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Sawbones HoT Tedium


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As far as I can tell, they've done away with the Suggestions forum, so I'll just post this here and hope it doesn't come off as a big ol' QQ thread. Smuggler is the least played class in the game. This issue is really Scoundrel (and Operative) specific, so we should really work together and see if we can't see a few Quality of Life improvements.


tl;dr summary;


The Sawbones Scoundrel (and the Agent mirror) has healing mechanics which are distinctly different than the other healing classes in this game. Ultimately, I'm going to make an argument for an interface improvement to make healing with these classes less tedious.


The HoT Mechanic


Perhaps the most class-defining aspect of the SSS (Sawbones/Scoundrel/Smuggler) is the relatively low cost heal-over-time ability called Slow-release Medpack. Most unique about this skill is that you can have 2 stacks rolling on your target at a given time. Recasting this ability on the target will refresh the cooldown of all stacks on that person. It's key to understand how important that is. Refreshing both stacks before they fade is going to be significantly more energy and time efficient than restacking them.


This means that to efficiently play a SSS, you need to keep track of your stacks and their remaining duration on all damaged targets in the party.


The Upper Hand Mechanic


The other unique mechanic we enjoy is based around our "Upper Hand" buff. Upper hand operates as a second resource, and some of our spells consume upper hand instead of (or in addition to) energy. Among these is a self buff called Pugnacity, which essentially must be kept up at all times. Letting Pugnacity drop for even a few seconds can really get you into trouble.


Upper Hand also grants a bonus to healing output as long as you have at least a single stack. This is tricky, since you can never have more than 2 Upper Hand stacks at any time. Effectively, your goal is to maintain a single stack of Upper Hand and burn the second one when the opportunity presents itself.


The tricky part, is that Upper Hand stacks are generated erratically. One of our channeled heal spells generates a stack reliably, but just as frequently you're going to be generating them from procs of Medpack Mastery. Additionally, you'll sometimes regain a stack when using Emergency Medpack, as long as it's talented. So that whole goal of maintaining exactly 1 stack of Upper Hand can be a lot more challenging than it sounds. You've got to keep a close eye on your buff.


The Problem


The above mechanics are actually a lot of fun, and SSS healing is a unique challenge. I enjoy it quite a bit.


Unfortunately, the limitations of the interface start to push these mechanics into the realm of tedious and often frustrating. Your stacks of Emergency Medpack are really hard to see, especially whilst they're buried among class buffs, stims, and everything else. Pugnacity and Upper Hand aren't easy either, both have generic yellow outline buff icons. All this is going on while you're trying to dodge AE's, manage your energy, and maybe even cleanse debuffs (more tiny icons!) with Triage.


Quite frankly, the UI isn't conducive to the healing style of the Scoundrel. A few small tweaks would go a long ways towards improving the Quality of Life of a SSS Healer.


A Short Term Improvement


An easily implemented solution to help us out, would be to add a few interface options that we've seen in other games. Firstly, the ability to filter out long-duration buffs would be great. I don't need to see the 2 hour duration Stims, and the 1 hour duration party buffs on everyone else. Let's filter out the noise so we can more easily see the important stuff.


Another UI options we've seen before is the ability to display only castable buffs. If I could limit the icons I see to only those that I cast, then picking out the Slow-release Medpack icons is going to be significantly easier.


About the UI Mods discussion


UI mods are fairly controversial right now, and I don't want this thread to devolve into a debate on the issue. I just want to mention that this is the sort of interface improvement that's quickly solved by mods.


Additionally, I want to emphasize that UI mods aren't all or nothing. BioWare controls what elements they open up for modding, so they could easily give us control over the player frames, party frames, raid frames and buff information, without danger of Threat Meters, Damage Meters and all the other more hotly debated tools.




So... is anyone else struggling with keeping track of tiny, poor resolution icons? :mad:

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Totally agree with this. The UI is miserable for keeping track of stacks of anything and hots on others. While I hate to compare it to WoW, the customization allowed with mods like Grid and Power Auras in that game took away a lot of the frustration. Easy graphic representation to know what's going on with your buffs/hots without trying to stare and zone in at frustratingly small icons where you can barely pay attention to anything else like you do in SWTOR.


If BW is adamant about not allowing mods at all, that's fine, but give us more options in the default we have to work with like those suggested by the OP, which would be a good start.


Don't get me started on mouseover casting either :rod_mad_g:

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I haven't really run into this problem (at level 27), as I usually only keep my HoT on the 1 (or sometimes 2) primary damage-receivers. You develop a pretty good feel for the timing (I think). That being said, it would be nice to know for sure and I can DEFINITELY see what the OP is talking about. Buffs are ridiculous to see, though I have a big monitor, and can't really complain too much.
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Well, yeah, UI is somewhat lacking, to put it mildly.


Personally, I'd like customization options to raid bar, so instead of seeing rows of those tiny icons I can't really read anyways, I only see colored dots, with red dots being dispellable debuffs I can remove and green dots being active HoT's. I don't need all that other info on my raid bar, since I don't really care what buffs or debuffs are there if I can't do anything about them anyways.


I'd also like UH notification to be visualized, since the only effect we have is SRM laugh ques (and everyone can hear them, including other scoundrels, which makes it confusing).

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bigger icons with actual NUMBERS on them for the duration, at least for the last 2-3secs, would work wonders for our hots.


bigger icons for the debuffs, and also visible on the raid frames would work wonders for dispeling.


a visible UH buff icon underneath our energy bar, which in turn would be underneath our hp bar (on our character, not deep below on the ui) would work wonders for the rest of it.

