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The Pound Updated—Shaking our Society's Foundations


by tashni

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After almost a decade without safe Neopet transfers, the Neopian community has been shaken to its very core. The opening of the new pound with its transfer option impacts everyone, from those with side accounts, to avatar collectors, to some of the most controversial groups in Neopia.

By Niri Oshna, Neopia Central

Since the inception of Neopets, there has never been a risk-free means of transferring Neopets. People who needed to move a pet from one account to another had no choice but to throw their darlings into the pound and hope that the intended person adopted it before anyone else could. The pound was an institution on Neopets, and after over one year of being down, the pound has been reborn as an entirely different system. Its changes are far-reaching, and many of its effects will be unpredictable.

Because of the risks associated with the old pound, many users feared transferring their pets. Jade, a Neopian for over five years, never used the pound to transfer, saying, “I would never put my pet in the pound to transfer with the chance that someone else could snatch them away.” Even Craig, who has transferred pets in the past, said that “it has always been a very frightening experience.... There was always a risk.”

For years, Doctor Death and a pink Uni often called Rose ran the pound. But after the site-wide update of Year 9, which included customization, the pound required an overhaul. People were adopting Neopets, stripping them of their clothing, and re-pounding them. The pound closed its doors without any indication of when it would re-open. After almost exactly one year of speculation, Neopians rejoiced as the pound opened its doors with a new addition to the crew: a robot Hissi some are calling Dalek. Now the dreaded Doctor, Rose, and Dalek are working together to serve the needs of Neopians in a safe and fair manner.

Although the grand opening has suffered under the burden of extreme user traffic and a year’s worth of abandoned pets backed up, the pound has so far remained open without major catastrophe. But some of the changes are causing controversy, such as the once-a-month limit on transfers, and the fact that abandoned Neopets are stripped of all clothing, even their basic items, such as the Ixi’s collar or the Usul’s bow. Nonetheless, most Neopians agree that the transfer option more than makes up for any inconveniences.

Many people are excited about the opportunity to move around their pets among their side accounts, allowing them to devote more time and energy to their pets. Craig, who lives on Mystery Island, is one of them. “I will be able to own multiple pets on my side accounts, and care for them equally,” he says. “I think this new option is wonderful, and it will promote more of a relationship between players and their pets.”

Mic Rody looks forward to being able to make better use of the lab ray by conducting safe transfers among his side accounts. “I have fostered pets before,” he says, “although after I had trained them, I did not arrange an official transfer with anyone.... Now being able to transfer my permanent pets safely to my side account, fostering other Neopets will likely become a profession that I will more actively pursue.”

Many users feel as Mic Rody does, that fostering and adopting painted pets is now much more attractive. Pet fostering as a profession is already exploding in popularity, with new adoption agencies springing up all over Neopia. Adopting pets from such fosters will attract many people who cannot afford to paint their own pets. It’s possible that some paint brushes may go down in value, although it is unlikely to cause mass deflation. On the other hand, the lab map could become more expensive as people demand more lab rays for side accounts.

Several specific groups of people are already being uniquely affected by the changes to the pound, such as avatar collectors, pound surfers, and members of the Green Uni Project.

Avid avatar collectors face the challenge of requiring several pets of several species and colors to complete their collections. Often they would try to swap “avatar pets” among themselves, but again, the possible loss of expensive avatar pets often prevented people from lending their pets to other avatar collectors.

Yoyote has collected 283 avatars, and she has experienced firsthand the problems associated with collecting species-specific avatars, saying, “I’ve had to make some tough choices to stretch the potential of my four pet slots.” She explains that to obtain several of her avatars, she has created, morphed, and pounded several pets. “If I could have kept all the pets that I created for avatars, I'd have about ten by now. Now that transferring pets is finally a safe option, I will definitely make full use of it to finish collecting all the pet avatars, without having to create and pound pets.... Great news for both me and the pets!”

Indeed this is good news for avatar collectors who want to keep their pets! In addition, this will make several Neopet species-specific avatars more easily obtainable, and therefore less rare. It could even give rise to a new form of Neopet adoption agency for avatar collectors only.

There appears to be only one serious drawback to the new transfer option: the once-a-month limit. According to the new pound FAQ, “You can transfer one Neopet to another user each month. You can also accept one transfer from another user during each month.” This precaution against misuse of the transfer option will cause problems for many, especially people who foster and adopt pets.

Regardless of the drawbacks, Craig is one of many who feel that the once-a-month rule is a reasonable precaution. “It regulates the transfers, so there won’t be any ‘Neopet trafficking’ or any other shady activity .... It also keeps the value of pets intact, because it’s not so simple as to just adopt and transfer pets every day.”

Unfortunately, it is reasonable to expect that some will grow impatient with the limit and attempt through-the-pound transfers. This may actually be safer than it was before, because pound surfing is expected to decline now that transfers are available.

For years, the pound has been under the constant watch of “pound surfers,” people who routinely surf the pound looking for painted pets to adopt. But many of the rarest and most expensive pets who are “sniped,” or quickly adopted by pound surfers, were actually intercepted while trying to be transferred from one specific account to another. Now that most painted pets will be transferred rather than abandoned, pound surfing must decline in popularity.

Pound surfing has received another blow from the new pound: Neopets lose all of their clothes when they are abandoned. So Pirate, Desert, and Royal pets will not have the clothes that make them attractive in the first place. Even unpainted pets will be without their basic items such as collars and bows.

Some feel that stripping abandoned Neopets of their clothes makes them even less desirable than they used to be. Mic Rody feels that this new policy is downright unfair. “These items are free of charge when someone creates a pet,” he says. “So why should they not be included when someone pays [neopoints] to adopt a pet that someone else heartlessly abandoned?” This is a valid point that many feel strongly about, although on the flipside, most people who adopt unpainted pets are only looking to nurture helpless pets in the first place.

While the changes to pounded pets are causing some problems, the transfer option may all but destroy one of the most controversial groups in all of Neopia: GUPers. The Green Uni Project, or the GUP for short, is a group of people who surf the pound and adopt painted pets, then morph them into Green Unis and re-pound them. Since its infancy, the GUP has caused near hysteria among users who transfer pets, particularly foster parents who routinely used the pound to transfer their painted pets to new owners. What will happen to the GUP now that transfers are available? Will it be worth their time to adopt and morph painted pets that are already without clothes?

One GUPer named Amiha recognizes the new challenges to the GUP, calling the transfer option “the Savior of those who transfer, the thorn in the side of the GUP.” But she does not feel that this will end the project. “The GUP members are clever. We will find ways to practice what we love.”

When asked about the fact that pets in the pound will be without clothes, she responded, “Clothing is a non issue. The GUP was started before the advent of clothing, so for us, nothing has changed.”

In short, the changes to the pound are shaking the very foundation of our world—the Neopets themselves! Neopets are no longer chained to an account without a safe means of moving; they are flexible, much more like the humans of Neopia. We are only beginning to understand the ramifications of the pound update, and for better or for worse, Neopia will never be the same.

This is Niri Oshna, reporting from Neopia Central, signing out.

 
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