After I go off on one of my rants about the flaws in the current pet system in WoW, people sometimes ask me “Well, how would you handle it?” They rarely ask twice — I have charts, and I am willing to use them. But I thought it might be fun to share some of that armchair design here. First up: the problem of pursuit speed enhancers. (Pursuit speed is the speed at which pets run to their target. You can read more about it on the Petopia Pursuit Speed page.)
When WoW launched, different pets had different pursuit speeds — differences that apparently depended upon their wild behavior. Pursuit speed is important in PvP (and to some extent in PvE) for chasing down running foes, so there was good reason that fast pursuit pets were popular. But more than that, fast pursuit pets are convenient and rewarding — it just feels good to see your pet close on a foe more quickly. You spend less time waiting — often, only seconds less, but that can feel like a lifetime when you’re farming. So fast pursuit pets were popular even for players who didn’t spend much time chasing down runners.
Eventually all pursuit speeds were normalized, and pets were given other ways to increase their pursuit speeds. These other methods include both talents (primarily Bestial Swiftness) and pet abilities (Dash, Dive, Charge and Warp). Note that all pet families have access to the talents but only certain families can learn the abilities. On the other hand, only certain hunter specs can realistically pick up the talents, whereas all specs can tame a pet family with access to a pursuit speed ability. So on paper, the system seems nicely balanced.
The problem, of course, is that the talents and abilities are not equivalent — Bestial Swiftness adds 30% to pursuit speed, while Rank 3 of Dive or Dash add 80% and Charge and Warp also have other effects. Given the choice between two otherwise identical pet families, most players will choose the one with access to a pursuit speed ability. Is this a real problem? Depends on your philosophy about diversity — but for myself, I’d like to see more pet families considered as valid and valuable choices. Sure, most people will continue to choose cats … but I’d like people who choose raptors to not feel stupid about their choice.
So here is what I’d do:
- Give Dash or Dive, as appropriate, to several more pet families. Let’s say Dash for Raptors and Spiders (if you are afraid of spiders, you know how quickly they can dash towards you :>), and Dive for Spore Bats, since they fly.
- Give Charge to a few more families. We may think of Charge as a boar-specific ability, but there are many creatures that use a charge-like ability in the wild, and several other skills (like Screech and Gore) that are spread between just a few families. I’d suggest adding Charge for Crocolisks, Gorillas, and Scorpids. Gorillas are an obvious choice, and for both Crocs and Serpents I have this great mental image of the pet rocketing forward like a reptilian bullet train.
- Add a new pursuit speed enhancer with other effects called Rush: “Charges an enemy, dazing the target and all enemies within melee range for 3 sec.” (Why an AOE daze? Because it seemed useful but not overpowering.) I’d give this to Bears, Crabs, Scorpids, and Turtles. (Anyone who thinks a turtle can’t rush you has never had to deal with a pissed-off snapping turtle.)
- Warp Stalkers keep Warp all to themselves. It’s not really appropriate for any other families.
To sum up:
And there you are — all the families have some sort of pursuit speed enhancing ability available to them. In addition, because this increases the number of active skills for many families, there are more interesting trade-offs involved in which abilities you choose to train — or at least there will be after more families get more interesting abilities … which I will address in my next Armchaor Design degment. *grin*