Monday, February 29, 2016

Epic Pets Not Coming In Legion

Developers have listened to our feedback and we now have an official response.
Hi everyone!

First and foremost, thank you very much for testing pet battles in the Legion Alpha. We’ve heard your concerns and have decided not to move forward with epic pet battle stones in Legion.

To explain a bit about how we arrived at this point--

When designing rewards for the new battle pet features in Legion and the revamped pet store in Dalaran, we considered epic stones a potential direction to go. Some players are nearing the cap of max-level, all-rare pet teams, and we wanted to see if this space would satisfy their needs for a long-term future level of investment.

You have correctly identified a few of the issues that come up with this feature:
New players now have a harder time catching up (though we could mitigate this by speeding up the early leveling process).
Players with 600+ rare pets that felt as if they were nearing completion of their pet journal are back to having 600+ pets to level.
Power Creep – older content is now easier, future content is harder for new players entering pet battles.

One of the things we like about pet battles is that much of the early content stays relevant through all of the expansions. Similarly, the collection aspect of battle pets works well when it’s wider (more pets to collect, more variety in abilities) rather than taller (more levels). Both of these are very good reasons to avoid adding epic pet stones.

This direction also pushes us to create content that tests max-level-pet-battlers in a way that is not purely numbers, but use of abilities, use of specific pets, and memorization of enemy strategies. The Celestial Tournament was a good example of pet battle content that rewarded a varied and filled pet stable. We have some exciting things in mind for future battles versus tamers!

It’s worth noting that this feature was not intended to replace any gameplay content. We’re working on all sorts of pet battle updates that we’d like to make in future patches.

Thanks again for all of your feedback. We really appreciate your great ideas and discussion!
Keep in mind that although epic pets aren't going to be in THIS upcoming expansion (Legion), it's always a possibility in a future expansion. Perhaps the idea needs more time to be reworked and then properly introduced so that it doesn't hugely impact the current status quo. Maybe there will be an even better epic pet system waiting for us in the expansions after Legion. There's always room for ideas, and developers have proved that they do take our feedback into consideration.

While I feel relieved that epic pets won't be included in Legion (in the manner that they were introduced to us on Alpha -- battlestone upgrades), I'm a little sad to see a new Pet Battle feature get scrapped. Just a teeny-bit heh. But my hope is that devs will come up with a better way for us to collect epic pets, if they feel they absolutely must add it to the game.

And in the meantime, I can't wait to see the Pet Battle content in Legion. We've only had just a taste of what's to come.

Anyway, lots of love and appreciation for the Pet Battle community. Being able to have a mature and civil conversation about a topic, regardless of differing opinions, is what allows developers to take our thoughts and concerns seriously.

Lots of love and appreciate for Blizzard Devs too! They don't have to hear us out, yet they do. We may not always have to agree with their decisions, but it's reassuring to know that they do take feedback into consideration and that all voices are heard.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Epic Pet Idea - Epic Pet Slot

Despite my resolution to stop talking about the epic pets (possibly) coming in Legion (because I think a lot of what needed to be said, has been said already), I just can't help but revisit it. Not as a debate or arguments for why epic pets shouldn't be a thing, but as an idea for implementation that's fair, not tedious, and compromises between nearly all styles of play.

Just as a disclaimer, this idea isn't completely original. I didn't come up with the core of it. I don't remember who it was, but someone in the official feedback thread mentioned an idea that I felt was interesting and wanted to build upon.

Upgrading pets - it's a long grind. Whether you're new or old to Pet Battles, upgrading your entire collection to rare takes time. With the possibility of epic pet upgrades, not only would it be another grind, it devalues the previous one.

It's not like epic pets will make upgrading to rare any faster; it's not the same as upgrading your gear, which then makes previous content faster. Epic pets may make trainer battles go a little smoother, but actually upgrading your pets to rare? It's still a slow process as you collect battlestones and charms and continue hunting for rare quality pets. So there goes our grind to rare, long and now obsolete once epic pets are implemented.

Collectors also don't want to contend with having to upgrade hundreds of pets. Nevermind the meaningfulness of the grind to rare quality. The grind to epic quality (assuming the way we will get epic battlestones is through the system in place on Alpha now) will be just as tedious, if not more.

On top of that, if epic pets are going to receive a stat upgrade along with their purple-y name, many collectors and battlers will probably feel it mandatory to upgrade everything. Why handicap yourself by NOT upgrading a pet? What if you one day need that pet as part of a trainer strategy? In PVP, using max level, fully upgraded pets is pretty much a must too.

