Gameplay Contest Entry '09: Mural & Stewart

The idea of a petz gameplay contest is to let people rediscover the joys of actually playing the game and getting to know their petz, rather than raising them with PetzA and then breeding compulsively. Obviously, while participating in a gameplay contest, using any such tools is strictly prohibited. You will be sent two surprise petz that you have to play and fulfill small assignments with. Although I still start up Petz just to have a fun time playing with my critters every now and then, I figured it would still be lots of fun to give it a try sometime because I simply love the idea. So when Witzy @ Witz World announced one in May 2009, I jumped right on top of it, and here we are! You'll find the assignments I was given, plenty of cute pictures, and of course my personal experiences below. Enjoy the read!

Day One
- Get to know your new petz.
- What are their names and genders, did you keep the original names?
- What is your initial impression of your new petz?

As I downloaded the pet files from the email Witzy sent me and booted up my Petz game, I felt curious and excited. Because I had asked to be sent completely random petz, I had no idea what my new buddies would look like. I secretly hoped they would at least be of the same species, because in my experience, catz and dogz don't usually get along very well.

After the game had loaded, I took out Mural. And the first thing this little girl did was jump up and down, as if she was as excited about this whole thing as I was and couldn't wait to meet me. Her cute, neat looks are absolutely adorable: everything about her is right. As I first got to know her, by petting her a bit and seeing how she reacted when I called her, I noticed she has a calico personality. I liked that; calicos are very friendly and easy-going, so I expected she would get along with whatever other pet I got. Anyways, even though meeting Mural was fun, I really wanted to see my other pet, so I put her away for a minute.

And this is my other critter: Stewart! As soon as he came out, I was pleased, because persians are my favourite cat breed. I think introducing Stewart (and Mural, of course) to some of my other petz on day three is going to be like one big persian party. Anyways, back to meeting this kitty! Stewart acted like a typical lovemuffin altogether, he enjoyed when I pet him and kept rolling over on his back to do stretches and meowed and moaned, hehe. He was really sweet!

Then, it was time for the next step: introducing these two to eachother! Stewart was still out, and was sitting in a corner of the room, just chilling. Mural ran right up to him to investigate... and she soon decided she didn't like this guy, as you can tell from the picture above. When I didn't meddle, she constantly made angry faces at him and generally avoided him. Not what I expected from the darling little calico! Stewart didn't seem to mind it much, though. He kept doing his own thing, and when Mural realized he wasn't impressed, she settled down and started washing herself, still not looking happy. After a little while, I decided to interfere and see how they would act with a third person around. Stewart divided his attention, but Mural took the chance to focus on me instead of him, haha. Silly girl, she must have no idea how lovely and sweet Stewart was only a moment ago - or is she jealous?

As for changing their names, I considered it for a few seconds, because I've had a few cute names in mind for a while. But on the other hand, I get used to whatever name a pet already has very quickly, and I think the given names really fit these petz. Mural is kind of a strange name, but it fits a pretty kitty with unexpected traits. Stewart is a normal name for a (so far apparently) very normal cat, but I somehow think this name has a very gentle ring to it... as does the one who carries it.

Day Two
- Go catch some rays (to the beach)!
- What is your petz' favorite toy(s)?

Wow! It sure has been a long time since I last took my petz to the beach... but it was fun! I decided to bring a couple of beachy toys, but neither of my kitties seemed to be very interested. Mural immediately considered the big multi-colour beach ball to be something evil, and for the rest of the trip, she'd stop whatever she was doing to make angry faces at the thing. Stewart didn't seem to even notice it was there, even when I encouraged him to play with it, so I put it away and took out the frisbee instead. They loved it! Mural would chase after it, running back and forth, and Stewart just stood there and moved his head from right to left to follow the frisbee's journey across the screen. It was really funny! Eventually, after a while, Stewart started chasing it too. It was so adorable watching them play together!

After a little while, a hermit crab washed ashore... and Mural and Stewart immediately lost their interest in the frisbee. They didn't get to see the actual crab, though, they were too busy poking him around and playing with his shell, haha. I think Mural is starting to become more tolerant of Stewart, less jealous or whatever it is, because they actually do things together now!

Suddenly I realized... I had not yet fed those poor critters. A total face-palm moment, so I hurried to the kitchen (appropriate, right?) and put down food and water for them. I thought they'd be really hungry and jump right at their bowls, but no such luck. You wouldn't believe what a hassle it was getting them to eat! They kept chasing bugs instead, and then, they had their mind set on eating from eachother's bowl so they kept pushing eachother away. When they finally set down to eat, I was most pleased. And from now on I'll make sure to leave out something to eat and drink for them all the time. I don't want my fluffballs to starve do death, do I?

