Blizzard is asking for feedback on class balance in the Mists of Pandaria Beta. This article continues our coverage of hunter-related discussions in the thread. For previous hunter-related posts by Ghostcrawler see Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.
Magdalena, a death knight, wrote, “Ghost, this is another question I’ve been meaning to ask: Will you continue to work on the Pet/Minion AI? Despite improvements over the years, it really leaves much to be desired. I’ll provide some examples from a Death Knight perspective, but I’d welcome any input from classes or specs that have had a similar experience. [...]” [link]
Ghostcrawler replied, “AI is a really tricky thing to design, because what players really want (usually) is for the pet to read their mind and do the appropriate thing. :) Since science hasn’t made computers with great decision-making ability in general yet, you’re certainly not going to find it in a game. I hate to drag this out as an excuse, because it sort of shuts down the conversation, but I’ve been doing game design long enough to know that AI is never just as easy as ‘Well, it should just do this and this and then it will be perfect.’”
Instead, we try to err on the side of very simple behavior so at the very least it’s predictable. Your pet or guardian may be stupid, but at least it will be consistently stupid instead of trying to say pick the right target and always picking the wrong target.
That said, if you can describe specific situations where you think a pet or guardian are doing the wrong thing, please let us know. (The bug thread would be a better location for that feedback than this one.)
As an aside, several of the situations you describe are encounters were the peculiarities of the fight make a pet less optimal than on others. We are totally fine with that — it’s along the same lines as not every single boss is going to be backstab-able. We don’t want every spec to do identical DPS on every fight. We think that would be boring. If pet classes did sub-standard DPS on a whole lot of fights, then we think it would be a problem.
Askledarea, a shaman, asked, “Is it worth us double checking pet scaling now (specifically FE & PFE as it appears that Primal Elementalist has some scaling issues as Elemental gears up)?” [link]
Ghostcrawler replied, “I would wait about two builds to be honest. We appreciate players going through the effort for stuff like this and don’t want to waste your time.” [link]
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In response to previous discussion regarding hit and expertise inherited by pets, Strawberry, a mage, wrote, “Casters (and caster pets) need 15% hit, melee/hunters/melee pets need 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise. Expertise grants spell hit to classes (and presumably pets) that use spells.”
Long story short, if you’re hit/expertise capped as appropriate to your class, your pets will be too. If they didn’t split it like that, then warlock melee pets would have twice as much hit as what they need, and no expertise.
Ghostcrawler replied, “Yeah, Strawberry has the right of it. If you cap, your pet should be capped. My apologies, as that seemed to cause some confusion. Another way to write it would be:
Pet Hit = 50% of Master Hit + 50% of Master Exp
Pet Exp = 50% of Master Hit + 50% of Master Exp
Ghostcrawler further clarified, “They get 50% of your Hit added to their Hit, and 50% of your Exp added to their Hit. Same for Exp. That means that Hit and Exp are effectively combined into one communal pool for pets. That will make them hit capped if you’re hit capped. Don’t forget that Expertise grants spell hit now.” [link]
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Tanathalas, a hunter, asked, “[...] the main theorycraft question I have is in regards to stampede mechanics and intent as it relates to the extra pet’s abilities. Obviously there are two styles of abilities of note that I would love to see addressed, those are the party buffs and the target debuffs.”
Let’s say that somehow either because I am soloing or due to interesting party composition my group does not have the 5% crit buff being provided. If I stampede and this pulls my wolf out, will he roar and give us 60 seconds of his crit buff, crit buff only lasting while he’s out or no crit buff at all? [...]
Ghostcrawler replied, “The pets will indeed use their special abilities, using whatever autocast settings they had last. The buffs/debuffs they apply will persist as long as they normally would.
Based on feedback, we are going to try an implementation of Stampede where the pets have more uptime (some combo of lower duration and shorter cooldown) but are weaker than they would be individually.” [link]