ngmoco dropped us a line about its upcoming virtual pet game for the iPhone, Touch Pets Dogs. It’s being developed by famed game designer Andrew Stern’s new company, Stumptown Game Machine, and is expected to hit the App Store sometime this spring.
Stern isn’t a household name–yet–but he’s garnered a lot of industry recognition for his work in artificial intelligence and virtual life games. Most recently, he was one of the co-developers of Facade, a pretty amazing social simulation that makes use of experimental language-parsing technologies. Some time before that, he worked on the Petz series of virtual life games, which is now published by Ubisoft. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about ngmoco so far, it’s that the publisher has a real eye for talent!
Touch Pets Dogs looks as though it will incorporate many of Stern’s previous ideas about virtual pets into a new social networking framework. Doggie owners select one of five breeds to start out with, and then choose a career for their pet from the Crime-fighting, Science, Rescue, Fashion and Political tracks.
Interacting with your pooch via touch and tilt minigames teaches it new skills and tricks, which are in turn applied to career missions that earn it special items and accolades. And if you feel like making friends and setting up play dates with other dogs over the network, you can do that too. All of these happenings are broadcast over the Dog Feed (kind of like Facebook’s Friend Feed), which updates continuously whether or not you’re online.
This genre has proven tremendously popular on other portable platforms like the Nintendo DS, where the Nintendogs games have moved almost 22 million units so far. ngmoco is clearly hoping to recapture some of that success on the iPhone, which trumps the DS in terms of net-connected features. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing more from Touch Pets Dogs, and we’ll post new info as we get it.