Surviving the Maintenance Madness
Aside from newbies of only a few months, there can't be many Neopians who don't have vivid memories of a certain warm spring day in Year Nine. That fateful day marked the appearance of an entirely new layout for the Neopets site, with many new features that were eagerly seized upon by the Neopian population, such as a variety of site colours, the new Daily Trivia puzzle on the front page, the ability to see when your Neofriends were online, brand new designs for most of the pets in Neopia, and most significantly, the ability to dress your Neopets in a variety of attractive accessories, if you so desired. The giant Meepit that watched benignly (I said, benignly! There was nothing malicious about it, honest!) over New Features must have known that it was heralding the dawn of a new era in Neopia.
Yet the day that followed, for reasons we still can't know for certain, was one of the darkest days Neopia has ever known. On that day, for the first time on record, a famous-- or, if you prefer, infamous-- Neopian institution closed its doors for "maintenance work". Since then, there has been no indication of when the Adoption Centre is likely to return to regular use.
You don't need me to tell you that the Adoption Centre's absence has caused discontent and anxiety throughout Neopia. Everyone is hoping that its return will happen sooner rather than later, but no-one-- save of course for TNT-- has the power to influence it. So what is the average Neopian to do during the down-for-maintenance madness?
Is one of your pets stuck on an account it shouldn't be? Have you been landed with a friend's Uni en route to her new account, or a Lenny you borrowed to help you get an avatar? Maybe you had made the difficult decision that one of your pets wasn't suited to your family, and got as far as Neopia Central before remembering that adoptions weren't up and running yet? If so, this advice is aimed at you.
First and foremost, if you can possibly avoid it, don't abandon the pet! If there isn't a specific owner waiting for the pet at the other end, it can seem tempting just to take her to the disownment desk now and let her wait for Reopening Day in Dr. Death's care. But quite apart from the fact that a crowded Adoption Centre isn't the best place to spend an unspecified amount of time, we don't yet know what modifications may have been made during the maintenance work. The pet left ownerless until Reopening Day might suffer from a glitch-- such as losing her clothing or her Petpet-- or alternatively miss out on a new improvement that TNT have yet to announce. On the other hand, if the pound returns in its previous form, there's a chance that "your" pet might get stuck off the randomiser, a phenomenon more common than people think-- and with only you to remember her name and check up on her, there's the risk that she'll be forgotten about altogether. There are groups of Neopians dedicated to seeking out lost pets, but they can take a while to find the Neopets who need them.
If your pet is meant to be in transfer to a friend, disowning her now is even less advisable. It's possible that Reopening Day might arrive when it's least expected, and one thing is for sure: hundreds of Neopians will rush to the Adoption Centre's doors, intent on making up for the months of restless waiting by taking home the perfect dream pet. Your Faerie Tonu, Speckled Usul or Blue Poogle will suddenly find herself surrounded by eager hands, all wanting to grab her and take her home, and it's not guaranteed that her intended owner will make it to the Adoption Centre before someone else has snatched her up.
So what is there to do? If you're worried about the cost of keeping the extra pet fed and entertained, don't be. You can easily book her into a Neolodge for as little as 5 or 10 NP a night-- that's 300 NP a month, a sum that can be made from one single game in only a few minutes. Nor will she mind sharing toys and grooming items with your other pets. Of course, there's nothing to stop you taking the opportunity to spoil her, if your finances will stretch to it. If a stay in the Adoption Centre isn't an ideal holiday for a pet, being stuck in the wrong Neohome with a family you don't belong to can't be much fun, either, and the misplaced pet will probably feel a lot better for a bit of tender loving care. Meanwhile, if you haven't yet decided where she'll be going after she leaves your house, now is a great time to seek out a new owner or foster parent.
…Or Locked Out?
On the other hand, you may be waiting (as are so many Neopians) for an entirely different opportunity: the chance to bring home a new member of the family. This is perhaps even more frustrating than having a pet waiting to move out; the space on your account can begin to affect the whole of your Neofamily, especially if you had just made the decision to seek out a new brother or sister for them.
