|Video Game Fandom|
|Name:||Petz, Petz Community|
|Developer:||PF Magic, Mindscape, Ubisoft|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Petz is a fandom that covers the Petz computer games released by P.F. Magic between 1995 and 2002. The title "Petz" refers to the combination of two games, Dogz and Catz, which revolve around adopting puppies and kittens, feeding and playing with them, and other activities like training and breeding them. There are two spin-off games (Oddballz and Babyz) that are sometimes included within the Petz fandom depending on who is asked, as they are based on the same A.I.
Ubisoft acquired the Petz series in the 2000s. The community does not consider games released by Ubisoft after Petz 5 as a part of the fandom. Ubisoft produced a line of "petz" games only similar in title, however they are a completely different line of games. The community sometimes calls these Unbisoft games "Ubipetz."
The fandom is collectively known as the "Petz Community" or PC. Not all members of the Petz Community would describe their community as a fandom, however, and instead just prefer to refer to it as the Petz Community. Popular activities within the fandom include hexing (modding petz), breeding and showing, with fans also creating videos and artwork of petz.
The series was conceived after P.F. Magic had received complaints about the violence of their previous game. From there, they decided to make the "cutest, least offensive game possible," and the series was born. Several iterations of the games were released throughout the series' history.
- Dogz was the very first Petz game to be released by P.F. Magic in 1995, with Catz released a year later. The two games allowed for the adoption of one pet per install and could not be combined, but are often lumped together as "Petz 1" in community terminology. This naming convention is followed in all variants of the game: Dogz 2 and Catz 2 combined are called "Petz 2", and so on.
- P.F. Magic went on to then release Dogz 2 and Catz 2 (1997). These were the first games to allow the player to adopt multiple pets, which could interact with one another. When both games were installed the player could adopt both dogs and cats, a pattern which continued across the series' history.
- The next game versions were Dogz 3 and Catz 3 (1998) which introduced breeding mechanics as well as allowing the player to dress up their pets and take them to different playscenes.
- Dogz 4 and Catz 4 (1999) were the last titles developed by P.F. Magic, although their features were originally advertised as DLC in the Petz 3 manuals. They introduced non-breedable pig and bunny breedfiles, as well as extra playscenes and clothing items.
- Ubisoft bought the rights to the series in 2001, so the very last game to feature the original P.F. Magic A.I. and graphics was Dogz 5 and Catz 5 - also called Petz 5 (2002). They added in ten new breedfiles (five cats and five dogs) and the ability for pets to give birth to litters rather than one baby at a time. However, they were not backwards compatible with previous games and reception was mixed.
Following Petz 5, Ubisoft went on to release further games under the Petz name, including Hamsterz and Horsez. These games are considered to be in-name-only instalments by the community as they do not use the same engine or gameplay as previous versions. The community do not consider them to be part of the main series and often refer to them as "New Petz" or "UbiPetz".
The games were released relatively cheaply at the time; a player from 1998 noted that Dogz 3 was $20 ($31.56 adjusted for 2019 inflation). Now, if one were to look up Dogz 3 with intent to buy, the prices fluctuate from as cheap as $5 USD to as expensive as $139 USD. However, whether or not game collectors would actually buy an expensive copy is yet to be seen. Many of the games are considered abandonware and can be easily obtained online with no charge.
Dogz and Catz also had a stuffed animal toy line in 1997, during the release of Dogz 2 and Catz 2. The toys made sounds from the game.
A Compaq Presario computer from 2000 came with a free copy of Dogz 3 and Catz 3.
"Early Adopters" of Petz 3 could receive the game for free.
Gameplay consists of: adopting puppies and kittens, feeding and playing with them daily (lest they run away), dressing and grooming them, training them, and breeding them. Breeding was not a game play mechanic until the third iterations. However, there is no true goal to these games. Whether one adopts as many as possible, breeds for certain colors, or doesn't actually breed at all is up to the player and their play style. The games themselves are very lax, designed in such a way that they may become one's desktop background. In fact, the game gives one the option to place one's petz directly onto their desktop. This was a trend in the end of the 1990's and the early 2000s.
Petz age over time into full grown adults, but do not die, although they may run away and become unplayable if neglected.
The Petz games, especially in their heyday, boasted a complex system of emotion and personality within each individual pet. The A.I. of the games were highly praised and seen as something new and unique at the time, and indeed still hold up fairly well today. Before 2018, very little was known about how the actual A.I. functioned. But a 2018 interview revealed some new information. This reveal taught the fandom that, while the A.I. was a rather simple based adjective system, it also allowed for complexity of pet traits and genetics. Before this, the fandom did not know petz could have preferences or that there was a complex list of traits (such as specific animation overlays) that had a chance to pass down in offspring.
