I was both surprised and pleased to learn that there are already a lot of addons for the Pet Battles system. I was also surprised there was a need for them, but upon using the system, it became apparent why that was so. They apparently keep the original design team from 2001 on hand to get the ball rolling on new interface elements. The Battle Pet interface thus isn’t unusable, but, merciful Light, it can use a bit of help.
I’ve taken some time to go through all the addons I could lay hands on, the results which follow. I hope it proves useful.
After the Pet Merge of 2012, most avid players have a multitude of potential battle pets to choose from, and, if you’re like Team Grimmtooth, each alt has preferences. You may have noticed, however, that whatever team is set up for one toon, shows up for all toons, even across servers. So what’s needed here is a way to simplify the job of setting up the battle team for each toon. Fortunately, the WoW addon community has you covered.
PBT’s biggest draw is the huge number of teams you can assemble. I’d be happy with ten or so for all the alts, but this one makes sure there is plenty of breathing room. The controls for building a team take a little bit of getting used to, but the controls for switching teams is simplicity exemplified. Open your pet journal, click on the team you want, move on.
What is missing, for me, is a means to name / label each team meaningfully. Eventually, there will be a dedicated team for each of my toons here, and labels make that a lot simpler.
Which leads right up to the other contender in this category.
This one only offers eight saved teams, which is probably plenty for most folks. It also lets you set macros for each team, and name them in a significant-to-you manner.
The most pleasant surprise is that even with three teams configured, this addon still used very little memory. True, it spiked to around 200K, but it let go of most of that when the garbage collector came by1.
Unless you’re looking to set up a LOT of teams, this one seems to be the better choice.
There’s a bug … it forgets your teams between logins. Assuming this gets fixed, this is my choice. If not, well, good memory without nametags is better than non memory at all, amirite?
Update: I’m reading in the online comments at Curse that there is a conflict between this and PetJournal Enhanced. If I had to discard one of the two, it would be the other one. But I’d like to have both. I hope they get this sorted.
Pet Journal Enhancements
The Pet Journal contains a lot of filters and other organization tools. But pretty much every default UI element has been enhance, and this is no different.
This does two things, primarily.
It adds new sorting options to the sorting menu, allowing such things as sort-by-level. Additional filters are also added, so you can, for example, filter by the zone you’re in, which is pretty spiffy if you’re in that mode already!
Secondly, additional pet info is provided for all the pets, allowing you to see at a glance several relevant things about your pet, such as what kind of pet it is (“tanky, speedy, powerful”), as well as its rarity.
Now, at 285K, it’s the heavyweight of all of our candidates, but toting around a database of information can do that. And as far as size goes, relative to some addons, it’s pretty slight.
As noted above, there may be some conflict between this and Battle Pet Tabs. Hopefully that gets cleared up. That does lower the score of both just a bit, however.
Because this addon will almost invariably show up in your searches, I mention it now.
This is a library of software routines to enhance the Pet Journal, but it is not a program that will run on its own. I do not encourage downloading it separately, as those that need it, have it incorporated.
For example, PetJournal Enhanced (above) happens to use this library, so you get it automatically if you use that addon.
By far the most popular enhancement type I’ve seen so far is the tooltip enhancer. These in some way enhance your tooltips, under a variety of circumstances, to help you organize your pet collection and make decisions as to whether to engage a wild pet, or what team makeup to use, or so forth.
The really useful enhancers work in the wild, hovering over a pet, hovering over its unit frame, hovering over it on the mini map, as well as hovering over its nameplate during a battle. Some also do this for auction house pet crates2. One or two seem to be dedicated only to AH tooltips; I didn’t really test that aspect.
This one is my favorite of this type. The tooltip is clean and clear, shows ALL of the pets of that type that you might already have, and works with the minimap. The Minimap tooltip is abbreviated but helpful. The in-battle tooltip works with the battle pet unit frames.
It’s a little heavy on the memory, but it appears to be put to good use.
This one didn’t work for me – might have been an issue with TipTac, as someone else noted, but you know what? Plenty of tool tip addons get along fine with it, so I’m thinking TipTac isn’t the problem.
That may come off a bit harsh, but trust me, I can be harsher.
I liked the look of the toopltips that this one generated. There are a couple of problems.
First of all, it doesn’t work with the minimap. This is not a show-stopper by any means, but it does fall short of a reasonable bar.
Secondly, if you have less than three of the sort of pet being looked at, you will get LUA errors. Now, with my setup, I have something that catches them (Bugsack and BugGrabber, which I highly recommend), but not everyone is so fortunate. Hopefully, this gets fixed, because it has promise.
And the minimap thing would be nice, too.
This is one of those that I’m not certain if I was supposed to restrict myself to auction house crates or not, but as said above, I didn’t test that3.
At any rate, in the wild it did nothing. Tooltips under all circumstances tested were unmodified. And then it got worse.
Whenever this addon was active, WoW eventually became unstable and crashed to destktop. I am always amazed when this happens with an interpreted language such as LUA or Python, because what it’s actually exposing is a defect in the interpreter – in this case, WoW – that isn’t being handled properly. So I’m half alarmed, half impressed, at this.
Sometimes the best thing you can say about a tool is that it does what it says on the tin. That’s what we have here. At 9K memory consumption, it does a pretty decent job in exchange for very few resources. It even works with the mini-map.
