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Why Virtual Pet Sites Vanish

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There's a rabbithole of a topic I've thought about for a while now. Often times I talk to my husband about it and he seems to find it concerning that so many vp sites seems to just up and vanish, die, etc. I've seen a lot of virtual pet sites just up and go, many of them saying no word to their communities or not even updating social media to say they're closed. BooPets comes to mind, I remember it being fairly popular but seems to fall off the face of my internet research around 2015. I've heard people talk about its closing, but finding records via Googling doesn't always work and (some) Discord communities, virtual pet sites that allow cross trading, and sites like this seem to be really the only last remaning source of why some sites die. VPL was a big source of admins stating closing of their sites, but those records (and the records of some very obscure pet games) are gone. 

I don't know if others talk about this. The amount of virtual pet lost media out there is massive. I remember many early 2000s (2005-2010) that are basically so lost not even their name is remembered, only vague descriptions of pets/design/etc. I know many long for sites like Teripets and the recently (domain wise) gone Misticpets to come back, and sometimes I wonder just why they don't - or owners don't sell off assets if they hold the copyrights to creatures/maps/etc for revival. There was a popular wolf/rpg/open world grid based game where users could buy custom wolves and it seemed really popular but I can't even find that now - I do know it had some drama around it. I remember Suta-Ratio/eevee1/Kuitsuku's posting about her art she was doing for Nutrinopets, which seemed to be fairly popular and went from 2004-2011 and explanations seem to be linked to blogs that are long gone; and the only remaining art of Nutrinopets seems to be Kuitsuku's old dA account (as Suta-Ratio is gone now as well, and while she mentioned other artists working for the site in the early years I can't seem to find who they were or more pet art.)

On the flip side, there's sites that seem to just hang in there. Zetapets/Mythodreas comes to mind first. Creaturebreeder. Ichumon. They've been around for, gosh, a long time. It's admirable. Daylightpets has hung in there as well, even had a recent update hoping for a revival. Solpets recently started a revival as well. But overall, it seems like vps just seem to ghost. I know a lot of them are passion projects, and it's always sad to see them go.

I guess this just interests me as I have a fascination with lost media, and virtual petsites seem to just have a lot of lost content surrounding them as a whole. It's sad to see sites with all this love and time and thought put into them, just go. I've seen so many just vanish, without any notice, or just kinda die after being abruptly abandon by the entire team. It makes me wonder about my own vp game my husband and I are developing.

Is it unavoidable? Do any other devs/artists/writers have these thoughts? Any games your remember or miss? And virtual pet lost media you long for (for me, old Neopets flash games/pages top my vp lost media wish list along with just wanting to find and database lost virtual pet pet/colours art.)

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It is very much a rabbit hole, but a rabbit hole I dive deep into every so often.  As you said, so much hard work just lost to the world.  WaybackMachine can only do so much.

Last year, I built up a second version of VirtualPetDirectory.com and rebranded it to OnlineGaming.Directory.  One of the big issues I had with VPD was we didn't have any "offline storage" of the content, thinking that the owners should manage their own.  This was mostly in keeping with "we are a simple directory of information".  But now, with OGD, and GameSiteArt.com (linked with OGD) I've started the journey to revive the images as best I can.  Of course, I need people's help for that.

I have the assets for Icepets (which is still up and running), Misticpets, Kuepets and Cyopets available to me (I was either the owner, or was given consent by the owner).  That being said since the site didn't build a lot of traction, I stopped uploading content to them unfortunately because it was a fairly time consuming process for me.

I've tried to reach out to PaulSonny a few times in regards to Boopets because that was another site I really liked the art for, but similar to the whole development situation with him, where I just got no response unfortunately.

A much more recent loss of a game site is Verpets.  My hope is that it is still possible to revive but it may be dead in the water too :(

I can't explain "why they don't sell off the material", maybe they think it's not worth the hassle.  Basically at that point they are probably at the end of the ropes with the site and just want it over.  I know that Misticpets is a bit of a special situation.  Basically the server is still intact, it's just at a data centre and not turned on (and unable to be turned on remotely), so we are just waiting on a trip there.

I absolutely loved digging a bit and seeing that Mythodreas still was up and running.  Unfortunately over the years I lost touch with the owner, I'm hoping that their story is preserved.

The lost content is absolutely brutal.  It's my goal to dig as much of it as possible out of the graves that they currently are in to hopefully showcase the work that was done.  One of the future plans for GameSiteArt.com was to add in art attributions to the because it's the artists that lose out even more.  They used to be able to use the sites as a showcase for their artwork, but when they are gone (which is normally outside of their control) they lose their hard work.

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Man, I was doing research for my own website and returning to websites I grew up with and was inspired by, and I realized how much of neopets(my biggest inspiration) has been lost due to obsoletion and lost code during website ownership transfers. I was going deep into youtube to find some of the oldest videos available of kids around 2000s (who are adults now) uploading videos of the old neopets site, and the nostalgia hit me like a bag of bricks. The old neopets interface (completely gone), the old neopet creation page (gone), and even now the website is being dissolved alive by the obsoletion of flash. It's now just a banner on the website advertising their merch of what use to be.

Youtube though the saving grace of the 2000s has preserved some of the old mc donalds merchandise from kids uploading videos of them playing with them, and the old neopets assets/character webpage art from people making early 2000's amvs. Sometimes have to search unconventional titles like "neopets.mov" or "neopets movie 2003".

I'm unsure if you can find other lost website art that way, but it's worth a try. Youtube is a treasure trove of accidental archives.

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Not sure if you are interested, but here's what I found through youtube!
I found the pet websites you were looking for I think, archived in some fashion even if small.
Not a whole lot, but bits and pieces. While you can't directly pull jpgs from the videos, you
can relive the experience of the website from watching someone else play it or use it.

Granted these won't help with finding out why they died, but my surmise is being too similar to neopets and dying to the competition against neopets. I notice a lot of these youtube videos depict websites that completely mimic early neopets to a T. Marapets founded around the same time went a completely different route than neopets and thus was capable of surviving on it's own. Webtraffic would play a big role I think in a websites survival. This doesn't negate the possibility of internal drama within development. You could interview the boopets artist though and ask about their time working on the website. I find the topic of archiving internet history fascinating! It's fun to search for things in unconventional places!

To sympathize with your concerns, I grew up adoring flipnote and a lot of flipnote art/animation as become lost to the internet! Say, for the grace of youtube and its ease of access to kids uploading the things they loved back in the day. The quick rise and fall of a website too could be due to lack of financial gain (in flipnotes case) and obsoletion with modern webbrowsing.

Teripets: Teripets appears to be using a reworked version of neopets original code. (Neopets Classic Archive)


Misticpets: Wow! This is early 2000s design! I am astonished bits and pieces of it are still available to be seen on youtube! Appears to also be using something similar to neopets classic. I notice this with a lot of old websites. :0

Boopets - This is all I could find of it! But the artists behind the website appear to be currently active on youtube as of 2 weeks ago.
 

 

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On 6/2/2021 at 1:09 AM, judda said:

A much more recent loss of a game site is Verpets.  My hope is that it is still possible to revive but it may be dead in the water too :(

Verpets is dead? Heck, I used to work for them back in 2015-2017, produced over 200 assets but eventually had to quit.

 

The problem with petsites is... I think, one of them is the art style. You mostly either see hyper-realistic horse breeding sims, or cel-shaded, cartoony, clearly neopet-inspired graphics. For the petsite to hold on a little longer, it needs to be something new, something that "pops". At least in my feeling, I can't bring myself to try any of these out, if the visuals aren't appealing to me enough. It's been done, over and over. Or, the sites don't have a defined style and just throw multiple styles and a mixture of random creatures at the player as if they didn't know where to go with the core concept.

 

Dragon Cave can be considered ancient as it was launched in 2006 and is still going strong. It's a simple "raise and collect" pixel dragon game with monthly releases. The sprites are kept in a somewhat realistic style, detailed and well executed. They're unique in that matter. The dragons never die of old age so you keep your pretty collection forever. It's free-for-all, no pets behind paywalls, no premium currency or other microtransactions, the only time you may choose to pay is to get rid of ads, which aren't invasive either.

Flight Rising is also one of the petsites doing extremely well as it offers multiple gameplay mechanics, pet customization and, again, unique art style - which is very vaguely inspired by neopets (e.g. your dragons have pets on their own) here and there, but is not a direct copy of that style. I just came back to it after a long break and was greeted with dozens of updates and improved mechanics. Sure there's a premium currency but you don't need to pay a single cent, you'll mostly get those from trades!

And lastly, Lioden, among those real animal sim sites, stood out for me the most - one, there are no other lion sims out there. Two, its gameplay is based on real laws of nature, with twists here and there. This, mixed with just as realistic art-style, makes a unique experience. Sadly I quit because I don't like the idea of my virtual creatures dying from old age, haha. That's just a preference of mine.

 

I don't know any more petsites that stood out for me, they're alive since forever and made me stay; either the style was same-ish, simply unappealing, or not enough gameplay, or badly executed paywalls. Or terrible communities.

 

where are the birb sims at

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On 6/2/2021 at 7:09 AM, judda said:

A much more recent loss of a game site is Verpets.  My hope is that it is still possible to revive but it may be dead in the water too :(

Well uh. You have the site owner, who's as good as missing since he's actually impossible to contact.

The programmer, who is also our only admin now, who won't release stuff on the site, quoting that he isn't getting paid to do it. And he's the only one with ANY contact with the site owner.

We HAVE some content for events we were supposed to release in the back.
The assets are DONE. It's just sitting there.

 

Only thing now is a miracle of someone somehow getting in contact with the owner, and offering him a serious offer on the site.

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UniCreatures/UniFaction was another one that just got shut down one day. The owner made bad/stupid decisions that alienated most of his player base and when it didn't work out the way he wanted he pulled the plug. I really miss the artwork - I spent tons of USD and time and energy on that site building up my collections. So sad to have it all erased overnight. 

There have been times with my own game when I've considered pulling the plug. It can be a heavy, stressful burden, but I remember UC/UF disappearing and I just can't do that to my members. As long as there's folks around who get enjoyment out of Faenaria the lights will stay on, the team and I will continue to work and fight for it. ❤️ 

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18 hours ago, jakdacrowe said:

Well uh. You have the site owner, who's as good as missing since he's actually impossible to contact.

The programmer, who is also our only admin now, who won't release stuff on the site, quoting that he isn't getting paid to do it. And he's the only one with ANY contact with the site owner.

We HAVE some content for events we were supposed to release in the back.
The assets are DONE. It's just sitting there.

 

Only thing now is a miracle of someone somehow getting in contact with the owner, and offering him a serious offer on the site.

The problem is the amount for the "serious offer".  I still speak with the original programmer who sold Verpets every once in a while who has contact with Joe.  I was even given Joe's number to text via Whatsapp, but half of the time (as usual) I got crickets with my messages which sucks!

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