Like most MMOs, since its release Wizard101 has added more to the game than new worlds, quests and level caps. The Bazaar, housing, crafting, mounts and gardening were also major additions to the game. One feature that can be considered more of an evolution than an addition, is pets.
When Wizard101 first went live, most pets (other than the school pets obtained at level 48) were vanity items. They didn’t make a difference in questing or PvP unless you happened to get an ultra-rare drop from a boss battle. The best example of this is the Fairy Queen dropped by Smogger; it comes with a a 480-point healing card that could be cast on yourself or a teammate.
In May of 2009, the nature of pets began to change. Gift cards for Wizard101 were introduced; each gift card came with a pet, and every pet had a spell card. More pet drops were introduced via the Halloween towers and boss battles. Change was in the air, but I’m not sure Ravenwood students were aware just exactly how MUCH change!
Twelve months later, KingsIsle unleashed Advanced Pets upon The Spiral, and the game will never be the same. One day, wizards logged in and their pets had number above their heads. Pets could now be trained and, as they leveled to their maximum potential and develop attributes that help players in battle.
Unlike pet training in some other games, the training of pets in The Spiral takes place independent of battles and character leveling and the player has virtually no control over what talents eventually manifest in their pets. For example, in World of Warcraft, the hunter class “tames” pets to use in battle. The player typically studies the various pets available for taming and picks a pet that will suit their play style (solo playing, PvP, etc.). The pet levels up at about the same rate that the hunter does, and the player is able to choose which talents the pet develops.
[singlepic id=3307 w=196 h=260 float=left]In Wizard101, pets gain no levels from battles. Players must use their pet to play “mini-games” in order for the pet to gain XP. These games are free, but players are limited in the amount of leveling they can do every few hours. With introduction of Advanced Pets, Kings Isle included an “Energy Globe” that is depleted a bit every time you play a pet game. Once the Energy Globe is empty, you can’t play any more pet games until more energy creeps back into your globe. Your pet earns a (tiny) amount of XP depending on how well you do in each mini-game.
The XP from mini-games can be boosted a bit by feeding your pet a snack immediately after the game is finished. You can buy low-level snacks with in-game currency and sometimes they are dropped in battles. Higher level snacks can be crafted, bought in the Crowns Shop (i.e. with real life money) or they can be “harvested” via gardening. The higher level the snack is, the bigger the XP boost will be. You can also increase the XP gained through feeding snacks by making sure the snack is from the same school as your pet (the school symbol is on the snack card) and by figuring out what type of food your pet likes (some examples are candy and vegetables) and feeding those snacks.
There are five levels of pet maturity to be gained through XP: Baby, Teen, Adult, Ancient and Epic. The XP is reset to zero as each new maturity level is reached. As the pet levels, attributes called “talents” manifest. The talents could be extra mana for the player, added shielding or a spell for the player to cast. Some pets manifest spells that they cast in addition to spells their owner casts. Some pets come with talents as babies and there is an opportunity for pets to manifest new talents at each threshold of a new maturity level. However, the talents that manifest are thoroughly random. Players can scour the internet for knowledge to predict what attributes their pet might develop, but there are no guarantees.
The best-known and most well-researched site for researching pet talents is the Petnome site. It is an official Wizard101 fan site and was inspired by observations reported by Wizard101 player, Miguel WildThorn. Kevin BattleBlood has a team of wizards from literally both sides of the Atlantic researching pet talents on a daily basis and contributing to the overall database of knowledge.
Luckily for my readers, Kevin has agreed to answer a few questions about Advanced Pets; that interview will be featured in my next column.