Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Wait for Pottermore is Over!

I was feeling done in... couldn't win, then I checked my email and saw this, "Your Pottermore account is ready! Step this way..." Can you guess what I did next? If you guessed that I spent the next several hours exploring Pottermore then 5 points for your house. Aw heck, let's make it 10. I'm feeling generous.

So, how is it, you ask? It is not the be-all-end-all, greatest, revolutionary online experience ever, but it is pretty darn good. The graphics are exquisite. The first book is the only one available right now, but I can't wait for the others, just for the graphics. You never clearly see the main characters, but the impression is that of a hybrid between what the actors look like and the book art. Then it looks like it was painted and magically put online. (I know it's taken hours and hours of painstaking hard work but allow me my fantasy.)

You're taken through the Philosopher's Stone from beginning to end, chapter by chapter. You can collect cards, galleons, objects, books, and potion ingredients. For each chapter, you can zoom in to see more of the scene and unlock different information. For a couple of them, you have to do things like do a spell in order to progress. It's a lot of fun. 

The background information JK Rowling provides is interesting, but I have to admit, I did not read it all because I wanted to finish the story. But there are a lot of good nuggets of info. I particularly liked reading about Petunia and Vernon's courtship.

Diagon Alley is pretty great. You get to go into several different stores to purchase your supplies. After you do that, you get your wand. You're asked a bunch of questions, that to me make little sense, and then it's chosen for you. Mine is 12 3/4 inches, made of Sycamore with a dragon core and surprisingly swishy. 

Now, the moment everyone wants and waits for - The Sorting Ceremony. You have to wait until chapter seven before you get sorted. Then you answer some questions and get placed. I ended up in Slytherin; I'm a little surprised by that. I almost wish there was an option to say, "Not in Slytherin" if it was between that and Gryffindor, but alas, there's not, so a Slytherin I shall be (insert melodramatic music here). 

From then on, your house is your house. You get a welcome letter and get to see the common room. It's just a room that shows the points leader board and allows you to comment or chat with other Slytherins. It really does not affect how you progress in the story.

Unfortunately, Pottermore is not without its faults. I know the site is still in beta so there are bugs but some are just a little too problematic right now. The biggest one is the inability to handle the amount of traffic the site is getting. I've been getting a message saying, "unavailable, come back later", or " too much traffic, come back later." It's not even open to the public yet! This needs to be fixed ASAP. This is Harry Potter. You don't put something together that's this awesome and not make sure as many people as humanly and inhumanely possible get use it.

Another problem is you can cast spells, make potions, and duel with other people, yet the dueling is currently done and making potions is nearly impossible. I don't know what is needed, whether a mouse instead of a track pad or something else, but I have tried to make a cure for boils at least five times and each time something went wrong, particularly with my wand. I can't tell if it was me or the site, but it did not work and it is driving me crazy. Doing the spells is much easier than potions, but still very hard. Speaking of spells, if anyone knows how to unlock the other spells, please let me know!

Finally, it is also a little difficult to connect with friends on Pottermore. You can give permission to Facebook, and they will find everyone but only if those friends have connected to Facebook too. Also, since you have to choose a family friendly username, it is hard to know who is who. Through the Facebook Connect, I found some friends and sent them requests but when they accepted it didn't say, "Bob accepted." It said, "LeviosaFlight360 accepted." It is hard to be social when you do not have any kind of clue as to who is on the other end. 

Overall, I believe Pottermore has the potential to be something really special, but it still has a lot of work to do and it really needs to get the other books involved. But if you are a Potter fan then this is a great place for you to come, learn more about the universe, have some fun and maybe make a few new online friends. 

By the way, I'm PurpleBronze180, if you want to hang.