Musings of an Old-Timer
I'll admit it: I'm an old geezer. The grumpy old lady who shakes her head at all "them fancy customized pets," remembering the good old days when life was simpler; who then turns to her Kougra and pats her on the head with a "there now, I worked hard to get you that island wreath, I wouldn't cover it up with those glitzy accessories if you paid me!"
There are many of us still out there.
I suppose there are a few who never left, although I have never met one myself. Mostly there are those who rediscovered their favorite virtual world after years in real life, a giant smile on their face as they go down memory lane.
Many have wandered back to their neohome's front door, only to find a giant "foreclosed" sign on the front. Locked forever due to the longevity of absence. With a sigh, some of these people turn around and walk back to the starting line, opening a new account with that big old "newbies" user lookup shield that gives the illusion of youth and naivety.
Others find their door unlocked, ready to pick up where they left. One trip to the healing springs and their wonderful neopets are as good as new, and although the world has changed quite a bit, they find everything still feels just right. Some jump on board with new changes quickly, others take a bit longer to adjust. In the end, I was delighted to find that Neopia is the same at heart as it was back in Year 3 when I opened my first account.
In typical old-lady fashion, I have some advice for the youth of Neopia. Please don't groan too loudly. If you're a newbie, novice or old-timer like me, I hope these musings will resonate with you. Perhaps make you smile, laugh, cry or even ponder the meaning of life itself.
The first piece of advice is rather shallow and simple: if for whatever reason you did not register with your accurate birthday, write it down and commit it to memory. The deeper lesson learned here is "think long-term." I spent many days pounding on my neohome's front door before I remembered the birthday I had come up with eleven years ago on the day I fooled all the identity thieves in the world by using a fake birthday. I highly advise you avoid this problem, and any similar to it. This includes picking an email other than "firstname.lastname@example.org," which you will promptly stop using after having to write that one down on your first job application.
For want of a better segue I'm going to jump right into sharing a more fervent opinion of mine. Take all of those, "How to Make a Million Neopoints in One Week" guides with a grain of salt. Stop playing that list of games deemed "daily musts," just to watch your bank account grow. Don't waste hours of your life sitting in an empty bookstore clicking "refresh" every 5 seconds in the hopes of turning a profit.
Don't misunderstand me. Earning neopoints can be fun, and even necessary.
Everyone wants beautiful, unique neopets with maniacally awesome stats that reflect the musculature of a body builder and the brains of Einstein. And those paintbrushes, books and accessories can add up to quite a bit of moolah.
Everyone has that kindling (or burning wildfire) desire to become a millionaire or billionaire. Is it possible? Absolutely. Will it take a lot of work and luck? Definitely. Is it worth it? Well, that depends! Think long and hard about this one! If you're like the 99% who get tired of the monotonous moneymaking routine after five days, maybe you should sit back and enjoy the game. Neopets shouldn't be work – save that for the real world.
Enjoy the stories you are creating with your neopets. Be creative and have some fun. Connect with new people online just to chat and make friends, not to get one step closer to the ultimate trade for that Faerie Krawk you've always dreamed about. Don't create side accounts just so you can load them up with neopets you'll forget about. Turn the ones you already have into your dream pets!
Take mine, for example: FLUFFERS141 and CHUBBERS509 were created on my first day, eleven years ago. Check out those two stunning, royal-worthy names that only a little kid could come up with. For many users who want those "cool, chic pets," poor little Fluffers and Chubbers might have seen the pound a few years down the road; but I had so much fun coming up with their back stories and personalities, there was no way I could ever let them go. They did see the pound, but it was only while passing through to pick up LOONER_LANDER a few years later.
These three pets are the reason I came back to Neopets! Not for all the gobs of money I had hanging out in my stock portfolio and bank account (or lack thereof...). I missed designing their petpages, and working hard to paint them the "perfect" color without the help of the lab ray (even though I have one). My point is simple: even if you have a million neopoints, or want to become a millionaire, one day you'll look back on your account and fondly remember those neopets you put so much time, effort, and thought into.
As for making money, I will share my one little secret: play the games you love. For me, that is Skies Over Meridell. I'm willing to bet most of you haven't even heard of the game, nonetheless played it. I took to that game like a bird to air. I thought it was the most fun game my 13 year-old-self had ever played. Shooting down the enemy in an old-style dogfight? Count me in!! I didn't start off very good – there was more crashing than dog fighting. It took quite a bit of time to actually earn "good" neopoints from the game. Here is that piece of advice again: think long-term! I had fun playing this game, even when I got shot down every other round.
After my hiatus and my eventual return to Neopia, I got a bit greedy. My profile said I had been playing for 11 years, but I only had two trophies (beating Punchbag Bob and a third place at Cheat trophy that I don't even remember winning) and only one painted pet. I was going to make a triumphant return, and show everyone that I was an elite Neopian with years of success and experience on my side! So, I picked up some games I knew I was pretty good at, and which earned some good money. I played these games relentlessly for several weeks straight. I wanted some trophies. I wanted glory!
I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by insulting their favorite games, so they will remain nameless. Let's just say that I got frustrated with my lack of success. I was good at these games. The problem was that if you wanted to score in the high scores table, you had to get lucky. You could perform with near perfection, but if the game didn't hand you the right negg, berry, robot, etc. you wouldn't get a high enough score. This wasn't fun! I didn't mind playing the games at first; but once I realized skill wasn't going to get me a trophy I lost interest fast. Some people have the resolve to wait it out until that lucky moment, but not me.
That's why I love Skies Over Meridell so much. When you lose all lives and the game ends, it's because you didn't nose dive fast enough, or you got a little too close to that darn barn. Sometimes there is a bit of luck – an extra-life power up or bonus points is always useful – but I never restart the game because I didn't have the benchmark points at the end of a certain level to reach my goal. I could lose two lives in a row, and come back with ten straight kills against a harder enemy. Comebacks are possible in this game! And I like that thrill.
There are other games like this one. I enjoy Rink Runner and Hasee Bounce, for example. I highly encourage everyone to find games that they enjoy playing, even if you aren't good at them yet. Don't be afraid to switch up the games you play, or feel pressured to keep playing a game until you consistently make 3,000 NP a day from it or earn a trophy.
Overtime, I got trophies for Skies over Meridell and a few others. To me, the time flew by. It didn't seem hard to get these at all, because it was a fun journey. As a consequence, my bank account is growing from playing these games. I find other ways I enjoy making money – I like investing in the stock market, and one week I'll be gung-ho for buying cheap deals at the auction house, and the next week I'm a restocking machine. My point is simple, and I think I've made it pretty clear by now: have fun, and the money will come. I don't make money fast, and I haven't painted all my pets yet. However, I've discovered I'm much happier playing for fun than to make my stats impressive.
Enjoy the game! You never know when you'll take a vacation from Neopia, or when you might decide to come home. Hopefully your neohome is always waiting for you to unlock its door, and your desire to become an elite Neopian never trumps your desire to have fun.