Friday, September 11, 2009

How do YOU heal?

So, tonight in guild chat there was a debate about how people heal.

There's mouse-over, there's clique, there's grid, there's healbot, there's keybindings, there's a combination of any of the above!

The conversation delved into that a healer with grid/clique will out-heal a healer that uses the regular UI.

And I (and Boon who uses no healing addons) who use ONLY Grid more as an organizational tool than anything else, had to disagree.

Yes. I'm a "bad" healer. I click on my button on my standard UI bar, and then bring the mouse over to the grid box and click the box.

But I will maintain that I will heal just as fast as someone who is using grid/clique.

Because honestly - you can only heal as fast as your heals are off cooldown, and GCD is cooled down.

Can I see how a DRUID healer would be slowed down without using something to help, considering the nature of instant-cast hots? Yes. But when you play a class that doesn't have a lot of instant cast spells... by the time I CAN cast another spell, I have it ready to be cast.

So sure - you may use less motion than I do - but I'm still healing just as fast. ABC baby.

Does it honestly matter HOW I heal, provided I do the job, and do it well?

When people start to randomly die because I fail as a healer, I'll go ahead and change.

I use grid because it lets me see if people are in or out of range, who has aggro for pre-emptive healing and what class they are and how hurt they are at a glance.

So... how do you heal, and what pros and cons do you feel it offers you?


  1. I agree in general, but fights with many many mechanics in play, any healer that has more than two spells really needs to consider TMTOWTDI (an oldie but goodie from the programming world) instead of MWOTH. An example -- if you are watching where you are clicking, and where you are clicking is the default ui (edges of the screen), you've only got the fight in your peripheral vision, not your main vision, for half a second, or a quarter. Will this ever, even once, come back to haunt you? Maybe or maybe not. I have some spells keybound and some of them I click. I have regrets.

    Unfortunately I can count on one pinky toe the number of healers who have ever admitted that there might be more than one right way to heal, for one class, across all raids.

    "Trying something new" for healers is literally like throwing holy water on possessed teenagers -- followed by screams, seizures, and foaming at the mouth.

    I don't heal, so I suspect it must be a DPS thing; discarding builds, spells, rotations, deciding where to stand, what to click, whether to key-bind or mouse gesture or click -- for me that changes on a near-weekly basis, as I am always trying to do something better. The thing is, I can measure whether I'm doing better, and I can definitively say, "I did better with UI #1 than with UI #2. I think I'll discard UI #1 and stay with UI #2, as it has decreased my lag on getting Arcane Shot off, even though it gimps my Multi-Shot, cuz I just don't use Multi-Shot on boss fights very often." DPS can be measured, and HPS can be measured, but meters tell 90% of the story for damage-dealers, and only 40% of the story for healers. Nobody's arguing that a person's healing skill is anything BUT mysterious, arcane, and unquantifiable.

    Let me suggest in the most non-insulting possible but pragmatic manner though, since, like I said, I don't heal :-)...

    Just because it can't be measured, does that imply that a thing can't be improved?

    The very unproveability of healer skill makes healers really touchy; you get a growl, "You're alive, aren't you?" if even a whiff of question is raised.

    But it still remains a fact -- healing is a disciplined skill, the UI contains your healing tools, and in every discipline in the world, the outcome is 90% perspiration (study and repetition and refinement). That leaves 10% to argue about.

    It's the reason people grow out of student violins and into a Stradivarius or Guarneri -- or don't. With sufficient experience, the point arrives when the quality of one's learning tools is limiting rather than liberating.

    That 10% that's arguable though, includes the discussion of whether add-ons or the default UI are the Stradivarius. Luckily I don't think anyone is crazy enough to argue that the default UI is the pinnacle of human-computer interface design. *Shudder* *short prayer to the vituperative and vengeful gods of HCI*.

    What it really comes down to is violin temperament vs fiddle temperament. A seasoned violin player sees the Stradivarius at the end of the road, and bides their time with what they have til they can afford something better. A seasoned fiddle player is more likely to be walking around with his garage sale violin in a burlap sack, making great music. Good enough for him and good enough for his audience, and that, as they say, is that.

  2. Good reply. :)

    Though I'll have to say -- if someone is healing awesome on a Stradivarius, and I'm healing just as awesome on a dime-store violin... would upgrading to a Stradivarius really change how well I do?

    You're right in how does one tell if a healer is good enough?

    Do they have enough mana to last through the fight - is that a question of them using the wrong spells at the wrong time, or a question of the DPS/Tank taking too much damage and 'wasting' mana?

    Does someone die on their watch? Is it even something that is remotely a thing the healer can stop? If I (or you) are too far away from me, is it the healer's fault you died, or yours? Did you pull the boss' aggro in the first three seconds of the pull? Since I've done this, I understand that it isn't the healer's fault. No UI or Addon in the world will keep me up through that.

    There are a lot of variables about the healing game. JUST upgrading to an addon or a mouse-over macro or whatever does not a healer make.

