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A mobile virtual pet game

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by lemonrays, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. lemonrays

    lemonrays

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    Hello forum,

    I doubt that I'll be reaching the best target demographic for mobile virtual pet games (who would have the most valuable opinions), but I'm giving it a shot anyway. I've recently been dipping my toes into mobile development on Unity and something I really want to give a try is making a virtual pet game. However, I'm afraid that I might end up making "press button to refill meter" simulator (like a bad Tamagatchi). So, I need opinions.

    1. What features would you expect from such an app, at minimum?
    2. How dependent would you expect the pet(s) to be? How often would be too often to check up on it/them?
    3. What would bring you back to keep checking in on the pet(s)? What would make you actually care about it/them?
    4. What level of interactivity would be enough? Would mini games (like match 3 or similar) feel cheap to implement?
     
  2. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    I've always liked the idea of a virtual pet game, but never found one that lived up to my expectations.

    For me it's all about the AI. I want a virtual creature that learns my habits, is trainable, and actually cares about me (or seems to) like a real pet.

    So, if I always turn on a light before bringing out the food, I expect to see the pet going to the food dish as soon as I turn on the light. If I always play fetch with the red ball when I first check on him, I expect to see him start bringing me the red ball. And so on.

    The trouble with virtual pet games I've tried in the past is that it quickly becomes clear that there is no mind there. And if there's no mind, there is (for me) not much to care about.
     
  3. lemonrays

    lemonrays

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    Yeah, that seems reasonable. I am fully intending to animate whatever I do as much as possible. That's the issue I always had with other games (the website we're all thinking of). Like, if it's just a glorified dress up game, it's so easy to just walk away because you never feel guilty about it. It's just a picture with the word "starving" under it.
     
  4. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I recommend taking a look at Sonic Adventure and SA2. In those games you have pets which roam in a 3D space. If you're nice to them, they run up to you and beg to be held. They also have stats which can change based on what you give them, and can participate in a number of minigames where their performance is based on their stats. Additionally, their visual appearance changes based on these little animals you can give to them (giving one a bird might cause them to grow wings and lose their legs, flying/crawling everywhere).

    You'd have to rework some of it, because a great deal of the getting them food and animals pat was during the "real" game, but there's a strong base there for a pet game.
     
    ZakCollins and lemonrays like this.
  5. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    Slightly off topic, but maybe useful anyway. The immediate question that popped into my mind was 'why hasn't the Tamacochi craze been duplicated on mobile?'

    I mean, as kids we all had virtual pets. We played them, traded them, took them wherever we went.

    The answer that I came up with was the demographic that is likely to play virtual pet games. 8-12 year olds aren't likely to own their own mobile phone.

    I'm not sure that's the full answer. But it's an interesting question that might help guide your design.
     
  6. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    You're not a cat person are you? :p

    According to the following source a little over half of kids age 8 to 12 have a cell phone.

    http://www.growingwireless.com/get-the-facts/quick-facts
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  7. lemonrays

    lemonrays

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    Well, I remember when Pocket Frogs came out in 2010. I was still in highschool; a lot of people I knew and everyone in my friend group played it and enjoyed it un-ironically. Of course I think it was less about the frogs themselves and more about collecting the frogs, but I feel like one should never underestimate the bored teenager lol. Pokemon GO also showed that people of all ages are still more than willing to consume media with fake cute animals.
     
  8. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    I've long had a dream of making a game where you breed and race dragons. So by getting two of your appropriately-aged-and-gendered dragons together (or better, one of your dragons with one of a friends), you could produce an egg, whose genome would be a mix of the parents. Care for and hatch the egg, tomogotchi-style, and you get a baby dragon; care for that and you can raise it into an adult, and then ride it in the dragon races (which is sort of like horse racing, but higher, faster, and slightly more violent).

    I still think this is a great idea, but... alas, too many great ideas, not enough time!
     
  9. sunandshadow

    sunandshadow

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    I play virtual pet games, but not usually on mobile. For me a complex, robust breeding system that affects the appearances of pets is the most important feature of any pet game. But if you build waiting into your breeding system, there has to be some real, varied gameplay that the player can do while they are waiting. Pocket Frogs eating gameplay gets boring fast, and there's nothing much to do with your breeding successes. Selling spare pets like in Fish Tycoon and Plant Tycoon at least gets you some money, though making the player stare at a non-interactive shop while waiting for uncooperative AIs to buy something is bad. Races that happen off-screen or are randomized things you only watch suck. Minigames where the player actively controls something are better, whether they are racing or match-3 or even something like a solitaire game. Pet games make an awesome hub for an arcade of minigames, like NeoPets. I realize that at some point you have to ask yourself if you are making 2 or more games for the price of one though.
     
    JoeStrout likes this.
  10. lemonrays

    lemonrays

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    Noted. I think I may end up doing a battle system of some kind (of which the pets are directly involved). Breeding the pets serve the purpose of passing down abilities, strength, and appearance, etc.. Pricing is something that I'm not even going to think about at this point, making something fun is always priority one. Thank you for your feedback. :cool:

    Oh man, have you heard of Flight Rising? They don't race, but they engage in turn-based battle. :p
     
    JoeStrout likes this.
  11. Habitablaba

    Habitablaba

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    Take a good look at how chocobo breeding and racing worked in Final Fantasy 7. The trait-passing down wasn't super robust, but you were able to breed two together to get something hopefully better. Racing was something you could participate in, although if your chocobo was crap, you'd have a bad time of it.

    You could use that system as a base, and than add on some player-pet interactions to help develop a bit more of a bond
     
  12. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    For breeding you should also look at Niche. Its still in early access, but it has a pretty good genetics system.
     
  13. Wannabeuk

    Wannabeuk

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    Did anyone ever play creatures? I used to love that as a kid, It always felt so much better than the usual virtual pet stuff because it had so much content. I've always thought of doing a remake of that kinda game.
     
  14. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    I played Creatures for quite a while, but got frustrated because the little buggers were so stupid. They were much hyped as these smart, trainable agents, but in reality that didn't actually work very well (for me, at least).

    (IIRC, they were using neural networks with back propagation, so their stupidity is not very surprising; those things require a ridiculously high number of training samples to learn anything, especially before the advent of modern training algorithms.)
     
  15. lemonrays

    lemonrays

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    I am happy to let everyone know that I've started a prototype. The pets (what kind of pets? that's a surprise of course) have extremely basic wandering AI (randomly generating X and Y coordinates within an area). They have randomly generated "stats" upon first instantiation. I have a little area dedicated "food" that the user clicks and holds, which makes the pets stop wandering, move towards it and "eat". The pets actually have to go to (collide with) the area in order to "eat". That's about it right now. I'm not quite sure where I'd even start (coding wise) for breeding, but that's an entirely different thread for another time lol.
     
    JoeStrout likes this.
  16. p1zzaman

    p1zzaman

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    My other project is a VR pet simulator. I think the advice in this thread is very useful on what make it fun. You want to keep the player engaged and make the pet relate-able and not just be there, I think that is THE best important aspect in my opinion. Also to keep the game going is a challenge, you will have moments where the pet would just sit idle ,because that's what pets do... it's still a game so you need to figure out how to keep the player interested. Good luck
     
    lemonrays likes this.
  17. unity_a4o51Mcal-_HEg

    unity_a4o51Mcal-_HEg

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  18. SparrowsNest

    SparrowsNest

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    I would like the option to play by real time(IE the in game time is locked to real time) or to play on a short loop(maybe 1 hour = 1/2 days).

    Edit: necro :eek: