Armchair Designer: Blizzard Wants Hunter Pet Feedback

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:

  1. Slime
  2. Silithid Wasps
  3. The blue and green magehunters (to match the Vargul Blighthound)
  4. Bogstriders (aka Tripods)
  5. Silithid Scarabs (the beetle-like silithid) and Silithid Drones (the ant-like silithid)
  6. Darkhounds (aka Plaguehounds, Deathhounds)
  7. Maggots
  8. Helboars
  9. Foxes, as mentioned by Ghostcrawler in the last Twitter dev chat
  10. Basilisks
  11. Hydra
  12. Ungulates (including shoveltusks, zhevra, horses, giraffe, talbuks, rams, and stags)
  13. Kodos, Clefthooves and Elekks (to flesh out the Rhino family)
  14. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. We’ll talk more about pet family skills in a second.
  4. All the focus dump skills are identical in stats; they just have different names.
  5. 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.
  6. 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*

41 thoughts on “Armchair Designer: Blizzard Wants Hunter Pet Feedback

  1. Schadenfreude

    So much /agree, Mania. I would add that I’d like to see aquatic-only pets with the new underwater zones that are coming in Cataclysm. I would squee forever if I could quest in Vash’jir with a shark pet.

  2. Jesse

    With part of the expansion’s focus being underwater, I would like to see giant frogs/toads. Using existing models; hippogryphs, gryphons, flayers, and whelps would be nice to see. As for debuffs; movement speed, casting speed, disarm, anti-stealth, silence, and various crowd contols are good for PvP. Maybe limit pets to debuffs, and hunters could choose a disease for their pet that has a chance to proc whenever they hit. Then Hunters could move away from choosing their pet just for their special ability, and more variety of pets would be seen in use. Some disease examples; Lockjaw would silence, Rabies would cause fear, the itching from Chicken Pox would disarm, Ebola would cause a bleed and increase bleed damage, Polio would prevent movement, Psoriasis would prevent stealth, and it’s never Lupus.

  3. Nimizar

    In your last list of points, something appears to have gone haywire with points 3 and 4 (they aren’t displaying correctly for me, anyway).

    Other than that, sounds like a reasonable way forward (and mammoths are another possible addition to the rhino family).

  4. Mania Post author

    Is that any better, Nimizar? I has obliterated part of a point with part of another and things were sort of hanging.

    And thanks for the reminder about mammoths!

  5. Enzio

    I used to play WoW since its vanilla days and quit over a year ago… hate to sound like a downer, but…. as good as the wishlist is up there… its already been proven time and again that Blizzard does a “bait and switch” tactic… they gave us some good stuff and then scaled them back to the point of uselessness… then try to more or less “fix” it, but still leave it somewhat useless.

    …though I would LOVE to have a Mammoth pet if I was still playing… the only thing that come up would be the complaints from other players in the same vein as Rhinos and sometimes birds in regards to them filling up part of the screen – especially during a raid when everything is at a frantic pace.

  6. Enzio

    BTW… I re-read some of the stuff supposedly for hunters during Cata in regards to pets… if its true that most of the damage on ALL pets across the board are more or less equal, then my guess is that all they are good for are the specials and the skins…. meaning that no matter what you choose, it’ll most likely perform the same as the last pet you chose except for its role as a dps dealer or mini-tank.

  7. Mr. Perfect

    Have they said anything about non-damage dealing family skills, like Shell Shield or Warp? I wouldn’t want to loose such unique abilities for a buff. These are part of the “real world feel” of some pets.

  8. Arzon

    All this talk about pet feedback and the one thing they NEVER ever really completely touch base on is the pet’s “shelf life” in regards to raids and pvp. If they’re serious about “returning” hunters to become a fully ranged class with lesser cqc, then it should follow that pets should get more attention because I think if that is the case… the balance would not be in our favor again once a close quarters heavy like a warrior/rogue/pally gets in range to our “dead zone” to squish us.

  9. Charlatan

    I think you’ve summoned that up fantastically well there Mania!

    Only two things i’d add are:

    1. Hippogryphs/Gryphons be tameable
    2. bring back Rhino Bowling!

    Oh and “never going to happen” thing for me? To be able to tame some fo the mobs from AQ – man those Anubis style things would be awesome!

  10. Tsani

    Mania, mind if I Copy & Paste … oooh about half your list?

    The one pet that is on top of my wishlist is the Black Warpstalker followed by the red. I’m still miffed that they fixed it AND made it untamable. My draenei has a thing for black pets, and my Blood Elf would absolutely LOVE the red warpstalker that you can still see with a modelviewer.

    Another change I’d love is to have raid/instance buffs like Howl put into the talent trees themselves like Thunderstomp. During Vanilla every hunter had the same brown cat, now every raiding hunter is bringing a wolf! I thought Blizz did all those pet changes over the years to prevent situations like that?

  11. Sasrei

    Well I am glad they are atleast trying to get some input from players.
    I just kind of added what everyone else was saying. Having pets that look unique but are not exotic, as well pets who have interesting behaviours, I think would be a nice addition. We already have some pets who do have it, so it would be nice to add maybe even one or two. I do agree with you Mania, about getting rid of exotics, BM spec that last points could be used to just add dps to your pet, as well as to the hunter. I personally think that if it says BEAST, we should be able to tame it.

  12. Nimizar

    Yep, the previously broken bullet points look fine now.

    You can find a list of the raid buffs/debuffs in the archived Wrath consolidation post here.

    Rumours are that things are going to be consolidated even further in Cataclysm, and the magnitude of some of the buffs/debuffs reduced:
    - all armour debuffs consolidated into a single non-stacking category (for a 12% debuff, although Wasps may still get a weaker version than worms)
    - Mark of the Wild changed to a percentage stat increase like Kings (both reduced to only 6% and with Spirit excluded)
    - no spirit buffs (Divine Spirit removed, Fel Intelligence no longer affecting Spirit)
    - attack power reductions (Demo Roar etc) changed to % physical damage reductions
    - hit chance buffs all removed so hit cap no longer varies by raid composition (expected to change to either +crit or +damage buffs)

    Replenishment also isn’t listed, but I expect that to be significantly redesigned for Cataclysm anyway (and hunters already have access to that through the Survival tree).

  13. Nimizar

    The “second spec TBA” in that post for the physical vulnerability debuff is actually combat rogues – their Savage Combat talent means targets they have poisoned get the same 4% increased physical damage taken as the Blood Frenzy talent provides with an arms warrior.

  14. Jesswyn

    “5.Silithid Scarabs (the beetle-like silithid) and Silithid Drones (the ant-like silithid)”

    YES YES YES YES PLEASE

  15. Nimizar

    One other thing to keep in mind beyond the list of raid buffs and debuffs is other utility abilities like stuns, snares, roots, knockdowns, knockbacks, interrupts, silences, disarms.

    With the right effectiveness and cooldowns those can be handy in both PvP and PvE.

  16. Nimizar

    Another expected Cataclysm change is for current intellect buffs to be changed to provide mana instead (due to Intellect directly granting spell power in Cataclysm, leaving them unchanged would make them more powerful than intended).

  17. Nimizar

    An even better resource (The RaidComp tool on MMO-Champion).

    If you hover over the list of abilities on the right of the tool it will display which abilities provide that effect. If you then hover over the abilities themselves, it will display the ability tooltip.

    The little tags after the abilities themselves are explained in the EJ thread as:

    * [e] – the ability is from an exotic pet.
    * [i] – the ability can be improved through talents.
    * [p] – the ability is from a pet.
    * [w] – the ability is significantly weaker than the other abilities in the category.

  18. Snowtiger

    I have been playing WoW since the start!! and after seeing the imput of all in the forum I myself woild like to see some of those rare of the past get their old attack back like the rhino’s knockback brokentooth and the ZG bat get their attack speeds back and the Gorillas be the only ones with thunderstomp again!! as for new pets a few would be find but not a ton of them!! ( for example )

    1.) dogs and Foxes
    2.) Aquatic pets from existing models
    3.) and a few totally new Dino Models like a Triceratops Spinosaurus
    Blizz needs to look into and fix or improve the pets we have and not make just a few for certain pvp, raids etc i would like to have more choices then worry about having to use just a wolf for instances if they are gonna actually gonna give pets buffs and debuffs then they really need to look into reasonable possiblity to each pet and class and not throw 2 together cause its there ( sorry for long post )

  19. Nimizar

    Blizzard are NOT going to bring pet-specific abilities back. They’re too hard to balance. If anything, expect more normalisation in Cataclysm, not less.

  20. Snowtiger

    Pet specific ability would be actually easy to balance the only reason alot was taken away is because different classes was crying they was getting dominated by the pet they was facing or working with in pvp spellcasters was crying that facing the high speed attacks of Brokentooth or th ZG bat was keeping them from casting spells
    warriors bitched that Gorillas was grabbing their aggro and other pets likewise and so forth but yet some pets still have their specific abilities alot has changed sine the specifics was taken from!! Players are getting new talents and abilities all the time and given back pet specifics would not be hard to do

  21. Epacsten

    I could not care less about what new kinds of beasts they might come up with, although I have always loved sporebats, so there is always a chance they might make something truly new and interesting.

    More importantly, I want to be able to USE the pets I already have. Choosing the talent tree of our pets would pretty much solve my problem 100%.

  22. LOL

    @Nimizar, as far as more “normalization” goes; it looks like pets will do comparativly streamlined base damage as a whole with the exception of either talents/and or role to differentiate between them as well as pet specials. The sad thing is, those that actually CARE about pet specifics get railroaded later on by whiners because a certain ability runs them over like a mack truck. As of now, its just a Pokemon-thing now as some of us tame just for the skins and bragging rights.

    See statement: “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.”

