Closet cleaning time

Time again to clean out some of the drafts that have been hanging around in my writing closet for awhile.

Cool herbalism gloves. I’m not what you would call a super-informed WoW player. That is, I usually go through the game fairly unaware of many of the cool little quirks and Easter eggs and other fun things you can find. I didn’t know about Pepe until about 3 months into this expansion. Same with the glass of warm milk in the garrison barn, and tons of other examples. I like doing those fun things, but I am not exactly the go-to person in our guild for information on them. So a couple days ago, when I discovered Gorepetal’s Gentle Grasp, I said something in guild chat about sheesh I couldn’t believe I just found out about these things, doh! Imagine my surprise when none of the guildies on line at the time had ever heard of them either. They were pretty excited about them, so I gave instructions on how to get them, and several people stopped what they were doing at the time to dash off and get them.

For a brief moment I was in fact the go-to person for some little piece of the game! I got almost as much fun from that as I did from the gloves, probably because it is such a rare occurrence for me. By the way, if you haven’t got these gloves yet, check them out on Wowhead — instructions are there for finding them. If you are a herbalist or even if you are not but still make use of your garrison herb garden, they are terrific. For a non-herbalist in garrison they cut the gathering time down from 3 seconds to 1.5 seconds. For a herbalist they cut the time down to .5 seconds. They are the herb equivalent of the Peon’s Mining Pick, and they make your garrison drudgery a tad more bearable.

Some eye-opening perspective. Don’t ask me how I got to looking for this, but a few days ago I stumbled upon the web transcript of the Activision Blizzard Q1 2015 conference call on earnings. It is pretty dull stuff, and I don’t really recommend reading it unless you are having trouble falling asleep, but I read it (I have no life, it is sad) and was struck by one thing:

World of Warcraft is very small potatoes in the Activision Blizzard corporate picture, not much more than a couple of pixels in their digital Big Picture.

It seems to be not even the main part of Blizzard, certainly not as a significant feature in their long term future planning. The corporate outlook is that WoW will account for less than half of Blizzard’s earnings this year. Thus, the 3 million subscription drop was barely mentioned during the call, especially since Activision Blizzard overall exceeded their Q1 earnings expectations by quite a bit, and in spite of the sub loss even WoW’s Q1 earnings increased due to price raises for subscriptions in some parts of the world. (Token sales were not included, as they began in Q2.)

When it came time for Michael Morhaime’s report, he had this to say about WoW:

1.  WoD proved that players who have been away from the game will come back for an expansion with “the right content.”

2.  The drop in WoW subs was expected and was completely normal after the first few moths of a new expansion.

3.  Patch 6.2 “will add a ton of new content that will appeal to players across a range of play styles.”

4.  Tokens.

Overall, he dispensed with WoW pretty quickly, then went on to spend most of his time talking about Hearthstone, Diablo III in China, Starcraft II Legacy of the Void, and Heroes of the Storm. He was particularly enthusiastic over the whole eSports potential.

What I took away from all this is that WoW is rapidly diminishing in importance for both Blizzard and for Activision Blizzard as a whole. They see their future in multi-platform games (especially tablets and phones), spectator “sports” and the huge endorsements derived therefrom, and games that will engage players not just at launch but throughout the year. WoW does not really fit into any of these strategies.

Those of us who play the game and love it have a very skewed picture of its importance, a bug’s-eye view of the Activision Blizzard world. This game is just not a big factor for its corporate owners.

Hunterness. I keep thinking about this, and I keep having no decent answers, so here’s just a thought dump. My question is, what are the essential elements that define the hunter class? What are the things that if they were removed would cause me to no longer think my hunter occupied a unique class niche? Some things I have thought of in the past include:

  • Hunter’s Mark
  • Pets (real pets, not foo-foo “battle” pets and not the pseudo-pets that frost mages and locks have)
  • Ranged damage that is physical rather than cast
  • Bows and guns
  • Focus as the power mechanism
  • Traps
  • Extreme mobility

Obviously, some of these things no longer apply, or only partially apply. I still really miss Hunter’s Mark, a casualty caused by PvP constant whining about it. But I found it useful in a lot of situations. One of my guildies mentioned the other day that he misses it, too, even though he is not a hunter, because he used to use it as a target marker in fights where there was a lot of target switching. He thought, well if the hunter is targeting that, it must be the one I should be targeting, too. (Maybe misplaced trust, but kind of nice to hear all the same.)

Pets have become much more homogenized, such that pet selection now depends only on what raid buff you need to supply and what  your preferred “look” is. Not to mention it is possible now to play a hunter without a pet. I don’t, because I still think of a pet as integral to hunters no matter what the DPS trade-off is, but I understand why other hunters might like this style.

I love that we are physical damage dealers — kind of “ranged melee”! It means whenever you have a boss that you have to stop casting because of some mechanism, hunters pretty much get to keep blasting away.

Use of bows and guns used to not be unique for hunters, a couple other classes could use them, so that is a relatively new development. But I have come to think of this uniqueness as important to hunters.

I like focus as a power mechanism, but hunters used to have mana. I did not mind mana, but focus seems much easier to manage and plan for now — I like that your shot selection is what determines your focus store, not some external potion.

Traps are not really unique, in that other classes can put down visual damage or slowing mechanisms, they just don’t call them traps. I liked it when we had a real choice for traps. I kind of miss the old snake trap — towards the end it really was useless, but there was something very satisfying about the visual when you were unleashing everything you could on a boss. “Take that, Buttbrain, oh and while I’m at it have a big ol’ bucket o’ snakes!”

Like I said, I have no answer to my question, but I think it centers around mobility. To me, you are just not a hunter if you can’t keep up a steady stream of damage while jumping and running around like a crazy bug. That is why I get nervous every time there is a spate of whines about it being “no fair” that hunters can keep up damage on the move but casters can’t.  I especially get nervous when PvP-ers crank up their whining about it, because, well, Hunter’s Mark. I also get nervous whenever Blizz introduces any kind of stand-still mechanism to hunter rotations, because I think it could be a slippery slope to making hunters just physical-damage-dealing mages.

Well, there are a couple more items in the draft closet, but I have gone on long enough for one post. I will save the other items for later.