Through new eyes.

I was thinking, as I occasionally do, about my favorite game.

In particular I was thinking about my most recent experience with starting a shiny new Hunter.

While I have a reasonable clue what I am doing with the class I tried to look at it through the eyes of a new player. You know, the ones that Blizzard loses 30% of before they ever make it to level ten?

Lets imagine a new player.  I shall call him Timmy, mostly because I watched South Park last night.  He is shiny and new to the MMO scene, and to Warcraft in particular.

Now Timmy has done his homework. He wants to play, actually he has been looking forward to it for years. Timmy’s parents promised him he could start playing once he was a teenager.

In fact, we will say that he got the game for his 13th birthday.

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Timmy has been following the game for a while. He has read many blogs, he has spent hours poring over YouTube videos of world first kills, boss strategies, and PvP action. He has researched classes and specs and such.

He has decided that for a first character he wants something that will be fairly self sufficient and relatively easy to level. Something that solo’s well, can still do dungeons, and can run battlegrounds as well. Relying on the power of the internet he has decided to level a Hunter and spec it Beastmastery.

This puts Timmy in the same shoes I was in a few days ago when I first rolled my shiny new Dwarven Hunter. The difference is I knew what to expect at low levels.

Timmy has spent the last few months watching epic encounters and reading up on all the latest end game stuff. He knows what to expect right?

Saving the world from the evils of the Lich King, slaying dragons, charging into battle with a bunch of friends at his back. Even when he is by himself he will never be alone. He will always have his pet, the mighty bear he has already decided to name Ursa.

How much of a disappointment it would have been to log in had I been truly new.

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I would have been friendless and alone.

Stone broke.

Dressed in rags that people in those videos would not even use to blow their nose.

But wait! There in front of me is a quest giver! Surely he will have a mission for me. Oh, wait he wants me to go kill wolves and bring back some of their meat.

Um, ok.

I guess that’s important to the story line somehow.

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Now Timmy learns to fight the way the game intends for him to.

He takes careful aim at the nearest wolf, shoots it a time or two as it runs towards him, and then beats it with his axe until it dies.

It works, he must be doing something right.

Following from one quest to another he uses the same tactics. All along wondering when he is going to find the bear that will be Ursa. A bit more research shows that it will happen at about level 10.

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Timmy really wants his pet, so he has himself a goal. He will make level ten and go get his bear.

Along the way he does the same thing he always did, shoot a time or two and then finish with the axe.

While he is doing this he sees a celebration going on. People are running to and fro through the town of Dun Mourogh on rams apparently throwing beer at one another. It looks kinda interesting, but he just wants to be level ten already.

While he is running errands for the quest givers he sees what he wants to be come riding up beside him. A mighty Dwarven Hunter in a full set of matching armor, a great grey wolf at his side.

Timmy finishes off the boar he was killing, looking for boar meat that apparently not every boar was made out of. After the final swing of the axe he turns to the newcomer to say hello.

The response?

The Hunter points and laughs saying “Go go melee huntard! L2Play noob!”

Confused and insulted he goes back to slaughtering the local wildlife the only way the game ever taught him to. With gun and axe.

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Hours later in a flash of golden light he was now level ten. Time to visit the trainer and learn to tame his pet.

An hour and two corpse runs later he finally turns in the third quest and is rewarded with the ability to tame a pet of his very own.

He promptly runs outside town, tames the first bear he sees, and names it Ursa. Now he won’t be alone, all will be right in the world (of warcraft).

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His new found friend in tow he goes forth to go root out a particularly nasty infestation of Troggs. Apparently they have offended someone by living in a local cave and need to be slaughtered.

Timmy finds that as soon as he fires his first shot Ursa goes and attacks the one he shot at. They are a team, working together. It’s starting to get fun.

The Troogs seem to just keep coming. Every time he finishes one off the next one starts in. With no time to feed Ursa in between fights and no way to heal her while she is fighting they are quickly overwhelmed.

Running back to his body like he has many times before he finds that there are Troggs everywhere around him. He manages to rez but dies before he can bring back Ursa.

Running back again he simply tries to run away, to get into the clear so he can eat and drink. He dies three more times doing before finally giving up in disgust and going to play on the X-Box.

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Grats Blizz, you just lost another one.

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What’s the whole point of this you ask?

I simply wanted to make the point that learning this game from scratch is not the most intuitive thing in the world. The design of the game, particularly from a hunters standpoint, actually encourages poor play style choices from the very beginning.

One thing I would love to see in Cataclysm is a drastic reduction in the level required to do the taming beasts questline for Hunters. Perhaps incorporate it at around level three or so.

After all, Warlocks get their first minion at level one. They are also far better petless than a Hunter is as they have no minimum range.

As of right now unless you somehow already know how to kite the first ten levels of a Hunters life they are pretty much Warriors with worse armor.

How’s about it Blizz?

Can we get a pet for Timmy before he you train him to be yet another melee Hunter?