Monday, January 29, 2018

So, I try really hard not to let this blog devolve into a rant-fest, but sometimes I have opinions. The subject of today's... um, opinion piece isn't something I'm worked up into a violent rage about, but it is something that made me kind of scratch my head and go "huh" and "why did that happen" and "clearly my way of thinking is superior".

I will try to make this a level-headed, informative rant discussion.

(If you notice Commonwealth spellings popping up, I am not suddenly Canadian--these are terms that Neopets spells with its characteristic Commonwealth English, so I have chosen to mirror their spelling when discussing these terms as used on the site, for the sake of consistency.)

So, about a week ago, Neopets held a poll to determine what new paint brush colour users wanted most. The choices are listed in that link, but for convenience I'll discuss them here:

Steampunk - Dark-hued Neopet with elaborate mechanical gear--kinda looks more cyborg-ish than steampunk, IMO

Toy - Shiny, plastic-y Neopet with a spring-tail

Origami - The Neopet equivalent of origami Petpets

Burlap Doll - Just plain terrifying

The winner turned out to be Steampunk, which left me a little disappointed. See, I like paint brush colours that actually affect a Neopet's inherent appearance, not just put clothes on them--because that's what customisation is for. But evidently the majority of voting Neopians feel otherwise. Whether it's because the aesthetic is just so irresistible, or because "steampunk" is a coolness buzzword, a Shadow-coloured Gelert wearing cyborg armor beat out Neopets that actually had something done to their physical being.

Let me break down why I feel this is so significant. Back in the olden days of yore on Neopets, before 2007 (you kids might not remember this), there was no such thing as customisation. All Neopets were static, pre-drawn images depending on their species and colour. You couldn't dress them up. Outside of your own imagination, your yellow Kau looked like everybody else's yellow Kau.

That's one of the reasons why fancy paint brushes like Darigan and Plushie were so sought-after--their images usually had more personality than the "default" pet image. And colours like Lost Desert and Royal were especially valued because they were the only way, on-site, that your Neopet could actually wear clothes (and they were usually quite fancy clothes).

Customisation changed that dynamic quite a bit. Now, when you paint a Neopet a "clothing" colour, that clothing automatically goes into your Closet, and you can put it on any Neopet of the same species from then on, regardless of what colour they're actually painted. This has some cool benefits, like the idea of "cross-painting" - a Neopet of one colour wearing the clothing of another colour - but what customisation ultimately also does is render obsolete the whole idea of paint brush clothing. Now that Neopets can wear all manner of clothes, you don't need a Royal Paint Brush to make your Neopet look elegant--she can wear a Fancy Brightvale Gown or a Regal Warrior Dress, or tons of other options.

Which brings me to the problem with Steampunk--I think it's an unnecessary colour. There are already lots of steampunk-themed clothing items on the site, so having an entire colour dedicated to the idea feels redundant. Not to mention, now that Neopets can wear nearly anything regardless of colour, there really is no purpose for clothing-based paint brushes anymore. I understand why the pre-customisation paint brush items were grandfathered in, but I can really see no point in creating new colours that are all about wearable items when those items could be made as general buyables. I think the Steampunk colour would have made more sense if it was something more along the lines of Eventide, maybe giving the Neopet a cool gear pattern on their body or giving their physiology a bit of a Victorian-illustration flair, but as it is, it's just clothing items on a colour that already exists (Shadow).

That's why I voted for Toy. Out of all four options presented, I felt Toy had the most potential to be interesting. I've already discussed my issues with Steampunk. Origami didn't really strike me as very compelling--I mean, we already have origami Petpets and they don't do anything for me either. And Burlap Doll is just nightmare fuel.

But Toy, I felt, could really go places. There are lots of different ways the theme could be interpreted, and I think it would be great to see each species get a different treatment, inspired by some sort of classic or popular toy. A My Little Pony Uni with a sparkly mane and tail and a cutie mark, maybe? A Mr. (and Mrs.) Potato Head Chia? A Skoosh ball Jubjub? A Lego Skeith? The possibilities are fantastic! I envision it working a lot like the Candy colour, where Neopets are inspired by different types of candies (excluding chocolate, since there's already a colour for that), from gumdrops to peppermints to those ridiculously large lollipops you get as you're leaving Disneyland, and you take like five licks and then your tongue turns rainbow and starts to hurt, but now you've got to drive all the way home with it so you stick it to the back of the seat in front of you, or maybe in your sister's hair.

But instead we're getting Steampunk.

Of course, I like to try to think positive. Maybe the art team will go in mind-blowingly awesome directions with this new colour. I'll hope for the best. Plus, the Neopian Times editor mentioned that TNT may consider implementing some of the losing colours in the future, so I haven't lost hope for Toy, either.

But ultimately I think new clothing-based paint brush colours are a trend that should be put to rest, in light of how the site has developed over the years.

Edit: Looks like Toy is becoming a paint brush colour along with Steampunk! :D Okay I'm happy.

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