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Healing 2.0 How To Make Healing More Engaging.

September 17, 2010

As a healer I can admit that healing will never be as popular as DPS. I have absolutely no delusions of this mythical system that can inspire those who enjoy playing DPS into rolling a healer. Healing and tanking are less popular when compared with DPS’ing because of the increased responsibility those roles require of the player. The majority of players don’t want to know that any mistake can likely cost the lives of the entire party, and DPS typically only have to worry about themselves. It’s only logical to assume that the role which has the least amount of responsibility and is the least stressful would be the most popular. This post isn’t meant as an insult to DPS players as they are a vital part of the trinity and blowing stuff up can be fun at times. My goal with this topic is to offer some suggestions that could make healing more dynamic and exciting for healers without turning our role into something it’s not.

OOM?

A return to the days of resource management would be a major step in the right direction. WoW has long abandoned having to pay attention to what spells you cast by giving it’s healers unlimited mana. This has taken one of the most tactical mechanics of being a healer out of the equation. It’s such a bad design that they’ve decided to go back to the older model with this next expansion. In a game where you can chain cast your largest spell without fear of running out of resources you promote laziness and a complete lack of meaningful healing decisions. TOR needs to make us remember that awful feeling you got when you saw that your blue bar was empty and that you were nowhere near finished with the encounter. When you have endless resources the devs have to balance the encounters around the assumption that you’re going to be spamming your most potent heal and that’s where the GCD deaths began showing up to counter the uber healers.

Holy Light…Holy Light…Holy Light…


Do not give the healers a single spell type to rely on. Giving healers multiple tools with mechanics that play off other healing spells makes the class feel far less one-dimensional. Spells like Swiftmend, Infusion of Light(pre-cast time reduction nerf on Holy Light), Riptide, and the new Chakra mechanic for Priests in Cataclysm are all extremely interesting and solid systems to help promote using more than a single spell. Also giving healers a large selection of heals such as standard cast, channeled, hots, instant-cast, AOE, group, shielding, imbued heals(Prayer of Mending) can make a healer far more appealing to play. Cooldown management should also play a part in the system it creates the need for the healer to look beyond his raid frames. There was no such thing as a good Holy Paladin in Wrath there were Paladins who could manage their cooldowns and use beacon correctly and there were those that couldn’t. Learning when and where to use the abilities you need in order to maximize your efficiency is something that can make healing much more fun and interesting.

Run, Forrest! Run!


Fight mechanics must promote paying attention to one’s environment. Standing and spamming is the fault of lazy encounter design and not of the healer who’s abusing the system. Fights like Mimiron Firefighter or M’uru( both Pre-nerf no scrubs tyvm) are a perfect example of how tunnel-vision can and should get a healer killed. More fights need to promote the need for a healer who can multi-task managing the health of his targets and his own positioning. This isn’t the fault of the healer it’s much more on the devs themselves and they should make sure all encounters are challenging for all roles. If anybody can stand in a single spot the vast majority of a fight without ever thinking about moving that fight isn’t difficult enough. Staring exclusively at raid bars and not paying attention to your surroundings aren’t behaviors that should be rewarded in difficult content. Games are much better when you have to think on the fly and something as simple as positioning and movement can make healing that much more engaging.

The Kübler-Ross Model And The Old Republic Forums!

July 16, 2010

I apologize in advance for this rant, but my shield of logic and reason can’t repel stupidity of this magnitude anymore. With nothing to do but sit on the forums (thanks for not inviting me to the initial stages of testing, Bioware) my misanthropic tendencies are yet again starting to surface. The more posts I read the more I wish I could force choke people over the internet. After E3 and the information that came with it I was hoping(however naively) that many of these smacktards would leave on their own accord. Instead the forums have been flooded with posts by the few who decided that moving on to another potential game wasn’t what they wanted to do or they just want to bitch until they are eventually banned. Either way it’s been a horrible few weeks for those of us looking for any semblance of intelligent discussion. Not that we’d be allowed to partake in said intelligent discussion with the way the mods toss out warnings and infractions at anything and everything resembling a disagreement. As I sit here praying to the Gods for the gents from Illidrama to decide to move over and open up a TOR forum so we can actually have heated debates without having to worry about getting in trouble I wonder how long it will take before these morons shut the hell up or go away. Without further adieu I present the five stages of grief from the Kübler-Ross model as they appear on the TOR boards.

