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TNT Reddit AMA Highlights

On November 6, 2016, seven former members of TNT - Dragona, snarkie, Mr. Insane, Dirigibles, Soupfaerie, Viola, and Breik - held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit. For three hours they diligently answered as many questions from users as possible.

Here are some of the highlights:

Reminder: Do NOT mention reddit on Neopets!

Site Features

Was there ever any plans to make NQ3? I know there was some kind of text based game called NQ 3D but I think we all can agree that it didn't count ~/u/aintdiego

Never any serious plans, no. NeoQuest II took quite a lot of work, and though it was popular, we didn't want to just make another version that was basically the same thing.

What was the biggest thing you had planned for Neopets that ended up not getting done? ~/u/Darknessflowers

World of Neopia, which was going to be a completely separate environment from the site itself. We spent a long time working on it but a point came where Viacom wanted to shut down prospective development on a bunch of projects. Not just World of Neopia, but a number of other things got canned too. Bad luck.

Anything else you can tell us about it? Was it a website? A 3d game? 2d game? ~/u/Oakfeather

World of Neopia was an isometric virtual space built with a combination of 2D and 3D assets. Gameplay-wise, it was an MMORPG.

Were there ever any plans for Lutari Island after Neopets mobile shut down that never got launched? ~/u/Queer-deer

Not that we know of. It was created for the mobile stuff; we did brainstorm some ideas for what to do with it, but it never became a priority.

EDIT: snarkie sez, "The idea was to keep it as a paid feature, but add more stuff to it, so that it was kind of a premium bonus."

What was the story with the Neopets mobile app, the one that had a trailer where we voted on the name? It never surfaced :( ~/u/yogurtisalive

That mobile app was a side project that several employees volunteered for in their spare time; it was just about ready for release when Neopets was purchased by Jumpstart. JS wanted to go in a different direction, so the project was shelved. Just one of those things. :(

Do you guys miss Keyquest as much as I do? (I miss Keyquest a lot.) ~/u/historyandwanderlust

Keyquest was really hard to maintain. It was built by an outside company, with a Java back-end, and there were no Java experts on the team. It required a lot of Viacom magic to keep running. So... that's probably a no?

How were NeoSchools supposed to have worked? ~/u/RetroGameBoy

The idea was that your pet would attend "classes" and get increases in a new set of stats that sort of didn't do anything? Kind of like the training academy on Mystery Island. It just ended up not being very much fun, sadly.

How come you never released an UC Paintbrush even as an NC item? I remember people were always asking for it, and still are. ~/u/just44fun4

We went back and forth on it constantly. We could have charged quite a bit for it but it also seemed a bit unfair to do so, especially when we said we wouldn't allow any more UCs. Also, taking something away from you and then charging real money to give it back is pretty lame.

So, my question! For a long time, no new species were released, and new brush colors were few and far between. Why is that? Were a lot of ideas scrapped? ~/u/Naudlus

Both new species and paint brush colors became less common because we had a limited number of art hours to spend, and we wanted to be able to put a lot of effort into site events and customization. Also, adding a new species became a huge amount of work after pet customization, so it was always a difficult decision to put in the time necessary to add a whole new species.

When neopets was new and big on the net, it made sense to have strict censorship and rules about giving personal information and leading neofriends offsite to chat because its key demographic were young kids.

I think we can all agree that this is no longer the major demographic, or at the very least, not the demographic that's keeping neo afloat with $$. Neo is no longer popular with young kids, and the longtime players who're still around are the ones who grew up with the site and are now in their 20s or older. Why then, is the censorship and offsite banning still as oppressive and restricting as it was 15 years ago? ~/u/thecopperword

The AMA just ended but I saw this so here's a short answer real quick: we actually had a complete revamp of the rules in the works, specifically relating to those topics you mention. When the site got bought, though, the project got put aside and then everyone working on it left. So... we can't tell you what the status of it is now, but we can say that we were working on it. We just didn't get it done in time.

Plots and Events

Hey TNT, what sort of processes went into writing the various plots through the years? A lot of them seemed like genre pieces or love letters to other bits of media. ~/u/professorwhat

snarkie is writing a longer article about this, to be posted on her tumblr, but for now we'll say this: The different plots often had very different paths to realization. Some of them (e.g. Lost Desert, Tale of Woe) were constrained by what was depicted in the trading card game set corresponding to that plot. Some of them (e.g. Faeries' Ruin) we were pretty much able to make up from scratch, however we wanted. There was a lot of brainstorming story, of figuring out how many puzzles there should be, and a LOT of post-it notes stuck on the whiteboard in the meeting room.

Were there any characters, plots, or site features that changed during their development? What were the earlier versions of these things like? ~/u/macteazle

Seriously, any kind of creative development worth its salt goes through numerous iterations before the public sees it. Occasionally an idea stays pretty much unchanged from its first version, while other stuff gets changed repeatedly up until the last minute (or even removed because it's just not working). In a lot of cases (especially in the major site plots) we were really creating stuff on the fly, in part to respond to what the users liked/disliked about the plot. Mr. Insane still remembers the time he stayed until 9 PM on a Friday night during the Tale of Woe plot, tweaking how the potion mixing puzzle worked while the players were in the middle of doing it. He says that he cackled maniacally at how frustrated the users got.

