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That Surreal Feeling

by trubiekatie


Something has happened! You are staring at your screen, maybe in disbelief, because a random event has benefited you. It could be that you unlock that avatar you’ve been working towards after months of saving or playing. A major dose of adrenaline follows, maybe followed by a screenshot to remember the moment and then the feeling is gone. It seems like every Neopian is chasing those surreal moments where you can only stop and stare at what has happened. Then rinse, and repeat.

     For those thrill seekers, this article will walk through some of the best moments Neopians experience and how to make them a reality. Perseverance, and a little luck, and you’ll be beaming in no time.

     Something has happened!

     Let’s get the obvious out of the way first – that quintessential surreal feeling when something randomly happens to you that is a major bonus. Not all random events are good – you can categorize them as bad (looking at you, Emperor of Shenkuu), neutral, good and great. For the purposes of this article, I’m focussing only on the ones categorically considered ‘great’. These are the ones with that ‘wow’ factor, generally due to the potential pricey items given to the player and upward neopoint earning potential. While prices are subject to market demand, at writing, the following random events have the best upside.

     Dr. Sloth: gifts a random Transmogrification potion OR unlocking his secret avatar

     Why is it great: Transmogrification potions are only available from Sloth himself or the Neocola Machine, where they are very rarely released and require significant neocola tokens to play. There are multiple potions considered unbuyable in user shops, including the Acara, Chomby, Gelert, Hissi, Ixi and Lutari. Great way to get a Mutant pet or sell for your bank account. One of his other random events awards the secret avatar for your collection and there is no other way to earn on the site.

     Jacko the Phantom: gifts a random paint brush

     Why is it great: Depending on your need, you can use this to save the cost of painting a pet more desirable or sell to boost your bank account. Paint brushes are sold via user shops, auctions or the trading post (with the exception of select Hidden Tower ones sold by Fyora). There are many paint brushes considered unbuyable in user shops including Candy, Faerie Petpet, Pastel, Plushie and Stealth.

     Gordos the Collector gifts a random r92-98 stamp

     Why is it great: Stamp collectors rejoice! Avatar collectors rejoice! Traders and sellers rejoice! Gordos can dole out some very rare stamps hard to buy from the Stamp shop (due to its popularity amongst players, large base of items to restock and speed of which rare items sell out). Best unbuyable stamps include Guardian of Sepectral Magic, Jhudoras Cloud Stamp, Quilin Stamp, and Dark Battle Duck Stamp. Many are used in albums that result in avatars and fetch a high price to resell.

     Pant Devil Evil Twin: gifts a random r99 morphing potion

     Why is it great: Similar to the issues with Neopian Post Office, Kauvara’s Magic Shop is a busy Neopian shop full of great items that players will quickly buy. Why bother trying to restock the item when the Pant Devil’s Evil Twin can just gift it to you for free? There’s a large prize pool, but many potions are unbuyable in user shops and are sold for a great profit on the trading post or auction house. Generally, these colour specific potions are the best to win: Baby, Maraquan Plushie, and Royal. For species specific, Draik morphing potions are usually safe bets, as is the Ice Hissi.

     Random Magician Scorchio: gifting a random r101-103 Trading Card

     Why is it great: I put this one lower on the list as the prize pool has a lot of lower-end cards, but it does make the cut as there are multiple unbuyable cards that are difficult to find. These include ones like Air Mote, Coconut Shy, Morguss and The Dreamer. Like the other random events listed above, great for collectors looking to fill out their deck or to sell for profit. Not as popular due to the niche collectors’ market, but still better than nothing (or a negative random event).

     I’d like to give a special mention to the following random events. Generally positive, for certain players, these can result in some serious benefit that leaves a surreal feeling:

     - Bank Manager: resetting daily interest (maximum benefit of $735,440 without the Oracle Bank Bribery boon)

     - +1 shop size and/or the Shop Wizard: +5 gallery size - For some of the large mallers and item collectors, a single upgrade could cost more than $1 million.

