I must confess, I am a Harry Potter fan and as such I have a Pottermore account. I am in Ravenclaw and my wand is Pine, Phoenix Feather, 14 1/2 inches, Supple and as I write this right now I have accumulated 394 house points. As for who I am on Pottermore, I will not say since I have no desire to get bombarded with friend requests.
For those without a Pottermore account, Pottermore is an interactive site where people can become students of Hogwarts, get a wand and get sorted into a house while going through the chapters to unlock info about the series not in the books. An interactive Encyclopedia or sorts. As it stands only Philosopher’s Stone and the first 4 chapters of Chamber of Secrets is open.
While exploring each chapter you also gain items, books, potion ingredients, badges, and Harry Potter universe info. Outside of the chapters, you have your character interface in which you can go to Diagon Alley which connects to Gringotts Bank and Diagon Alley South. This is used to purchase schools books, supplies, and what not that are used in the Harry Potter universe. Next, is the Great Hall where you can leave comments for all students regardless of house can view and respond; and also view the house point totals to see which house is winning and which are not and the top point earners from each house. From there you have the Common Room which is the same as the Great Hall but only viewable by members of your house where you leave comments, see who are the top point earners of your house and see the recent actions by other members that resulted in the house gaining points.
From there is spells where you can practice spell casting and if one is confident enough play wizard dueling for house points. You have potions next to that which allow you to practice potion making or attempt to make potions for points, this is where the ingredient gathering from the chapters and Apothecary in Diagon Alley comes in.
Then you have the trunk which holds all of the chocolate frog cards, books, and miscellaneous items that you have found or received from other players go. Next to that is Friends where you can view who has befriended you, while giving you the options of sending them items or removing them from the friend list.
From there you have Favorites, which is material you have placed as your favorite from exploring the chapters such as characters, places, and objects.
Under that is a chapter bar which shows you where you left off in the exploration, then your wand description, student name and total points, and notifications for friend requests, potion brewing, duel requests, or the rare update from those who run the site.
Finally under that is your profile which allows access to Badges, Friends,Potions, Spells, Trunk, Favorites, and Drawings in-which you can submit to the site for showing to other members, remember, has to be appropriate and Harry Potter related so no Dumbledore/Snape Yaoi pics.
Generally I like the site. I love the new info like on the Malfoy family, wizard dueling, and potions.
Lets now analyze parts of the site.
When you join this site you will be given a choice of three randomly preselected names. You cannot have it regenerate new ones and you can not create custom names. I will say that most of the names will suck. I had to delete my account before even starting the chapters many times because the name choices sucked. I understand that you want to protect youngsters and all but at least allow us to refresh the list selectable user names if what is given is not desired.
In the first book, once you complete your shopping list, you will be asked to go to Olivander’s to get your wand. This is done by having answer a questionnaire. They will be Height, Eye Color, Even or Odd Birthday, Trait Valued, Where you Journey, Fear, and which item would you pick. With my first time around, I got English Oak, Unicorn, 14 1/2 and I forgot the bendiness. This wood’s description is why I closed my first account and started all over until I got one that matched my personality. While I liked the association with nature, I hated that it said I was loyal and all that friendly stuff. Its a wand wood for those with or those who desire friends in my opinion and I crave very little human interaction. I think the problem lies in what the choices mean to me and what they mean to Pottermore. The choice of woods represented isolation and rejection of modern society to me. The Castle represented to me station, rank, money, and social interaction, the sea the same with woods until I learn it results in Sycamore and think it represents adventure and discovery akin to the Age of Discovery/Exploration where Christoper Columbus and many voyagers destroyed the myth of the Earth being flat.
So I searched around the net for someone who can break down these questions, I found this site. This site was collecting data on sortings and wand pairings and I was to see what my choices were. I choose Pine.
