New Realism in Virtual Pets Paves the Way for High-Tech Companions of the Future

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Clear Crown Studios today unveiled the most realistic computerized pets to date, marking a key milestone on the road to personal robots like NS-5 of Â?I, Robot.Â?

Clear Crown Studios today unveiled the most realistic computerized pets to date, marking a key milestone on the road to personal robots like NS-5 of “I, Robot.”

Audiences have been wowed by the realism of NS-5, the lead robot character in 20th Century Fox’s new film, “I, Robot.” Thanks to modern special effects, today’s audiences are getting a glimpse into the future of machines built specifically to relate to humans on a human level.

Robots like NS-5 may not become a reality any time soon, but the march of steady progress toward NS-5 can be clearly seen in a number of today’s products, like Sony’s AIBO, an “entertainment robot” designed to look and act like a friendly puppy.

Although AIBO’s price tag may indicate that AIBO is still ahead of its time, many inexpensive software-based and Internet-based virtual pets have been widely popular for years. The latest version of Bandai’s popular Tamagotchi pets are on track to exceed one million units sold by the end of August, just five months after their initial release. Neopets, Inc., provider of Internet-based virtual pets called neopets, boasts over 22 million members who visit their on-line pets at an astounding rate of 3 billion page views per month. Ubi Soft’s Petz product line has sold millions of units of Catz, Dogz, and Oddballz software pets since its original launch in 1995.

Today’s announcement from Clear Crown Studios marks a new milestone in the advancement toward truly life-like high-tech companions for humans. Today, Clear Crown Studios has launched a new virtual pet product called Sprite Life, which promises to be the most realistic virtual pet experience to date. Sprite Life pets include 3-dimensional dogs, cats, and a fantasy species called a “spriteling,” whose features were inspired by cats, dogs, rabbits, and monkeys. Sprite Life pets live in a large, realistic 3-dimensional world of snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, green meadows, and crystal-clear lakes, all of which are open for exploration by both the pets and their owners. But bringing virtual pets into the third dimension is not the only milestone Clear Crown Studios has reached.

Each Sprite Life pet has its own genetic code and a family tree, adding a new life-like realism to virtual pets. Pets are born on a specific date and inherit traits from their mothers and fathers. Different pets have a variety of different fur colors, and even those with the same coloration have a different shine to their fur. Some pets are short and squat, while others are tall and thin. Some are larger, others smaller. Pets are unique in personality as well as physical appearance. Some pets are more active, others more docile. Some are more independent, while others are more affectionate.

The experience of owning a Sprite Life pet closely resembles that of owning a real-world pet like a cat or dog. The pet owner gets to select pets from the currently available litters. Once the owner adopts the pet, it is no longer available for adoption by anyone else. The pet’s physical and emotional welfare becomes the responsibility of the pet owner, who must provide food and love for the pets to be happy. At some point, the owner may even wish to donate a sample of the pet’s DNA for breeding purposes, so that future pet owners may enjoy traits inherited from a favorite pet.

Clear Crown Studios is betting that realism will be the key to making virtual pets even more popular than real-life pets. “It’s inevitable that virtual pets will outnumber real-life pets someday,” according to Chas. Cooper, founder of Clear Crown Studios. “Just look at the trends in play: People need pets now more than ever, as people continue to live increasingly independent lives. The flip side of independent living is loneliness and a need for companionship. At the same time, our busy lives make it hard to find the time to properly care for a dog, cat, bird, or other real-life pet. As computers and technology improve, virtual pets will just keep getting more and more realistic, and help bring happiness to those who might otherwise never know the pleasure of caring for a pet.”

Virtual pets will not replace real-life pets, insists Mr. Cooper, who is avidly dedicated to his real-life dog and parrot. “There will always be real-life pets. No matter how realistic we make our Sprite Life pets, it’s not going to replace the unique experience of knowing a real-life pet. At the same time, I foresee many pet owners loving their Sprite Life pets almost as much as they do their real-world pets.”

Early owners of Sprite Life pets echo Mr. Cooper’s sentiments. “I like how realistic Sprite Life is,” comments Rachel Rudy, one of the earliest Sprite Life pet owners. “It is wonderful that each pet is unique and has its very own personality. I think the graphics are amazing and the scenery is beautiful. The views from high hills are breath-taking and it makes you feel like you want to take a picture of it with your real camera. The pets act very realistic, too. The pets give you a chance to own a pet if you can't own your own [real-life pet].”

"I loved how interactive Sprite Life is,” says Annalysia Grant, another early adopter of Sprite Life pets. “It allows you to get really up-close to the pets and I found myself getting attached to them after only a short time. They are very lovable and cute. The scenery was gorgeous and I liked how I could follow the pets around including swimming after them. I also find it nice that the pets have status bars enabling their owner to know what they need and what they are thinking. I was really impressed by the personality each pet displayed as well."

"My son loves Sprite Life,” reports April Fulmer, mother of three. “He is my hardest to please or rather hardest to find a game that keeps him involved. He will go buy a game, play a week or a month, then not want it anymore. So to have him asking to play again is a step not many established and popular games have managed. He is sitting here [by the computer] now and every few minutes I hear, ‘Are you done yet?’"

Another early adopter of Sprite Life pets, Lauren, commends Sprite Life for its realism, saying, “I loved the mountains and that the game didn't block you off from climbing them. This game was so realistic. It was like being in a hidden valley with real creatures.”

Hayley Bowen, another early Sprite Life pet adopter, echoed Mr. Cooper’s sentiment that virtual pets have a role to play in people’s hearts, saying, “I loved Sprite Life. It's more than just a game. I think it will show kids how much love real pets or even people need.”

Sprite Life pets are now available to the general public for the first time by Internet only at http://www.spritelife.com.

About Clear Crown Studios

Clear Crown Studios is a small, cozy studio located in Burlingame, California, overlooking the San Francisco Bay halfway between Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Clear Crown Studios is solely dedicated to advancing the world of virtual pets. For more information, visit http://www.spritelife.com.

Press Contact:

Chas. Cooper

Clear Crown Studios

(650) 685-2468

fax (650) 240-1723

http://www.spritelife.com

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Chas. Cooper