     - Captain Limebeard: gifting a r99 Chia Pop (best: Magical Pea Chia Pop)


     Unlike what Nigel the Stockbroker might tell you, you should buy low, sell high. Many of Neopia’s richest players started out by purchasing items cheaper than their worth and selling them for more. This category can be split into restocking (items purchased from the Neopian world shops, such as Battle Magic or Collectable Sea Shells) and sniping (items purchased from user shops/trading post/auction house). In both instances, the player is purchasing the item at a serious discount (intentionally through the Neopian shops; usually unintentionally from users who likely mispriced an item).

     Restocking is competitive – many players eagerly await Neopian shops to restock with valuable items. When they do stock, it's usually only one and everyone is pouncing to purchase it first (and to be fair to players, the first person to properly haggle the owner will buy the item). Items rarity determines how frequently they stock, with r99 and r100 being the rarest items to be sold in a Neopian shop. Certain shops attract more players due to the items sold and their value. Notably, these include the Neopian Post Office, Collectable Coins, Collectable Sea Shells, Battle Magic and Kauvara’s Magic Shop. These shops sell avatar-bearing items, r99-r100 items, weapons and more that are attractive to many players. Given how few stock, items will sell upwards into the hundred millions. Avatar stamps can sell for staggering sums, like the Queen Fyora Stamp or Battle Slices Stamp found in the Post Office. Users will wait patiently in the shops until these high-value items finally grace us with their presence.

     The surreal feeling starts to even see the item in stock – you can’t even believe it actually exists! Your heart rate spikes during the haggle process when speed is critical, and finally, that surreal feeling peaks upon successful purchase. There’s a special sentiment knowing you were the fastest to do it, on top of the profit upside. Many Restockers can appreciate the consistent shopkeeper messaging upon success:

     The Shopkeeper says 'I accept your offer of $$$$$ Neopoints!' (item name) has been added to your inventory.

     Many Neopians take screenshots of their best restocks to showcase those brag-worthy surreal moments.

     Sniping requires some active searching on the part of the user. People generally have lists of items commonly obtained (through random event, described above) where the original owner does not realize the significant value. They place the item in their shop, up for auction or in a trade and price well below the normal selling point. Quick and astute buyers searching at the right time will discover the item and frantically click to purchase/bid on the item. While auctions and the trading post are public, buying from a user shop has a heightened sense of excitement as it’s unknown if someone else is searching for the item at the same time. Once it’s been bought, that surreal feeling rushes over and you can pat yourself on the back. Auction sniping has an even greater reward as you can see the bids escalating quickly for a valuable item, with a race against the clock. When Neopets hit 1 trillion page views, TNT hosted a number of fun auctions from their account trillionftw and the items up for grabs were worth some serious neopoints! Lots of people were competing for these items, which were deliberately priced lower than their value as a thank-you to the community. Bonus that winning any auction is automatically followed with a standard neomail stating you won and at what price, so you can keep that little piece of history for longer.

     I want to give a special mention to the concept of reselling, which generally varies from the definition of sniping on the basis of the purchase price. Sniping implies there is a good discount in the price, which a user can sell again for more profit. Reselling can profit more than a snipe, but can often have long sales cycles. For illustrative purposes, some rare item codes prizes might be bought in a fun auction below the normal selling price, but could take weeks/months to sell to a willing user. You may still make the same (if not more) in profit as a “snipe”, but there is a cost to having bought the item at a higher price – a trade-off of potential interest earned in the bank or using those neopoints to buy more items for more profit. Reselling can still lead to those surreal feelings when the profit realized is significant, but generally takes longer to realize than the immediate gratification of sniping something mispriced and significantly cheaper for quick profit.

