#WaddleOn

Thank you, and waddle on…

Hi everyone,

Even now, it seems a little surreal since we’ve been here many times before: when classic Club Penguin closed in March 2017, Club Penguin Rewritten in February 2018, then Club Penguin Island in December 2018, and when Disney issued takedown notices in May 2020. It’s difficult to accept that this truly is the end of an incredible journey – and even though there may be other smaller servers still out there, I’m afraid to confirm that it marks the end of my journey.

This will be the final post on Club Penguin Mountains, and I’m not exactly sure how to write it. I’ve never really quite put it like this before. Over the last couple of years, there have been less than a handful of active Club Penguin blogs, and even fewer which are still running today. So it’s strange to imagine that when I first signed up to the game back in 2010, there were – literally – thousands and thousands of them. I still have fond memories from back then, from purchasing my first membership at the local ToysRUs to reading the Shadow Guy comic book on the plane when I moved to South Africa for four years. Given that so many people have been sharing their Club Penguin story over the last few days, I wanted to take a final opportunity to reflect very briefly on the journey of this blog one last time.

My involvement in the community really began with the Penguin Lodge chat, which I’m sure some people will have memories of. Penguin Lodge was a “cheating site”, as it was called back then, but it had a thriving community. The IRC chat was effectively the precursor to services like Discord, and it was the first time that I was really able to connect with people about Club Penguin outside the game. It was where I spent much of my time, and I still remember the night in December where I was hired as a moderator for that chat – that was a big deal back then! But it was really through that chat where I saw people creating their own Club Penguin blogs, and I was inspired to do so myself.

With so many blogs already existing, it would perhaps seem odd that I chose to make my own – creatively named “Club Penguin Torres 126” – in September 2013. I had no experience other than trying to work on a similar blog with a friend for a month or so earlier, but I loved it. There was something extraordinary about the idea of being able to upload content online, even if only a handful of people read it. Strangely, I think that feeling remains as strong today as it did back then. I remember returning home from school, excited to see my site’s Dashboard. The one thing which still amazes me about those times is just how young we all were. Much to my embarrassment, all those posts are available to read on this blog today – and they’re not exactly sophisticated! I hope the fact that I was nine years old will make that explainable, but most of us in the community were young – too young, perhaps. It almost certainly wouldn’t be possible today, not with the clampdown on underage accounts coming with the British government’s online safety reforms. But looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Look how young!

I suppose that the next development came in November 2013, where I joined the Club Penguin community on Twitter. I think that my first tweet was embarrassingly asking to be added by Tommy 234 56, a “famous” blogger at the time. But signing up brought with it a wider community, all connected by Club Penguin. I don’t think that I can explain the magic of waking up at 6am during a school holiday, scrolling through overnight tweets as the community woke up (back then, it was common to tweet “good morning” without fail!) while working on this little blog. Every blogger back then had so much pride in what they published, from the little widgets on the side of the blog to the many different pages which people wrote – and I was certainly no exception. Those pages and posts may have been poor quality, but I remember having so much fun writing them. In many ways, 2013 was a golden year filled with beautiful parties and exciting updates.

In early 2014, “Club Penguin Torres 126” became “Club Penguin Mountains”, although a two-year hiatus meant that nobody initially knew that. Incidentally, I still vaguely remember the night where I came up with that name – again, only ten years old, but it’s amazing how recognisable it would subsequently become. After that hiatus, from 2016, I began posting again; it was during that year where people kept holding hope for “#ProjectSuperSecret”, which would later become Club Penguin Island, but many felt the game had already started to lose its charm. It was probably a combination of the increasingly irregular updates, a perceived disconnect with the team, and skepticism for the unknown project. In retrospect, I think that we – as a community – were probably a bit too harsh. The team were played a difficult hand, and one not made easier by the closing of global Club Penguin offices a year earlier, although I still question the wisdom of many decisions taken back then.

And so, as we approached 2017, Club Penguin Island came along. The disappointing response to it has already been well-documented, though I still find it unfortunate how it ended at a point where there was genuine potential for the game. Needless to say, my blog posts about it didn’t last particularly long, and the venture to Club Penguin Rewritten soon began. Over the last nine years, I’ve blogged at some point about six different games, albeit for varying lengths: Club Penguin, Club Penguin Island, Club Penguin Rewritten, SuperCPPS, Vintage Penguin, and Pengur. Each brought its own joys and challenges, but it’s been wonderful to see the community continue for so long, even after the official franchise closed.