Battle mods affect the actual pet battle frames that are used in some way, adding enhancements, altering appearances, etc. They seem to fall into two buckets – functional, and cosmetic.
This one does exactly what it says; it plays Pokemon music and sound effects. For aficionados of the old classics, this will probably be a lot of fun. For neophytes like myself, it really doesn’t do anything useful. But, hey, I know the nostalgia thing, and this will no doubt feed that.
Technically, I liked its easy setup, its well-put-together configuration pane, and the fact that my volume control worked.
The purpose behind this mod is to get the important information about your pets and the opposition where you can see them. It does this very well, and as you see above it does it in a fairly intuitive manner.
It also provides the same sort of information in the tooltips for creatures found in the wild. Unfortunately, it also apparently nukes the tooltips from other battlepet tooltip addons, so, for the time being, you have to pick one or the other.
This one requires hackery to configure, i.e. editing a LUA file in a text editor. Out of the box, it really doesn’t do much of anything, and it comes with dire warnings that should make the average person’s hair stand on end.
This eliminates the confirmation dialog if you forfeit a battle. I’m not sure what problem this solves, but it does exactly what it claims. And its footprint is so tiny that it doesn’t show on any memory meter I had on hand.
Purely cosmetic, but you street fighter fans will probably get a kick from it. The above presents itself every time you start a pet battle, and also offers something nobody else does: a way out before you get started.
I heard about this one on WoW Insider, and it’s a really good one. All it does is put a quality-indicator glow around the border of whatever pets are on display; above, the opponent’s beetle is Uncommon, thus its border is green.
It also provides the same glow and verbiage (common, rare, etc) in tooltips.
This is excellent and simple and very tiny; things I approve of in an addon.
Update: Before you read my comments, note that Reader Thelandira/Sheeturself pointed out in comments that the results you get from this addon are dependent on how you have your filters set up in the Pet Journal. It won’t show anything that doesn’t get through the filter. Thanks for pointing that out!
It’s also possible that PetJournal Enhanced may interfere with it since it has its own additional filtering, and BPL may not be getting anything it can use as a result.
This is a chat window tool, and, according to its description, it should show you the list of available battle pets in a specific area. Unfortunately, it never did work as advertised. The best I could get was for it to tell me of pets I already knew in Stormwind.
It’s very tiny. Maybe its database didn’t get shipped with it. I’m not really sure what else to do with it.
One other thing that I did not like was that it CAN take the name of an area, such as “Stormwind”, and give you a list of pets in that area (Assuming it worked); however, “stormwind” would not work, because it is case-sensitive. I sincerely believe that case sensitivity is the Devil’s work. I realize that WoW itself has that issue, and this addon is probably relying on WoW stuff to get info, and thus inherited that weakness, but it’s still the Devil’s work.
While this is not related to Battle Pet addons per se, something to look for is interaction with the Battle Pet interface. Especially, things like addons that might get in the way, such as those that alter the Viewport such as Fubar or Sunn. ChocolateBar Broker Display, as an example, has a configuration setting to hide it when you are in pet battles4. As you can see by some of my screen shots, IceHUD does not (but here’s hoping.).
I’ve broken down the memory results for all the different addons. Some explanation of terminology seems to be in order:
- Base – The memory used after the game loaded and I logged in, and after I kicked off the garbage collector5. This represents the addon in its quiescent state. Any addon that used LoD6 was not forced to load, as the intent here was to see what it looked like just idling.
- Open – The memory used after using the addon. This does not include configuration windows. For pet journal enhancements, this means after opening the pet journal; for tooltip enhancements, after getting an appropriate tooltip to appear. For battle enhancements, it’s measured during battle.
- 1, 2, and 3; for those addons that worked differently based on the number of pet teams involved, I tried to break down the additional load per pet team.
The tool I used to read memory was Addon Control Panel, which is unwieldy as all hell, but does allow direct reading of individual addons and components, something none of the other tools I tried will do.
At this link are some arbitrary ratings for all the addons tested, base solely on my own testing. 3 = worked and didn’t crash; 0 = didn’t work at all; 4 means it was actually enjoyable, and 5 is reserved for home runs.
- Garbage Collection in programming terms is the reclaiming of unused memory. Sometimes a program will need a big chunk to sort things or make a list to show the user or something, but afterwards it doesn’t need it, so the virtual machine (VM – WoW, in this case) that it is running in will occasionally reclaim any memory it can to use for other things. Failure to do so results in what is called a “memory leak” and can eventually lead to an out of memory condition for the VM. [↩]
- There are some serious bugs in the Blizzard code for crated pet tooltips – so much so that the native bag frames and auction frames are pretty much broken right now when it comes to crated battle pets. This does NOT apply to pets that have not yet been brought into the journal and then crated, only to those that you crated within the journal itself. Some addons, such as Shefki’s TBag, have managed workarounds, but expect changes to take place on Blizzard’s end as well. [↩]
- To be honest, I see little need for that sort of coverage without coverage for wild pets as well. Maybe I’m being shortsighted. Maybe not. [↩]
- If I may, for a moment; I am amazed that the new Blizzard frames were bound to the screen size instead of the viewport size. That seems to violate normal style guide rules for this sort of thing. [↩]
- It’s a thing. [↩]
- Load on Demand, a technology that keeps an addon from loading until it’s actually needed. [↩]