Welcome to the Classic Petz 'Pedia Wiki
Hi y'all! This is a wiki dedicated to the classic series of computer games known as "Petz", originally created by P.F.Magic. (This wiki is about the games from 2002 and prior, NOT the very different games from 2006 and later.)
This completely awesome series of computer games, which has had many more layers of awesomeness added on by the community that plays it, deserves much more recognition than it has - and it definitely deserves an in-depth, comprehensive wiki, don'tcha think?
ANYONE can edit Classic Petz 'Pedia! Don't worry about style, citations, or anything like that. I'm more concerned about getting as much raw info as possible! If we all chip in just a little, we'll have a Petz encyclopedia in no time! (Or not...but optimism is good, right?)
God bless you! I hope you thoroughly enjoy your stay!
Hugs & licks, your humble administrator StoryMaker
What is Classic Petz?
I'm glad you asked!
The BasicsOriginally created by the now-defunct P.F. Magic, Petz is one of the first (if not THE first) virtual pet game series. Though the petz are cartoony, they’re very cute, and the amazing artificial intelligence does a very impressive job at creating the illusion of reality. Unlike many virtual pet games, which focus on just looking at your pets, attaining certain achievements, etc., classic Petz isn’t goal-focused - it’s focused on just playing with and enjoying the companionship of your petz, who can actually move around, interact with other petz, form friendships and rivalries, and even fall in love! And thanks to its awesome breeding feature, the different kinds of petz that you can get are infinite! Not only that, but fans have found out how to edit the files and create brand-new petz. You’re not even limited to dogz and catz, thanks to fans - now, you can own dragonz, horsez, and so much more. “Hexing”, the process of editing files, isn’t an especially hard skill to learn (especially when it comes to simpler petz), thanks to tools that fans with programming skills have developed - so not only can you enjoy others' fan-made add-ons, you can also create your own.
The classic Petz games most often used these days are Dogz 4 and Catz 4 (which merge into a single game, Petz 4) and Dogz 5 and Catz 5 (which likewise become Petz 5). Interestingly, Petz 4 is more popular in the community. Most of these games are quite inexpensive on Amazon and eBay. Petz 4 has some compatibility issues with newer computers, but these can be resolved using the fan-made add-on PetzA (which also adds lots of new features and “cheats” to your game!).
The classic Petz series made its debut way back in 1995, with the original Dogz. In this revolutionary game, you could adopt a rather goofy-looking virtual canine, play with it, feed it, make it do tricks for treats, watch it grow up, and let it roam your desktop. Very simple, and primitive-looking today, but effective.
One game deserves another. In 1996, Catz was released, then the spin-off game Oddballz in the same year (another spin-off game Babyz was released in 1999), then the sequels Dogz II and Catz II in 1997. Each of these releases brought significant advancements, but Dogz II and Catz II more than any. The new catz and dogz, while still cartoony, were quite improved visually, with textured fur as opposed to the flat colors of previous games. Now, as opposed to previous games, you could take out 2 petz at a time and see how they interacted, which was pretty impressive! Furthermore, unlike the original Dogz and Catz, Dogz II and Catz II had a new engine and internal programming that was the same in both games. When both programs were installed on a single computer, they would "merge" into Petz II, allowing you to see how your catz and dogz interacted with the other species!
Let me tell you something about Petz: its A.I. and the petz' movements very effectively create the illusion of reality. It doesn't feel fake or stiff. The petz often seem to have distinct personalities. In this arena, this "dinosaur" far exceeds many modern virtual pet games.
The advancements in Petz 3 (1998) weren't as major (same basic "engine", same basic design, etc.), but were still extremely significant. For example, you could now take your petz to other areas (Playscenes) instead of only having access to the Playpen and Desktop, and you could dress your petz up in Clothes. More importantly, however: Petz now had genders and could fall in love and breed with each other! Man, does that make a difference. From then on, there would be no limits to the different pretty petz you could get! It's amazing all the kinds of petz can be created as the result of breeding. And who doesn't like seeing a couple of catz going goo-goo over each other?
Petz 4 (1999) and Petz 5 (2002) were both made by different companies than P.F.Magic, as the series was sold to Mindscape, then to Ubisoft (the current owner). These are the two games most in use today, but interestingly, the advancements they made were quite small compared to those made in Catz, Petz II, and Petz 3. (In fact, many Petz owners prefer Petz 4 to Petz 5.) Petz 4 being much more commonly used than Petz 3 likely results not from being significantly better, but by being easier to find!
No discussion of Petz would be remotely complete without speaking of the community built up around it! While the series is fun in and of itself, the community adds many layers of awesomeness on top.
The community was something that P.F.Magic encouraged, including features in their games such as the Petz Publisher and Web Fun Pack to aid aspiring fansite owners. Interacting with other petz players has many easily foreseeable benefits - since each pet is contained within a single file, petz can easily be "adopted out" by attaching their file to an email or putting it up for download online. The game also has a Camera feature which allows you to take pictures of your petz, which are easily shared with others. And of course, there's always discussing the game and tips for playing it.
But there's actually a lot more to it than that! One of the major features of the Petz community is hexing - that is, editing the files in the game to create new petz, breedz, toyz, clothes, etc. Early on, some genius Petz fan realized that the files in the game were made of hexadecimal coding and could be edited using hex editors. With time, patience and discipline, it's amazing what can be created with hexing. You can create entirely new species - llamaz, snakez, lizardz, horsez, and much more - and amazing fantasy creatures. The possibilities are endless!
Yet it gets even better. Hexing with a hex editor can be a time-consuming and difficult process - endlessly editing those numbers and making sure not to make errors isn't an easy feat. Enter Nicholas Sherlock, who created several tools to make the process easier - Tinker (for editing toyz), LNZ Pro (essentially a hex editor that was specifically designed with editing Petz in mind), and the revolutionary Pet Workshop (a visual-based editor that lets you see the breed as you hex it - no entering numbers needed!). Now, hexing is more doable than ever!
Speaking of Nicholas Sherlock, those aren't the only revolutionary programs he created. He also created PetzA, an add-on to the game that adds many new features. It's now pretty much a "must-have" for Petz fans! Right here, I'm only going to focus on one of PetzA's capabilities - making breeding much faster. With features such as gender swap, instant births, and speed aging, PetzA makes it easier to breed and breed and breed, resulting in some pretty amazing-looking petz.
I could go on and on about the Petz Community, but here I'm just going to touch on one last thing - showing. Showing is...kind of hard to describe, really. It's a bit like pet shows in real life, except...usually it's not. Most shows aren't actually based on a petz' appearance or meeting standards, but on posing. A good show cat or dog is one who can perfectly strike a certain pose to universally-accepted standards. There's one basic show-pose for catz and two for dogz. I guess it's sort of like train-spotting - not easy for outsiders to understand! But it is another layer of petzy fun that many people enjoy!