Dear Breezy: The "Obelisk Skirmishes" Response
Permit me to introduce myself. I am Breezy--a puzzle gamer, an explorer, an experimenter, a scholar at heart. In other words, I am by nature a Seeker. As such, Neopians sometimes ask me to explain the extraordinary events they encounter in the many fascinating worlds of Neopia. One recent question in particular comes to mind.
Just the other day, I was rubbing the sleep from my eyes and sipping my first borovan of the day. All seemed uneventful until I stumbled out the door of my Mystery Island Neohome. There, in my handmade coconut mailbox, I found the following Neomail waiting for me:
Dear Breezy, have you noticed a little grumbling amongst some of our fellow Neopians about the War of the Obelisk? I still can't figure out this skirmish part. Why is it dragging out so long? Why didn't I get an avatar and site theme, when I battled like a hundred times? It makes me feel like grumbling, too! Can you explain this confusing plot to me? -- username withheld
Not a Neopia-shaking question, you may say. But there were a dozen more Neomails just like it in my morning stack of mail. And that was for just one day! It struck me that Neopia needs a recap of those horrible events. Indeed, we must never forget what happens to Neopians when we fail to join in a common cause. Neopia must understand the long-term effects of our choice to form factions against our fellow citizens.
In short, we citizens of Neopia must learn to deal with the consequences of the terrible War of the Obelisk. Those consequences include the aforementioned skirmishes, as well as a vast confusion of terms among many affected Neopians.
WHAT IS THAT?
Before we can explore the War's aftermath, I believe we Neopians must agree to some common terms. We must use the same labels, if you will. Indeed, if we Neopians speak of the recent--and ongoing--Obelisk activities using TNT's terms, we may even note some positive aspects that arise from the recent, most violent, Obelisk event.
Careful analysis of my Neomail box and comments I have overheard urge me to list the following key facts and the most useful labels for the related ideas.
KIND OF EVENT
Some Neopians are disappointed with the content of "the plot" (so called). Many of the same complaints are repeated, so I will list them here. There were no comics, no puzzles, no other activities except fighting in the Battledome throughout the entire event! Indeed, this event would have made for a pitiful plot, worse even than Atlas of the Ancien--er, I mean, entirely inadequate in all respects. Happily, the Obelisk War was absolutely, unequivocally, NOT a plot. Not in any way, shape, or form was the Mysterious Obelisk event a plot. In short, the "Mysterious Tyrannian Obelisk" event led to a war, but included little material typical of a plot.
I sincerely hope we of Neopia may now all understand and agree that the Obelisk War, while indeed an event, was not a plot. (Is there an echo in this library?) You may ask, can we be sure of your conclusion, Breezy? Indeed, we may be certain. TNT has told us it was not a plot. The seemingly innocent discovery of the Tyrannian Obelisk led to a different kind of event, altogether--in short, the discovery led to a war!
Ah, but this was no ordinary war. The event began with a seemingly innocent, even scientific, excavation of a mysterious phenomenon on the outskirts of the Tyrannian plateau. Then, in a series of enticing videos, Neopia learned that several clandestine groups of Neopians had developed an interest in the newly revealed object, a Mysterious Obelisk. Many of Neopia's citizens found themselves drawn to one or another faction, forcing even the Seekers of knowledge to intervene in the vain hope of preserving the site for study.
Unlike previous two-sided wars, the War of the Mysterious Obelisk has torn the citizens of Neopia's worlds into no fewer than six factional fragments. These divisions have various consequences, some less obvious than others. A more detailed examination of the factions may be found in the section titled "Innovation."
STATUS OF EVENT
There seems to be confusion among some Neopians about the length of this event. Let us all be agreed on this point: the War of the Obelisk has ended. We Seekers have uncovered some very good clues that the War is over: TNT declared a victor, TNT bluntly told us the War has ended, and TNT opened an event prize shop.* Further, TNT explained that no more Event prize points will be awarded after the appearance of the prize shop, and skirmishes will not award prize points for the Obelisk War. (Citations to come. Alas, many of the relevant field journals are marred by dirt, potions, and --ew, is that snot? Disgusting!) Er, ahem! Clearly then, the "Skirmish" is a new, largely unexplored activity in Neopia.
* The Obelisk War prize shop is rather spiff, too, if I do say so. Although I do think the shop should have featured a large selection of socks. (I hold this opinion because most of my own socks went missing during the War, most notably when I was confronted by members of the Thieves faction.) And there should be more cake. (Well, not Petrified Cake. That cake could form its own faction and take over all Neopia!) *shudders*
Er, back to the topic at hand....
Although the war is over, peace has not entirely returned to Tyrannia or to the citizens of the other worlds of Neopia. Instead, Neopians have discovered that our unfortunate division into factions has given rise to a new periodic activity: Skirmishes.
WHAT IS A SKIRMISH
You may well ask, just what is a skirmish, anyway? A skirmish can be a minor dispute, a brisk conflict, or even a mere battle of words. Skirmishes can be used before or during wars, but the term also covers military-type games. For example, Neopians may enjoy several skirmish-style games, including Snow Wars II and the eponymous* Sorcerer's Skirmish.
* Lovely sounding word, is it not? Eponymous. Eee-PAW-neh-muss! Do look it up.
BORING EVENT STRETCH?