Just hop in the class forums and you’ll see what I mean. Posts claiming the trinity is not confirmed, Knights wont be able to tank, troopers wont be able to DPS, Consulars can only heal, there’s no melee path for the Inquisitor, companions will make tanking and healing obsolete, etc. I think these are the people who annoy me the most. Ignoring all logic, reason, and evidence against their position and constantly making claims without any type of proof or thought behind said claims. It reminds me of debating with a creationist as It’s that level of denial and blatant stupidity at times. Here’s some clarification for the mouth-breathing idiots who against all odds might somehow find their way to this post.

  1. This is not Star Wars Galaxies so you can stop holding your breath for that non-combat class or skill-based advancement rather than leveling.
  2. Troopers can not heal beyond the OOC heal everybody gets, or a medpack(aka potion). There is no Combat Medic AC you guys are tanks or DPS***
  3. Companions are going to be significantly weaker than players in the roles they perform during combat. The devs stating you’d need all your companions to be healers in order to replace a healing player character.
  4. Consulars are not only going to be healers(this coming from a healer)… They will have an entire AC that has little if anything to do with healing and if Bioware is not retarded it will be very viable in groups. You’ll probably still get asshats telling you to heal or that you should reroll and the /ignore feature will remedy that.
  5. There are four classes that can tank and four that can heal. While not 100% confirmed logic dictates the Agent will heal at least as well as the Smuggler which is it’s mirror.
  6. Canon does not only mean the original trilogy! I hated Phantom as much as everybody else, but we’re stuck with it. Come to terms with the fact that the Expanded Universe is as important to Star Wars as the movies are in terms of lore and canon. Healing is a part of canon so shut up about it or PISS OFF.
  7. MMO and RPG mechanics will probably be more important than lore or your immersion. This is more directed at the hundreds of crying Knights who haven’t stopped bitching about having to dual-wield in order to be a pure DPS spec since it was announced months ago. You’ll probably have a more DPS-oriented spec within your tanking AC anyway you big whiners.
  8. The trinity is confirmed. Roles are required for group content. This is where I laugh at the anti-role morons. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA………..HA…

Those who have come to terms with the first step have moved on and now flood the general boards with brilliant posts screaming about how Bioware lied to them and that the trinity is the easy way out. Bioware never promised this game would lack the trinity, but the fact that they’ve kept information under lock and key led to such wild speculation that this game was going to be THE GAME that killed the MMO trinity. Parades in the streets would have heralded the death of a system that the vocal minority despise so much. To this I happily say…. Still no! Bioware never once promised the trinity wouldn’t be present. Those of you who stuck around after they said the word tank over a year ago were in denial. The troglodytes who didn’t see the writing on the wall after they announced healers were nuts, but that’s not really fair considering we have people still pretending the trinity isn’t confirmed. I suppose the former could be dark age peasants, and the latter would be the cave-dwellers. Whatever side you’re on in this debate(Winning side right here 😀 ) flooding the forum with posts crying about how the game is doomed to fail and that people who like the trinity are sheep wont change any minds at Bioware. Staying here and berating those that like this system because you’re bitter only makes you look like a kid throwing a tantrum on the toy aisle because mommy wont buy you that lego X-wing(I still have to smack my kid-brother for destroying mine like twelve years ago). No matter how loud you kick and scream you aren’t getting what you want. I only wish Bioware would walk you back to the car and hit you in a place that your clothes would cover the bruises.

