Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Pet-O-Matic!

The legal auto-petter has landed and it is known as the "Pet-O-Matic". If you have somehow missed the auto-petter drama here is a short history: In the beginning all was well and all Meeroo petting was done by hand. Dedicated Meeroos enthusiasts would pet each little fur-ball individually and thus gain Regard points for their pets. Unbeknownst to us, deep in the recesses of the secret Meeroos development cave, the WeeMee was being planned and balanced. It was intended to assist with the task of petting Meeroos and would require some upkeep or interaction itself as a reward. Before the WeeMee even saw what is outside the cave a third party created their own petting aid without balance; it could pet every Meeroo it could find every hour indefinitely without user interaction. I say created their own but the most important scripts, the ones that made it possible, were appropriated from Malevay Studios. They were not authorized to use the scripts they took in the way that they did. The scripts in the HUD are meant to stay in the HUD and removing them violated the Meeroos TOS. This threw the balance of the game out of whack somewhat. Players using the auto-petters gained inordinate amounts of Regard leaving the rest of us in the, somewhat cliche: dust.
The maker of the auto-petter was contacted and asked to remove the item, they initially agreed but then decided against it. So it remained on the market while a DMCA was filed and then it was removed by Linden Labs. Players using the auto-petter were not penalized or punished in any way. Almost immediately another version of the auto-petter surfaced which required the end-user to break the TOS by removing the vital scripts from the HUD and place them into the petter themselves. While some players were auto-banned as a result of it, as I understand it most if not all of them were un-banned eventually. Most did not realize that they were breaking the TOS and were simply following the instruction that came with their shiny new auto-petter.

Soon after that Catherine wrote a blog post notifying everyone that as of Monday the 5th of September all third party auto-petters would be illegal to use and doing so would result in penalties. There are three (3) penalty levels, as stated in THIS blog post they are: "We will issue a warning to any player found using it. A second offense will result in a reset of their regard total to Zero. A third offense will invoke a permanent ban from the game." And that was the end of non-TOS compliant auto-petters.

With Team Meeroos now back in control of the game all was, once again, well. Many players had become, dare I say "addicted" to their auto-petters and I understand why. While a novel and integral part of the Meeroos universe petting can get tiresome over time. From what Catherine has said it is now obvious that petting was never intended to be a large part of the game: "The acquisition was intended to be a casual game that provided small bonus benefits at milestone levels. The bonuses never guaranteed specific results or an endless streak of WIN!" While important for various reasons the most important in my view is the boost provided to breeding, the boost is not massive. While we do not know exactly how much of a push it is, or if its effect is even quantifiable, Catherine and Tiger have made it clear it is a "nudge" not a shove. That being said in an environment as competitive as Meeroo breeding some players feel it is important to have every advantage possible to maintain their edge over the competition. An not without cause, it is important to get the most out of your Meeroos. So we all want to pet but sometimes just do not have the time or patience to do so. The loss of a device that solved that problem was hard for those using them to accept.

In response to player requests for a legal auto-petter Team Meeroos made one for us and it is super fun. It does have many of the same features that the banned petters had but implemented in a better way. While the pet-o-matic is free it requires batteries to operate. These batteries come in various "sizes" and must be purchased from the Meeroos store or the Marketplace. This moderates their use somewhat. Although this does give an advantage to players with L$ to spend it is much better than the buy-once-pet-forever third party petters. I think the pet-o-matic is a stopgap measure, I would not be surprised to see it phased out when the WeeMee makes its way into the light of day. Yes, you read correctly: the WeeMee, once put on hold, has now been put back into development. Again this was done as a result of an outpouring of player requests for it. Having been told about it prior to the release of the pet-o-matic it became apparent that people were enchanted with the idea and wanted one, badly. Team Meeroos has responded and said it will be released. I am quite excited, I am interested in both how it looks and how it functions. Hopefully it will take us away from a L$ for Regard system that the pet-o-matic embodies. Like I said: do not be alarmed if the petter is depreciated when the WeeMee arrives, auto-petters were never intended to be a part of the game dynamic and I believe the WeeMee is intended to offer much the same benefit without unbalancing the game. Of course the WeeMee might be released without the petting function at all leaving the pet-o-matic in place, as is. I can not complain either way. That brings us up to now, we have the pet-o-matic and it is oven-gloving our Meeroos to Regard nirvana. Perhaps that history was not so short after all.

How does the pet-o-matic work? It can be a little confusing to piece together from the boxes and signs at the Meeroos main store. I think that time was the most important factor in creating the petter and some things got done in a big hurry. Completely understandable given the constant chorus of "we want our auto-petters back!" So I will attempt to make it simple as I am not under their time constraints.

The pet-o-matic has a 10m range. If you drew a circle around it with the edge of the circle being the extent of its range that circle would have a 10m radius and thus a 20m diameter, for the math geeks it covers an area of about 314sqm. It will pet every Meeroo within its range at whatever frequency you set it to, you can choose to include or exclude Meeroos set to your Fellowship but not owned by you. The frequency options run from four (4) times a day up to a maximum of twenty four (24) times per day. It takes batteries which come in a few sizes. The important thing to remember about battery sizes is that, like Meeroo food, you are actually buying a set number of pets per battery. All the boxes state the frequency setting you would need to use to have the battery last for one week, if you wish you can set the frequency higher and it will simply not last as long. The petter displays the number of pets remaining in float text when touched and on the drop down menu, as well as the time till the next petting event.

As far as I can ascertain to be pet the Meeroo itself must be within the range of the pet-o-matic when the petting event occurs. It is not enough to have their stump within range. I like to let my Meeroos roam a bit, all my Homes are set to a 4 meter wander range. This means that for me to be 100% sure all the Meeroos on one of my stumps will get pet: the Home needs to be at least four (4) meters in from the edge of the petters range. I ran some numbers and came up with the probabilities that Meeroos would miss getting pet if their Homes are not quite close enough. The graphic below provides a visual representation of the results. The percentage missed is the quantity of Meeroos who would most likely be missed on any given pet event. A Home with eight (8) Meeroos in residence on the edge of the petters range would, on average, have four (4) Meeroos receive a pet when the pet-o-matic triggers. The same Home at three (3) meters in would allow seven (7) of its Meeroos to feel the oven-glove during a pet event. Of course the best placement is to have the edge of the Homes range not exceed the range of the pet-o-matic whenever possible. The easiest way I have found to determine optimal placement is to build a twenty (20) meter diameter cylinder and flatten it down to look more like a circle. That will show you the range of the pet-o-matic. Position the cylinder where it reaches the most Meeroos and then copy down its coordinates. When you rez your pet-o-matic you can enter those numbers in the edit floater and it will snap to the location you have chosen.
There has been a lot of positive and a lot of negative comments about the pet-o-matic. Whichever way you feel: it is here for now and it is pretty cool (check out the battery changing particles when you add a battery), even if you hate the concept of it. I love mine, it really does almost sub-consciously relieve the pressure to pet my Meeroos all the time. I can get back to petting them when I feel like it without the worry that I am loosing out on something. I hope everyone sees the positives in time and if not, and you have decided you hate the pet-o-matic; do not give up hope. The WeeMee is still on the way, who knows what it might bring? You can always pet your Meeroos by hand, I do think they prefer it that way.

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