As usual for today’s Mountains Monday post, I’ll be sharing a photo of something. I’m not quite sure where today’s is from; I found it in the Media Library from several years ago, and I can’t find it online elsewhere, which is why it has a watermark!
It’s a rather exclusive photo of a lightsaber, following the Star Wars Takeover, and has Club Penguin branding on it. My understanding based on an older post of mine is that this item was offered to every team member in the UK office in Brighton.
This is probably one of the rarer pieces of Club Penguin merchandise; it was never sold, and this seems to be the only image left of it online. I wish I had more information to share, but it’s difficult to find! I did think that this was a cool photo worth posting again though.
Thank you for reading, waddle on!
Each day, I’ll be posting a new puzzle to solve, and the winner at the end shall receive half a dozen Card Jitsu cards. If you’re interested or bored in this isolation period, check it out and have a go!
How does it work?
As many people are currently bored and have no school, I’ve decided to host some puzzles! To note, these replace rather than complement the Mountains Monday giveaways. You can check back at 9am GMT here each day to find a new one. There will be three puzzles until the winner is announced. By successfully completing the puzzle, you’ll receive some entries, and at the end of the week, a giveaway winner will be selected.
The prize will always be Card Jitsu cards that shall be mailed to you. I should note that there are many delays with the postal service, and it has been suspended in a very small amount of countries, so it may take a bit longer than the usual week to reach you.
How are winners picked?
- By entering and correctly answering the puzzle, you’ll receive some entries
- Once all three puzzles have concluded, all of these entries are inserted into a random generator
- The top fifty penguin names are then inserted into a wheel, and the winner is whoever the wheel picks
In simple terms, basically just have an attempt at the puzzle each day!
You do not need to enter all the puzzles to win the prize, but the more you enter and answer correctly, the more likely you are to win!
Feel free to try the puzzles for fun even if you don’t wish to enter the giveaway!
The winner was Flippflapp1! Congratulations, I’ve sent you an email. Don’t worry if you didn’t win, there’ll be more in the future! [screenshot]
Congratulations – you helped Aunt Arctic with her latest story!
By the way, here are the answers:
Puzzle 1: Plant
- Boiler Room
- Dance Lounge
- Mine Shack
- Hidden Lake
- Pet Shop
- Box Dimension
A few people entered typos, which wasn’t a problem as long as it was clear what the room was intended to be.
Puzzle 3: The puffle was pink. The room was intended to be the Iceberg, but any place with sea was fine, so I accepted the: Iceberg, Beach, Ski Lodge and Aqua Grabber.
I’m hoping to be able to do more “exciting” prizes, like magazines again, in the future, but sadly it’ll have to be once the whole virus situation is over. I hope that you enjoy the puzzles though.
Best of luck!
As part of the second Monday of the month, I always try to post something from the past. So far though, I’ve not really picked a party, so I wanted to select one of the more underrated parties. The Future Party qualifies for that! 🔮
For those unaware, this was a one-off party in May 2014, but it was really remarkable! It was possible to time-travel two thousand years into the future, where the rooms seemed really futuristic.
The Town design! I always found the Fluffy hologram really creative
But there were two other things which I think distinguished this party from others. Firstly, its backstory; aspects of the party were initially intended to introduce a new technology (old players may remember the phrase “friend jumping”, but that’s a post for another Monday). Aspects were also initially intended to be an advert.
More excitingly though was the plot! Whilst many may recognise the name Protobot from EPF missions and System Defender, this was really the first time he had made a major appearance in a party. It was our duty to defeat him. To do so, there was a mini-game.
Please ignore the watermark (long story…this photo is from my very old guide to the party!)
In it, you could explore space. It started as a battle against meteors and robots, but as the party continued, Protobot himself could eventually be defeated in this mini-game!
I hope you enjoyed this post, which was a blast to the past talking about the future – yes, I’m aware that’s confusing! Thank you for reading, waddle on!
