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!
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.