Although this will be the final post, the 3768 previous ones have contained altogether just under 600K words. I’m not sure it’s possible to explain how a Club Penguin blog can contain so many; my teachers have sometimes asked what I actually write about. I’ve never been be particularly it explain well, and I’m not sure that I could now! Writing up party guides, putting together catalog secrets, tracking mascots…they might all seem slightly odd individually, but altogether, it’s been an incredible experience.

Being in this community has shown me much of human nature’s best, and a fair amount of its worst too. Like much of society, there’s a sad story to be told about antagonism and greed – one only displayed too clearly by Disney’s latest actions, and some of the responses to it. There will inevitably always be some bitterness about the way events have unfolded, and it’s undoubtedly painful to see Disney so viciously defend the intellectual property of a brand which they were only too happy to relinquish. I want to put on record my horror at seeing private servers being effectively treated as criminal enterprises. Beyond Disney, it’s made clear the capacity of human nature for cruelty, from those that seek to sow division to the hackers and crooks that have sadly disguised themselves in our community for too long. There have been some strange characters over the years! I have no doubt that it has also exposed some of my own frailties too.

But running this blog has also given me the huge privilege of seeing how a virtual world can mean so much to so many, and how people really can brighten others’ lives. I’ve always been pretty open about my attachment to Club Penguin, including in real life, and there can sometimes be a tendency to disregard it as “childish” or “just another game”. Many of us will know both of those things to be false, and it’s been moving to see all the comments over the last few days proving that by providing stories of how Club Penguin really has shaped so many lives. It’s tempting to go through the most memorable parties – from the thrill of EPF operations to the cheer of the Holiday Party – but for me, it’s much more than that: the last few years have been strange, especially during the pandemic and successive lockdowns. Club Penguin was a source of connection, even for people who had never met before, and I hope that’s helped bring even a little bit of comfort for you when you’ve most needed it.

Like all islands, I’ve learnt that being a virtual one hasn’t exempt Club Penguin from its own politics and history. I’m sure that people will have their own judgements about the debates of past, from the seemingly never-ending disputes about “takeovers” that dominated Spike Hike’s tenure as General Manager to the decisions behind Project Super Secret. It’s funny how irrelevant and distant those seem now. I still hope that the history of Club Penguin will one day be pieced together in its entirety; though much of it has been scattered online, it’s an incredible story that deserves to be told. Some of it has been (see the New Horizons documentary below!), but not so much with the later years. I’ll always try to keep Club Penguin Mountains available to read in order to serve as an archive for that reason, or even for if you just wish to have a wistful browse of old posts one day in the future. There’s very few online communities that can truly display the proud history which this one can, with such a remarkable story, and I hope that history will always be available to find online.

No farewell post would be complete without five important messages of thanks, so I hope you’ll bear with me. Firstly, to the many wonderful friends who I’ve met over the last nine years – I’m not sure where I’d be without you. Many of those friends have come and gone, and I’m still extremely curious about where the people who I knew all those years ago are now; there are names of friends like “Pinkypink363” or “euston” which I still recall, without a clue of what’s happened to them. As an only child, I’ve spent incalculable amounts of my time with online friends – and I’m extremely fortunate to still have some truly amazing friends, and to have some lovely shared memories to smile back on.

Secondly, to the incredible people and teams who have made the Club Penguin experience possible. That includes everyone who worked on the original game, from those in Support who put up with my incredibly annoying emails when I was younger (!) to the countless people needed to make the content which we all enjoyed. I still have a card on my wall filled with the signatures of the team in Kelowna, and it never fails to remind me how much the team went above and beyond anything they were ever paid for. There are very few other Support teams out there who would try to actively create a conversation with those emailing them. If you have a couple of minutes and haven’t seen it already, this Ted Talk by Lane Merrifield (Billybob) will not fail in conveying just how incredible those folks were.

That thanks extends to those who worked to ensure we could continue our experience, even after the Club Penguin franchise officially ended – we may have had our disputes, but your dedication and commitment has always been commendable.

Thirdly, while I’ve been the sole blogger on Club Penguin Mountains for well over half a decade, there were several who worked alongside me when I was just starting out. The two who really come to mind are Nathan76877 and C0mputerguy, but I’m grateful to all of you for your assistance – wherever you are now. That thanks definitely extends to the people who have helped update the Mascot Trackers over the last year, whose help have all been invaluable – both to me and the community.