     Avatar Collecting

     There’s a reason there’s an entire neoboard dedicated to avatar collecting – it is still a fan favourite activity on the site that covers many aspects of what Neopets has to offer. Avatars are awarded for completing various tasks around the site – some are tied to plots that are no longer available, some are available on a specific day of the year, and then there’s some for using certain items, or playing specific games and attaining a specified score. No matter how they are earned, avatars end up being brag-worthy based on how rare they are and the effort required to obtain them. And this is complemented with a high score table of users who have amassed them over the years.

     The surreal feeling from avatars is generally defined based on the time/patience/neopoints required to obtain it. Like a random event, when you are successfully awarded an avatar, you’ll receive that famous notification:

     “Something has happened! You are now eligible to use ‘(avatar name)’ as an avatar on the Neoboards!”

     Many people will screenshot the feat and stare at their screen until the feeling has passed. Generally speaking, the most impressive avatars are game and stamp collecting related. Other high-value item avatars, like Super Attack Pea, can be obtained from lending – as a result, they are more widely available despite being a high-priced item the average player cannot afford. That being said, there is still a neat feeling of owning a very rare item for even just a few moments!

     Game avatars require work on the player to obtain on their own and using their own skill, rather than having someone step-in and help them obtain the avatar. Further, because game avatars have a specified score, it is usually not as simple as playing the game a handful of times and achieving it first or second try. And the icing on top is that you are limited to three scores per day, so users must be selective when sending scores trying to earn the avatar – this is particularly relevant for avatars awarded based on being on the high score table at the end of the day. Ask any user to rate a specific game avatar by difficulty and you will get hundreds of different answers. While some games have very high score levels and generally do require some luck (such as Extreme Potato Counter), most game avatars (pre-Flash conversion) were obtainable with hard work and determination. I remember (perhaps not so fondly) playing for hours to work through the entire list of game avatars. I did not keep count, but can only imagine that for the games that I was not originally skilled at took thousands of attempts. Users will follow guides to ensure they can hit the minimum score requirement. In any event, nothing beats that feeling of practicing for days/weeks/months and then finally reaching that score. There’s a sinking feeling as you wait for the score to send (hoping that you won’t have an error), before you get the pop-up that the avatar has been awarded.

     Undoubtedly some of the most impressive avatars are handed out to the stamp collectors. The ‘completionist’ loves to see a full stamp page (25 stamps total), but it is a rather difficult endeavour for most people to accomplish. The sheer sums people pay for active and retired stamps make this category one of the most elusive. Several avatars (Neopia Central, Mystery Island and Tyrannia all come to mind) have stamps where they were only awarded as prizes during Lenny Conundrums or Mystery Picture many years ago. Compound that with the problem that once a stamp is placed in the user’s album, it is used up forever. The end result is you have a dwindling supply of an already limited item. Now, add multiple players who all want to earn that avatar and you have scenarios where prices into the hundreds of millions to finish an album. While not all of them suffer from this problem, the cheapest stamp album page at writing (Sea Shells) would still cost the average player between $50-60 million neopoints to buy every needed stamp at current values. In Year 20, TNT mass released a number of stamp collector avatars that are some of the hardest avatars to be obtained. Stamp collecting (and the resulting avatar) is a slow burn – it takes months/years of saving to purchase the bigger ticket stamps, assuming they come available for sale. But, ask any stamp collector that feeling of putting one in the album and seeing that avatar notification and they will affirm it is always a proud moment.

     And then, as most collectors do, on to the next avatar on their list. As of writing, no active player has every currently obtainable avatar, and so there is always something to work towards!

     Trophy Collecting

     Trophy hunters come in all shapes and sizes, the bulk of whom focus on games (versus site event or non-flash games, which are limited in number). Despite the end of Flash, I did elect to keep trophies in this article because the intent is to have all games converted and playable once again. Once this happens, game trophies will become a relevant source of surrealness as users work to gain those elusive gold trophies. Further, there are non-flash trophies users can still obtain until full conversion has occurred.

