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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 12:22 am 
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Journeyman Hunter
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As per Mania's request, I'm starting a discussion about the controversial topic of pet normalisation.

If we go back to the early days of WoW (i.e. pre-TBC), pets varied greatly. Different attack speeds, different movement speeds, all sorts of variety - although the main way anyone knew about these differences was Mania's quest to tame every kind of beast in the game at least once. BM also lagged behind so badly in raiding that it was never seen as a serious spec - BM was for levelling, MM was for raiding and SV was for PvP. If you did anything else, you were doing it wrong (the theorycrafting community was also nowhere near as strong back then). However, the "best" pets were clearly the rare cats with very fast attack and movement speeds.

Bring on TBC, where a lot of that variety had disappeared. Attack speeds were normalised, as were movement speeds. Damage, health and armour still varied by family, as did the skills that could be learned. BM became the king PvE spec due to the unholy effectiveness of Serpent's Swiftness, although SV was up there in order to provide the unique "Expose Weakness" buff to the melee. The "right" way to raid boiled down to getting yourself a pet with both a focus dump ability (such as claw) and a focus burst ability (such as bite). Cats and ravagers (and raptors, maybe?) ended up ruling the PvE scene.

And then Wrath came around. Pet damage, health and armour are now also normalised across all families. ArPen scaling has pushed MM way out in front of the other two specs, which are now roughly comparable in raid DPS potential. The only remaining differences between the pet families are the family type (Ferocity, Cunning, Tenacity) and the family abilities. Spirit beasts were added for the "rare tame" hunters, and exotic pets were added to provide additional pet choices for BM hunters.

Blizzard made a deliberate design choice that spirit beasts and other exotic pets should not provide inherently superior DPS over normal pets. They made this decision to avoid the situation where a BM hunter that wasn't using an exotic pet was "doing it wrong". Since normal pet families significantly outnumber exotic pet families, such a situation would have perversely meant that BM hunters had a narrower selection of pet families to choose from, instead of the wider range of choice that Blizzard intended to provide.

However, differences in pet family abilities have still led to a situation where wolves are the only "correct" choice for MM and SV raiders, while BM raiders have the choice of a wolf or a devilsaur. Cats, raptors and spirit beasts aren't far behind, but they definitely aren't equal. Other Ferocity families are even further behind, with Cunning and Tenacity pets even further behind them. PvP offers a lot more diversity, as the survivability and utility offered by different pet families can matter more in a PvP environment than raw DPS potential.

So, where do people want to see things go in Cataclysm? More diversity among families, even if it leads to obvious "best" choices for specific roles? Less diversity, driving pet skins towards a more cosmetic choice, with role being a matter of pet talent selection? Confinement of pet family variation to utility and survivability aspects, with every pet having comparable DPS potential?

Do you believe giving Furious Howl the Thunderstomp treatment and making it a pet talent would be enough to level the pet raid DPS playing field?


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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 12:50 am 
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Grand Master Hunter
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Tbh if exotics had provided the extra dps boost that they originally should have had, it would have solved a bit of problems imo- IE Spirit Beasts would be on par with cats easily, Devilsaurs would be BM's wolves/cats/raptors, etc..

The real make or break of the pets are the DPS boosters, IE Raptor's bleed, Moth's dust, Devilsaur's Monsterous bite and Wolves Furious Howl.

These could easily be reworked, Monsterous Bite could provite bleed damage. And since they're going to streamline pets a bit, it could be like raptors bleed. Raptor's bleed could also be basically made into Devilsaur's bite. Why? Because if they're basically going to make exotics nothing more than Beast Mastery's shiny legendaries with no other use, then why the hell keep them as upgrades to their non exotic kin.

Furious Howl is also the main problem of this; first it was Cats and Rake. Then it was Wolves and their howl. Originally it wasn't a bad talent for early Wrath. It was able to boost the whole party, like Call of the wild originally could Now while this was op, the fact of the matter was, it wouldn't stack with Blessing of Might.

While this seemed bad it was also a boon because not always do you have a ret or war in the group NOR do you always have a paladin who would use such a blessing upon his or her party members.

This needs to be streamlined to all pets, or reworked. A pet version of Bloodlust/heroism wouldn't be bad. IE it increases the attack speed of all minions/guardians/pets/summons of party/raid members within XX yrds of it. Would probably suffer from the sabe debuff as Heroism/Bloodlust do today, meaning it wouldn't mean BRING XX AMOUNT OF WOLVES PEEPZ OR LEVE.

Though this could lead to the false believe that wolves would be the most epic pet you could, once again, have.

Pets, Cunning and Ferocity and Tenacity as they are now, need to be funneled into three catagories. Direct damage. DoT damage and Utility. They are now, but they need to be further so; all direct damage pets need to basically do the same amount of damage. All DoT damage pets, need to do the same. And utility would be the Debuff's/etc pets, which while they'd not do as much damage as much as their others, would still offer some diversity.

Mean no one complained one run when I brought Sunscale into the group, for his Acid Spit since while we did have a war, he wasn't the tank. So IE no sunder armor.

Opening up all pet talent trees to all pets would also help this; a DPS worm would be much more useful in a run, even just as a utility pet.

The only downside I see for normalization is tanking pets.

IE the top 3 AoE pets are Turtle, Bear and Crocolisk, when played correctly. The top single target tank pets are Warp Stalker, Boar, Worm/Scorpid. Streamlining them into the normalization could mean that their special family skills are reduced greatly. Mean they would either all get an AoE of sort or a damage reduction, or they would get a debuff skill, or they would get nothing.

This could be fixed though, if the talent tree was fixed for tanking. No one really uses cobra strikes on a tank pet. So it could be replaced with Swipe, meaning all pets would get an AoE.

They could also get, later on, Bad Attitude. Now before you complain and claim it's op, I'd see a reworked Bad Attitude as more like a constant thorns or ret aura; which it basically is. But a pet version. This would mean though that if the pet had it, thorns nor ret aura would be able to buff the pet. But for solo play it should be just fine.

Then lastly Shell Shield; again it makes no sense at first. BUT, it's basically Shield Wall. And a simple rename would be good enough.

Meaning all tenacity pets get a second AoE, a Thorns/Ret aura ability, Tstomp is their threat AoE and Shell Shield would be their shield wall.

Meaning no one insulting you if you don't have bear/crocolisk/turtle, or claiming you're playing wrong or anything.

As tbh if they did this I wouldn't mind Crocolisks having a pure dmg attack instead of Bad Attitude. Cause then I could take Erebus into instances with me.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 3:15 am 
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This is really one of those sticky subjects. On the one hand, I do understand the desire to be able to use a pet based solely on looks, without having to go "Okay, am I gimping my DPS by bring this pet along?" But on the other, I have always loved that unique feel to pet's, pet's bringing a different flavor, or a different approach.

Now, my usual disclaimer, I'm not a developer. But Blizzards ideology, that exoctics should do more damage because that would mean there being a clear best pet, was always bull. The spirit beast argument was the only one they really had for that, since it was supposed to be their 'rare, hard to tame' pet. But even then, I've always thought that an exotic needed to be MORE then other pet's. Not on par, not below, but flat out better. The other two tree's got unique shots, we got unique pet's that we probably wouldn't end up using. It never seemed like a fair trade off to me. Would having beast mastery have meant HAVING to use an exotic? To an extent, yes. But it's no more of an extent that people HAVE to use a wolf now, or HAVE to use a devilsaur. The min/maxers are GOING to min/max no matter what you do, even if that percentage is just by .5. Blizzard has said as much themselves, but then go on to blithely state "But we feel like people are more likely to go for diferent pets if we have it within that .5%!" which is mostly untrue. The people who are just worried about the 'best' will continue using the best, and the people who don't care about that kind of thing will continue to use whatever. It was always, as is often the case with Blizzard, just a lame excuse meant to feed the masses some shlock that sounded good.

I understand the philosophy, I understand the ideology, but I don't understand the methodology. The wolf has been the clear best pet for a while now, and in most cases, not by a little. They speak a big game, and yet when it comes time to put up or shut up, we get silence from them. It would be a simple matter to balance out the wolf, or give furious howl the thunderstomp treatment, but as with many things, Blizzard is content to let something be blatantly better. I'd be a lot more inclined to believe their crap about balance if they ever actually did some balancing.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 3:34 am 
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Meh, i raid with whatever beast i like, and be damned to anyone else who tells me i'm 'doing it wrong'. i've been in raids where they don't care what pet i bring, and i've been in raids where they do care. honestly, any idiot who tells me how to play MY game, can get stuffed, i've got thousands of other people to play with.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 5:12 am 
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Illustrious Master Hunter
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I raid as BM, and no one has said anything about it. I do bring a devilsaur but not because I feel like I have to. I bring my devilsaur because I worked my booty off to get him, and I'm proud to have him.

