healers claiming their job is boring and monotonous (especially if you’re asking a paladin). They say they’re just doing the same thing over and over again, and keeping their focus on the raid they sort of miss out much of the encounter, they don’t seem to enjoy the scripts, the actual encounter with the boss, the same way as I do.

Yeah, I suppose they miss some of those fun parts because of the overwhelming feeling of responsibility.

Healers in power
Now, Rohan didn’t just moan about the role of the healer. He admit it’s fun and challenging, but it’s a different sort of fun, as he puts it.

He doesn’t state what’s so fun about the healing, but other healers have told me it’s about the feeling of having it all in your hands.

There may be a tank around who thinks he’s the raid leader, but as a healer you’ve got a solid influence of the outcome of the fight. You’re the master of your own fate, of life and death. You’re in charge, even though the other players don’t quite realize it. The dps classes may THINK they’re powerful when they’re on top of the damage charts, but in fact the real power belongs to you.

The working dps:er
So how do I see this from a dps perspective?

Well, when you’re building a raiding team you can’t hide the fact that you always first of all try to find a solid core of tanks and healers. I’ve never ever heard of someone first looking for mages and warlocks and then “filling in” the raid with some random tanks or healers.

As a dps:er you’re one on the crowd, and even though we may have a few utilities, like cc or buffs, we’re pretty easy to replace. If a few go down it won’t necessarily mean a wipe, while a healer down is a huge problem.

This gives dps-players a feeling of non-exclusivity. I’m sort of faceless, one among many foot soldiers or like a worker ant, pulling the needles to the anthill.

But does this sound like fun? To me it sounds like work! It’s just that we’re the ones working on the floor, rather than in direction premises.

At the same time I can see where Rohan is getting. If you don’t feel directly responsible to the outcome of a raid it’s possible that you’re not quite as much on the toes as the healer is. You may take risks and do stuff in a way that is interesting or fun for you, but not necessarily the best for the raid. You trust that the healers will sort it out in the end, as they always do.

A new mindset
I think it’s time to switch mindsets a bit, and that goes for the healers as well as the dps:ers.

To the healers: stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’re way up in the hierarchy; you can’t possibly be envious of a worker ant. And he’s working just as hard as you are, but with a different assignment.

To the dpsers: Even if you’re not a healer, pretend that you are in the sense that you’re just as responsible as they are for the outcome of the raid. The higher you go in content, the less room there is for individual performances that are less than perfect. You’re not there for a fun ride, provided by tanks and healers, You’re there to do your share. No less, no more.

In the best of raids there’s no difference between the healers and the dps:ers. We should all be responsible. And we should all have fun doing so.


krizzlybear said...

In my limited experience as a *gasp* healer, it sure is a nice break from pew-pewing everything. But I haven't experienced the same burnout that players who have healer mains go through.

It's all a matter of design and development. If people don't like healing, then people will play healers less. If less people play healers, developers will make it more lucrative. If it remains broken for a long time, then the game is sure to fail.

Rohan said...

There may be a tank around who thinks he’s the raid leader, but as a healer you’ve got a solid influence of the outcome of the fight. You’re the master of your own fate, of life and death. You’re in charge, even though the other players don’t quite realize it. The dps classes may THINK they’re powerful when they’re on top of the damage charts, but in fact the real power belongs to you.

This is not correct. The thing is that a healer cannot win the fight. The most we can do is keep the raid from losing. DPS actually wins the fight. That's why it's so important to have good DPS.

As well, if DPS is working just as hard as healers are, why do so few of them roll healer alts? Why do so few people roll healers or tanks? DPS is just more fun than healing.

Gevlon said...

I absolutely disagree, that DPS is more "fun" than healing. I often feel bored in bossfights when spamming arcane missiles (although AM has the bless of being 5 sec channel, so you can write a message or Alt-Z out to watch the landscape between two cast). Just AM-AM-AM until the tank finally have enough aggro, so the shaman cast bloodlust, I start AB, and AP-trinket when 3x buff on. Press gem and poti when not on CD, evocate when no mana and no AoE, watch OMEN and AM in the meantime... sounds like fun to anyone?

Sheeping-slowing-counterspelling trashfights are much better. And also the high AoE bossfights (Illhof, Nightbane, Akil'Zon, Morogrim and above all: Hyjal trashwaves)

On the other hand to heal is constant excitement and challenge. To keep all HoT-s up on tank and offtank, to drop a HoT to the DPS-er BEFORE he gets damage (strike that, before he even knows he will get damage). Put a rejuv on the one who WILL need a swiftmend because of incoming spike damage. Regrowth-spam on the poor one who get massive damage while NOT losing LB on MT (and OT). Finding out who worth having the once-in-every-3-minutes-miracle, NS-HT. And on the top of it, cycle on the mana users finding out who will get Innervate. To know the fight so the Tranquility comes not early, not late, to find out who will get combat res. Constant challenge and excitement, never get old or boring. As a DPS-er, if you seen a boss once, you seen him all. He'll always be the same. As healer there is not 2 identical fight, the DPS-ers will make sure of that. :-)

I think the healer/tank burnout is nothing to do with being boring or challenge-less. As a matter of fact, it has a goblin-philosophy reason and change my plans of what to post today in my blog. I'll write the reason in an hour or two.

