Pets and Exp. Changes

August 29, 2007 at 9:36 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

There have been recent rumblings about lowering the leveling curve and increasing quest exp by 30%. As mania pointed out, both these could affect pet leveling significantly.I’m all for the exp change, but pets are going to be an issue. First off, one of the design goals of the hunter is to have a bond with your pet. Warlocks get insta-pets because of the nature of the class: demons are meant to be used and disposed of. The concept of only being able to level one pet with you, unless you make some major sacrifices (which increases bonding) by not gaining quest or rested exp, is part of this philosophy. As are 3 slot stables unfortunately… So I highly doubt we’ll see a change there.

Her 2 thoughts are basically, make sure to change pet leveling curve proportional to the hunters, and second to give the pet % quest exp if it was active when the quest was completed. Since there’s some issue of being dead when quest is completed, let’s change that last idea to the pet gets quest exp if it is your current pet (ie: if it’s the pet you’d get when you use ‘call pet’).

I’m actually not sure that both need to be done, but let’s talk about the second one first.

The idea of pet quest experience seems so obvious to me I had to give it a second thought. I mean at every quest I turned in for 2 years I thought “I wish my pet got some exp too…” Here’s the thing. If pets just get exp when the hunter does, then I could complete 5 quests with one pet, stable, and give all the quest exp to another. So, that’s why Mania has the “active pet when quest is completed” part in there. However, that will be really hard to implement. It would basically require the pet to have it’s own quest log, and then there’s the issue of what happens if the pet dies right before killing the quest mob. I could have 10 raptors slain, but my pet could have 8. Also, what if the pet I completed the quest with got stabled before I turned it in? There’s lots more special conditions going around there, too.

If we try to simplify to what we really want, the pet gets a special quest log where the quest appears there and is completed when the hunter has completed it and gets exp even if it’s no longer the current pet when turned in. Wow. The fact you now have a mechanic where it’s possible for some exploiter to instantly complete quests and not even be there by fooling the game into thinking his mage is a pet. And believe me, if there was the slimmest possibility of instantly completing quests, hackers would be attacking it forever.

It’s going to be difficult to balance exp too and they’re really not going to know if it works until they actually test it. It will really depend on the proportion of mob vs quest exp of that particular player.

Now, back to my question of whether both are needed. Let suppose we lower exp per level by (lets just throw out) 10% and raise quest exp by 30%. Grinding now takes 10% less time. I actually got about 50% of my exp from quests I think. So if I need 10,000 exp for my next level and earned 1000 exp from killing mobs for a quest and 1000 exp from turning the quest in before, I would now earn a total of 2300 exp towards my 9000 exp needed. This quest that previously got me 20% of the level now gives me 25%. The over all effect is that a level will take 80% of the previous time or a 25% increase in exp depending how you look at it.

Now for my pet who needs 1/4 of the exp to level but gets no quest exp. Pets already gain 5% more than the hunter if they are at the typical one level lower spot. So they’d gain 1050 exp towards their 2250 exp instead of 2500 exp for level, which is 46% over 42%. Now, just suppose the pet received quest exp too. Great Googly Moogly. They’d have earned 2350; almost the entire level. All this and they’d end up making grinding a pet later seem even less worth-while.

So lets go back. How much more exp do pets really need to keep up. Well with my previous figures, the hunter ended up with 20% more effective experience. In more concrete numbers, how much exp would my pet need to earn to have gained 20%? My calculations (which I won’t bore you with) give 1181 exp. That’s just 12% more exp. Now since leveling a pet is more annoying than it should be to begin with, let’s boost that to 15%. (If I worked for Bliz I’d be your favoritest Dev ever :)

So now let’s compare: create some type of quest log for pets with possible bugs if the pet is dead when quest is completed or turned in or the pet that completed the quest is now in the stable which gives the pet some unknown percentage of quest exp so as not to make it overpowered that exploiters are going to hack away at forever

vs.

Increase pet exp by 15% which not only solves the problem but makes leveling up a new pet much easier.

Of course this is all provided that Bliz actually remembers to change the pet leveling curve, and I seriously have my doubts about their ability to compensate pets.

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The Problem of Steady Shot

August 23, 2007 at 1:03 pm (Game Design, Hunter, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

This may get complicated fast, so I’m going to leave out lots of details. If you didn’t already know, Steady Shot has become the most important shot in a hunter’s rotation. No cooldown and a good mana/damage ratio are balanced against interruptible casting time, and the possibility of delaying your next auto shot if done too late.

