by Cherszy (@cherszy)
Getting through Pottermore’s Magical Quill challenge is any Harry Potter fan’s early Christmas gift where a promise of an early entry into J.K. Rowling’s next great magical project awaits. 7 days, 7 questions, 7 chances to secure that VIP spot in Pottermore.
An opportunity to get a glimpse of the wizarding world and to start the magical experience before everybody else – do you think I’d miss out on that? Are you drunk? Of course I’m not missing out on that! In fact, as early as the first day, I was already typing away and torturing the left-click button on my mouse to grab that quill. Now, don’t start staring at me like that. I’m pretty sure thousand others out there were doing the same thing on that day (and the days after that). If only I know, you might be one of those thousands. Ha, don’t deny.
As the Magical Quill challenge came to a close, e-mails congratulating the chosen ones started circulating in the Muggle world.
But, what is this compared to the real Welcome e-mail?
So, they said I’d get mine between mid-August and end of September. Just imagine how I’m trying to contain my excitement – yes, that’s right, I can’t.
A week later, still no welcome e-mail. And then another week. I’m starting to think that Pottermore has forgotten all about me (hello? A young aspiring witch here? Anytime now. Pottermore?). But then, patience. Pottermore’s got too much on its hands, I said.
And then, it finally came… in a nice-looking envelope… my letter of acceptance:
Only a click away! And like a child in sight of ice cream, I hurriedly logged in to Pottermore. And then my journey as a witch began…
Being one of the firsts to gain access to Pottermore, I feel absolutely grateful and stoked for the opportunity. I am overjoyed such that you can see my grin reaching my ears. Well, not quite as you cannot see me through the computer screen. Just use your imagination, young wizard/witch.
Since I know many haven’t received their welcome e-mails yet (Pottermore hasn’t forgotten you, I’m sure) and still many others weren’t able to register during the Magical Quill challenge (and will therefore have to wait for October), I would like to give a sneak peek of what it’s like inside the world of Pottermore. Through this post, I will be sharing my thoughts on my Pottermore experience so far. After all, early entry meant giving feedback to the site before its official opening.
What are the best things about the site? Where else does Pottermore need to improve on? What more could be added? All of these will be discussed in a few more moments.
Warning: beyond this point, spoilers about the site will be revealed. If you do not wish to know what’s in store for you in Pottermore yet, please do not read on. Wait for your welcome e-mail first. If you wish to find out already what you can discover and do in Pottermore come October (or when your welcome e-mail arrives), scroll away.
It’s about time we know where you truly belong. Are you the brave Gryffindor, the hardworking Hufflepuff, the intelligent Ravenclaw, or the cunning Slytherin? Let the famous sorting hat tell you once and for all.
So, how does the sorting hat know where to place you? It can’t obviously read you as it’s not placed on your head (unless it’s telepathic enough to read your personality through the screen). Rather, where you are sorted is based on your answers to a couple of questions where your personality is supposedly reflected. Here’s a sample question:
I really like how this sorting is done (not that I am biased because I got sorted into my favorite house) as the member is given a part in the sorting itself. I mean, no one wants to be sorted randomly. Asking the member questions is probably the best way to find out where he/she belongs. Some questions though are quite funny, such as “heads or tails?”. I mean, how does that determine a person’s character? Does it mean I’m a Gryffindor if I choose heads or that I’m a Slytherin if I choose tails? Nevertheless, I guess it breaks the seriousness of the questions.
I also love the interface of the sorting process. Well, actually the whole Pottermore interface is impressive, with all the interactions and animations. It’s very professional-looking and very fun to explore. Very interesting indeed! I’ll talk more about it later.
This chapter (or moment as it is called) of the Sorting Hat is probably the most interesting and crucial to a player’s Pottermore experience. Not only do you get to realize what your real strength this – at least in Hogwarts – but it is also at this moment that you discover to which house will you be earning points for. It is here that you will know to which house does your loyalty lie – it is what every young wizard/witch in Hogwarts wants to know (am I right?). Which house will you be helping to win the precious House Cup?
