You’ll miss us when we’re gone…December 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Posted in General | 5 Comments
Tags: game design, Grouping, healers, healing classes
There’s been a bit of comment regarding Bioware’s decision to put a healer class in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Every so often, someone adds that City of Heroes had the option to get rid of healers, but bottled it.
I was most of the way through a post defending healing classes in MMOs, but decided that it was probably a good idea to ditch it and restart when I found it was sarky veering to rant, and getting to the sort of length that would allow it to be an (admittedly belated) NaNoWriMo entry…
So, in the spirit of not rambling for too long (see, I remembered what your arcane “TL;DR” sigil means, Ysharros!), and being all calm, measured and somewhat whimsical (according to my local cat-loving Arbitrary), here is…
Hawley Loves Healers, and why you should too.
Ok, we’re annoying. We’re never there when you need one, and when we do turn up we’re probably undergeared, over stretched (the telly don’t watch itself, you know) and more interested in doing dps.
We also have an annoying habit of not healing you, especially when you need it most.
And the worst part of it is, you need us. We’re one third of the Holy Trinity. And we know it.
Would MMO gaming be any better without us?
Well, we have a way of checking. Anyone remember Crowd Controllers?
Blizzard decided, rightly or wrongly, that Crowd Control classes were wrong, and not needed in their game. So the Holy Quad became a Holy Trinity, and crowd control abilities were spread between multiple classes. A little bit here, a little bit there.
And the net result? Well, Mages got to turn stuff into sheep, and that was all the crowd control that your average group wanted in an instance. Warlock Fear was deemed too likely to bring other mobs into a fight, Rogues couldn’t be trusted to actually get a Sap off successfully, and Hunters are too busy pew-pewing to actually remember that they have traps.
Blizzard paid for their temerity in disposing of the Crowd Controller with a lack of sales, critical censure, and lots of people beating them with sticks.
Could a game get rid of healing classes? Yes, easily. In exactly the same way; spread healing abilities amongst the remaining class types. Raise the possibility for self-healing through items; potions, bandages, sticky plasters, whatever.
And then you’d never have to wait for a healer again. Or worry that the healer was under-powered/under-geared. Or played by an idiot from Letsyoudieforfunsville.
I’m sure to many of us, that sounds like a win. Heck, let me get a guillotine; the MMO revolution is here! Off with their heads!
Yet I can’t help thinking that if the Holy Trinity becomes a Holy Duo, we’d lose more than just a third.
We’d lose interaction, and that’s one of the reasons why MMOs are so much fun. The more we head towards self-sufficiency in game, the closer we are to MMOs imploding, and becoming single-player games with lots of single players all in one place.
By Self-Sufficiency, I mean the ability to be the ultimate solo class. Enough hit points to take the pain, enough damage to carve our way through anything, and the ability to heal ourselves enough that we don’t need to hang around in a group. All of that, and the ability to deal with and handle multiple mobs.
Healers, like Crowd Controllers, have their own way of playing the game. Crowd Controllers were easy to get rid of; if you’re doing it right, nobody notices. So nobody cared, because only the crowd controllers knew what they were doing. It’s a bit more obvious with Healers; you can see your hit-point bar yo-yoing up and down.
Removing Healers means there’s one less way to play. One less way to have fun. Will MMOs be just as much fun if there’s only a Holy Duo to choose from? And once Healers have gone the way of the CC, what’s left?
How long will it be before people are moaning about how you can never find a tank when you need one? That they’re all prima-donnas, who can’t hold aggro? That MMO gaming doesn’t need them?
Forget the meek; will DPS inherit the (virtual) earth?