AMA: Batch #2

More Neopets questions from more cool folks!

Once again, these are reposted from my old Tumblr days with some new info added on occasion. This time, these were all originally asked after I left Neopets. Hopefully there’s still some interesting info here for you though. 🤔


I think i just realized this (as a recent warcrafter) and i have to ask now that i know you a) have a tumblr, and b) play warcraft: Was the “YOU ARE NOT PREPARED” Meepit to announce the site change a reference to Illidan Stormrage?
Asked by: avodkamutini

Yup!

Although it wasn’t really meant to be an announcement. We were just stalling for time. I mean… uh… total professionals, the lot of us.

The update was supposed to go live that day but we decided to postpone it for one last all-hands-on-deck monster QA/checklist session to be sure everything was ready. Everyone was testing. Everyone. This meant there was no time to rearrange content or create anything new and, thus, we were facing a dreaded No News Day. We had a rule, though, that New Features always had to be updated with something every weekday unless we were literally physically incapable of doing so for some reason. (One time the building was on fire and we still published something. I am not exaggerating.)

There was a lot of discussion about what to post but, long story short, a cryptic teaser was the safest and easiest. And, if we’re being honest, it’s totally the kind of thing those TNT jerks would do. Those of us who were (and still are) addicted to WoW immediately thought of Illidan’s famous line, what with Burning Crusade having been released earlier that year and all. It was already kind of the unofficial battle cry of the project anyway and it certainly fit. Bonus: It also let us lampshade the unpreparedness a bit, preemptively calling out the fact that you had no idea what was coming (much to our chagrin) and it was all our fault.

With that decided, I pulled a giant Meepit image from some existing art because Meepits, added the text, synced the image and news to the live servers, and subsequently went back to triple-checking assets against a giant list of body parts. It’s not as gruesome as it sounds.

(By the way, welcome to Azeroth!)


Do you still play neo now that’s it’s not your project (I know you can’t tell us your account or anything or tell us what happened, I was just curious!)? Thanks 🙂
Asked by: dreamsofroses

I was keeping up for a few months after I left – doing dailies and events and such – but I don’t anymore.

I mainly stopped to preserve what was left of my own sanity. Having a fair amount of input into/control over something for so long and then suddenly not having that does weird things to your brain, man!

I still visit the tag/fan sites and I follow Neopians here and on Twitter. I love seeing what everyone does with their characters and head canons and stuff like that! It’s just a bit maddening visiting the actual site. 🙂 I’m sure that feeling will go away eventually. *nod*

TL;DR – Nah, because it’s kinda like looking up your ex on Facebook.


Hey snarkie! Are there any other (former or current) TNT members on Tumblr besides Dragona and you? 😮
Asked by: kae-elle

Hi!

There are! However, unless one of them asks me to verify them directly like Dragona did, my policy is to not give out any staff/ex-staff social media information out of respect for their privacy. Some people are fine with it, others are not, and people can also change their minds either way, so I’ve found it’s safer if I don’t post a list anywhere. *nod*

I’m sorry I can’t help in that regard. But… erm… we’re all still buds so if you’ve read my posts then it’s not hard to find some of the ones who are okay with it. 😉


If you still talk to Mr. Insane, would it be rude to ask you to ask him to give us a hint for the locked door in NeoQuest? I understand if that’s something he doesn’t want to talk about, though. Thank you either way. 🙂 And thanks for your many years supporting Team Virtupets!!
Asked by: sirwallahoo

Hi!

I’m almost afraid to relay your inquiry to him since I have a theory that the repeated asking of this very question is what lead to the loss of the remainder of his sanity lo those many years ago. But, seeing as how his descent into madness is long complete, I guess there’s nothing to lose, right? Here we go…

Okay, he replied thusly:

Sorry, kids. There’s nothing behind the door. It was a deliberate attempt to drive people nuts, and apparently it worked, since it’s been almost 15 years since NQ launched and people are still asking about it! It gives me warm fuzzies thinking about all the stress and insanity that one little door caused. *ahem* AH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

There you have it. I suspect that being ex-TNT, no longer bound by the oath of the mystic covenant, has allowed him to speak freely on the matter. I mean, he usually gives a really smart-ass reply so that’s the only explanation.

Neopia has you to thank for an answer to the mystery after all these years! 🙂

 

Team Virtupets for life.


Do old/current TNT members go through the neotag, ever? I’m really curious if you guys have ever gotten a laugh or used us to gauge something?
Asked by: tax-beast

Neotag, no. Well, I mean, The Neopets Team is a big, diverse group of folks so maybe someone has? But the Creative Team didn’t officially peruse the Neotag for anything, given that by its very nature it’s full of off topic things.

But the Neopets tag? Oh yes. If you’re responsible for a giant world/game and you’re not out where your players are, trying to find out what they’re thinking and feeling, then you’re doing it wrong! So we were on every website all the time taking copious notes. Even cheater and hater sites. (There’s one site in particular who thought we were secretly trying to turn children to satanic worship. That was interesting.) So yeah, we definitely got some laughs and very regularly used feedback from all over the Internet to make decisions.