I'm tired and don't feel like thinking or writing too much about it. But, I do feel that giving the ferocity tree the Furious Howl skill as a talent (and probably call it something else since I can't imaging a tallstrider howling), would do that tree a lot of good. They could easily give wolves something else to make up for it, and this would help to level out the playing field a little more.

Blizzard needs to just accept that min/maxers will always find a way to bring the "best" pet, even if it is only marginally better. But doing this one simple thing with Furious Howl would go a long way, I think.

Honestly, I really don't want to see the pets watered down to nothing more than just an aesthetic choice. I like browsing Petopia, trying to figure out which pets I want for which skill in which scenario. Some pet skills that may initially sound like poop often end up being pretty awesome. I'd like to keep it that way.

Unless Blizzard makes it to where no pets have any special skill/utility/whatever, and each pet has identical hp/defense/dps, they won't ever be perfectly balanced. Theorycrafters are going to sit there and figure out that pet A works best when you have stat B and use macro or cooldown C. The problem is that the wolves' skill has put them so far ahead (or so I hear, I don't use one) that it's become an issue. At least in BC, there were three pets to choose from (based on someone's example above of ravager/cat/raptor). Three is better than one.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 6:02 am 
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I bring my devilsaur not because thats whats expected its because I did spec BM and I have an ability to have a damn Trex go fourth and commence an ass kicking. Thats the only reason. I had someone tell me "hey switch to wolf or leave." I said to the DK "Ok but you swith to axes instad of your greatsword" He told me not to tell him what to do....Hehe see the irony?

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 6:34 am 
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My cat just woke me up for his morning "coffee" (dry food and hot water, he HAS to have it), so I'm not quite awake yet, but my feeling on it is that Blizzard make a mistake with the wolves. People feel like they have to have a wolf. While I think different abilities is a good thing, they need to get away from "must have" pet mentality. This may or may not be hard to achieve, but there's got to be middle ground somewhere.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 11:25 am 
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I personally like the way pets are now. The differences in pet DPS is usually pretty minimal, but most hardcore raiders try to squeeze out as much DPS as possible. I feel like another bonus with the wolf is the size. I see the blighthound skin pretty commonly and I feel like it's one of the smaller pets. I'm sure some people would find some bigger pets annoying. :P

Giving Furious Howl the "Thunderstomp" treatment would just change the raiding pet to something else.


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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 9:43 pm 
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Giving Furious Howl the "Thunderstomp" treatment would just change the raiding pet to something else.


You forget though, giving Thunderstomp to all tenacity pets made them pretty viable, and even outside of the top three, the rest are still pretty solid.

Furious Howl would probably boost several pets to the top, Devilsaur/Raptor/Moth/Cat/Spiritbeast/Wasps[Wolves depending on what they get] and possibly Carrion birds. If pets are being made to where they can be placed in any of the three pet trees, the Chimera/Wind Serpent/Dragonhawk/Spore Bats would be boosted too. And for tenacity, probably Scorpids and Bears.

See it's not really about the next top top pet as there will always be a top top pet, but this will make MORE pets viable and should cut the complaining down a bit too.

Because it'll either be Furious Howl is Streamlined or it will be removed entirely or reworked to be different.


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Unread postPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 11:36 pm 
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We are also changing many pet family abilities to provide important buffs and debuffs. The intention is to allow the hunter to be able to swap pets and fill a position if a certain role is missing from the group. The goal is to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet. Some examples of the changes we are making to the pet families are listed below:

Wind Serpents: Will provide a debuff that increases the amount of spell damage taken by an enemy (similar to a weaker version of the warlock ability Curse of Elements).
Ravagers: Will provide a debuff that will increase an enemy's Physical damage vulnerability (similar to a weaker version of the warrior ability [update:] Blood Frenzy [not Rampage]).
Hyenas: Will provide bleed damage (similar to a weaker version of the druid ability Mangle).


viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1504

I think Blizzard is going a good direction with this. Each pet still has a different ability, but they all bring something valuable to the raid...no warlock? Bring your wind serpent...no warrior? Bring your ravager. I guess the only annoying thing about this would be that other players would still try to say which pet we should bring.

It'd be great if the wolves howl became a talent available in the tenacity tree. Or if we could pick a tree for our pet, I agree with what Ryai says.

