Avatars and World Challenges: A Strategy to Consider
Freaky Factory, Spacerocked!, Meerca Chase II, Meepit Juice Break, Hungry Skeith, Nimmo's Pond, TNT Staff Smasher, Meepit vs. Feepit, Petpetsitter, Carnival of Terror, MAGAX: Destroyer II, Korbat's Lab, Sutek's Tomb, Faerie Bubbles, Maths Nightmare, Dubloon Disaster, Stowaway Sting, Mynci Beach Volleyball, Gadgadsgame, Advert Attack, Typing Terror, Kass Basher, Ultimate Bullseye II, Extreme Herder, Extreme Potato Counter, Destruct-O-Match III, Volcano Run II, Chia Bomber 2, Snowmuncher, Ice Cream Machine, Snow Wars II, Raiders of Maraqua
Ok, ...cool! I originally thought there were going to be about 10 games on this list, but it turns out there are actually thirty-two avatar games in the World Challenge rotation.
If you like to collect avatars, and any or all of these are gleefully taunting you from your list of "Avatars I Still Don't Have and Probably Never Will" then this article is for you. Sure there are probably a couple of games that you're just terrible at. Most of us have at least one, and it will be a different one for everybody. I can NOT play Stowaway Sting, for example. I accidentally land on spikes and then fall through the hole that ends the game. Every. Single. Time.
The vast majority of these games, though, are ones that just require a fair bit of practice and then it turns out that the avatar score isn't so unattainable after all. The exact amount of practice will vary for each person, depending on how quickly you pick up a game, how good you are in general at mouse-clicking or button-pushing, whether you even like the game, and to some extent, luck.
If, on the other hand, you are now cackling maniacally because you have already earned most or all of these avatars, and are sort of wondering what to do with your copious free time, I'd recommend skipping straight to the second half of this article, as the World Challenge may be of interest to you.
Part I: How to get better at games efficiently
There are definitely some ways to learn games that work better than others. Loading a game and clicking play before you even find out what the controls are, for example, tends not to work very well. A much less obvious but more important example is that sometimes the in-game directions that tell you how to play are technically correct, but they don't tell you the right way to play if you want to get the most points. There are two ways to deal with this, and which one you choose is a matter of personal preference.
First, you can play the game lot of times, and pay attention, and keep track of what things are worth more points or fewer points so you can figure out for yourself how to maximize your score. This is a great option if you really love playing a particular game and want to gain a deep understanding of how it works.
Second, you can read a good game guide, which will tell you what to do and what not to do in order to get the highest score you can. I recommend looking for one guide on a petpage, one in the NT, and one on a fansite, and reading all three of them. Sometimes they will all be very similar, but sometimes they will each have some different tips to help you play better. This option is generally much faster and more effective than the first option, especially if it's a game that you don't really like all that well.
Once you know what you're supposed to be doing, you're down to the practice step. Unless you happened to play perfectly after reading all those guides and got the avatar on your first try, you now will need to put your new knowledge into action and teach your body the game controls. In general, it is a good idea to:
Part II: How to play the World Challenge (WC) and why you should bother
- play a little bit each day. It works well to set a specific length of time or number of games you are going to play ahead of time.
- set a target score that is a little higher than what you can easily do now. Don't send any scores that are below your target, and when you can easily reach that score, raise it again.
- be aware of your other progress. Maybe your score is not improving very much day after day, but you notice that you can usually make it to level four now with three lives left instead of just one. That is still progress, and still very valuable. It means you might want to pay attention to which part of the level is particularly difficult for you and focus just on doing that part better for a while, and soon you'll be able to make it to level five.
- take a break if you notice that you've lost your concentration or are feeling really frustrated. It's very difficult to play a game well when you're angry or not paying attention, and sometimes having a few days or a week of no games might be just what you need.
- have fun! It can be easy to lose perspective when you're avatar hunting, (*cough* or so I've heard,) but it is important to keep in mind that these are just games.
