He battled ferocious storms, he braved chilling odds and he ran the whole 9 yards to bring you what we know as Neopets today. But do you really know who Adam really is? In a Pink Poogle Toy exclusive, we chased after Adam, we badgered him with relentless phone calls and we dogged his every move, until he finally gave in and gave us this up-close-and-personal interview, where we dig until there is nothing left to dig for, and we uncover astounding secrets about Adam. But if you think that’s all, just wait until you see what Adam revealed about the Neopets crew and the game history! For instance, did you know that we could have been playing Varmints? Read on and find out more wicked facts!
Is there a story behind the naming of the site that we have come to know as Neopets? For instance, was there a big corporate meeting with random names thrown around (if so, what were some of the suggestions?), or was it something that simply popped into your minds over a hot cup of coffee and biscuits.
Me and Donna in my bedroom online with a slow modem trying every single combination of e, inter, cyber, geo, neo, creatures, pets etc. until we found one that wasn’t taken. That’s the unofficial answer anyway! My mum wanted to call the site varmints.com or coochy-coo, and I was thinking ecreatures until Donna suggested Neopets. The site started off with the capital P (NeoPets) until about some time in 2000 when we decided that was a bit too quirky, and decided to change it to Neopets, but there are still some pages on the site that have the capital P.
Have you thought about where the future lies for you? Will you stay with Neopets or will you embark on new adventures? If you do decide to try new avenues, what would be, without question, the biggest thing you would miss about your time at Neopets?
Oh I’m staying at Neopets, no other plans really. If it wasn’t Neopets it would be most probably something entertainment-related, making games, designing RPGs, that kind of thing.
Undoubtedly, you would have had your fair share of good times, bad times, tantrums, laughter, veg-out periods and made a lot of friends who you could even call family. What is one of the most memorable memories during your Neopets time that bring a smile to you face when you think about it?
Well the worst time was when I deleted the whole site by accident and had to back up from a copy 5 days old! (Good thing we had a backup eh?) Most probably one of the best times was going over to the UK for the Hamleys launch and seeing a queue of people that lasted from 9 AM to 8 PM!
Tell us something that no one from the general public knows about Neopets.
The Aisha started life having a kite attached to its tail. We removed it at the last minute! Also, the site spent an entire 2 months at 100,000 page views a day in December 1999. I was about to give up because I thought it wasn’t growing and that people were bored with it. Then I realized it was because of a database index I had forgotten to add. We did 300,000 page views the day after that.
Also once the database went mad and set everybody to 176,000 neopoints.
Everyone knows that the Neopets staff knows how to have fun, so tell us about one of the most embarrassing things that have occurred around the Neopets office that you can recall.
We have eating competitions in the office. One of the funniest times was when J. Boogie (Jason) tried to eat a 4 foot long sub in 30 minutes and ended up vomiting over the women’s toilet. Hmmmm, maybe you shouldn’t print that one.
Can you recall what was occurring at the time when you decided that you would embark on this game?
Yeah I was actually staying with a friend over in the US with Donna and my friend Adam Garner. We were just hanging around in the swimming pool at the time and I was trying to convince them both that doing a virtual pet site was a good idea. It took about a month before they were finally convinced.
What were your initial emotion, feeling and response when you first discovered that you had been the creator of a colossal phenomenon that has affected and influenced the lives of millions of players today?
Well it has been such a gradual change that I haven’t really “discovered” it. It’s just grown slowly over the last 4 years. Its cool though.
If you could go back in time and change one aspect of either this game or how it was managed, what would it be and why?
I’m not sure really, there isn’t much I would change. Most of the biggest problems with the site have been fixed now anyway.
Have there been any regrets?
Well I really do wish I could spend more time over in the UK with my family and friends over there, but that can’t happen at the moment.
Are you the same person that is portrayed on the site, or are you really a green goblin with high heels in disguise?
Yeah that’s me. I’m 26 and I failed geography at university because I spent too much time playing MUDs. (Multiple User Dimensions; online games.)
Tell us some gossip about one of your fellow staff members that they would never want anyone to know!
I can’t really do that if you are going to post it. Donna just got her belly button pierced, maybe you can print that!
Has the relationship between your pre-Neopets friends and family been affected? How do people react when you tell them you’re the creator of a world-wide phenomenon?
