Anyone who’s played an MMORPG for more than a few levels has learned that there is a wall you hit. That wall is what you can solo. Once you hit this wall, you need help to pass over it. And unlike every swords and sorcery book you’ve ever read, you don’t call the muscular guy wearing the do-it-yourself loincloth and very sharp sword or the wizened old dude with the book and wand. Nope, you call for a healer. Nothing can change the dynamic of a group like having someone who can refill your precious hit points.
Then there’s that whole supply and demand thing that really tosses the whole plan out the window. Let’s face it – there’s just not enough people out there willing to follow you around and heal you. Slackers.
Depending on your game, this can be frustrating. A few games have decidedly solo fixations. AO is very much this way. My adventurer never needed a healer, and even my wimpy nanotech could survive handily with simple storebought kits. WoW is similar with its multitude of healing pots, plus post-fight you can sit down to a quick value meal of healing and mana regeneration. However, most other games require you to really have a healer along to make true progress. Some people will be quick to reply that they have a level 95 Flufflenogger in some game that has no problem soloing anything he likes, which means either they are in end-game gear, or you’re leaving out that “whatever he likes” just happens to be stuff he has some sort of bane weapon/skill/ability against that lets you eat them up. Paladins against undead or some such. I played a necromancer in EQ for 7 years – I know all about finding the right angle to solo stuff that shouldn’t be soloed and about picking the right targets to grind on.
But let’s say you really want to get the Holy Enchanted Backscratcher of Glowyness. You want it more than you wanted that Big Wheel when you were 6. Except you’re not powerless anymore like you were then, oh no. You have a wide assortment of pointy sticks, magic powers, powerful potions, and really shiny armor. However, he’s a named, or elite, or ^^^, or however your game of choice declares that he’s Billy Bad-Ass. You know that if you go mano-a-mano with him, you’ll be playing “Find the Body Part” later. So you put out a call for a man ‘o the cloth. A healer. A guy who’s got your back more than anyone else. Because when it hits the fan, this is the guy who’s going to make sure you don’t hit the floor.
Now I hear tell that in Guild Wars you can actually contract an NPC to follow you around and heal. I have no idea if that’s true, but that would be a killer cash sink in these games. Because there’s a simple reason that there are so few healers in any given game. They are boring as heck to play. I also played a cleric in EQ and it was as much fun as sticking forks in my eyes. In raids I made a point to joke with the raid clerics as much as possible since I knew their ENTIRE JOB was to push 1 or possibly 2 buttons over and over for 4 hours. It boggles the mind. You log into your game to have a good time and end up being George Jetson. This is why they burn out fast. The majority of healers solo poorly, or at least slowly, and end up at the end having to just push one button for the rest of their digital life. When they want a group, it tends to be there, but when a group isn’t open or they choose not to group up…zzzzzzzzzzz.
So what I’d like to see is a more interesting Priest/Cleric. Give ’em some spice. I wonder, what could we do to make the healer’s job more fun? Because we need to get more people playing these classes, since they are required to truly accomplish anything. And I need one in my Scholo group like yesterday…