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.)

Blessed Bunnie’s Birthday Bonanza!

It’s my RL birthday on Monday (37!) and to celebrate I’m having a huge clearout sale at my mainstore location adjacent to the Tomodachi sandbox. This IS NOT a going out of business sale, I need to clear some room for some new stock so this is a great opportunity to snap up some quality nests to kindle and breed with.

So, what treats are in-store?

*There’s a TON of Holland Lop White nests starting from…25L!
Get these RETIRED classics while you can, breed them with twilight, sunlight or moonlight and make beautiful shaded bunnies (Smurf bunnies anyone?!)

*Fancy something a bit darker? Havana Black and Choc nests at just L$50 apiece, again put a shade in these babies and you have something special for Halloween!

*Speaking of Halloween, A PERFECT VAMPIRE bunny nest can be yours for just…L$75!

*Mini Rex Black Otter with RETIRED DARK HAZEL eyes and APHOTIC shade? Gorgeous bunnies and only TWO NESTS LEFT at just….L$95 each!

*Lop-eared, gem eyed specials starting at L$50 each!

*2X Dusky nests at L$50 each!

*2X perfect Dutch nests with lop ears and gem eyes at just…L$50 each!

And as if that wasn’t enough..give two hoppers a home!

Today’s beautiful bunnies needing a new home are Ellie and Shane.

Ellie is a Mini Rex Blue Otter, with Light Green eyes and upright ears in a classic shade. She has just four gens left, meaning that she is approaching the time frame for a chance of elite nests, and of course she will soon turn into an elder. You can see her stats for yourself upon SLBreedables: OZ-000614-00035.

Shane is a fabulously furry Silver Fox Black, with Light Blue peepers, lop ears and classic shade. Unlike Ellie he has ten gens left and also has a profile at SLBreedables: OZ-000614-00007

These hoppers really need a home and are just…L$50 each. Can you give them a nice new home?

Whoa! It’s all go at Blessed Bunnies! See you there!

Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?

So, 45 minutes after they were supposed to be released (Tip to future AI animal publishers, have vendors set up for the allocated release time; if you publicise a time and you aren’t ready it looks a bit rough) I managed to get my hands on my very own Amaretto Breedable Horses. But if I thought the problems would end there, I was in for a huge shock indeed. But let’s proceed with my initial impressions.

The similarities to the bunnies are obvious; first up, these are good looking beasts. I’m not entirely sold on some aspects of their design, for example the shoulder/back arch doesn’t look as good on these as on some of the other horses that are available to buy on the Second Life markets, but then again they’re only 14 prims each. When you consider that the achievement is pretty remarkable. The horses do actually have really lovely faces, and their eyes are spectacular; in that mad unnerving way that horses gaze at you in real life. Another similarity to the bunnies is inside the horse, if you zoom into a bunny and pass through it you find a heart. In the horses you find a horseshoe.

The starter pack cost L$3k and for my money I got 4 horses, 2 x food and 2 x salt lick. The horses are NOT available individually ( wait until auctions kick off for that privilege) but the ratio of male to female ensures you have a great breeding program from the start. The horses are in coloured crates, and when ready you click to rez each horse., again like clicking a bunny nest. They appear practically immediately; for a few seconds white ghost-like shapes are visible, and then you get to meet your horses.

I was actually VERY pleased with my horses; I got a gorgeous brown Appaloosa stallion, as well as two grey Appaloosa mares in my pack, but best of all a plain grey mare with silver eyes, she had me hooked from the start. Struggling for names I resorted to the internet and came up with, Rhiannon, Epona and Zephyr for my mares, with my male called Gandalf. I cocked up during the naming process, but with the menus being exceptionally easy to navigate, especially if you have bunny experience, I was able to rename my mare very quickly and with minimum fuss.

And thus began my horse learning experience..I turned off the main features of movement and noise so as not to cause annoyance to my neighbours, and settled in to having four foals in my barn, along with my hoppers. It was nice. I can’t say that I’m keen on the young horses, they look ever-so-slightly wrong because of their size ( they’re just horses in minature) whereas bunnies win oodles of praise for thei just kindled cuteness factor.

Then disaster struck.

Something very, very wrong occurred upon the servers which impacted horses across the grid. Interestingly enough, mine were fine, so imagine my heartbreak when I discovered that just like every horse buyer across the grid I had to return my horses for replacement because the problems experienced were so darn sever that an updated edition of the horses had to be issued. I’d already begun to ‘bond’ with my horses, and was itching to breed and ride them. Even worse, the replacement was just a replacement pack..I wasn’t guaranteed like-for-like replacements. A HUGE let down from all angles, and I was gutted.

I spoke to an Amaretto rep and pleaded my case, and was advised that I could keep my horses out and rezzed, BUT they wouldn’t breed. I weighed up my options and elected to keep my two favourite horses rezzed (Gandalf and Epona) and use them as pets for riding. I sadly returned my other two mares, and received my replacement pack, and although my new stallion and mares are just as beautiful I’m sad to say the experience had lost some of the lustre after the initial experiences of rezzing horses.

So, now the initial furore has died down..how do I feel about Amaretto Horses as a product?

Well, some of the features are well thought out by comparison to some of the Ozimals applications, something as simple as the the combined food and water is a great idea and works extremely well.
I also rate the other horse treats that have been created, from sugar cubes to biscuits, that raise individual stats. The salt licks I think are going to prove to be an essential part of a horse breeder’s armoury; these look like a giant sugar cube on a stick and are used to increase a horse’s happiness stats. Like the food these need to be located within the horses range to be effective. But this isn’t anything we’ve not really seen before from other breedables. Amaretto has obviously studied the existing in-world programmes and has tried to learn from existing mistakes and improve upon them to make a viable product, but as the release day issues and initial disasters proved releasing new AI products upon the grid is fraught with peril and you need to be made of strong stuff to cope with the stress caused by the problem and pissed-off punters in equal measure. I think the jury is still out on the horses in a big way. They certainly haven’t replaced the bunnies in my affections, and as yet I’m not sure if after I’ve bred a few times, I will continue to keep them. What is interesting is already I’ve seen adverts for various horse breeds, with black horses particularly well sought after. Because the majority of horses on the grid will become pregnant around the same date, I envision a lot of activity in forums and chats this weekend regarding breeding and selling..and it will be interesting to see what ‘rares’ are thrown up, and the prices they fetch.

I’ll return to this subject in a few posts time, and let you know what results I have had from breeding my horses, and how I feel about Amaretto ownership in more detail. I’m fortunate however to be in a position where I’ve still got two of my original horses, and now they have passed the seven day benchmark I’ll be able to ride them around the grid. How this will compare to horses specifically designed for the purpose will be interesting to see…I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, let me leave you with this image: Who says that the horses have to be the death of the bunnies?

I think they’re the perfect compliment to each other….

Incidentally, this shot isn’t staged…I walked into my bunny barn and Sharky had snuggled up next to Epona for a snooze.  Nice huh?