...So once I'm able to cast spells again, I find all 4 group members seriously wounded, and not close enough for a Circle of Healing. I do my best with Prayer of Mending, but need a lot of time to keep the tank alive, during which the dps are killed. I keep the tank up for a long while, but with just the two of us we finally wipe. And of course the dps guys blame me. Why didn't I heal them, yadda yadda yadda. I try to explain, but they won't listen.
Tobold's teammates seem to be jerks who were tossing blame around unfairly, but I think this is a great example of how player behavior is a direct result of game design. In most role-based (i.e. tank, healer, nuker) group content, tanking and healing are simply much more unforgiving than other roles, and healing is often considered the most stressful role to fill.
Just as game designers are held responsible for anything that makes a game unenjoyable, healers are ultimately held responsible for any player who dies. People don't want to hear about the mitigating circumstances that stopped you from doing your job well, they just want you to do it. If a dps player does too little dps which causes the fight to go on too long and the group to wipe, not many people will correctly diagnose the problem. In their minds, the healer still "should" have saved them.
Tanks and Healers are often called on to correct mistakes, and will be blamed more than other roles. Even when other players could have helped by using crowd control or standing closer to the healer, Tanks and Healers stand out as the scapegoats.
Create heroic moments for other roles
I don't think the solution to this problem is to make healing easier, but to make sure that other players are presented with do-or-die moments where it's their responsibility to perform certain duties or be blamed for a group wipe. Many games have already introduced moments like this for tanks, such as additional enemies who spawn and need to be taunted, bosses who randomly change their target from time to time, etc.
In most MMO groups, roles such as controllers or nukers almost always outnumber tanks and healers, but those roles aren't often given their big moment to make or break the fight.
Ways to challenge DPS/Nukers:
- Several weak enemies that share a health pool or constantly heal each other, requiring AoE attacks.
- Enemies that are invulnerable or very resilient until hit by a crit or a very large burst damage attack. This could be a moment for a DPS class to save their special attack for.
- Enemies that regenerate health at a constant rate, requiring a coordinated effort between 2 DPSers to take them down.
- Enemies that do more and more damage over time, and must be speedily killed before they become too dangerous.
- Enemies that have especially high effectiveness at low health, and must be DPSed quickly through that stage.
- Enemies that heal their friends, become enraged, or otherwise punish the player if they are hit with a lot of damage from a single attack, encouraging DoTs and fast hits.
- Enemies who can't be hurt but must continually do damage to stay alive. Root, snare, or hold abilities can incapacitate them long enough to deprive and kill them.
- Extremely strong enemies who begin weakening the moment they enter combat, and must be kept alive but controlled for some time before fighting them.
- Enemies who become enraged or otherwise immune to taunt at certain times, and can only be contained by control powers.
- Enemies whose cast times and attack speeds are directly affected by snare and slow debuffs, meaning controllers should always be applying as many slow effects as possible.
- Enemies who decide to self-destruct at low health, with a self-destruct power that damages both enemies and players. Controllers can quickly contain them to prevent them from running at a teammate and to funnel their damage toward other enemies.
Give every player a chance to be the hero or the scapegoat, from an early level, and players will not only learn to be better players, they'll be more involved and satisfied, and have better stories to tell people about your game. If you're lucky, they may even become a little more empathetic toward their tanks and healers and the pressure they're under.