Pet Battle Bonanza!

Did anyone really think WoW Pet Battles would become as popular as they have? It’s getting to the stage that I’m considering adding an entire category for them, like a new MMORPG!

Here’s your weekly update on the Little Battlin’ Critters – everything from tips to another convert…

  • The Ancient talks about how Pet Battles arrived, and her WoW life changed forever“I seem to be enjoying finding a diverse group of pets and leveling them to 25 hoping that by then I’ll have the right group, a team with perfect synergy who complement each others spells and fight like a well-oiled killing machine. It’s beautiful, like a ballet. “
  • Aeliel points us to a new resource site for anyone who’s getting serious about their pets“Two identical pets of the same quality can have different stat spreads, depending on their “breed”. Certain pets can only come in one breed, others have multiple – so you might have, for instance, a speedy chicken or a tanky chicken or a stabby chicken.”
  • And The Godmother jumps in with eight great, detailed tips for anyone taking their small, cute critters into the arena“Apart from the obvious ‘cheesing every achievement’ potential being able to trade Wild Pets would give us at high levels, it is really very apparent the advantages a L1 Rare pet gives over every other quality.”

Are you Pet Battlin’? What do you think of its sudden popularity?

Read more →

What Everyone Thinks Of Mists Of Pandaria – The Weekend Edition

Shallow coat of paint on an old game, or Blizzard’s greatest success yet? What’s the verdict on MoP?

The reactions to Mists of Pandaria have been fascinating – but overall, the consensus seems to be coming in that as far as early impressions go, it’s a huge success. But how? And why? And what about the storytelling, the factions, the crafting, the accessibility?

Here’s our roundup of posts from around the blogosphere discussing all those issues and more!

General Impressions

  • Spinks covers a number of interesting bases in her MoP roundup, from the difficulty to the way the story plays out“There are thrilling set pieces where your character helps to defend a village from bandits, in classic wuxia style, or takes part in larger battle scenes, and these offer much better actual gameplay than previous set pieces such as Wrathgate (however cool it was).”
  • Neurotic Girl Gamer gives us a series of bite-sized points on Pet Battles, Panda seriousness and more“I think having cross-realm areas is a fantastic idea. I really like seeing other players when I’m out and about questing. However…It would have been nice if that had been turned off for the first few weeks after the expansion release.”
  • Gordon at We Fly Spitfires writes a thorough review of his experience of Pandaria so far“I have to say that Blizzard do make exceptionally good use of their game engine. Traversing through zones (if I can call them that), watching how the environment and landscape changes is incredibly immersive and occasionally breathtaking with some wondrous and beautiful sights to see. “
  • Alas covers questing as a group, dungeons, the scenery of Pandaria and Alchemy“I like the balance I’ve seen so far between interesting and engaging mechanics and straightforward AoE-festing. It seems like there’s a good mix of the swiftness one could achieve back in Wrath 5-mans with some areas that are a bit more challenging.”
  • Anafielle writes from the point of view of a comparatively hardcore player in a really interesting overview of the expansion and Cross-Realm tech“As awesome as it was to level with Theck, some of the technology behind CRZ concerns me. It’s just a bit too easy. Part of me wonders how large of an impact CRZ had on the race to realm first. “

Specific Aspects

  • Windsoar looks at the way that storytelling works in MoP“Just because there isn’t a label on the back of the box saying “EVIL BOSS #2438 SHALL DESTROY THE WORLD UNLESS YOU BECOME AN EPIC HERO AND SAVE US ALL” doesn’t mean that Blizzard doesn’t have the end-game in mind. “
  • Tobold considers how MoP has changed the crafting game“With an estimated drop rate of around 10%, and 10 motes needed per spirit, you only get a Spirit of Harmony for every 100 mobs you kill, and it’s not clear whether all mobs even drop them.”
  • Altclysmic also looks at crafting – and drinking – in a post about concerns with Mists of Pandaria“The World of Warcraft is full of alcholic drinks, they now have 2 races that are dependant on the consumpution of alcohol (Dwarfs and Pandaren) and even have a holiday (Brewfest) about the drinking of copious amounts of beer. “
  • Firespirit talks about the strange feeling of disconnect from coming back to the game after a long break“I started looking around, and browsing the forums. All the old names were gone. The top three (maybe even four?) guilds transferred out. “
  • WoW In The Details notes a tiny little thing – the Mists of Pandaria takeout service“At the Dawn’s Blossom settlement in Jade Forest, this lovely Pandaren is enjoying a quick lunch from a pretty familiar container. Notice the dragon logo and the gold border at the top and bottom. “
  • Fari waxes lyrical about the Lorewalker faction and the stories you get to hear“. If nothing else makes this whole trek worth it, it’s this. Loremaster Cho takes 2-3 minutes to tell you a story, and it’s more than telling! I’ll let you wait and check it out in order to see exactly how cool the storytelling is, but between his voice and the epic way that he goes about storytelling, the half hour I spent listening to stories made this totally worth it! “
  • And Misha talks about a number of MoP subjects, but most notably the rather alarming tenor of the Horde storyline“It’s a little rough, coming in with a Manifest Destiny attitude to an obviously well developed and lived in land (did we not see those ANCIENT RUINS and this VILLAGE WITH PANDA PEOPLE IN IT?) when throughout the rest of the game we have been Heroes of the Horde.”