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Agreed. I have stopped leveling my 35 scoundrel and I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that someone on the dev team really hates healers or the art of healing as it has been known in other MMOs.


Watching tiny icons in multiple places while watching your energy bar to make sure you don't enter the fail zone while watching party health bars while watching for horrifying debuffs you have to cure while trying to watch the battle is just... wretched.






I hesitate to make UI suggestions because that's such an all-encompassing issue. But lets just say if this was WoW, I would have a *ding* sound play when I hit my 2nd UH stack, party members would get a colored border around their health bar if they got a curse I needed to remove, all of the buff/debuff icons would be bigger, I'd have click-to-cast setup for my heals to save some hotkeys and reduce healing to 1 simultaneous action vs. 2, and I'd be able to float my core cooldown ability icons and energy bar closer to the center of screen so I could at least pretend I am watching the action.


Aaaaaand this is where someone tells me to "go back to WoW," fulfilling their primal and uncontrollable need to "make shut up" anyone with criticisms while simultaneously undermining the game which they claim to love so much by attempting to actually drive away paying subscribers. DO EET!

Edited by EwokLuvr
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Or, rather than this getting addressed as part of a general UI improvement, Bioware can "fix" this for Scoundrels. Upper Hand IS a second resource, because we can spend the charges on abilities -- and it deserves it's own resource bar or pair of pips above my character's head or something. Edited by Belacqua
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Along the lines of HoT Tedium, I wonder if anyone can confirm what I *think* I'm seeing with SRMP. As mentioned, it is most efficient to refresh the stack of SRMP before it expires. The heal ticks once every 3 seconds for 15 seconds. You obviously want to try to get 4 ticks off before refreshing the stack for max efficiency. So let's say you refresh the stack at 14.5 seconds... well what I think I'm seeing is that the timer resets to zero, and the target will not be healed until the first tick of the new stack at 3 seconds. Now you've gone from the 12 second mark on the first set to the 3 second mark of the new set... that's 5.5 seconds the target has gone without getting health.


I think this means the most efficient time to refresh the stack is right after the 4th tick (as close to 12 seconds as possible). Talk about tedium. It's a nightmare to try to keep track of this.


Add pugnacity, Upper Hand, and energy regen and you've got absolute madness. Strangely, it IS kind of fun... you just aren't aloud to blink! Totally agree that some UI tweaks would go a long way.

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I totally agree, we need almost, if not a total revamp of the UI. Keeping up with HoTs and Procs with the current UI is a pain. I cant imagine what it would be like once I start raiding and I have to deal with 8 or 16 ppl.


Some sort of icon to identify an active HoT or heal on the healer's raid grid would be great. Some sort of visual effect around your toon whenever a Proc occurs would also help out tremendously.


I hear Shadow tanks are very proc based as well, and are not very happy with the current UI.


Give us something to work with, Bioware :)

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Add pugnacity, Upper Hand, and energy regen and you've got absolute madness. Strangely, it IS kind of fun... you just aren't aloud to blink! Totally agree that some UI tweaks would go a long way.


I agree. I enjoy the healing mechanics quite a bit, I just wish they weren't quite as frustrating and tedious.


I hadn't even considered that bit about refreshing SRMP at 12.0 rather than 14.5 seconds. One more thing to keep me up at night...

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The UI, in a word, sucks.


We all know that.


But BioWare, apparently, does not know. Or, more likely, severely underestimates the importance of a strong UI in the success of an MMO. In any case, they haven't really come out and said, "We know our UI sucks, and we are working on it." I don't have high hopes for a UI overhaul anytime soon. There's really no mention of it (that I can find) in the test server forums.



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I really applaud OP's post.

While I know healing is supposed to be about awareness and actively looking around at what's going on around you, I don't even get to see the game, being too busy staring at everything except the game itself.


Consider during a random boss fight, I have to actively keep my eyes on Pugnacity, both its cooldown and its length, how many upper hand I have up, how long they last, my energy bar being above 60%, how many Slow Releasing Medpack are up and when they need to be refreshed, any curses/diseases that need to be removed, whether I'm being focused by a mob, evading any step-out-of-fire AOE's of a boss and of course everybody and my own healthbars. (without raid frames with an active companion out!)


Now consider that all this is displayed using miniscule boxes randomly placed in between curses, buffs and stims somewhere above my health bar.

As someone out there has not given me the best eyes avaiable and miniscule in this case means me having to actually squint my eyes to see what's going on my healing life is total hell for me right now.


In short, I believe these two small improvements would improve healing life greatly:

  • The ability to resize and move around my buffs
  • Improved cooldown visuals (brighter colors, use of a timer)
Edited by Tokosteef
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An option to make the buffs important to us bigger and more clear would make me happy.


For our personal UI, I would appreciate UH, Pugnancy and similar to be bigger and disconnected from the other buffs (maybe above them in a separate bar? Or have their own section.


For Operant/Group UI, I think either Just showing the buffs important to you would be great, with an option to resize them like we can the healthbars in Operate style UI.

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There is no denying that the UI can use some buffing,


I think just these changes would be huge.


larger buff icons - maybe 2x the size they are now and have an option to have reduced size for classes who do not want them big or just don't care.


flytext for upper hand procs - this is an easy way to show when your getting it.


timers on the buffs icons - both self and other players. (with actual time not an emptying cup)


and as stated earlier a filter for long duration buffs and ones only castable by the player.


i think even if changes like these were implemented it would make for a better scoundrel experience.

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