Words with the Big GC

Posted: by Frostheim

Ghostcrawler the hunter!I saw Ghostcrawler twice at BlizzCon (other than on panels) and he was like a geek rock star. A swarm of fans surrounded him, jostling each other to get their picture taken with him. Ghostcrawler was incredibly gracious and chatted with each person for a few seconds, asked what character they played, answered a quick question or two, and hammed it up for the camera. He seemed endlessly patient as he made his slow way across the bar.

More exciting than seeing him in the bar, however, was Saturday night when I bumped into him in the hotel hallway. We got to chatting, mostly about hunter stuff, and I had a chance to ask a handful of hunter questions.

Other than pleasant chitchat about the weather and Minnesota and life at Blizzard, here’s a few tidbits of information I learned about hunters.

Weapon Speed Normalization

One of the things we’ve been noticing as we try to unravel the strangely inaccurate shot formulas is that our shots appear to no longer be normalized for weapon speed. This means that if we have two weapons with the same dps, whichever one is slower will actually do more damage, and thus more dps, on our special shots (well, any of the special shots that use base damage, like Steady Shot, Arcane Shot, etc.).

I asked whether this was deliberate or something that slipped in, and Ghostcrawler said that he wasn’t 100% sure off the top of his head, but he thought it was deliberate. He said it would be somewhat controlled by the fact that Cataclysm ranged weapons don’t have much variation in their weapon speed. He compared it to rogues who he said also care about weapon speed, but just don’t have a ton of weapon speed choices on the gear end of things.

He then asked me what weapon speeds for ranged weapons currently were in Cataclysm, and of course it was my turn not to be sure off the top of my head. I’ve since looked it up, and indeed it’s a far narrower range, from 2.7 to 3.0. No more 2.2 or 1.7 or other crazy fast weapons out there, and generally the green quality ones tend to be the fastest.

Update: Ghostcrawler has since confirmed that was not deliberate! Normalization was accidentally removed and they will be making a change to normalize our shots — all shots except Scatter Shot will be normalized.

He also confirmed, by the way, that the tooltip formulas are indeed incorrect for many of the hunter shots. The reason is that they’re constantly tweaking some of those coefficients, so what’s on the server isn’t the same as what’s on the client tooltip. Sadly the actual tooltips wont be correctly updated until the Cataclysm launch patch, he thought.

Multi-Shot and AoE

I briefly brought up our AoE situation and the vast difference in Multi-Shot across the specs. He did say that it was on the List to look at bringing BM aoe, and possibly MM, up a bit, though SV would likely continue to have the strongest aoe.

Signature Shot Damage

I talked to Ghostcrawler a bit about signature shot damage (Kill Command for BM, Chimera Shot for MM, and Explosive Shot for SV). With the recent buff, the signature shots are now all worth using… but it’s not necessarily obvious without doing a bunch of math. The problem is that Arcane Shot tends to still have better damage per focus, even if the overall dps of using it is lower (this dpf vs dps is something many hunters don’t consider). I’m concerned that we’re going to see newer hunters and hunters that don’t look online for information ignoring their signature shots in favor of the simpler all-arcane rotations.

Anyhow, I explained my opinion that the signature shots should be obviously worth using, intuitively worth using. They should be a no-brainer. I think we should slightly reduce the damage of Steady Shot, Cobra Shot, and Arcane Shot and really boost the heck outta those signature shots. There are other advantages of this — and disadvantages when it comes to kill command, but that’s the gist of it.

Ghostcrawler agreed that the shots should be obviously useful and used. He pointed out, however, that at 85 those shots were much farther ahead of arcane shot than they are at 80, but it was something they could look at if they were still worse damage per focus than arcane at 85.

Sadly, I’ve barely logged into the beta at all since 4.0.1 hit — I’ve been so busy working on 4.0.1 info, so I’ll have to go double check how the signature shots are doing at 85 these days.

Intimidation, Counterattack, and The List

I asked about Intimidation as the BM bonus ability, and whether there was a chance that it might be replaced with something cooler and more fitting to the identity of the BM tree. He said that he suspected that in a year from now Intimidation would no longer be the bonus ability of BM, but he wasn’t sure what would replace it. It’s on The List — and he then mentioned that Counterattack was as well.

Counterattack is a really strange talent these days, by the way, since we no longer have the talent that boosts our parry chance, an attack that procs off parries is substantially weaker.