We get that you don’t enjoy healing! Begging to change a system that you don’t like just so you might try it at the risk of alienating those of us who like the way it currently works is a stupid idea. Balancing the endgame content around hybrids when you can spec as a traditional healer would be pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. Why would anybody play an actual healer when they’d be better off playing a true hybrid? This isn’t a question of differences in specialization like with hybrids in WoW where you can spec a certain way and fulfill that role in your group as well as a pure class(in some cases we don’t want to start the chorus of whining from the Mages and Warlocks…) like a Paladin. If you spec as a DPS expect to be a DPS’er don’t hope that you can heal capped content as well as somebody who’s actually spec’d for healing. It’s foolish to assume that healers would even be real hybrids though at this point as there’s no offensive and defensive targeting system. Balancing complex capped content around bot healers or hybrid healers is something that would make this game easier than WoW currently is(save heroic 25 man Arthas…Die in a fire WoW fanatics) and I don’t think that’s what they want. Top tier guilds and complex encounters actually bring many benefits along with them such as sponsorship, hype, community, etc. It also gives pathetic people like myself something to do with all the theorycrafting, farming, raiding, and debating on sites like EJ. *Insert another witty comment about the Knights demanding exact same DPS with 1 or 2 lightsabers…*

Good job, Eeyor! You’ve managed to move beyond begging the game be changed to suit your demands. This is the point where we will see tons of posts claiming how Bioware wasted the chance to do something truly special, and unique. Our whiny comrades will halfheartedly continue to follow the game while publicly reminding people about the supposed missed opportunity at every chance they get. Doom and gloom posts never really bother me very much because they normally have no basis in fact and can thus be easily dismissed in favor of more intelligent conversation. There are instances where this initial reaction failed me like when the badge gear during the ZA patch allowed you to practically skip all tier five content and start marching directly through Black Temple and Hyjal which I’m still terribly bitter about that as I’ve stated multiple times. These people scream fanboy at the slightest hint of disagreement, and act like a disappointed parent when they refer to the game or other members of the community. This stage will become a far more common sight once Beta hits the open phase and information begins to flood in. There are a few examples now on the boards, but it’s more of a combination of bargaining and anger than it is depression. This period will probably result in the exodus of the Star Wars Galaxies refugees as they realize the game wont be anything like that awful UO clone with a Star Wars skin that they constantly moan about. Alas! It’s WoW in space with Lightsabers, a lot of talking, a better story, and companions to help soften the trinity! I’ll have to kill myself now…

What’s really funny is that these buffoons might actually enjoy this game. I still think the majority of people currently suffering through these stages of grief will stick around for launch.  Bioware has done amazing things with their RPG’s and if they enjoyed the other games they’ll probably love this one. Wait until you play the game before you start pissing and moaning that things aren’t exactly as you planned. If Bioware follows WoW’s actual formula of taking the best from the genre and putting their own twist on it we could have finally found the new king of the hill. This IP failed terribly in it’s first foray into the genre, and EA wouldn’t risk the millions upon millions they’ve spent on this game if they thought it wasn’t capable of being THE GAME by which all others in the genre will be measured and trying to emulate. Ok, now I’m being a little bitch fanboy… I still hate you EA! You took my game and I’ll never get it back pre-canceled E&B just needed advertisement! It was too complex for the typical MMO crowd! You lied about subscription numbers so you could destroy our game! Oh… I’m starting to sound like the SWG people…

 

***Recently Bioware has announced that a third base class will be able to become a healer. This was something that happened based on player feedback in the beta and did not apply at the time this initial post was made.

Advanced Classes: Episode II – Send In The Consulars

June 24, 2010

With E3 wrapping up we’ve had a few big reveals regarding AC’s and how they’ll function. Each Advanced class is going to promote a certain weapon style. Which destroys one of the major ideas I had for the Consular and that was a shared melee talent tree between the classes. My original vision for the class had one AC with a telekinetic DPS tree and a control tree with the second obviously being a healer/buffer. The shared melee tree would have meant that You could have had a combination similar to a Disciple of Khaine for the healers where you had to both actively heal and melee in order to unlock the full potential of that build. The other build possible with a shared melee tree would have been reminiscent of the Sentinel from KotOR. A dps class that uses the force and their lightsaber with equal skill. The latter is still very possible though as we’ll see.