Anonymous said...

I have to cast my mind back a fair way to remember healing... but I also remember it as being fun, but in a challenging, almost stressful sort of way.

Multiple targets and responsibility did play into it. DPS are less likely to get the blame for a death than the healers.

I think another advantage the average dps'er has is that they can choose not to play their "main" dps.

I expect most guilds don't have the flexibility to allow their healers to switch out.

DPS - night off, different toon.. np.
healer - night off, different toon.. you are letting the team down

Gevlon said...

Pretty long to be a comment, read it on my blog:


Anonymous said...

In my experience of tanking, healing and DPSing Kara and ZA id rank the three roles like this...

For Complexity/criticality:
Healer > Tank > DPS

For relaxing and enjoying the scenery:
DPS > Tank > Healer

For a sense of really pulling it out of the fire when it all goes south:
Healer > Tank > DPS

Ability to wipe the raid with a split second of inattention (or 'feel the pressure'):
Healer > Tank > DPS

One thing that's absolutely a given is that any raid needs all three roles to pull together to be a success. The numbers of times we've downed a boss the hear the DPS cry 'that was easy' when the healing team has been flat out for five minutes+ often makes me smile and occasionally brings a misunderstood frown to my face!

I generally find tanking the best compromise role between involved and relaxed but healing is, on many fights, really hard work and with that you get the rewards and respect of your raid-mates that is rarely given to the tanks or DPS.

Consentire said...

Healing vs. DPS is for me a personality trait.

I've made my "name" as being the most selfsacrificing, always there, always prepared, always flasked, always giving 100% on any given raid-healer.
Further more I must confess that I like the pain. The stress, the rush, the "oh shit-situations" which I outlasted, kept the tank up and lived to tell the tale.
Many of my dps-friends claims me to be complete nuts, as they don't see the fun in healing.

The thing I really like about healing is the diversity. There is no castcycle - there are quite a few macros out there, but healing still remains situational.
You do sit there and press 4-5 keys, but it is not in the DPS-order 1,2,3,4,5. As a healer I have to adapt, constantly.

As a last thought of the day:
If you compare wow with irl work, where time off and vacations is a must for your employed career - When was the last time your guild gave your healers a day off?

Healers love to have fun too! :)

Chris said...

Being honest control is Tank > Healer > DPS, that is if a Healer messes up you likely don't notice (its a group effort and the overhealing helps save the tank), a Tank can easily wipe the raid by inattention.

However Healers lack the sense of involvement, most of the Healers I know basically play whack a mole with the raid frames, while the Tank plays with the boss (and views knee caps or groins, wtb shorter boss btw), and the DPS gets a nicer view.

As has been said Healers cannot win the fight in a raid environment (in a 5 man I have run with 4 healers and a tank :P), however their job is to let the tank survive long enough to allow her to do her job and build threat (tanks also have a significant involvement in keeping themselves alive).

What is really lacking in WoW is more interaction between the classes, there are no melee healers (DPS + short range aoe heals), there are no hybrid healers (being replaced with a dedicated healer and a dedicated dps) nor is there a real incentive for the DPS to interact with the tank (imagine locks offering shields to the tank, causing debuffs etc to them, rogues "stepping in the way") to make the game more fun and linked. Right now the Tank tanks and prays the healers don't miss when her cooldowns are up.

Burn out tends to happen in Tanks > Healers > DPS due to the nature of the roles, Healers are a group with solidarity, its rare that a single healer can be targetted as being responsible, dps laugh it off as "lols build more threat" and the tanks sit there getting the punishment for not surviving better.

I make a sucky DPS because I aim for top of the threat meter (too much tanking) and move / am active a lot. But it makes a good tanking mentality.

Anonymous said...

@Krizzlybear: yes, I guess we have to pay attention to the healers complaining. Because they'll vote with their feet anyway. If it isn't any fun they won't do it and the game will be terribly unbalanced.

@Rohan: Well, as I said I haven't played a healer myself. I've just been told by healers that they like the feeling of control, of mastering the outcome of the fight. Of course in reality it isn't either way. It takes all roles to succeed and we should acknowledge that more.