Here’s the problem: the flat 1.5 casting time means that in a 1:1 Steady to Auto Shot rotation, slower weapons lose. On the flip side, it is also possible to have a weapon that is so fast that with lag and reaction time, the casting time of Steady will always delay Auto Shot and reduce DPS.

Quick example of inferior slow weapon (1800 RAP):

Weapon – (Auto Shot Damage + Steady Shot Damage) / Weapon Speed = DPS
Sunfury – (733.6 + 743.24) / 2.9 = 1476.84 / 2.9 = 509.26 DPS
Wolfslayer – (672.54 + 731.48) / 2.7 = 1404.02 / 2.7 = 520.01 DPS

Yes, a weapon with 4 more paper doll DPS loses 11 DPS because of a 0.2 second slower speed.  (These calculations originally done by Cheeky here.)

Example of clipped Auto Shots (0.3 second reaction time / lag, 0.3 Auto Shot cast time, and Serpent’s Swiftness):

Consortium Blaster, 12 scope, 37 DPS ammo, and 1800 RAP Damage:

Auto Shot: 159 + 12 + 64.38 + 223.71 = 459.09 damage

Steady Shot: 150 + 185.5 + 360 = 695.5 damage

Ideal Cast time = (Weapon Speed / Quiver haste) / SS haste = (2.4 / 1.15) / 1.2 = (2.09) /1.2 = 1.74 seconds.

Reality Cast time = Steady reaction and lag + (Steady cast / SS haste) + Auto Shot cast = 0.3 + (1.5 / 1.2) + 0.3 = 0.6 + 1.25 = 1.85 seconds.

Ideal DPS = (459.09 + 695.5) / 1.74 = 1154.59 / 1.74 = 663.56 DPS
Real DPS = (459.09 + 695.5) / 1.85 = 1154.59 / 1.85 = 624.1 DPS

Net loss of 40 DPS. (Don’t worry about the DPS being higher. The first examples didn’t utilize haste at all.)

So there’s the problem, what’s the solution. Well there’s many, but not all are acceptable. First, we could make Auto Shot damage huge or Steady Shot damage tiny so that Steady doesn’t matter as much, but then any clipping would also be huge. So since we can’t really mess with damage, that leaves cast time.

We could reduce the cast time or eliminate it, but even if we make it zero, there’s still the newly discovered auto shot cast time, so we would clip if Steady could just be spammed as the GCD allowed. Not only that but I really like the finesse that Steady requires the payer to utilize, instead of the frantic button mashing of most classes.

So the better solution is to have the cast time scale with weapon speed somehow. But if cast time scales and damage doesn’t we haven’t really done anything, so damage must scale too. This means that DPS would have to remain constant. But if DPS scales and mana doesn’t then those that fire more slowly will use less mana, so mana must scale too.

There are a few ways to do this as well. First, there could be several versions of Steady at the same rank such as

O: 110 mana 1.5 sec cast for X damage.
1: 132 mana 1.8 sec cast for 1.2X damage
2: 154 mana 2.1 sec cast for 1.4X damage
3: 176 mana 2.4 sec cast for 1.6X damage
4: 198 mana 2.7 sec cast for 1.8X damage

This allows the user to select the best time based on their own personal reaction times and lag. The downside is that you can still run in to strange upgrades if the rank of Steady doesn’t change.

A second idea is just to have damage, mana, and cast time automatically scale with weapon speed. If it scales too closely, lag will clip, and if it scales to slowly, steady becomes worthless. My best guess is that 60% sounds right. A 2.0 second weapon would have a 1.2 second Steady cast which has plenty of room for error. A 3.0 second weapon would have 1.8 cast time, which is even enough to think about a second shot.

Now all of these solutions, do have their problems as well, but those are more intuitive. For instance, if I know I have slower reflexes and a bad connection, I know that if I use a fast weapon I will be more likely to clip. That’s a problem, but it’s one that makes sense to the player. The problem of getting a weapon with 4 more DPS but losing over all 4 DPS (sunfire vs. wolfslayer) is something that most players will _not_ think about.

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The novel idea of RP on RP realms.

August 23, 2007 at 8:15 am (Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I promise. Something more interesting is coming, but I wanted to comment on this discussion of RP realms. I’m surprised at how polarized the (first few) comments are. There’s the ‘RP realms for RPers only,’ the ‘it’s just a game you dumb RPers,’ and the ‘only on RP to get away from the kiddies.’

I was very close to choosing a RP realm as my home when I first started playing. The main reasons I didn’t are I had some friends that had already rolled characters and the 3 types of people I listed above. The reality of RP is that there is a lot of gray area, and I’m definitely in the middle.

