User Interface Software, Spring, 2000
The Virtual Pet Monster (VPM) is a benchmark that investigates how direct manipulation, animation and sound can come together to create a entertaining and fun game that is a software fusion of the Tamogotchi and the Pokemon playing card game.
Currently, I do not know of any other game of this genre. Thus, I am unable to reference any other well-known user interfaces that are similar to this benchmark. However, this benchmark will investigate the use of direct manipulation similar to that of the Solitaire game. Furthermore, it will provide a dialog/form type interface that will allow the user to tweak certain attributes of the monster.
This is a good benchmark as it tests many features of direct manipulation and game play
· Selecting and manipulation objects with the standard selection handle mechanism.
· Keeping properties of objects consistent
· User interfaces for small devices
· Support for sound output
· Some animation
· “Real-time” interaction
· Multiple-people interactions (only for PDA version)
However, like all other benchmarks, this benchmark will not be able to cover all user interface features. For example this benchmark does not evaluate
· Drawing objects
· Multi line/font text editing
· Filtering of values
· Support for 3D
This idea of a virtual pet is developed especially for the mobile computing devices like the Palm Pilot. The goal of the game is to keep a virtual pet alive by providing the pet with the proper care that you would give a normal pet.
To keep things more interesting, as the monster grows older, he can be trained to increase in his “power” and engage other monsters in a battle. Naturally, his “energy” will also increase and deplete in accordance with how well you treat it. In addition, there is also a measure of happiness for the pet monster. Like all monsters, it will not be willing to do battle if it is unhappy.
Like normal pets, you will have to interact with the pet by dragging the food and drinks icons to the pet to feed it. Subsequently, the health of the pet will increase or decrease depending on how regular you feed your pet. The user can choose different types of food by selecting from a pull out menu that displays the icon of the type of food or drink that is available. It is not always true that feeding the pet frequently will ensure its health. Like normal pets, your virtual pet can be overfed and become bloated and require some time to digest the food.
Animation and sound will be accompanied when the pet seeks attention from the user. For example, if the pet is hungry, due to a lack of attention from the user, the pet will appear to be dead and beep.
Battles for the virtual pet may be carried out via the IR port of the palm pilot. Before battle, the user can choose the amount of each attribute he is willing to invest in order to do the battle. This is done with the use of sliders in a dialog box.
Lastly, clicking on the picture of the monster will allow the user to tweak the appearance of the monster as well as view the attributes associated with it. For example, attributes like age, battle statistics.
Perhaps future editions may even include an Internet arena for pets to gather and contest each other.
An example of how the UI will look like