Talking with Ghostcrawler, I got a strong impression of the vastness of the changes going on. The idea of having a list of hundreds or thousands of reported bugs — all of which have to be investigated to determine if they’re actually bugs — then fixed, and then the huge list of all the stuff that needed to get done for Cata launch, and then the huge wish list of all the things they’d like to do. And there is, I’m sure, lists like this for every class, for quests, every dungeon, gear, etc.

So it sounds like there are a few things they’ve just decided aren’t a high enough priority — because of course if they came up with a new talent to replace counterattack (that would require coding, testing, and potential re-balancing) then there’s something else on the list that would not get done.

Pet Crit Immunity

I asked Ghostcrawler about whether we’d have any way in Cataclysm to make our pets crit immune. To be honest, I really suspected that this was a deliberate move on Blizzard’s part to make sure our pets could not tank stuff in Cataclysm. However, this appears not to be the case!

We talked about crit immunity for a bit, and when I said something like “I know you don’t actually want us tanking current raid bosses…” and Ghostcrawler said something to the effect of, “No, but that’s really cool when you can do something really extreme, it’s fun when players find a way to do that.”

Ghostcrawler thought there was a pet talent to give our pets crit immunity, and I explained how it only gives us 4% crit reduction and we were using resilience to get the rest. Ghostcrawler said he thought that pets should probably have a way to get full crit immunity and actually stopped to pull out his blackberry and made some notes to talk to the team about it!

So it looks very, very probable that we’ll end up with some way — not sure how — to make our pets crit immune!

Pet Collars

While we were on the pet topic, I could not resist talking about the idea of collars for our pets — something I’ve blogged about before.

Ghostcrawler said that as long as it was jewelry it wasn’t that hard to do — it still required new coding, but as long as it didn’t change the appearance of the pets at all it wasn’t that bad. Apparently making any kind of gear that would show up on the pets, changing the model, is a massive, massive undertaking (there’s a LOT of pets after all). I nodded and posited that a pet collar clearly wouldn’t need to involve any graphical change.

He pointed out that it would only be worth doing if there was actually a difference in how people used them — if they implemented it and every single hunter just did the exact same thing on every pet then it’s pointless as a customization open (they may as well just increase pet stats by that amount).

I pointed out how we use different pets for vastly different things, and how we’d want to customize a pet for raiding would be very different from pvp which would be different from soloing which would be different from extreme soloing or pet tanking. And while we’d probably come up with a “best” solution for raiding, there’s probably be several different options for pvp and soloing — going with stats to complement your solo style or your pet choice.

I felt like he was warming to the idea, even getting a bit excited, and he talked about how that kind of customization would help further differentiate beloved hunter pets from warlock pets. We then went on a bit of a tangent about warlock pets.

In the end, I think the idea of pet collars may have a chance of happening. Certainly not before Cataclysm, but perhaps some day during Cataclysm, when they finally move down that list to Intimidation and Counterattack, they’ll have super awesome pet collars written down as well.

Until Next BlizzCon

And that was all the questions I managed to sneak in. Ghostcrawler got down to the lobby and was again swarmed under. We shook hands and went our separate ways. He to continue the endless quest of perfecting the best-looking class in the game, and me to stroll around a corner to let out the squeal of glee I had been holding in.

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  1. Joolsy says:

    Wow Frost, I love that you’re out there tracking down the movers & shakers & representing for Hunter’s all over the world – wattaguy!

  2. Kirks11 says:

    Excellent work on getting to the source and bringing Hunter Important Topics. Thanks for steady stream of info lately as well!

  3. Bloodbane says:

    You have all this talk about being a man’s man and camp and do all that and then this…”me to stroll around a corner to let out the squeal of glee I had been holding in.” NOT.VERY.MANLY :)

    Actually, I would have done the same thing so I guess I understand. Also, love the Ghostcrawler soundbite you used on the podcast this weekend. I always figured he would gem for strength.

    Nice job kidnapping him for the interview.

  4. Wolflore says:

    This conversatoin was probably the best to come out of Blizzcon for hunters. Thanks Frost for taking our concerns up with the powers that be. I particularly liked that you brought up the issue of DPF v. DPS of our shots and teh inadecuacy of intimidation as a signature ability for BM. For a PVE hunter like me it was sad that Cata for BM brought us 2 abilities that were mostly useful in PvP, intimidation and Camo.