Actually I haven’t been home that much since I started it 4 years ago. The last time I was back home I don’t think any of my friends knew what it was, and none of them believe me.
Although it’s popular in the UK its mainly with younger children. I think when TV adverts start to hit over there for the various products we are doing they may understand what Neopets is.
Do you view Neopets as a game or a job? Has your enjoyment of this game ever been compromised and if so, why did this occur?
It’s really a job. I do enjoy playing the individual flash games that we release, and of course the TCG, however when you are the admin of the site it really is different. I really should play the site more, the times I end up creating an account and going through various parts of the site I end up spending more time recoding and moving things around than having fun!
Because you have been the creator and administrator of Neopets from the beginning, if you were to leave Neopets, would you consider registering an account and experiencing Neopets for the first time through the eyes of a player?
It may be interesting but I would end up posting that I was Adam Powell and getting frozen.
What aspect do you believe help benefit children who use the site? Was this a conscious effort by you when Neopets was created and developed? Looking at the results today, can you stand up and tell yourself that you are proud of what you have been able to achieve?
We didn’t consciously try to make the site benefit people who use the site, things just sort of happened along the way. The HTML guide, art gallery, how to draw etc. were all additions that we just thought would work, and did work, so they stayed. Yes I am very proud of the results, we get SO many pictures, poems and other submissions sent in daily – it’s a great feeling to know that so many people out there are putting in so much effort.
Looking at Neopets, what would you be most proud of and why?
The fact that so many people can play the site and it doesn’t crash (that much)! I’m also proud of the fact that I never made a site map.
What were your first three goals? Have you achieved these goals yet?
First goal was a million page views a day, that’s achieved. I think our other goal was to be as big as Pokemon (that was a goal in 99 when Pokemon was at it’s peak), and I don’t know if that will happen, but http://www.wizards.com/ just replaced their Pokemon logo with the Neopets logo so that is a good start!
Are you recognized in public apart from promotional events?
What kind of reaction do you usually get on the street from fans that recognize you?
When I do meet a Neopets player, they unfailingly ask about Jelly World. I politely reply that I have no idea what they are talking about.
Which aspect of Neopets do you find taxing? Why?
Making the site faster so that more people can play it is a huge problem. We have a lot more people working on the site nowadays so it’s easier, but it has been a real thorn in my side for the last 4 years. For the technical people out there we do over 950Mb/sec of bandwidth with 241,000,000 page requests on a weekend, served from over 170 servers, so when demand is high and the site is slow, it’s really hard to make it fast without buying lots of equipment or working some programming magic!
What would your high school friends have most likely voted you would be doing in the future? Like, “Most likely to.”
Well I know a lot of them didn’t like me, but my high-school was basically full of horrible pretentious people who had very elite friendship groups. I think due to my quite spectacular failure at university all my friends and teachers saw that I was destined to not really achieve anything.
If you were to pass on the reigns to another person, what would be the first quality you would look in potential candidates? Why is this quality important?
Understanding of British comedy. If they don’t find Blackadder and The Office funny then chances are they’re not going to be any good at the site. I think one of the best thing on Neopets is just completely random humour that isn’t in-your-face. My personal favourite is the Lost Desert Paint Brush Stamp T-Shirt Collectable Card.
What do you believe has been your biggest contribution to this online community?
Guess the Card. I think it’s playability and addictiveness kept people coming back to the site in it’s early stages, and formed a solid base on which we grew the site.
Unquestionably, Neopets has been a significant chapter in your life. If you were offered $5,000,000 US dollars by the richest man in the world in exchange for this experience, would you accept? (Meaning all memory, knowledge and know-how of your creation would be forever wiped from you memory and all those who know.)
No way! I wouldn’t do it for 50 million!
I sincerely thank you for your time in answering these questions. The legend of Adam and Donna has been circulating for many years now. Are they monsters in disguise? Are the goofs? This interview was a shot at delving into the minds of the creators behind such a large phenomenon and hopefully, this interview has shed some light into the brains behind Neopets. The final question, what was the best advice you have ever been given, and has this advice ever played a part during your time at Neopets?
When you buy presents at Christmas, keep your receipts! No, I don’t think this ever came in handy at Neopets. Thanks for the interview, hope this helps! – Shoyru_Lover