Jedi Consular

Jedi Sage –  “A Consular is a specialized kind of Jedi. They focus more on cerebral Force skills. They’re our healers, our researchers, our seers.” This would be the more thoughtful of the two paths. Some might gripe about an entire advanced class dedicated to healing and buffing, but it makes sense from a lore standpoint for the class as there are many examples of Jedi Healers throughout the Expanded Universe. Sub-trees would consist of a more reactive traditional healing tree with your standard hots, quick heals, group heals, shielding via force absorbs, and imbued heals similar to prayer of mending from Warcraft . The second tree would focus more on buffing your party with regeneration auras for both health and combat resources, battle meditation that would increase speed, critical strike, damage reduction,  and other buffs for the group. Maybe this is where I’ll be able to see hints of my old Bard because I doubt my Knight idea would ever happen. I believe that the shared tree will be the telekinetic DPS tree and that would allow for multiple builds even within the AC’s without losing the core concept of the class which is not as IN YOUR FACE as the Knight is perceived.

Jedi Sentinel – After watching the newest cinematic for TOR everybody is in awe of the utter devastation caused by that lone female Jedi. The way she mixed and matched agile melee with deadly telekinetic force was something many people would want to attempt to replicate in the game. While I don’t think we’re going to toss around Darth Malgus like a rag doll I think that style of combat is both very interesting and unique enough to set it apart from the Knight. This AC would prefer the saberstaff because around half of it’s damage would come from direct melee albeit more agile than the Knight, but to unlock it’s full potential for dealing damage you’d have to mix in force powers as well. The ideal DPS build would be a 50/50 split of telekinetic damage (from the shared tree) and melee skills. One of the trees would be force enhanced melee and the other would be more about controlling the battlefield. This would provide many options that would be viable in both group and solo play.

One of the pictures I used was from a video entitled “The Art of the Saber” it is possibly the best fan-made lightsaber sequence I’ve seen. Here’s the whole thing for those of you that are interested.

Advanced Classes And Personal Speculations

May 28, 2010

Finally! The boys over at Bioware decided that we’ve been starved for useful information long enough so they’ve announced the “Advanced Classes” system.  I’ve got to hand it to Darth Hater they predicted this quite some time ago, and as much as it pains me to say it… They were right. I was extremely surprised to see this update being that most of us who troll the SWTOR forums are used to a planet reveal or an LOLcomic. It seems that Bioware is trying to slowly increase the hype around the game again with E3 less than a month away. This is a good thing for us devoted zealots who’ve spent the better part of the past year tirelessly spamming F5 on the website. Let’s hope that E3 brings the details of each “Advanced Class”, but until then we can speculate to our heart’s content!

Jedi Knight

Guardian – It’s obvious that one of the advanced classes is going to specialize in tanking. They’ve gone as far as to refer to one of the Knight’s paths as a tank, but I think the class will be a tad more complex than just your average meat shield. One of the sub-trees is certain to be a traditional heavily-armored, damage-soaking tank. The second tree could be more about improving the single-saber focus. Allowing you to do a solid amount of damage coupled with stuns, pushes, and mind tricks that would help you get by in a tanking role without actually having to be a traditional tank.

Weapons Master – The Fury Warrior with glowsticks. This will be the advanced class that inflicts massive damage on the target. A true melee DPS in it’s finest sense. What I think we’re going to see will be one tree focused on pure force-enhanced melee and dual-sabers. This is going to cause an ocean of tears and I can hear the nerds crying already… Waaaaaaah!!! I want to use one lightsaber like Luke did when he confronted Darth Vader on Bespin!!! I don’t want to be forced into tanking just because I don’t like standard MMO mechanics and it’s not 100% in compliance with lore!!! The solution is simple have the second sub-tree under the weapons master focus on being a buffing melee DPS class.

I played a Bard in Everquest back in the day and I can tell you that I had no greater joy than twisting my songs during combat to maintain multiple buffs all the while doing DPS. Bring back the Bard! My left hand begins to hurt just thinking about the possibility of aura twisting, but I loved my Bard and have never since had as much fun on a single toon during combat. If there is a Bard-like spec the plans for my healing Consular main might just take a back seat.

*You begin channeling Aura of the Righteous Path*
**Your pace quickens**
*You Begin channeling Aura of Inner Focus*
**Your combat resource regeneration increases**
*You begin channeling Aura of the Valiant Warrior*
**Your attack speed is increased**
*Aura of the Righteous Path fades*

It’ll be easy to see who’s good and bad by the number of auras they twist. Bad Bards in EQ only managed 1-2 songs, average Bards could twist 3, and pro Bards could manage 4 most of the time.

