Nights is one of artists for Marapets.com
The staff team have been pictured as a bad player support, what do you think of them? And what are your experiences with them
To be honest, I haven't had any experience with the other staff. I've never gotten a warning, never had any trouble with anyone else, I don't think I've even reported anything yet. I've observed some Neo-level of responsiveness to immediate threats, such as spamming, but so far I don't see too many problems with them. Although, it may be because I don't have access to the adult forums, where I believe they may hang out.
A lot of players complain about the lack of updates? Why is this?
I'll be the first to admit that the blame for lack of updates reflect more on myself than on Ian. He's always full of ideas and things to do, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with a list of things to do that I burn myself out and go missing for a day or two due to lack of sleep and sickness.
This is in no way Ian's fault, as I have the freedom to work on what I choose whenever I want to, but I have a nasty habit of putting too much on my plate at a time. Sometimes I try to work on several things all at once rather than one at a time, and with my attention spread thin over many projects, it delays things much further. It doesn't help when the other artists have their own things to attend to and have real-life problems just as frequently as I do. Believe me, as a fellow player, lack of updates frustrates me just as much as everyone else, if not more so when I know what the problem is.
How do you think Marapets can gain its user base back? Do you think the site needs updating before this can be done?
I think that Ian should hire one or two more artists to work on updates and revamps while the regulars work on normal updates.
While it would be great to take the site offline for a while to do a massive update over the course of a week or two, wouldn't it be a nice surprise if lots of stuff was being done in the background and the update happened out of the blue one day? I'd be pretty darn excited.
That and we wouldn't deprive players of something to do for weeks. Really, I think it may take more than a complete revamp to gain back user trust. Events, plots, new games, new features, a referral program, special promotions, there's a lot we could do that would all help us bring back what we've lost over the years. I'm hoping to start on the right track by reaching out to the users and showing them that we DO listen and care, even when it doesn't seem like it sometimes. Ian is only one guy making all the features, ideas and plans, after all.
There are a growing number of pet sites been made every year, only a few go live but what do you think Marapets has got to do to be better than these sites? In your opinion does Marapets have competition?
Ian thinks that other sites pose no threat, but personally I beg to differ. Before I became staff, I spent a lot of time checking out the latest and greatest games to see what they're all about.
Here's some things that other sites have that we don't, and it's clear from the very start; good layout, original species, attractive colours, better HAs (human avatars). As much as I love Mara and don't see myself leaving Ian's side anytime soon, I always catch myself drooling over the newer sites.
We may have content, pets and colours coming out the wazoo, but how much are they worth to people if they look like original s art from way back in the day? Would you rather play Pong or Skyrim? Like I said before, if Mara wants to get back in the spotlight, Ian has to let go of his nostalgia glasses and make things more modern and sleek. We don't have to go full-on -blocked- (as trying to achieve that level of prettiness would put me in a coma), but we should at least put on a new coat of paint and fix some things that need attention.
I think that once everything is properly updated, we should purge old usernames, pets and frozen accounts, and start fresh. Once the changes start to happen, I think some people will be tempted to check us out again.
There are a lot of ads on Marapets, some that are not age appropriate for the amount of kids that play, and a lot of them donít have ad block. What can you do to help parents and players feel safer on Marapets and less pressured to visit sites selling Viagra, teeth whitening and fat loss?
I think that a great feature to bring into the game is the ability to turn on and off ads. If people don't want to see them, that's their choice and they can have fun playing like normal.
But if they choose to view ads, for each day in a row they do so, they'll gain prizes that increase in value. People who don't want them aren't forced to view them, and people who choose to support us by viewing them get something in return. It's only fair.
A lot of people complain time and time again that Marapets art does not meet up to the standards of other well known sites. Do you think Marapets art is fine and that is Marapetsí style or do you think it needs updating?
On one hand, I know it isn't completely fair to compare one site to another and say that something isn't good enough because it isn't the same as another site with more staff, more skilled artists, and more than one dedicated programmer.
However, without a doubt, I KNOW it needs updating. Even Ian himself has had conversations of fair size with me where we talked about how this looks funny, this one's lines aren't even connecting, the highlights on this are ugly, what's wrong with this one's face, why did we even make this species. A lot of it is light-hearted banter, but we both have a strong desire to revamp the heck out of Mara.
When the site started out, Ian and Laimay pushed to have as much content as possible with little regard to the actual quality. Just look at some of the Zombie pets! Now, we think it's time to change the definition of "Mara style" for the better, even though we know we'll meet a lot of resistance from the oldies who don't want anything to change.
I think change is for the better. Just because something isn't the same as what it used to be, that doesn't instantly make it bad. I think that over time, people will begin to appreciate change more.
How did you come about been an artist on Marapets?