At least, we did when I was there. I can’t speak for them now, o’course! But like I said, it’s kind of an important, no-brainer thing all game developers do, so I would be surprised if that’s changed. 🙂


What is the damn secret behind Edna’s avatar?! Its been 6 long years that I’ve been trying.
Asked by: tax-beast

Oh man. I have honestly forgotten. I know it had to do with two items, but I don’t remember if it’s at least two items or more than two items (meaning three). I think it was the latter. Then I think once you have the right amount of items, it’s random and fairly rare.

I’ve seen some theories about the spell name being important, and I don’t believe it was. (Other than if there was a separate connection in the code between the spell name and how many items she asked for – e.g. rainbow spells always ask for three items and, thus, you are more likely to get the avatar using a spell with “rainbow” in the name. I have no idea if that’s actually true.)

But anyway, I really don’t remember anything more specific than that and no one I’ve asked does either. I think I came up with this one on my own back when I did them all, and I’d need to check the code to tell you exactly what was required, which I can’t do anymore. 🙁


Are you THE snarkie from Neopets? If so, you were my middle school idol.

Yes, snarkie is me.

But you shouldn’t believe me because I could be trying to trick you.

I’m not trying to trick you, though.

But I could be lying about that bit, too.

Anyway, hello there.


Hi Snarkie. A long time ago (2004-2005) Neopets used to have completely separate Neoboards if you changed the language setting. After General Chat was destroyed, english speaking “splinter” communities began to form on these secret neoboards that we basically had all to ourselves, as newbie chat became new general chat. We inhabited italian newbie chat for several years and were pretty tight knit. Were you ever aware of this? I remember a woman with a strikingly similar love of Dr Sloth…

Yeah, we knew about this. It was technically an exploit but we left it as a bit of an easter egg for a while because fixing it would have meant preventing people all over the world from talking to each other, which is no fun. It was eventually changed for some other reasons.

Anyway, many people love Dr. Sloth because he is so loveable but I never chatted there personally, if that’s what you mean? Sorry!


I remember finding your profile as a kid and being exciting because seeing mods was like some kind of rare animal sighting. Keep being awesome buddy!
Asked by: msgeophilia

Hey thanks, friend! If I were a rare animal, I think I’d be a cryptotis nelsoni because I, too, like to hide in my house and only come out every hundred years or so to let people know I’m still alive.

😛


Hi snarkie! I’m sure you’re tired of the neo questions, but i was looking at some of your old Flickr pictures for nostalgia’s sake. Something puzzled me, though. What the heck is this black plushie on the “p” of “Neopets” in this picture? It looks like an Eyrie, but i don’t think we ever got Eyrie merch, and I’m so curious about it!
Asked by: midnaswife

I think you’re right and that’s a Shadow Eyrie. I don’t remember off the top of my head whether or not it was released so I’ll take your word for it!

We had A LOT of prototypes around the old office back in the day. Bubbles was in charge of merchandise and she always had cool stuff. Much of it never got put into production for one reason or another. Like maybe it ended up being too difficult or costly to make, or it didn’t turn out well enough and was nixed, or it was planned for later but merchandise was shut down before we could get to it. (Nickelodeon put the kibosh on merchandise from ALL their properties except for SpongeBob and Dora at one point.) And I wasn’t too involved with that side of the business at all, so I’m not sure the exact reason why it was never released, but don’t worry. It had plenty of other unique friends to keep it company. 🙂

Side Note: In those days, another big reason why certain species didn’t get made was perceived/estimated popularity. Normally there’s this whole magical retailer/factory/creator business deal that gets worked out, but as a small, unknown company, Neopets didn’t have that. The company had to pay for a bulk batch of plushies up front and then try to sell to retailers so retailers could sell to you. Plushies sitting in storage for months unsold means money lost and that’s bad. (If 1,000 Tuskaninnies were made, we’d probably have 900 sitting in storage for years.) So they were planned very carefully, with popular and/or recogniseable species, or species requested specifically by a factory or retailer, used exclusively to prevent such an occurrence. It got easier to experiment as the company grew, and easier still when we had the backing of a big company like Nickelodeon, but even they had merch problems sometimes (as mentioned above). So if you ever wondered why your favourite species was never given the plushie treatment, that’s a good bet! It’s not that we hated the species or that we didn’t want you to have plushies of them. (In fact, a lot of people in the office were also waiting for certain species that were never made!) It just wasn’t feasible, apparently.


Have you ever been to the Harry Potter theme park/do you have any plans to ever go? I got to go shortly after graduating high school and I remember seeing pics of some of the Neo staff dressed up for (one of) the last movies. For a while I wanted to try to use the old Neopets snail mail address to send a genuine, Hogsmeade-postmarked postcard.
Asked by: bukwrm

Yes! The beau and I went in… 2013, I want to say? Definitely want to go again for all the new updates!

For the photos, it was probably these? Back before the sale to Nickelodeon, the big bossman of the company would take everyone to a movie for Neopets’ birthday every year. It happened to coincide with Sorcerer’s Stone the first time (2001), then Chamber of Secrets the next, so it became a tradition of sorts. (Skipped Azkaban because that was the summer, but then Goblet of Fire was back to November and, after that, we saw every one courtesy of Nickelodeon, regardless of when it was released.) Those of us with a penchant for dress-up decided early on make that a thing, too. I think this was the first time we dressed up for it!