Rather than choose imagination, I choose Reliance. This represented the hard skin I had to develop through out my life as I had to deal with my class mates, bullies, and stupid older people. I choose Castle next, this being that while a Castle is full of people it can be big enough that you can find places of solicitude, just like how did public school and now college. Castles like the natural world can hold many secrets and can be places of knowledge such as having a library. Rather than choose a fear of heights I choose darkness because I find myself more scared of dreams that involve night time or darkness than the ones that involve me flying. I choose tall because as I child and in my teenage years I was usually taller than my former classmates. I choose the scroll because it could hold lost information and choose dark brown for eye color with my birthday being on an odd date. So I ended up with Pine, Phoenix Feather 14 1/12, Supple.
This is where you get sorted into your house. My policy on sorting was different that I would accept the first sorting no matter what and if I decided to start all over would aim for that house for now on. The questions I received are on the site I linked earlier under the name Umitencho but I got Ravenclaw. However, be warned that unlike the wand questions which were the same no matter what, there are you will get 7 out of 27 possible questions and an additional question in case of an housetall.
Basically you pick a house to challenge where you are paired randomly with a player of that house. You pick a spell and the aim is to cast it as perfect as possible, doing so results in a high score. The player with the highest score wins. Spell casting works like a timed pressing game. Certain letters of the spell’s name pops up and you have to press them twice the moment a white wisp like cursor hits the letter. You can use your mouse or keyboard. Failure to complete the casting results in a low score and hitting the letter when the wisp is outside of the it also reduces the score. Each spell has a pattern, speed, and a highest score possible onto them and winning results in 5 house points. Sort of like Elite Beat Agents for the DS.
I like dueling but it is broken. As it stands the Full Body Bind spell is the best spell in the game. It has a potential yield of 145 but is of medium difficulty in terms of speed and pattern. This isn’t fair to those who have mastered the pattern and speed of harder spells such as the Jelly Legs or Tongue Tying spells which are only capable of 135 and 140 respectively.
This should be reworked into one of two options:
- All spells should have the same potential score output. This allows for people to choose their spells on preference and favorites, allowing for some of their personality to come through. Personally, I like the Fire Making Spell.
- Score output should be determined by pattern and speed diffulclity. That means those who try the harder spells are rewarded more for completing these spells than they would for casting something like Fire Making or Pimple Jinx.
Either way as it stands Wizard Dueling is monotone with everyone shooting Full Body Bind at each other.
While some spells are reserved for dueling, some are not used at all because they are not open for use. While you use the Unlocking Spell once in the Chapters that is it. I would prefer if there were more spell use in the chapters, and maybe a Spell Mini-game. In it you have to cast three spells correct or with a certain point score to win. Maybe a quiz where you answer by casting the correct spell. Maybe reward up to 3 points for this game. Allow for only limited use per day to reduce abuse.
Potion making in Pottermore is more interactive than Spell Casting. When you choose to brew a potion you have the choice of one of three Cauldron types, you have Pewter initially but you can buy Brass and Copper from Potage’s Cauldron Shop in Diagon Alley. This affects how long it takes to brew your potion. Pewter is the slowest, Brass is faster, and Copper is the fastest.
You then choose a potion to brew and based on whether or not you have all the ingredients required, some may not be on the list.
Once you choose, you go to the making phase. You get a pestle and mortar on left, cauldron and its heater in the middle, ingredients on right in the from with the book with the instructions in the back with your wand being furthest right. From these you make the potion. Click the book if you don’t know what to do next and if you fulfill a task, it will be scratched out, be warned the heating instructions will be scratched out the moment you start the heating so its not a reliable measure if you have done it right, use the meter and timer that are provided when the heating is started.
There are two types of ingredients. Dry and wet. Dry means you just pick up the ingredient and put it in its proper place with each placement equal to one measure. Wet ingredients have you picking up the whole bottle where you must carefully pour correct amount. A number will appear to show you how much is poured so far.