Oh man. It's a funny story, really. Being on Mara at all is like a miracle. About 6-7 years ago, on a hot, uncomfortable summer night, I was on the forums of a certain petsite when some people were talking about this laughably horrible rip-off petsite called Mara.
Naturally, I had to check it out to see just how bad it was. I spent about... an hour or so on it, before I got frustrated and left because I didn't know what to do. As for one of the reasons why it frustrated me, let's just say I took a several year-long hiatus, and I didn't see a single thing that looked different when I came back.
By that time, the same certain petsite had burned me one too many times (more like a thousand too many times), so I wanted to try something different. I don't know why I stayed on Mara. I had no friends there, I was still pretty lost on what to do, and the games weren't the most fun or pretty I'd ever seen.
But I had two pets that refused to die, and over a million MP sitting in my account due to years of absence building up into one awesome welcome-back gift. So, I gave it a chance. And the more time I spent on Mara, the less confusing it was, and the more I loved it. The quality of the pets were at least better than I remembered, even though lots of them still needed to be updated.
It took a while before I realized, hey, where are the updates? Where's Laimay? That's when I learned she had quit months ago, and things had pretty much come to a standstill. The latest art updates weren't as good as I expected, apparently Ian had been hiring freelance artists but had noone in a permanent position. And then there was hype on the forums about a girl called Lizzy, AKA DiamondDinosaur.
She was quickly becoming a favorite of the people, and somebody was actually petitioning for her to be hired. At the same time, there was a lot of moaning and hissing about these three Mordo pets that were apparently so bad that they were pulled from the news as soon as they were posted. In one of the topics, something inspired me to break my vow of silence, and I drew my own version of a Baby Mordo.
After taking directions and suggestions from the other people in the forum, I made something that everybody was really happy with. And that's when the idea came up that I should try to apply to be a Mara artist. I felt like an idiot for doing so, but I posted a little question to the editorial asking how one would go about applying for a staff position, trying not to give myself away that I wanted to be hired.
Immediately afterwards, I saw the blog of a staff member saying very clearly that no staff had ever asked to be staff, they all had to be found and hand-picked by Ian himself. In a single night, I gained and lost the hopeful dream of ever working for Mara. Being a petsite artist had been my dream for many years. I thought that was the end of that, and started making plans to sell my art on the forums for fun. But when I woke up the next day, I almost had a heart attack when I saw a message from Ian himself. He wanted to talk to me over a messenger about staff vacancies.
You cannot imagine how I felt at that moment, but I accepted instantly. he whole thing was like a huge mind-boggling coincidence. If I had never drawn that Baby Mordo and posted that night, I may have never been found. And that's why I have that same Mordo in my Mara siggy, as it's possibly the most important thing I have ever drawn.
What do you think is the best feature Marapets has to offer?
I love all of the collections. I'm a hoarder by nature, so having a way to stockpile stuff in neat little collections is awesome for me. My gallery isn't big enough for it, but I also have over 3000 4 years Cake, and I love buying as many 1MP items as possible and storing them in my attic. When I have the MP for it, I want to seriously bulk-up my Plates, Photos, Battledeck, Stamps, Nest, Wardrobe, everything. I even wish there were more collectables to play with, like a Pearl or Gumball collection. Huh. I may have to bring that up with Ian sometime. Collections are only my personal opinion, as I know there are people who adore all of the Missions and Quests. I'm sure the wardrobe could be a favorite if there were more to do with it, such as better item layering and accessories. And even though the Clubs are at their core a complete copy of N's, they're better here as well with club tills, donation shop, auctions, and so on. But I'll stick to collecting for now.
Overall what do you think of Marapets and how can it be improved
I love Mara, I think that it's big and old enough to hold itself up as experienced and professional, but at the same time have a close-knit family-like feel to it.
Unlike some places, there are just enough people online so that there's always someone to talk to, but your topic isn't bumped off the first page in half a second. There are enough people online so that you can actually get the help and advice you need on forums, and I think that's very important.
The art may not be the prettiest, but if you look hard enough, there's always something to do.
If the Flash games don't tickle your fancy, just go play games and participate in contests with the other users, sell your art and writing, get to know somebody and make some friends. Create a club, work on your dream pets, have a roleplay, talk about the latest news about your favorite movie or TV show, go hatch some eggs in your Nest to find the perfect color for your new outfit.
Overall, I think that Marapets and its users are awesome. It may not be perfect, but what is? Marapets is all about the users just as much as it is about the staff and updates, and I know that if we all stick together and see it through, we can improve the site as well as ourselves. We'll do our part to revamp art and features as well as bring in something new and fun to play with as best as we can, and hopefully all of our hard work will make Mara the site we all want it to be.
On behalf of Virtualpetlist, we'd love to give a huge thank you to Nights for giving us this opportunity of interviewing them.