Fans of the popular Facebook game Pet Society have a reason to celebrate with a little vacation today. You can now take the game with you wherever you go with Pet Society Vacation on the iPod and iPhone. Hit the islands and live the good life while your pets cruise around and party with friends on their houseboats! While you wait for your download to finish, check out this interview with Barbara Laurent, one of the key people behind the game.
Thanks for being here with us. Could you tell us about what you do at EA?
I’m the Producer of Pet Society Vacation for iOS. I’m in charge of the game’s overall creative vision, game features, and weekly visual updates.
And can you describe Pet Society Vacation a bit?
Pet Society Vacation is a mobile social game on iPhone and iPod Touch based on the popular Facebook game, Pet Society, created by Playfish in 2008. Your Pet from the Facebook version is directly imported into the mobile game and is transported to a tropical holiday on a lush island paradise. In the game, you can decorate your houseboat, dress your Pet, visit your friends and find wonderful treasures in the Scuba mini game. On top of that, new items to decorate the boat and amazing costumes to dress your Pet are added every week to allow the player to create new decor and fashions to show off to their friends.
What was the inspiration behind the game?
People are motivated by self-expression and that’s what Pet Society Vacation is all about – giving players tools in which to express their creativity and share it with their friends around the world. The possibility of creation within the game is endless, especially with new content every week. It’s also easy to master – no need to be an artist to create a masterpiece.
So it sounds like you touched upon this a bit in your previous answer, but what would you say makes this game unique or different from other iOS games?
It’s one of the first free games of this quality on the App store. We immerse players in the Pet Society world with a variety of shops to visit, fun activities to do and cool ways to interact with friends and their Pets. The unique and lively art style also helps the game to stand out. The Pets, their costumes and the decorations are so cute that you can’t help but become quickly addicted!
And what’s your personal favorite feature or part of the game?
The Scuba diving mini-game is really fun but what I love most is decorating my houseboat – I could do that for hours. Every day, I look for the coolest item in the shops and place it in my room in the funniest way possible. I love to see my friend’s creations too because it inspires me to create even more.
On a creative note, what’s the creative process like for making a game like this? How do you come up with new ideas?
New ideas come naturally when you create this type of ‘simulation’ game. It’s so similar to real life; you just have to imagine yourself on a tropical island vacation and what you’d like to do there. Playing other iOS and Facebook games helps a lot too. It becomes challenging when it’s time to organize those ideas on paper. One of the game designers even created a tool to help us evaluate those ideas and decide whether a certain feature will help for the replay value, impact monetization, increase fun factor, etc. Then we give a value to the feature and prioritize it accordingly. We’re currently scheduling a lot of fun and awesome features for the updates in the upcoming months.
What did you enjoy most about making the game?
The creation of the weekly themes is really exciting! Every week, we brainstorm with the talented artistic team to find the visual theme that players will enjoy the most. Then we define the items and costumes that will be added in the shops. The artists and I are really motivated to create the coolest and fun new designs every week for players to enjoy.
I imagine there are some limitations since you work with iOS…what’s it like working on that platform?
It’s quite a big challenge! The programmers have done amazing work. The connectivity with the servers to get the new content without a full game update was one of the biggest achievements. Additionally, building a 3D environment with the possibility of nearly endless creations was a huge challenge.
Well since you have to constantly deal with challenging issues at work, what games do you play in your spare time to relax?
Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Facebook social games. I also love the Lego series; Harry Potter Lego on IOS is really good. I am also a big fan of Kirby, the last one on Wii is just excellent.
What’s next for your team?
We’re working on making the game even better than it is now. The team is creating a variety of new mini games, fun items and exciting activities, which should keep players busy for a long time to come.
If you could say one thing to motivate people to get Pet Society Vacation, what would it be?
Show me your fashion and interior design skills!