Armchair Designer: Skill Choice

Today I want to share a little more random blathering about what I would do with WoW hunter pets if I had the opportunity. One important goal that I would like to see the pet system embrace is this: that all families of pets have enough active skills available so that hunters need to make a choice about which four active skills their pet should have. Now realistically, this means that each family needs six skills available. You’d think five would be enough, but Cower is already available to all pets and is so situational as to be safely ignored most of the time. So to foster real choice, let’s aim for six.

So we have a goal, but I’d like to define the types of effects that make up those six skills a bit better. What can I say? I am very systematic. :> Looking at the existing skills, I can see the following breakdown of effects available to each pet familiy:

  • Direct Aggro Control (Cower and Growl)
  • Pursuit Speed
  • Steady Damage (i.e Bite)
  • Burst Damage (i.e. Claw, Gore)
  • Special

The special skill is the interesting one. It might includes any of the following special effects:

  • Elemental damage (i.e. Lightning Breath)
  • Area of Effect (i.e. Thunderstomp or Screech)
  • Damage over Time (i.e. Scorpid Poison)
  • Ranged (i.e. Lightning Breath, Poison Spit)
  • Pet, hunter, or group buffs (i.e. Furious Howl, Prowl, Charge)
  • Target debuff (i.e. Screech, Charge)

As you can see, some skills fit into multiple categories. Lightning Breath, for instance, is a burst damage skill with several special attrributes.

Now, Cower and Growl and the Pursuit Speed skills (discussed in the last Armchair Design feature) are pretty straightforward. But for the remaining three skills, we don’t want to just use boring old Bite and Claw, plus a random special. We want to mix them up a bit, like Lightning Breath does.

And there are other factors to consider when designing new skills. For instance, low damage families could use a buff or debuff skill to help them draw extra aggro. Or, of course, they might just use a heaftier damage skill for the same purpose. High damage pets can have special skills with less damaging effects — possible some sort of non-direct-damage hunter buff. Families that are stat-wise very similar — wolves and hyenas, say — should probably get skills that have diverging effects so that there is more diversity between them.

The real trick, of course, is exactly how to take these effects and factors into account so that everything is covered, everyone has interesting choices, and the system doesn’t feel overly systematized — and no one family is so overbalanced as to be required. But we’ll take that on next time. For now, it’s enough that we’ve laid out our goals.

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4 Responses to “Armchair Designer: Skill Choice”

  1. brandstone Says:

    ./agree Looking at hunter pets as a whole, they seem halfway completed. Only some pets have special skills, and quite a few pets: spore bats, spiders, serpents, raptors, turtles, scorpids, crocolisks, crabs, tallstriders, netherrays, gorillas, bearsl; don’t even have 4 skills to fill their bar with. Growl/Cower only count as one to me because you won’t be using both at the same time.

  2. levesk Says:

    Totally agree.

  3. znodis Says:

    Not sure how this track back thing works so I’m just posting a URL to my response.

    http://znodis.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/warcraft-pet-skills/

  4. Mania Says:

    Thanks for the link, znodis! I too am very much in favor of an analytical approach here. I like the framwork you’ve set up in your post. And I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog. :>

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