The RPers don’t accept me because I don’t stay in character. I actually do, because I consider my character to be me. If I have to use the bathroom and say ‘bio break,’ that’s exactly what my character would say too. “Hold on, baby is crying” means my character has to change the baby too. “Hey did you guys watch Conan O’Brian last night?” Guess what? My character was watching TV last night and would like to discuss a show.

On the other side the it’s-just-a-game people don’t like me either. For instance, My hunter has always used bows, and avoided guns. I’ve passed up a few guns, where people /boggled, and accused me of being a bad hunter for doing so. It probably even damages my credibility on this blog to admit it, but to me having the highest DPS is secondary to enjoying the game. Heh, I just realized that an appropriate response to those accusations is “it’s just a game.”

Another example. I was trying to explain to a few RL friends that play WoW that I wasn’t excited about the expansion because of Death Knights. They said “You don’t know anything about them, how can you know you won’t like them?” It’s pretty simple actually: they’re evil. Or at least they call on evil powers. I already know I can’t play a warlock, or a shadow priest. A plate wearing damage dealer is my ideal class in many ways, yet as soon as I see that class quest text that says something like “… and that is why you have no soul …” I’ll log out never to play that character again. Heck, just getting a quest from the first forsaken character I encountered completely turned me off to horde.

I can’t say I blame Blizzard. The powerful, soulless archtype that answer’s to no one is exactly what the 13 year olds want, and the 21 year olds wish was true, but the 31 year old here thinks there’s enough evil in this world. I don’t want to pretend to be evil when I want to escape it.

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Proposed WotLK hunter talents

August 16, 2007 at 2:02 pm (Game Design, Hunter, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

TKAsomething has a thread going on new hunter talents. Here’s my proposal.

[UPDATE: I created a second set of talents starting here.]

First of all the rules: There will be a 2-3 point talent at 35, two 3 point talents at 40, a 5 point talent at 45 and a single 1 point talent at 50. I wanted to make sure every tree had at least one new button to push as well, instead of everything being passive, and a new aspect for each tree that scaled since the only scaling aspect we have right now is AotV.

I also had three secondary goals. First, to make every talent at least somewhat useful while soloing, 5 man groups, raiding, and PvP. Second, to rediffentiate the trees. It seems to me BM, MM, and SV play almost the exact same way with the only difference being where the damage is coming from. I want to make sure there’s very different feel to each tree. Last, I wanted to add OMG thats awesome, back to the talents. The BC talents were good and helpful, but come on, no one went “I can’t wait to hit 50 so I can get silencing shot or readiness.”

I’ll discuss the 3 new aspects as 51 point talents in the end.

Enough prep. On to the talents:

Read the rest of this entry »

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FAQ update: Introduction to pets

August 15, 2007 at 2:57 pm (Guide, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

The FAQ has been updated with all the answer’s you need. Actually I realize that I left off stuff about the pet command bar. Guess that’s another FAQ. This one is mostly about the questions hunters will have at level 10 when they’re getting their first pet.

Introduction to Hunter’s Pets:

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Nerfing scorpids without nerfing them.

August 9, 2007 at 12:15 pm (Pets, Tradeskills, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

My previous post, was part of an overall discussion on hunter pets not being able to hold agro, particularly for SV. To summarize my idea, take each families highest stat modifier and make it apply to threat generation as a bonus for health and armor and as a reduction for DPS. So my raptor would get a 10% reduction in threat, nice for instances, while my crab would get a 13% bonus to threat great for soloing. Also, BOOM! diversification.

As I was making a new reply to that thread, one of the hunters mentioned his scorpid poison was so buff, he was worried about it pulling agro. It got me thinking, making these changes would nerf scorpids in raids without reducing the awesomeness of scorpid poison, like they did with windserpents’ lightning breath. His scorpid poison was doing something along the lines of 1k/tick. Now if my threat idea went through, that would increase the threat by and extra 100/tick with the 10% bonus. And we all know the first time that scorpid pulls the raid boss would be the last time that scorpid would be on a raid.

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Introduction to Shot Rotations

August 8, 2007 at 10:49 am (Hunter, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

First of all, what is a shot rotation?

It’s a repeated sequence of shots you use.

Why should I care about it?

Crafting a good shot rotations allows you to do the most damage AND makes efficient use of mana so that you can do it longer.

When do I need to worry about it?