It’s been a week now – still loving MoP? Or having a problem with it?

Read more →

Bits Of Mists

It’s Day 2 of Mists, and we will indeed do another big “impressions so far” roundup soon. However, today we’re focusing on a few posts that are taking a different angle on Mists of Pandaria.

From farming to the reality of Pandaria’s space utilisation, these bloggers take a look at some aspects of MoP that you may not have considered yet:

  • The Godmother has leaped whole-heartedly into farming – and I don’t mean ore. She gives a detailed overview of her Tiller experience so far“There appears to be a fair bit of misinformation on exactly how the Tillers work, so lets try and use this first (of what is likely to be many) ‘I Own a Farm’ Reports in clearing up some key details”
  • Killed In A Smiling Accident’s Zoso satirically reports on the FURY around the, well, lack of fury about Mists, Pandaren, and so on““I just don’t understand it” said keen WoW player Ian Keenwowplayer; “after the rage that greeted the announcement of Pandaria at Blizzon 2011 I was sure we were in for a maelstrom of all-caps fury, but it’s been a real let-down. “
  • Big Bear Butt looks at Pandaria, and finds it astonishingly real and lived-in as a simulated world“The big thing to me, the thing that feels RIGHT, is it feels like a land people actually LIVE in!”
  • And Keredria gives us a detailed overview of what she’s starting to believe could be a real competitor for raiding time – yes, Pet Battles“There was boasting, there was swearing, there was crying after losses and celebration after wins. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were hearing us fight some dungeon or raid boss.”

What little nooks and crannies of Mists are you exploring?

Read more →

LoTRO Nearly, Pet Battles, and Body Language

And we round out today with a look to the past, and a few to the future. From what LoTRO nearly was, to what Guild Wars 2’s endgame will be…

  • Andang looks back at what LoTRO nearly was – a game called Middle-Earth Online, concieved well before the LoTR films, and very, very different to LoTRO…“All classes were locked to a single race. It looks like each race had two classes each and each class had two ways to progress. There was a good way and an evil way to progress, each with its own storyline, quests, objectives and even good only and evil only locations.”
  • Chris looks at the much-discussed question of what exactly Guild Wars 2’s endgame will be, and comes up with some fascinating quotes from the Googles“For my part, I enjoy the traditional raid-game but can’t often take part in it, so changing up the dynamic is appealing to me on a personal level. That said, I have serious concerns about the longevity of a non-progression endgame.”
  • Erinys lets us into a guilty secret – she loves WoW pets, but so far really isn’t loving the new Pet Battles subgame“Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother.”
  • And Michael Grey rounds out the day with talk of a different part of the future – his tips for playing with a baby on your chest“Don’t go main tanking a 25-man heroic dungeon with 24 impatient raiders if you’ve got a baby on your chest. The best-case scenario will be a merry yellow stain on your chest. The worst case scenario will be lots of tears and recriminations, to say nothing of the baby’s reaction.”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

Read more →

A Short Thought: Are Pet Battles A Gift For Gankers?

If you’re planning on completing your pet collection in Mists of Pandaria without full Gladiator gear, as the meme goes, you’re going to have a bad time.

