The Future of Healing: A Discussion

So the statement:
AE heals. Remember, the encounters are balanced around the class abilities. If we chill out AE heals, the encounters won't demand them.
-GC


Here's the thing. Previously when we were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Wild Growth and Circle of Healing, a similar statement was made. The discussion came to a point where Blizzard said they would ease up on AE healing moving into the next expansion (Cataclysm).

Instead we got the opposite. More classes began receiving AE heals attention, creating an issue with mechanics becoming too easily countered by smart heals. The result was increasing the raid DMG to compensate for the AE strengths. Then it became imperative for more AE healing classes to be brought in, which created an issue with class stacking. More attention was given to other healers' AE toolkit, thus creating another issue where AE heals out countered boss mechanics, leading to more raid DMG and continuing today where half of a raid's healing can be attributed to AE heals or absorption.

If Blizzard were to ease the raid DMG output, they'd need to nerf AE heals to compensate and discourage players from using AE heals instead of single target heals. Nerfing AE heals would result in less raid dmg, then less AE healing, so on and so forth.

Sadly, this would create an instance where single target healing would become more prevalent and teams would migrate to stacking strong single target healers, which would cause the weaker single target healers to get sat more frequently. This would lead to buffs to those classes and eventually we would be in a situation where boss mechanics were negated by super strong single target healing, thus resulting in additional raid dmg to compensate for the strong counter of single targets. This would require players to use more AE heals, which, again would lend itself to taking the stronger AE healers, ignoring the weaker ones.

We are then back to where we are now.

This is not an optimal rotation of events. What would need to be done at this point (here and now) is to open up discussion on how the direction of healing should go forth in the next expansion.

So to that extent I want to open up the discussion to help the devs find the right direction for healers going forward.

Some things I personally find:

AE healing atm is a necessary evil. No real thought goes into it, just mash on CD when and if raid dmg will occur.
Most smart heals do all the work for us.
Raid CDs have become so prevalent that they are no longer seen as situational, but more as at X point in the fight you will use Y ability. This is not exactly interesting gameplay.
Single target healing is generally comprised of fast, expensive spells.
Slow, powerful heals are usually wasted by the time they get out.
Niches were squashed in favor of the more flavorless healing styles.
There aren't enough interesting options for healing.
Abosrbs are far too powerful, which makes abosrb healers fantastic choices, yet a team without those healers, has to work much harder than those with.
Unique healing styles are discouraged by design.

Some options to consider:

Encourage deviant healing styles.
Perhaps allow heals to work off other heals in different ways.
Discourage proactive healing in favor of reactive healing or even the other way around.
Allow healers to contribute to the group through other means aside from dmg abilities during downtime.
Perhaps allow for synergy between different healers, allowing them to complement each other to discourage class stacking and encourage diversity.
Create more unpredictable dmg.
Rethink Spirit as a stat. Its not interesting. Maybe have it work well with other stats.

What are your ideas? What do you specifically like about healing and what do you not like about it and why? What are your crazy ideas for the future of healing?

Remember the more detailed and specific you are, the better. Statments like: this sucks because its stupid, are not helpful and detract from your concerns. Try to explain WHY it sucks. What is it about that particular spell that you hate? Do you have an idea to make it better? Spit it out!

As always, don't attack people for their ideas. You can attack an idea, but don't attack the people.

TL;DR
Don't be lazy, read the post.
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90 Draenei Shaman
12770
Partshark:

I thank you for this well thought out post. I hope you see some good discussion to follow!

I haven't participated in enough heroic raiding action in MoP to feel confident with what I contribute, but I'll absolutely agree that smart-heal mechanics are NOT interesting. I cleared H DS on a Disc priest in Cata, and I mained a Mistweaver until later T14; I'm not sure spammable smart-heals are a good idea *or* fun (Disc & Mistweaver). I especially loved Disc; don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I hate either of these healers... I'm just saying... spammable smart-heal = not fun.

As a shaman through late T14 - all of T15, I have to say... ugh. totems. I mean... drop em and win. Great. But... again. Not *fun*. HST gets mashed on cooldown, and whenever you run CotE, you mash *that* on cooldown as well, to be able to mash HST faster.

HTT... how the *hell* can a major raid CD be "instant cast, drop-it-and-forget-it"????? Jeezus.

