Yes, it's another LICENSE TO PRINT MONEY...
Yesterday, Blizzard stuck a new Battle Pet in their Store: the Blossoming Ancient. I'm not here to pass judgement on its skills or looks, you can decide that for yourself. What I am here to discuss is that the model is particularly interesting, and that this introduction might have a greater relevance in the game world.
The key to this pet's uniqueness is that it is, in essence, four different models with distinct animations. The skin 'changes' with every three months, coinciding with Azeroth's seasons. The timing of this pet's release is likely to have more than a little to do with an upcoming change (Spring to Summer) and the fact that an awful lot of Pet Collectors will be descending on Silithus on the 21st June as Summer arrives and the Qiraji Guardling appears. If this actually works (and there's a part of me that thinks it could go horribly wrong and break the game, but that's only coz I've been Here Since Vanilla [TM] and that's the kind of stuff that used to happen) this could mean that the game itself might start becoming a lot less static than it currently is.
Imagine, if you will, a world full of trees that changed with the seasons of the game.
|Loch Moden, before the Sundering. Imagine Winter Trees...|
If Blizzard is monkeying around with time-linked skins, the applications of this could be revolutionary. Every zone could have the ability to transform: not simply with the seasons, perhaps even with weather effects if everything works on a timer. When it rained, trees could sway more, perhaps even be struck by lightning. Fruit could fall from Autumn trees and form the basis of seasonal quests (perhaps linked to festivals like Pilgrim's Bounty) This could revolutionise the way Dailies worked as well, especially if you could expect a new set of instructions as Winter turned to Spring, all linked with the way the world evolved around you. Frankly, the terrain possibilities of this are limitless.
The only practical consideration I can muster against this is the amount of memory such a change to the game could demand, which might finally push some older graphics cards into the Twisting Nether. Needless to say, when we go into a new Expansion, inevitably some new graphics effects have that ability (I remember Wrath's fire effects consigning my old card to oblivion.) However, I'd say this would be a small price to pay if it meant that the game world around me became even more vibrant and alive than it is at present. I'm not even considering the possibilities for player and NPC models with this change, so feel free to go to town on what might be possible. The only limit as I can see is the game timers, and the imagination of the Devs... Most importantly of all, this would once and for all allow those people that complain that zones remain 'static' across Expansions to eat their words. With timed graphical effects, every zone could be moving and developing. This wouldn't necessarily have to be tied to seasons either, maybe a long-term 'event' could be played out over weeks, months or even years... as I said, the possibilites could be endless.
I am already getting the sense that the next Expansion is going to be something very different from what we've been previously used to. Garrosh's amended model is already generating unreasonable amount of excitement for the possibility of a completed and updated Orc skin, after all. Could this unassuming little tree be a portent of something far more exciting to come in the months that follow..?