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Making Neopets My Own

by kayjay_96


     In the beginning:

     Long ago -maybe not quite twenty years but certainly over a decade - I discovered one of the cutest spots on the internet. I adored the games within the Pets franchise and now that I finally had my own PC even the *delightful* "get off the phone I need to log on" dial-up days couldn't stop me from spending hours with my favourite pixels.

     Sadly, I cannot remember my old account name, and it wasn't until six-years ago that I would return to those familiar, bright, pages.

     Life wasn't going so well, and I was in desperate need for something nice.

     Enter Neopets.com.

     I immediately recognised that bright yellow header, but there were a few differences. There were new species to play with, and new paintbrushes to acquire. Neohomes had, had a makeover and now there was a mall and a Space Faerie!

     A Fresh Start:

     I can remember exactly where I was as I typed in what I had assumed would be a throwaway username and set about making a new digital buddy. I’d always loved the Aisha, so that was a natural choice but then I spotted the Xweetok and having seen what adorable babies they made I knew what I had to do.

     My first two pets were inspired by two very important people in my life, and the plan was to have a little digital memorial to them and play a few flash games.

     But anyone who has spent even a few hours here knows that, that plan didn’t last all that long. There were now Limited Edition such as the Krawk and the Draik and I am not ashamed to admit staying up into the early hours of GMT so that I could add a Lutari to the family. Because that’s what this had become, a little digital family that I had to take care of and spoil.

     Every flash game had a purpose - I just *had* to get that baby paintbrush! Then there were the multitude of Lab Ray map pieces to acquire, plus the much less expensive, but equally important, Forgotten Shore map that enabled my family to expand by one more.

     I dove into the various site shenanigans but remained wary of my ever-extending playtime, and how childlike many of my interests were. I worried that I was replacing the “real world” with a digital one and my obsession (interest being far too weak a word) waned as adult responsibilities drew me away. My mind began to equate being a grown up with (well, let's be honest) a lack of fun. So, into the cupboard went my toys (the various Sylvanian Families homes and figures; my Animal Crossing collection including the Japanese *Pop Tart* that held pride of place and my other e-pet joy, Tamagotchi. The boxes were taped up. The door was closed. I was officially all-grown-up.

     I was officially miserable.

     In a misguided attempt to 'prove' something, I lost the very things that make me, me. Those trinkets of happiness that spark joy. It was a great relief to throw open the cupboard door but physically and digitally and I returned to my pixelated happy place, Neopia.

     Balance is important but allowing my games and toys to have a more central place in my daily life took on a new level of importance when my health took a downturn. Nevertheless, after a few years of playing acquiring NP can become banal, and on the flip side, there is a temptation to rush ahead and spend all the points! I have been guilty of both and know from experience that they can lead to becoming bored as a player and cause a decrease in previous enjoyment.

     However, as I continue to struggle with chronic health issues, Neopets has been a friendly anchor in that uncertain sea called life and it is during this time my gameplay has started to evolve from checking in to do my dailies, to becoming an exciting outlet for creative expression.

     A New Frontier:

     I have taken time to think about ways that I could enhance my time on Neopets, things that could potentially add some new challenges to my time here and how I can connect that with other interests or learning opportunities. What follows is a brief encounter with my current Neopian adventure(s), and whilst I know this play-style is not for everyone (and I am aware that there may be times when it is too much for me) I am excited to let you in to the early stages of Neopia Village.

     Creating a World Within a World:

     The first thing that I started to think about was longevity. I wanted to create something that would take me time to develop and that is able to grow and adapt to any site-wide changes. I also wanted to find a way to connect my side accounts so that they are more than just a ‘pet storage’.

     The way that I overcame this issue was by deciding to create a village, with each account being a location around the village. These accounts now have purpose, and I am slowly creating backstories and interconnecting storylines, taking a fair bit of inspiration from many of my favourite franchises, as well as my own old story notes that have been gathering dust. But what I am truly enjoying is finding various ways to connect my stories and world building to Neopets own rich history.

     One of the initial challenges that I created was the idea of a side account budget. The idea behind this was to take time setting up galleries, customising clothing and maybe acquiring paintbrushes so everyone has just the right look, however that quickly became difficult to manage, so rather than having an overall budget I decided to create goals and wish lists for each account, and the way I decided to do that was by giving each account a theme.

     Grandma’s Place:

     Grandma’s Place was initially created to indulge my love baby painted pets, but with each brush costing 600k I wanted to make sure that I didn’t merely create a bunch of pets and then ignore them. So rather than having a disjointed collection of baby pets, I decided to set up a nursery. I have long wanted the ‘Get off my Lawn’ brush but with my main pets already dressed to impress, there was no need to spend the NPs. But now I hit on the idea: what if the nursery was owned by a grandma?

     Step One: Get the brush

     This ended up taking more time and NPs that I realised, and I decided that I didn’t just want to ‘send’ it over without a reason or connection. From this I started thinking about the idea of mayor and a town council. Originally, I was going to create a mayor but then I decided that it would be a fun way to connect my main account and add an element of roleplay if I set myself up in the role of mayor. Funds are now community funds, and my first point of office was to ensure that I didn’t simple send precious little Neopets to someone unqualified.

     Step Two: Development

     I decided that for GrandmaQ to evolve into her true self, she would have to work on becoming an excellent caretaker. This has the added benefit of ensuring that I regularly check in, and creates a better, more rounded friend. I have also considered adding minimum Str/Def/HP stat levels but in this instance, I don’t think that’s necessary.

     Books to Read:

     Baby Bath Time

     Baby Bundle Fairytales

     The Babysitting Nightmare

     House Cleaning

     Any cooking/recipe book

     Step Three: Baby Time

     For the first charges to arrive, Grandma must set up a neohome with at least a cot/playpen for each baby and (where possible) before she can take care of a specific type of neopet baby, she must read the baby or care book e.g. Cybunny Baby Book.

     GrandmaQ is certainly not the end of things, however I have decided not to rush the development of each account, instead I want to take the time to get to know each character and enjoying being the writer, director, and costume designer of my own little world.

          The Way to the Neopia Village, a poem

     Turn left at the market, say hi to the Soup Faerie

     walk quite a-ways and soon you will see

     the wild and colourful leaves of the Neopia tree.

     Follow the path, down the winding lane,

     and before you know it, you’ll reach new terrain.

     A secret alcove, a jewel in the crown.

     It calls itself a village but may be a town.

     There is much to see and to be explored;

     So be sure to check the notice board!


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