What's to be done? The first thing to consider is the possibility of hatching your new pet. Normally, the Creation Centre is a less preferable option when there are so many homeless pets in Neopia, but if you simply can't wait to bring a pet home, there may well be a case for hatching your own during the maintenance work. It may not be quite the same experience, but your family will come to know and love their new sibling just as much.
If creating a pet just isn't right for you, then the best thing to do is to try and make the most of the time you've been given. Contrary to what many Neopians think, there's a lot more to a successful adoption than just being the first to give the pet's name to the Uni on the desk, and the break we've had forced on us is the perfect time to make preparations to welcome your new Neopet home. With time to play games and earn Neopoints, you can build your future pet a bedroom of her own, buy her a Petpet, or even save for a Paint Brush to give her a new look as soon as she arrives. If you already know what species and colour she'll be, when you aren't out earning money, you can write stories or draw pictures to help you get to know your new pet.
Alternatively, if you don't know what kind of new pet you'd like to welcome into your family, and if the idea of a painted pet appeals to you, you can use your time to browse through foster parents' adoption agencies (yes, we are still working-- honest!) until you find your dream pet. Depending how quickly Reopening Day arrives, you may even have time to write the perfect application. Don't be surprised if you're hit with a barrage of unexpected questions, but equally, don't write off the possibility of finding the perfect pet out there-- with no adoptions and transfers to rush through, foster parents have the time not only to interview their applicants thoroughly, but to keep zapping their fosters until they achieve something exceptionally appealing. Show your dedication and you're likely to succeed!
What Not To Do
While everyone has their own way of coping with a crisis, there are some things that aren't ever going to help the situation, and which it's common sense to avoid. Keep this advice in mind, and you'll be helping yourself, your fellow Neopians, and TNT to remain calm and sensible until Reopening Day.
~ Don't post boards asking when the Adoption Centre will be open. If there's no update in New Features or the last few editorials, nobody is going to have any more information than you do. Such an important event is hardly likely to go unannounced.
~ Following on from the last point: don't forget to stay up to date. Reading the NT editorial every week is the best way to make sure you stay informed of any developments. It's a much better way than relying on boards to make sure you're among the first to know.
~ Don't pester TNT. With at least one Times story a week set in the Adoption Centre, a link to the main building from Pet Central, and enough editorial mail to wallpaper their headquarters, it's fair to say that TNT don't have much chance to forget about its existence. Reminding them of the apparent lack of progress won't achieve anything except adding to the stress level of whoever has the bad luck to open their mail.
~ Don't talk about theories and rumours as if they're facts. I've seen several Neopians over the past few weeks asserting that TNT don't intend to reopen the Adoption Centre, and several others claiming that the abundance of new games/clothes/backgrounds is the reason for the delay. In fact, TNT have already made it clear that neither of these is the case. It's fine to say "There's a rumour that Reopening Day will be before New Year", or "In my opinion, it will take at least three more months to sort out the glitches", but if you can't link to a statement from a staff member to support your words, don't talk as if you are the Sole Messenger of Truth and your opinions are law.
~ Don't put your Neopian life on hold! This one's perhaps the most important of all, but even I'm guilty of not having followed it to begin with. The Adoption Centre is one of the most important buildings in Neopia, but that doesn't make it a necessary ingredient for Neopian life. Even for a foster parent like me, for whom adoption is the heart and soul of the Neopets experience, life doesn't have to stop until Reopening Day. Find a new hobby, set a goal, write stories, draw pictures, and most of all, play with the pets you already own! There's a very true saying that time flies when you're having fun, and the more enthusiasm you put into the rest of your Neopian life, the quicker Reopening Day will seem to arrive. If you're just going to sit outside the Adoption Centre with a glum look on your face, you might as well be at home on Earth with a book to read. Get out into Neopia and have some fun-- your pets will thank you for it!
Hopefully this article has helped you realise that the maintenance work at the Adoption Centre, frustrating though it is, needn't be the end of the world for you and your pets. When Reopening Day comes, you'll be happier if you haven't wasted the past few months moping about the empty room in your Neohome, or the Grarrl who's been stranded in your guest room missing her owner. Until then, have patience, and keep your fingers crossed that we don't have much longer to wait!