Star Wars: The Old Republic – Healing Analysis

 

Today I did research into healers within MMO’s. I know yesterday that I had planned to start forming new game ideas using the questions I had created, however I felt I needed more information about how healing mechanics are used within a game, to help influence the designs that come from the question process.

MMOs were the games I instantly thought of when thinking about healing in games, as they have a whole class dedicated to healing and supporting the group, to keep the other members of the team alive during raids or difficult boss battles.

Having played the MMO ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ quite extensively I already had a character at max level. Therefore I played on my healing character and looked over all the aspects of the healer in the game, such as abilities, skill trees, gearing and challenges healers face.

 

SWTOR – Healer Video

Abilities Video

Video of me talking through the main abilities of an operative healing class within the game.

 

Skill Tree and Gear Video

Video of me discussion the gearing and skill tree of a healer.

Key points – WHat Have I Found out?
  • Instant heals
  • HOT – Heals Over Time
  • Healing individuals
  • Healing multiples
  • Resource Management – All the classes have some sort of resources they had to manage and use in order to heal.
  • Different classes have different abilities – Some lean more towards HOT and other instant heals – Some more movable and others less – Some better at single healing, others better a multiple healing. – So all the classes are effective in some
  • Other universal abilities – Can attack but aren’t very effective. – Stunning abilities (CC) – Shields etc
  • Lots of abilities – All associated with different keys
  • Gear can give healing boost – Especially with a full set – stats on the gear and need to mod the gear with the right stats in order to get the healing boost
  • Skill tree can help with healing or
  • Passive and active abilities – Passive are abilities that can’t be used but have helped to improve active abilities or unlocked better stats or ways of using the mechanics in different ways. Active abilities are those that the player can actually use in the game.
  • Abilities are earned when you level up – more complex or strategic abilities gained at higher levels.
  • Different abilities have different limitations – can’t move when summoning, need certain amount of resources/ stacked abilities, cooldowns – ability can’t be used again for 30 secs, summoning time, only use that certain abilities in conjunction with others, use abilities int he right order to gain strategic advantage,

 

Thoughts

Playing the game and highlighting all the points that contribute to the healing in Star Wars: The Old Republic, it is clear that they are very complex with a lot of different abilities and features to consider, eg gearing, skill trees etc. I’m unsure if it is necessary for me to place all these aspects within my game, as currently I don’t believe it will be a large open world wide experience like MMOs, therefore I don’t feel it needs to keep players interested for years with complex skills and achievements, to get them to the ability to understand and utilise all these elements.

Currently I’m feeling that I would want to have a more simplified version of an MMO healer, by only taking certain aspects I identified and put into the game, to ensure the game isn’t too complex, though still retains the base healer characteristics. I feel I will take forward:

  • Instant heals
  • HOT heals
  • Healing multiple
  • Healing individuals
  • Different classes have different abilities specific to them
  • Resource management
  • Limitations of Abilities

I believe these are the core attributes that define healing characters in SWTOR and make them fun and challenging to play.

 

Group Raid Video

 

When playing in a team, the format is normally 1 tank, 2 DPS and 1 healer. In an MMO it is very important to know who to heal and with what ability to not over or under the character, keeping everyone alive while trying to manage their resources well.

When to heal

It is also important to know when to heal certain characters for 2 reasons. Firstly, the healer as well as other characters build up aggro which is what the enemies use to know who to attack, whoever has the largest amount of aggro will be attacked. Aggro is created by healers healing, and dps or tank attacking enemies. Ideally the aggro wants to be kept on the tank as they have the most health and can take more damage, allowing for the DPS to take down the enemy. The more and larger heals the healer uses the more aggro they build up and so smaller heals are ideal to stop this from happening.

Secondly healers need to be aware of upcoming attacks by enemies, as it will be beneficial for a healer to start healing over time on players if they know a large hit is about to damage everyone dramatically. Showing that healers sometimes have to prepare in advance for large attacks to ensure everyone is kept alive.

Positioning

Playing the game, it was clear positioning is key to a healers role. Firstly because healers don’t want to be in the middle of the battle they want to be behind the tanks and DPS ideally. This is to avoid attacks from the enemies in close range and to reduce the likelihood they will be attacked.

However they also need to assure they aren’t too far from the rest of the group, as if enemies start to attack the group, the healer will have to travel a large distance to help. Therefore staying close by will ensure the group can be healed easily.

Thirdly, some enemy attacks are specific to certain locations and so any player in the wrong location can be hit and damaged from the attack. So a healer along with all other players need to be aware of their positioning to avoid attacks.

Awareness

Healers also need to be very aware of where everyone is in the team, as if they are doing a multiple player heal they must know who to heal and where is the best place to place certain heals, to get the most out of them.

Also a healer must be aware of where enemies are, as they may need to reposition themselves so they are behind the rest of the team, to avoid being attacked. Alternatively they may need to put out extra heals if they see more incoming enemies, helping to keep the team alive.

Field of sight or FOS, is another important factor and relates to positioning. Enemies can only attack you if they can see you. Therefore if a player is hiding behind a pillar and the enemy can’t move, the player will avoid all attacks from the enemy. This becomes very useful when playing a healer, as if they gain aggro, they can then hide behind pillars or constantly circle around pillars or objects to try to stay out of sight of enemies, while the healer’s aggro falls. Helping to keep the healer alive and indirectly the rest of the team alive too.

 

Summary Points
  • When to heal
  • Who to heal
  • What to heal them with
  • Personal positioning – In line with team and enemies – FOS – Specific place attacks
  • Teams positioning
  • Enemy positioning

 

Having a lot to consider in game makes the situation very stressful, as its hard to focus on everything at once, while trying to keep everyone alive. Once you start focusing too much on one aspect, other aspects get less focus and then can become issues. Therefore a healer needs to be constantly alert to all of the aspects highlighted above.

Also a healers role relies so much on the other players helping them and in turn the healer can help the other players. As if the healer is constantly being attacked its hard to heal themselves and the other team members, but if they are not attacked then the team is doing their job right and the healer can then do their job. Team work is very important.

 

 

Thoughts

From doing all this first hand research, there is a lot to think about and consider. MMOs are certainly complicated and I don’t think it would be sensible for me to try to produce one myself, nor would that be particularly innovative. However I think I may try to take the basic principles and combine them with a different style of game to create a MMO healer effect but in a more simplified and casual setting.

From the research it makes me consider a lot of aspects such as:

  • Will every character have differently abilities?
  • Can characters be levelled up?
  • How many abilities will players have?
  • Will positioning play a big factor in the game?