THE DEEP CATACOMBS - "Welcome to Neopia's Arts and Literature Centre, this
is one of the great secrets hidden deep beneath the main town. What wonders
do these ancient passages hold?"
So proclaims the sign that greets visitors to the Deep Catacombs in Neopia
Central. I've been playing Neopets for about six months now, and during that
time I've taken my share of trips to the Deep Catacombs, mostly for the coffee.
Sure, I browsed through the Art Gallery and checked in on the Poetry Contest.
I made use of the How To Draw section and once or twice I sat around the Campfire
for a while. And although it isn't located in the Catacombs, I even stopped
by the Beauty Contest a couple of times.
Why? Because I was on a hunt. My quarry? The all elusive community of Neopian
artists. The Deep Catacombs is allegedly the centre of arts and literature,
but the artists and writers inhabit other parts.
A Guild search yields unpromising results, and I suspect that a large majority
of the guilds for serious artists are private. (It is entirely possible that
I am looking in all the wrong places.) The closest thing the message boards
have to an art section is the section entitled "Beauty Contest." I went in there
once, and immediately became lost in the mire of attempts to beg or bribe votes
from other members. Of course, I have my own opinions about the Beauty Contest,
and I'm not really that surprised at my findings.
I really enjoy the Art Gallery, as it houses some wonderful pieces, but just
looking at art is only half the fun. Discussion is what completes the experience.
Not only that, but most artists benefit hugely from critique - something that
is absent in the Catacombs.
I'm not sure how large the artistic community in Neopia is, but I suspect
it's not small. I also suspect that the reason it's difficult to find is because
it has been broken into smaller groups through the creation of Guilds. Don't
get me wrong, Guilds can be wonderful things, but they also fracture the community.
Neopians can only belong to one Guild at a time, and can't have discussions
in Guilds they don't belong to.
Why does this bother me? Because I think that the Guilds are too competitive.
Many Guilds want to be the best and biggest and richest, and this attitude can
infect Guild members, to the point where some Neopians will refuse to talk to
people who aren't in their Guild. And with the already reclusive community of
artists, it becomes nearly impossible to find an open forum in which Neopians
can discuss their work.
Some might say that there are other places online for artists to gather, but
my problem is this: a lot of the online art communities that I frequent are
dedicated to specific types of art; for example, Artistic Alley, a Harry Potter
fansite. I want to discuss Neopian art, the kind that appears in the Art Gallery
and (sometimes) the Beauty Contest. I want a place where I can run to get help
with a particularly difficult stanza of a poem I'm writing for the Poetry Contest
or get opinions on the title of a Times article. I happen to like the Guild
I'm in right now, and I don't want to have to Guild-hop constantly just to get
opinions on my art. I think Neopia needs a place where artists (and I use the
term to include both the visual and verbal kinds) can gather freely to share
and comment; where the inner workings of the creative mind can be picked apart
and rearranged; a true community of Neopian artists.