You have a point about people not rolling healing alts. My first and only alt to reach lvl 70 will be a rogue, for various reasons. I guess one is that I feel some kind of respect for the healing classes. It seems complicated and take too much of new learning, which I don't want to put into an alt...

@Gevlon: you really make healing sound fun! I almost regeret not rolling a healing alt after reading your decriptions. I loved the post on your blog by the way and recommend it to everyone to read.

@Gnomeaggedon: yes, I agree that the constant lack of healers probably make them feel more tied up and that could be enough to kill the feeling of having "fun".

@Ulv: I thing you should read the post at Destructive Reach: http://www.destructivereach.com/2008/09/go-on-give-your-dps-crew-a-hug-today/

She's commenting on this post, letting out some steam about how dps classes often are belittled and that they deserve some respect as well. Recommended.

@Consentire: yes, I agree that what you think is fun in the game is much about what personality you have. I refuse to believe that most healers aren't having fun. It seems weired to me.

@2ndnin: I like your ideas about not-so-fixed-roles. Perhaps the DK is somewhat of a move in that direction? I'm not totally updated on it, but it has given me that impression.

Fish said...

I have both tanked and healed 5 mans (never DPS'd admittedly) and I don't think either role is any less fun, they are what they are, roles. If you are successful at what you do, it is because you played your part in it. I find the actual run is the enjoyable part, I dont find much of a difference tanking or healing.

It may be different in a raid situation, but that has been my experience in 5 mans.

On burnout, I can only relate it to a feeling I had when playing hockey. My team had problems scoring, I felt like I had to be perfect every night for us to win. It quickly became "we" won, but "I" lost. I think burnout is what happens when a leisure activity stops being fun.

Anonymous said...

My main is a healer by default. I actually would rather be pewpewing with my hunter and her pet, but I heal because my guild needs it.

And I've become addicted to the feeling of power! (insert maniacal cackle)

Any raid role can become boring which is why folks have alts. Healing I find becomes boring faster because you very quickly feel trapped. I'd rather come top the dps charts on my hunter or my oomkin, but I can't cause we need heals. It gets tiring.

That being said, the raid needs to work as team. Everyone needs to give a little love and understanding to every other role and walk a mile in their shoes to make the team work properly.

Oh and, for the few folks who felt that healers can't be the fight-winners .. ask the ZA Lynx boss how it felt to be taken from 10% to 0% by two very pissed off healadins :P

Gevlon said...

Oriniwen: "I'd rather come top the dps charts on my hunter or my oomkin, but I can't cause we need heals. It gets tiring." Why don't OTHERS come to heal? Is it's in your country's constitution that you have to reroll healer and they don't.

Just say: hey, I was healer so long, now let's someone else take the job. From now on I'm only available on hunter or moonkin!

Anonymous said...

Healers are responsible...the ones that pay attention.

Tanks are responsible...the ones that are successful.

DPS are responsible....if you're really, really lucky! LOL

Anonymous said...

I enjoy both healing and dps but my main is a healer because the most fun for me is running instances/raids and as a healer I find it much easier to get into groups.

So I'm a healer for somewhat selfish reasons :)

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon. It's part of being the Guild Leader. I do what's best for the guild. I know that its *my* guild anf if I really wanted to I could just say "suck it. i r pewpew." But i wouldnt. Ever. I feel like I have a responsibility to the rest of my raid and my guild.

Now don't get me wrong, I generally enjoy healing. Just sometimes I feel trapped and would like a night off to do some face pwnage. (or qwnage, depending on how leet I was feeling that night :D)

But I would *never* sacrifice my guild's raid progression or the enjoyment of the other 24 ppl in a raid for my own selfish reasons.

Anonymous said...

@the laste few posters: I'm afraid I've hit the language barrier now. I think I'm not good enough to get the subtle differences in how you interprate the word "fun". But could there be a difference between "pleasure" and "fun"?

You get some kind of pleasure out of beeing indespensable as a healer, you're the one everywant wants and love, it gives you confirmation. But it it isn't necessary fun? Fun has an element of childish carlessness maybe?

Anonymous said...

@Larisa: I enjoy healing and dpsing almost equally (I just plain enjoy playing WoW) but I much prefer running in groups to soloing. For me, it's more about ease of finding a group than being indispensable.

So fun for me: logging on to WoW, seeing "LF1M healer" in LFG channel, joining the group on my paladin and completing the run with no or few wipes (and hopefully also some good-humoured banter). Equally fun: seeing LF1M dps, joining the group on my lock, completing the run with no wipes/good banter.

NOT fun for me: doing dailies for 2 hours on my lock while sat in LFG tool, unable to get a run to Black Morass for KoT rep (to buy a JC pattern).

Same applies to raid spots: I'm almost guaranteed a raid spot on my holy paladin (fun), I know there's a much higher chance of getting "benched" as a dpser (not fun).