by BONZO, HSM Editor
A recent article by CheeckyGuy on “The Future of Home Pets?” got me thinking and the gears in my head are still spinning and sending sparks and smoke from the possibilities of what Home pets could turn into. Now bear with me – it may seem like I am asking a lot but it seems like the engine is in place for the concept to be a possibility.
Active items now are not just independent animated item you sit back and watch, but they have the power to animate your avatar. The robotic canine active item had some amazing features with the canine responding to gestures from the emote menu.
When the expansion into active items included some animals like the playful cats, the sleeping dogs, and even the livestock variety, I became excited before I realized how limited they were. Again, they were just passive, ironically named active items occupying your personal space. They should be called what they really are; animated items. Active implies there is some interactivity between the avatar and the item itself.
We have been stuck with these type of active items for a while – that is until now. Juggernaut games has showed us what active items are capable of doing by making us fly, or swim, even set us on fire.
So what if we had active item pets that were a little smarter and actually changed an avatars animation as well. Pets which just stayed at Home, didn’t follow you around but took the concept of the robotic dog and evolved it. First of all it would be a realistic dog or cat, and not a robot.
The personal space map has barriers we run into all the time; the notorious invisible walls we try to break through or find ways around via glitching. An active item should be able to read the map of the area, the barriers of those walls. Furniture items have these barriers as well, you can see them sometimes in the decorating mode menu when you select an item you can see a blue box around it.
An active item should be able to read those barriers too. If an active item pet can build up a map of the barriers in the space then it should be able to tell where it can and can not go. With this map, the pet can get on the furniture, like a bed, jump on a chair, a table or a desk. An active item should also be able to tell how long ago you logged on. What if, with that data, it could activate an emotional response. For example, if you logged on a day ago, the pets excitement would be higher than if you left your apartment and returned only a few minutes later. The longer you were away the more the excitement would escalate.
This response changes between cats and dogs. In my experience with cats, they are very aloof, seldom are they that affectionate as to actually vocalize or show they missed you. Dogs on the other hand, you can step outside to the mailbox and return to a tail wagging greeting as if you were gone for days.
Un-petitioned responses from pets in real life are endearing, and show the very intelligence that is often underestimated in animals. One of the traits I love about my real pet is when she feels like playing she wont leave me alone. She will hound me until I give her attention and play with her.
That feature would make an active item pet all the more endearing. A pet which roamed the apartment on its own doing its own thing, and periodically hounded you for attention. At which point you could interact with custom animations in response. For example, petting, feeding, tossing a ball or a toy. Simple animations, it wouldn’t have to be too dramatic or drastic of an interaction.
PODI, for example, has an emotion meter, the more you react with it the happier it is. If you neglect it, the lights turn red and the meter shifts towards the sad face. The Dolphys also had an emotion meter affected by your interaction – or lack thereof – if you neglected them for too long. Consequential pets wouldn’t have to be trailing pets which follow you everywhere the memory allotment is probably more effectively used as an active item restricted to a personal space.
The other benefit of this would be that you could have more than one pet at a time. Companions are limited to one active at a time, and with new locomotion alternatives you sacrifice that companion to exercise a new animation for your mobility. Another feature which would make them viable and a worthy commodity is interaction between themselves. As the example CheekyGuy cited in his article, pets which interact with each other add to the realism and the endearing quality of pet ownership.
When I had a couple of basset hounds, one would inevitably rile the other one up and begin a wrestling match. Once they were both stirred up, they would chase each other around the house, wrestle, and it was hilarious to just watch them play with each other. Companions that follow you around are great, I have plenty of them because they each have their own charm. But we need a greater use of the active item potential, particularly when it comes to pets and what they can do and in turn what they can have us do in response through mutual interactions.