During Club Penguin’s prime, several books were published that could be purchased in stores throughout the world, varying from guides to stories. One format of this were the eight Pick Your Path books, where you could dictate the story by turning to certain page numbers to continue your path.
In this month’s interview, I’m extremely fortunate to be able to ask the author of these books, Tracey West, a series of questions about the writing of them!
It’s been over eleven years since the first Pick Your Path story was released, yet in many ways, very little is known about the process in which the books would be written and published!
The first thing I wanted to ask was the process behind their publication, from who was contacted first to the flexibility regarding the plot.
I was hired by Grosset & Dunlap, who had a licensed agreement with Club Penguin to create the books. I had written several pick-your-path style books for other properties.
My sister, Katherine Noll, and I worked on guidebooks for Club Penguin so I was very familiar with the game before I began to write the narrative books. Club Penguin would let my editor at Grosset know what they wanted the theme of the book to be–puffles, for example–and I would work out the plots from there.
If you’ve read some of the books, it’s very clear that there’s a lot of details that most people wouldn’t instinctively be familiar with! The examples that immediately come to mind are depictions of puffle personalities, such as how the black puffle would be shown to have a grumpy personality and catch flames, just like in-game.
Such details seemed to indicate familiarity with the Club Penguin universe, but I wanted to confirm if this was the case, or if there were ever difficulties posed in keeping the content “true” to the game.
Thanks for noticing those details! Yes, before I began writing the guidebooks both my sister and I became very serious players of the game. I was given a member account and if I remember correctly, I would be given coins so that I could keep up with the new items coming out and test them out.
I played a lot of CP and so did my youngest stepson, Zane. So I played the games, completed the quests, went to the parties, decorated my igloo–and all of that really helped when writing the books, because I was immersed in the world.
One of the three Club Penguin guidebooks
Despite that, there was a lot of flexibility and freedom within stories!
I have to say that I am very grateful to Club Penguin for giving me a lot of freedom with the stories. When you write for a license, you have to stay true to the world and the characters and the experiences. Playing the game helped me do that, and Club Penguin let me have fun with these stories that I appreciate.
For those who are unaware how the Pick Your Path style worked, you could read through the book where you’d face an option. Depending on which option you selected, you’d be directed to a new page number to continue your journey.
I must admit, writing in that format always seemed really challenging to me! I was curious on if there were ever difficulties in maintaining this style.
The Pick Your Path style is definitely challenging, because you have to first come up with a plot that is strong enough yet flexible enough to go in many different directions.
When I write in this style, I use poster board and post-it notes to plot out each story and see how it goes. That help me makes sure that the reader is able to explore each storyline equally.
To conclude, I asked if there were any memorable stories or events that occurred whilst writing the book.
Honestly, nothing sticks out. I have great memories of playing the game, and Aunt Arctic was my favorite character. I have a little figurine of her that I look at every day. And I miss my puffles!
My favorite book to write was the Great Puffle Switch, because I loved the idea of a player getting to be a puffle.
I found it really interesting to hear about the Club Penguin books, and I hope you did too! I’d like to give a huge thank you to Tracey for dedicating her time in answering my questions!
Thank you very much for reading, waddle on!
The Kelowna Innovation Centre is a location in Canada founded by Lane Merrifield, who you may know as Billybob, one of the founders of Club Penguin. For today’s Mountains Monday, I wanted to share a wonderful photo from there.
At the end of 2018, when Club Penguin Island had announced closure, members of the team (old and new) held a little get-together there. As part of this event, the staircase was decorated with the different designs of the Holiday Party.
Photo taken by Nate Bolton
I must say, it’s quite remarkable seeing the evolution of the artstyle with just penguins related to the Holiday Party. You might spot some familiar characters, such as the Merry Walrus, too! If you’d like to see the post from when this event actually happened, you can find that here. But it’s been a while, so I thought it was worth resharing.
Ps. Lane is currently recovering from the coronavirus – just wanted to join the rest of the community in wishing him a swift recovery.
