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Adopt-A-Hunter Interview: Enriching Monster Hunter: World's Community
February 7, 2018
Nicholas Ransbottom
An interview with Adopt-A-Hunter's Woulfe Condra
Conducted by Nicholas Ransbottom

For a lot of players, there's no better word to sum up the Monster Hunter series than "intimidating." It's a franchise that's earned a reputation of being difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. Still, Monster Hunter fans are insistent that the games deserve a fair shot by everyone, even if getting into an entry can seem too daunting to even warrant an attempt. While Monster Hunter: World does away with a lot of the obtuse mechanics from previous titles and creates a more streamlined experience, it's still a game that demands that you be patient and learn its systems.

In order to make players' time with World a little easier, Monster Hunter fan Woulfe Condra co-created a community designed to assist those who feel they need a little guidance. Adopt-A-Hunter acts as a one-on-one tutoring program that pairs Monster Hunter novices (any player who needs help understanding the basic or more subtle mechanics of the game) with series veterans (any player who feels they're knowledgable enough with the mechanics to help teach others). With World gaining traction from fans and newcomers alike, we spoke with Mr. Condra about the program, his personal tips for Monster Hunter, and more.

Monster Hunter: World Screenshot
What inspired you to create Adopt-A-Hunter?

Funny you should ask; the original idea actually wasn't mine. It belonged to a fellow on Reddit that goes by the handle SloppyBulldozer. He made a post asking if anybody would be interested in a program where Veterans could mentor Greenhorns/Newbies and I signed up day one. However, after a few days of inactivity, I reached out to him to ask if he'd like help setting things up since I have a professional background in events management, tournament organization, and just general "people management skills," and he immediately agreed. Then, after I had set up all of the official accounts (Reddit, Twitter, Discord Server) some personal issues arose in Sloppy's life and he stepped away from the program.

Despite having done all of the initial groundwork myself (and with the technical help of our systems admin and general tech wizard Rumblemuffin), the original idea credit belongs to Sloppy. I just took his idea and ran with it.

That original post can be found here.

As of now, do you get more applications for veterans or for novices?

Absolutely Veterans. It will always be Veterans. I've said it probably close to 1,000 times by now but most people who get frustrated with the game's difficulty curve are not going to go out of their way looking for a website, Monster Hunter subreddit, Discord server, Facebook group, or tweets to help them get better or understand what's going wrong. We have to rely on word of mouth and official support to get the word out to those who would best benefit from the AAH program.

Do you know roughly how many active members you have?

~5,000 give or take.

A lot of players view Monster Hunter as a very social experience, and your community showcases that aspect of the series. Why do you think these games bring people together?

If you think of each monster or hunt as a puzzle, then playing with friends means you get to (sometimes literally) tackle that puzzle together. There are also the incredibly "HOLY SH%&*" moments when somebody does something awesome, and if you're right there hunting with your buddy when it happens that's an incredible feeling for both of you!

If you think of each monster or hunt as a puzzle, then playing with friends means you get to (sometimes literally) tackle that puzzle together.
I personally love hunting a monster for something that I don't even need but my friends do, because helping them out makes me feel like I'm doing something good. I'm enabling my friends' happiness in a way.

There's a fun fact about social psychology that when somebody does a favor for you, it creates a sense of value in your relationship. If you're worth doing something for (the aforementioned favor) then your value as a person must be recognizable as a net positive.

So in a way, helping my friends makes me like them even more, haha.

Along with discouraging the act of "gatekeeping," you stress in your code of conduct that Adopt-A-Hunter is a program that encourages inclusivity and tolerance. Is it difficult to maintain this intended level of mutual respect amongst players, or do you find that those who sign up follow the rules pretty well?

I would hate to Jinx myself, as any community has its fair share of trolls and ne'er-do-wells, but as of now our ban list is less than 1% of our total active population. The Monster Hunter Community as a whole is largely self-policing; most people are eager to help out and take part in what is largely a positive community experience.

It's probably the easiest community to moderate and manage out of any that I've been a part of.

Can you explain the process of pairing applicants together?

I'll do my best. Ever since we blew up, so to speak, I haven't been able to do as much hands-on pairing as I might have originally intended. My role has become much more managerial, supervisory, and public relations-y, but I still like to roll up my sleeves and dive in to help as often as I can.

Basically, you can think of us as a pseudo-monster-hunter-dating service. We take criteria provided to us in the signup sheets and then do our best trying to fit the round peg into a round hole.

Basically, you can think of us as a pseudo-monster-hunter-dating service.
Each match is done by hand, with Novices being our top priority; this community is for them, after all.

What this means is that we look at an unmatched Novice's data, then pore over our Veteran submissions looking for the closest match in terms of Platform > Timezone/Region > Language(s) Spoken > Special Considerations > General Playtime > Weapons.

Monster Hunter: World Screenshot
What kind of feedback have you gotten from Monster Hunter fans in regards to the program? Are people taking to the concept?

I try to read as much feedback on the program as possible, and happily enough it has been mostly positive. We've had some criticisms here and there and made modifications where we thought it would fit best for everybody as a whole, but all in all we have a pretty malleable curriculum with a pretty clear end goal.

Most of the feedback I've received has been resounding general thank yous, appreciation for creating such a positive and inclusivity-focused online gaming community, or thanks for helping people to make new friends. Which all feels pretty good, to be honest.

How do you feel about some of the new gameplay mechanics World introduced, such as the Slinger and Scoutflies?

In a (scatter)nutshell, I love it. Maybe the honeymoon phase will wear off eventually, but as of right now I thoroughly enjoy pretty much all of the QoL changes that Capcom has made to help smooth out that initial learning curve and relieve some of the tedium from playing the game.

The slinger is a really interesting tool that eliminates a lot of frustration from having to throw items and allows for awesome mobility.