I would place myself in the camp of healers who would be *very* interested to see what it would be like to move away from smart-healing.
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100 Human Priest
18285
It's not just the smart heals - it's the power of AoE healing in total. Take Prayer of Healing for example that is the bread and butter of AoE healing for priests of both specs and it just has massivly more throughput than any single target heal and when hitting 4+ targets it's HPM will be better as well so not pressing that button is just gimping your team.

Single target smart heals are fine for splash damage but outside of LFR smite and others like it just don't have the power to heal the damage going out.

Gimping the smart heals alone won't solve the problem. You need to totally gut all the AoE heals at the same time. The original idea for cata healing did just this which is why PoH and many other AoE heals sucked at release. However they clearly changed tack during the cata beta and cranked up the raid damage to stop healers dying of boredom.

Basically we can have high raid healing/high mana regen/AoE heal spam OR we can have slow mana efficient single target healing with only 1-2 AoE spells that are prohibitively expensive and only used in specific situations like vanilla wow.

Personally I have never seen the attraction of Vanilla healing where you spam a small spell that heals for not much (Heal rank 2) but costs no mana. Spamming heal on thaddius for 8 inuts still puts me in a coma just thinking about it. Getting 75% of your effective healing from such a spell is painfully dull. The other thing with such a healing model is that you can't demand much movement from your healers or they will fall behind the damage done.

I am not sure there is much room for interesting fight design in a primarily single target hard casting environment these days. You can also see this tension in warlocks and mages where they find it hard to get good dps if they have to move too much.
Edited by Eleanor on 8/30/2013 9:13 PM PDT
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
11510
08/30/2013 08:39 PMPosted by Partshark
open up discussion on how the direction of healing should go forth in the next expansion.


Which expansion? 6.0?

not waiting & paying $50 for them to fix hpal in 6.0 history says they will just choke the life out of it in 6.1-6.4 anyways, like 4.0+ & 5.0+
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
11510
Allow healers to contribute to the group through other means aside from dmg abilities during downtime.


Well, actually who gets to do damage has been developed poorly.

The most reactive healer should do the most damage, so they can damage during downtime and then react to the needed heals.

We don't have this now, the healers that are great proactive and aoe healers get to do the damage.

I don't know what is going on here: 1) kill the thought of shockadin at any cost 2) make new monk heals fun 3) enhance established healers that already do damage while healing

but its a big ol' fail on the design to not make the reactive the damage dealer IMO
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There are other ways for healers to contribute to a fight aside from spamming heals like they're going out of style. There's just got to be a better solution than, "bored? try punching the boss!"

And I do agree that they have a tendency to do a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to anything that may be over buffed. A slight tune is ok, but more often than not we get an across the board nerf in the middle of an xpac. Or the opposite is true and they overbuff a weak class to the point of obscenity, which will then get renerfed anyway. Its too much of a roller coaster in my opinion.

Also, as someone who played in vanilla, the old model of healing was not an ideal place. Nor is the Wrath infinite mana style. Early Cata was a good idea, but the change was too harsh and many healers hadn't gotten the hang of it. Even when they did, there was a huge gear discrepancy for more than a couple of the healers.

I'm not sure they ever got healing right, but it currently seems we're moving further from the sweet spot.
Edited by Partshark on 8/30/2013 9:36 PM PDT
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100 Night Elf Priest
13930
1. Smart healing should require smart play.

Barring having to watch mana at the earlier stages of an expansion/patch, we're not penalized for misuse/overuse/abuse of our smart heals. We just pop them whenever damage has been taken.

From a strictly healing point of view, their nice because they even out disparities in damage taken and allow us to heal the most injured players first. They're good for healing, but bad for the healers because they are rarely interesting, motivating or complex.

2a. There's an inherent imbalance between absorption/mitigation healing and raw healing that has yet to be effectively addressed.

In my opinion, with healing classes as they are currently, a good encounter includes both predictable and unpredictable damage—enough of each that neither absorbs nor raw healing outpaces the other by more than a small margin.

There's also the issue of making absorption specs (primarily Disc, but HPaladins to a lesser extent) desirable without making them [feel] mandatory.

2b. Bringing the player, not the class/spec, still hasn't been truly realized.

This plays directly into the imbalance not only between absorption and raw healing, but with the individual strengths of each healer.

