My Pet Project

October 24, 2011

I’ll be completely frank here. I am totally weirded out by this:

And bear in mind I say this first as a diehard, hopelessly addicted, unreasonably compulsive vanity pet collector; and second as a once-upon-a-time fan of Pokemon.

Because let’s face it, as other astute spectators have already observed — this is PokeWoW. The more I read about World of Warcraft’s recently announced pet battle system — a pet index with which players can look up information about their pets’ skills and stats, venturing into the world to capture new pets, battles with other players’ pets or pets they encounter in the “wild”, battles with NPC “Masters”, leveling their pets and equipping them with new abilities and special items to benefit them in battle, etc. etc. etc. — the more it harkens me back to my pre-adolescent days with my Game Boy Color and copy of Pokemon Blue.

Those were good times. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Pokemon.

But I’m still weirded out by this.

Try as I might, I can’t put my finger on why. Given my history, I should be over the moon excited, and I’m fond of new distractions, after all. When Mists of Pandaria comes out, and I inevitably go back to World of Warcraft for my standard post-expansion two-to-three-months stint, I’ll probably jump right into the new pet battle system, play the heck out of it, and love every minute. And yet, as I admit this, a part of my identity as a pet addict/collector has just died a little inside.

You have to understand, back when I was still playing WoW and deep in the grips of my pet obsession, you’d be hard-pressed to get me on the gear treadmill grinding emblems for, say, a new epic chest piece. But whisper the magic words (“There’s a new vanity pet…”) and I would be in that dungeon day and night if I had to, gladly repeating it 500 times if it meant a chance at adding a new adorable little creature to my collection. For a new vanity pet, I would travel to the ends of Azeroth. I would spend untold amounts of gold. I would do heroics with a thousand crappy PuGs. I would PvP in the Eye of the Storm naked.

And I did all this…just because. I’ve always been attracted to the little frivolities in my MMOs and enjoyed collecting pets more than I liked getting epic loot. I never had a reason to collect pets, and never really needed one. They served absolutely no purpose than simply following me around and looking cute, and I was perfectly fine with that. It was pointless fun, but in its pointlessness it must have meant something to me.

With WoW:MoP things will change, as with the new battle system there will now be a “reason” tacked on to pet collecting. I predict the new feature will be wildly popular, and like I said, despite my current lackadaisical attitude, I’m sure when I actually get my hands on it I’ll probably love it. I suppose too, that even though I haven’t been back in WoW for a while, I can be glad I amassed a respectable arsenal of pets before I left. But one thing is certain, and that is I’ll never approach pet collecting in WoW the same way again.


  1. I just can’t believe they spent developer resources on this, and will continue to have to support balance (or bear the wrath of the whiners) and tweaks. It explains why the next xpac is only 5 more levels to cap.
    More than any other information coming out about the expansion, the fact that they only gave max level characters another 5 levels before they are back to the grind made me sad.
    I hope you do enjoy the heck out of this though and report on it.

    • Initially this seemed to me like just a side mini-game, but you’re right, going back to re-evaluate 150+ pets and assigning them abilities, conditions, etc. etc. probably requires a lot more work and developer resources. Well, at least we can look at this as something else to do rather than going back to the grind :\

  2. I think I understand exactly how you feel. Blizzard is taking away one of their “just for fun” systems and making it a new progression path. That makes pet collection a new grind. I’m sure it will be fun, but it was already fun, just in a different way.

    That said, I fear competing against you and your arsenal.

    • Yes! They’re trying to make it more fun, but it was already fun. As usual, you put it in more succinct and better terms than I do.

  3. I only have a few pets… Like the corehound pup…. Maybe it’ll be a good Poke—- I mean pet for my use if I decide to go back for a bit?

    • I don’t exactly know how many I have right now. My Warcraft pets page which I haven’t updated in like forever shows about 120 :S

  4. The phrase “Just say no” comes to mind.

    Be strong! You must resist! (as much as I love pandas )

    • Like I said, if I find myself with some time I’ll probably do the usual 2 month stint to look around and see the new sights, play around with a pandaren monk or two. We’ll have to see what my schedule will be like around the time MoP comes out though 😛

  5. Honestly, I’m not going back for Mists of Pandaria. There are a number of reasons for that decision (funny enough, the Pokemon thing doesn’t turn me off like I thought it would, nor do the Pandarens).