Quote:
Furious Howl would probably boost several pets to the top, Devilsaur/Raptor/Moth/Cat/Spiritbeast/Wasps[Wolves depending on what they get] and possibly Carrion birds. If pets are being made to where they can be placed in any of the three pet trees, the Chimera/Wind Serpent/Dragonhawk/Spore Bats would be boosted too. And for tenacity, probably Scorpids and Bears.


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 2:29 am 
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That's my point - unless Blizzard makes all pets completely and utterly identical, there will never be perfect balance. There will ALWAYS be some pet that is better for this and another pet that is better for that. But a) making Furious Howl a talent (or removing it altogether) and/or b) opening up the talent trees so that you can decide how to spec your pet, will make it so that players have more of a choice. The super-leet top guilds are still going to find the best pet to bring, even if it only does 0.02% more dps than another pet. But for the rest of us, we would likely have a lot more to choose from. Giving the tenacity tree Thunderstomp made a huge difference, at least in my opinion. You used to see gorillas everywhere, but now people are using all kinds of tenacity pets, and all are viable. I like Sheldon simply because I like turtles, but even tenacity pets like crocolisks and scorpids and boars are all useful now too, because they all have Thunderstomp.

I'm probably blathering, but basically it boils down to there will probably never be perfect balance. But I think giving ferocity Furious Howl will really help out a lot.

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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 3:12 am 
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Palladiamorsdeus wrote:
This is really one of those sticky subjects. On the one hand, I do understand the desire to be able to use a pet based solely on looks, without having to go "Okay, am I gimping my DPS by bring this pet along?" But on the other, I have always loved that unique feel to pet's, pet's bringing a different flavor, or a different approach.
Yep, same for me. I believe the devs feel the same way, or they would have completely normalised pets years ago.
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Would having beast mastery have meant HAVING to use an exotic? To an extent, yes. But it's no more of an extent that people HAVE to use a wolf now, or HAVE to use a devilsaur.
The devs (through GC) have stated that it strikes them as being wrong for BM to have a more limited pool of pets to choose from than MM and SV. There's also the fact that you can't get exotics until level 60, so a lot of hunters are going to object to being told that the pet they have used to get them to their 51 point talent is no longer a good choice. So if they have BM-only pet families at all, then they need to be optional. However, I personally wouldn't mind at all if they just abandoned the idea of exotic pet families altogether in favour of a "hunter must have Beast Mastery talent" prerequisite on some pet talents.
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The min/maxers are GOING to min/max no matter what you do, even if that percentage is just by .5. Blizzard has said as much themselves, but then go on to blithely state "But we feel like people are more likely to go for diferent pets if we have it within that .5%!" which is mostly untrue. The people who are just worried about the 'best' will continue using the best, and the people who don't care about that kind of thing will continue to use whatever. It was always, as is often the case with Blizzard, just a lame excuse meant to feed the masses some shlock that sounded good.
I think you're making a mistake here in dividing people into just two categories. My experience is that people care about min/maxing to different degrees. Some have a favoured spec that they will stick with regardless of what theorycrafting says. Some will change specs at the drop of a hat, for whatever the current flavour of the month happens to be. However, the "casual raiders" in DoA tend to mostly fall into the category where we will pay attention to the theorycrafting, but only think about switching when the discrepancies become huge, with the definition of "huge" varying for each raider (usually relating to how attached they are to their current spec, how easily they learn new ways of playing and much they care about being as good as they can be in the time they have available for the game). So the closer Blizz can get the balance between specs (and pets in the case of hunters) the smaller the pool of people that feel obliged to change. While Blizzard rightly acknowledge they will never reduce the size of that pool to zero, that's no reason to throw up their hands and give up on making it as small as possible.
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I understand the philosophy, I understand the ideology, but I don't understand the methodology. The wolf has been the clear best pet for a while now, and in most cases, not by a little. They speak a big game, and yet when it comes time to put up or shut up, we get silence from them. It would be a simple matter to balance out the wolf, or give furious howl the thunderstomp treatment, but as with many things, Blizzard is content to let something be blatantly better. I'd be a lot more inclined to believe their crap about balance if they ever actually did some balancing.
Changing Furious Howl would need a lot more design work than changing Thunderstomp did. If they just took it away across the board, then they risk nerfing hunters more than they intend. If they added it back in as a Ferocity talent, then they risk already competitive pets like Devilsaurs, Cats, Raptor and Spirit Beasts becoming overpowered, as well as having to consider the PvP implications. So, if I was them, I would be suitably cautious about messing with it as well. With entire DPS specs still not being PvE viable, having hunters overly dependent on a single pet family would probably be a fair way down the list of "things to fix".


