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I should have done this a while ago, but this morning, before I went to the Gym, I returned to Dun Morogh to retame the original skin of my bear who’s been with me since I first captured them in Winterspring. Of course, that is now not the ‘default’ bear skin, and ever since the upgrade I’ve felt uncomfortable with the look. I’ll make no bones about it, aesthetics matter not one jot when placed alongside the history this bear and I have experienced together. To have my skin arbitrarily updated was sad, but in fairness to the Devs allowing the old skins to exist alongside the new at least acknowledges the concession that this stuff matters. However, there’s a far bigger problem I now have to deal with. Last night, my Husband gifted me the Mecha-Bond Imprint Matrix, which is great. The problem for me however is that I have no more space in Pherian’s stable to accommodate a Mechanical pet.

I realise that this is perhaps rich coming from a player with multiple Hunter alts, but the fact remains that if the Developers keep adding new families of tameable pets to the game, it should be possible for someone who only plays a single character to be able to collect them without needing to dismiss any of the unique skins they possess, especially as many of them involve complicated or involved tames. If you design the game a certain way, that means there will be consequences, and although I could remove one of those L90 as yet unsummoned skins? Should I have to? It’s an interesting question and worth further consideration: How much change in game is really needed to allow players to be happy?

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I don’t think ActiBlizz realised until quite late on in the game’s lifespan how important it was for player choice to be front and centre, especially when it came to aesthetics. Now we have Transmog and are able to match pets to mounts to vanity pets, it happens with increasing frequency. At a point in Alpha there was no plan in place to allow Hati to be ‘moggable’ for instance, and I wonder now how many players might have left in disgust if that ‘idea’ had made it to live. You just need to look at the amount of variety in the Trueshot Lodge to grasp that if you’re not changing the appearance of you pet, that places you squarely in the minority of Beast Mastery hunters. Yet, there’s no real grasp (it seems to me) of how looks only matter to a point, and once you start trampling on the memories of individual players or their basic sense of enjoyment… and that takes us back to the notion of Class fantasy, and why so many people  won’t let go of a stable of pets, even if they’re playing Marksmanship. 

Sometimes it is not about playing to win, but why you played to begin with.

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Once upon a time, Alts weren’t nearly as important to players. Then when it became apparent that people would spend money to have different classes and specs (for whatever reason) the Alt became the way of allowing players variety but not at the expense of gimping their enjoyment. When Achievements became account wide it was the ultimate concession that many players just didn’t do this game one way, they’d play as many different characters as they could to keep their experience fresh and interesting. What has now happened is that there’s a mechanic in place (your Artifact) that pretty much demands a level of commitment that, like it or not, pushes players into more and more time online. The problem as a Hunter however is that I have 3 dps specs and honestly, the other two Artifacts are largely pointless to collect. In fact, they’re completely negated when this game works as it should and I’m assured I’ll do comparable amounts of dps with all the playstyles.

That would then suppose that I’d get bored having completed the Weapon and go level another spec for variety, except with the amount of time I now have to play, that’s hugely impractical. If I want to keep my head above water and complete the things that matter, I can only play one character. Giving me an entire place to go tame Mechanical Spiders when I want to keep all the pets I’ve previously collected then becomes the equivalent of someone holding a cake in front of your nose before eating it at you and commenting that if you lost some weight, you could have a slice. If you allow me to match my hunter pets as and when I feel like it, then surely you’re encouraging me to collect more pets with which to do so… but if you won’t provide the space? How’s that supposed to work?

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I’ve asked the Devs nicely if we could get a stable slot increase, but I’m not holding out much hope, so I’ll cope. If it ends up mattering that much, I’ll pick the least significant and most easily replaceable skin. Right now, there are more important things to worry about with the time I have.

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