The Imaginimals Cats Have Arrived!

Imaginimals

To be honest, the buzz was somewhat subdued and limited to the chat group rather than the feverish  all-encompassing excitement that has greeted Breedable launches before, but I think this is partly to do with past history of the Wildwoods and also because they’ve launched in open Beta.

Obviously launching a product in Beta is a risky move. Imaginimals seem to have made sure that their bases are covered for this with a hefty disclaimer on their website, but I did notice that the chat group was very busy when I logged in this morning with reported issues.

As for the cats, well they don’t appear to have changed much since I last reported on them.  The appearance seems to be much the same, and there’s no doubt that they look good (although the ear shape is a little too Elvish for my liking!) I opted for a pair of Bi-Colour and was very pleased with the colours of the kittens that I unpackaged. They’re incredibly pretty, and the animations/positions are very cute and natural looking. I confess, I really do love their styling.   (NOTE: I am NOT going full on cat breeder again, I get way too carried away by it! But I indulged in these critters for the sake of blogging and also because I wanted to experience them for myself)

Pricing for kittens is reasonable-L$300 each, L$600 per pair (obviously) There are lots of vitamins and add-ons that can be purchased but the basics that are required, as far as I am aware, are food and water, which is purchased as a combo unit. One bowl lasts one cat one month, and costs L$200.  I laid that out with the addition of some cream and a ‘Feeshy’ for  mood.

I rezzed my kittens without any fuss, but immediately upon birthing there were substantial stat decreases. Also, movement seemed laboured too.  It’s early days, so hopefully these problems will be ironed out swiftly.  The website does offer the ability to log support tickets and there is also a forum that owners can join, there’s barely any activity on the boards at present but I anticipate that they will start to become pretty active within the next few days.

So will these new breedables take the shine off the existing pets that are available on the grid?

Obviously the main competitor to Imaginimals cats are Kittycats. Personally I don’t actually see that they will be a threat as such as both offer a very different product experience and cater to different fanbases. for example, I know people who don’t go for the ornate appearance of Kittycats, but prefer the more down to earth appearance that the Wildwoods had. Taste is an individual thing, and in my opinion it’s good to have a variety of similar pets on the grid.  Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But  I would be very surprised if legions of Kittycat owners defected to Imaginimals, and to be frank, I don’t think it will happen.  If anything, I think you’ll find breeders indulging themselves with both kinds of cat.

Of course, Kittycats do have the upper hand in that they are well established by now, and they excel not just in terms of product but also due to their exceptional support system. If Imaginimals want to succeed, then they will do well to aspire to the same standards of care offered by Kittycats  for their customers.

Breedable launches are never easy. But cats are always a popular pet, so let’s see how Imaginimals fare. It’s a fresh start, so perhaps it’s time to leave the memories (both good and bad )of Wildwoods behind and look to the future. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance after all? I’ll keep you updated on progress…

If you want to join in the open beta then here’s a link to the Imaginimals Sim .  

You’ll need a spare group slot, because only group members can partcipate, and bear in mind there are costs involved. Good luck with your cats!

Cats and lemurs living together? Mass hysteria!

Well, it’s not quite Ghostbusters but I needed a catchy title for this post where I’m going to have a quick natter with you about some new virtual breedable pets that are on the grid. 

Back in the mists of time, when breedable pets originally launched on the grid,  I got really into the Ozimals Bunnies and Wildwood Cats. Then I got heavily into Amaretto Horses and Kitty Cats..and then I realised I was being a little bit too crazy with my addiction and nipped it in the bud. I was spending way too much real life money on this hobby that I couldn’t actually afford to spend.  I’m more sensible now and I tend to give the breedables a wide berth because I’ve realised that for me they are just too dangerously addictive , but I still love them.

Well, I checked out a couple of new virtual breedable pets this week and they couldn’t be more different to each other. 

First up are ‘Imaginimals’ which the perceptive among you will realise at first look are re-branded Wildwoods. If you don’t remember Wildwoods they were pretty awesome, as I hope this picture from 2010 demonstrates.. (Click here for some of my old Flickr cat piccies!)

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The name change is to reflect  that the focus  is not just on cats but about future releases too which will be other animals.  I’m not going to get into the politics of what happened to Wildwoods, but I will say that I loved the product.  I adored the way that they looked and I really enjoyed owning them, so I was keen to see what the re-launch had in store.  I trotted over and had a look around.  There are a few cats out in beta that you can take a closer look at there.