    And sometimes, screwing with what works for the sake of seeing if it's better is just a hassle and a headache.

    DPS always are upgrading themselves - like you said, a quantifiable method. If I do this, my DPS jumps by this. If I do that, my DPS drops by this. Thus, #1 is better.

    Healers don't have that. If you're alive. I'm doing my job. Can I look at overhealing? Sure... but that doesn't tell the best story either. Can I look at HPS? Sure. But again, it doesn't tell the whole story.

    Did you live? Yes. Did I run out of mana? No. Was my movement or lack thereof an issue? No.

    Why fix it, if it isn't broken? :)

  3. As a long time healer, I'm always looking at ways to improve my performance. I have to say that I think that your criteria for success ("Did you live? Yes. Did I run out of mana? No. Was my movement or lack thereof an issue? No.") is a bit spurious. It is adequate if you're on farmed content or a 5-man, but if you're on a progression raid it falls apart. If you wipe to a boss at 1% maybe there is something that you can do better. Maybe you stand on a patch of black fire for an extra tick because you were expecting red fire and were looking at the button you were about to click and didn't notice the new style of fire. Maybe you failed to notice the health of another healer dropping because you were looking at your buttons. Maybe you were about to drop a HoT to top of an errant dps'er when the tank took a big instead of just shift-clicking on the tank and instantly dropping that wipe-saving big heal you need to go back to your bar, click on the new spell you need and then go click on the tank's box. In that time he's gone splat.

    Personally I use the grid/clique combo and I love it. If you've never tried it I suggest you do, and I bet that you'll see a big difference in your reaction time to emergencies. If you've already set up grid you've done the hard part of the configuration...clique is really easy to set up! A couple of tips though--for the first week put a big sticky note with all your key bindings on your monitor. Also stick with your normal healing method in raids, and start using clique on 5-mans or just on group quests or even solo--it takes about 1-2 weeks to get used to it, and until you do you'll feel beyond awkward. I was about to pitch the whole solution myself until it finally (pun intended) clicked for me!

    So before you condemn your fellow guildie as a closed-minded moron give his technique a try--he might just be right! :)

  4. "Why fix it if it isn't broken?"

    Why watch a blue ray dvd when you can watch it on VHS instead?

    Why not use a horse and buggy instead of a car?

    Why buy the CD when you can listen to someone try to whistle the tune off key and way too loudly?

    Efficiency and improvements... just because it works doesn't mean its the most efficient way of doing something. Am I saying my way is the best?
    No, not even close. Everyone has their own ways and comforts. Am I saying I saw a dramatic improvement when I switched to mouseover macros as opposed to going 1-F3. 1-F4 and healing that way?

    HUGE. Monumental. In both spacial and situational awareness.

    I'm seeing things as they happen, instead of after they happen.

    Instead of, "Oh, the tank is way down on life I better drop a big heal."

    Its now, "Sarth is rearing his head back, here comes a breath, inc big heal."

  5. @Celestara: I don't think they're morons for using addons. I resent the implication that I am for not using them. :) But good points to make! The hard part is saying how much of the wipe is my fault as a healer, versus how much of it is the problem of others?

    I'm just very stubborn to change. :) I love grid now that I have it. Maybe I'll look at clique too, but no promises there. ^^

    @Posolutely: With a horse and buggy, you don't pay 2.79 in gas. >.>

  6. I think the thing that's being overlooked in all of this is the somewhat uppity nature of those who use addons with those who don't.

    I don't use addons. Boon's healing ain't no horse and buggy compared to someone who's using healing addons.

    I have yet to come across someone who doesn't use addons who says, "You people who are using addons suck at the game. You should really try playing without the addons and if you get worse you'll know that you sucked." I DO keep running into people who look down on me or behave in such a way as to presume that, because I do not do what THEY do, I am somehow gimped, or I am somehow not as reactive, or that I will suddenly be a better healer.

    That's presumptive and rude, and while I generally just let people say what they're going to say and then do exactly as I have always been doing, I do tire of seeing "Oh, Boon, you don't use addons? Man, you really should, you'll do so much better. I'm better than you because I can react faster than you." How do you know that?

    Let's go through a raid on patch day and see if you can last a minute in my shoes without your little addons. Then, if you can, I'll listen to you. ;)

    Sorry if this comes across rantish, but enough is enough. Addons are optional, they can enhance SOME player abilities, but not ALL. I'm good as I am, and I really think it's time that the Addon Community shuts up about it! :P

  7. The fact of the matter is that healing has changed. It's no longer reverse whack-a-mole, if your indicator of a raid member needing a heal is them taking damage, their chances of dying have gone up significantly.

    The biggest benefit I've gained from Addons has been the use of Grid and GridRaidDebuffs. When someone is ice blocked on Kel'thuzad, I know it before they do because I have the icon in their box in Grid and my heal is already half cast by the time they've called it out. Same for Kologarn's grip. I don't have to look up and see the DBM message. I see the Stone Grip icon, I heal it. And usually by the time they've started taking ticks of damage, I've got hots on all three( in 25 man ) and I'm loading up another heal to clean up. New boss in VoA? I see the fires as reported by grid and I'm healing. Gormakk in ToC? I see the snobolds before the player calls it out. The advantage is information as the game has evolved the information has become unmanageable through the use of the default UI alone.