In short, we would have loved your post card! Although, if it was after we moved to Nick, we probably wouldn’t have gotten it because the PO Box we had was a nightmare. We missed so much mail. 😥

Fun Fact: I wanted to be Ravenclaw for the colours but was outvoted 4 to 1 that first time. They ganged up on me, saying I was obviously Gryffindor, and I have been ever since.

———————–

Sorry it took me a year to answer you. I’m a jerk.


Hi Snarkie! Why was the active Neopets user counter removed from the website? Is it because of the dwindling userbase or did it take up too much server resources? Please let us know.
Asked by: abunaidesu

I don’t remember this, so I assume it was done after I left? In which case, I have no idea. 🙁 Both your guesses sound plausible, though!


There was rumor that TNT kept a Neopian Canon bible, and between that and Jellyneo you all wrote the lore of Neopia. Does Jumpstaff have the bible now? I’m just concerned about the quality of the writing from here on out.

Two bibles. One for the world and one for the site. That duality of the brand – site vs world – was a hard thing to explain to people. The world lore didn’t have humans, Neopets took care of themselves, Neopia Central didn’t actually have a movie theatre in it, things like that. The site bible explained human involvement, who TNT was, which parts of the site were canon, etc. The upkeep on them was REALLY tough, though, so they weren’t very up-to-date. (That’s kind of what the Creative team was, collectively: Living Brand Bibles.)

But… I did have to condense them both, over 260+ pages, down to a “bite-size” 40-page PowerPoint to try and explain the brand to potential buyers when it was up for sale. I give you page 10:

How about page 22?

Good times.

Anyway, that would have been the most recent version of a brand bible that existed when I left.

Does JumpStart have them? They bought all assets (code, art, documentation, etc.) and the servers those assets were stored on. *nod*

I’m not sure what you mean by Jellyneo writing lore? They never made any content for Neopets. Unless you just mean they recorded the lore in one place for people to see? Then yeah, fansites had good repositories. TDN, SunnyNeo. Great sites. Even we used those sites all the time to look stuff up.


You’ve answered a bunch of long-time ‘burning questions’… but are there topics you’re not allowed to discuss (re: secrets you’re not allowed to divulge) since you no longer work at Neopets? I’m talking contractually obligated to keep quiet, not just morally obligated.
Asked by: kaitlinmarie

Nope! Haven’t signed a thing.


If there were a lot of unsold/not mass produced plushies, do the old members of TNT still have some? What do you guys do with them?

There weren’t a lot. I think they usually got sent back to the manufacturer, but the head of merchandising kept some of them.

We had a merch closet in the office that we used to raid to give gifts to visitors, or when someone wanted to be a hero for their friend’s cousin’s brother who loved Neopets. But that was all released merch. From what I understand, there was a whole storage space off-premises that housed tons more stuff. The rest of it was probably there. Dunno what happened to it. I’m pretty sure it went with the sale, mostly because Viacom wanted to get rid of it. 😛 But I don’t think JS wanted it. I think it might have been destroyed. (Because donating it is some sort of licensing concern or something? Don’t quote me. I don’t know how any of that works.)

I don’t have any unreleased stuff. I also regret not buying some of the rarer stuff when I had the chance. Super bummer.


I hope you don’t mind me asking, but are the rumors true that the TNT team didn’t like Shoyrus? Is that why they didn’t appear at all in The Darkest Faerie video game? Sorry for bothering you!
Asked by: champ-bear

There were some legal limitations around the Shoyru early on because our lawyer at the time (not Lawyerbot) was concerned about it having been a user-created species. So that *may* have affected it being in something off-site like a video game, but it’s unlikely. The majority of Neopet species weren’t in that game! There was just a limit to the body types/assets that could be made, is all. 🙂


Dear snarkie, do you remember how “tchea” fruit is supposed to be pronounced?
Asked by: lightofmeridian

No idea! We used to say “TCHAY-uh”, the short t sound said with your tongue at the front of your mouth behind your teeth, instead of a regular “ch” sound with your tongue in the back at the roof of your mouth. Does that even make sense? Like “tsu” in Japanese.


Hi snarkie! Are you still associated with Neopets at all? Do you do any work with them? Do you still play? What about the people you met there, are you still friends/in contact?
Asked by: coffeeofdoom

Noper! Don’t do any work, nor do I still play. Don’t follow along with it at all except the few customisation and art blogs I follow here. (I still like seeing what people make!)

I talk to a small group of ex-Neostaff every day. We still hang out in a chat room and talk about dumb stuff like how Mr. Insane was trying really hard not to see anything at all related to Rogue One before it came out so that he could go into it completely blind. Also, there are a lot of puns in that chat. Like, a lot.

I keep in contact with a lot of other people, with varying frequency. We’re all a big family, which is cheesy, but it means that even if we don’t talk to each other in 8 months, it doesn’t matter. They’re awesome people who are all very supportive of each other. I love them all.

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