     Similar to earning avatars, trophies are awarded for various games across the site. The top 17 are awarded gold (top 3), silver (#4-10) or bronze (#11-17) based on their score at the end of the day. A shiny trophy is then added to your userlookup permanently. For some individuals, they may be fortunate enough to earn gold in their first attempt, but for others, practice will work their way up from bronze to gold over time. Once a user has obtained a higher-level trophy (i.e. silver or bronze), it will automatically replace the previous one forever. While there is no official high score table for the number of trophies by a user, multiple players out there have in excess of 200 game trophies.

     Like with avatars, it is difficult to name the hardest game trophy available as each playstyle may suit different users. However, of the non-flash variety, the Neoquest Race trophies are arguably some of the most difficult to obtain given page load times with more site content and the long-standing records to be broken. The patience (and luck) required by a player to beat the entire game in a single sitting is unfathomable!

     Trophy collecting also applies to pets – there are many individual trophies such as the Booktastic and Gourmet awards that can be obtained by a specific pet for their achievements in that niche. To qualify, an owner must spend millions to feed and read to their pet, which takes many months/years to achieve. Similar to stamp collecting, while it is a slow burn, that moment of finally earning that trophy for your pet is a wonderful feeling.

     Many non-flash trophies available are awarded purely on luck – such as Grumpy Old King or Test Your Strength. You may get King Skarl in hysterics at the right time and wind up with a trophy for it. I strongly suggest trying for them every day because who knows, it may just end with a shiny trophy for your collection! As an added bonus, some of these non-flash games award rare prizes (Guess the Weight of the Marrow, Grumpy Old King) for high scores, which sell for significant sums. Just adds to the excitement of a good joke or good guess. Getting King Skarl into hysterics has the added bonus of a potential trophy, avatar and rare item – a real home run in terms of surrealness.

     Separately, site event trophies are awarded for participating in Neopets events that have happened over the years. Some are annual, like the Altador Cup, and some are now since retired from prior plots. Veteran players have amassed a strong collection, and while trophies are awarded usually based on participation levels (i.e. completing one task of a plot would yield a participation trophy, completing the plot in full on every day may result in the highest level participation trophy). As a result, the surrealness factor is considerably lower since most users who participate in said event will earn some sort of trophy and the effort for a top trophy is not overly difficult in most instances. Altador Cup trophies have a neat feature of highlighting the players contributions to their teams in highest score and total games played for each Altador Cup they participated in.

     And everything else

     To wrap off this article, I thought to include a laundry list of other moments that can lead to surreal feelings that don’t necessarily fit into any of the categories I described above.

     - Feeding Kads: a very competitive non-flash game and while there is a trophy awarded (up to 25 fed), there are players with thousands of feeds. Limited number of spaces and specific timing can make feeding one faster than someone else a happy moment for many (bonus: there is an avatar for feeding enough!)

     - Luck Based Games: some are flash and non-flash, but games such as Cork Gun Gallery and Guess the Weight of the Marrow, award rare items in lieu of trophies. Some of these items are unbuyable and rarely given out to players.

     - Pet Trading: many players aspire to own specific species of Neopets, painted to their liking and with a name they love. That feeling of adopting or trading for your dream pet after months/years of searching will last, especially when you may be staring at them every day playing.

     - Collections: Since stamp collecting was covered mainly in avatars, I would also include things such as gallery items or safety deposit box hoarding. Galleries can cost millions depending on theme and there’s a sense of accomplishment making a big purchase to add to the collection, or finishing it entirely. Same goes for battling – high-end sets leave you feeling satisfied when you procure all your dream items for the next big plot.

     Maybe one of these aspects has already impacted you already. If not, maybe you will feel more inspired to try restocking or trophy collecting and search out that surreal feeling. However it comes, it gets the heart racing and leaves you feeling excited and energized. Chasing these moments is what keeps many of us here playing – some, for the hard work and determination, and some by sheer dumb luck!

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