    Can I heal with the default UI? You bet. Will I be less proactive? Yes. Simply because less information means less activity. Is being a crackerjack healer with just the default UI impressive? Yes. Are you missing out on an opportunity to improve by sticking to your guns? Yup.

    In my view, DPSers like Micromachine and Neshura stay on top because they investigate every option that MIGHT increase their DPS. They find it, work with it, and decide if it's an improvement. It's my job to do the same as a healer and constantly be evolving and improving.

    TL;DR - Healing is -not- whack-a-mole anymore. It's about effective mental data processing and the default UI is ineffective at this.

  8. Whoops misspoke there. The addon that provides icons for debuffs in grid is: GridStatusRaidIcons

  9. "That's presumptive and rude..."
    "Let's go through a raid on patch day and see if you can last a minute in my shoes without your little addons. Then, if you can, I'll listen to you."
    "I'm good as I am, and I really think it's time that the Addon Community shuts up about it!"

    Ooookay scary angry people *backs away slowly*
    Really really scary angry people.

    Violinist: "Your A is a quarter sharp."
    Fiddler: "Dandy!"
    Violinist: "Could you possibly find it in your heart to tune that shit down a tad? You're hurting my soul."
    Fiddler: "Audience can't tell the difference *shrug*"
    Violinist: "...Are you playing Turkey in the Straw? We're doing Brahms!"
    Fiddler: "Sounds good, doesn't it? I bet you never thought of that one."
    Audience cheers, violinist /oquits

    Never argue with fiddlers.

  10. When does it become the addon playing, rather than you playing? Sure, you have to click a button, but does it practically tell you how to play? Yes yes, you do need to know what to do, etc, etc. But the point is still valid. Where does it stop being you playing and start being anyone can do this playing?

    If anyone can upload an addon and provided they don't have the reaction time of a monkey on marijuana, can heal as well as anyone else can... where does the individual effort come in? Individual skill?

    To go with the violin analogy - if you hand everyone a Stradivarius and suddenly they're a virtuoso of violining... what is the point of trying? Of playing?

    I'm not saying that addons are bad, or good. Because I will agree that addons can make the game a lot easier in some aspects, more player friendly, etc, etc.

    However, what I think Boon is talking about is the perception that other people have of healers who aren't using addons.

    It really isn't the first time he's admitted that he doesn't use addons to heal, and people who previously thought he was healing just fine suddenly think he isn't healing well at all.

    That's what he's talking about, I think.

    I can see both sides of the story, as a person who doesn't use addons, versus someone who does.

    I will also agree, as I said above, that an addon WILL be faster than no addon for druids with all the instant cast spells.

    I am planning on trying clique, my reticence comes from the days of downranking, personally. Back when Kiljara was my only healer, I downranked a LOT... so clique didn't work for me because of just how many spells I'd have to try to put into it. And I just don't have the memory to remember shift-one is this and ctrl-one is that. :P

    FFXI required you do to that, but when you hit shift, it changed your bars and you could see what spells were there. And I never got beyond having to look. Apparently, I'm just not that smart.

  11. The more times people tell me I'm gimped because I don't use addons, the more I show them that I do better than most without them.

  12. @k - Wow, I re-read my early post and I come across as a complete twat. Please accept my humble apology! What I was trying to say was that maybe you should give Clique/mouseover macros a try for a few weeks (you need that long to get used to the keybindings IMHO) and see for yourself if there's a difference. I know that personally I felt like a bumbling idiot when I first started using Grid+Clique. Now though I wouldn't go back.

    @You wake it - This is completely, 100% true. When we first met up with Kel'thuzad we lost every single person who was iceblocked, until I figured out how to put that debuff into grid (and walked the other healers through it). The next attempt after adding this debuff we killed Kel. It was literally night and day.

    @Boon - It is certainly possible to be a great healer using no addons, and I'm sure that you are laughing at us addonophiles on patch days! However, I just don't have the twitch reflexes that I used to have, so without something like Grid showing me who is iceblocked or who is in Ignis' crotch pot well...those people would just die! :) Out of curiosity, have you tried Grid and Clique for a few weeks to see if you like that style of healing?

  13. @Celestara: Nope, not a twat! No need to apologize. :) I have open comments for a reason - for people to comment! :)

    As I had said earlier, I was going to try clique and I am. It does make certain things easier, but some other things harder. Retraining myself for one - for another, now I can't left click or right click on anyone for any reason. I have to turn clique OFF or unbind those buttons in order to select someone to inspect them, or even if I'm group leader, to change options for the group!

  14. You can define which frames clique is allowed to interact with. A lot of people limit clique activity to just grid/healbot. I tend to not bind plain LC and RC for utility.