Though this has been the developers' mantra for years, we receive less than satisfactory responses when overall healer balance is questioned. I myself posed the question of Discipline being too absorb heavy to be/feel truly useful/desirable on fights where absorption factors in very little (Tortos, Tsulong [at least on this fight we saw enough raid damage that Disc was able to make an impact; however, we weren't able to contribute nearly as meaningfully to the main focus—healing Tsulong], Dreamweaver). GC's response was a flippant "well, you have another spec for those".

Yep. I was told outright to switch specs—something, I'll add, I don't personally have a problem with doing when it comes to progression. Still, it rankles. It's the principle that matters here. Don't feed the players a concept for years, then turn that on its head when they question how effectively you've implemented said concept.

3. Healing needs to feel more dynamic in general.

There are successful fights, in my opinion. H Lei Shen and H Lei Shi come to mind, at least from my experience with them. So many fights have become cyclical; even Lei Shen is until you get to the final phase.

It's easy to become lax when healing now, even in heroic content. Once you have the timers down, you barely [perhaps a slight exaggeration] have to think because there's very little unexpected damage and very few unpredictable mechanics to force you on your toes.

Even when you are surprised, it's terribly easy to cover many issues with a quick cooldown. They're rampant, and on such a short cooldown, relatively speaking, that it's not the end of the world if you pop something to recover from a mistake (on 25m especially).

4. We don't see enough of our toolkits routinely in play.

The vast majority of our healing tends to come from a small handful of abilities, often AE spells.

More to say, but I'm getting distracted so I'll leave it at this for now and say:

Part shark, part ???
Edited by Elethia on 8/30/2013 10:14 PM PDT
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
11510
proactive and damage should be inverse
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
11510
There's just got to be a better solution than, "bored? try punching the boss!"

The Proactive heals shouldn't be so OP that people are bored. And if they are too OP and bored with their OP proactive heals... why are they rewarded with damage on top of it?

bad design IMO
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100 Tauren Druid
9545
1. Smart healing should require smart play.


This is the issue.

Everything is continually dumbed down mechanically, making all healers jobs easier to just optimize simple HPM. The result is far more throughput across the board, demanding far more raid damage.

IMHO, the core issue is...developers have to tailor the game as best they can for casuals in order to appeal to a greater audience. I'm not being critical, it's a simple business model.
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90 Night Elf Druid
9210
Starting to feel like GW2/Rift/TOR, where everyone just does a rotation by themselves.
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90 Pandaren Priest
14930
1. Smart healing should require smart play.

Barring having to watch mana at the earlier stages of an expansion/patch, we're not penalized for misuse/overuse/abuse of our smart heals. We just pop them whenever damage has been taken.

From a strictly healing point of view, their nice because they even out disparities in damage taken and allow us to heal the most injured players first. They're good for healing, but bad for the healers because they are rarely interesting, motivating or complex.


While I agree with this, I think the issue is actually that we have too much mana and they've essentially given up on even trying to balance it.

2b. Bringing the player, not the class/spec, still hasn't been truly realized.

This plays directly into the imbalance not only between absorption and raw healing, but with the individual strengths of each healer.

Though this has been the developers' mantra for years, we receive less than satisfactory responses when overall healer balance is questioned. I myself posed the question of Discipline being too absorb heavy to be/feel truly useful/desirable on fights where absorption factors in very little (Tortos, Tsulong [at least on this fight we saw enough raid damage that Disc was able to make an impact; however, we weren't able to contribute nearly as meaningfully to the main focus—healing Tsulong], Dreamweaver). GC's response was a flippant "well, you have another spec for those".

Yep. I was told outright to switch specs—something, I'll add, I don't personally have a problem with doing when it comes to progression. Still, it rankles. It's the principle that matters here. Don't feed the players a concept for years, then turn that on its head when they question how effectively you've implemented said concept.


You know, Holy Priests get told this all the time, and apparently that's alright. I think I understand what you're trying to get at, but I personally have a hard time agreeing that fights like Tsulong and Tortos Heroic are terrible because Disc is at a disadvantage when it has an advantage on nearly every other fight. They did bring the player, and not the class. Our class just happens to have two different specs.

3. Healing needs to feel more dynamic in general.

There are successful fights, in my opinion. H Lei Shen and H Lei Shi come to mind, at least from my experience with them. So many fights have become cyclical; even Lei Shen is until you get to the final phase.

It's easy to become lax when healing now, even in heroic content. Once you have the timers down, you barely [perhaps a slight exaggeration] have to think because there's very little unexpected damage and very few unpredictable mechanics to force you on your toes.

