Sunday, 27 November 2011

Pottermore: The Beginning

After many months of dancing around it, I have finally begun my dissection of the much anticipated Pottermore. J.K. Rowling's grand follow up to her titanic Harrence Parrence series was always going to be enormous, but who could have predicted it's final home would be the internet experience that is now in beta.

So here it is the (entirely unanticipated) breakdown of my Pottermore experience.

First Impressions
I was not instantly wowed by the front page. The swirled lines and icons are nice, but generally I don't feel the best is being made of the space. However, as I progressed through the chapters and unlocked each new feature the gateway became even more intuitive. I suppose it's more likely that I got used to the layout.

I also find the colour a little dull. Yet the symbols for each book are quite nice.

Personalisation Features
Ollivander is always pleased to see you again
As you move through the plot of the first book you find yourself getting to make the same decisions as Harry in finding your wand, choosing your familiar and being sorted into one of the four houses. Here is a point where Pottermore really shines. Instead of the usual forced four-answer quizzes, the questionnaires to personalise your house and wand are quirky, interesting and truly inspired. On a personal note, Ravenclaw was always the last house I thought I'd be put in; so you can imagine my surprise when...

Houses and House Points
The background art never fails to impress me
So off I pop to do all I can for my new found housemates. There are various mini-games and surprises designed to earn elusive house points. The easiest is to just read through the books as beautifully re-illustrated on the site - anything you find, pick up and read can potentially earn you points. This encourages you to interact with everything.
The potion brewing mechanic is the most consistent (and enjoyable) when it comes to winning house points. There was once a duelling mechanic but lord knows where that's gone. Nevertheless, the thought behind potion brewing is really fun and quite exciting. 

Love that the background informs a less known house
As far as I can tell there is currently no discernible differences between each of the houses. You get a lovely welcome message, more facts about your house and a sexy common room background, but not a lot else. I would love a chance to fully explore my house common room; currently all I can see is a Facebook wall style set-up and penchant for blue.

This is where the houses fall apart slightly for me. I can see what people would get out of interacting with Griffindor and Slytherin (the two 'main character' houses), but in the books Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were always a little bland, following the other houses about depending on whether Harry was a hero or a whining angst monkey. Therefore, how the houses will develop as we are still seeing the books through Harry's eyes remains to be seen.

Hmmm... well if you say so

Moderation (addition)
Just as I uploaded this blog post, I received a curious message from the 'moderation team'. I had been struggling with posting in the common room. Sometimes it is easy to post a quick message to fellow Ravenclaws, but sometimes, no matter how many changes I make my post become 'under moderation'. I assumed this to mean 'lost in the ether of the internet'.  However, I was later sent a PM indicating that my post had been 'approved'. This approval system is inconsistent and entirely without reason, breaking the flow of common room interactions. This to me seems the biggest problem with Pottermore.

Overall, I am very impressed with Pottermore. I am greatly looking forward to the next book and further unlockable features.
To come: The Potion Brewers Guide & Early Tastes of Spell Casting.

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