Titles, Mr. Connery…

March 25, 2010

From antiquity up to modern day titles have been used to display qualifications or positions within society. They often generate strong feelings from subjects, peers, or enemies of the people who bare them. Titles can show the prestige and nobility like that of a Duke, or represent unadulterated fear such as with the Oprichnik. While many people who’ve held titles have been little more than footnotes in history we tend to only focus on those that were extraordinary. Leaders that have inspired their nations to greatness, scientists who’ve helped unravel the mysteries of our origins, and even those who’s name can cause terror throughout an entire populace would be good examples of these notable types of people. It’s only natural that titles have become a part of or literature, theater, film, and now gaming. The Star Wars Universe is no exception and is filled with with these status symbols. From the wise and noble Jedi Master to the sinister and manipulative Dark Lord of the Sith. Many of us who intend on playing TOR are hoping that we might be so fortunate as to earn one of the many illustrious titles.

In Warcraft titles originally had to be earned through the PVP system with the one exception coming from the AQ via an epic series of quests.  PVP and the few elite PVE raiding quests being the only source of  titles lasted all the way up until the last part of Burning Crusade when the achievements began rewarding titles for completing the useless holiday fluff.  I wore my “Hand of A’dal” title proudly as it showed that I was considered a dedicated raider, and that my guild was top notch. When Wrath launched Blizzard began to hand out titles for things like reputation grinds and other minor tasks. There were still titles which were considered elite and players like myself had no qualms with the system. However, titles in Star Wars are an integral part of who the character is. For the RP’ers they want to feel as if their character is truly a hero in the Star Wars universe. The prefix Darth is a big deal to many of these people and they feel entitled to having access to it. Many would prefer that the title be common among the Sith even going as far as suggesting it to be a reward for completing your class story. That title is a big deal and it shouldn’t be given away to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who manage to reach the level cap on their Sith Warrior or Inquisitor.

When a title conveys this much power and importance it should be beyond difficult to earn. Being a Dark Lord of the Sith should be a huge deal and only the most dedicated people should even hope to ever have that title. The same could be said about Jedi Council members or Councilors. People who want to be known as a Dark Lord of the Sith need to expect to work for it. Seeing hundreds of different Darths would make the title a complete joke and wouldn’t be on par with the canon at all. The other extreme is to not allow anybody to receive the title, but I’m sure if that were the case there would be daily death threats sent to Bioware by the livid uber nerds who’s immersion would suffer. I’d personally like to limit it to the best of the best PVP and PVE players, and I’m sure that wouldn’t fly either. What I think Bioware needs to do is stay neutral and provide multiple pathways to prestigious titles.

Ideas have been tossed around of an epic, soul-crushing chain quest that makes you participate in PVP, PVE and exploration. This seems to be the logical solution to the issue, but this quest would have to really have to be the most challenging endeavor ever faced by a single player. Only after finishing this mega quest would you be worthy of the Darth title. From finding hidden holocrons, landing 1,000 killing blows in PVP, to slaughtering thousands of NPC mobs in PVE. This quest needs to be very time-consuming and difficult to the point that only the most dedicated players would even attempt to accept it. Letting everybody be a Darth would water down the title to the point where it would only be worn by people who couldn’t get a better title and would be considered a gigantic “free kill” sign in PVP or simply belong to the realm of the extreme RP’ers.

It’s The Loot, Stupid!

March 11, 2010

There is much discussion going on about where the best rewards in TOR should come from. The opponents in this eternal struggle have been at the throats of one another for as long as I can remember. These three factions that can rarely agree on anything let alone loot distribution are the PVP’ers, PVE’ers, and crafters. The PVE’ers  believe the best items in the game should come from conquering the most challenging content the developers can come up with. They feel that the massive time and coordination it takes to progress through the top levels of content deserve the most elite items in the game. The crafters who had their days of glory back during Galaxies would like to see a return to relevance. They’ve been neglected by the major MMO’s for the past few years with the exclusion of EVE. Finally, what loot conversation would be complete without the PVP’ers? These guys have been making you scream at your monitor for years while they camped you time and again because you decided to farm at the wrong time. Constantly finding new strategies to defeat and or humiliate a non-scripted opponent(YOU). All these groups have valid claim to the best items in the game, and I would like to see a system where the paths are symbiotic instead of separate.

