16 Nov How Neopets has influenced a generation of game developers
Websites designed in the ’90s may look rudimentary and simple compared to those built today, but a lot of hard work went into creating a domain.
Hardware was also relatively expensive during the infancy of the Internet– families who could afford a single desktop computer usually delegated it to one section of the home. Because of this arrangement, kids usually had a limited amount of time to surf the web before having to log off.
So what was there to do online? Between playing Minesweeper or doodling in Microsoft Paint, many game developers who grew up with the Internet spent the bulk of their allotted time exploring Neopets, the virtual pet website launched in 1999 that grew to be so much more.
For Nina Freeman, a level designer at Fullbright and developer of the Internet-inspired Cibele and Lost Memories Dot Net, discovering how to create her own websites within Neopets was crucial to fostering her future in game development.
“I was using Neopets as a tween back in the early 2000s. I was super into their whole guild community, and discovered web design and coding through that space,” she explains.
‘My first ever experience coding was on Neopets‘
Guilds housed players under a central theme, becoming a space where they could take part in activities (usually associated with the theme of the guild) and socialize. Oftentimes, guild themes held no relation to Neopets at all and were dedicated to TV shows, movies, and video games.
Creating a guild was a lot like putting together a personalized web page, where users would format and layout their homepage with HTML and develop the aesthetic feel with custom CSS. For Freeman, she used the freedom of creating guilds to her advantage.