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My first impressions are somewhat mixed.  I love the shape of the body and I really like the majority of the textures that are being used for fur.  But the eyes aren’t a patch on the ones that the Wildwoods had; they seem duller by comparison.  The shape of the eye itself has changed too and it’s far less effective than the previous Wildwood eye shape.  I also dislike the ear shape that I saw, it is a bit pointy whereas the previous ear was more cat-like, in my opinion. The cats I viewed were of course in beta test so they may well change..I almost hope that it does.

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But then again, check out the picture above. Doesn’t this guy look great? When the cats are rolling around on the floor or in a seated pose they look rather grand and very regal, in the way that only cats can, but the walking movement was a bit of a letdown; it is best described as a strange forward-moonwalk trot/shuffle combination. I think the product needs a little more work but that’s the blessing of beta-testing, you can iron out the quirks before launch day.   One final positive that I noted from my visit to the Imaginimals sim were the kittens.  They actually birth kitten shapes, rather than boxes. These would look great in a basket and I envision that’s how many breeders will choose to sell them, they’re not especially detailed although I do I think it’s a nice touch.

I really rate some of the animations in the cats.  The sleeping pose is really incredibly sweet as I hope the shot above demonstrates.  I watched a Siamese slumber and it looked very natural for a stylised virtual cat! (If I was being hyper critical I’d say that it was breathing a little bit too fast..but perhaps it was dreaming?)

Do I think Kittycats should be shaken by this new feline competitor?

Absolutely not. I think Kittycats are well-established and successful for a number of reasons, not just because of their excellent product. They offer the full package, the cats look sensational, and the team behind them is justly proud of their excellent customer service and have a dedicated Kittycat community which would prove hard to break. I certainly think Kittycats have the edge when it comes to animations as well. That said, a bit of competition is very good for the consumer, so I don’t begrudge Imaginimals giving it another shot at all.  This time I just hope that they have a more structured customer service in place and will be able to deal with their clientele more effectively, but I do wish them well and look forward to seeing the finished product at launch.

I sincerely hope however that a fresh start with a re-imagined product means they will be more respectful to their customers and provide a full customer support service which is keen to respond to questions when asked.

This has not always been the case, as this post from the excellent Breedables Inc. blog clearly proves.

When people pay money for a product, service is paramount, something that Kittycats CSR reps prove time and again. I hope Imaginimals can endeavour to follow that example so the past does not repeat itself.

In total contrast are the Zooby Lemurs.

Now, I love lemurs.  There is an amazing wildlife park within driving distance to me that has a  walk-through lemur enclosure, and it is outstanding. (There’s also a very good one at Blackpool Zoo of all places, my father-in-law got licked by a very affectionate Red-Ruffed Lemur while we were there!)   Being surrounded by lemurs chilling and basically enjoying themselves is a very enjoyable and humbling experience. They are truly amazing animals and to see them brought to the grid as a breedable pet is really quite exciting.  Team that with the fact that these are made by Zoobys and you have a dazzling breedable prospect. I mean, let’s face it, Zooby’s creates the best animals on the grid; they are always beautifully built and rendered and the textures that are used to coat the creatures are just bang on.

For me Zooby’s is the epitome of virtual animal creation in-world. 

But I felt a bit disappointed when I visited the sim and just saw a lot of boxes and information and a couple of gorgeous, but static lemurs…

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Don’t get me wrong, the location where the lemurs are located  is great and the builds fabulous ( I love the temple styling and the way the product is boxed and presented) but if I’m  going to spend money on these  I need to see them moving around and doing Lemur stuff..

As gorgeous as they are, and believe me they REALLY are outstanding looking things, seeing them in a static pose does not encourage me to want to buy them.

Fortunately  I bumped into a guy who was carrying his new Lemur and he told me that they were great virtual pets; they move about beautifully and follow you around at home too. He was really satisfied and excited by them.  It was great to see him so enthused, so please Carrie Tatsu and Zooby Vella, let a few of the little fellas loose on the sim so we can get a better feel for these stunning virtual critters! Because I mean, just LOOK at them..

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A tempting prospect aren’t they? Click HERE to visit Imaginimals and see the cats, and HERE to visit Zooby’s and see the Lemurs.

What do you think? Post your comments, how do you feel seeing the Imaginimals beta-cats and what do you think to the Zooby Lemurs? I’d be really interested in your thoughts, please add them below!

(A final note: I found a FANTASTIC BREEDABLE BLOG when I was mooching around the interwebz seeking links for this article. If you’re at all interested in Second Life Breedables, you must check it out.  It’s curated by a lady called Aywren Sojourner and it’s an incredibly useful resource and interesting read to boot.)