  5. Polyxena says:

    I’m glad that you brought up the pet crit immunity with him. I didn’t think they were totally averse to the idea of pet tanking, as when they removed Eyes of the Beast, they gave us the Go To command, which is actually much easier to use when you need to get your pet to turn a boss (what else would we be using that for?). And the new glyph of MD, wow, that is NICE.
    I’d heard of using resilience to get more crit immunity. There’s a Hunter on my realm who tanks some heavy stuff using it.


    But it kinda sucks to lose the dps when you’re soloing. It would be so much better if it was something that could be specific to the pet itself instead of something we had to provide through our gear. I think it’s really cool that GC likes that extreme stuff instead of just saying “You’re a pure dps class; you shouldn’t be able to tank”.

    And hey, maybe one little dwarf will get to put that collar on his pet someday. =)

    Thank you so much for representing up there!!!

  6. Valacia says:

    wow, /jealous!
    I would love to have a chance to have a face to face chat with in a free, open form.

  7. baldriandk says:

    Very nice Frost, finally someone asking the right questions. :) Must have been ubercool to go to BC.

  8. Zyrinx says:

    Ugh that normalization thing sucks.

  9. Merckx says:

    You’re no longer just a blogger, you’re now a lobbyist.

    Fantastic stuff

  10. Qonaan says:

    Way to be the Hunter Ambassador!

    I’m glad you were there – some of the liveblogs of the various panels had my eye twitching when I’d come across lame-o questions that steal time from the valuable info that could be getting hashed over!


  11. Hulder says:

    Frost, you are now officially the hunting community’s representative with Blizzard! This is so cool, I don’t have words for it!! Thank you, thank you for getting across exactly what concerns Hunters. And to think GC was actually taking notes… oh my :-D

    Very happy Hulder here!
    /tar Frostheim

  12. Nimal says:

    -Multi-Shot and AoE-
    They should add a unique feature to Multi-Shot in every talent-tree, just like Survival’s Serpent Spread. MM’s Piercing Shot-effect to all the mobs that were hit by Multi-Shot. BM’s…uhh…Mega Swipe! Forget Multi-Shot, just a big AoEswipe from your Pet. :P

    What I mean is that I’m fine with the idea, that we’re not an AoE-class, but at least, make it fun to use. I’m not enjoying our current state of AoE at all, and I don’t think that will change. It’s the most stupid AoE-spell ingame and single-shotting isn’t that fun either, at least in 4.0.1.

    -Signature Shot Damage-
    Boost our signatureshots so it’s 10 times better than Arcane Shot, as a matter of fact, kill Arcane Shot. The horror nowadays with all those arcane-mage-hunters, it’s almost too much to bear.

    -Intimidation, Counterattack, and The List-
    I really don’t understand these “bonus-abilities”. Wouldn’t it be more logical to let them be the shots/abilities that we will use a lot in endgame? You get these abilities like Intimidation and Aimed Shot, which new players expect to be very important for that talent-tree, to find out that they won’t be used in endgame. That’s not only stupid, but wrong information given to new players. I really don’t understand why it is so hard to give BM Kill Command and MM Chimera Shot.

    -Pet Crit Immunity-
    “Ghostcrawler thought there was a pet talent to give our pets crit immunity”
    And I always thought that he was the man who knew it all… :(
    But it’s good news to hear that this isn’t “working as intended”. Hunterlife will be so sweet in Cataclysm.

    -Pet Collars-
    so I won’t see my bear wearing plate armor any time soon? :(
    Pet Collars is a great and simple idea to specialize our pets a little bit more. I like it!

    Thanks for the info Frost, this is the stuff we need to know.

  13. Divastarr says:

    Thanks Frost! You da man. :D


  14. Omogon says:


  15. gameldar says:

    Nice set of questions – really glad you got the opportunity to ask them! And particularly glad you brought up a couple of those issues (pet tanking for example)!

    RE: Signature Shot versus Arcane shot
    I’ve had a chance to do a quick couple of tests on beta (the length of the hunters mark) – just for general impressions. With the recent buffs it looks like using the signature shot is ahead – but not by a very large margin. I was testing with survival as that’s the spec I know.

    So my take on how it sits now is this – that the best dps will be using the signature shot and it will give the opportunity for the best players to shine. However using arcane shot is a lot more forgiving because it isn’t about perfecting the shots in between the signature shot cooldown – and is likely inflating the arcane shot rotation that I was using in testing as compared to the explosive shot rotation.