My favorite loot system in any of the MMO’s I’ve played was Earth and Beyond‘s. Items would drop from very powerful PVE mobs and these items could then be given to a crafter to break down in order to learn how to create the item. Why would you give a super powerful item away to be destroyed you might ask. The reason was because that crafter could then reproduce that item at a much higher quality level. Stats for items such as beam weapons would have lower cooldowns, cost less energy to activate, and even do more dps. Crafters and PVE’ers worked together in order to create these super items. They had to because there was a chance that the item would simply be eaten by the terminal when it was taken apart during the mapping process. Few things are as soul-crushingly awful as watching the super rare item your guild just spent two hours trying to farm vanish into thin air. Crafters were also an important asset to your guild because they were normally the first contact new recruits had with your guild as they were typically in the market channel trying to sell their wares. This system worked out very well because PVP was a non-factor in E&B. The only PVP in the game was some useless powerball-esque waste of time which nobody really touched.

In a game where all three options exist they’ve got to come up with a much better way to distribute loot evenly across the board without making the game so terribly easy that it turns into Diablo with a subscription. A system that could take loot from PVP or PVE(raid/group/solo) and combine it with crafter upgrades patterns which would drop from PVP or PVE to create the best items in the game. Something similar to Spymaster’s idea from the Old Republic forums would be a seemingly simple solution to this pressing issue. It could also pacify the many solo progression enthusiasts that have been begging for an equal chance at competitive gear without having to raid or spend the vast majority of their time in PVP. If they can achieve a progression system that would foster better relations between the different types of players within the community it’d be a much bigger contribution to the genre than any story they can create. This could be Bioware’s most important and unique aspect. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies, “A little revolution now and then is a healthy thing… Don’t you think?”

You Will Never Find A More Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy.

February 24, 2010

The Old Republic forums are both a blessing and a curse for somebody like me. The constant discussion and speculation help keep player interest high even though it’s a year away. One of many downfalls lies is the complete lunacy spewing from the mouths of idiots. Another seems to be Bioware themselves as has recently been brought to my attention. By only ever talking about this “FOURTH PILLAR!” that is character story and never actually talking about the other three pillars that are part of an MMO they foster this rampant stupidity on their forums.

Keeping some secrets from fans about your game is a common practice in the genre. It seems as though these folks have taken it to the extreme. The game has a target release window of Spring 2011 that leaves little over a year left for beta testing to begin and complete. We know very little beyond a hand full of planets, the character classes, some of the class abilities, and the personal story aspect. We have almost no idea of which races are going to be playable or if each race has special bonuses. Nobody knows how PVP or raiding are going to work as the only information we’ve been given was that they were included. It doesn’t help that the weekly updates from the developers are even more planets or a comic. I understand that I’m whining, but it’s not like it’s without merit. We’re being starved for information, and like an Uruguayan rugby team after the plane goes down, we’re cannibalizing each other on the forums.

Bioware has a lot to learn about managing an MMO community from the information they give to the way they handle the forums. The moderators are the KGB when it comes to relocating threads they deem off-topic to some hidden gulag of a sub-forum. They close threads that even slightly resemble ancient threads in the forum favoring necromancy to fresh discussion. It’s as if these goofballs are on a mission to eliminate thriving conversations. These psycho mods also toss out warnings like you wouldn’t believe as many people I’ve talked to through private tells have told me they were getting warned for minor offenses. I took those with a grain of salt as the guilty party tends to embellish the truth from time to time. It wasn’t until I myself got smacked with a warning just recently that I began to understand what the others were talking about. I went over the line when I said solo players had small egos because it caused them pain to see somebody in a game who was more advanced than they were.  Somebody go get the solo players some ointment for that wicked burn…

It’s going to be a very long year having to deal with these crusading moderators. Let’s hope these retards are given other tasks besides being forum nazis to occupy their time. Having to fear my own sarcasm because some moron can take my beta privileges away at a whim is going to be really fun.