The scoutflies, when not drunk, are a great way to learn the new map without wandering lost for ages. I also really enjoy tracking the monsters rather than just memorizing their locations and running around until I run into them.

What do you think about the tweaks made to classic mechanics, like the new armor system and the ability to use items while moving?

The new armor system is really interesting, and I think it's overall a huge improvement over the wall of information required to understand the old one. I can't even begin to express the number of times I'd hit upper high-rank hunts and run into hunters online with +7 in one skill, +4 in another, and just a general lack of understanding why their skills weren't "working."

Monster Hunter: World is the most accessible that this franchise has ever been, and to me it's loads and loads of fun
Using items while moving does lower the skill floor a fair bit, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it "casualizes" a core aspect of the game, but when a game mechanic is obtuse for the sake of being obtuse, or difficult for the sake of being difficult, I think there is definitely room for improvement.

I'm not a professional game designer, so take my opinion with a healthy dose of salt, but if moving while using items enables Capcom to make the monsters feel more alive (by having them react and allowing the player to then react to that reaction), then I'm all for it. Especially if it brings in new players who don't hate that you have to flex every time you take a sip of your potion.

Monster Hunter: World Screenshot
Do you like that that Capcom took better care in crafting a narrative this time around, or do you prefer the more barebones approach of previous entries?

The story is deliciously campy, and other than the voiceover, it is largely the same as other entries in the franchise in my opinion. Big bad monster is doing a big bad thing, and you have to find out why and then stop it — but wait there's more!

I'm also not finished with the story as of yet, so things could change.

What are your top three favorite monsters?

Check out my Twitter Profile picture and you should get your answer.

Rathalos, Rathian, and Brachydios. If you count the two raths as one, then it would be Raths, Brachydios, and Nibelsnarf (because he's adorable and I really enjoy the gimmick of his fight).

What's your preferred weapon type?

Hammer.

I've been a hammer main since the original Monster Hunter. I swore up and down that I was going to use something else in World, but within three hunts I was at the smithy crafting a new iron hammer.

I'm devastated that my all-time favorite hammer, the Imperial Gunhammer, didn't make it into World (yet).

After hammer, I'm a pretty big fan of Gunlance.

I tend to play "tanks" or other frontline fighters in most RPGs (tabletop or otherwise) and the shield is my favorite fantasy "weapon," so the shotgun-on-a-stick-with-a-big-fat-shield was an instant draw to me.

World, however, has also caused me to fall in love with the traditional Lance; that counter is so satisfying! Being able to jump in front of a teammate and soak a fireball or a swipe with my shield so that they don't cart is super satisfying.

I have also done a fair bit of dabbling with Switch Axe for efficiency kills, and I will eventually be making a "Cleric" set for Sword and Shield which I've dubbed "SoSnS;" the primary goal is to join hunters with their SOS flare out and help by providing AoE heals and buffs via wide-range and other support skills (while still hitting the monster, of course!).

Monster Hunter: World Screenshot
If you had to pick one essential tip for newcomers playing World, what would it be?

Take your time.

In more than one sense... there's no need to rush through all of the content. Enjoy the experience, explore the world, don't feel like you have to reach "endgame" to truly experience the game... the entire game is playing the game!

And as a new hunter, take as much time as you need during a hunt to down the monster. You don't need to be a master speedrunner on day one, week one, or even month one. If it takes you 49 minutes and 59 seconds to down the monster, so what; you still downed the monster! And that's better than trying to rush them down and failing the quest four times in 40 minutes.

Remember to have fun while you play, and don't let somebody else tell you that their brand of fun is in any way better than yours.
You usually have 50 minutes to hunt. And I do mean hunt. It's Monster Hunter not Monster Killer. Observe your prey, learn their habits and patterns, use tools such as traps, drugged meats, or bombs, and exploit their openings. Speed comes with experience.

Sorry, I actually need to give two essential tips. I can't follow the rules.

Have fun.

So long as it is not at the expense of others, you are playing a game, which is meant to provide enjoyment — even if that enjoyment is sometimes gated behind a few hours of frustration as you learn to get over a wall.

Remember to have fun while you play, and don't let somebody else tell you that their brand of fun is in any way better than yours.

In your opinion, does World succeed with being the most accessible entry in the series?

110%. Far and away. Without a doubt. Absolutely. To say otherwise is blasphemy. Yes.

What would you like to see in the next Monster Hunter game?

I don't even want to think about that right now! I'm not even close to done with the content that World has to offer, and I hope that Capcom will support MHW over a long life cycle with content updates and feature additions (yes, even if I have to pay for them here and there).

Feature requests that I would love to see (other than more monsters and weapons) are G Rank and the eventual return of underwater combat — I loved the concept of it and even enjoyed hunting underwater with certain weapons when playing on the Wii U with its twin-stick controls.

Monster Hunter: World Screenshot
Is there anything you'd like to say to our readers who may be on the fence about trying World?

It really depends on why you're on the fence.

I will admit my bias in saying that I wish everybody could buy and enjoy Monster Hunter, but not every game is for every person and no game is perfect. There are plenty of people out there that will have completely valid reasons to not like MonHun. However, if you're only hesitant because you think it might be too tough, too niche, or just a boss-fight simulator then I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a shot.

Monster Hunter: World is the most accessible that this franchise has ever been, and to me it's loads and loads of fun. If you're looking for a game where you can swing a giant sword at a freaking dragon and really feel the weight of it when it connects with your enemy, then carve that enemy up and wear his skin as armor and weaponry, and you can do that with up to 3 friends at a time, what game does it better? (Hint: The answer is none.)

In Closing...

We at RPGFan would like to thank Mr. Condra for his time. Official information about Adopt-A-Hunter can be found on its website.



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