touchpet_dogs_logoThis week we got our hands on ngmoco's TouchPets Dogs, a title I admittedly didn't have much interest in throughout most of its development. I fully admit that I felt that I was completely outside of the demographic that virtual pet games appeal to and I think a good part of our readership likely feels the same way. However, the latest build of the game, combined with the full realization of the cool things that are going to come out of the remarkably full featured social network they have built in to the game has transformed TouchPets Dogs in to a completely different animal.

The core gameplay has remained largely unchanged since our first looks at the game earlier. The way your dog interacts with objects along with the various animations associated with each interaction seem very refined, and at times border the edge of the canine uncanny valley, if such a thing exists. The touch gestures to interact with your virtual dogs feel very natural and the way they romp around playing with the various toys and objects can be somewhat eerie at times with how much the in-game dogs act like puppies would in real life.

Sweetie

Since we last saw the game, one of the big additions is the resource management aspect. Your dog obviously needs to eat, and buying food requires spending puppy bucks. Puppy bucks are earned by keeping your dog happy by petting it, teaching it tricks, and fulfilling its other needs. Puppy bucks also can be used to buy new clothes for your dog along with accessories required for the various dog career paths previously discussed in the other previews.

The negative effects your dog can experience are limited to its various happiness statistics falling and your dog whining until you make it happy again. It can never starve or die, or really be abused in any way. You will never permanently run out of food -- if you use it all you will earn more slowly over time. There will never be a point where you are unable to get more food.

The big reveal with the latest showing of TouchPets Dogs was the deep Plus+ integration in the game. We've always been told that the game was going to offer a social experience as you interact with your friends' dogs, but seeing the way the whole system works really changed my opinion on the game from "I guess it sounds kind of cool" to "I can see myself getting way too involved in this game."

lab_daschund_clothesEach change to your dog's statistics, personality, and equipment/accessory load out is constantly synchronized with the TouchPets Dogs servers via your Plus+ login. Keeping all of your dog's information online guarantees that even if you invest hundreds of hours in to perfecting your in-game dogs, they will never be lost if your device fails or you upgrade to a new one. In addition to this, you and your Plus+ friends will have constant access to each others dogs to go on play dates.

If my dog feels like socializing, or if I feel like getting a second dog to play with, I just tap the globe icon, look through my friends list and invite their dog in to my game. This essentially grabs a snapshot of their dog off the Plus+ servers, and brings that dog with all of its statistics and equipment at the time in to my dog's house.

For instance, I was going through the scientist career path with my dog and eventually got to a mission that required two dogs. I went online, looked through my friends' available dogs, and invited Neil from ngmoco's dog Comet to play. Comet arrived both hungry and dirty, so I gave him some food and a quick bath then we went on to complete the science mission. I played with both dogs enough that Comet went home happy and in the process became friends with my dog.

I know it sounds silly, but how this all works is so simple and the way the dogs interact with each other is so intriguing to watch that I walked away from the experience completely amazed with what had just transpired. On top of this, the next time Neil opens TouchPets Dogs to play with Comet, he will find that he's well fed and clean.

Shephard_westie_frisbee

Sounds great, right? But there's a catch: TouchPets Dogs currently can only be played with an active WiFi or 3G internet connection. ngmoco has put so much emphasis on the social aspect of the game that they seemingly have designed the interaction with other dogs as one of the primary focuses of your TouchPets experience. When I asked why there wasn't an offline mode, various technical limitations and conflicts with the synchronization process were cited.

I had a great time with TouchPets Dogs, but I really have to question the logic behind this decision. If you have an iPhone, you're in the clear, but I would think that most of the younger gamers that a game like this would appeal to would be playing from an iPod Touch in the backseat of a car or other places without WiFi access. With the game so close to submission to Apple, it appears unlikely that an offline mode will be included in its initial release, though they said it remained a point of discussion that they were considering.

All in all, the time I spent with the game really changed how I felt about TouchPets Dogs. The social aspects of playing with my friends' various dogs and forming relationships with these virtual pets is an oddly captivating experience, something that I was not at all expecting from the game.

  • Adams Immersive

    Darn it. I was hoping to be able to starve Microsoft's wizard dog.

  • Adams Immersive

    Darn it. I was hoping to be able to starve Microsoft's wizard dog.

  • pope

    My wife is looking forward to this game. Anyone with an itouch and a smartphone can usually achieve net-anywhere via tethering. It's a roundabout sort of way, but not difficult.

    • Capone

      Hah, liar! Everyone knows that the pope has no wife! ;-)

      • pope

        K, u got me. In looking forward to it ;) but the rest of my comment is true. My G1 has been relegated to phone, txt, and 3g modem for my itouch.

  • pope

    My wife is looking forward to this game. Anyone with an itouch and a smartphone can usually achieve net-anywhere via tethering. It's a roundabout sort of way, but not difficult.

    • Capone

      Hah, liar! Everyone knows that the pope has no wife! ;-)

      • pope

        K, u got me. In looking forward to it ;) but the rest of my comment is true. My G1 has been relegated to phone, txt, and 3g modem for my itouch.

  • Bacaramac

    How can they not have an offline mode? What are they thinking? I have two kids, two iPod touches and they won't be able to play in the car with each other via bluetooth at least. Geez, big dissappointment.

  • Bacaramac

    How can they not have an offline mode? What are they thinking? I have two kids, two iPod touches and they won't be able to play in the car with each other via bluetooth at least. Geez, big dissappointment.