When it was time for testing toys, I first took out my own favourites: the yarn, the jingly thingy, and the star ball. I'm not sure why, I just really like those toys because it's like they've always been around. Mural and Stewart didn't seem to feel the same, though, they lost interest pretty quickly unless I kept throwing those things around. I remembered the frisbee and thought they might like the miniature airplane, but it kept crashing down before they caught on, so I gave up. And, maybe this is just me, but I always just have to try how each and every pet likes the cat and dog plushies, because I have never met a single pet that liked them... as you can see, Mural and Stewart are no exception. Mural started playing with the dog after a while, but she didn't seem particularily happy with it.

Obligatory adorable and prosh basket shot for your viewing pleasure! I just had to take that thing out, you can take such sweet pictures with it.

Eventually, I caved in and presented them with my other catz' all-time favourites: the auto-rolling ball and the cat dancer. Mural was a little unsure about the auto-rolling ball (she divided her time between making angry, disapproving faces and chasing it a little), but Stewart loved it. I haven't seen him so active before! He'd catch it, and roll on his back to throw it up in the air repeatedly. I love it when catz do that, and I hadn't seen it happen in the longest time!

By then, Mural seemed to be getting really tired, so I gave her a pillow so she could nap comfortably. I figured maybe Stewart was tired, too, so I put another pillow next to Mural's, and put him on it, but he kept walking away. I shrugged it off, and gave him another toy to play with for a minute while I started writing about our visit to the beach. But when I came back, look what he was doing! How sneaky and cute.

Day Three
- Introduce your new petz to some of your other petz.
- What are your petz' favorite foods?

I've played with Mural and Stewart a few times since last time, but haven't done any of the assignments. However, I've been trying to get their body mass up, but it's a very slow process... they just keep looking dead skinny. But, what's more important, they seem to be getting along better and better! Mural never makes angry faces anymore, and Stewart has completely come out of his shell. They're like best buds now. It's really cute! However, it never hurts to have more friends, so I figured it was about time I went through with day three!

I wasn't sure which other catz to introduce Mural to, so I randomly chose Alexander. He's a very active, playful little guy, a real calico. Him and Mural seemed to get along alright, but they weren't overly interested in eachother. They wrestled with eachother every now and then, but most of the time, one of them would be running around, and the other would have retreated on a ledge. I figured these two weren't meant to be, and went on to the next.

And this is what happened when I left Mural and Pooker unattended! I wanted to introduce them to eachother because my friend Lily pointed out that a number of things Mural does could mean she has some meezer in her personality, and maybe meeting another meezer would be a nice change from Stewart for Mural. However, Pooker was in more of a persian mood today (she has both breeds in her direct lineage) and Mural found this most interesting. She kept staring at Pooker and following her around. Granted, I could have seen it coming. Things escalated and after a while, they were acting suspiciously lovey-dovey (which was terribly sweet, and I now regret not taking a load of pictures because Mural stopped doing it afterwards), but... they're both ladies! Looks like a rare glitch happened. I thought they were just getting along extremely well, but I guess I was wrong. Pooker hasn't given birth yet, but when she does, you'll defenitely read about it here.

After the crazy thing that happened with Mural, letting Stewart meet new friends was a nice change. Males never mate with eachother, so I was safe now, haha. First, I let Stewart meet one of my favourite kitties, Strawberry. Strawberry is just like Stewart: they're both persians at heart. I thought maybe Stewart would like to meet someone who is more like him than Mural is. They got along really well. I can defenitely tell Stewart is more active and curious, though. Mostly, it was him investigating Strawberry, and Strawberry letting it all come over him patiently. Stewart seemed to really admire him, he also started imitating some of the things Strawberry does. It's like he really wants him to be his big best bud, hehe.

Like I've mentioned many times before, Stewart is very mellow and soft-tempered. So I figured maybe he would get along with my other kitty Red, who I adopted not very long ago. Red has an oshie personality and is very shy and easily scared, so he has a hard time making friends. Unfortunately, not even Stewart's friendliness could make Red feel like making friends... in fact it seems to bring out the worst in him! This is the last thing I expected from these two. Neither of them seem like the type to ever start a fight. Needless to say, I quickly seperated them again and went on to do the next assignment.