Blizzard seem to have made a rather curious choice with Pet Battles. In order to catch them all, so to speak, you’ll have to travel the world. Currently, this appears to include contested zones, where you’re flagged for PvP if you enter, even on a PvE realm – and Blizzard have confirmed this is deliberate and intentional. Cymre of Bubbles of Mischief wrote about this curious choice a couple of days ago

“I was annoyed to find what almost appeared to be random flagging on a PVE server if you were just working on Pet Battles. I thought this was a bug since you would be flagged flying into Mulgore, for example, but I’ve since read that it’s an intentional feature. ”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression so far is that the demographic who are likely to be enthusiastic about Pet Battles and the demographic who are enthusiastic about World PvP are, shall we say, not identical. I’ve heard enthusiasm for Pet Battles from more casual players, from achievement hunters, and even from peoples’ children. It doesn’t look like a minigame that’s meant to require PvP expertise. Pet Battles seem to be targeted at – and recieving the most enthusiasm from – the more gentle, less hardcore side of WoW’s playerbase.

Whom, if they want to complete their pet collection, are going to be required to go out into Azeroth, get themselves flagged for PvP (as I’m assuming that different pets spawn in each zone), and stand very still operating a completely different minigame.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Pet Collection feature, coupled with PvP flagging, is basically sending a lot of people with no particular interest in or skill at PvP out to be slaughtered by gankers? Obviously, it’ll be worst on PvP servers (where I would imagine pet collection will be somewhere between deeply irritating and completely impossible), but even on PvE servers it seems the design is explicitly intended to send people who aren’t prepared for PvP into PvP-flagging zones. And then have them stand still with their backs turned.

I can’t see this one ending well…

What do you think? Have I misunderstood something?

Read more →

Torture, Judgement, and Small Fluffy Animals

Yep, we’re running the gamut today – although even the small fluffy animals post has a thread of serious debate running through it…

  • Stormy at Scribblings on the Asylum Wall is really not impressed with MoP’s Pet Battles, and wants to know exactly what they think they’re playing at“There is no intervention from the player at all. Once you’ve picked another pet to battle, it literally becomes you watching what amounts to a video of your pet killing the other pet.”
  • MMO Gamer Chick wonders if she did The Secret World a disservice by judging it on its beta“You could say that I too judged TSW a tad too early, specifically the combat which I initially described from my brief beta experience as clunky and unintuitive.”
  • And Big Bear Butt writes a column I whole-heartedly agree on, talking about the massive missed opportunity that was Wrath of The Lich King’s “Art Of Persuasion” torture quest“Take your neural needler, shove it up your ass, because maybe it’s time you asked yourselves some pointed questions about how committed you are to the intent behind your rules and not just the letter of the law.”

What do you think of the whole “Pet Battles” thing?

Read more →

Pet Battles!

The latest patch for the Mists of Pandaria beta introduces the Pet Battle system!

For those of you just looking for a tour through Azeroth’s answer to Pokemon, you’re in luck – two bloggers have dived into the Pet Battle system this weekend and emerged with semi-comprehensive writeups of the story so far…

  • Cymre at Bubbles of Mischief shares a screenshot-filled summary of her Pet Battle experiences so far“As your pets progress in skill, you’ll be required to battle various battle trainers around Azeroth. The first one requires you to find the Master Pet Tamer in Northern Barrens. The quest rewards you with a bag which can contain either a pet, pet leash or fetch ball, etc.”
  • And The Godmother at ALT:Ernative gives us a “your first Pet Battle” introductory guide to the system“The canny person will be checking out the pet trainers before the game goes live to ensure they have strong teams to defeat them quickly (in this case, snakes are I believe critters, so you’ll want abilities that do a + damage to them.) “

Have you tried Pet Battles yet?

Read more →

Garrosh was Innocent! Plus, who remembers the Ironforge deathmarch?

We’ve got something for everyone in our link roundup today – a bit more gender discussion (albeit rather gentler than in previous days), a bit of pet battlin’, a bit of lore, and a bit of nostalgia. Let’s go!

  • Ratshag at Need More Rage has been considering what Pet Battle pets he’d introduce if he was in charge“Elemental: Dallop of Whipped Cream. We ain’t had enough representatives from the Plane of Deserts in the game. They’s pissed about gettin’ left outta Cata.”
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings gingerly enters the gender discussion, taking an interesting look at Prime World’s hamfisted attempt to encourage mixed-gender groups“A mechanic like the the one above pushes against the formation of deviant sub-communities. Mixed gender groups are mechanically optimal, and thus mixed-gender groups are more likely to form. I think it is harder to retain prejudice against someone when you’re playing on the same team as they are. “
  • Did Garrosh murder Cairne? Rades of Orcish Army Knife impassionedly argues that Garrosh was the victim in that particular heated exchange in lore“When Garrosh changed the stakes and made the duel to the death, Cairne was perfectly fine with this. He even laughed about it! No, the duel was not some malicious, devious act by Garrosh. Both parties were entirely willing.”
  • And The Ancient’s reminiscing about something that I remember fondly, too – that first pilgrimage from the Night Elf lands to Ironforge, and the horrible death that ensued“This is where she stopped me. This deceptively tranquil, beautiful view in the Wetlands. To her it’s an awful reminder of the carnage that was the Ironforge Deathmarch, and that’s the story she’ll relate to her grandchildren one day.”