Earlier this month, I shared that I was hoping to publish a very exciting interview soon, and this is it! It’s with somebody who had a whole series of roles at Club Penguin, varying from handling support tickets, to holding a leading role in the first series of Card Jitsu cards, to eventually becoming the Community Manager until his departure in the spring of 2015.
That person is Chris Gliddon, who you may recognise by his penguin name, Polo Field, and he joins me for this month’s interview in which he shares some stories, explains some events, but above all, provides an insight on what it was like to manage the community of a game with millions of players!
Before we begin though, I’d like to insert this little disclaimer from Chris: these are based on his views, and aren’t necessarily a reflection of the team’s.
First thing I should say here is that these are only MY opinions. I do not speak for the rest of the former team or companies, etc.
And of course I could be totally wrong about any of this, so take it with a grain of salt!
Coping with Different Demographics
I’m going to start with something that I suspect a lot of people reading this would rather forget: the Frozen Fever Party of 2016. Lasting six weeks, it was the third and longest Frozen takeover to hit the island.
Although this was just over a year after Chris left the team, I bring this up as it highlighted the difficult question of catering for demographics on the island.
The majority of older players found it to be a nightmare, yet there was that argument then that younger players requested and enjoyed it. And this posed a challenge…
Demographics were an interesting one for many of us to learn about. There was a constant tug of war between wanting to create something that our diehard, aging fans would love vs making accessible content that players of many ages could enjoy.
I can only speak for myself, but my goal was to make a Mario-like experience for players of all ages. And to make those experiences feel rooted in the lore and world of Club Penguin as much as possible.
The difficulty though was actually making that “Mario-like experience” which enticed everyone of all demographics, as Chris highlighted.
It did make it difficult as a team, as we did work hard to bring these experiences to life. There were plenty of girls who didn’t participate in the “Extended Universe” of the Club Penguin community on social media, but who loved experiences like the Frozen Party for example.
As any product ages, you need to find new ways to find an audience. Those ‘takeovers’ brought in new fans to Club Penguin.
So what was the alternative? Well, I was admittedly quite surprised to hear Chris say that the takeovers did go a bit too far into “cheapening” the island, but in retrospect, he would’ve preferred a different approach.
If it was up to me, I would have done much more fan service and deepening of the core CP lore. Then stick all those other brands into a special catalog and not run them as parties.
CP Island did something like this, and that seemed smart to me. It just felt a bit shocking when the whole classic CP Island got taken over by some other brand’s lore.
I get why we did it, but I felt like it cheapened the CP lore when takeovers reskinned all the rooms. Again – just my personal opinion.
A Global Community, a Global Team
Of course, demographics included more than just age. Although Chris mentioned age was the most the challenging one, Club Penguin had six available languages at its peak.
Bringing that content to all areas in the world required a team of translators, but Club Penguin managed to achieve it – with a lot of regular meetings too!
For a long time we had a team of in-house translators who worked really hard to bring the same tone and feel to the other language versions.
I would have regular meetings with all those amazing translators and they did a fantastic job porting that same sense of charming, friendly fun into their own communities. We’re still all friends on social media many years later.
But the global aspect of the game extended to more than just players: people worked on Club Penguin from all over the world, with offices in different timezones.
My second favorite thing about Penguin was collaborating with all these talented people everywhere. It was a bit like magic, really.
The downside for me was that I couldn’t be as random and spontaneous — I would have to warn the global teams if I had some crazy, random idea. And I had some truly crazy ideas, haha.
An example of people across the world collaborating together was the official Club Penguin blog, on which you’d have British bloggers such as Daffodaily5, and then a lot of bloggers in Canada too.
I wondered if this was all ever difficult to co-ordinate.
I really tried to make our social content process as nimble as I could so fans around the real world could get news at roughly the same time. The hard part of that was managing expectations with the teams around the world. At lot of times the global teams had it hard because they had to react and respond to stupid stuff we came up with at the HQ in Canada, which I think was frustrating for many of the global teams. So that was the hardest part.
