I had an entirely different post planned for today (crocs FTW!) but then Nethaera went and posted this request for feedback on hunter pets on the WoW hunter forum:
We’re looking to get some feedback on the types of pets that hunters would like to be able to tame and the types of abilities that might be interesting for those pets to have. Is there a type of creature in the game now that you would like to be able to tame or an ability that you’ve always thought should be added? Here’s your chance to share a bit more about what you think could be great additions for the hunter class.
Edit: EU hunters, your version was posted a bit later on the EU Hunter forum.
Needless to say, this is a question near and dear to my heart. I posted a response immediately and I expect you to do the same! In fact, head on over there right now … I’ll wait.
So. I was mostly interested in the first part of the question: “Is there a type of creature in the game now that you would like to be able to tame?” But there are a couple of thoughts about pet families in general that have been bouncing around in my head and that I wanted to share as well.
First, my suggested list of pet type additions, in more or less priority order:
- Silithid Wasps
- The blue and green magehunters (to match the Vargul Blighthound)
- Bogstriders (aka Tripods)
- Silithid Scarabs (the beetle-like silithid) and Silithid Drones (the ant-like silithid)
- Darkhounds (aka Plaguehounds, Deathhounds)
- Foxes, as mentioned by Ghostcrawler in the last Twitter dev chat
- Ungulates (including shoveltusks, zhevra, horses, giraffe, talbuks, rams, and stags)
- Kodos, Clefthooves and Elekks (to flesh out the Rhino family)
- Dinosaurs: Diemetradon, Thunder Lizards, Pterrodax
(I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few, and I’m sure that you’ll let me know in the comments. *grin*)
Some of these beasts can go right into existing families, which is a convenient thing for Blizzard. For example:
- Silithid Wasps could go into the Wasp family.
- The rest of the Silithid types could go into Silithid family.
- The magehunters could of course go into the Wolf family (where the Vargul Blighthound is now).
- Maggots could join the Worm family.
- With a slight renaming (akin to Owls becoming Birds of Prey), basilisks could join with crocilisks as the .. err .. Lisk family.
- Helboars could join the Boar family.
- All of the hooved animals I mentioned could move into the Rhino family without causing too much distress.
- The dinosaurs could join the Devilsaur family.
- And shoot, if we had to the foxes and darkhounds could also join the Wolf family.
Thing is, even in the best case we still have a whopping 32 pet families. In the worst case, that grows to 40+. That, my friends, is too many pet families. More to the point, it is too many pet family abilities to keep straight. And I’m saying that as the person who maintains Petopia!
So the first thing I started thinking about was this:
Q: What significance does pet family have?
A: 1) Available talent tree. 2) Exotic vs. non-exotic. 3) Pet family skill. 4) Focus dump skill. 5) Diet. 6) Real-world feel.
- I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to see any pet family able to train in any pet talent tree, so long as all the pet’s points are spent in a single tree.
- I’ve also mentioned before that I’d like to see exotic pets within normal pet families instead of having the entire family be exotic or non-exotic.
- We’ll talk more about pet family skills in a second.
- All the focus dump skills are identical in stats; they just have different names.
- Diet isn’t a huge factor in pet choice these days, but it is a factor. There are ways to preserve diet outside of pet family, however .. which actually might be kind of interesting.
- We already base most of our real-world feel from the pet model rather than it’s family. For example, we tend to consider owls, eagles and Aotona as separate types even though they share a family. Same with the Vargul Blighthound and the maned lions. The differences are there regardless of the pet family.
So the big significance of pet families for me is the pet family skill. Blizzard said in the Hunter Class Preview that they are working on adjusting these skills for Cataclysm “to provide important buffs and debuffs” and that their goal is “to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet.”
Once you rule out direct damage and fall back to important buffs and debuffs … well, coming up with 32 (or 40+!) distinct variations may be a little tricky. Having fewer family skills and sharing them among what we currently consider families would make it easier to design such a system, and conversely easier for hunters to find a pet that appeals to them that has the skill they need.
Of course, if family pet skills are essentially the only difference between families, and multiple families share the same set of family pet skills, then we have effectively cut down on the number of pet families without actually removing anything. Which I think is not a bad thing.
Anyway … taking all those factor into account, here is how I would go about tweaking pets during Cataclysm develop if I were a magical Blizzard dev:
- Allow any pet family to train in any pet talent tree, so long as all the pet’s points are spent in a single tree.
- Choose a set of, say, 10-15 important buffs and debuffs and create a pet ability for each.
- Assign existing pet families to those abilities in a fashion that makes some sort of sense, but without getting too hung up on real-world notions of similarity.
- Invent snazzy names for each set of pets linked by a skill, thereby creating 10-15 new ‘pet families’.
- Oh, and while we’re here, I think I’d ditch the whole exotic thing. I posted a bit about this before, but the more I think about it, the more I just don’t think it works.
I’d love to take this a little further and draw up an example skill division, but the fact is that I’m not up enough on raiding to come up with the list of 10-15 important buffs and debuffs. If you want to start feeding them to me, though, I think it might be fun to play with.
So I am hoping to get a lot of commentary on these thoughts! You know how I love armchair pet design, even if you think I’m crazy half the time. *grin*