Niantic’s next game involves caring for and breeding fictional creatures – but that has nothing to do with Pokémon. Instead, Peridot is a brand new creation of Niantic itself – the company’s first in many years – and it targets an even wider audience.
With Peridot, it looks like Niantic is going after the now available Neopets market (RIP Neopets), with cute Pixar-like characters, Tamagotchi-style gameplay and – because this is a Niantic game – a good old push from time to another to get you off your couch.
“We want it to be a standalone pet simulation game,” producer Ziah Fogel told Eurogamer this week via Zoom Call when asked why it built a new app separate from Pokémon Go. Niantic’s mission here, she continued, was to replicate and improve the popular pet simulation genre. You will also soon be able to try it for yourself – it will arrive in soft launch in some countries within the next few weeks.
Peridots – Dots too short – are digital creatures that after thousands of years have appeared in a very different world (on behalf of all humans, allow me to apologize). The species is now endangered and their genetic diversity is low – this is where you come in.
Your job is to care for and raise baby dots for adulthood, help them forage for food and a place to nest, and then leave them free to repopulate the Peridot population. The gameplay loop involves regular interactions with your digital pet and daily quests to take care of their needs, such as wanting to visit a certain place nearby or eat a certain food. Interactions generate XP for your Peridot and help them grow.
As with any Niantic game, augmented reality is used to increase immersion. With Peridot, the company’s impressive Lightship technology has taken another step up. Peridots can be clogged with real-world objects – such as hiding behind a tree or between your legs. The game can also recognize real-world surfaces, allowing Peridots to forage various objects from different environments (such as seaweed from water).
“I think it depends,” Fogel says when asked how long it will take to grow a Peridot. “Of course there will be some players rushing to the playoffs, but for most players – most casual players – it will be something on the order of one to three days you will spend with the same being from baby to teenager to adult. ”
Once you grow up, you have the opportunity to release your Peridot at a local point of interest – the places you may have seen as PokéStops in Pokémon Go where other Dots can reside. While some of these sites will have Peridots placed next to them by Niantic’s algorithms, there is also room here for you to encounter other creatures that players have left behind.
Breeding then requires a nest, of which different varieties and rarities will be found in the game. (Speeding up the acquisition of these – and more interesting versions – sounds like it might be where some of the game’s revenue generation lies).
For players who have formed a bond with their Peridot, creatures that have been released can always be summoned back to you for a catch-up – there is no pressure to keep breeding more and more if you want to check in. a favorite creature from past.
Niantic says each Peridot is “100 percent unique” with its own “DNA” – a mix of handmade assets and procedural generation – which will then blend in with another creature when creating offspring. (On the mating process, Niantic said it would keep things extremely PG.) This way, Dots can mix and match features from several animal archetypes – unicorn, peacock, clownfish, yeti and many more.
During a roundtable discussion, Fogel was asked if this 100 percent unique nature leaned toward NFT integration – Peridots as the algorithmically produced digital chimpanzees. “It’s a really interesting idea, and it’s something we’re obviously looking at,” she replied, “but right now we’re focused on testing and refining the central gaming experience, so it’s fun and random.”
For Pokémon Go fans, Peridot is likely to raise the question of when breeding – a core mechanic in the main series of Pokémon games – will finally reach Niantic’s title. Did its arrival here – apparently in a far more advanced format – suggest a cross-pollination of ideas or developments with the company’s flagship game? When asked about this, Niantic unfortunately declined to say more.
For everyone else, Peridot seems to offer a similar Niantic spin on something Pokémon Go mastered – for those who grew up with Tamagotchi in their pocket, rather than a Game Boy, Peridot is the modern answer. But I can also see that it appeals to a whole new generation of virtual pet fans.