I trawled through many suppressed childhood memories, dead links, and DeviantArt pages full of feet during this excavation. Here we have a lovingly made shrine to where many of us got our start in coding: Neopets pet pages.
The basic idea is that we would design our neopets like OCs, and roleplay them together in the forums or over an instant messenger like AIM or MSN. It was a bit like how toyhou.se pages are designed. A lot of pets even had their own "adoptables" section, where you could adopt pre-made page dolls or ask the owner to make one of your pet.
The pet roleplaying community split off into little enclaves, usually in guilds where we would RP in the comments, participate in events or just chat together. It reminds me of today's 'closed species' communities, except we didn't have to pay $300 to feel included.
They seemed largely dominated by the following pets: Ixi, Aisha, Gelert, Draik, Lupe. I personally was an avid ixi owner, eventually graduating from Ixilicious to form my own guild The Ixi Isles with 3 friends, so I don't have much personal experience or memories of the other pets.
These pets had surprisingly intwined stories- friends, enemies, mates and even children. Pets were typically roleplayed in either feral form (we called it "quad"), or anthro form, and people were very protective over them. "The ONE and ONLY foxixi" - "No sticky paws" - skimming through the comments, it seems that character and art theft was a big source of frustration and reason many well-known users quit. I recall some migrating over to another pet site, Subeta.
On their individual petpages, where users were given a mostly free reign on HTML coding, visitors were welcomed into a whole new world, often even 'greeted' by the pet itself, as if you were invited to be part of the roleplay. When the rules started tightening up around customization, a lot of us switched to off-site hosting like freewebs. We would also customize and 'tag' each others' pets in their lookup pages, all done while in roleplay of course. * Petname*... so we meet again.
Over the years I have fleeting thoughts about what happened to the people who inspired me so much: to code, write, and draw. I randomly stumbled upon Maygikal, possibly the most famous artist, who is now a vetenary nurse and still draws neopets sometimes. A user I once roleplayed with, Seabiscuits_Dream (now known as albinoshark) did a gorgeous piece of throwback art to a beloved pet in 2012. I love that this was such a special thing for so many kids.
In my quest to preserve a bit of early internet history, I collected some old art from way back then. If you have a story to share, old neo art, information, screenshots... or even if you just see something of yours that you'd like to be removed - send me a message! A lot of it has sadly already been lost to time. For better or worse, when sites like DeviantArt inevitably get purged, bought out, or simply disappear, so much of our creative history is relegated to some ancient USB drive at the back of a drawer, or just gone altogether.
I'm still working on this page, but in the meantime... *GLOMPS YEW*