There are other valid concerns about epic pets that you can read through on the official feedback thread. I won't go into all of them since the whole point of this post has already gone a little sidetracked.

So IF (and I stress the if) we have no choice or say in the matter, and epic pets will be making a debut in Legion, what would be a good way to implement them that doesn't completely turn away a large portion of the collecting/battling community?

Again, not my idea, but I wanted to expand upon it: Epic pet slot.

After completing X achievements, quests, upgrading your entire collection to rare, etc., or what have you, you receive the ability to "epic-fy" upgrade one of your Pet Battle slots in the Pet Journal.

Upon doing so, any RARE quality pet (the pet must first be rare before it can go in the epic slot) placed in that slot will be automatically upgraded to epic with stat boosts and everything. Temporarily. Remove the pet from the slot, and it returns to rare.

This will ensure that the quality cap is still technically rare, keeping our previous efforts meaningful and somewhat avoiding the grind to epic.

It also doesn't negatively impact those who are compelled to have their entire collection a certain way, as much as upgrading every single pet to epic would.

It allows us ONE epic pet to use in PVE, not three. A full team of epic pets would impact battles, as proven by my tests and comparisons between battles using epic pets and using rare pets. Three would mean future trainer and PVE content would need to be even harder to be challenging. Three epic pets is a bit much, so let's compromise: one epic pet would give you less of an advantage, but still gives you the feeling of being a bit stronger than you were previously.

And who knows, there's always the option of allowing us to unlock the other two epic slots in future patches or expansions.

In PVP, the epic pet slot would be turned off. Again, going back to the idea that rare quality is technically still the cap. This gives veteran and newcomers more even footing; everyone would still be focusing on upgrading to rare anyway, since the epic pet slot can only be used by rare quality pets. It's not like someone newer to the scene can go out and capture a wild epic pet, but they CAN go out and catch a rare one. And if they get the right one for PVP, they'll still have a fighting chance.

Don't want the slot to be epic-fied because you want to use a specific strat? The slot could be moved. Let's say slot one was your original choice for epic, but now you want to use a carry pet strat and would prefer your epic be the pet that carries the team. You can move the upgraded pet slot to effect pet #2 in your lineup instead. Or pet #3. This gives us options and doesn't lock us into something we will likely want to change later.

Worried that this won't give us enough fresh content, whether artificial or real? Perhaps gate the epic pet slot behind a long quest chain, or a certain number or specific achievements that only long-time and/or dedicated collectors/battlers would have completed. It also still requires rare pets to use, so those that have yet to upgrade their entire collection and are still in the process of doing so will still be right on track.

TLDR; Epic pet slot idea in detail:

  • A Pet Journal team slot (of your choosing) that automatically upgrades any pet placed in that slot to epic (stat boosts and all).
  • Only rare quality pets can be placed in the epic slot.
  • The upgrade to epic is only temporary and only applies to pets in that slot. Remove the pet from it and it drops back down to rare.
  • One epic slot (to start with?); possibly the other two can be unlocked at a later date.
  • Epic pet slot is turned off in PVP.
  • You can move which slot is epic, giving you options for strats.
  • Epic pet slot acquired after completing a long quest chain, or many achievements, or getting your entire collection to rare, or all of the above. Something that requires determination and dedication to complete.

This idea not only introduces epic pets into our collections, it doesn't drastically disrupt the status quo.

Again, original idea can be credited to someone in the feedback thread. This is just my own detailed version of it.

I realize that this idea may still alienate some collectors/battlers. Not everyone feels the need to upgrade their entire collection to rare quality. The only way around this would be to remove the rare prerequisite for the epic slot. But then any pet would work, meaning any previous effort to upgrade to rare would be devalued.

I don't know what the tech or resource limitations on implementing an idea like this would be, so I can't say how viable this solution is. Maybe it's not feasible at all. Or maybe it will just take some time. Who knows?

This idea, like all others, has its share of issues and problems. But if developers have already decided that epic pets will be a thing, I would prefer this type of system over the current battlestone mechanic.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Legion Pet Battle Changes Ready For Testing On Alpha

Changes in Legion for a few pet abilities were announced a little over 2 weeks ago. Developers requested feedback on the proposed changes, and now those updated abilities are live on Legion Alpha, just waiting to be tested.

Here are the "nerfs" that are currently on Alpha:
  • During its invulnerability round, the active Undead pet will now do -25% damage.
  • Frog Kiss + Sleeping Gas -- Now has a 1-round cooldown.
  • Thunderbolt, Avalanche, Grave Destruction, Carpnado, Arcane Storm, and Psionic Strom -- Base Damage reduced by approximately 15%
  • Thunderbolt -- Will now have a 5-Round cooldown, to match the other abilities with similar damage and effect.
  • Cleave -- Added 1-round cooldown

The last two pet/ability updates haven't gone through, as far as I can tell. Graves' Clobber and Bonestorm remain unchanged (those two slots were supposed to be swapped), and I can't tell if Graves has had an overall stat nerf since Graves is not available and I can't copy over my pet collection onto Alpha.