It was really neat once we introduced more of the global team penguins on social. Then things started to feel a bit more diverse and interesting. For example, I loved watching Simon’s videos from the UK team. It all just worked better when we let people create freely with guidelines and independence.
The Mystery of Happy77
But since Chris was on, I did want to try and answer a mystery: in 2012, Happy77 announced her departure from the team. However, it was revealed a few years later that the person who initially owned Happy77, Holly, who you may recognise from the New Horizons documentary, actually left much earlier.
I was wondering why there was a decision to continue acting as Holly.
We always wanted CP to feel like it was small and humble. Having the original female penguin writing on the blog felt like the right move at the time in 2008 or whenever that happened. I wasn’t involved in that decision.
Personally, I just felt kind of uncomfortable with the concept and wanted to slowly move away from it. I pushed for more of an authentic approach, with the entire team writing or posting as themselves… their own penguin names. It was awesome! The beginning of Mod Mondays, the varied guests on the Spoiler Alert… I thought it was much more interesting to have a big cast of creative people. Because we did actually have a big team of very creative people! It just took some time to lay down a foundation before retiring Happy77.
For those who don’t remember what the Spoiler Alert was, it was a weekly series where some information would be given about future updates, but above all, it just provided a bit of fun; different staff members would come together, often playing mini-games, and having fun.
When I first received Chris’ response, I found it genuinely wonderful to read just random stories of joy within the team, and this was one of them!
When Johnny and I started the documentary, one of the first ‘mistakes’ I wanted to fix was the Happy77 story. We actually got some irreplaceable footage of Holly playing as Happy77 for the first time since she left — it was quite special.
We also captured this hilarious moment where Holly asked who was writing as Happy77 now, only to find out that it was… me and Johnny. We actually got her reaction on camera. How awesome is that? It was pretty funny. We all had a good chuckle. Those are the kind of moments that I would love to have in a documentary for you.
Interaction on Social Media
This was probably another major mystery involving the community. Overnight, the Club Penguin team stopped interacting with people on social media accounts such as Twitter, in a move that frustrated a lot of older players.
Fun fact: Chris even had his account suspended for unfollowing too many people at once that night!
So why was this?
Note: COPPA refers to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which imposes several restrictions and requirements on managing data for services and sites targeted at children
You know how last year every YouTuber was complaining about COPPA? I just laughed about it, thinking “welcome to our world ten years+ ago.” It was all about safety of the younger players.
I had to take a very black and white stance on the use of social media, particularly Twitter. Twitter at the time didn’t seem to know what age demo[graphic] they were for, with some of their terms saying 13+ and other places saying 17+. Because some external people would market Club Penguin as being entirely “for kids” (even though I don’t believe that was true), it meant we could really only interact with fans on our own platforms like our blog and the game itself.
The impact of that was frustration within older players: players from 2014 may recall the #SavetheClubPenguin hashtag that was partly motivated by a sense of feeling ignored.
Accusations flew about external intervention from Disney, perpetuated by the occasional reply from a staff member that would immediately be deleted. But in reality, the team did try incredibly hard.
But those weren’t the best platforms for teen communication… they were too restrictive for that audience. That’s one thing I really admire about Roblox — they realized that they needed a ‘graduated’ program that provides the right experience for the right age group.
We did our best but I think it was definitely frustrating for the older members of the community.
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?
Perhaps one of the most curious things is how things were constantly revisited: the major shift in artwork that many now class as “modern Club Penguin”, the changes in rooms, to name a few.
I asked Chris if in retrospect, would Club Penguin have benefitted from an attitude of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”.
What if it was actually broken? In hindsight, yes, some things should have been left alone. But I don’t think changing rooms was really as big a deal as say the launch of the iPhone or iPad. Though I do suspect we spent too much time rethinking stuff instead of making new experiences.
The example that sprung to mind was the transition from the Stage to the Puffle Berry Mall. Ironically, it was heavily criticised by the older demographic, yet I vividly remember Chris explaining the switch back then as a result of the Stage being the least used room.