The great thing about World Challenges is that they run every hour every day, and you can win up to three WC map pieces as prizes each day. These pieces can often be sold for at least 10-20k (at the time of this writing) or you can complete your map and convert it for a prize, which could be a paintbrush worth millions. If you're going to be practicing some of these games daily anyway as you work your way up to the avatar score, why not win some great prizes along the way?
You don't have to be amazing at a game to win a World Challenge. The necessary scores depend somewhat on luck and timing, but also on who else is playing and how many players there are. The World Challenges are set up so that as the number of players increases, so does the number of winners. If you have a couple of neofriends who are also working on earning these avatars, entering together will give you the benefit of some friendly competition, encouragement from your friends, and more total players in the WC.
Here's the quick rundown on how a World Challenge works:
At the main World Challenge page (http://www.neopets.com/challenges/world_index.phtml) you first choose a game you would like to compete in. There are twelve worlds, each with their own selection of games and a unique set of maps to complete. Some games are available every day, but others may only show up once or twice a month.
Clicking on the game brings you to the challenge page for that game, which displays the stats for the current hour of competition. The first thing to do is look at the clock. Each challenge runs for 57 minutes, ending on the hour and starting at three minutes past, and you need to make sure you have enough time left to play the game and send your score before the hour is up. If you've got time, then to the right of the game image, click the link which says "Enter the Challenge!" (It costs 100 NP to enter a challenge, but you're pretty much guaranteed to make that much back just by sending your score for the game.) The page will reload, and now where that link was, there will instead be a gray box with a link to the game that says "Play and send your score!"
I usually open that link in a new tab, so I can watch the World Challenge page while I play. The page does not automatically update, however, so you'll need to refresh it when you want to see the current state of the challenge. Here are the important things on that page, and what they mean:
Jackpot: Everyone's 100 NP entry fee goes into the Jackpot, which will determine how many neopoints are awarded to the winners at the end of the hour. What this also tells you, however, is how many people have entered the competition, which can be useful when you're trying to decide whether to send your score or play again and try to get a higher one.
Previous Hour's Results: This takes you to a page that shows the final results for the previous 24 hours. Looking at these can give you an idea of what scores are usually high enough to win, and which ones are usually too low. It can also tell you whether the game set in the previous hour, or if the scores are carried over.
Scores: When you send a score, it will be displayed in blue above the Jackpot, after the text "Your scores that are not processed yet" until it is matched. Once two players have sent a score, the computer compares their scores, and displays the result in the table below. In order for anybody to win, the game needs to set, which means there need to be at least five players with matched scores. It's ok if this doesn't happen by the end of the hour; both the matched scores and any unprocessed ones will just carry over to the next hour and they will keep waiting until enough people have entered. If you want to send more scores in the next hour, though, you will need to enter the competition again in order for them to count. You can win, however, any time you have scores in; you do not need to enter the challenge during the hour that it sets in order to receive your prize. When the game has set, there will be a horizontal line dividing the list of players. The current winners are above the line, and everybody else is below. Of course, who is winning can change right up until the hour ends, so don't immediately count yourself out if you find your name below the line when a game sets!
So how do you win a World Challenge? There are three different ways: Tally, Hour's High Score, and Score Totals. Tally is your number of wins minus your number of losses. High Score is the highest score you have sent. Score totals is the total of all your processed scores added together. You can click on those three headings in the table to choose which one to sort the players by, and if you are above the line in any one of the three categories at the end of the hour, you will win. You cannot win if your Tally is a negative number, however. It needs to be at least 0 or it doesn't matter how high your High Score or or Score Totals are.
Sometimes if a WC game is uNPopular, it can take many hours for it to set. If you are playing a game that hasn't set and it's getting toward the end of the hour, there is always a board up in the games chat called "WC Chat and Players Needed Thread" where you can post the name of the game and a link to its WC page and ask for more players to help set the game. In turn, it is kind to read back through a few posts and see if there is a game that you can help set for someone else.
The games chat and the avatar chat are also both good places to ask other players for tips for these games, or links to guides that they recommend. /~Death_Knightx is a more in-depth guide to World Challenges, if you find you need some more help or still have unanswered questions. I hope you have found this article useful, whether you're interested in avatar games or World Challenges or both, and I wish you fun and success with your future game-playing!
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