Mural and Stewart were happy to see eachother again, and got in a playful mood. As usual, they seemed to consider their food bowls to be toys, so it was no use trying to make them eat. I decided to spare myself and simply leave them in the kitchen with lots of different food bowls out, and check back later to see which they ate from. It turned out they liked the leftovers and the red cat food. Of course, I'm not entirely sure who ate what, but I'm guessing Stewart ate the regular food, and Mural snatched the leftovers. Stewart always eats from the red bowl, and Mural from the green one, which was left completely untouched this time. (I know the bowls they're eating from are reversed in the picture above, but they seem to have developed this habit since then. Or maybe it's just a coincidence they always seem to eat from the same bowl, who knows.) On top of that, she's the more dominant one and could have claimed the leftovers if she wanted them even if Stewart tried to eat them. Anyways, then it was time to try some treats! I'm not sure which they thought tasted best, because they both ate all kinds without protest (and I was happy to let them try, because they could still use some more meat on their bones). But I can tell you they consider fish treats to be like regular food: they're both made for playing with.

Day Four
- Go explore afar (visit the circus, the wild west, etc.)!
- Dress up your petz as they explore!

The snow scene has always been one of my favourites, so obviously I had to take Mural and Stewart there! They didn't seem terribly fond of the place, though. Stewart kind of sat around, while Mural rolled on the ground constantly, apparently trying to make a snow angel. When I started dressing up the snow man, they got completely obsessed with it. They just stood and stared, without letting me distract them at all! Eventually, I decided they might like a little snowball fight. Stewart enjoyed playing with the things, but Mural got really angry when I threw one at her... oops! I made up for it by giving her some lovely hot chocolate, though. Naturally, she played with it first (I swear, if she starves to death, it's her own fault), and she never finished it because Stewart turns out to be a real sweet tooth, and he was cheeky enough to come up and start drinking from her cup when she paused for a second! Like I said, he's getting more outspoken all the time. As you can see, he also went for a sleigh ride!

The two little fluffballs liked the south sea a lot better than the snowy playgrounds! Probably because the former has lots of weird never-seen-before toys, haha. Mural pretty much adopted the coconut as her baby; she simply refused to let go of the thing, and kept carrying it around the whole time we were there. Stewart enjoyed himself by playing with the parrot and chasing a few exotic bugs. And I think he was a little jealous of the coconut, because he also tried to draw Mural's attention a couple of times, haha. They can be so silly-cute!

By the time we made it to the wild, wild west, Mural and Stewart were getting really tired, so our trip there was pretty dull. I guess that's what I get for playing late at night! I first encouraged them to go play, and Mural started chasing Stewart (which I think is the wrong way around, considering their outfits) a few times, but both kept slowing down, yawning, and even falling over. I gave up and granted them their napping time. I did learn a few more things about them today, though. Mural detests dressing up, but Stewart loves it. He'd start purring loudly and showing off. He felt especially good dressed up as a mighty lion!

Day Five
- Teach your new petz some tricks (or try to)!
- Boogie-down. Do your petz like to dance to the music box?

Mural was more than happy to do tricks! She did all sorts of things, too. Besides what you can see in the picture above, she would also stand on her hind legs, and do bunny hops across the screen. I'm not sure if the belly flop you see to the right is a proper trick, because I see petz do it spontaneously sometimes, but she did it on command, so I guess it counts. Mural would probably have done more tricks if I was better at making the do-a-trick gesture... it keeps going to the left!

Stewart wasn't interested in doing tricks at all: he had his mind set on taking treats from me by brute force and presistance (which was also great exercise, because I kept making him run back and forth across the room). Or, you know, making really cute faces, because that actually works sometimes, haha. He did jump through the hoop a couple of times, surprisingly enough when I wasn't giving him any treats for it. But then again, I think catz jump through the hoop for fun because I have seen them do it countless times without being offered a snack.

My kitties seemed quite uninterested in most of the songs the music box had to offer. Mural would wobble back and forth a little, but that was all. They were most busy moving it around and, when the romantic songs came on, acting suspicious, like they were going to fall in love any moment. I decided maybe it would be better if I was the deejay, and put the music box on a high ledge and started browsing through the songs. Mural and Stewart sat in the middle of the room facing eachother with wide-open eyes, and made an approving noise every time a lovesong came on. Anyone who's ever bred catz naturally would recognize their behaviour. It was really funny, but also kind of bizarre because for a moment there, they seemed to be intelligent enough to actually want to set up a romantic atmosphere for themselves. I got nervous and quickly turned off the music, haha. I don't want any more babies just yet! Maybe tomorrow, when we get to romantic attachments... I wonder who Mural likes more, Pooker or Stewart?