    I do agree that this new Pokemon system turns a leisurely pet project (obtaining pets just for vanity sake) into a progression activity, like Anjin pointed out. I’m not sure how I feel about it, though I see it being a little like Plants vs Zombies (something that is fun, at first, then you never really get around to doing it again).

    My biggest criticism is with the battle system. That is the main reason I’m avoiding this game like the plague.

    I’m an old school gamer. For me, strategizing and planning is second nature. I use it in D&D through the feats system, I used it back in Final Fantasy to give my characters the optimum gear build to take on the bosses. Building a character was one of the fun aspects of playing role playing games. However, this new system takes all the complexity out of building a character.

    I’ve read over it twenty times to make sure I understood it correctly. The trees are gone. In their place, you will gain skills automatically as you level up. This is to ensure that you gain the skills Blizzard thinks you ought to have (which grinds my gears). In place of the old trees, you get a choice of 1 out of 3 abilities per tier (every 15 levels – so lvl 15, 30, 45, and so on). That’s like choosing a character in D&D, but you only get to pick the powers; the DM, on the other hand, picks all your feats for you. That is complete and utter horseshit (pardon my French). This new system is supposed to do away with cookie cutting (fat chance, min/maxers will find a way) – the only problem is, not everyone goes cookie cutter with their spec. Some people find one through number crunching that goes against the design. Back in Wrath, Frost was the tank spec and there were cookie cutter builds that were supposed to be the best. But number crunchers realized Blood was the best spec for tanking, and they went against the cookie cutter design and trusted their own instincts. Fast forward to Cata, and Blood is now the tank spec – but players saw it WAY before the developers did.

    The only way I could accept this new battle system would be if Blizzard knew how to build characters better than the players. Quite frankly, they don’t; not even close.

    Other than that, Pandarens are a nice addition for people who know the WarCraft lore (though I still don’t think they warrant their own expansion. They started out as an April Fool’s joke, ffs.). But neither they, nor Pokemon, are enough to entice me back after learning more about what Blizzard intends to do with the talent system. The new environments looks beautiful (I’m an Asiaphile, particularly for period architecture), and the music has that oriental feel like it was taken straight from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but again those aren’t enough to lure me back.

    I guess I really am just done with World of Warcraft. I hope everyone who tries it out has a blast, but I’m just done with it.

    It’s time for something else (at least for me).

    • I’m with you Jaramukhti.

      I left just as Cata hit, primarily because Acti-Blizz had taken all the fun out of customizing talent trees. I had only just begun getting into the Shaman class in late WotLK, after having played since Vanilla’s release, and was having fun with a weird but effective Enhance/Resto hybrid when the pre-cata patch wrested all that away from me… effectively destroying my builds across multiple long-time characters, and killing my desire to even log on. After going a couple weeks without even starting up the game or even participating in the forums I finally just canceled my account and haven’t played since.

      But I guess Acti-Blizz probably isn’t interested in my generation of Gamer anyhow. 😦

      • The Kung-Fu Panda + Pokemon mix (plus the ongoing dumb… ahem “streamlining” of the game) seems to indicate that the target for WOW is (and has been since at least Wrath if not before) teens. Shame, really, but I understand that a company has to think about revenue, though Actiblizzard has been milking shamelessly their users. The sparkling pony just opened the dam gates…

      • Sounds like me, though I reactivated to check out Cataclysm. I did enjoy leveling to 85 (leveling is like my favorite part of any MMO) but then it was back to the endgame grind and my activity sort of just dropped off after that. I ended up canceling my account too, and haven’t been back since. The way this is going, it appears I’ll only be giving money to WoW every two years for a month or two whenever they come out with a new expansion.