As for me, I’m helping…
because the sorting hat said so.
Where have you been sorted into? Or, where would you like to be sorted?
Of course, the Hogwarts experience wouldn’t be complete without the fight for the House Cup. As members continue to be admitted and sorted, the competition continues. I’m just not too sure when the House Cup will be awarded though. As of the moment, the leading house is Ravenclaw with over 9,900 points (from its 24,700+ members). Slytherin’s in second place followed by Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. The members can actually track their house’s progress as well as see the top users’ points in the Great Hall tab of the site which looks something like this:
So, how does a player help its house earn points? The easiest way is by collecting things as you journey from one moment to another. There are a lot of items (e.g. potion ingredients, books, chocolate frog cards) scattered in each scene that you will visit as you go from one chapter to the next. Make sure to zoom in each scene, so you can find even the smallest items. For each item collected, that’s 1 house point. Keep collecting and you’ll be earning points for your house in no time!
Tip: don’t collect items yet until you get sorted in Chapter 7. You don’t get house points for collecting before you’re sorted. So, just explore chapters 1-6, but don’t collect anything (except when you’re in Diagon Alley). You can always go back to the previous chapters after you’ve been sorted, so you can still collect the items there.
Hint: for people who have early entry, we have already been allowed to explore the whole Book 1. As such, I can give you a hint on what you can collect. In order not to spoil the whole experience though, I will not list down the items here, but I’ll give you the digits. In Book 1, there are 22 objects, 15 books, 11 chocolate frog cards, and 10 ingredients to collect all in all, considering I didn’t miss anything. I suggest that you do not look up the lists for these in order for the collecting experience to be more exciting. Discover what you can find – it’s more gratifying.
Aside from collecting items, how else can you earn house points? As of now, by successfully brewing potions and by winning in wizard duels. Honestly, I think it’s a little difficult to earn house points as these are only ways by which we can.
Suggestion: I’d really like to see more opportunities for house points to be won, like for winning in wizard chess, defeating the mountain troll, completing the chocolate frog card collection, casting perfect spells, catching the golden snitch in Quidditch, flying successfully through loops with a broomstick, and certain other quests. And yes, I bet it would definitely be more fun if there are quests/missions to be completed where house points are involved.
Comment: The total house points seem to be less than the sum of the individual house points of the members of that particular house. Some members have over 4,000 points, but the total house points are at around 9,000 (which means that this corresponds to only the house points of 2-3 members). Since each house has approximately 20,000 members each, then we would expect house points to be more than 9,000. Either that or the individual house points are wrong. Besides, how is it possible to get 4,000+ house points? Hope Pottermore fixes this problem soon.
Overall though, I found earning house points exciting. I just hope there could be more opportunities to earn point, so there’ll be more motivation and interaction. But, at the end of it all, I’d just really love to see my house win the House Cup and hopefully, I get to be part of the top players.
What wizard or witch would anyone be without his/her own wand? So, head on to Ollivander’s Wand Shop to find the wand that suits you best. Like the sorting hat, the wand chooses you by way of a series of questions (which again, should reflect your personality). Here’s a sample question:
Wands have four key features: length, flexibility, core, and wood. Lengths usually are between 9 and 14 inches. Wand cores have three types: unicorn (produces the most consistent but not the most powerful magic), dragon (produces the most powerful and flamboyant magic), and phoenix feather (has the greatest range of magic). As for the wood, there are 38 types, each with its own unique characteristics – I’ll leave you to figure out what the wood of your wand has to offer you.
This part of Pottermore is one of my favorites because it officially sets me as a witch, like this is the moment where I can say that I’m now officially a Hogwarts student and a witch in Pottermore. And I love how the wand selection is done. I think the questions are appropriate and very interesting. At the end of it all, I don’t think it matters what wand chooses us because every combination of the four features/elements is simply awesome. Every wand carries a particular character. But what makes this part particularly interesting is that there’s an explanation to each of the features, like how does this particular core influence magic and how does this type of wood affect the wand, etc.