Everything else appears too be updated, or at least the tooltips have been.

I have yet to test out the abilities themselves to see if they're indeed changed. I don't have many pets on Alpha, and again, the issue being I can't copy over my collection from live. The pets that I do have don't have any of the nerfed abilities so...will take me a little bit before I can try them out for myself.

I'll set aside some time to try them out this week/weekend, but I'm honestly not sure if my feedback is worth much. I can tell you if a move feels good/bad/annoying to use, but outside of that... lol. Need some technical battlers and pet theorycrafters for better feedback! hehe :)

Anyway, if you're on Alpha and have time to test out how the aforementioned abilities play with the changes, please do! And then leave some constructive feedback on the official thread (linked above).

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Comparison Between Epic and Rare Pets In Battles

UPDATE: More testing results for a different battle towards the end of this post.

Since I was curious about how epic pets would impact PVE battles, I did some testing on Alpha and compared it to results on live. Note that this is a VERY small sample size, on ONE encounter.

Beasts of Fable legendary elite
- lvl 24, 1999 hp, 461 power, 293 speed (ALPHA)
- lvl 23, 1919 hp, 442 power, 281 speed (LIVE)
- lvl 25, epic quality (ALPHA)
Mini Thor 1937 hp, 315 power, 227 speed
Warbot 1500 hp, 350 power, 280 speed

- lvl 25, rare quality (LIVE)
Mini Thor 1806 hp, 292 power, 211 speed
Warbot 1400 hp, 325 power, 260 speed
  • Process: 7 battles on both Alpha and Live using the same abilities and strat (Sticky Grenade, Toxic Smoke, Missile, Toxic Smoke, and spam Missile until dead).

Results: The average number of rounds to defeat Greyhoof on Alpha (using epic pets) was roughly 7. The average number of rounds to defeat Greyhoof on Live (using rare pets) was roughly 8.

Other observations: Most battles on Alpha ended with Warbot having ~25% hp or more, and Failsafe was never triggered. On Live, battles usually ended with Warbot having ~25% hp or less, and Failsafe triggered nearly ~50% of the time.

During the majority of battles on Alpha, pets were able to last about 1 round longer than pets on Live.

For more detailed results, see after the break.

Conclusions: While it's still too early to say for sure, and this testing sample size is really tiny, it does appear that epic pets do impact PVE battles somewhat.

One round difference between Alpha and Live may not seem like much, and maybe it isn't. But the gameplay definitely feels slightly different. The fact that my epic Warbot NEVER had to trigger Failsafe, while my rare Warbot did about three out of seven battles says quite a bit.

That shadow of doom and very real possibility that you will lose isn't as oppressive while using epic pets. A legendary pet doesn't seem quite as formidable when your pets are epic, have large health pools and hit almost as hard as the legendaries do.

Am I asking for hit-your-face-against-this-wall type of Pet Battles? No. But part of the fun of a trainer/NPC battle is figuring out how to go about defeating them. Sometimes that involves trial and error and failing. The fear of losing yet determination to overcome the encounter is what makes the battle that much more rewarding when you finally win.

On another note, battles take just a little less time on Alpha. Factor this change into all of the Pet Battles we do (trainers, leveling, dailies, PVP, etc.) and it may add up to a lot of time saved if we had epic pets to battle with.

All of that being said, I would still have to vote no to having epic pets in our collections in Legion. It doesn't seem worth it to me (lots of effort to upgrade to epic for only a relatively small increase in performance), and it removes the satisfaction of fighting and defeating someone stronger than you. The big baddies are no longer as big or bad, because suddenly your pets are purple too and just as ferocious, if not more.

I realize that I'm sort of asking for my cake and wanting to eat it too -- you just can't have a big performance increase while still being David against the Goliath. That is, unless encounter difficulty is raised even higher overall. That could alienate and turn off newer/casual battlers though.

This is just my opinion/impression so far. Things could change and I may change my mind depending on those updates. We'll see.

--------------Greyhoof Detailed Testing Results--------------

Friday, February 19, 2016

Legion Alpha: Epic Pets In Legion...?

Oh boy. New stuff added to Legion Alpha? Yes.