Fourthly, perhaps the people who are most overlooked by bloggers, to the incredible WordPress team behind the software which powers this blog and literally thousands of Club Penguin blogs in the past. I’ve had the privilege of coding alongside some of them over the last few years, and they truly are the unsung heroes of the Club Penguin blogging community. There’s something incredible about the fact that I could launch a blog at the age of nine with barely no digital experience, and the people who made that possible aren’t given nearly enough credit.

Lastly, to you. The stats tell me that 1.79 million people have viewed this blog in over 175 regions, with over 16.4 million views. It’s impossible to compute those statistics, but I want to thank you. The fact that you’ve chosen to spend your time reading this blog is such an incredible privilege that I have been deeply touched by. It sometimes feels a little surreal that people would choose to read the random and silly things which I write online! I hope that you’ve enjoyed doing so, whether you’ve found this blog helpful for something related to in-game content or just checked it routinely to see what’s going on. I will miss blogging greatly. From reading all your comments, tweets and emails to figuring out the updates so I can share them with you, it’s been a bit of a routine that losing will take some time getting used to! I’ll the miss small things too, like writing a post at the turn of the New Year or packaging merchandise for giveaways. But I’m always acutely conscious that none of this would have ever been possible without the incredible support of the community, and for that, I am more grateful than you may ever know – or may even believe.

If you are hoping to continue your Club Penguin journey on different servers, I hope that you’ll consider the safety tips which have been on the sidebar for a while. I wrote them almost half a decade ago, but they are as relevant now as they were then:

  1. Always use a different password for each of the accounts you own
  2. Consider having an email that does not give away personal information and use that to sign up on different servers
  3. Ensure you are on the correct URL/website of the game which you want to play
  4. Avoid servers which are run by a bad team

For me, although this marks the end of my journey with Club Penguin blogging, I’ve been really fortunate to have learnt so much from this experience. I’m not naive enough to think that any of my future projects or works will ever gain nearly as much attention as this blog, but it has taught me much from writing to coding; the other website which I created, the Latin Vocabulary Tester, simply would never have been possible without the skills that I picked up on this journey. The next month will see me attempt some challenging public exams, but if all goes well, I’ll hopefully be going to university to study Politics and International Relations later in the year. I’m still not sure at all what I hope to do in life, but I’d like to think that the things which I’ve learnt on this journey will make them easier. I’m sad that Club Penguin won’t still be the constant throughout any future experience, given that it’s been there throughout when I’ve switched schools and even countries, but it’s provided me the opportunity to learn and try so many wonderful things.

The one other thing which I’d like to say is that, although this marks the end of new posts on this blog, I will always try to be around. Please always feel free to reach out, whether that be through the comments section below (I’ll keep notifications on for this blog!) or through sending a message via email or Twitter. I hope that I’ve been accessible throughout, and I’d like to continue to be. And just in case there ever will be a new post published here – perhaps a personal update every now and then – feel free to subscribe via email as well.

Join 11,561 other subscribers.

I don’t think it’ll ever be possible to truly convey the magic of Club Penguin: the sheer joy of logging on for a new update when you were younger and being greeted by a beautiful soundtrack; the memories of meet-ups with mascots and moderators, scrambling to receive a postcard in the frenzy; the anticipation and excitement for an event as sneak peeks were released. Club Penguin is special. The countless articles about the game’s closure shows that the world knows it. In the bottom of our hearts, we know it too. We are the greatest community online.

So it has been a privilege and an honour to have played a small part in that magical story. There probably is no perfect way to finish this, but I’m going to end with the quote that appeared when the Iceberg tipped for the first time at the Waddle On Party back in 2017. I think that it encapsulates everything that was so special about Club Penguin: the tangible difference made by Coins for Change which funded 50+ schools and 40+ libraries, the iconic backstory behind tipping the Iceberg, and the community that formed when so many doubted the project all those years ago.

Together we can build a community, change the world…and even tip an Iceberg. Waddle on.

I’ve been truly very blessed to have had the most phenomenal audience, and I wish every single one of you the best, long into the future. I hope that you’ll fulfil your dreams and ambitions, no matter how big or how small, and maybe – just maybe – this little snowy world may play a small part in helping you do so. Above all, I hope the future ahead will be filled with joy for you. There will undoubtedly be difficult times, but I hope you’ll be able to overcome them. Take care. I’m eternally grateful for your support. It’s been a blast.

Thank you, and for the last time after nearly nine years of blogging…

Waddle on!

-Torres 126 (Aurorum)

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