      • @mutharex – With Cata, I got the feeling that Acti-Blizz really hasn’t got a clue where they want to take the game and what kind of audience to aim for…it was kind of a mess, really. With all this info about MoP, however, I think they’ve finally settled on a target and I think you’re right.

    • The changes to the talent tree is indeed a huge blow. I really can’t believe they’re going with this new system.

      However, I don’t like to say “never”, nor do I like to close doors to any possibilities. You pointed out a lot of things that I’m interested in as well, such as the environments, the pandaren, this pet battle system, etc. I’ll probably check out MoP for all those, but I don’t see anything in the expansion to keep me playing, especially if endgame will remain the same. I look forward to seeing new things, but I do think my days of playing WoW for the long term are all but over.

      • I can respect that. I’m positive some people will enjoy this expansion. I actually hope that is the case, because far be it from me to wish people hate something just because I don’t like it.lol Seriously, I don’t understand the “I hate it; you all have to hate it, too.” mentality that some in the online community cultivate. I can choose not to play the game because I dislike the direction it’s going – but if others want to give it a go, hell, that’s what’s so great about living in a free country. To each their own.

        I’ll admit right now, a few years ago, I probably would have been on the train the second “Pand-” – the first syllable of the announcement – came out of the devs’ mouths. The new battle system would have made that enthusiasm come to a screeching halt, but I would have strongly considered it. But now? It leaves me feeling a little hollow.

        If games like SWTOR & GW2, MMO’s geared toward the RPG side of the MMORPG genre, feed my desire for a story-driven experience, I may never touch a game like World of Warcraft again. I long for some emotional investment in a story of which I can be a part. Role playing games are supposed to be about MY story; but after years in WoW, I got tired of it not being my story, but instead being Thrall’s story, or Sylvanas’ story, or Arthas’ story, and I was there just to watch it unfold.

        In any case, that’s for another time.

        What matters is, I hope you, and anyone else who plays MoP enjoy the content. Like I said, I’m not going to wish others ill simply because I’m going a different direction.

        As for me, I’ll see you guys and girls in a galaxy far, far away. 🙂

  6. If I were a bettin’ kind of woman, I’d put a lot of money on PokeWoW going the way of the dance studio and Path of the Titans. It’s an … interesting idea, anyway, but just seems oddly bolted on to WoW.

    • I won’t deny it, that thought occurred to me as well. They definitely have the idea down, but I’m not sure how far they’ve taken it so far, as their extremely rudimentary mock ups and points have shown.

  7. Isn’t it a little late for April Fools, Acti-Blizz? XD

    I agree with Liore’s statement.. it really does feel tacked on, like it shouldn’t even be in the game. Now, as a side game, like pay 15 dollars and DL to your phone or mobile device IMO would be a pretty sweet idea.

    • Yeah, I’m still a little stunned that their expansion itself is based on a past April Fools joke XD

      A vanity pet battle game for a mobile device, now that would be cool. If Blizz does ever decide to scrap it for the game, I would hope they’d consider this route.

  8. I said on HZero’s blog, there is nothing in this expansion that I am interested in. It’s not bad, just meh. As with Jaramukhti, I just feel that I am done. I hope everyone who continues or goes back has a blast. I doubt I’ll be there.

    • I’m quite curious, and I think I’m going to check it out even though I suspect it won’t hold me for long. Here’s my feeling on it — at best, I’ll enjoy myself for a couple of months. At worse, I won’t but I’ll then also know why, and maybe then be able to comment on the reasons with my experience behind my opinion. Of course, it all depends on when it comes out and what I’m doing at the time, and what other games are on the market. I suspect it will be hard for Blizzard in the coming years, with all this competition.

      • Eventually it’ll be hard. Right now, even with their share of the market eroding, my conservative estimate is that, for every player of Rift or EVE, there are 10-50 people playing WoW . It may be more than that. Much like Facebook, WoW is not the first product in its genre, but it is the one that “Mom” started playing. There’s a lot of inertia there, regardless of what pundits may think about “the next big thing.”

  9. I missed Pokemon. When it first came out, I was right at that early teen age when many kids excessively reject anything that seems intended for young children. By the time I outgrew caring, the moment had passed.

