Choice vs Diversity

February 20, 2008 at 11:37 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Kinless left a great comment on my Raptor vs. Crab post critiquing my idea of normalizing pets. Go read it.

As a player, I’d love to see more diversity in pets. I really think bliz has dropped the ball in their design and I totally agree that they’ve only scratched the surface of what they ~could~ do. The problem is 1) it gets harder and harder to keep families diverse as more are added, 2) it gets harder and harder to keep families balanced as the game changes, and 3) all that work is only for a sub-set of players, when they could spend time on changes that affect everyone.

He mentions they should treat pet families the same way they treat classes, which is ideally what we’d all like. However, look at how much time they spend on balancing 9 classes. Now think about trying to do that with 23 (admittedly simpler) classes, all while adding 4-6(?) more every year or so, keeping everyone unique in some way and yet balanced against all the other currently existing. There’s just no way.

I don’t think normalizing pets and using spec trees (if done right) will lead to ‘one right spec’ anymore than current talent trees do, and it’s certainly no worse that our current take a cat, ravager, or raptor situation. Sure there are some must-have talents, but that depends on what you’re doing, and how you’re playing. Even then, it takes the pressure off the Devs to balance everything, and puts it on the players. What’s better: crit or hit? Dunno, give em both and let the players choose.

Choice.

That’s what this is all about. We’ve had diversity. My crab vs raptor vs sporebat. Diversity! But, from a min/max stand point, there is no choice there. Raptors are clearly better. Choosing one of the other 2 means I’m losing out for the sake of aesthetics. On the other hand to get what I want, I may have to take something I really dislike. Personally, I couldn’t bring myself to tame a bat or a cat even when they were clearly superior with low attack speed. Diversity sux.

Now instead, normalize them so they all start with the same stats, but give the player the option between high DPS, high armor, or well-rounded AND give them the option to teach any of the 3 pet claw and/or dash. BOOM, headshot! Choice. _I_ get to choose how to play the game, instead of some freaking lets-give-all-the-new-abilities-to-cats-and-give-them-the-fastest-attack-speed-loving dev.

By normalizing, player choice becomes king rather than developer imposed diversity. I can choose any pet, and mold it anyway I want. I never have to worry about choosing the wrong pet, I can take whatever I want. I don’t have to worry about missing out on a pet ability, because I have access to them all.

It also makes things simpler for the devs. Is 13% armor too low? Boost it. Everyone benefits. Is +7% damage too high? Drop it once, rather than on every pet. And they’ll also never hear the complaint “OMG I cant believe you nerfed boars charge after I just leveled one up from 50!”

Diversity would still be superior, if Bliz could actually implement it AND maintain it. Honestly, that just takes too much work for too little pay-off.

Diversity is dead. Long live Choice.

Let the devs know what you think here.

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2 Comments

  1. Colleen Talisman said,

    Let’s see…maybe $14 per month average subscription, times 12 is $168 per subscriber per year…times 10 million subscribers…$1680 million dollars per year…hmmm, they don’t have the resources to work on hunter pet families?

    Oh my, poor, poor Blizzard.

  2. Mania’s Arcania » Pet Normalization: The Middle Way (Part I) said,

    […] words, it makes you feel good for having chosen a special pet. (Both Znodis and I find this to be a false sense of choice, […]

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