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

    Thanks for the preview, Eli. One quick correction, though: you do not lose your game data when you upgrade or replace your iPhone or iPod Touch, assuming that you have synced and backed-up the original device. You can always restore from backup, then resync to load all your apps (including saves) and media.

    • Benjamin

      Damn you're right.i own a touch(2nd gen) and a 3gs.i also would like to play offline.btwmy real cat will always be bether then this.

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

    Thanks for the preview, Eli. One quick correction, though: you do not lose your game data when you upgrade or replace your iPhone or iPod Touch, assuming that you have synced and backed-up the original device. You can always restore from backup, then resync to load all your apps (including saves) and media.

    • Benjamin

      Damn you're right.i own a touch(2nd gen) and a 3gs.i also would like to play offline.btwmy real cat will always be bether then this.

  • http://carminelives.se Rickard

    No offline mode = no buy! What the hell are they thinking? I don't want to play this game at home all the time. For F's sake, we touch owners want to play on the go too!

    You, dear developer, wont get my money!

  • http://carminelives.se Rickard

    No offline mode = no buy! What the hell are they thinking? I don't want to play this game at home all the time. For F's sake, we touch owners want to play on the go too!

    You, dear developer, wont get my money!

  • http://eliminate.ngmoco.com Mary Jane Irwin

    Shameless plug: Be a fan. Join Touch Pets on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=103535730745&ref=nf

  • http://eliminate.ngmoco.com Mary Jane Irwin

    Shameless plug: Be a fan. Join Touch Pets on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=103535730745&ref=nf

  • Boardumb

    LOL at Neil Young. Dude is the CEO and he can't even keep his own touch pet clean and fed?! ;)

    I think it's insane to not have an offline mode in a game like this. I don't see the need for a constant connection. Why couldn't you just play with your dog offline, upgrade him, buy things, etc, and then when you do have a connection it uploads the changes to the server for your online dog. I'll still get this because I think it looks really interesting, so it's not a deal breaker or anything. But it would be nice to play it or show it off to people wherever I happen to be, which being a touch owner won't always be possible.

  • Boardumb

    LOL at Neil Young. Dude is the CEO and he can't even keep his own touch pet clean and fed?! ;)

    I think it's insane to not have an offline mode in a game like this. I don't see the need for a constant connection. Why couldn't you just play with your dog offline, upgrade him, buy things, etc, and then when you do have a connection it uploads the changes to the server for your online dog. I'll still get this because I think it looks really interesting, so it's not a deal breaker or anything. But it would be nice to play it or show it off to people wherever I happen to be, which being a touch owner won't always be possible.

  • ShadowsFall

    Gunna buy this all the way! I've been waiting for this game since forever haha

  • ShadowsFall

    Gunna buy this all the way! I've been waiting for this game since forever haha

  • Andrew H

    I'll be honest and dont hate me, but I have an iphone and I WANT this game. My wife will have this as well. we will play at all times. It is like those damn "rpg" games with text like imafia that are the same ol' @#(@#$ and nothing new or actually fun. I can't wait. I want a boxer to match my real dog.

  • http://na Andrew H

    I'll be honest and dont hate me, but I have an iphone and I WANT this game. My wife will have this as well. we will play at all times. It is like those damn "rpg" games with text like imafia that are the same ol' @#(@#$ and nothing new or actually fun. I can't wait. I want a boxer to match my real dog.

  • http://www.wiglingtonandwenks.com fun games for kids

    Interesting. Look forward to this game

  • http://www.wiglingtonandwenks.com fun games for kids

    Interesting. Look forward to this game

  • http://www.haiku-os.org Nutela

    That took a long time to copy Nintendogs ;-) Should've done it myself but I hate copycats so, what game would you like to see? I must admit I'm inspired by these new games which have no set goal, like virtual pet and AvatarCreator (funny app!) or the sims (never played).

  • http://www.haiku-os.org Nutela

    That took a long time to copy Nintendogs ;-) Should've done it myself but I hate copycats so, what game would you like to see? I must admit I'm inspired by these new games which have no set goal, like virtual pet and AvatarCreator (funny app!) or the sims (never played).

  • Candy

    I absolutely will get this game because it's ADORABLE. I think my little niece will get a big kick out of it too lol.

    I thought it was coming out a few months ago? what is the release date now?

  • Candy

    I absolutely will get this game because it's ADORABLE. I think my little niece will get a big kick out of it too lol.

    I thought it was coming out a few months ago? what is the release date now?

  • http://www.escorttr.com escort ilan

    thanks for all admin

  • http://www.citirpartnerim.com partner

    I absolutely will get this game because it's ADORABLE. I think my little niece will get a big kick out of it too lol.

  • http://www.escorttr.com escort ilan

    thanks for all admin

  • http://www.citirpartnerim.com partner

    I absolutely will get this game because it's ADORABLE. I think my little niece will get a big kick out of it too lol.

  • http://www.aksaglik.com Sağlık Bilgilendirme

    Thank you for the opportunity you gave

  • http://www.aksaglik.com Sağlık Bilgilendirme

    Thank you for the opportunity you gave

  • Jack Scullington

    I love touchpets dog's because, I don't have a pet and I realy want one.

  • Jack Scullington

    I love touchpets dog's because, I don't have a pet and I realy want one.

  • http://www.vipilan.net escort bayan

    thanks admin

  • http://www.vipilan.net escort bayan

    thanks admin

  • http://www.fussbodenheizung-systeme.de Fussbodenheizung

    I really like this game