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 12:37 pm 
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I believe I've shared my feelings on this question before, but I'll sum up here:

I am in favor of normalization in general because it increases the viable options for hunter pets. (... noting, as Nimizar so conveniently just stated, the definition of viable shifts with the particular hunter. My personal definition is extremely broad, but that doesn't mean that I think everyone's definition of viable should be.)

I was pleased when pursuit and attack speeds were normalized. I was pleased when differences in attack, health, and armor bonuses consolidated down into three variations (based on talent tree), and when those variations went away entirely. I think these were useful and necessary steps, and I'd like to see the process of normalization continue.

Now, it needs to stated that I don't want pets to lose their individual flavor. I don't want all pets to be completely identical except for their looks. What I want is for the way that pets get their flavor to shift, from being determined primarily by the family that the pet is in, to being determined completely by the individual hunter's choice of how they have spec'd their pet.

In other words, I want the hunter's choices to be the most important thing about a pet.

We seem to be moving in that direction. But there are a few additional steps to take, namely: allowing all pet families to use any single pet talent tree; and removing pet family skills. I have high hopes that Cataclysm will open up the talent trees to all families, and even if Cataclysm doesn't remove family skills it does seem that it will be narrowing the differences between them slightly. So all in all, I think this will be a beneficial expansion for hunter pets.

... But I haven't said anything about exotics yet, you'll notice. Exotics are an interesting special case. I like the notion that there are some pets that only Beast Masters can tame, but I wouldn't want to sacrifice hunter choice for exotics. So my ideal solution would be to remove exotic pet families, but make a couple of pets within each family exotic. For example, all silithids become non-exotic except for that tan one in Thousand Needles whose name I always forget; or all devilsaurs become non-exotic except for King Krush. (And Spirit Beasts could all stay exotic, I suppose.) The only trick with is that previously non-exotic pets should probably stay non-exotic so that no one who has them now loses the ability to use them. So any new exotic pets will need to be introduced with Cataclysm.

But I'd also be perfectly happy if Blizzard just abandoned the idea of exotics all together.

As I said, I don't think any of this is news. I've posted my views on the blog quite a bit. But this is a much better venue for discussion than a blog. (And a big thanks to Nimizar for moving the discussion here!) I sometimes think that I come across as ... wishy-washy? ... because I am fairly laid back in my own play style and about how others play. But I feel strongly about pets, and especially about pet normalization.


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 4:16 pm 
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Actually Mania I have to disagree on you in one point. The normalization of stats. This should be reversed for Cata as with the choice of- if it's right, allowing your pet to be in any tree, and a simple respecc at pet trainer to fix and change this, the stats should be as they once were. DPS doing a bit more damage, utility being a well rounded creature and tenacity having more health/armor than DPS. It's no different than like say, a hunter itself. Just ofc less extreme in the regards.

As honestly you wouldn't have to drag a tenacity pet into an instance anymore for a utility debuff. You could respecc it Cunning or Ferocity and all that.

That's honestly the one normalization I never liked- and as Blizzard said they basically did that as their FIRST attempt to fix hunter pets for people choosing, naturally, ferocity over Cunning for PVE...


when cunning was supposed to be more pvp orientated lol...


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 5:00 pm 
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Ryai, are you saying that your pet's base stats would change depending what tree you spec'd them in? I'd be fine with that, so long as it was linked to the talent tree and not the pet family.


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 5:30 pm 
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I actually think it would be neat if they let us choose our pet's talent tree, then gave each tree mastery bonuses.

So tenacity spec'ed pets would get tanking bonuses, while ferocity and cunning pets would get different flavours of DPS bonus.


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 5:39 pm 
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Mania wrote:
Ryai, are you saying that your pet's base stats would change depending what tree you spec'd them in? I'd be fine with that, so long as it was linked to the talent tree and not the pet family.


Yes that's what I'm saying, revert it back to how it was in wrath, since I didn't clarify it more. How Ferocity had 10% dps, how Cunning was flat 5% across the board, and perhaps tweak it so Tenacity got 10% for HP and armor and 0% for dps as you're not using a tanking pet to dps anyways.

I mean I don't expect different speccs to be so ... damn equal as to take away anything absolutely useful.


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