Can you now tell us how team scores were determined in the Altador Cup? I still don't see how freeloaders were unable to hurt their own team by doing nothing. ~/u/KozmaKangaroo

We don't want to give away details, in case they're still using the same algorithm, but it made sure freeloaders didn't ruin things for their team.

Are there any unresolved story/plot points you could address for us? Like the Oracle (what is it?), or where the Darkest Faerie is... (there's not much space between where Faerieland was and where it landed) ~/u/tyco5

The Oracle was just a character we invented to fill that role. It officially wasn't any Neopet species, but if you look at it, it's basically a Kiko with a weird ghost body.

The Darkest Faerie intentionally broke her and set up Altador to find her, in case we wanted to use that in the future, but then never ended up doing anything with her.

Experiences in the Office

What do you feel was the great triumph of your respective tenures at Neopets? ~/u/GonzoI

Dirigibles: Inventing the word "crumpetmonger."

Dragona: I came up with Kiss the Mortog during my first month. It was all downhill from there.

Viola: Finally coming to terms with having helped code the Battledome.

breik: The Altador Cup. Hey, did Meridell ever win?

snarkie: The Faeries' Ruin. We were so happy how stunned people were by us crashing Faerieland into Neopia.

Mr. Insane: .tolp eoW fo elaT ehT.

Soupfaerie: Drawing the Darigan Poogle!

What were your favorite things about Neopets? (On the site, behind-the-scenes, etc.) ~/u/raikiXD

Soupfaerie: The office Halloween contest (where some of us got way too serious about dressing up).

Mr. Insane: The flexible work hours and proximity to my house.

Dirigibles: The bowl of jelly beans in the conference room.

Dragona: All the creative content people sent in, and all messages we got about inspiring people to be a programmer or writer or artist, etc.

Viola: Creative environment and all of my friends.

snarkie: VIOLA STOLE MY ANSWER. Also, Soupfaerie's answer. Also, telling stories that surprised and amused people.

Breik: TNT

What were your favorite 'puns' or pop culture references items? I always loved 12 Angry Myncis, which inspired my legal gallery, Juris Junk. ~/u/r4wrdinosaur

Our favorite puns/pop culture references were always in plot prizes. We also had tons of inside jokes that came from conversations we had over lunch, that literally nobody would understand, but that's okay. The E-Z Brandâ„¢ line of products we put into plot prizes were always a ton of fun to come up with. We intentionally included memes late because people kept asking us why we included memes late.

I would love to know what happened to make you realise that Neopets was going to be a fun/crazy place to work? ~/u/snarhooked

snarkie: My second interview, the receptionist was dressed like a squirrel. Also, my second week there, when the whole company went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

breik: The MTV holiday party I wasn't supposed to be invited to, but they let me attend anyway. WOOOO, FREE BOOZE

Dragona: When during my second interview, Tigercatcher insisted that I have some cake. Also, the toy box full of Nerf guns.

Mr. Insane: Early on, Borovan would tell us all to stop working so that we could have a Magic: The Gathering tournament. Clearly this was more important than work.

Dirigibles: Daily Simpsons trivia, until I got in trouble for it. *mumbles bitterly* Also, my second week there, when the whole company went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Viola: It took a while before I realized it was a fun place, because I was sitting near a bunch of crazy people.

Soupfaerie: Getting to know my wonderfully silly cow-orkers. (Everyone else: "Awwww.")

So many things to ask! Ever since the day I learned about the mass layoff, I've always wondered about the true story. Was it truly unexpected? Was it just coincidence that it coincided with the release of Ghoul Catchers? ~/u/aymekae

None of us were still there when that particular mass layoff happened. (Dirigibles and Soupfaerie are still bitter about the earlier mass layoffs they got caught up in.) And in fact, almost everyone who had worked on Ghoul Catchers had already left the company by the time it was released.

Miscellaneous

I was wondering, what caused Viacom to decide to sell Neopets, and, if you know, why did Jumpstart decide to be the ones to make the purchase? ~/u/20Vivillon

We assume that a bunch of people in suits had important meetings involving charts and numbers and business. Those people all worked in an enormous skyscraper thousands of miles away from us. Jumpstart, we think, wanted to expand their online gaming properties portfolio. (It's possible we've made that up.)

Do you think the old staff team (viacom) should have been allowed interact with users whenever they wanted, eg. on the boards, neomails, battle, etc, and would that have helped save the site with having a closer connection to the users and what they actually wanted? ~/u/dirtside_fanboy

We did have a number of staff who were allowed to interact with players on the boards etc., but we had to limit it because employees need proper training in how to interact with players. Someone might be a brilliant artist or programmer but not necessarily trained in how to properly interact with players.

Did any of you read the Neopian Times, and do you remember any favourite stories or authors? ~/u/Altharis

We used to read the NT all the time! There were a lot of great authors and comics over the years and we don't want to leave anyone out so we'll just say WE LOVE YOU ALL. We are not currently working together on a new project. Do you have a couple million dollars?

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