The Mall was slightly disappointing in terms of features at the time, but keep in mind that most people voted for a Mall over keeping the Stage. And players could still have their own Stages as igloos, which was actually much more interesting than a room with costumes and a script. And I’m actually biased towards the Stage since I worked on quite a few of those plays!
I thought his answer highlighted something interesting about the attitude and skepticism to change that, in hindsight, was probably overdone by players such as myself. And talking about change…
The Present: Private Servers
If I walked into a candy store, stole all of their candy, then opened my own store with the same name, and then started selling that candy… would that be okay?
There was curious symbolism in the recent Spike Saturday on Club Penguin Rewritten, with seeing Chris Heatherly (former General Manger), who was once so deeply cautious of private servers in 2014, playing a private server.
Of course, circumstances and times have changed, but I wondered if Chris’ views had too.
Taking all the CP assets and putting them up on your own server is the same deal. If it was truly an altruistic thing, these CPPS hosts would not have any ads up, would not make any new content or modifications, and would work with a museum to truly preserve the game. And of course, they would also seek official approval from the rights holder to do so. But that’s not what’s happening with the CPPS operators. Sorry.
The issue with a lack of altruism within current private servers has been a prevalent concern, emphasised by Chris’ remarks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing CP going and the community still playing together. There are some talented people that play or operate these pirate servers. I get why people want to play the game, and I don’t like the idea that it’s closed down, either.
But at least with a company there is some accountability when things go wrong.
The Present, with Small Bursts of Imagination
You may remember Small Bursts of Imagination, which was something Chris and Johnny were working on – if not, click here for more information.
I just had to ask for an update about that!
Making a documentary or writing a book would be the easy part. Funding it and getting all the permissions needed? That’s the hard stuff.
I have faith that we will get it done one day. It’s just a question of ‘what is the story?’
Along with that, Chris mentioned a book a while ago with Emma (Bambalou) – again, this post has more information! – and I was curious about the progress of that.
On the book front, I do have a first draft of a book telling Lance’s story! It is quite rough right now, and need to spend a lot more time on it, but it’s got a lot of great stuff and learnings for you guys in there. Over 100,000 words to sort out, so it’s still going to take some time.
There are lots of great stories to come from the former Club Penguin team and players!
That does sound genuinely exciting, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as more is released! I really enjoyed gaining the deeper insight through this interview, and I hope you enjoyed it too. I’d like to give a massive thank you to Chris for dedicating his time to answering my questions.
Without the community that formed around it, Club Penguin wouldn’t have been as special as it was. Many, many products are released around the world, and very few of them will have that same special spark that we had as a Penguin community.
A community that positively engaged with the content, and drove the direction of the product. We were all lucky to be a part of it. I am still so thankful.
Thank you very much for reading, and once again, a huge thank you to Chris!
The evolution of Club Herbert is quite fascinating! For those who aren’t aware, it started in 2012 during Operation Blackout, when Herbert took over the island and created a dictatorship. “Club Penguin” was replaced with “Club Herbert” for the duration of the event.
But the interesting aspect of Club Herbert was not the dictatorship during Operation Blackout, but actually what happened afterwards. It turned into a website: clubherbert.com (it now redirects to Disney’s site).
The website would literally feature just one image relating to Herbert’s plans or thoughts! For example, the image above is after (Darth) Herbert was defeated after the Star Wars Takeover. It was often updated to foreshadow future events too, such as Operation Puffle.
The mystery though is the image which was left before Club Penguin closed, and one which will probably remain unanswered. You might be familiar with this image, as it caused a lot of excitement due to the Secret meeting point on the yellow post-it note.
Unfortunately, it never was quite revealed who this secret meeting was. As such, Club Herbert ended up as a mystery – quite the change from the initial dictatorship during Operation Blackout!
I hope you enjoyed this Mountains Monday post on Club Herbert, thanks for reading! Waddle on!