Really you only need to worry about it once you get Steady Shot. Before that, just use what you have. The reason is that unlike other shots, Seady Shot is meant to be woven between your Auto Shots.  If you don’t do it right, you delay your next auto shot and lower your DPS.

What’s the best shot rotation?

Shot rotations depend on the speed of your bow, the haste effects such as Serpent’s Swiftness and quiver, talents such as Improved Arcane Shot, your own reaction time, and game lag. So, you have to craft your own. Or rather, you’ll have your own ideal weapon speed as you’ll see below.

Here’s the deal. Lets make this a super simple example with no haste to worry about, zero lag, instant reaction time, and only thinking about auto and steady shots. This example bow A has a 2 second firing rate. As the auto shot fires, Steady Shot is instantly used and goes off 1.5 seconds later. Now there’s two choices, you wait for the next Auto Shot to fire Steady, or you fire steady right away. The first way, in 30 seconds you’ll fire 15 Auto and 15 Steady. The second, you end up with 10 Auto Shot and 20 Steady every 30 seconds.

Several things to talk about now. Generally speaking, Steady Shot does slightly less damage than auto shot, and second, Steady Shot costs mana while Auto is free. You can see that, button mashing not only costs you more mana, but also gives you less DPS. This is why you want a shot rotation, instead of just spamming whatever cooldown is up. HOWEVER, also note that this is dependent on the speed of the bow.

Example bow B has the exact same DPS as A. However, it has a speed of 3 seconds. With this bow, delaying a second steady shot doesnt make sense. With 1 Steady per Auto we get 10 Auto and 10 Steady in 30 seconds, but with spamming steady we get 10 Auto with 20 Steady. Definitely more mana intesive, but DPS is obviously improved as well. You would get the exact same DPS results with a 1.5 second bow with the same DPS, each auto shot would just be half the damage of bow B.

Ok, now lets say I’m looking at upgrading my bow A with a new bow C. Math Incoming. Example bow C has a speed of 2.5 seconds and is +5DPS, and from this equation Steady Shot increases by 14 damage. Lets try some shot rotations. If I wait for auto before every steady, I get 12 Auto Shots, and 12 steady shots in 30 seconds compared to bow A’s 15 Auto and 15 Steady. So what do I gain and what do I lose. I gain 150 damage from the 5 DPS over 30 seconds, and with 12 steady shots I gain 168 more damage than if they came from Bow A. But notice that I lose 3 whole steady shots. So unless my steady shot is only doing 100 damage (which i doubt), the better DPS bow (C) is actually worse in practice than bow A.

Given there are other factors you can throw in, such as C may give you enough time to throw in Arcane shot or maybe you can’t get 15 Steady Shots in with Bow A because you have a laggy connection, but you can see that shot rotation makes a big difference to the point where it can make inferior weapons better than an upgrade. If nothing else, making an effort to optimize your shot rotation is the difference between being an asset to the group/raid, and a huntard.

There are guides out there to help you set up a shot rotation, but since they can’t know your reaction time and your lag, the only true test is to get a damage meter, head out to NS, and test it out on old Dr. Boom.  Go for a few minutes until you’ve got a pretty constant DPS going and then reset and try another.

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Going 0-60 in WoW Seconds

August 7, 2007 at 9:28 am (Game Design, Tradeskills, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

First of all, I apologize to anyone that is searching for a level guide. Alliance one. Horde one.

This post is actually about I’m proving the 0-60 grind. If you read nothing else in this post, I hope you read this. Anyway, I guess it’s actually about 20 up to 58 since the new BE/Dra areas are good to 20 and 58 is when you can finally get to outlands. Here’s a list of current problems:

  • Gear really sux. Spirit anyone? Drops seem to be ok if you can find them on the AH, but quest rewards and tradeskills are often not.
  • Good gear is way too expensive. Due to twinking.
  • Battlegrounds can suck. Due to twinking.
  • Quests are spread out over several zones. I did 32-34 Desolace, 34-35 Arathi Highlands, then back to Desolace, then back to Arathi.
  • Grinding is often faster than questing.
  • Hard to find groups for group quests.
  • Hard to find groups for instances.

The hardest thing here is that it needs to be balanced for both newbies and for player alts. Further, there are newbies that need to learn how to play while leveling since they are alone, and those that just want to get to the level cap to play with their friends and will L2P from them.

Overall there are really 2 issues: gear and questing/elites.

