Blizzard on Healing Design Philosophy
A great look inside Blizzard's thought process
Blizzard has posted a few very cool little pieces that let players really see what they are thinking about when working through issues. The current issue is the over use of Circle of Healing and Wild Growth. Here are some great clips that explain how they are working through them.
We always prefer to buff things to nerf them, just because it does feel better for the player. But we have to evaluate the magnitude of the changes involved.
To make CoH / WG work in their current form, we would have to increase raid damage on the group, and increase the healing on your other spells to compete, and increase the magnitude of other types of damage so you want to use those other spells. Increasing single target damage means we might have to adjust tank health (which generally means gear) so that you feel like you have a chance to heal them before the e.g. 30,000 point Hateful Strikes land. It is easier in this case to nerf CoH / WG and lower raid AE damage.
This is the classic metaphor of balancing a chair -- you can try and extend three legs or just cut one down to size.
We don't always take the easier way out, but sometimes that is the more responsible thing to do. We'd rather spend a little bit of time tweaking current encounters and more time working on future encounters than the reverse. We'd rather fix other problems with healing than spend our time rebalancing a whole lot of healing spells.
Plus, since this change will happen after the game is already Live, we do owe it to the customer to attempt to minimze bugs when possible, and in this case that means changing as little as possible. (You can take this argument too far of course and argue we should never change anything. It's a balance, as with most aspects of game design.)
Remember, our ultimate goal is to make the game more fun, not slap you around. I get so many kudos and warm fuzzies when I announce a big buff to a class that I would always prefer to be greeted with that than all the bad feelings that surround a nerf. Nerfing is never fun. (Forum Link)
We're just not seeing Chain Heal doing the numbers of WG / CoH right now. It will definitely go up a little if those other two come down. All of this ignores the fact that we want Shamans to be the big AE healers. It's the role for them, while for the priest and druid, it's just a tool. Currently those relationships are flipped.
Holy priests are designed around versatility. A Holy priest can be assigned to a tank, or to a melee group, or to general raid healing. While it's possible for a spec in that niche to become the jack of all trades, master of none, we think Holy priests have actually been strongly desired healers throughout most of the history of WoW.
You have fast single-target heals, slower ones, hots, group heals, shields and smart heals. Currently we believe a lot of those other heals look like poo because, to quote myself from another thread, Circle of Healing looks like the solution to every encounter challenge.