Each day, I’ll be posting a new puzzle to solve, and the winner at the end shall receive half a dozen Card Jitsu cards. If you’re interested or bored in this isolation period, check it out and have a go!Continue reading →
Three years ago today, the classic version of Club Penguin came to a close. It’s a day documented well here, but this post does not intend to attempt to resurrect previous feelings, no matter how temping it may be; nostalgia is a powerful weapon, after all.
Instead, I want to contemplate the present. Nothing that has happened, nor anything which I reference now, can undermine the benefits (many even tangible) that Club Penguin brought to the world.
One of the coolest stats that I love is the fact there are over 100K kids attending schools today that were built by Club Penguin-Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin (July 2017)
But there’s something that needs to be addressed.
The takeover of Club Penguin’s legacy by current private servers has turned a once delightful virtual world managed by decent people into an industry-like corrupt atmosphere intended to gain personal profits, stoke division, and oust those who question either the negligent ineptitude displayed over recent events, or the morality of them.
The admirable sentiment behind the initial months of these servers was consistent with the genuine desire from the community for an alternative platform for players to continue enjoying Club Penguin. No mandate was given to replace Club Penguin’s values, and certainly no mandate was given for the deception and polarisation that has been perpetuated or performed by the highest authority of several individual servers.
Of course, the deep irony is that Club Penguin was a business; everything about it revolved around profits, including the harsh decisions of lay-offs and the closure of Club Penguin Island. Yet the transparency, accountability and honesty attributed to the classic game is not attributable to those who claim to continue its legacy; the offices around the world and the “army” once cited by Polo Field needed to manage a community has been replaced by a dozen or so individuals.
This is not part of an endeavour to omit or disregard the benevolent actions or intentions of those individuals, nor is it provoked by a specific event attributable to a specific server: it is prevalent throughout. Instead, it is an increasing concern which all of us in the community ought to expel. As for those with that cited authority, all involved should proceed with deep caution with the trust – arguably undeservingly – placed into them by the community, particularly when it comes to their responsibility in minimising corruption.
Part of that involves, regrettably, recovering our skepticism; there is plenty to justify it, and plenty examples of those whose skepticism has been dismissed, including by those who hold a desirable but unrealistic utopian view of that authority, and those who don’t but claim to anyway.
Contrary to what you may imagine, this is not an expression of frustration with profits. Although external complications may arise directly as a result of those, this is about disdain invoked by deception.
Resolution would involve requiring:
- admission (and apology where appropriate) of whether or not individual servers have been involved in deceit, or at least been conservative with the truth – primarily with finances, revenue and profit, but not solely so; the evidence exists, albeit with most of it currently unpublished
- reflection that private servers are unofficial, and advertising them as such
I promised that this was not an attempt to omit benevolence: overt criticism, particularly a post dedicated to it, can invoke an impression of desperation and despair. It is a rarity that a community fan-blog can last years after the franchise it revolved around has closed. We ought to be deeply grateful for those who maintain an opportunity to continue that enjoyment.
It is why I have not delved upon dozens of previous cases from varying servers, including those which I no longer post about. This is an issue more systemic than a few individual cases, irrespective of their severity.
We should just be more objective, and more demanding for Club Penguin’s values: transparency and honesty, because we’re not being given them now.
Hello! For today’s Mountains Monday, where a photo gathered from somewhere on the Internet featuring something in real life is posted, I actually wanted to share something from the Club Penguin HQ.
I’ll probably post HQ photos quite regularly, among other photos! For today though, the two images are both elevators! It might seem bizarre, but they actually have some super pretty designs on them.
Photo taken by Caryn Bailey (left) & Crzypengu (right)
I always do enjoy seeing the contrast between the older and modern art-styles. Along with those two designs, there were a couple more in the Kelowna HQ as well. For example, this elevator design depicted a variety of penguins having a fun time!
Check it out – it’s super pretty!
Thank you very much for reading, I hope that you enjoyed seeing some of these designs on different lifts!