Class Panel from Blizzcon – Hunters and Raids

I wanted to take a few days to let my thoughts percolate for a bit on the class Q&A panel.  I had a few knee jerk reactions and one of them has not changed so I am now taking the time to add my 2 cents on it.

Fortunately due to my procrastination on the matter I do not need to recount the panel as WoW Insider has some nice summaries of the questions and answers.  In particular the this article has the section that I want to elaborate on here.  As a side note, I will say after being introduced to other developers at the panel, IMO I now see why GC likes to drink.  Being the moderator/lead of that set of personalities I am sure would make most people want to drink.  Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they all mean well and how someone reacts in front of 20k+ people and how they are in an small group meeting I am sure is completely different, hopefully.

From the article mentioned above:

Question: Aspect of the Cheetah — OK, hunters, Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack — it’s been in the game for a long time now. This is somewhat of a credit to you guys, you’ve given all the other character classes wonderful tools where a lot of hunters now no longer feel it’s necessary to have a gimp to a skill like this. We all feel it’s antediluvian, you know; remove it from the game, please. That way it would add more dynamic to the hunter class. Aspect of the Pack would be used in other situations.

The reason why Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the pack aren’t like — or that they have the daze I guess is what you’re referencing — is that if they didn’t have the daze then you could just kite stuff all day long in PvE and it’s also used like –

– you put mobs on leashes, you cannot kite stuff all day long. That is no longer true. And mobs you can kite, it’s irrelevant; you could kill it anyway. Who cares?

This comment was followed by loud booing from the crowd.

I don’t know, I think I’d be able to kite stuff and kill stuff solo as long as the boss doesn’t hit me.

I challenge you this: remove it from the game and see what happens.

After this comment he was roundly booed by the crowd again and his turn was done.

Honestly, I was pretty disappointed by this question. Of course Blizzard is not going to give us a permanent 30 percent speed increase with no substantial downside. Of course that would break things. I was a bit annoyed that one of our precious question slots was wasted on this one. But, happily, future questions were more interesting.

Ok I too was a little annoyed by the time the question took not so much by it being asked.  I also was disappointed by the response from the Developers.  For example they seem to be forgetting Unholy Presence and some other class abilities/talents that are available to other classes.  A more unique or interesting answer would have been asking the player base what about a medium/minor Glyph that turns Cheeta/Pack into +15% movement speed buffs with penalty.  That at least would make it an option effect and also keep it in line with some other base line abilities that other classes have or can spec into.

Hell I would not put it past the devs to have thought of this after the fact sometime later when not in the spot lights.

Now for the one that I have harped about before and completely pissed me off when I heard the developer response to a legitimate concern.  Here is that excerpt from the WoW Insider Summary.

Question: Minimum range in raids — From a technical standpoint we seem to be the only ranged class in the game that has a minimum range. This seems to come into effect quite a bit in our raids where everybody in the raid — ICC first couple of bosses — everybody in the raid stacks up on the boss at max hit at the edge of the hitbox, except the hunter — you stand about five feet back and die.

If your raid liked you more they’d save you.

Seriously WTF?  Have you looked at the encounters and how class dynamics interact with them.  I know you usually do but to so flippantly dismiss a legitimate concern is sorry to say complete BS.  Now back to more on this.

Question: My question is just — mages, warlocks, priests — they’re all ranged classes but they can stand directly in front of you and repeatedly use what would be a ranged attack. Why have hunters been singled out? Why are we not allowed to do the same thing with our bows or our guns? It makes no sense.

It’s part of the overall flavor of the hunter class unfortunately, and it goes hand in hand with using ranged weapons. That said I’m very sympathetic to the reality on fights like Lord Marrowgar, and other bosses that have very large hit boxes — which works to the advantage of melee because it lets you spread out — but effectively it’s subtracting from the viable range for hunters. That issue in particular is something that we’ve discussed addressing because it is intended to make life easier for you, not harder, and life would be easier for you on Marrowgar if you were smaller and that’s just not how it’s ideally going to work.

Question: Is there supposed to be any form of a balance for the fact that it is a negative to the way our class plays is that we must be at that range or our DPS goes to pretty much nothing once you get into melee. Is there going to be something that cancels that out and makes us a slightly more viable ranged class than somebody who doesn’t have that negative.

