As a raid healer, a common thing these days is trying to balance keeping everyone in your raid alive, while still being able to move when you need to (ie. having the right amount of situational awareness to your surroundings during raids).
I thought it would be neat to see how all the classes (even tanks and DPS) handle the multi-tasking that is required during raids. Do tanks and DPS sometimes have tunnel vision and forget to watch for the AOE effects or whatever they need to move out of? How do other healers deal with avoiding the tunnel vision problem?
Interesting topic as usual, and I'll be giving my view as a rogue, but I'll also try to give some bear tank flavor to it to spice things up.
User Interface (UI)
Replying a bit later to this topic than usual I've had the chance to read up on some other replies to it (check the end of this post for links) and it seems everyone so far agrees that a good UI is important. The problem with this is of course that the concept 'good UI' is up to the player. Some people swear by the default UI, others change their UI mostly for the visual customization, others for the increased functionality, but often a mix of those.
Take for example my screenshot from the XT-002 fight. You can't really see the scrolling combat text that much (it's only showing a rupture tick after my death) but other that than it shows the most important stuff. You can see DBM warning me of Gravity Bomb and Light Bomb in the middle, with bars that stay into place to remind me of who has them, and you can see the Tantrum emote and the enemy cast bar (which is the Quartz mod) also warning me of that.
As you can see, the middle isn't all that cluttered and I have a pretty good view on the battle field (also note the effect of the camera distance macro allowing me to zoom out further - with thanks to Karthis of Of Teeth And Claws for sharing it back in the day). Granted, the scrolling combat text obstructs the sideview a little, but when tanking on my bear I set up a filter on my outgoing hits to only show stuff that didn't hit (e.g. a dodged Mangle or something).
DPS and 'the zone'
As Kahleena from Fel Deeds Awake! notes, DPS isn't always the facerolling people think it is. When you have a priority system to keep up your debuffs and DoTs and the boss, and there's a lot of stuff happening because the boss is trying to kill you, you need to multi-task and do both DPS and avoid damage.
The zone, then, is that matrix-like situation in which the world moves in slow motion (I'm not talking lag here, people) but you do everything at normal speed. You anticipate slice and dice is about to fall off. You feel the cooldown on Fear is almost over and you run away from doomfires before you are feared into them. You see that the timer on Light Bomb is almost over, and you get ready to cloak out of it should you get the next. The zone is the ultimate DPS state of mind.
As a tank, it works in the same way, but you have this predictive feeling where you can almost see the path adds are going to take. As a main tank, you're kind of limited even when in the zone, because you can't do much with a boss in your face.
DPS and tunnel vision
Often mistaken for 'the zone', tunnel vision is when you are paying so much attention to your skill priority ("oh god, slice and dice AND hunger for blood are about to fall off!") that you fail to notice your surroundings (your feet are on fire and you're not wearing the summer festival sandals) and you're taking damage that could easily be prevented. In the best case scenario, you're still causing healers to divert their attention to you when they could be doing something more useful. In the worst case scenario, they spend a lot of mana to try and save your behind and you still die.
As a tank, it's where you think you picked up all adds, but half of them are actually preparing healer soup with little bits of DPS.
The good news is you can train on getting in the zone. Just by practicing a lot on instances you can get better, of course, and the more you see a boss fight, the more you'll learn to predict scripted abilities etc.
For training your reaction to random abilities, PvP might prove to be interesting. Because the opponent is also controlled by human players, a lot of things are totally random. For example, a rogue can train in cloaking things by lurking around a group of opponents, killing one and getting away safely. This usually requires a fast combination of some form of CC (blind, gouge, KS ... you won't use these in PvE a lot but it's often necessary in PvP to have a chance in getting away) and a few things to get you into safety (cloak of shadows, vanish, sprint, not necessarily in that order).
Other bloggers on this topic
Lissanna @ Restokin
Shopshopshop @ Runeforge Gossip
The Renaissance Man @ The Children of Wrath
Almaster @ Lux Legis
Kahleene @ Fel Deeds Awake!
So what about you? What does your UI look like? Are you often in the zone, or more often in the tunnel vision state? If you play multiple classes, do you lose focus easier on some classes than on the other ones?