A hungry cat didn't perform a "find food and eat" animation. It would move towards anything that exposed a "tasty looking" or "nutritious" adjective, making it an interesting target, then perform a eat animation. You could create a highly tasty looking and not nutritious object, and a cat would try to eat it but not get full, causing the cat's frustration to rise and adding more variability into the next decision it would make, the "AI" was basically a state machine driven by various hysteresis... this allowed petz to have preferences, like cats that like "red" or "fuzzy" toys.
Community members would often host their own websites for their petz and downloads, usually through Angelfire and Geocities. Personal domains were also common, and a culture of website creation and socialization via forums continues. The Petz games even include features known as the "Petz Publisher" and "Web Fun Pack," which are both built in ways to create basic Petz websites. Outside of forums, members would often communicate via AIM, including one time when an "AIM slumber party" was held.
It appears some drama occurred, specifically on the Petz Community Gathering.
Hexing is the act of modding within Petz; the name is in reference to the dated way in which modding originally had to be carried out; with the use of a hex editor. In the early days of the community, this was often the only way to access the files that controlled the pets' appearance (see Breeding for a description of the pet models). Tutorials were common, but much of the documentation was put together by community member Carolyn Horn, whose website continues to be a commonly used reference guide. During the early 2000s it was discovered that the file compiler ResHacker could be used to access and edit files. As it was easier to use and caused fewer corruptions, it made the modding process more accessible to creators who may have been intimidated by hex editors. Around the mid-2000s the tools LNZ Pro and Pet Workshop were created specifically for Petz modding and continue to be used today. Although the use of hex editors is now obsolete, the term "hexing" is still in common use.
A "Hex" (or affectionately "Hexies") is a mod for the game, it can be anything from a re-colored dog to a completely made from scratch creature. Common hexes include dog and cat breeds not featured in the base game, other animals (often known as "Wildz") and fantasy creatures. Fan creations such as Pokemon are also popular. Hexing doesn't just include modding petz, but clothes and toys as well. Users can create their own clothes lines or set of toys through hexing, though the process is different from that of hexing animals. Hexed toys can only be created by changing the textures of the currently existing toys, and any fiddling with the code seems to corrupt the item. To hex, software and an understanding of said software is required. This includes things like Pet Workshop, PetzA, LNZ Pro, and GHex.
For much of the community history, hexing was relegated to editing the appearance of pets. Some limited inroads had been made into understanding how to swap the files governing species personalities, but the system AI remained a mystery. A 2018 interview with a member of the original Petz team revealed information to the fandom that was not previously known. The A.I. of the game works based on adjectives, and these traits are reflected in the code of objects. Thus, because an object's usability is based on code, and 90's era software would be needed to re-write that code, this is why the creation of new toys and clothes has been so difficult in the community. Not only would hexers need software that can work with the files, but they would need to find a way to open the files without corrupting them, as they are highly compressed and delicate.
Hexers in the fandom learned how to hex from various sources. A player who joined the fandom in 2017 learned how from sites called Carolyn's Creations and the VPZ Research Center, while a player who joined in 1998 learned from another player called Mojokins over AIM. Learning to hex can be a long and difficult process, and there are many tutorials online to help.
Breeding, even within the base games, can produce unique results with each litter. This is because of the way the Petz games deal with color and patterns. A modern game's model of a dog would have a solid shaped from a wire frame of polygons. However, Petz in the Petz series are a conglomerate of fuzzy spheres. Each sphere has its own size, color, and texture, and when told where to randomize and what colors it is allowed to be, the combinations in offspring came become quite appealing and unique. The combinations grow when factoring in both inter-species breeding and hexes. Hexes can be told to have higher variability, and inter-species breeding could, for example, cause the offspring of a chihuahua to suddenly be born with the spots of a dalmatian. Players who actively breed petz, specifically if they intend to share them online, often create and name a cattery or kennel.
Users in the fandom will also offer breeding services. This is a way for players to find partners for their petz when they don't have any they currently like. There is no way to remotely breed petz together, meaning there must be communication from both parties. In order to do this, users must send their petz "breed file" via email. From there, the other user will breed the petz together and either send the litter back or keep the litter, depending on the situation. An honor system must be used, as the player who receives the pet must remove the pet after breeding since it is not really their pet. Some users will convert Petz4 files to Petz5 files and vice versa.
The invention of the software PetzA made the time consuming task of breeding instantaneous. With PetzA, users can instantly breed two pets, set the number of children, instantly birth the children, then instantly grow the children. Before this, users would have to use "time forwarding," a method in which one would change the time on their computer to trick the game. This was faster than waiting the in game time for births and aging, but became extremely slow in comparison to PetzA. The use of PetzA in breeding has now become the norm.