    But anyway, I applaud at least this part of WoW’s future. It won’t bring me in — I was never that big into it even when I did play — but at least this decision adds a feature to the game and helps justify an expansion.

    • Speaking of kids, yeah I think children will really like this new feature. Perhaps WoW is indeed thinking to the future and deciding to draw a new generation of gamers in. Seems like the case anyway, with the environment designs, pandarens, the simplification of the talent system, and the pet battles, etc.

  10. I absolutely LOVE collecting pets. I watch the auction house like its my job, and I’m always watching for new pets to pop up. This pet battling system that is coming out sounds like its going to be an absolute blast. It’ll be a cute pleasure on the side that’ll add demention to the game.

    • “I watch the auction house like its my job, and I’m always watching for new pets to pop up.”

      Guilty of this too 😛 I sit on a whole pile of gold that I don’t think I’ve used for anything else, just so if I see a rare pet for a good price on the AH I can snatch it up.

  11. I admit it is odd to see an ol’ setting like Poke pop up into WoW, but I find it a welcome change. I was never head-over heels into either pet collecting or Pokemon, but this idea of blending the two really catches my eye. Admittedly I like Challenge instances a great deal more, but still it is an awesome suggestion. Know a lotta folks who enjoy their pets a lot, why not brandish them with a bit more pride?

    “You got the fawn, I see. Well, noble sir, I bet thee my clockwork gnome could show it a thing or two!”

    It’s not like the victor consumes the soul of fallen, nor is this even a forced activity. If you like pets, continue liking them. If you don’t want to battle, don’t. It’s a simple concept.

    For me, I saw no reason, achivements or otherwise, to hoard pets. Just wasn’t my bag. (The pug, sleepy willy, and the volpertinger are the only three I even really use. The leaping raptor is cool, though.) To see we can actually *use* them if we choose finally gives that aspect of the game reason for me to bother with it. In short, just as much as this addition might seem pointless to some now, I found pets themselves pointless until *now.* I always tend to side with function over form, anyway.

    Oooh! And the disgusting oozling. I still need to snag that one…

    • I am one of those who enjoy my pets a lot. I admit it will take some getting used to…I mean, I used to just take out my pets and rejoice whenever I encounter someone else who takes out theirs and then we somehow get into a pet show-and-tell session. Used to be that’s how I would meet other pet collectors, just completely by chance. With the pet battle system, these dynamics will change completely. I can see people who weren’t into pets getting into it, and I can see myself meeting a lot more pet collectors, both the “old” and the “new”.

      Your comment also reminded me of some of my favorite pets. A farmed a lot of them, still remember getting the leaping raptor off Leap. I remember I got lucky, there were others in the area looking for him too, and I was about to give up and bam, there he was under a tree! I quickly killed and looted him for my cute little raptor pet 😀 And I farmed the Disgusting Oozling myself too. Spent like 2 hours in that cavern just killing oozes, but when I finally opened that ooze covered bag and saw my prize, it was worth it!

  12. As a Vanilla guy from jan of 05 i could safely say WoW was dead to me around week 3 of Wotlk. In part to the wreckshop Enhance Burning Crusade T6 dragonspine trophy berserker’s called out mentallity, Blizz continually raped enhance to death in wotlk…hated it, pally’s dk and warrior, for their style, and redundancy in my mind, all felt the same…i never made it to cata, and this just makes me chuckle. PokeWow doesnt effect vpets, what effected them was being able to pay to own them in my mind, whats the point if they cant be CE’D or just raritied in game? pokewow sounds kinda cool…. EVEN COOLER nda for SWTOR dropped, any talk on sharing some juicy gameplay knowledge anytime soon?

    • True, I suppose this isn’t the first slap in the face I’d experienced as a pet collector from Blizzard. I remember feeling disappointed when they started selling vanity pets in the blizzard store for $10 a pop. The idea of completing a collection requiring me to pay them, well, it sort of took some of the fun out of it, to say the least.

  13. I find all the “old school” gamers who are whining so much about change just sort of hilarious.

    As if it gave you some kind of credit or respect. It doesn’t,it just doesn’t in any possible way. Go play the games you like and stop comparing/complaining!

    I have gamed since I was a kid in the late 70s. I’ve seen it all. I’ve played MMOs since they were text-based. All this says about me is that I like to play games.

    I’ll play Mists of Pandaria. I’ll play the pet game. I’ll also play SW:ToR and Secret World and Guild Wars 2.

    I’m a gamer.

    • Since you put “old school” into quotation marks, and I’m the only one in this comment section who used that phrase, I’ll assume that was directed at me and respond.

      There is a great difference between whining, and realizing something just isn’t for you. Whining would be saying that Blizzard should change their game back to something you loved or else you’ll take the ball and go home. But not everyone is whining – some people just see WoW heading in a direction they don’t support. That is up to a person’s own prerogative to make the decision to stay or leave. I – and many others, apparently – have decided WoW is going in a direction that doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t have to right to dictate change. Blizzard can do with their game whatever they want to do – but subbing is my choice. So I choose not to resubscribe to a game I just don’t feel is worth the cost (once again, this is merely my opinion – nobody has to subscribe to it).

      I’m glad you’re a long time gamer; I’m glad you still find things fun with World of Warcraft; I hope you have a brilliant time in Mists of Pandaria (I said as much in my post), etc.

      But I’m out. I’ve read nothing that has enticed me to go back. Pokemon isn’t for me, Pandarens are interesting, but not enough incentive for me to put up $15/per month, and the new talent system doesn’t eliminate cookie cutter builds, so much as it allows Blizzard to create a cooker cutter build for everyone to play with a few flavorful utility powers every 15 levels that (according to Blizzard’s own description) do not have an important effect on the gameplay experience.

      “Go play the games you like and stop comparing/complaining!”

      This would only be applicable if I were in an environment where freedom FROM opinion was paramount to expressing one. But I’m not – WE’RE not, in fact. This is a blog, by definition a forum to express opinions, on both sides, in as (hopefully) civil a manner as possible. MMOGC is very cool about seeing both sides of any debate, it’s one of her best traits. I’d like to think she welcomes debate on her blog as long as mud isn’t slung around, and it is done in a respectable manner.

      You don’t have to worry about people like me (the former WoW player that doesn’t support MoP), resubbing to WoW just to sit on trade chat griping about how the expansion sucks. That would be childish. But if I held back my opinion on a blog comment section, which is designed to promote healthy conversation, that would go against the very reason for having one in the first place.

      Comparing/complaining (in as respectable a manner as possible) is what blogs are all about. Otherwise, there is no reason to put a message out there for the entire internet to see.

      So yes, not everyone who is against MoP has that opinion because they fear change – sometimes change just takes something into an area that you don’t feel anymore (as in “I’m just not feeling it.”). MoP moved WoW into that area for me. That’s just life.

      • I wouldn’t have immediately come to the conclusion that jensketch was talking about you, as many others in the comments have stated their displeasure at the direction in which Blizzard is taking WoW. In any case, I don’t think you or anyone else in the discussion for that matter have to explain anything.

        Thanks for your kind words about my seeing both sides of a debate, I appreciate that. Even if I don’t like something, I do always try to look for a silver lining. Like I said, I don’t like to say “never’ and I don’t like to close any doors to any possibilities. After all, who knows what will happen? I always wonder at the people who proclaim their hate for certain games loudly and with conviction when said game isn’t even out yet, especially when they make sweeping generalizations like “this or this will fail” or “no one will like such and such.” It’s like, oh? How do you know?

        I always wonder if this is why certain people continue to be so negative long after and seemingly hold grudges against games or game companies for years, because no one likes to have to look stupid and admit they’re wrong and lose face. That’s why I would always rather wait for more information, or at least personally get to experience something for myself before passing judgment.ence som

    • I agree with the basic gist of your comment, but I also don’t think anybody who has pitched in so far on the discussion were whining or complaining. Most have merely stated their opinion and I respect that.

