Niantic Peridot Developers share insights on AR, design goals and virtual pet games

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Niantic’s Peridot is coming along nicely, with the Malaysian Peridot beta currently under way for well over a month. We already know a lot about the game, but today the developers have shared additional insights on developing such an AR-heavy game, their love for virtual pet games, and more on the topic of Peridot’s design goals and ambitions.

Senior Game Designer Alexia Mandeville and Senior Software Engineer Will Jackson shared more on what they both love about Peridot, and why augmented reality is the perfect complement for a virtual pet game. Posted on the official Niantic Peridot blog.

Peridot developer insights

To start things off, what excites you about working on a virtual pet game?

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Alexia: I’ve always been a huge fan of pet simulation games – I played a ton of Neopets, The Sims, Neko Atsume, and more. I love the idea of having something to take care of without the work of having an actual pet. These games were also really popular with my group of friends and I enjoyed the social and shareability aspects – we often would be sharing our collections with each other as well as tips on strategizing to find specific varieties in the games.

Will: I’ve always been intrigued by the personalization these games can offer. Something that draws players into pet games, and frankly pets in general, is that these animals become an external representation of yourself. You see this in action at events such as the Westminster Dog Show – most of the prized pets are a perfect pairing to their human companions.

Niantic Peridot

AR is key to Peridot and interacting with dots.

How do you feel augmented reality adds a unique edge to Peridot and the virtual pet experience?

Alexia: The ability to show your virtual pet the real world is amazing. It’s unlike other pet simulation games where you have to choose from a set of stock photos for their background – it’s your life that your Peridot is seeing and experiencing. It makes the game more wholesome as it adds a new sense of purpose with how we can share our life with our virtual pet.

Will: Immersion and being able to superimpose your pet into your world is really helpful in establishing that bond and connection. With our AR tech, we’re able to have the creature feel like it’s actually there with you, naturally navigating the real world environment, walking behind and between objects in its path, and recognizing the terrain and objects as it’s exploring the world. We already see some of our soft launch players sharing photos of their Peridots while they are on a walk, on vacation, or with their other pets. Their virtual pets are becoming ingrained in their lives!

What are some things you had to keep in mind when developing a game that is AR-first?

Alexia: Designing for any newer technology is going to have constraints at first, so it’s important to keep scope in mind when approaching a new platform. It is also helpful to keep designs simple at first to account for any obstacles we may encounter during implementation.

Will: Having to hold your phone out all the time can be difficult, but we aim to create a pet walking experience that is easy and natural for players. We also have a reminder that pops up every time players launch the app about being mindful of their surroundings.

What were a few of the design goals you had in regards to Peridot’s gameplay?

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Alexia: It’s important to me to have a game loop that is casual and guilt-free. A lot of the pet simulation games I’ve played in the past will punish users if they are unable to actively participate, and I did not want to include that aspect here. Peridot is a magical escape from everyday life, and we want the game to inspire joy and happiness. Even when the Peridots are feeling angry or sassy, it is adorable and quickly mediated with a snack or pet. We also want users to enjoy the game at their preferred pace. We have seen players already on their 20th generation Peridot who are eager to maximize their impact and diversify the species as soon as they can. We also see players who are enjoying moments with their favorite Peridot and making this creature a part of their daily adventures. There is no right or wrong way to play the game – as long as you are having fun.

The game has been in soft launch for about a month now and we already see players falling in love with their Peridots and sharing feedback about their favorite activities with their creatures! What are your favorite aspects of the game right now?

Alexia: All the details in the Peridot movements are so adorable – big shout out to our tech artists and animators! I love how when you simply have the app open, your Peridot will be hovering around, doing flips and spins in the air. Also, the best interactions are yet to come! We are taking your feedback and exploring what more we can bring to the game – so stay tuned.

Will: I love the face bonk! It’s when your Peridot floats up to the screen and essentially bonks into your camera. It’s absolutely hilarious! I also love when you toss food too far and the Peridot dives backward to get it. Depending on your camera view, your Peridot may have a huge environment to play with. It’s fascinating to see it zoom far away and then float back over to you.

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