Even when you are surprised, it's terribly easy to cover many issues with a quick cooldown. They're rampant, and on such a short cooldown, relatively speaking, that it's not the end of the world if you pop something to recover from a mistake (on 25m especially).


Would have to disagree with this. In my experience, this is true for the easier fights. But, then again, they're easier. On the serious fights, it's not this easy at all. And I don't have the luxury of really becoming lax because we still don't have certain bosses fully on farm.

4. We don't see enough of our toolkits routinely in play.

The vast majority of our healing tends to come from a small handful of abilities, often AE spells.


I think that's more of a Disc issue than a Holy issue.
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90 Pandaren Shaman
15390
Healing has been broken since mid cata. Instead of fixing core issues they just buff classes and create a doppy arms race. Coupled now with so many dps spec +healing CD's it just continues to spiral downwards.

Can't remove the AoE style at this point due to MW's and their design. Will continue to be broken going forward unless they completely redo all that healing specs.
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MW will get an overhaul. The writing is on the wall, its just an expansion level change. One of the issues I have is that due to absorbs being so strong and prevalent, all non absorb healers feel like they struggle to compete. Druids weren't in a bad place in 5.1, however, due to the nature of absorbs they really felt as if they were. The druid redesign puts them in a great place but if you were to remove absorbs from the game, for example, druids would be way too powerful.

Monks have an issue because they're very strong proactive healers. Keeping 100% uptime on renewing mists and blowing chi on uplift to not cap out, I find my overhealing to be insane. I can't really wait for the dmg to go out and THEN start my rotation, because by the time I'm ready to go, no one needs health anymore. So I have to have everything in place when no dmg is going out, but in order to keep my heals ready, I end up healing people that are full. Nature of the beast, I guess, but without an absorb healer, most of my heals aren't wasted. Add that absorb healer back and suddenly my class feels weak.

A fantastic example is Heroic Horridon. This is a terrible fight for a monk and D.Priest to work together on. Without a D.Priest, monks are phenomenal on this fight, but the moment you add a D.Priest, it changes completely. I can spend the first 2 doors healing my butt off, and barely be above the tank on heals. Not because I'm not doing well, but because there's simply nothing to heal. My ticks have no chance. It evens out a little towards the end, if you don't look at the D.Priest at the top of the charts who prevented massive amount of dmg going out.

Tortos is a fun example because the difference between Heroic and Normal. On normal, halo is probably one of the strongest heals I have ever seen, due to the stun mechanic. On heroic, druids and monks trump everything.

A fight like Heroic Ion Qon is where things work. Healers get to do so much actual healing that everyone is pretty even across the board. This is a case where they got it right. Unfortunately, they got it right by dumping so much raid dmg on the scene that a mistake is expensive and a D/C could spell complete disaster.

Now again, I'm not asking for AE removal. I do like healing multiple people. Its just that I don't single target heal AT ALL. My three big spells are renewing mist, uplift, and revival. I DO use soothing mists, but only to build chi. Personally I miss the niche for the healers. These two are single target healers, these ones are the raid healers, these are the dmg mitigators etc.

I blame 10 mans for the problem. In 25 its good to have a mix of styles and niche healers. In 10 you only get three choices. So everyone has to be good at everything to the point of it not mattering what healer you chose to roll. It is boring. Healing is very different between the two raid sizes, DPS and Tanks don't usually notice the differences because they're busy doing their own things. Healers, though, we can notice the difference.

There's got to be a way to tone down the AE healing, buff single target healing, remove the predictability aspect of dmg, challenge healers in ways other than "can you find the right amount of spirit?", and make healers feel like they're in control of their heals again.
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100 Night Elf Priest
13930
While I agree with this, I think the issue is actually that we have too much mana and they've essentially given up on even trying to balance it.


I don't. Smart heals have issues far beyond the scope of mana expenditure.

You know, Holy Priests get told this all the time, and apparently that's alright. I think I understand what you're trying to get at, but I personally have a hard time agreeing that fights like Tsulong and Tortos Heroic are terrible because Disc is at a disadvantage when it has an advantage on nearly every other fight. They did bring the player, and not the class. Our class just happens to have two different specs.


This really isn't a Holy versus Disc argument. I merely had a concrete example that involved Disc.

Regardless, you misread my argument. I wasn't saying those fights were bad; I was saying one spec is pushed so heavily into one style of healing that it falls short when that style of healing is ineffective. This is bad regardless of what class or spec you are. Nor do I think it's in any way fair to separate Priests from the rest of the healers merely because we have two specs. They are, essentially, balanced as different classes and have been for a very long time.

