Instance protocol in SWTOR, and my switch from dps to healing and back

holocronnfind

So it’s been a busy week or two in SWTOR. Aside from all the F2P news, I have been settling into the end game and spending more time chatting with my guild. This currently feels bittersweet, because although I am sure the conversion will bring in a lot of new players, it’s not clear whether that will translate into continuing enthusiasm for flashpoints and ops which will be behind the paywall of a subscription.

Anyhow, let me tell you about my character! The pics above show me on a datacron hunt, I’m wearing PvP gear because I was queueing for PvP while I was doing it. This works better than queueing for flashpoints because PvP drops you back into the world where you left it after your match. “The Deprogrammer” is a title that you get from completing the Directive 7 flashpoint; I get a kick from it as an ex-coder.

I have also been running at least one flashpoint a day using the group finder tool, and have been refining my dps spec and rotation.  Having spent some quality time with the noxxic.com guides, my dps is looking much better these days. I don’t really like specs where the optimal results come from NOT taking the top ability in that spec tree, but that is how Balance seems to work at the moment. The groups have generally all been great, even tempered, and friendly. Everyone says Hi when they zone in and Thanks at the end.

It isn’t all hearts and flowers, but the patience levels seem high compared with WoW (this is not a high bar, admittedly). In one run someone said they had to go answer the door and offered to leave as they weren’t sure how long it would take and the rest of the group were happy to sit around, chat, make tea etc for 10 mins while waiting. One phenomenon that I have seen is people who haven’t done much group content while levelling other than PvP and jump into hardmodes without really being aware of how PvE fights differ. It’s not a real issue, but you can tell by: tanks who don’t know they need to just tank the elites and let the dps CC/ kill the other mobs, tanks who can’t hold aggro on more than one mob at once, tanks who don’t notice when their healers are being beaten up, dps who don’t wait for the tank to pull or take aggro.

Note: you can’t actually tell if you have a PvP healer since PvP healing is actually pretty similar to PvE healing, and is also rather harder. There are subtleties like remembering to use your detaunt, but most groups won’t spot that.

I also thought it would be handy to practice healing, just in case that was ever useful. So I’ve also run a lot of flashpoints and warzones in a healing spec and have picked up some gear for that also. I find that once you have the hang of your healing spells and have sorted out quickbars, it is fairly straightforwards. I do find healing easier than dps, and people are also much nicer to healers (in general). However, I also find healing more boring except when things are going totally AWOL. I just don’t feel as engaged with the fights. So I’m mostly back in dps mode, switching to healing when I either want to PvP or the guild needs a spare healer.

The sage/ sorcerer, incidentally, is a great class that I enjoy very much. I love having CC, heals, AE, DoTs, and nukes all on the same class – and you actually have access to all of those abilities in both healing and dps specs. I also find that having played in both healing and dps roles, as well as doing some PvP, I’m much more confident switching the roles up. It feels very comfortable to drop some CC or AE dps even while healing, or throw a (weak) heal or shield in between dps if the group really needs it. Or in other words, it’s a nicely hybrid class. I do wonder why all classes cannot be this hybridised, and even a game like GW2 that has ditched the trinity still ends up with classes like Elementalist which has huge utility compared with – say – Thief.

I’ve also run a few Ops now with my guild, who are a really nice bunch and very welcoming. So my sage is now in full Columni gear with a sprinkling of Rakata and Black Hole (from dailies). It actually looks ok, although the hat is definitely an acquired taste.

Instance and Ops protocol

If you have played multiple MMOs, you will notice that they tend to have a lot of instance protocol in common. For example, it’s really common for people to say hello when they join a group and thanks or goodbye when they leave. People also often ask if its OK for them to roll need for offspec gear, and polite tanks may ask if it’s OK to skip bosses before they go ahead and do it.

The SWTOR Ops protocol that most made me smile is that because the game doesn’t have a built in ready check, raid leaders sometimes ask players to jump up and down to show that they are ready for the next pull. I thought it was a cool use of jumping (always a popular player pastime), and easier to spot who is afk than squinting through chat to see who hasn’t typed ‘OK’.

Is there any interesting instance or raid protocol that you’ve experienced in MMOs?

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8 thoughts on “Instance protocol in SWTOR, and my switch from dps to healing and back

    • You would be exactly right. It describes an ability that drops your threat.

      I suppose it’s quite an ‘old fashioned’ term — I think I picked it up in DaoC. But it makes sense to talk about ‘taunts’ and ‘detaunts’ since they both work on similar mechanics.

  1. You can also recognise PvP tanks because they sometimes won’t stop moving. I had a rather amusing run with a tank who kept dragging the boss in circles non-stop (on a fight that needed almost no movement), so the melee dps struggled to stay in range and we kept hitting the enrage timer. No matter how many times I asked him to please hold still he never stopped! We did get the boss in the end though, even if it was close. I just thought it was funny.

    And here I thought that the “jump ready check” was only something we did in guild! I agree that it’s pretty amusing.

  2. In WoW, I was always relieved when players said hello to me when beginning an instance and there was discussion about buffs, gear and bosses. It meant that there was a good chance the group didn’t comprise of prima donnas. Plus it also meant that players who weren’t geared too well didn’t have to fear about being kicked. I remember during my LK days, I ran through a few instances where a player was a new healer or tank and this was not held against them. I don’t know if that is the case in WoW now. Considering the stories, probably not.

    I was a Sith healer in SWTOR and the instances were fun. Plus no one took their frustrations out on me or the tank. That was one area that made me happy. What didn’t make me happy was the ability delay that made my supposedly instantaneous bubble not so instantaneous.

  3. Out of curiosity is AWOL a UK version of FUBAR? The use I have for the first is ‘absent without leave’ and the later is, well guess the first letter ‘-up beyond all recognition’.

  4. I’ve seen the jumping thing used in several games. It seems much more effective in getting acknowledgement than asking people to type. I’ve encountered people who utterly refuse to type an acknowledgement but are quite happy to jump.

    Back when group leaders could kick group members I even used to say if you don’t type ready I’ll replace you and people still wouldn’t type it. (But then suddenly found their keyboards worked after the message about them getting ported out of the instance popped up). It’s irrational but there are people, and not just a tiny minority, who will not type an acknowledgement under any circumstances.

  5. I used to use the jump-up-and-down thing in my guild’s raids, but I found asking everyone to sit down when ready actually worked better — much easier to pick out the people who *aren’t* ready.

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