I somehow lucked out on hitting the site when one of the Magical Quill qualifying rounds opened. This method involved having the hopeful answer a trivia question and then head to another webpage to find the magical quill. Click on it in time and you’re in!
I finally got my welcome letter Friday night and headed on over as soon as I could. At first, I was unimpressed. The extra content and story summary was interesting, but what was there to do? Then, after reading comments, I realized that I was missing a TON of content because the site uses a lot of Flash. (Oh, Apple. Get over it with the Flash issue, already!)
So off I go to my PC. WAY more fun! There are things to click on and collect. There are tasks to undertake. And the extras written by J.K. Rowling were way easier to find. (Macolytes, you can get to them in the early chapters without doing anything.) I figured I’d get back to it in earnest on Sunday.
And that’s when the servers hit max capacity. Through many repeat attempts very early this morning (U.S. East Coast), I finally managed to work my way through each chapter so I could get my school supplies, get my wand and (hooray!) get sorted. (Go Ravenclaw!) Being satisfied with landing there, for now, I thought I’d capture my thoughts on the experience to this point.
- Server Capacity – The site has been at maximum capacity for days. More often than not, you get the “come back soon” page. Or if you do get on, you’ll inevitably start to hang, at some point, and not go any further. Granted, I don’t know a thing about how to bring up a server farm, but wouldn’t you want all of them up during your beta test so you can ease them up to full stress? Are they already up and this is as well as it’s going? Either way, they’re only at a million users. What’s going to happen when the whole, wide Harry Potter world tries to get in next month? (Plus, it’s Sony. Don’t they already know how to manage larger server capacity?)
- Silence – This might be due to the server issues, but there is no sound. It’s kinda creepy, really. You’d think there’d at least be some music when you log on. Sound effects when you find things would also be fun.
- Navigation – It took me longer than it should to figure out how to get around. Plus, for things like the shops, why do I have to click on each individual thing, go to another pop-up to buy it and then go back again? If you could click on the individual item to get more content, it might be worth it. But not if it does nothing else.
- Extra content from J.K. Rowling – The extra content Jo Rowling provides for each chapter is fascinating. This woman thought of everything! The one I’ve enjoyed the most, so far, is the story of McGonnagal. Didn’t she have an interesting childhood!
- The Artwork – As one would hope, the artwork is really cute. It seems like a nice mix between the US style and the UK style. If you’re in Flash, it comes in and out of focus. Really nice.
- Wanding and Sorting – It’s very clever how they select your wand and sort you into your house. You get to answer questions, but in a more interesting way than your average LiveJournal quiz. Before you get sorted, Jo Rowling herself reminds you to choose carefully.
If they can get the server issues calmed down, this site will be a fun diversion and an interesting way to explore the books more deeply. (Although I’d love to see all of this in an annotated version of the printed books!) No matter how good the servers are, there is no way any reasonable person can expect they’ll survive the grand opening when it launches. But everyday operation really needs to come up to make this less frustrating and more fun.