Day Six
- Work on your petz pose... are they a show star?
- Which of your other petz do your petz like best?
- Have they developed any "romantic attachments"?

When I first took out my kitties to feed them, they ran right up to eachother and started being severely lovey-dovey again. I decided to play with them seperately for now (they wouldn't have eaten a single bite otherwise), but I don't think I'll be able to hold them back any longer! Those two seem to have rediscovered eachother and now they're head over heels. It's cute, but it makes it impossible to do anything else!

After I fed them both, I first tried posing Mural. It was pretty easy. Happy, extrovert catz like her are usually also more than happy to show themselves to the world. I always start off with perfecting the alignment, because that's the easiest part to me. Everything else just takes a lot of practice. Lucky for me Mural doesn't have calico legs, so she was quite easy to align properly. She naturally puts her tail in a nice curve, too. But those eyelids... I think we're going to have to practice for a while still!

Stewart was a bit tougher to pose. Not just because he is more shy, but for a number of other reasons as well. As he grows up, the crooks in his alley tail become more outspoken, and it gets hard to tell if it is positioned correctly. His skinny legs are also a challenge to get right, but I think both are okay in the picture on the far right. His eyelids will always be "sad" (I think it looks more like he's relaxed, but that's the most common term for how his eyelids are) because of his persian personality, so those are fine too. I didn't get to do a lot with him though, because he wasn't feeling very well and kept throwing up hairballs (at least three during our short practice!), so I felt sorry making him work.

To find out which of my other petz my new petz like best, I obviously couldn't introduce them to all my other petz, so I picked three potential friends for both of them. First, Mural got to meet Arriko, an alley mix with a relatively friendly personality. They both seemed to like eachother all right, and wrestled quite a bit. Overall, I think they could be friends, but they won't get super-close to eachother. Next up was Viking, a gorgeous girl, but with a hardcore siamese personality. She's very stuck-up. She's different from Pooker in this sense, so this was a chance to let Mural meet a proper meezer. Mural thought Viking was very interesting and was happy to meet her, but Viking didn't feel the same way at all. She looked pretty annoyed and even started hissing at Mural. Clearly Viking wasn't very willing to become friends, so I quickly went on to Meenie. Like Mural, she is very energetic and playful. The two also look alike a little. They didn't get along so well, though. They both initiated a playful wrestle a few times, but most of the time, they didn't even acknowledge eachother. Overall, I think Mural likes catz that have both sugar and spice in them, like Pooker and Arriko.

Because Stewart liked Strawberry so much last time they met, I decided to let them play with eachother again today, and picked out some more persians for him. Stewart still wasn't over his hairball attack (in fact, he kept coughing up more all through meeting the others) and felt too upset to play with Strawberry. Just like last time, Strawberry was holding back and just letting things happen around him, so not much happened while Stewart emptied his stomach. After he was done and felt a little bit better, I carefully let him meet Scarcity, a lady persian. I say carefully, because I was a little anxious he might come to like her in a certain way - she's the first female he's met besides Mural. It's just like in the old days, when I was very careful to let a male and a female play together, because I was worried about getting too many kittens. Anyways, they seemed to like eachother a whole lot, but not in that way! They paid a lot of attention to one another, and even sat down to 'sing' to and with eachother. I've only ever seen two long-time friends do that, while these two only just met. It was most precious! Stewart has defenitely found a very good friend in Scarcity, I believe. After that, I also introduced him to Palast, Strawberry's brother. They didn't seem very interested in eachother, though; they never got past the awkward staring phase. We can safely say he will be friends for life with Mural, and possibly with Scarcity, too.

As for romantic interests... well, I think this is an issue that doesn't allow much room for discussion. For the past two days, Mural and Stewart have come to like eachother in that sense more and more, and of course there's Mural's "affair" with Pooker. Speaking of which, Pooker had her kitten! It's a fuzzy, black calico with light brown eyes. I named her Rosa. Little Rosa is still a helpless infant right now, but as small as she is, Mural seemed quite fascinated. I don't know if she even realizes this is her baby, but she certainly liked oogling it, haha. Pooker acted more like a meezer again today and Mural wasn't interested in her anymore; she hardly acknowledged the presence of her former love interest!