New pet: Zoom, new baby falcosauros model, a new Trainer: Amalia and her team of corgi pets: Foof, Lil' Sizzle, Stumpers (tribute to @gloriaboboria). Plus datamined toys for our companions: Flaming Hoop, Leather Pet Bed, Leather Pet Leash.

But the biggest and most shocking addition is the ability to upgrade your current pets to epic quality with an Immaculate Battlestone.

Currently these new battlestones drop from a new bag sold in Breanni's shop in Dalaran. Each bag costs 200 Pet Charms and drops at least one family-specific epic stone.

The price, I hope, is not final. With over 700 pets in-game and at 200 charms per stone, it would cost over ~140,000 Pet Charms to upgrade all pets to epic. Yikes. Plus with the randomness of the bag, what a headache it will be trying to get that last Humanoid stone but all you get is Undead.

Someone needs to do the math and figure out how many charms a player would have had they continuously done all of the WoD dailies that reward Pet Charms since the beginning of the expansion. Would it even be close to 140,000?

It's not set in stone (hah) yet that these battlestones will get released or that we'll be able to upgrade/collect epic pets. All of this is still undergoing testing and feedback will help developers determine the best course of action. Maybe new content will be in the form of epic pets, maybe it won't. We'll have to wait and see.

That said, I have fairly strong feelings of...well, panic when it comes to the possibility of having to upgrade all of my pets to epic. Be it for stat increase or cosmetic purposes, there's a swell of anxiety that I can't suppress.

Many of the arguments of why epic pets should not be collectible have already been stated in the official feedback thread, and more eloquently than I could ever compose. So I'll just leave it at that.

Honestly, I'm exhausted from thinking/agonizing over this topic and reading through concerns and arguments for and against epic upgrades.

I'm not for the idea, no. But if they add it I will most likely be undergoing the grind because I simply love my companions and want them to be the best that they can be. Will I complain? Probably. Will I enjoy it? It's hard to say for sure, but probably not.

Getting all of my pets to rare was a tough grind but satisfying at the end. Epic pets would devalue that "end" and while it would give me a new goal/task, it wouldn't feel as rewarding simply because it feels tacked on for the sake of tacking it on.

Anyway, developers are keeping an eye on feedback and it's been proven that they do listen/take into consideration our concerns and thoughts. So keep leaving constructive criticism for them. Keep it mature and nontoxic -- it makes it easier to take us seriously when there's a civil conversation happening. Let's maintain our awesome community, even if we may not always agree with one another. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Brightpaw Raises Over $1.7 Million For Charity!

Today Blizzard announced that over $1.7 million was raised for the Make-a-Wish Foundation during Brightpaw's charity sale last December!

It's always heartwarming to hear that we, as a community, helped give back to those in need. Our simple love (and obsession) for pets has translated into something so generous and beautiful.

Kudos to Blizzard as well! I love reading about the efforts they take to give back to the world.

Every year they've released a special store pet, and for a period of time the proceeds from that pet go to a charity of their choice.

  • 2015 - Brightpaw raised over $1.7 million for the Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • 2014 - Argi raised over $1.9 million for the Red Cross Ebola Relief Efforts in Africa
  • 2013 - Alterac Brew Pup raised over $1 million for the Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • 2012 - Cinder Kitten raised over $2.3 million for the American Red Cross Superstorm Sandy relief efforts
  • 2011 - Cenarion Hatchling raised over $1.9 million for the American Red Cross Japan Earthequake and Pacific Tsunami relief efforts
  • 2010 - Moonkin Hatchling raised over $800,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • 2009 - Pandaren Monk raised over $1.1 million for the Make-a-Wish Foundation

Estimated total: $10,700,000. Wow, that's a lot of donations over the years! :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Legion Alpha: Highmountain Pet Battle Bonus Objectives

List of discovered Pet Battle Bonus Objectives in Highmountain. Each one is not always up/available.

Information from alpha, things are subject to change. Will update this list as more world quests are found. If you come across any not listed here, please let me know!

1.) Hungry Icefang (Wildlife Protection Force) - found by Wowhead user Illumina4

  • located on the main path that travels south of Skyhorn (across the ravine/bridge)
  • epic (purple) with "elite" buff
  • joined by 2 random wild pets of varying breed/quaity (no buffs)

2.) Grixis Tinypop (Tiny Poacher, Tiny Animals) - found by @SerrinneWoW

  • located on the main path that goes northeast from Bloodtotem flightpoint
  • 3 epic (purple) pets (no buffs) - Gulp, Egcellent, and Red Wire

3.) Rocko (Rocko Needs a Shave) - found by ‏@tatianasaggio

  • located inside Lifespirng Cavern (cave west of Thunder Totem), next to Gelmogg (hostile quest mob)
  • single legendary (orange) pet
  • only has one ability, Pound
  • has the "crumble" buff

4.) Odrogg (Snail Fight!) - found by @tatianasaggio

  • located inside Stonedark Grotto (entrance to the caves is just off the main path)
  • 3 rare (blue) pets (no buffs) - Rocklick, Slow Moe, and Snot

5.) Bredda Tenderhide (Training with Bredda) - ???

