Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thoughts On WoWville and Wild Pets

After going through many walls of text, I think I've managed to sift out all the pet-related information that was revealed during the MoP Press Tour.

I must admit that I'm a bit disappointed that most of what was covered was already known information and there wasn't a lot of new reveals, but at the same time it makes me even more excited and eager for the beta so we can discover new stuff on our own. The things that were disclosed only opens up more questions and concerns for pet collectors, so c'mon beta! Let's settle some of these unknowns already. :P

Anyway, onto my thoughts on the new information that was unveiled during the Press Tour.

Farmville in WoW - "Growing" mini-pets
It was announced that developers are adding what people have called a WoW Farmville (Wowville lol). You'll be given a farm after earning a certain amount of reputation with a new Tiller faction in The Valley of the Four Winds, and on this farm you can grow herb nodes, mats for professions, and possibly grow/raise companions. (Note: While there are some sources that imply that you will be able to grow your own mini-pets for sure, there are other sources that say that developers are only considering it at this stage of development and that it's not a confirmed feature yet.)

This is an interesting new idea; raising your own vanity pets. There are already many quests where players are given NPC-pets to "help" or "grow", so I don't think raising a companion on a farm is too far fetched. I do have some questions and concerns about a feature such as this, though.
- What type of pets can be raised?

- Will farm-raised pets be strictly new pets or will players get a chance to raise old(er) pets?

- What about limited edition pets? Will players be allowed to raise them as well?

- Will farm-raised pets be BoP or BoU?
The type of pet that players can grow on their farms is actually pretty significant. To maintain a sense of realism, Blizzard will need to put some limitations on what can be raised and what can't.

For example, it's obvious the Westfall Chicken would have no problem fitting into a farm environment, but if players were allowed to raise say... the Alliance Balloon, the sense of immersion would be tainted a bit. Having even a Core Hound Pup on a traditional farm would be somewhat of a stretch as well. So where will Blizzard draw the line (if any at all)?

When it was mentioned that players might be able to "grow" mini-pets, I got the impression that it would be plant-like companions only. "Growing" just doesn't seem like the right way to describe bringing up an animal. Unless... they're like Cabbage Patch Kids and the pets will pop out of vegetables lol? Could it be that farm-grown pets will be limited to plant-like companions only?

Another thing that comes up when we talk about raising our own mini-pets is whether or not we will have the chance to grow old(er) pets or will they all be strictly new ones? Many players would love the chance at some of the companions that are no longer available, even if that means they have to jump through hoops to raise the pets themselves. But as I've mentioned before, this would contradict Blizzard's model of "keeping things rare", and some players might feel that it diminishes their accomplishment of owning a "rare" companion. Speaking of rare, what of the limited edition pets? Would players be allowed to raise them too?

Lastly, will farm-raised pets be Bind on Pick Up or Bind on Use? Then again, if trading and AH'ing pets is still a feature that will be coming in MoP, I suppose it may not matter that much if a pet you grew on your farm is BoP or BoU. I'm not sure what it will mean for the market if farm-raised pets are BoU, though.

Like I mentioned before, "growing" our own pets wasn't exactly a confirmed feature. It was only lightly touched on during the Press Tour, so until a blue makes an official statement, or we get to experience it firsthand in the beta, it shouldn't be considered a for sure thing.

Wild Pets
I'm pretty excited about wild pets and collecting them all, but again, I have my concerns. On paper, it sounds like a good idea but depending on how it's implemented, it could turn out to be a huge headache not only for pet collectors but developers as well.
- 100 wild pets to collect; will they be new, old(er), or both? What about limited edition pets?

- How will collecting a wild pet work?
So the big question on everyone's mind is will the revealed 100 wild pets be entirely NEW companions or old(er) ones or even possibly a mix of new and old pets? While I'd LOVE 100 new pets, I just don't see developers having the time or resources to create so many new models and animations (unless they simply take one model and recolor/reskin it multiple times).

My best guess is that it will be a mix of old and new pets that we'll be able to find and collect. This leads me to the next question of whether or not these old wild pets will include limited edition/"rare" companions that are currently not available anymore. There are pros and cons for either way.

The largest concern for me about the wild pets is the "how". I have many questions about collecting a wild pet. Based on the information provided so far, players will have to use a pet in their collection to combat a wild mini-pet to "wear it down" before being able to collect it.

Will there be a level restriction on which pets can combat a wild pet? For example, will a level 3 companion be able to fight a level 6 wild pet (and have an actual chance of winning)? Or will a level 3 pet only be able to go against a wild pet of the same level?

What will happen if you fail combat with the wild pet? Will it despawn or can you simply pull out a different pet and try again?

It was also mentioned that when going into mini-pet combat mode players would "zoom into" a unique combat UI and upon finishing the fight they would return to a normal gameplay camera view. Since there wasn't a lot of detail revealed about this camera view switching, I can only hope that this means your character and pet will be transferred into a special combat zone or make your toon unattackable. If not, then wouldn't entering pet-combat leave players vulnerable to world PVP and possible griefing?

Or on the other hand, will players be able to exploit this unique UI view to avoid dying in PVP (if going into pet combat mode makes you invulnerable to PVP damage)? One way to prevent this is to make "pet combat mode" unavailable if you're already in combat with another player or mob. This will prevent players from switching back and forth. Then again, players on PVP realms could use this to keep someone of the opposite faction in combat to prevent them from attempting to collect a wild pet. I can imagine pack scenarios where its only possible to collect a wild pet if you have a party of friends helping you (which would be frustrating and annoying).

Will collecting wild pets involve heavy competition or will it be more of an individual encounter? Unlike archaeology, I really can't see a wild pet being available for every single player that comes by its spawn point, so I'm banking on wild pets being like rarespawns where it will be first come first serve. This bothers me a bit, coming from a PVP server, but I really can't see any way around it.

I don't mind some competition for a wild pet; it's the same with rarespawns. What I DO mind are the players that grief others purely for the sake of preventing them from accomplishing their goals. I've found that PVP realms are more susceptible to this type of behavior than PVE servers.

Hopefully developers have some ingenious plan on implementing how wild pets will be collected that will satisfy both PVP and PVE servers and cut down on any possible interference from other players who's only goal is to grief others.

There are so many new questions and concerns popping up, and each one seems to lead to another one. I'm hoping that the beta will answer a lot of them. I guess that means more waiting for pet collectors, but I'd like to think that we're a patient bunch. :)

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