Exclusive Ether Saga Online Interview - Pet Collecting 101

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When the developers at Perfect World Entertainment put together their North American version of Perfect World International, everyone on the staff at Ten Ton Hammer was impressed. Everything in the game was translated extremely well, and the gameplay matched what we expected from a game that boasted so much hype.

Now the PWE team has put its efforts into the localization of Ether Saga Online, but what should gamers be expecting with PWE’s next MMO title? Along with more tween-friendly graphics and standard class-based advancement system, ESO sports one of the most in-depth pet systems in any MMO thus far. Recently, Ten Ton Hammer’s Cody Bye got on the phone with Craig Beers, the product manager for ESO, to talk about the game’s pets.

Pets are a big part of Ether Saga Online.

Ten Ton Hammer: Pets are a big part of your Ether Saga Online. Can you give us some basics? Can anyone have pets? Can you choose to fight without a pet?

Craig Beers: The pet system is the integral part of our game. Every class has a pet in our game, unlike other MMOs that only have specific classes that can have pets. They are important to the gameplay in several ways.

First, there are nine monster types in the game, and there is a paper-rock-scissors system between those monsters. Some monsters have definite advantages over other monster types. You can bring along pets that can assist you against monsters that you might be weak against or want an advantage over. You can choose to fight without a pet, but the pets do give you added bonuses and skills that they get as they level up.

The last really crucial element in the pet system is the fact that you can Fuse with your pet and you have a shared HP pool. So if you’re fighting a really tough monster that would normally wipe the floor with your character, you can Fuse with your pet and whenever the monster hits you, half the damage will go to you and half will go to your pet. That’s really good for tanks as well, especially if you’re fighting a big, bad boss mob.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do the character classes fall into that “paper-rock-scissors” system too?

Craig: All the player characters in the game are humanoids, so that fall under one of the monster types. But the classes don’t necessarily fall into something like that.

Ten Ton Hammer: From your official website, it looks like Ether Saga Online uses a basic class-based system. How does the pet system work into that? Do pets change depending on your class? Or can anyone have any type of pet?

There are four monster types that players can capture.

Craig: I’ll try to bridge all of those questions together. Right now there are four monster types that players can capture. We will eventually be opening that up to more monster types that you can capture.

That said, whenever you get a new monster, that creature has random statistics. One of those statistics is called attitude, which is broken down into normal, fierce, calm and bright. Each pet acts differently depending on the type of attitude they have. If they’re fierce, they are a front line fighter type of creature. They’re more melee oriented, while bright types are healing type pets.

If you’re a tank, you might want a bright type pet to heal you while you’re fighting. But if you’re the conjurer class, you probably want a pet that can tank a mob for you.

Ten Ton Hammer: So if you’re in the later levels of the game and want to specialize even further into your class, you might opt for a pet that adds extra bonuses to your character on top of what you already do. Is that a good way to think about it?

Craig: Yes.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you talk about the Fuse system a little bit more? Is it something that’s based off of a timer? Are players only going to be merged with their pets for limited amounts of time?

Craig: There’s no timer on the fused pet system.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there a drawback to the system?

Craig: If you’re Fused with a pet and don’t have another pet on the field, your pet doesn’t gain any experience, so that could be a drawback. However, when you have an active pet on the field and fuse with another pet, you have the option to split EXP between the two pets.  So a Fused pet can receive anywhere from 0-100% of the Pet’s share of EXP. Other than putting another pet at risk with the fusing, there are no real disadvantages to the system. The game tries to encourage you to level up multiple pets for the melding system and monster advantage system.

But there aren’t any penalties to Fusing with your pet.

Ten Ton Hammer: So pets can level on their own? Do they automatically gain new skills and abilities? Or will players need to go to vendors to upgrade their pets?

Craig: Pets will gain one skill on their own, but you can also go to a trainer in town and learn new skills for that pet based on their attitude statistic. For instance, fierce pets might gain an ability that boosts their attack power or something like that versus a bright attitude gaining healing spells and things like that.

Pets have a faster leveling curve than the player. It’s much faster, in fact. I’ve been playing a character on the closed beta; I’m level 25 right now and I have two pets that are both level 26. They level up much faster than the player character, and that’s basically to use with the pet melding system.