There are Petz forums dedicated specifically to breeding and showing in Petz shows. These can range from pose shows, breed specific shows, to talent shows. On the RKC Petz forum, shows can be done by the admin or just by regular users. Petz are judged based on how they stand, their conformation to their breed, and the ability to preform tricks in a pleasing manner. Much of these shows are based on the skills of the user entering them. They must be able to have good intuition when breeding and choosing show petz, as well as have a good grasp of when to take in game photos. Petz will move and pose certain ways, so users must learn how to get their petz to stand or act a certain way in order to take the best photos possible for showing.
There is a standard pose that most "official" looking shows tend to refer to, which differs between dogz and catz. For dogz it is standing upright, body and head looking to the right, with all four feet lined up perfectly and tail out. The slant of the back and the tilt of the head are minute factors to also consider. For catz, the cat's body must be facing the right, their chin must be lifted, the tail up, front legs even, with their left back leg sticking out. Shows can use a specific pose other than this standard pose, though.
- LGR- Catz, Dogz, & Oddballz Archived Version
- Nerd3 Tests... Dogz 5 Archived Version
- PF Magic Dogz Plush Mutt Archived Version
- Acronyms Archived Version-- Words specific to the fandom
- Breed Files Archived Version-- RKC Breed Files List
- The Petz Museum Archived Version-- A list of Petz Forums
- Wayback Petz Archived Version-- Gallery of show award graphics]
- Wiki Archived Version-- The Petz fandom wiki
- The RKC Forum Archived Version
- Petz Kennel Club Archived Version
- Whiskerwick Petz Forum Archived Version
- Petz Community Gathering Archived Version
- Carolyn's Creations Archived Version
- VPZ Research Center Archived Version
- Pinecone Cattery Archived Version
- Anso's Petz 3
- Silver's Petz Site
- Sara's Petz Homepage
Meta and Further Reading
- History of Sara's Homepage
- Nostalgia: What are your favorite Petz memories Archived Version
- Socially Intelligent Virtual Petz Archived Version
- Gaming's Forgotten Petz Subculture and the Women Who Shaped it Archived Version
- Case Study- Petz Archived Version
- Petz Demo Archived Version-- Video of the original 1998 game demo
- Petz, Wikipedia. (Accessed 1/27/2021) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Can we just talk about "New Petz" for a minute? RKC Petz Forum. Dec 2, 2014. (Accessed 1/27/2021) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Fanlore Petz Fandom Page Needs Info, RKC Petz Forum. Dec 15, 2019 (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Dogz and Catz toy commercial 1997 Dated 1997, re-upload circa 2019. (Accessed 1/1/2020) (Archived 1/28/2021)
- Sarah's Petz Homepage (Accessed 1/3/2020) (Archived May 29, 2004)
- For Beginners, Anso's Petz 3. (Accessed 1/3/2020) (Archived Sept 30, 2000)
- OFFICIAL INTERVIEW WITH A PETZ DEV, RKC Petz Forum. Dated Dec 24, 2018 (Accessed 1/1/2020) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Petz: A lost community of mostly female coders/gamers, medium.com. May 15, 2016 (Accessed 1/27/2021) (Archived 1/19/2021)
- RKC Petz Forum, homepage. (Accessed 1/27/2021) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Nostalgia: What are your favourite Petz memories?, tiwolf.net. Sept 10, 2015 (Accessed 1/3/2020) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Carolyn's Creations, homebody.eu. (Accessed 1/28/2021) (Archived Jun 6, 2019)
- Sherlock Software: Petz. (Accessed 1/28/2021) (Archived 1/28/2021)
- How to Texture & Anchor Paintballs/Spots, RKC Petz Forum. Aug 30, 2006 (Accessed 1/28/2021) (Archived Sept 26, 2020)
- Breeding Services, RKC Petz Forums (Accessed 12/29/19) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- banana's breeding service! RKC Petz Forum. Apr 6, 2019 (Accessed 12/29/19) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Additional Guidelines for This Board (Upd. July 15, 2020), RKC Petz Forum. Dated Jun 28, 2003 (Accessed 12/29/19) (Archived 1/28/2021)
- Dogz Posing & Judging Guide, RKC Petz Forum. Dated Feb 12, 2017 (Accessed 12/29/19) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Catz Posing & Judging Guide, RKC Petz Forum. Dated Feb 9, 2017 (Accessed 12/29/19) (Archived 1/27/2021)
- Thor's EBW Forward-Facing Poodle Show #3 (Judged), RKC Petz Forum. Aug 24, 2019 (Accessed 12/29/19) (Archived 1/28/2021)