Look at classes with at least two DPS specs. It is no more okay to say, well you can always go Elemental or Boomkin or Arms than it is to say, well you can go Holy or Disc. Being pigeon-holed into any spec because it's more potent and more desirable takes a lot of the fun out for many, if not most, raiders.

Would have to disagree with this. In my experience, this is true for the easier fights. But, then again, they're easier. On the serious fights, it's not this easy at all. And I don't have the luxury of really becoming lax because we still don't have certain bosses fully on farm.


I spend the majority of H ToT zoned out because I've got the timers down, including about half of H Lei Shen.

And even if I'm not lax, I'm bored.

I think that's more of a Disc issue than a Holy issue.


It really isn't and, again, this isn't just about Priests. This is what I've observed in the logs of other specs.

However, to address Holy: PoM, PoH, CoH and Divine Hymn make up a stupid amount of my healing. Almost no Renew, almost no Sanctuary, and there's a blue moon on the horizon when I break out my single target spells. I don't even need Guardian Spirit that often, and dispels are always hit or miss based on the fight.

Like I said, this surely differs from the 10M experience but it isn't fun. I find Holy more engaging than Disc right now, but not by that much.
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It would be nice if we could go back to surviving through huge, heavy burst damage phases without having to have at hand a CD rotation list the size of a shopping list.

Raid cooldowns have become more and more prevalent and handed out like candy to everyone. Back in T11 only AM, Barrier and SLT (which was added in 4.1) were solid raid CDs (albeit everyone with a fair share of limitations) while Tranq did not get buffed till FL to have a 3 min CD and do double healing as Resto, and Hymn had to wait till DS for its buff as well. Today, the ammount of raid CDs is plenty and even in a 10m you will find yourself with at least 5 or 6 to cycle through.

Single-target healing this expansion simply lagged behind way way too much compared to Cataclysm. From experience, H FL 10m was awful as a Resto Shaman but GHW spam still could take you pretty far back then when it healed for a heavy chunk of people's HP and was more sustainable than today, allowing us to pump out ok numbers despite HR being harder to use in encounters like Rhyolith. Today, spamming GHW feels like a huge mana expenditure for very little output reward; saving the mana and using it on HST and a well-placed HR will have a much more noticeable effect than trying to GHW bomb around. It is quite saddening, but this is the design we had to end up with and hopefull one we can get rid of by 6.0.
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Exactly. It is more mana efficient to just use smart heals and AE healing than it is to actively try and heal. Yet I don't want to go all the way back to when you had to constantly hard cast your longest most powerful heals to get people to full. I basically feel like a super light well half the time.
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90 Goblin Priest
5720
Purely an opinion here, but I think most of the healing classes have too many tools. With a spec like holy priest, you're using all the tools you can to keep a raid going. Disc shouldn't have all the same dispels, flash heal, greater heal, prayer of healing, plus all the absorbs. I don't think it's that reactive healing is in a bad place, I think absorb healing specs are just out of control. MWs are running around with 400 total spirit and crushing meters. What?
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100 Troll Druid
11865
2a. There's an inherent imbalance between absorption/mitigation healing and raw healing that has yet to be effectively addressed.


To be fair, Blizzard has been trying to accomplish this. For my own class, new skills such as Genesis are certainly helping the disparity between the two.

Rdruids are inherently a hot class and we'll always be plagued by OH whether or not asorbs exist. While it's easy to place more blame on absorbs, we sometimes forget that it's simply the nature of these kinds of spells.
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100 Night Elf Priest
13930
Purely an opinion here, but I think most of the healing classes have too many tools. With a spec like holy priest, you're using all the tools you can to keep a raid going. Disc shouldn't have all the same dispels, flash heal, greater heal, prayer of healing, plus all the absorbs. I don't think it's that reactive healing is in a bad place, I think absorb healing specs are just out of control. MWs are running around with 400 total spirit and crushing meters. What?


Do you, by chance, raid 10M? Because I use maybe half of my toolkit on an average fight when I'm Holy.

Also, your argument is a bit...all over the place. You complain about absorb healing specs being out of control, and then jump to MW—which have exactly one absorb, which is a single-target cooldown.
Edited by Elethia on 8/31/2013 10:35 AM PDT
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