Google+ ALT : ernative: [BETA] The Littlest Game Changer?

MMO Javascript

Thursday, April 26, 2012

[BETA] The Littlest Game Changer?

The most worrying development since the Klout score? ^^

I'll admit it: when Blizzard announced Pet Battles for the upcoming Expansion, there was scoffing in this household. When even your 11 year old son turns around and says 'that's just Pokemon' then you realise that boundaries are beginning to blur. All things are ultimately connected to all other things, after all (ask those nice people at Klout) and sticking a potentially utterly addictive mini-game into an already addictive game... well, it could be asking for trouble on all sorts of levels. Except... the more I think about this, the more of an UTTERLY GENIUS idea Pet Battling is becoming.

Linking the Battles to over sixty Achievements in game makes them essential fodder for anyone who likes to 'chase the swirlies': that's a LOT of points, and you don't need anyone at all to help you get them. You could battle whilst waiting for LFR to pop, for instance, or LFG, or for 15 minutes before you go to work or in your lunch hour... and then there's getting all the pets. There's naming them too (yeah, don't remind me) and the fact that the Battles (from the few people who have managed video before Blizzard shut the feature down) still happen in the game world. I think this point is crucial in selling the entire concept: you fight in whatever zone you encounter your pet in. A circle is drawn on the ground, and off you go. Here's some video from a friend of mine on Twitter @EpicGems, who was lucky enough to get some battles done before it was all closed down:



Follow @EpicGems on Twitter or Check out her Website


I had imagined a far more simplistic interface for this entire affair, almost like the classic background/foreground screens I remember from my Son's (many many) Pokemon games. However, this method is clearly utilising Blizzard's phasing techniques, which gives the entire affair a real and tenable connection with Azeroth. It's also clear from the Achievements available that you'll need to travel the entire game world not only searching for pets, but battling pet trainers to boot. If there was ever a cast-iron way of getting people back into the Gaming World, then chasing achievements plus cute critters comes pretty close to a perfect means to an end.

Even at 11pm on the Beta, there's a LOT of people wanting to talk to the Pet Battle Trainer... ^^

All of your pets are linked across your accounts, it appears: what is not yet clear is if your scores on one character remain the same if you log another: if that is the case and the entire shebag is completely transposable between characters then frankly there's nothing stopping sneaky gits like me people parking alts on rare pet spawn points to pick up the harder to find critters over time. The fact that these achievements could be linked across accounts is a fairly major one, and has ramifications far beyond the world of Pet Battles. Fowever, that's a conversation for another post.

I'm confident enough to say I think Pet Battles are going to fundamentally alter the game for a great many people. 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. I think this aspect of the Expansion could be the factor that stops the rest of the content being released early to boot: getting this right is going to increasingly matter. Pets, after all, don't need you to do anything in a Group or Raid. They make Warcraft a first person concern, and that really does have the potential to become a game changer...

2 comments:

Jonathan said...

I was more mildly curious than anything about Pet Battles when it was announced, but with a sizeable dollop of 'meh, it's Pokemon' on top. I'm leaning more to being positive about it now, and it's a good idea to make people travel the world to do this.

I'd had visions of a simplistic Peacebloom vs Ghouls type of mini-game, but it seems it's going to be a lot more than that.

Erinys said...

I managed to get a shot at it last night and I have mixed feelings. Seeing my poor rabbit get beaten up by a nasty snake was painful. Okay it wasn't the best choice of pet but since my main collection disappeared in the last patch, I was a bit limited to what my panda monk could grab.

It could be addictive and I definitely want to grab some of the wild pets but I'm not convinced it will be something I do regularly.