Improving the Pet Grind

July 18, 2007 at 10:03 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I have a break from upgrading the office PCs so everything runs slower, so I thought I’d devote some time to thinking about how to improve the pet grind issue. The first question I realized is: Is it really an issue?

There are currently 15 of the 23 pet families have at least one mob that begins at level 66 or higher and ravager will be there at 2.2. The ones left out are bear, boar, carrion bird, crab, gorilla, hyena, and turtle. Of those 7, the boar and carrion bird families are really the only 2 that I think there’s a gameplay reason to go back and tame. Both are well-rounded pets that can hold agro very well. Boars are additionally good for PvP.

I have to acknowledge that my own leveling experience was basically for sentimental reasons. When put to the test, I can’t think of a reason for me to stable my raptor in favor of my crab. Why should Blizzard devote man-hours to helping me get my pet from worthless at 62 to sub-par at 70?

I think this really goes to the tried and true if it aint broke dont fix it. If they were to go back and make all the pet families worthwhile, they would then be responsible to keep them that way through the lifespan of the game. Adding new families in the next expansion(s) would just grow the problem. Would I love to see forgotten pet families improved? HECK YA! But to do so, I really think the pet system needs to be re-evaluated.

Granted, it’s really hard to know the consequences of a given ability, but Blizzard seems to respond by bringing everything back to a bland playing field. For instance: Lupos. This was a wolf in duskwood that when tamed dealt shadow damage. That’s right it ignored armor. Was it over powered? Well on a medium DPS pet, yes. But what if they had instead given that ‘bug’ to a low dps pet or just plain lowered the DPS? OP now? Not really, but still very useful in certain situations. The type of pet you may want to level up for that one encounter where he really shines.

Example 2: Spire Spiderling. Was the original fast attack speed pet at 1.2 seconds. (For some reason the cat loving devs decided to give some cats 1s attack speeds later, because cats weren’t favored enough evidently.) Same DPS keep in mind. They just did less damage more often. The only real advantage was that in PvP caster’s hated them, and with good reason. I really was shocked when the 2s was normalized. With the reduction in Kill Command damage for fast Attack pets, the imbalance of caster interruption seemed to be offset. But I guess you can’t have all those kitty fans complaining about their loss of DPS (and superiority). With Cobra Reflexes, any pet can now have some advantage, but since everyone takes it, it really added no variety.

And last, pursuit speed. For those in love with Dash/Dive, it used to be that certain pets just inherently had faster movement speed. I believe the first was Takk the Leaper followed, of course, by several cats. The PvP advantages are obvious and it also decreased grinding time/annoyance slightly. This was replaced by the previously mentioned Dash/Dive.

I guess my point here is that we know they can make pets with specialized abilities, but choose not to. Why? I can only think of two reasons: new players and stable slots. I guess it was too complicated to talk about advantages to pets for new players. They seem to want to let a new player ask what’s best, get an answer, and be happy the rest of his WoW life. And according to some blue post, Stable Slots are evidently very memory intensive. Having more than two pets stabled would bring their poor, sub par servers to their knees forcing the SysAdmins to step out of the money vats that employees swim in and kick the motherboards until they function again.

Unless the pets in question were all cats of course.

Was that going too far? I suppose so… my apologies.

It seems that Bliz is only interested in giving us one good pet instead of several excellent, but situational pets. To the horror of many, including myself, I actually think they should get rid of stables slots. …I can’t believe I just said that… This eliminates the false impression that different pet’s have different utility, and would force the dev’s to make all families equal. It also reinforces the pet as a companion, which seems to be a class goal.

Wow. That really didn’t go where I thought it would. I was going to talk about how leveling a pet gave it a sense of a character and attachment. Truly, feeling like another character in the world. And that my basic solution would be to give pets rested exp like the hunter becoming permanent at level 70. Instead somehow convinced myself that to improve pets we need to eliminate the stable.

Anyway.

In conclusion, there really is a simple solution. Put a level 70 boar in Old Hillsbrad, and some 70 carrion birds in Black Morass.

PS: If you couldn’t tell from the above, I’m not a big fan of cats.  Neither in real life or WoW.

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