    Now see where it will run into some problems in the future since you believe Blizzard goes for more normalization rather than less…….. if we DO get some changes and additions later on Cata start, time will again come full circle later on when some players with less brains than cabbage outside of our own class whine about a certain pet ability that will FORCE blizzard to either scrape it or scale it down to nothingness – or at the very least, uselessness. WOTLK started with a TON of new stuff for hunters and their pets… as time dragged on, they’re no longer what they were when WOTLK started. Same thing happened even when BC came, and how it changed in a see-saw fashion before WOTLK came in…. the infamous growl and other pet abilities coming off/on bug being one of them…. remember when the Screech ability made Birds of Prey a solo-tanking pet due to its ginormous aggro-getting ability? Then came the amazing gorilladin thanks to BRK’s videos….. and lastly, Rhino bowling…. since they could never find the source for the growl bug, they actually HAD to add an extra growl and another taunt ability on the pet talent tree for tenacity pets just to even it out and make sure they actually GRAB aggro regardless of your spec (and even then when you’re dpsing too much in MM/SV, growl is more or less a moot point if you’re not careful nowadays with our currently high-end gear).

  23. Mania Post author

    I really appreciate the passion behind this discussion, and the heart of it is something we’ve discussed here before.

    I wonder, though, if I might convince you to, for example, take this to the Petopia forums? It’s just that I suspect it would be easier to read if it wasn’t a wall of text in the comments. :>

  24. Ketari

    Fix wolves, we have a vast spread of pets used. See, that was easy, and doesn’t need more time spent on Pets, to the detriment of Hunters themselves. *shrugs*

    And no, making all pets identical isn’t the answer, Epacsten.

    (Heck, just can cunning pets as a concept and portion them out between DPS and tank pets)

  25. Nimizar

    … that last post from LOL made me realise I don’t remember the name of the owl I had for a while :(

    Grinand, Iceheart*, Trogdor, Essentials, Ribs, Arbez, Kosh, Bandwagon*, Grodd*, Ourobouros*, Fenrir*

    I thought I remembered all of my pets’ names :P

    (*=current pet, retamed for Wrath in the case of Iceheart)

  26. Epacsten

    All pets would not be identical if their DPS potential and talent choices were the same. That’s like saying all hunters are identical. The difference between them would be based on the owner’s needs.

  27. Ketari

    Absolutely identical, by your own words. It wouldn’t matter what pet I had, they’d all do precisely the same thing. The epitome of a generic DoT.

    Boring, a distinct disincentive to tame a range of pets or even play a Hunter.

  28. Nimizar

    Yay, remembered the owl’s name (Fizzgig, FWIW)

    @Ketari: yep, that’s exactly the fine line Blizzard need to walk. One extreme is completely cosmetic pet skins where simply looking at a pet tells you nothing about their abilities, while the other is one where one pet family dominates to the extent where hunters are told “Go wolf, or go home!”. They want to find something in the middle, where family choice matters, but no one family is overwhelmingly dominant.

  29. Bluespruce

    Hey, I wanted to look at your spec in the armory, and it said must be level 10, but you are listed as 80, so, I looked up the name Mania, and cannot find an Orc hunter at 80 at all. Just being nosy, checking your spec. :/

  30. Mania Post author

    No, you won’t find Mania on the armory these days. A friend needed my help, so I transferred servers — and had to rename Mania as well. But she begged me not to make a big deal of it, so I haven’t.

    To answer the unspoken question, though: I am always BM, and usually as badly spec’d as you might imagine.

  31. Ketari

    Nimizar – Wolves are the only nail especially standing out, as things stand. But as I’ve said, this is why I favour utility over damage for pet specials.

  32. Epacsten

    You’re overlooking the different ways that the pet specials work, various utility and situational advantages, as well as the personal reasons a hunter would have for wanting or not wanting any particular pet, or even just a different skin of the same family.

    Pets would never be identical unless you removed all that which makes them unique. Restricting talent options and having nerfed damage on special abilities does not help make them unique.

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  34. Bruce

    Hey, I wanted to look at your spec in the armory, and it said must be level 10, but you are listed as 80, so, I looked up the name Mania, and cannot find an Orc hunter at 80 at all. Just being nosy, checking your spec. :/

  35. Steve

    Absolutely identical, by your own words. It wouldn’t matter what pet I had, they’d all do precisely the same thing. The epitome of a generic DoT.

    Boring, a distinct disincentive to tame a range of pets or even play a Hunter.

  36. Gammaraze

    sorry, i have been away for quite a while. in fact i havent played wow since february’s server issues. and because i dont have an ACTIVE wow account, i am unable to post on the blizzard forums and unable to give them feedback that could potentially bring me back as a client/customer, awfully rude of them, dont you think??

    anyways, i have ALWAYS since i started 4 1/2 years ago, wanted to tame a squirrel… that would be great, highly doubtful though.
    Thunderlizards, clefthoofs and kodos are essential rhinos to begin with, why did they even add rhinos? but combine all of them and make them tamable. Diemetradons and basilisks are essentially pimped out crocs, just combine and make tameable. Hippogryphs, gryphons and wyverns could be made into a family of pets; like a non-exotic chimaera.

    Spirit beasts SHOULD be changed to be exotic versions of the animals they resemble, not their own class… why does a ghostly bear and lightning wolf act like a cat?? looks like a bear and goes “meow… where’s my bowl of milk? :(”

    Hydras would be my favorite, they already allowed one to be tamed.

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