You may have to crush your ingredients before putting them in the cauldron. This is what mortar and pestle is for. Click the pestle repeatedly to crush until the meter turns green or is between the brackets. Stirring is one of the hardest actions in the process and can kill your time. Oh yeah, you have to make your potion before the hour glass runs out or it fails. My advice, for clockwise act as if you are drawing a circle going right to left and vice versa for counter clock wise. Once that is all done, click the wand and see if you did the potion correctly so far. That is right your not done. If you do it correctly you will be moved on to the next phase, brewing where you have to wait a certain amount of time to complete the potion. Once the wait is over which can be fill by taking a nap, reading, or youtubing, you come into the final phase where you do the final set of ingredient crushing and adding, stirring, and heating, before you click the wand again to see if the potion was made correctly. If done correctly you get points and the potion is sent to your collection, do it wrong and well no points or -5 points if you blew up your cauldron from over heating and you can just try again. The points rewarded vary by potion but it ranges from 3 to 11.
Personally, I blew up a cauldron accidentally out of anger when I released I messed up on a Sleeping Draught. I got the wrong impression that exploding cauldrons were removed from the site when it went public this year. Boy was I wrong. If you blow up your cauldron, its is destroyed and you must return to Diagon Alley to purchase another one.
I have reached my personal quota of 3 of each potion but you can make more or less if you want to. Another good thing is that some ingredients respawn but only after your stock of that ingredients is 0. Simply go back in the chapter and moment where you found it and it should be at the same place for collecting. It is a good way to save Galleons since there is currently no way to make in-game money on Pottermore other than the one time collecting of Galleons through out the chapters and the allowance given once at the Diagon Alley chapters of each book. To see where the ingredients respawn, I recommend this site.
As it currently stand I have only one complaint with Potions. They are useless after being made. It basically turns into data hoarding since all you can do with them is gift them to others or keep them. Here is an idea, allow students to give them to Snape for Galleons or sell them to the Diagon Alley shops. Maybe depending on which shop you sell them to and what potion you sell them the amount of Galleons vary. However, the amount received should be equal to or greater than the costs of the ingredients that make up the potion.
This is what the players at Pottermore are aiming for, working together to get their house win the most house points and therefore win the house cup. Of course as I have learned we have cheaters. Its seems for dueling some players of using bots to get the perfect score and rack up points all day while they do something else. The punishment for this so far is having your points cut in half. Then there is those creating what I call sabotage or sympathizer accounts. These are people who create accounts to join a specific house to sabotage it. They will lose in wizard dueling on purpose and blow up their cauldrons to remove points from that house.
These simply are the items that go into your trunk. They include books, chocolate frog cards, and other items. My gripe with this is that many of these items only serve as data hoarding, giving you a one time house point and nothing else. For example, the seaweed does not have a purpose but I would prefer for it to become a potion ingredient. As it stands only the hairpin had a one time purpose of unlocking a locked closet in the Dursley’s house. That is what they should be used for, unlocking stuff or areas previously not reachable. While I don’t expect for them to give us full access to the information in any of the books, the chocolate frog cards should have more info on the wizard such as birthday and death(if applicable), house sorted and wand specifics, this could go a long way into helping people come terms to what wand and house they were given.
While its nice to win the house cup, I think there should be sub awards. The house cup covers the overall points. There should be a Dueling House Cup for the house with the most points in dueling and something similar for potions.
Two things not on Pottermore I think may come in the future or should:
Hogsmeade: I believe when Prisoner of Azkaban comes out we will be given access to Hogsmeade. Potter fans know this as a small little village near Hogwarts where starting in your third year, you may go to. In the top interface there is a locked tag. I believe this is where it will go.
Patronus: Another feature that I think that will unlock in Prisoner of Azkaban. The Patronus charm is a protection spell against Dementors, dark creatures that feed on happiness. I think perhaps there will be another quiz, maybe one dealing with what makes you happy that will decide what creature or near human that will act as the form of your patronus.
Features that should also be added but unlikely:
Animagus: Similar to patronus, a questionnaire to decide what creature our wizards can turn into. Animagus are wizards that can turn into a specific animal.