    The other issue that you alluded to is that Cobra Shot (or SS for MM) is doing too much damage – regards of the rotation I was using it was always the top shot in terms of damage at the end. Obviously testing on a dummy is giving it the best case scenario for it’s use – but it still seems wrong that it was the primary source of damage.

  16. rapidan says:

    macro: /squeal of glee… i see it coming!
    thanks Frost, as always, great information!
    /hoists dwarven stout

  17. Aldrong says:

    good job putting some good ideas in his head frost :D, would be awsome if one day we get full blow pet armour and collars are a good jump off point

  18. Cinterclaus says:

    I really enjoyed reading about this encounter and the questions you were able to ask (and get answers to), Frost! Thanks for being there for us and sharing with us.

  19. Rotseh says:

    Good you caught him and got some questions in. I really hope they reconsider the normalization change of ranged weapons. I mean, how can it be that slow crossbows or shotguns lower in ilvl such as Heroic Stakethrower (ilvl 264) or Normal Fal’inrush (ilvl 271) are now much better than say Heroic Zod’s Longbow (ilvl 277) that we kept in good faith while trashing the others. Shame you couldn’t specifically ask him that.

    Also, did you touch the subject of our very low base regen with him at all? And what that — with our 2-sec cast no-movement Steady Shot for more focus — has for implications in PvP, high-movement PvE encounters, short damage-stops during an encounter, or swift progressing from one encounter to the next? Would really have liked GC’s opinion on that. But I guess time was short.

    Oh well.

  20. Mikki says:

    Still no hope to get “eyes of the beast back” huh? me sad :(

  21. Justa says:

    You Sir are a Prince amongst men! Good work!

  22. Frostheim says:

    UPDATE: for those following the comments here, Ghostcrawler apparently followed up on the weapon speed normalization and learned that it was an accident that nothing was normalized.

    They will be normalizing all shots except Scatter Shot to the standard 2.8 normalization.

  23. Hrist says:

    I just have to point something out. You asked him to make a pose like a hunter…and he instinctively made a pose as if he were holding a gun…

    If there is stronger evidence that guns are the way to go, I don’t what it is!

    • Eidelweiss says:

      Exactly. Before reading one of the most awesome articles I ever read, I see GC pointing a gun! Could be misconstrued for an Xbow, but not bloody likely!

      Thank you for one of the coolest sites in the Universe, seriously.

  24. elicka says:

    This is all super exciting. But what I really want to know is when are you and Hrist gonna reboot some kind of podcast like Wipe Recovery????

  25. Bloodbane says:

    @ Frost

    “UPDATE: for those following the comments here, Ghostcrawler apparently followed up on the weapon speed normalization and learned that it was an accident that nothing was normalized.”

    To quote Double Rainbow Guy “What does this mean?” Really this question is meant at anyone that knows the math behind the shots better then I do.

    • Frostheim says:

      Let me try to explain in very few words: Take two weapons: weapon A does 10dps and has 1.0 speed. Weapon B does 10dps and has 3.0 speed. So A hits for 10 damage every second, and B hits for 30 damage every 3 seconds. B does more damage, but the auto-shot dps averages out to the same.

      But when we have a special shot that uses base damage, suddenly we like weapon B a LOT more. Because it’s slower, it does more damage with each hit, which means it contributes more “weapon damage” to the special shot.

      Normalization just means that the special shot treats your weapon as if it was 2.8 speed. Thus weapon A and B will be doing the same special shot damage under normalization.

      So special shot damage that include base weapon damage works like this (for average base damage):

      ((weapondps + (AP/14)) * speed + RAP * coefficient + basespecialdamage

      So for normalization that speed is always treated as 2.8, rather than the weapon’s actual speed.

  26. Bloodbane says:

    @ Hrist

    Technically, he could be holding a crossbow as well. Just sayin’

    • Eidelweiss says:

      I honestly hadn’t seen this before I made the post above. Wow reply is cool! I can sprinkle this whole thread!

    • Hrist says:

      The height and position of has rear hand/arm would suggest otherwise.

      • Hulder says:

        Well of course GC is a HUMAN. He wouldn’t know any better. I mean, poor guy doesn’t even have a tail! If he were the way AWESOME hunters are, i.e. Draenei, he’d know to use a bow instead.