Gear

The solution here is actually fairly simple: make tradeskills craft good gear for leveling. Those wanting to level alts can send mats to their mains as they find it. Those that want to catchup to their high level friends can do likewise. And those going it solo will have a reason to actually try to skill up. Just need to make a complete set for each spec every 10 levels or so. For the most part thats two (one int/str/sta and one str/sta) blacksmithing sets with 2 more added for tanking and casting post 50, four (caster/melee/ranged/tank) sets for leatherworking, and some decent caster gear (ie less spirit and more spell damage) for tailors. This also helps solve the twinking in BGs. If everyone is twinked, then no one is twinked.

Some examples: Green Iron armor is really nice DPS set. Silvered Bronze… not so much. Again, there needs to be a good set for every spec every 10 levels.

Another idea I particularly like for alts, is for there to be 375 patterns learned from trainers that yield low level gear that is BoA (that’s Bind on Account). The mail is obviously set up to determine whether items are being sent to the same account or not, just alter it slightly to only allow certain BoP items to be mailed.

Of course for the sloppy but sweet change, just take every piece of gear that currently has spirit, drop the spirit, and add a gem slot. Everyone wins. Jewelcrafters, twinks, newbs, alts, everyone.

Questing/Elites

To change every quest reward, focus the zones to fewer levels, cut traveling time, and generally make the current azeroth more like outland would take too much work for very little effect. If they every introduce a new 20-60 expansion with new zones and rewards, the old world would be a graveyard. So the only alternative is to work with what we have.

If tradeskills become the main source of gear, then questing needs to be the best way to gain exp. A X% increase to all quest exp would be great incentive to stop grinding and start questing. The other thing that would be necessary is that, if there is a blue quest reward, there really needs to be a reward for every spec. I had the worst feeling when I completed killing some boss after hours of LFG, groups falling apart, and hunter loot arguments, only to find that the reward I really got was a shard to sell. If nothing else, make quest rewards various self only enchants like this only with stats.

What’s the best part about questing? Those nice questlines than tend to end up killing elites in the zone, or instances. BLARG! LFG for hours on end. Solution?

Since they have created a nice formula to create 2 and 3 man elites, why not make all world elites 2-3 man versions. Someone at the high end of the dungeon’s spectrum may even be able to solo, but doesn’t that fit with the overall design concept of making the player feel like a hero? There have been several times when I’ve been asked to help out with a group only to find that there aren’t even 3 more people in the zone to take on the elite.

Furthermore, I’d love to see ‘easy’ mode for instances where all the mobs inside were 2-3 man elites. Being able to grab a healer and 2 DPS or a tank and 2 DPS or even straight 3 DPS and be more concerned with having fun than the right group configuration would be huge and tons of fun. There’d have to be a trade-off with gear I think, but being able to complete those nice quests would be reward enough, provided they take my earlier suggestion of something-for-everyone. Or turn it around and only have drops, but can’t complete quests. I’d love to solo LBRS at level 70 and finally get my beaststalker shoulders.

What would you change about 0-60 to make it better?

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How to make tanking pets tank.

August 7, 2007 at 8:47 am (Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Just a quick idea, currently base DPS and abilities are the only factors in producing threat.  This means that pets made for tanking (crocs, crabs, bears, etc) cant tank because they cant hold agro.  What I’d like to see is threat increased by the pets’s health or armor modifier (highest stat), and reducing threat by the pet’s damage if that’s the highest stat.

For instance, my crab has +13% armor from base line, so he would generate 13% more threat from all abilities.  Bears would generate +8% threat.  A cat with +10% damage would _reduce_ threat by 10% from all abilities.  This now creates a world where there actually is a difference between pets, instead of DPS/being king.  So you will be interested in getting a DPS pet for PvP and instances, and a tanking pet for soloing or OTing.

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Being Bored So You Don’t Have To

August 6, 2007 at 1:32 pm (Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

As mania seems to be working on pet loyalty I thought I’d do some experiementing of my own last weekend.  It was as follows:

  1. Tame a pet
  2. Note the time
  3. Sit in a city without entering combat
  4. At loyalty level 2, note time
  5. Tame 2nd pet of the same type and level
  6. Note time
  7. Stay in combat as much as possible
  8. At loyalty level 2, note time
  9. Compare the 2 times to see what difference combat makes

I spent the whole weekend on step 3.  After 10hours and 12 minutes, I think that at least the first loyalty ding requires combat.  And even if not, it’s pretty clear that being in combat makes a huge difference.  I did take a break and stable the pet for another to at least make some progress, and it took less than 20min to get that one to loyalty level 2.

My new plan is to tame another pet, get to loyalty 2 and see how long it takes to get to 3 without any combat.  This time there will be a 3 hour time limit.

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