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I’m not sure pet skills are so unique, from a balance perspective. Across the MMO universe, lots of classes gain various passive abilities that don’t factor into the action economy.
Is having a pet really that much more of a difficult balance problem than heavy/medium/light armor classes, or classes with buffs that can be cast pre-combat?
I suppose in some games, those two examples are relatively minor effects, while as you point out few people are happy with pets being a minor effect. In other games, though, armor classes and/or buffs are a huge deal–I’m remembering Anarchy Online’s buffs, which were enormous.
Guild Wars 1 might be an interesting case in point. Most primary class abilities didn’t interact with the action economy that much. If Rangers hadn’t had such a great primary ability already in Expertise, they could easily have buffed pets and made Beast Mastery a primary ability.
As far as Pet Tamer goes, wouldn’t part of the action soak for the pet be keeping the pet motivated and buffing it during the activity?
That seems like it would be the big difference between pet skills like Necromancy (where the individual pets are pretty much disposable) and Pet Taming (where the particular pet probably has a name, and took some effort to get). So to me, it seems like you’d want to favor “Discard the minion and make a new one” for Necromancy, and “Who’s a good dire wolf? Are you? Yes, you are!” buffing for Pet Taming.
Well I wouldn’t say they’re the hardest balancing task, but the player expectations limit your options, which can make it tough.
Never played much of AO. In most games with big armor differences, the armor categories are split by role, so you rarely have to direct-compare a robe and a plate mail because the same player couldn’t realistically wear both.
But in a game without a heavy role focus, a big armor dichotomy is definitely hard to balance, especially if people with lower armor are expecting to have higher DPS in return.
Buffs can be a problem too, but it’s usually pretty easy to subtract from their direct damage/healing/whatever to balance out the buff. When the buffs are too powerful for that, it does get hard. I have that problem with buffs in my current game, as many are very strong. Might end up using the Concentration idiom to help rein them in. Or just nerf the hell out of em :) pre-combat buffs aren’t really that fun anyway, so the easier fix is probably just to pare them back.
Brad – hmm, I’d been imagining a lot of that motivating would be done between battles, as opposed to giving pets pep talks mid-fight. But you’re right that I can probably do that to help use up some actions, thanks! Though even so, there’s still probably a lot more actions to fill.
I guess my thought is that from a certain perspective the pet abilities are just window dressing. I don’t know, maybe that’s cheating. :)
If you give the pet a base base amount of damage per attack, and then give the Pet Tamer a command which makes the pet perform some special attack or temporarily raise the pet’s damage per attack, it’s still really the player’s action that’s important but it’s expressed through the pet. So a player ends up with the choice between using their abilities to encourage the pet to do better in combat, or to use their other combat skills.
Back before I burnt out on World of Warcraft, the hunter pets had species specific skills that mostly worked okay if you left them on automatic but there were a few that were really really useful if you clicked them you needed them. I think turtles had a ‘cower in your shell’ ability and some of the birds had a charge/interrupt that they could be commanded to do. But it gave hunters reasons to choose each of the specific pets, and but also gave them (more) reasons to manage what the pet was doing during the fight.
But it seems to me that the big complication for something like Pet Taming is that you’re ending up with this parallel itemization (choosing and breeding the pets), and you need to make sure that the pets are an extension of the player. And one of the things I remember about WoW was that even though it put all of that emphasis on equipment stats, there wasn’t really much of anything for improving pet stats so you’d run into the problem of outgrowing the pet. I think they might have switched to giving pets a percentage of the hunter’s equipment, but it’s been a few years.
Either way, I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see what you work out for Project Gorgon.
Will beast speech have anything to do with training pets?
As i wrote ingame, simply take a good hard look at Ultima Online… pre-trammel.
Best animal taming game ever created, and i tried them all… :p
But Ultima Online has 700 skillpoint cap, and each skill goes to 100 (back then), and with animal taming going to 100, and being able to heal them, with bandaging, taking 100… well that leaves less options open for other combat skills.
In Project Gorgon, since u can get all… well… i find that path abit troublesome.
Also in Ultima Online, if you had Fencing for example, to get maximum damage, you would also need to have Anatomy i think it was… which leveled via fighting, but was still needed to get the maximum amount of dmg.
Same with Magery, would need Meditation for example, + another i cant remember.
My advice, to balancing things like Animal Taming. Make a skillcap, allow us to level whatever combination we want, but make us choose out of XXX amount of skillpoints.
Animal Taming: 100 points
Animal Healing/Veterinary (passive): 100 points
Fire Magic: 100 points
Lore (passive dmg buff to magic skills): 100 points
Gather Skill: 100 Points
Crafting Skill: 100 Points
First Aid: 100 Points
This is a tamer who can use some fire magic and still have a gather + craft skill, + some self sustain via healing. Now this is far from a perfect example. Imo there should be a meditation (power regen skill) ingame also, and Magic Resist skill. Which would have been replacing the crafting skills in this case, for PvP atleast.
You could also ofcourse split up your skill points as you wish, going:
First Aid: 50
Armor Repair: 50
And so on… aslong as you understand there is a 700 max cap, and if you hit that cap, you would need to “skill down” current skills to level new ones.
Sorry for rambling… but Ultima Online did this absolutely perfect. Please take a look.
Tamers are also the only ones able to tame Horses/Special mounts for people… making it an economy itself. In Ultima Online you could ride the normal horses with 0 Animal Taming, hence being able to purchase such horses.
The skills you needed to be a pure tamer was:
Allready taking 300 out of your 700 maximum skill points.
I can recomend doing some research on this…
Good old stratics have lots nice information still… even though i prefer the oldschool information.
I thought the City of Heroes/Villains game had just one of the best pet classes ever, the Mastermind. While you had some offensive powers, the majority of your abilities relied on summoning and buffing your pets (and teammates). Really well done.
Never tried that game. But if i were to login to Ultima Online, and check my stables, i would still have my old White Wyrm… who would be 10+ years old. A buddy i have fought many evil critters with over the years, and a buddy i have saved more than once from evil PK’s trying to kill him.
And a buddy i have logged in to heal in the very last moment from evil disconnects…
I still remember lots of the adventures i have had and shared with my pets in Ultima Online, and THAT is what makes a good involving tamer game.
In my humble opinion… physically shaking over almost loosing your valued personal pet… is something unique, and something only Ultima Online has managed to capture.
what about having various “tricks” that you can command your pet to do to various effects. So basically them attacking normally is like a small Damage over time effect, punctuated with them distracting an enemy or some such.
Perhaps even have combat maneuvers that are collaborations between you and your pet. I can see signalling your pet to stand in position to trip a foe you force to retreat.
I still play Ultima Online and until recently as a tamer. I like the basics of thier system. The biggest problem our shard had with tamers is they became too strong in PvP. However, in some group activities, like spawns and peerless, pets very much needed, both for damage and tanking.
Another issue UO had concerning pets was how many pets a tamer could control at once. They solved this by assigning a certain number of pet points a tamer had and each pet was assigned a certain number. So if a tamer was allowed 5, and a greater dragon was 5, that was the only pet the tamer could have. He couldn’t even ride a horse.
I guess you play freeshard?
Tamers are not strong in PvP. Just kill them.
They have zero fighting skills.
(Played on Europe, and was one of the more active PK’s in the game… tamers were food)