At the same you can shoot while moving and a mage can’t channel his spells while moving, so there’s trade offs right? Or a rogue or a cat they can’t do anything when they have to run around the room, and you can. So there’s different classes have different strengths in different situations.

Hunters also have a lot of abilities to get our of melee range, that’s why disengage was made as a jump away from your target kind of ability, to get away from the shadow priest standing on top of you. But pretty much any ranged class if a melee’s on top of you, you know, you’re not doing your highest damage, right.

Ok here it goes, I think there is a good middle ground between what the player was asking about and the “theme” that the devs seem to think is so important to convey.  As as side not if you notice there is no such limitation on the new Demon Hunter for Diablo3 at least some people seem to get it on that team.

The middle ground is simple and is about the various shots.  To explain farther lets break a hunter down into their ability types.

  • Pet DPS – Not relevant to this issue.
  • Traps – Not really Relevant.
  • Stings – Somewhat Relevant.
  • Melee Abilities – the 2 or 3 of them that don’t really do anything.
  • Ranged Special Attacks, AKA Shots – The meat and potatoes of Hunter dps.
  • Auto-attack – Ranged and Melee, the melee part is a joke but for completeness included.

I think the main problem with allowing hunter ranged attacks in Melee has to do with some strange interaction between Ranged and Melee Auto Attack.

Rather than get into the details which I would only be guessing about lets discuss the model for the compromise.

  • A ranged auto attack is broken when target gets out of range, be it too close or too far.  In the case of too close auto melee attack automatically starts.
  • No matter what the range from 0-Max of Ranged Ability any ability can be activated including shots.  So the hunter can use shots at any range 0-Max but will only auto shoot when target is outside of melee while still in range.

A more involved change would be the following.

  • Stings are the only ability usable at 0-Max range.
  • # of Shots decreased to 2 base +1/2 depending upon spec.
  • # of base melee abilities set to 2 +1/2 depending upon spec.
  • Interactivity created between stings/shots and melee abilities such that no matter where the hunter has to stand they have something they can do.  Maybe even an occasional special proc that allow for a particular shot or 2 to be used at any range.

Really it annoyed me more that the devs had an attitude of “shut up and deal with it” on this subject than looking at how encounter design has evolved and refuse to evolve the classes to cope with the new dynamics.   Hell this has been an issue for ever and has been ignored for far too long.  There are other games out there that do the hunter/ranger as well or better even within Blizzard.  Naming them I would say Diablo3 and LotRO.  Now neither of these have a pet which for solo play need the improved paradigm.  However pets may do dps in raids but if the encounter screws the player on positioning the pet only supplements dps and is not the major contributor in most cases.

Other Projects – Guild and Strategy Website

So with all of the information about Cataclysm and 4.0.x that has been coming in a steady stream, I have not been sure where to start giving my 2 cents about it. Given that 4.0.x just came out yesterday, 2010/08/13, other than a very brief initial opinion there is not much to say about it.

I am disappointed in the changes to the AH and Mail related mods being broken. I wish Blizzard would actually fix the systems rather than just break mods that are damn near necessary to interact with them. Yes 2-3 clicks per mail item is a good design … no no it is not. If I could click in the mail item and automatically have it loot/detach the item and currency, if there is room for such it would be nice. Like the auto-loot system.

The other 2 projects I have been working on when not at my IRL job are the new guild website for the guild most of my toons are in, Undying Resolution on Elun-US.  This guild is made up of mostly former Conspiracy Elune-US members that wanted to raid a little more seriously and with less baggage from legacy officers taking a break from the game but still active in other aspects of the game/social dynamic.  Since the split the guild has progress some in 10man ICC with a H-Prof. P. kill the other night right before the patch.

The second project is one I have mentioned here previously which is my raid strategy website however I have decided to make the scope even a little larger due to many of the group mechanic changes coming in Cataclysm.  With CC being required Dungeon strategies are going to be needed on the web more so than even when tBC came out.  The reason for this is for the most part the vast majority of the WoW player base has had it really easy the past 2 years as far as dungeon content.  I am working on re-skinning that website after getting the transition to http://www.wowraidstrategies.com working.  It is still a major work in progress but with the release date of Cataclysm I at least now have a deadline.