It’s hard to put into words how cute the little creatures inside are peridot are. The virtual pets starring in the next release Pokemon Go Developers Niantic seem scientifically engineered to make you say “Awww”. They have big eyes and colorful bodies, and they really respond when you give them some attention. I was only able to play a short portion of a pre-release game, but I’m already blown away.
I had the opportunity to try a hands-on demo of peridot with senior producer Ziah Fogel last week at Summer Game Fest in Los Angeles. The game is essentially a cross between Pokemon Go and nintendo gs, with all the augmented reality and location-based gameplay you’d expect from Niantic, but with a greater focus on caring for your virtual pet. They only have one peridot each (more on that later), and your main goal is just to keep them happy so they mature into a well-adjusted adult who can then reproduce to create even more candies.
When you first start the game, you’ll be presented with a baby creature – each peridot is unique – and you’ll need to give it a name. I panicked and named my cute pink buddy NFT. (See the correct pronunciation here.) From there, there’s a sort of quest system that revolves around your pet’s desires. They may like to be petted or have a certain type of food. My little NFT (again, sorry for the name) was dying to see some flowers, so we went to a nearby restaurant that had a vase of roses on the hostess’ stand. My peridot saw them via AR and perked up straight away.
Niantic is quick to point out that there’s really no punitive element here. Your pets can get a little sad, but they never get hurt or (gasp) die. peridot is a game built around positive reinforcement. Making them happy helps them grow. It’s also a game with a big focus on tactile interaction. You can pet your little dude by rubbing his head (there’s even nice haptic feedback) and play with him by throwing a tennis ball that bounces off walls and trees in a realistic way. To search for food and other items, draw a circle on the screen and your pet will dive in before coming back with everything they’ve collected. And depending on what surface it’s looking for food on – like sand or water, for example – you’ll get different types of items.
peridot It seems like it’s much more conducive to solo play while seated compared to Niantic games like Niantic Pokemon Go and Pikmin bloom. “A lot of this game is about the nurturing side of things,” explains Fogel. “And you can do that at home by yourself and have a lot of fun playing fetch in your living room.”
but peridot has real sights (think gyms in Pokemon Go), which are in the form of habitats. You can see these habitats at the top of trees and buildings – near the ground there are streams of bubbles that let you know there’s a habitat nearby – and they play an important role, allowing you to breed your virtual pet with that of another player . Peridots can be bred once they reach adulthood (Fogel says this takes one to three days on the current build as peridots progress from baby through teen to adult), and the idea is that you can breed specific types of peridots you can try creatures with distinctive characteristics such as unicorn or yeti. The baby will take on traits from both parents, and you can expand on these through the use of an associated nest. It sounds a little complicated, especially if you’re looking for something very specific, but I’ll need to spend more time on the final version to get a better feel for it.
One of the odder traits is that since you only care for one peridot at a time, breeding also means saying goodbye — albeit not forever. “If you’re breeding with your current adult, you can track that one so you can go back and keep playing with it,” says Fogel. I ended up with a baby cow-spotted yeti with the unfortunate name “Web3”. (Seriously, I’m sorry.)
peridot also has a photo mode where you can snap photos of your cute pet, which follows on from a planned feature: the ability to train your peridot and teach him tricks like sitting up and turning around. There’s no word on when it might be implemented, but Fogel says it’s just one of several intriguing features planned for the game. “Our killer feature that we haven’t built yet is like a dog park,” she explains. “You don’t have to enter a lobby or anything – you just hop into a park and see a bunch of peridots running around. This is something we look forward to. We’re really excited about it, but it’s something that’s technically challenging.”
peridot does not yet have a release date, although it is currently in soft launch in Malaysia. When asked about a broader rollout, Fogel simply said, “I hope soon.”