      I’ll be getting the new WoW expansion, I’ll also play the games you mentioned. And I’ll play them all until I stop having fun. I think it has less to do with being a gamer, and more to do with simply doing the things you enjoy for as long as you enjoy doing them.

  14. Adding Pokemon in seems pretty odd at first. However, the more I think about the more it seems like a good idea. Archaeology, and perhaps fishing, are the only meaningful side games in current WoW. Once you hit the cap, it’s pretty much take up raiding, take up PvP, or cancel your sub. Anything that adds a side game that you can work on solo is a good idea in my mind.

    • Pokemon is actually quite close to the typical MMO experience. You start out choosing your character and spend care and effort building up its strength. In time you advance their level and increases their attributes as well as unlock new abilities and strategies. You are given a quest to venture across the land to defeat a mighty boss of sorts, and along the way meet up with others and choose to help them or not. If you do, you are rewarded with experience or items. As you continue to the boss you encounter many wild creatures you must defeat in order to progress further. Upon finally reaching and defeating the mighty foe he gives you an awesome drop that you’ve been waiting for.

      No matter how much people complain about it, Pokemon is at it’s core the MMO industry.

      • Definitely close to an RPG experience (in fact, I think it is classified as an RPG), but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it an MMO experience 😛 Well, at least back for me it wasn’t, since being networked and communicating with others using our handheld gaming devices wasn’t so common then. It would have been amazing to travel the world of pokemon, being able encounter others on your journey, to group with others to battle, etc. Who knows, maybe nowadays it’s like that; I don’t know, I haven’t played a pokemon game in ages.

    • I never thought about it that way, but you are so right. It’s a great mini-game and as someone who has for so long expressed my disappointment in the limited avenues for endgame in WoW, I really should look at this more positively…because you hit the nail on the head, at least Blizzard is making an effort at giving their players more options.

  15. I don’t know. I’m a pet collector, I love pets (I have 150+) and this still doesn’t appeal to me very much. I’ll probably get roped in if they offer rare and unique pets as rewards, much as I did Archeology. I’m kind of hoping it’ll be the MoP feature that gets dropped, though.

    • Nice, 150+! Sometimes I wish I had stayed in the game just to maintain my collection. I know I’ve missed some one-time-only opportunities to get a pet because of that. Last I checked, I think I’m hovering around 120 thereabouts.

      And perhaps you feel the same way I do — cautiously optimistic. This is going to change the dynamics of pet collecting in WoW for sure, but I’m willing to check out the system; if anything I guess it’s a guarantee that Blizzard will continue to give pets attention and add new ones for the enthusiasts. It’s definitely something I can warm up to.

  16. @Yeebo. I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right there’s not really anything else to do in WOW right now, once you max out your professions and skills.

    • Unless you’re also an achievement grinder, though I also managed to finish all the ones I could do early on. The achievement system is a pretty polarizing topic amongst gamers, but I personally like it; it doesn’t offer anyone strategic benefits, it’s something to do in your spare time, and I’m glad they have both progression-related achievements as well as ones that encourage exploring, etc. or the “silly” ones like critter killing/hugging.

  17. Something new to do aside from raiding is what most people seem to be taking from it. Neopets was a pretty successful webgame if i remember correctly.

    • Yeah, ever since Yeebo put it that way, I have been warming up to the idea. Whether I love it or hate it, it’s a step towards giving players something to do other than the endless gear grind at endgame, and as I always say it’s the intent that counts.

  18. I wish they’d just make a Pokemon mmo instead…..soooooo much potential for tournements, trading, battles, ALL pokemon, all regions, new regions to explore….badges…maybe Starting a Guild and owning your own Gym. Guild Leader = Gym Leader! Ugggh want, want, want!!!

    • I think if it happened, I’d give a game like that a shot. Like I said, I haven’t played a pokemon game in ages, but I do remember the countless hours of joy I got from playing those games. It would be a nice nostalgia trip, and hey, in the end as long as it’s fun I’ll play anything.

  19. I…wow. I don’t know what to say. What have they done to you, WoW? When will they let you rest and make something new?

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