I pulled out some old screenshots of Rift. I think the pictures speak almost for themselves.
Despite the rest of my UI taking up a huge chunk of screen real estate, I believe the deadly areas are pretty durned obvious.
The screenies are solo Chronicles, because I normally don’t have time to worry about screenshots while four other guys are racing ahead, but I believe the pattern holds in general.
I never really minded big boss fights in Rift, and if not for the nervous teaming anxiety about not pulling my own weight, I found most of the PUG dungeons quite enjoyable with gimmicks that were learnable in a group – there would be the odd team wipe if someone was just learning the dungeon, but repeating it 2-3 times usually got folks on the way to success.
I believe this has a lot to do with the clarity of the gimmick mechanics. If something was affecting (eg. healing) another mob, I seem to recall a long bright line that would stretch between it and the boss mob, making it very obvious, “Hey, this thing is doing something to the other one!”
The AoE damage generally plays very fair. A geometrical shape is drawn on the ground for you, and a couple seconds later, comes the damage or the claw swipe or the what have you.
It’s very clear where you should NOT be.
And they give you sufficient time to move and stay out of that area.
No doubt you can guess from my present lack of illustrative screenshots which other game I’m still rather grumpy about regarding unclear, unfair gimmicks.
I’ll get back to that game eventually once I’ve recorded enough examples – it has some very clear telegraphed gimmicks, which I haven’t gotten around to screenshotting yet – which make me even more boggled why they don’t do it for everything. They plainly know how, unless those cases were just an accident.