I come to bury KI, not to praise them! ok, perhaps that's a bit too dramatic, but this post's purpose is not to look at the silver lining like I usually do here. This post's purpose is to look at what could be improved and at the same time help me understand why I'm coming away from this advanced pet expansion feeling . . . unsatisfied?
I, like most of you, have now played through a few days of the new advanced pets expansion to Wizard101. I, again like most of you, found a lot of fun in the new features like I was a kid at Christmas time opening a brand new present. what I found there was shiny and new! But after the glow of Christmas is gone, we start to kind of see the flaws in a toy, and unfortunately, it if isn't our favorite, we tend to ignore it and it eventually ends up in the basement.
For us, however, it may not be too late since we're still on the test realm, and if there are enough voices raised, then there will be more chance for change. So, if you see some issues with the test realm, now is probably the time to talk about it. Here's my jeremiad:
1- Pet Hatchery--my egg hatched! It's a fire-school only Helephant pet that I spent 80,000 on. I can't equip him, so I can't build him up or anything. In my hands he's an eternal baby. I don't have a fire school alt on this account, so . . .
80,000 gold to me roughly equates to around 8 hours of farming ravens. That's a lot of work. Something isn't right with this system. You might think if I had been able to equip my helephant pet, that you wouldn't be reading this right now, but you're wrong. If the pet had turned out to be an unusable death-school Wraith for Bailey, then you'd be hearing the exact same rant, because she'd be out 80,000 gold. Something isn't right with this system. That's too much risk.
Also, I thought perhaps that some pets would combine to create hybrids. I haven't really seen that yet. Combining pets now just means that you'll both get one of the pets back with more potential built into them. (How is that fair for both people if they're using class specific pets?) I kind of thought maybe just maybe out of 50 pets combining with 50 pets there would be a few instances where you would get a hybrid. I hope that happens occasionally, but I've yet to hear about that happening.
2- Pet Energy--As it is now, At Grandmaster you get to play 6 games twice a day (it takes 12 hours to refill your pet energy and you get less energy if you're a lower level) without spending 50 cents real money to play more (the real cost of pet energy being refilled). I feel that we should ALL get to play 6 games three times a day (in other words, lower the regeneration of pet energy to 1 every 10 minutes instead of 15 minutes and account for the time people are asleep). People will want to play the game before school/work, after school/work, and before bed time . . . AND, if not that, then please consider having each pet maintain their own pet energy rather than have it be "my own" energy.
3- Mini-games and the derby. I kind of feel like there's a couple things that could be improved with these games.
3A- The dance game: man this feels less than stellar. With all the wild popularity of Dance Dance Revolution, why wouldn't you take the scrolling arrow approach with this game? And if not the scrolling arrow, why wouldn't you take the ever-growing pattern-based Simon says approach rather than the random-based Simon says approach? Both of those are much more fun applications of the dance game. A dance game should be fun, and a HUGE part of the fun with dancing is the music, which sounds GREAT. It's just that it's buried so far in the background I can hardly hear it and the sounds of the arrows clash with the sounds of the music. There's so much potential for coolness here, why is it not implemented better? Also, please let us use WASD for controls as well as arrows.
3B- The cannon game: We need a practice shot to get our bearings please. After a practice shot, it becomes much much more clear where you need to point the cannon. Also, please let us use WASD as well as arrows to aim.
3C- The maze game: If you're going to give me a time limit, then I need a reasonable amount of time to finish the maze. If you're going to make it like pac-man, then please make it like pac-man: more opportunities to gobble ghosts, they should change color when I grab a blue star, they should be worth more than dots (or cake slices as the case may be), there should be a magic pet snack fruit appear near the tree in the center that gives a bonus stat increase. I want to see video of someone actually finishing this maze in the time that's allotted. I want to know it can be done.
3D- The dropping food game: I should be able to jump to grab food I'm under. It would really help the fun of this game. Much like the dance game, i don't end up watching much of the colorful graphics, I'm concentrating on the shadows on the ground, which don't really match up well with what I'm catching btw. (shouldn't a chicken leg shadow look like a chicken leg shadow?)
3E- Pet Derby--I like the pet derby. I'm a Sergent, but what I've found is that this mini-game really feels more like "battle of the ping rates." Besides being completely dropped from races, there's times when I seem to just run the course and lose control of what I'm doing because of extreme lag. I basically lose control of the ability to jump for the entire course because of lag. It usually ends up with me completely destroying the other racer because they have horrible lag, or I am completely destroyed because they're Sigbritt Lothberg or something. Also, I'm not too impressed that the courses are so static. They should be random; otherwise, I just need to memorize 9 tracks. It's like they got the dancing game and the pet derby backwards. The dancing game should be on a static track and the pet derby should be more random (e.g., change ground cover textures between each match randomly and make star placement more random too).
4- Pet Experience--To raise a pet from baby to Epic, you're going to spend about a month of dedicated pet grinding I would guess. I have no problem with this really . . . it's just that I have 5 pages of pets. That means most of them are pretty much just house decorations (especially since each pet doesn't have their own energy level).
4a- pet decorations (since I'm talking about them)--I know that if I *dance*, then my pets will start dancing around me randomly, but would it be too much to ask for some additional controls to command pets to dance, or stop dancing, or come to me, or go away from me, stay in place, guard here, etc. I'm sure there's a number of controls that could be given that would help increase the fun with pets in housing. (LOVE that my pets can be in my house, just, once again, could be implemented better.)
5- Pet Assistance in Battle--I've actually yet to see my wraith step into battle and do something cool. My son's ice cat attacked on Unicorn Way, but that's the only time I've seen it happen. Wouldn't it make more sense that as you leveled your pet, they would become more trained? I think when a pet is a baby or a teen, they should be more apt to randomly attack, but when they are an adult they start asking you if they can attack? For instance if I'm in the battle circle, then wouldn't it be more awesome if my pet would suddenly get a button over his head asking if he could assist? By the time my pet is epic, this should evolve from a button to a subset of 2 or 3 cards where I can pick and choose what my extremely well-trained pet does in battle for the cost of its favorite snack? In real-life well trained pets respond to my commands and are instantly rewarded. Like this fella:
HOURS of training and rewards have made this dog do things on command . . . to the point you are creating art through your animal. In Wizard101, dueling is an art.
I hope this helps. I hope I haven't just "ranted." I hope I've given some constructive criticism that helps. I don't just want to kill Ceaser. That's not my purpose here. My purpose is to try and rid myself of that feeling I mentioned earlier: feeling unsatisfied.