Ten Ton Hammer: How many pets can a player have at a time?

Craig: You can have one out and active on the field, but you can keep as many as you want in your inventory slots. There isn’t a stable that you can put your pets in like Blizzard has put in WoW. Assuming you have space for it, you can own every single pet in the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: What happens if a player uses the same pet from the very beginning levels to the end game? Will the pet be super strong? A pimped out super pet? Or will players be looking for that stronger pet?

Players will always be looking for their next cool pet.

Craig: Players will always be looking for the stronger, more advanced pet. The mobs that players can capture later in the game have stronger stat growth than the early pets. Every single pet has a specific range of stat growth, HP, strength, stamina, etc. The stronger monsters have better stat growth.

Ten Ton Hammer: So players will be trying to get into those higher end areas and trying to capture the more advanced monsters so he can have the “ultimate” pet.

Craig: But you can only capture a pet if his level is the same as yours or below. You can’t capture a higher level pet. Those higher level monsters would kill lower level players anyway, because you’re trying to get that monster down to a sliver of their HP in order to capture it.

The capturing isn’t 100% guaranteed every time either. You have to go into town and buy these nets from an NPC and sometimes those captures will fail. If you’re trying to capture a pet that’s at your level, it can be fairly dangerous.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are players going to be trying to capture every single pet? Will we want to catch them all?

Craig: I think so. A lot of the monsters from the end game are really awesome looking. That said, you start out with a little baby fox. It’s definitely not the most badass looking pet, y’know?

You’re going to want to go out and get something that looks really cool.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do the appearance of the pets change when they level up? Are people going to collect the bigger monsters simply because they look better?

Craig: People will probably collect the pets for different reasons. Some people will have the Pokemon attitude and want to collect them all. Others will want to collect the unique looking pets that no one else has. Some players will probably collect them to level them up and use them for the “melding system” that I referred to earlier.

When pets hits level thirty or above, you can meld two of them together. You aren’t going to create a chimera, but you are going to get one of those two pets back with increased statistic growth. You can meld pets up to ten times. You can really max out pet stat growth that way.

When you meld pets, their stats reset back to level one, and that’s why the pet leveling curve is so much faster than the players. If I have a pet that has an HP growth stat that is five points higher than it was previously, that pet is going to have 150 more hit points by the time he hits level 30.

Ten Ton Hammer: So essentially end-game players are going to capture ten of the highest ranked pets that they can, then they’re going to meld all those pets together to form the “uber” pet. Is that what players are going to do?

Craig: *laughs* There are several reasons why players are going to use the meld system. One is the stat growth that I talked about. The other is in the attitudes. When you start melding your pets, they have a chance of having an upgraded attitude. A bright pet can become “pious” and that allows them to gain more advanced skills.

Ten Ton Hammer: You’ll do that be melding two bright pets together?

Melding pets is a way to create a monster that players can't currently capture.

Craig: There’s a host pet and a supporting pet, and if you have the bright pet in the host slow, that’s where you’ll get the upgrade.

I don’t know if you’ve ever played Shin Megami Tensei series, but it’s a lot like that.

There’s also a random chance that you’ll get a completely new pet. That increases as the melding numbers increase; if you’ve melded a pet over three times the chance for mutation increases.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Craig: The unique aspect of it is that the creature might mutate into a monster type that players can’t capture right now. Essentially it’s a way to get something in the game that no one else has.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do players have to control their pets? Or is it a system that’s more AI controlled?

Craig: Pets will automatically assist you if you attack a mob, or you can give them directions to go attack a mob. The weaker classes like to have the aggro nabbed by the pets for them, so they can unleash their spells.

For the pet skills, they can either be auto-cast or manual cast.

Ten Ton Hammer: Essentially, players have as much control over their pet as they want.

Craig: Exactly. Players can have pets come and assist them or they can tell their pets to sit their and watch. The pets are smart; they won’t go run off and attack a monster if you don’t want them to.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you’d like to tell Ten Ton Hammer readers and potential Ether Saga Online fans?

Craig: I really just want to let everyone know that this game is accessible to a wide audience of players. It’s definitely an MMO for experienced players, yet a person who’s new to MMOs will play through the game very easily. Someone who wants to get more out of the game can go into the meldings and the monster types and have a much richer experience.
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