        *smiles beatifically*

  27. FeralGilneas says:

    Pure win, Frost! This post was one of the most informative things I’ve heard from BlizzCon. Way to ‘hunt’ down’ the Man!

  28. Stoop says:

    For a while in Everquest there was a developer named Brian Hook how worked on Rangers. There was a mailing list he was on where we shared Ranger info, bugs, ideas, etc. with him. It was instrumental in getting some longstanding issues resolved, as well as a springboard for new stuff that went in. Sony eventually put the kibosh on it, as they didn’t want the impression of favoritism. The crit-immunity thing reminded me of that mailing list. Sometimes the users assume intent on the part of developers, when it’s really just oversight.

  29. Axebrew says:

    Nicely done, Frosty! I must say, WHU makes coming out of retirement so much nicer.

  30. Bloodbane says:

    @ Frost.

    Thank you sir. So basically, our special shots hit the same regardless of weapon speed now due to the normalization and thus, a gun with a speed of 2.8 is the same as a bow with 2.9 and crossbow of 3.0. Got it.

    I know you and your grubby little dwarf sausage fingers would rather have a gun. My orc could care less and just likes the fact that A) I have a cooler dance and B) my pet is stronger :)

    Thanks again.

  31. oldpain says:

    and me to stroll around a corner to let out the squeal of glee I had been holding in.

    I fell out of my chair laughing..

  32. Eidelweiss says:

    That was the coolest thing ever. As amazed as I was by the article, I kept waiting for him to tell you about your eyes, but I guess you guys just didn’t have enough time together…

    Gobless Frost and Gobless Hrist and Gobless WHU and Gobless GC and Gobless Dwarf Hunters and Gobless us every one.

  33. Elhessar says:

    Thank you very much Frost, that’s really awesome. I’m sure your veins are full of awesomesauce now more than ever.

  34. Camdin says:

    On the subject of ranged weapon scopes and how boring they currently are, I just wish that the developers would stop thinking of them as just scopes and think of them as ranged weapon attatchments. Thinking of it in these terms opens the door to a whole new set of ideas in terms of weapon enchant proc’s that would be well suited to just hunters so that those dirty warriors couldn’t take advantage also.

    Imagine having a grenade launcher that proc’s on a chance on hit and does an aoe for x damage which would be benificial for those running heroics but probably not the best for an end-game raider. Or a flame thrower that does fire magic damage as a narrow cone affect. How about a laser sight that allows your next auto-shot ignore enemy armor.

    Basically each of these ideas would both make range weapon enchants more exciting and still fit in the game from a lore perspecive since it would be engineers making these weapon addons and we engineers are already making very similar weapons. I was thinking the laser sight could include one of those focusing lenses that JC’s can make to create a beam between the user and its target, the grenade launcher would be practically the same as the grenade belt except it would automatically place the grenade on your target and the flame thrower….. well I can’t think of anything but it sounds alot like a failed(win?) goblin engineering experiment.

  35. Eurinome says:

    Dude, I heard that squeal of glee of yours on the other side of the planet.
    Grats on keeping your head and managing some really coherent, constructive conversation and remembering what was said, despite the gleeful squealing inside.
    /woot for collars!

  36. Kheldul says:

    Thanks so much about asking about getting pets to be crit immune! If we can OT stuff in Cata, they’ll really need to have that.

  37. Arthemystia says:

    I love you so hard right now Frost.

  38. Kazador says:

    Frost, I’m so delighted that you found an opportunity to lobby for better hunter treatment! Thanks especially for bringing up the dud-abilities like Intimidation and Counterattack, and the current AOE problem.
    I truly hope they take your suggestion about pet collars into consideration for the near future! I’ve always loved that idea of yours and it would be fantastic to see it made a reality.

  39. Grovin says:

    “Ghostcrawler said he thought that pets should probably have a way to get full crit immunity and actually stopped to pull out his blackberry and made some notes to talk to the team about it!”

    The tears of huntery joy, they be a-flowin’. Your hallway conversation is going to go down as a watershed moment in hunter history.

  40. Pence-Korgath says:

    dude, you didnt use a question regarding one of the many issues mm/surv pvp has right now? just 1?

    This is similar to the south park where Stan gets to ask God a question at new years 2000 and he wasted it on asking why he hasnt had his period yet..

    Good for you in getting the experience tho. (i still say you should of slapped him =P )