At Blizzcon this year my Track Ghostcrawler ability was working again. Though I stayed at the same hotel, I never saw the big GC in the hotel halls, but I did see him in one of the convention center halls on his way to lunch after a panel and I got to ask him a handful of hunter questions, which he graciously answered even though I think I delayed his lunch.
Of course I did not get to ask him everything I wanted to — these were just the first things to come to my mind when I saw him and influenced by the direction the conversation went, and I didn’t have a lot of time.
I think my favorite quote was when we were talking about fans and I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, but I also have a small but rabid group of anti-fans.”
Ghostcrawler laughed and said, “Yeah, so do I.”
So here is the stuff we talked about, as I remember it through the haze of Blizzcon:
Raid DPS Data
I asked Ghostcrawler if they had some kind of awesome data about raid dps that was like our World of Logs parses, but including everything. He said that yes, they did have that kind of data but that they also paid attention to the World of Logs. He said that they watch WoL stuff a lot so that they know what the players are seeing, as well as all the info they’re seeing. He gave an example from back in Wrath when they felt like players didn’t appreciate how tough bubbles were and couldn’t figure it out until they looked at WoL and realized that it didn’t credit absorbs as heals, because of the way the combat log reported things (this has long since been fixed, of course).
He also said that they had some really cool tools for testing dps. He said that unlike players, they can make actual bots and they can program in an exact rotation and run long in-game tests on various targets and see exactly what the potential of each spec is in various situations (which makes you think about how they feel BM is not as far behind as representation suggests). He noted that sometimes players come up with clever ways of improving rotations that they didn’t think of and they have to reprogram the bots — but he also said that they’ve occasionally found rotations that the players haven’t found that are higher dps than what the players are using. Not for hunters, but for at least one other dps class out there they have a better rotation than what is being used.
I asked him a very carefully phrased question to the effect of, “So do you guys think hunter PvP is a problem?” Ghostcrawler was pretty adamant: he said hunter PvP was bad, that it was a problem. Of course this was before a hunter team took first place in the arena championship, but I think it’s still true. He said the problems were mostly based around focus regen and LoS focus regen — though removing minimum range should help. He also talked about the challenges of improving hunter PvP without making things overpowered, and how the smallest changes to something like a defensive cooldown can quickly become imbalancing.
So we know that hunter PvP is on their radar. He also noted that there was some talk that removing minimum range would make hunters want to stay in melee with other ranged classes and they were considering some kind of mechanic to discourage that (this was very speculative). I suggested that we aren’t generally going to want to sit in minimum range with anyone most of the time.
I had to know whether removing minimum range was a purely design decision, or whether it was based on the overwhelming player feedback, so I asked! Ghostcrawler said that it was a 50/50 thing. He said they knew there was nothing else they could do that would make hunters as happy as removing minimum range. But then he also talked about how difficult it was designing with minimum range in the game (something I’ve talked about often) including talking about flagging bosses for no min range in Cataclysm fights.
I asked about whether hunter pets would keep their talent trees like they have no, or if they’d change to something more like the new player talents, or go away entirely (note that in MoP you’ll be able to take any pet and just choose whether it will be tenacity, ferocity, or cunning).
Ghostcrawler said that this wasn’t something they had decided on yet, but they were considering just removing pet talents entirely. He said they don’t feel like there are really meaningful choices in the pet talent trees as they are now, but that they could possibly move to a talent system for pets similar to that for players if they could come up with meaningful choices to make.
So it sounds like pet talents as they exist now are going away. We’ll either have no talents and pets will just innately have what they need based on their spec, or it’ll be a minor version of what players will have in the expansion. I got the impression that they were leaning toward just doing away with pet talents, so that’s something we’ll have to lean on them about!
Dual-Wielding Ranged Weapons
Dual-wielding ranged weapons is a possibility. It sounds like the main thing preventing it from being really strongly on the table is the difficulty in adding all those new animations (which have to work with all the races, genders, and armor sets).
The idea of a stampede ability for hunters or BM hunters — something where you’re whole stable of active pets rushes the enemy at once for a few seconds — is something that has been talked about a lot by the design team. It’s a definite possibility that hunters will see something like that, though not something that is currently in the works or definitely planned. Ghostcrawler pointed out that if they did it it would not be “actual” pets that you control, but instead just a bunch of pets (possibly random, possibly your active stable of 5) that charged whatever there was to attack and munched away for a while, possibly applying random pet abilities at the same time.
I seriously hope they do this. It would be so awesome and I’m thrilled that it’s something that’s at least being talked about!
Armor Sets on the Blizzard Store
I asked whether there were any plans to make armor sets with no stats for sale on the Blizzard store as a vanity item that you can transmogrify your gear into. He said that a couple people have brought the idea up at Blizzard, but then he said that making armor is very expensive (meaning a lot of man hours, I assume) and there are no plans for that right now. He said that things like mounts and vanity pets are actually really easy for them to make, comparatively.
On one hand you could easily argue that they’d make a heck of a lot of money off of it and more than pay for those man hours, but on the other hand you’re essentially pulling those people off of making actual content for the game. And you can’t always just add more designers — at some point it makes things happen slower than faster.
Ghostcrawler had added to his Developer Watercooler signature the line that “he probably listens to your podcast.” I asked him how many he did listen to and he said he listens to a lot of podcasts, but not every week. Each week he listens to various different ones.
He noted that he found that podcasts were a good source of information and player feedback, since the effort to make a podcast is high enough that you can generally expect well thought-out arguments on them. I imagine they’re also good in the sense that the collect and curate a lot of the general feedback of the playerbase at large.
And yes, it turns out he does listen to the Hunting Party Podcast from time to time. Yipes!
Um… That Could Be a Problem
I asked about the new Transmorph Trap and whether you could use both that and a Freezing Trap to CC two targets at once (or if you could only have one active at a time). He said that yes, you could. I then asked if I could Transmorph Trap a target, then Freezing Trap another target, then Wyvern Sting yet another, Scatter Shot a fourth, then use Readiness and do it all again.
He paused a moment and said… yeah, that could be a problem.
So that’s what I got — and writing it up now that’s an impressive amount of information for how short the conversation was. I was kinda rapid firing as many questions as I could in there. The only other thing he mentioned (that I can recall) was that they did indeed name an item after Zeherah in 4.3 (he asked me if I had seen it yet — I hadn’t, and still haven’t). He said it was one of the valor purchases, so hopefully we’ll find out exactly what soon!