I didn't want to tire Pooker and Rosa too much, so I didn't play with them for long. There was something else that I couldn't wait to see happen, even though I was anxious about it as well... I'm sure you all know exactly what I am talking about. When they saw eachother again, Mural and Stewart jumped right on top of eachother. I settled down to watch them fall in love, but it took longer than I expected. Mural seemed a little put off by just having seen her baby. But of course, love conquers all, haha. Stewart never ceased to stop trying to charm her, it was so sweet. And then... finally...

Day Seven
- How was the week as a whole?
- What do you think of your petz now?
- How was the contest; can you think of anything to add?

Now that the contest is almost over, it is time to look back and evaluate everything that has happened. And I've got to say, I loved it! I had a lot of fun playing with the same petz so frequently and intensively, and rediscovered a lot of things in the game that I hadn't done or seen in a long time. It was wonderful watching my wee critters grow bigger and to get to know their personlities so well. When I read back and look at their pictures, it really shows. Perhaps you can't see it, but I defenitely can! There is more to these petz (and any petz, I'm sure) than I can write about here. Some things went as I expected (such as Mural and Stewart falling in love; having a boy and a girl grow up together was always my fool-proof way of making two petz fall in love in the pre-PetzA ages), but others things really surprised me, especially when Mural and Pooker mated! It was also fun to find out how mixed personalities can be. I always knew bred petz can have a bit of more than one breed, but it was so neat discovering just how subtly one breed's personality might show in a pet. So all in all, I really enjoyed all the nostalgic petzy goodness, but on the other hand, if I'm terribly honest, I will be happy when I can finally use my PetzA on my petz again. Feeding them and waiting for their babies to be born and grown up drives me crazy! This whole thing has certainly helped me appreciate individual petz a little more, though. I always enjoyed paying special attention to a pet and just playing a little, but a gameplay contest takes it all a few steps further.

Mural is the one that surprised me most. Like I wrote when I first met her, she seemed like a real calico: very happy, friendly, and playful. I thought she would be energetic and easy-going, but I was wrong! She has hints of siamese in her personality and it shows at the strangest times. She's a lot more spicy than your average calico, that's for sure! But once you win her over, she is nothing but sweet; I can tell from the way she treats Stewart, especially compared to how she reacted to him when they first met. And she's such a big flirt! I've never met a pet that naturally mated with two others so quickly after another. Mural also really loves showing off: be it by doing tricks or striking a fancy show pose, she loves letting the world see how good she is!

Stewart didn't shock me as often as Mural did, but he wasn't a bore either. My discoveries and new experiences with him were just a lot more subtle. For instance, the way he crawled out of his shell over time was something I'd never witnessed before. I think it's because I really gave him the time to get to know and bond with Mural. But behind the easy-going, slightly shy facade he secretly is a little feisty, too. He can get really entheusiastic over things like meeting someone new or getting a fancy meal, and sometimes, he is a little sneaky and will steal food or do something secretly. I'm sure he never means harm though - he's just such a good boy.

As for the contest itself, I think it was great and easy to do. There was plenty of time do to everything (and more), although I've got to say that near the end, some days got pretty massive. This probably is because of how I filled them in and how my petz had developed, but it got tiring to do everything in one day. Perhaps the assignments could be spread out over the days more. I can also think of a few more assignments that would have been really fun to do, such as planting a garden or playing with the paint can. Those are my only critiques, though! And I really liked that you get to give everything your own touch so much. I would defenitely like to play again sometime.

The Aftermath
- What has become of our heroes?
- Who won the gameplay contest?

Here are Mural and Stewart, all grown up and still happy together! They still act infatuated every time I take them out together, but I have not yet given them the time to mate again. Maybe one day I will, because it's just too cute watching them! It makes me really happy to have them, and of course I still play with them every once in a while. I'm never feeding them again, though, that has got to be the one thing that is unrealistically hard in Petz, and I'm much too pleased with how easily I can finally get them at a healthy weight now, haha.

Rosa and her younger half-sister Helen have grown up, too. Helen is Mural and Stewart's baby, and she's truly adorable. She looks a lot like her daddy, but she acts more like her mommy. She fits into my crew very well. Rosa is a sweet, calm kitty, but I'm not yet sure wether I want to keep her. Of course she is special to me because of her origin, but at the same time, I guess she's not really my type. I'm going to have a hard time finding her a new home, though, so she'll still get to spend loads of time with her family before I pass her on.

And this is how the contest ended! I tied for first place along with someone else. I'm really happy with it, it's like the cherry on the pie. It was already loads of fun just to play, it's like having these catz and having had the whole experience is the real award, and the graphic just confirms that it was great!