Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Magic of Wizard101 / Pet System Analysis

It started as a single drop.  Then a small trickle.  Suddenly, the side of Hoover Dam blasted forward, raining rubble and hundreds of gallons of water.  Those caught in the blast could only stare at the massive rush of debris and foam as they are carried away.

That is just a brief description of the players' responses to Wizard101's news update today.  Zeus bless Wednesday, April 28th, 2010.

Twitter, Blogger, Wizard101Central, and surely Facebook (I haven't checked myself, but it follows that pattern) exploded with posts in relation to the released pictures and information regarding the first of this year's greatest changes to the game.  Everyone was mutually excited, and even as I write this, I am discussing with a few friends about the possibilities that will soon open up.

While sitting at work, my phone begins rumbling endlessly as Twitter and blog feeds poured in.  I pick it up and learn I've received, 4....wait, 7 new messages.  The first message, a Tweet from Heather Emeraldflame.  Something about a pet ad.  Then another from Amber Rosepetal.  I go to check my Blogger Dashboard to find out if there is any lengthier written description on this spurt of news.  Four blogs, one each from Heather, Amber, and Cassandra mentioned earlier, and one from AutumnalDusk.  My heart jumps, and I'm clicking away to read more.

I honestly have never been so excited about a game update before, even when there were constant changes to a game I used to play in league gaming.  This is the first game where I've witnessed first-hand such a magnitude of a reaction from a community as soon as something hits the public...everyone is sharing information faster and broader than Wikipedia could ever cover efficiently.  Even though I was surrounded by gray, fabric walls in my cubicle, I could imagine the hundreds...maybe thousands...of players who were experiencing joy at the same time.  I felt like everyone was standing up at some point, and we were all shouting or pumping our fists to the roof in our minds.  What an influence, KingsIsle...well done!

Now, onto some serious business!  What we see and what we may expect to come:

The video that was released along with the news confirms that the pets in-game will look like creatures we've seen before, but much smaller.  For example, there is Crusher from Marleybone, that is shown being controlled, and the Skeletal Warrior (time to free Friendly!) in the picture describing that pets can be "unleashed in your Castles and Homes."  I've included a transcript of the mini-movie below:

"Adventure awaits you in the Pet Park.  Challenge your pets against others in the new Racing Game!  Train and care for your pets.  Power them up, and they will power you up!  Combine pets, to mix and match powers...the possibilities are endless!  Grow your pet to the ultimate Wizard101 power!..."
--KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc.

Here's a transcript from a commercial on YouTube that Cassandra Griffindreamer was so kind to share with me:

"Now in Wizard101 you can collect and display hundreds of pets, call them to you, or send them away...even have a dance pet party....your Castle has never been so alive.

Power up your pets in mini-games.  See them grow from Egg to powerful, ancient pets.  As your pets become more powerful, you become more powerful.  Use pets as allies in magical duels.  Their powers become your powers.

Grow your pet skills in the new race course.  Race your pets against other wizards' pets.  Watch their derby skills grow as you train them.

Now you can combine two pets to hatch MILLIONS of possibilities.  Each pet has the potential for thousands of skills that manifest as they grow.  Collect all your pets now, so you can hatch all new pets."
  1. Set your pets free to roam your Castles & Lands.
  2. Get your pets some exercise in the Derby.
  3. Buy or craft them treats to make them happy.
  4. Let them have some fun in the Mini-Games.
  5. Create new pets with the magic of Hatching.
  6. Watch as your pets cast their own spells in battle.

--KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc.
 "Pet Park."  So there's a large hangout place for all our little companions to strut around in (and for us to follow their lead).  The idea of an "adventure" in there though...figurative speech, or are there puzzles or quests to solve?

"Racing Game."  " skills in the race course."     Well, kind of what I hoped not to expect...Runes of Magic already has their own derby, and there were some issues with different lag and delay affecting the true results displayed on each player's screen.  For example, someone seeing that they passed the finish line first yet ended up ranked as 2nd or 3rd is bound to quit playing after a few instances, especially if the prize for winning is decent enough to aim for.  And apparently they will become more talented the more they race or train in minigames?  So instead of PVP, people will now pour all their time into racing...

"Power them up, and they will power you up."  "Power up your pets in minigames."  "Watch as your pets cast their own spells in battle."  "...potential for thousands of skills that manifest as they grow."  Wait, hold on, what?  "THOUSANDS of skills?"  There's not even that many spells in Wizard101 combined, even including Natural Attacks like some minions and monsters have!  But, what could that mean?  Will we actually get to see a Lava Kraken attacking our enemy instead, without a Beguile?  Does it mean our existing spells will be fabricated into other classes, such as a Bone Wyvern, or a Storm Colossus?  And, will be able to control our pets?  I'm somewhat disappointed that the clips they use during the announcement for this feature was a Pixie healing a wizard.  Also, a tad worried about the Pet system...would they be implemented into PVP, and if so, how much skill will actually be involved if we cannot control our Pets?  And if we can control them, does that mean a greater disadvantage for the person going second (two spells in the same turn, without a minion)?  And these skills...will our pets add to what they know, like wizards, or will spells be replaced?  What happens to pets that were bought with Gift Cards that give spells?  Will they be lost in the mating process?

These are just a "few" of the mechanical questions in regards to what makes the game really enjoyable.  KingsIsle has done a great job thus far (as I've mentioned many times), but with so many new features at the same time, I fear that somewhere in all of this, a shark has been jumped.  I do not doubt they will once again surprise all of us in terms of how well they control a new system or expansion, but the tinkering and clanking behind the scenes seems complex.  After the Wing Mount bug, which was a serious deal for those who were guilty or "innocent" that used it, I can't imagine how many holes we'll find with this flood of functions, and the steps needed to cover every single area from Pets in battle, Pets in race, and Pets at home. 

However, I do see an update that I'm positive about, that they didn't mention directly in their ads:  different appearances of pets.  In the commercial on the official Wizard101 site, it seems like all the pets were just clones of our spells or monsters.  But, take a look at this snapshot from the YouTube video:

In the red circles, notice the three different Ninja Pigs, differently colored.  Then look at the yellow circle, where that Cyclops (with yellow skin and a beard and hair!!!).  So here's a new question:  are the Pigs different models, or are they the same and just differently colored?  But at least this screen answers the "MILLIONS" of combinations part...I mean, facial hair for a Cyclops!!  Who would have thought??

Thanks for your time!

Happy hunting!


  1. An excellwnt post, most worth of your skills!

  2. In that picture with the bearded cyclops, there seem to be two or three more unidentified pets in the background. I can't really tell what they are, maybe grendels? Or are they pets we haven't even heard of before? Nice post.

  3. plz come to my wizard101 blog, i need some more followers


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