What I got was a 12.5-inch wand with a unicorn core and made of yew wood and I love it:
What about you? What kind of wand would you like to be given to you?
Aside from a wand to keep you company in your magical journey, you are also entitled to a pet which you will get to purchase from Eeylop’s Owl Emporium as you shop in Diagon Alley in Chapter 5. Like Harry, you can get your own Hedwig. Or like Neville, you will now have the chance to possess your very own Trevor.
Are you going to get an owl, a cat, or a toad? Choose carefully among the different breeds as you can’t change your pet any longer. Whichever you pick though will not have a bearing on house points or anything. It will simply be your profile picture in Pottermore. So basically, your profile picture will be your pet’s face and the background is the color of your house.
My pet’s a Screechy Owl. Why did I pick that? Well, it’s kind of fierce-looking, so yeah. It’s cool that way.
Suggestion: I’d love to see the pets play a role in our journey through Pottermore. Maybe help us send our messages to our friends in Pottermore? Or, bring us bonus prizes every week, like Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans?
So, have you thought about which pet you’re getting?
Yes, that’s right! We get to brew potions in Pottermore – how cool is that? And what’s cooler is that each successful brewing gets us house points. Yeah! Too bad it’s just 5 points. I mean, it would be better if potions that are more difficult to brew or which require more expensive ingredients can score us more house points. For the effort, right?
Finally, after those years of watching the young wizards and their professors brew magical liquids in their cauldrons, we can do potion making ourselves. Just make sure to strictly follow the recipes in the potion book. Else, you’ll suffer the consequences of losing house points and galleons for melting your cauldron – that’s 5 house points, young wizard.
There are some cases though that even if you fail to brew your potion, you get to earn 1 house point for effort. But, I’ll suggest you brew your potions well for the house points and so you don’t just waste your ingredients and your galleons for nothing.
Brewing potions in Pottermore is not simply a 5-minute project. You have to crush the ingredients, boil the contents of the cauldron, wave your wand, and wait for your potion to be completed in at least 1 hour. Yes, that long! The Wideye or Awakening Potion, for example, takes 95 minutes to finish brewing while the Cure for Boils takes about 80 minutes to be completed. You do not need to monitor it during the 1-hour period, but you’ll have to make sure you can come back for it after the brewing is over. If you don’t, your potion will be discarded and you’ll lose house points. If I’m not mistaken, that’ll also cost you 5 house points – ouch!
After you’ve successfully brewed your potions, you can either keep it or send it as a gift to your friend (aww…).
Available potions for brewing: Antidote to Common Poisons, Cure for Boils, Forgetfulness Potion, Herbicide, Sleeping Draught, and Wideye or Awakening Potion
Comment: Brewing potions has been found to have a glitch. There have been reports of not being able to brew a potion well because after following the recipe given in the potion book, the brewing process simply stops and returns to the starting point again (i.e. no ingredient has been added) despite the fact that the user was notified of the start of the brewing process.
I have only been part of a duel once, but from my experience, it wasn’t that fulfilling. Not much excitement here although I do see a lot of potential for this feature. What basically happens in here is that you cast a spell, and your rival casts the same spell. Whoever gets a higher spell potency (accuracy) wins and earns 5 house points. As I’ve said, there’s not much. There aren’t even special effects at play here. That’s basically my issue with casting spells. Instead of waving the wand and throwing a full force magic spell with red and blue electric-like waves at the other party, the spell casting only involves a couple of letters from the spell and what you do is you type the letter and when the circle of light that appears around that letter grows to its biggest, you type the letter again. Some line of light then goes from that letter to another letter, and you have to type the letter as soon as the line of light hits this letter. Then, you type it again when the circle of light is at its largest loop. The chain just keeps on going until the last letter is typed in. Sounds pretty simple, huh?
Well, it kinda is. But at the same time, it’s pretty boring. Sadly.