Did you ever do the Ironforge Deathmarch?

Read more →

INCOMING! Upcoming debate-starters in the MMOsphere

So, what topics are we going to see hotly debated next?

It’s a fresh, vibrant time in the land of MMORPGs right now, and that’s being reflected in the sheer number of debate-worthy topics and questions that new games are raising every day. Wheras in previous years we might have all been talking about the same thing – and let’s face it, that was probably WoW – at the moment there are many, many interesting topics arising from many new games, and it’s great watching the debate unfold on all of them.

Today I’ve seen more than a few titbits cropping up that I’m fairly sure are going to turn into major debate-starters, or are already starting to roll as really interesting questions. And don’t worry – none of them are major hot-button topics this time, just interesting design choices and upcoming issues!

  • We knew the Diablo III AH was going to be a Thing, but it’s now apparent that, as Tobold (and Azuriel) point out, there’s more to consider than the Real-money aspect alone“Instead of wielding the legendary sword of uberness you received from killing the evil wizard in the mountain of doom, you wield the legendary sword of uberness with the price tag still dangling from its hilt. That simply doesn’t feel quite as heroic.”
  • Guild Wars 2 and their server selection process, which we covered yesterday, is just going to run and run – today Paroeka at Nerdy Bookahs is answering whether it’ll kill international guilds“if you want to join more than one guild for WvW and those guilds happen to be on different servers, then yes, you’re out of luck or rich if you can/want to afford switching servers every 7 days. I still don’t think they killed anything with it. But in this point, I agree that it might be a big hindrance.”
  • Darth Hater has some pretty interesting news – Bioware refuse to return items that are stolen from SWTOR’s guild banks. I can’t see how this one could possibly go wrong… – “While it is not unusual for gaming companies to adopt a hands-off approach to Guild Bank disputes, they usually do step in when it comes to exploits involving access levels players come to receive illegitimately or by error of the game platform.”
  • And The Godmother at Alt:Ernative feels that the Pet Battle system in Mists of Pandaria might be more than a minigame, but actually a game-changer“Sure, there will be a few who’ll simply stop alt-tabbing out of game whilst they wait in a queue to actually interact in game, but there will be a great many others for whom this becomes as important as raiding or professions.”

So, which debates do you think are the most interesting?

Read more →

Pet Battles, Smart Games, and Problematic Evil

As is often the case, two big discussions have overshadowed the blogosphere today, but there have been a number of great posts on non-server, non-equality related topics too! So, whether it’s pet battles, unpopular warlocks or brainy games, read on…

  • Cynwise addresses the problem of evil today, asking whether Warlocks are unpopular because they’re never the good guy“Warlocks are either necromancers, crazy conjurers, or wizards who crossed the line with the Dark Arts. They have their own place in a fantasy setting, but not as heroes. So it’s difficult, at character creation, to see how this character would appeal to a broad base of players.”
  • Shintar rounds up her experience with the Rakghoul plague event in SWTOR“I do hope that we’ll see more events like this in the future, though for now I could do with some quiet time to recover and actually focus on the main 1.2 content properly.”
  • The Grumpy Elf is feeling wierdly non-grumpy today as he finds himself suddenly interested in pet battles in WoW“So being there are wild pets to catch, achievements to earn, levels to level up and challenges to win it seems pet battles have suddenly piqued my interest. I’m starting to look forward to something I had really no intention of giving a crap about.”
  • And finally, The Brainy Gamer is asking for our help in making a list of the smartest, most thought-provoking games around“It’s hard not to see Taylor Clark’s recent Atlantic essay as a sharp slap in the face to all of us who don’t believe all video games are “juvenile, silly, and intellectually lazy” and aren’t peering at the horizon awaiting the “Citizen Kane of video games.””

What do you think is the brainiest game you’ve played lately?

Read more →