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The Science of NeoQuest


by micrody

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NeoQuest. Few words can hold as much power as this one word can and does. Speak it anywhere in Neopia and dozens will flock to you, eager to listen to what you have to say. For those of you who know, NeoQuest is an enthralling role-playing game on Neopets. For those of you who don't, you are missing out on much excitement and many hours of fun.

Many people, like myself, have become fascinated by the game of NeoQuest. Some people play to waste time, soon to find out they'll play the game even when they have no time to waste. Some will play the game to see what it's like, only to find that they like it more than they thought they would. Others, however, hardly even know the game exists.

As a reporter, it is my duty to understand why. Why do so many people play NeoQuest? Why do so many people not play NeoQuest? What makes the game so addictive, so great? And who, who are the people that do play NeoQuest? What sets them apart from those who don't?

To answer these questions, I have spent the past few months conducting surveys and polls, committing myself to hours of research, and interviewing Neopians from around the globe. With the facts that I have obtained, I am finally able to answer these questions.

NeoQuest I, I have learned, was released on the date of October 15, 2001. When the game was made live, it became so popular almost instantly that the world of Neopia was almost brought crumbling down as people raced to play it. The rush to play became so great, in fact, that TNT had to ban the playing of said game on multiple occasions until a schedule of playing was finalized, signed in triplicate, and made law, finally allowing the Neopets servers to withstand the game's popularity. Thankfully for players today, such limitations have since been removed.

On the 29th of January, in the year 2004, the wait was finally over when the much-anticipated NeoQuest II was made live. Unlike its predecessor, however, the game's launch was accompanied by no reported cases of chaos. Instead, its launch was met by "oohs" and "ahs." Not only was NeoQuest II more advanced than the first NeoQuest, it possessed enhanced gameplay mechanics, a fresh new story, improved graphics, more monsters to defeat, more lands to explore, and more characters to play as. Even today, the game is regarded as one of the greatest in all of Neopia, possibly even surpassing NeoQuest I.

To continue my research, I set up my writing desk in the one place where almost every NeoQuest addict is sure to find themselves at least once: the NeoQuest Board.

My first mode of operation here was a detailed survey consisting of six simple questions. From the hundreds of answers I received, I was able to put together a conclusive list of percents and ratios about who plays NeoQuest.*

To begin, I found that 92.6% of people had played the original NeoQuest at least once in their time in Neopia; however, only a surprising 42% of players had actually beaten the game, as compared to the 68% of people who have played NeoQuest II and also beaten the game. One surprise here was that the same percentage of people had played both games. I had also learned that of those who had won NeoQuest I, 38.3% had completed the game more than once. For players of NeoQuest II, the number of people who had completed the game more than once was substantially higher at 79%.

Already astounded by the numbers I had thus compiled, I was eager to delve deeper into the results of my surveys. In doing so, I found that 64.6% of all participants were female. Of those, only 11.6% had not played either NeoQuest I or NeoQuest II. Whether this simply means that females are more social than males, or whether females merely enjoy the game better, is a fact that, unfortunately, cannot be deduced from my surveys alone.

Another equally surprising fact was that of all those who had played the game, 100% of males had beaten, at least once, both NeoQuest I and NeoQuest II, though only 34.8% of female players had beaten NeoQuest I and only 56.1% had won NeoQuest II. Again, however, the exact implications of such a find are beyond my grasp of my research.

Yet another surprising reversal of statistics was found when analyzing the tendencies of males and females to complete the game more than once. Of males, 44.4% had beaten NeoQuest I more than once, though only 33.2% of females had. For NeoQuest II, however, 82.6% of females had beaten it more than once, whereas only 76.7% of males had.

To obtain a neutral response, one less biased than that of the NeoQuest Board, I conducted the same survey on the Help Board. The results are as follows:

  • 22% of participants male
  • 78% of participant female
  • 64.3% had played NeoQuest I (100% of males; 54.6% of females)
  • 11.1% of players had beaten NeoQuest I (33.3% of males; 0% of females)
  • 42.8% had played NeoQuest II (66.6% of males; 27.3% of females)
  • 33.4% of players had beaten NeoQuest II (33.3% of both males and females)

My second mode of operation was a poll of various players of NeoQuest I and NeoQuest II. My first question was why they each played NeoQuest. Most frequently, the games were played for the sheer enjoyment of playing. Some said they enjoyed it because "Mr. Insane creates the best games in Neopia," while others enjoyed the depth of it, both in strategy and in story. The primary motivation to play NeoQuest II especially was the "evil prizes." Some even said they played only "to pass time and [earn] a shiny trophy."