Suggestion: More action would be better. I would really like to see flames and avatars dodging and waving wands in the arena during the duel. There can be like an energy bar for each party which decreases with each spell inflicted on the avatar. We’ll choose the spells the avatar will cast, and we can use the keyboard or mouse to move the avatar around, dodging spells in the process. I feel like that would be more exciting. Also, our knowledge and skill of the spells can increase with practice (how does the idea of leveling up sound?).
Comment: Okay, honestly, I have no idea how I got into the duel because if you click on the tab, the message says that it’s still under maintenance or something. Someone just challenged me and the next thing I know, we’re already dueling. And then, I never got to duel again.
Pottermore is not all about the users; it’s also about the books and the stories themselves. The whole point of Pottermore is not about replacing Facebook or Twitter, but it’s about reliving the moments of Harry Potter even after the hype about the movies and the books. As such, more than the spell casting, the sorting process, the potion making, and the wizard duels, Pottermore offers us the opportunity to get to know more of the characters we’ve learned to love over the decade as well as the objects, places, books, curses, spells, and other items that have been part of the novels. And, as a bonus, Pottermore also includes information on some of the things that J.K. Rowling did not reveal in any of the books, such as the Ghost Plots. I absolutely love these little things that one can access at the sidebar of each scene. It makes the Pottermore experience more personal and mysterious (at some point).
With these great profiles and additions, aren’t you more excited to enter Pottermore now?
Of course, since you will be a part of Pottermore, you will have your own profile as well where your performance and progress on the site is tracked. In your profile page (accessed by clicking the logo of your house located in the middle of the header), you’ll find the number of points you’ve earned, your wand, your trunk items, your friends, your favourites, your drawings, potions, and spells.
Comment: My friend experienced a problem with her profile where she can’t access it anymore after a week of playing. Whenever she clicks on it, a message about an invisibility cloak masking her profile appears (side note: Hmm, invisibility cloak, and yet she can see the cloak covering the page). That’s really unfortunate. So much for early entry.
You can also track you and your friends’ progress through the Gateway. Here, you will be able to know which chapter you’re in and which chapters your friends are exploring.
Even at this “trial” stage, Pottermore is already so much fun.
Some of the other things that you can do: make friends from different houses, give them gifts, buy from the shops in Diagon Alley, open a bank account in Gringotts, make comments after each chapter and for each item and character, and submit your drawings.
The animations are fascinating where one is allowed to be immersed in the different notable scenes from each chapter of the book. I just wish that there are sounds to accompany these wonderful animations in order for the experience to be fuller. The graphics are praiseworthy as well. I love the details and the whole layout of the various sections of the site.
I’m really enjoying my Pottermore experience so far although I would want more interaction, like maybe talking to the different characters that appear in different scenes, like ask questions about their characters. Instead of probably reading everything from the character profiles, I think dialogues with the characters would be a great way to get to know them more. Hearing the characters’ voices would make the experience more
Some more suggestions: In addition to those above, I’d also like to play Quidditch and fight with Fluffy, the mountain troll, and other creatures. I’d also like to see moving staircases and hear talking portraits. Being able to send friends messages would also be a cool addition. But, basically, more interaction, action, and some music/sounds around the site would be lovely. I’m sure by the time the site officially opens in October, there are much more features that will be added and be made available to its users, including the “interactive reading”.
Nonetheless, Pottermore is great as it is! And I can’t wait to move on to the next book! On to the rest of my journey as a witch then. Hope to meet you along the way, and good luck with your own journeys in Pottermore!
By the way, my username is HazelSilver142. So add me if you like. I’d be happy to make some more friends. See you around Pottermore! :)
*I’d just like to say hi to my newfound friends in Pottermore: CentaurSun62 (Gryffindor), QueenWing188 (Gryffindor), SilverAsh68 (Ravenclaw), SkyScarlet111 (Gryffindor), StormChestnut89 (Gryffindor), and UnicornMarauder135 (Hufflepuff). [Slytherin friends, anyone?] And thank you to QueenWing188 for sending me a postcard from London.
What do you think of Pottermore? How excited are you to enter? What do you expect to find and do in the site? Share your thoughts!