For Great Justice!

For Great Justice!
Sick Of Healing

John Walker | 17 Jan 2006 11:05
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I'm not going to play a healer again.

We, as a people, sue hospitals. The degree of stupidity necessary for such an action should be impossible to grasp, so mind-destroyingly moronic we begin whirring, buzzing and emitting smoke from our circuits. Instead, we're used to it, even resigned to it. It is in our international character. Ask anyone who's ever played a healer in an MMOG.

My mistake was made entering Paragon City. This was a city of heroes - a place where everyone was a champion. I wanted to be a hero to those heroes. The decision to play nurse was an altruistic one. I could have chosen a healing power that helped just me, gave me that extra edge in the battle. But, instead, I bestowed my purple avatar, the elegant Nitefall, with an ability to drain energy from her enemies and transfer it into those around her.

On my own, this was a boon to my experience. Super-jumping my way through the boroughs, I might spot a low level player struggling against a crowd of vicious bad guys. Never fear, stranger! I'd land nearby, fire off the heal and then leap away before they could know what happened. Heroic. But, see, here's the thing with this particular power: It was never very reliable. There was a risk. A number of factors could cause things to go wrong: The enemy I'm sapping might die before the process was complete; I might take damage, thus interrupting the action; or the person I'm healing might move too far away to be in my area of effect (AoE). Of course, should I just generously be drive-by-healing, such a failure would go unknown. Put me in the middle of a pack of feisty fighters, and it's a quite different matter.

Nitefall was never offered as a group's healer. Warnings were always given - don't trust my heal, don't rely on it. Disclaimers shouted at the wind. Irrelevant. If you can heal, you should damn well heal, apparently, and any failure to do so was a disgusting slight against all involved. Nevermind they might have slain the very enemy that was due to save their life. Nevermind they may have flown too high for your AoE to reach. Nevermind you were being barraged by an electric bombardment of mystical lightning, peppered by chains of bullets, thrown through the air by the force of a dozen grenades... You. Failed. To. Heal. Condemnation.

A doctor trains for at least seven years, barely making minimum wage throughout, and saves hundreds and hundreds of lives. No one notices. This is the bare minimum, the very least expected of him. We order a pizza, we expect a pizza to be delivered - no pizza results in angry phone calls and demands of free foodstuffs. Fair enough. We go to the hospital, we expect to get healed - here in the U.K., no healing results in angry phone calls and demands of massive amounts of free compensation. Compensation paid for by our own taxes. Our own money. We've gone mad.

When you're the healer of the pack, every death of every companion is now your fault. In City of Heroes, death results in XP debt - a hefty cost. When the blame for the demise is inevitably laid at your feet, such a cost results in impotent resentment. It cannot be made up by another, XP cannot be transferred from the failing doctor to the dead-and-resurrected patient. So, instead, hostility is the out-of-court settlement. We've gone mad.

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