Now this is a puzzling opinion, unless one is unaware that the Obelisk War is over. Skirmishes are not part of the Mysterious Obelisk event or an extension of that event. The Skirmish is a periodic activity as detailed in the section titled "Innovations" below.
Note: There are certainly precedents for events to release a repeating activity with a small prize. We have only to visit a number of common dailies, like Coltzan's Shrine and King Altador's Throne, to prove this assertion.
Note to the Note: The Altador plot remains open to this day. I hail this idea as a great innovation. Future Neopians can finish the plot, as can those who were on hiatus or overwhelmed by scholarly deadlines at the time. (I wish we could still complete some of the old plots from before my time. Certainly we may still examine old comics and study the Neopedia, but the puzzles and/or fighting are closed forever. Only tantalizing hints remain to tease us about such delightful exercises as mapping a Lost Desert temple.)
Now, where was I? Ah, yes!
Far from "stretching" the Mysterious Obelisk War, skirmishes offer Neopians a recurring activity whenever we wish to participate. This new type of activity also reveals other excellent innovations on the part of TNT, in my scholarly opinion.
1. Obelisk skirmishes are organized in timed steps with built-in breaks so the activity does not become a boring daily click fest--er, overly repetitive.
2. Skirmishing does not cause a physical drain on either Neopians or our Battle 'Pets.
3. If we participate in a rather small number of battles per skirmish, we get full credit for participating in that round. (This is, after all, not a war--just a skirmish!) I think this is a well-balanced idea of how to play a "skirmish". We need make only a few quick trips to the Battledome, yet we must be active in the fighting to have a chance at reaping the rewards.
4. 'Pets of rather humble stat levels are rewarded equally alongside 'Pets of fearsome stats, as long as they do their part.
5. Instead of flooding the site with more 1-NP daily "click prizes", we get occasional little gifts for playing--and the winners get to choose from some entertaining and/or profitable "boons" that last for a week after a faction's victory.
6. A small Premium reward is included in the skirmish. (This item was rightly not a feature of the Obelisk War.) The Premium boons affect existing Premium benefits--a good touch. This extra choice of boons is a nice new perk for paying players.
7. Each event cycle, or round, lasts 2 weeks. This averages out to about two possible rounds per month. The generous time frames make it easy to schedule a skirmish around one's life and other Neo events. There are three parts to each round:
- 3 days to sign up for one of 3 factions
- 4 days to click a few handfuls of battles
- 7 days for winners to enjoy their boons
8. The division of Neopia into six factions permitted general mayhem without polarizing the population. (There are only two poles, whereas there are six factions. This softens the effect of internecine conflict.*)
* Be honest--haven't you always wanted to use "internecine conflict" in a scholarly sentence? (I feel distressingly smug.)
9. Alarming, or perhaps merely innovative, opportunities may now arise for Community interaction. Who knows what sort of bargaining and spying may be attempted by people who seek (heh, heh) to influence the outcome of a skirmish? We do not yet have clear evidence, but TNT may have--perhaps unwittingly--instigated such strategies as recruiting, finagling, coaxing, and backstabbing--er, I mean, other creative ways to increase the number of players drawn to a given faction for a given skirmish.
INNOVATIVE BENEFITS OF SKIRMISHING
It may not be obvious at first glance, but the continuing skirmishes may serve to heal the terrible rift between factions that has torn Neopia apart. You may ask, how can this be? I am so pleased you urge me on to further discussion--how scholarly of you! Your eagerness to learn reveals the Seeker within you. *beams behind thick eyeglass lenses*
Following is a list of Skirmish features that may serve to promote healing among the factions.
1. We can only choose from among three factions per skirmish. Thus, we must sometimes choose a rival War faction if we wish to fight during a given skirmish. This interaction exposes us to other faction members. We may find common interests and goals among members of different War factions, encouraging the growth of new friendships. Thus, we may hope to slowly close the cruel gaps that currently divide the factions.
Secondly, we must choose--and win with--each faction at least one time if we wish to win all six avatars and site themes available. Many Neopians collect avatars or site themes, or both. Collectors must side with Neopians of other factions to gain these collectibles.
o Each faction may win certain boons, unique to the interests and skills of that faction. If we wish to enjoy these various boons, we must make common cause with the various factions, at least on occasion.
Training Incentive. The War and the continuing skirmishes give us Neopians a good excuse for--er, some small encouragement to continue in a program of Battledome training. Thus, we may compete with each other and cheer each other on to loftier training goals.
E. The skirmishes encourage us to keep our skills polished in daily Battledome exercises. We can win codestones and faerie bottles as daily awards for defeating challengers in the Battledome! It behooves you* to applaud this source of payment for your 'Pet's training. Even if you are not training a Battledome 'Pet, you may still exploit an activity that increases the value of these training items in your shop. If you have no interest in shops, you may like winning free, valuable gifts for your Neofriends who do train their 'Pets.
*or bepaws or bewings you, as the case may be.
*pause for proofreading, followed by a cut-and-paste of the entire response to this point*
Hmm. On reading through my original response to your Neomail, I believe I may well have written a full-length article. Please forgive this single-paragraph response, as my article is currently in submission to that esteemed journal, the Neopian Times. I look forward with some anticipation to its publication in the near future--my first publication, hopefully of many.
After all, we Seekers must never forget the battle cry of true scholars everywhere: Publish or Perish!