The second question I asked was what were my participants' favorite things about the NeoQuest games. The ability to choose from a wide variety of skills and not have to buy weapons, both from NeoQuest I, was quite popular, as was the plot of NeoQuest I. Battle music was also mentioned, and fighting the bosses also seemed to be a favorite part of the game. The non-playable characters were also called upon, especially those of NeoQuest I.

Of course, having learned of their favorite parts of the game, I had to learn of their least favorite aspects, and thus my third question asked just that. One person who I had talked with extensively mentioned the lack of a clock to time game progress was one of her least favorite aspects of the games. Others also mentioned the simplicity of NeoQuest II, some going so far as to say that the battles were "very boring battles," others simply that it was too easy. Another common complaint was the long amount of time that it takes to load the pages of the game, especially for those playing with a dial-up internet connection.

My final mode of operation was sitting down with a few fellow fans of the game and interviewing them. These interviews, though often short, were quite valuable in their informational content and perfectly concluded my research.

In my first interview, I met with a person who chose to be identified as "Dan." Though he was not too familiar with the game of NeoQuest I, he had played it once before. He was, however, much more fluent with the game of NeoQuest II, which he had even completed twice. When asked what was his favorite thing about NeoQuest II, he told me, "I love the creativity of the monsters, and the different worlds, and the party, as opposed to the single Lupe in NeoQuest [I]." He also told me, however, that he found "the amount of clicking it takes" unbearable.

In my second interview, I met with a woman who was quite near the end of NeoQuest I, but had played little NeoQuest II. In reference to NeoQuest I, she had said, "I like it because it's different every time you play it. However, it takes a quite a long time to get anywhere, and it's especially frustrating when you die towards the end and must start again from the beginning."

One excited person I interviewed was "Tamia." She told me that she really liked being able to collect many strange and varied items in NeoQuest I, but that she often felt sad because the game made her feel lonely. When playing NeoQuest II, however, she told me that the multiple-character party made her feel much less lonely.

One person, who wished to remain anonymous, told me that she liked the Meepit Shamans from NeoQuest I, but that she stopped playing NeoQuest II because she really didn't like Blumaroos. Another person who also wished to remain anonymous told me that his favorite part of NeoQuest I was the ability Shockwave, and that some of the prizes awarded for beating NeoQuest II had made some decent weapons.

Quite a few people I interviewed told me that the length and story of NeoQuest I were wonderful; "short enough to keep the story interesting, long enough to have much of an interesting plot." Many here also found the music of the game to be quite enjoyable. People also commented that the length and the story of the second game were not as good as the first; and another common complaint was of the slow pace of the first game and the amount of back-and-forth traveling that it required, and also of the tremendous amount of clicking that accompanies both games.

One new player of NeoQuest II, whom I shall identify as "Nut," said to me during our interview, "There are lots of party members. New party members are fun. Oh, and the monsters! Monsters in games have always fascinated me. There are all these cool and unusual monsters in NeoQuest II, each with their own history ready to be made up. [...] Towns. I don't mind clicking when I get into an exciting battle every few minutes, but towns are so incredibly boring."

"Cyanna," another person that I had interviewed, so eloquently voiced her opinions about NeoQuest II by saying, "NeoQuest II just kicked the game up so many notches. Now, there is more of a strategic element. You have four characters, each having a different role in your party. You have to build their skills and the system will not allow you to master everything, so you need to think things through. It isn't enough to sit there and go 'attack... attack... attack'. Eventually, you find yourself using the seconds each character has before their next move and planning both your offense and defense. It's hard to say what I like least about the game because it is such an improvement on the first. But in spite of all this, I like the setting and storyline of the first more enjoyable. It has a real 'once upon a time in a strange land' feel while NeoQuest II uses [a] very familiar environment."

In my final interview, a woman to be called "Dark" said to me, "I'd just like to mention that I don't think one of the games is better than the other; they're just different."

After spending weeks conducting interviews, polls, and surveys, and then spending hours at my writing desk analyzing the results, I find that I am sadly no closer to answering my questions than when I began. However, I surely have a better understanding of who plays the game and why they play it. And now that I can put my curiosity to rest, maybe I'll even be able to earn myself another trophy, or maybe even two.

* Results of surveys subject to 2% inaccuracy. Survey results reflect the opinions of participants only.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to extend a warm and very grateful thank you to all of the people who so compassionately partook in my surveys, polls, and interviews. This article would not have existed without all of you. Thank you.

 
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