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Legion Alpha: Pet Battle Quests - Bonus Objectives?

Not a lot of Pet Battle updates has hit Legion Alpha, so there hasn't been much to pet related stuff to test. Yet.

For those eager to check out something (anything!) like me, here are some Pet Battle quests from the Alpha. Keep in mind some might be works in progress, placeholders, and/or NYI. These might just be the tip of the iceberg too, and more could be on the way. At least, we can only hope. :P

From the list, you'll see that there are 7 daily quests (account-wide) and one weekly (also account-wide). All of these award x4 Pet Charms each.

It's probably safe to assume that the daily quests will be trainer battles. Perhaps one per Legion zone? Can't say for sure yet; the trainer icons haven't been added to the in-game map on Alpha yet.

As for the weekly quest... I'm wagering that it will be similar to the current weekly Pet Battle quest, Battle Pet Tamers: Warlords. I should mention that that weekly is actually still available in Legion, in new Dalaran no less. It's odd but I think it's just temporary. Maybe the new weekly will replace it as testing continues.

The other undefined quests are a little tougher to pinpoint, however one Wowhead comment does provide some insight.

Bonus Objective RP:
"Mayla Highmountain says: That elderhorn calf is in danger! You have to help it!"

According to the Wowhead comment, Wildlife Protection Force is a bonus objective in Highmountain. There's even video from the commenter of the objective -- completing it involves defeating a level 25 epic quality Hungry Icefang in a Pet Battle.

It has 2 additional (random wild pet) teammates. The Hungry Icefang is classified as a boss pet and has the appropriate 'takes reduced damage' buff.

What's interesting about this bonus objective Pet Battle is that the NPC is not always present, as mentioned in the Wowhead comment. Yesterday, I traveled to the very spot where it spawns (shown in the user's video) and found that it was not there too. I checked back throughout the day, still didn't find anything.

You would think that this would be discouraging, but I had a hunch that this NPC spawn might be a special one.

Judging from the video, the time of day that the poster found the Hungry Icefang was nighttime. Perhaps late night. So I decided to check at around 10 PM server time, and ta-da! The boss pet was there in all its fearsome glory. (Poor little moose calf, I'll save you one day soon!)

I can't 100% confirm that the Hungry Icefang will only spawn at night, but I plan on checking back every night to test the idea.

While I'd love to be able to test the actual battle itself, I still don't have a full team of 25 pets yet on Alpha. Leveling up a pet is currently a pain as there's a nasty bug where your client crashes after completing a battle. So... more waiting!

I'm pretty eager to complete this bonus objective though; I'd love to know what the Common Bag of Loot holds. It's the reward for all of the undefined Pet Batttle quests (likely all bonus objectives), but also for other quests not related to Pet Battles.

I have to wonder, is its loot table shared among all of the various types of quests? Can I get a pet-related reward from doing some miscellaneous quest elsewhere? Or will the bonus objective determine the loot? It could even just be a placeholder reward too.

So stuff is still up in the air, which is expected since we're still in Alpha. I can't wait to be able to copy over my account data from live and have a full army of level 25 pets to test everything out. But that might not be possible until much later on in testing. I'll just have to be content with figuring out the mystery of the Hungry Icefang spawning...for now. :P

Edit: Additional questions about Pet Battle bonus objectives - Repeatable? Once per day, per toon? Account-wide? Or only once per toon, ever?

Also, update on Hungry Icefang spawning - Checked back at 6pm server time and it was spawned. Going to check at an earlier time to pinpoint the exact time it spawns. When it despawns...testing that might be tougher. If it's only up at night, I imagine it will disappear (early?) morning. not a morning person lol. :P

Edit #2: Checked at 6pm, 630pm, and 7pm server time. Hungry Icefang wasn't up, which basically tosses a rock at my theory that he has a set spawn time. So the only noticeable pattern is that he doesn't show up during the day, and he only shows up at night. When at night is still up in the air.

Edit #3: It's noon and the Hungry Icefang is up. WTFF. There goes the theory that it only spawns at night. At this point I have NO IDEA what the spawn mechanic for this boss pet/bonus objective is. Random is random?!?!
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