Although it’s probably a little unnecessary and outdated, it’s been a little bit of a tradition to write a short post each year on February 6th, since today is my birthday! If you’re interested, you can find last year’s one here. It’s quite remarkable what’s happened since then.
There isn’t really too much which I wanted to say beyond acknowledging this day, and my usual annual ruminations. For me, the last few weeks and months have certainly involved much reflection, perhaps even soul-searching, especially as I grow older. Part of that is probably natural curiosity about the future and what I’ll be doing, and the rest might just be a wonder about a wider purpose.
It’s funny; two weeks ago, somebody whose name you’d probably recognise asked me why I still play Club Penguin. That’s something which I’ve often wondered myself, and I suppose that part of the reason is that craving for purpose often translates itself into a retreat to creative output, and blogging is a measurable way of satisfying that. I remember having this internal discussion with myself several years ago, and it feels like that’s become more substantive in recent times, particularly with “life-changing” decisions needing to soon be made.
I’ve never really celebrated birthdays much, and although my friends help made today a little special, it does make me wonder what the future will hold and what the aim is. Perhaps that’ll remain a mystery for some time, but until then, I think it’s just important to focus on what you enjoy.
It’s difficult, in a way, to know how to write this post. Each year, at around this time, I usually publish a quick post wishing people well in regards to school returning. But unlike previous years, education for the foreseeable future is certainly going to be very different; if you’re like me, or most other students in the United Kingdom, you’ll probably be returning to a physical building with lots of social distancing precautions. Many others may be shifting to online learning with daily calls and classes – imagine predicting that in last year’s post!
It’s understandable to be nervous about it too – I go back tomorrow, and I certainly am! Perhaps it’s new faces, lessons, new buildings, or even just precautions after months away from school. It took me a couple of weeks to settle in last time, and it’s completely okay if that’s the same for you, even if the return to school is something you’ve been looking forward to! I suspect that most emotions now will be fluctuating between excitement and nervousness, and that’s understandable – that’s why it’s so much tricker to write this one!
The last few months have had their ups and downs for everyone, and I’ve definitely not been an exception to that. It’s okay if you didn’t achieve everything that you may have hoped to – as dramatic or horrible as it may seem, just surviving it is something to be genuinely proud of. But in regards to the next few months ahead: good luck, stay safe, and enjoy it all you can – for all of schools’ challenges and stresses, of which there are many, I hope that the last few months have helped you discover aspects that you appreciate more.
As for the update on this blog, at the start of this year, I estimated that this would probably be my last year blogging. For the last few months, even though I’ve lost most interest in the actual game, I’ve been delaying that decision until September. I’ve never quite framed it in this way before: I joined Club Penguin just under a decade ago, aged really young. Since then, through some string of fate, I became increasingly active in the community, starting with Penguin Lodge chat to social media, and by some chain of coincidence, managed to start this blog and met a handful of wonderful people who have really helped keep me sane over the last few months.
Regrettably, it is my belief that those chains of coincidences have almost run out – people will generally recognise that the “closer community” has been fading for a while. I’m not sure what Club Penguin holds next, but on that decision, it feels better to be upfront: while it wouldn’t be right to lay out a precise timetable, any decision would probably be when I’m completely comfortable and certain, rather than just one for the sake of “waddling on” when I genuinely enjoy blogging.
I’ll conclude on those chains of coincidences: we may never fully understand them, but good luck, people and memories come randomly. I’ve had a lot of good fortune in this community, and for all its challenges, I couldn’t imagine going through this lockdown without that. The next stage with schools re-opening will bring their own struggles, but I hope that you’ll be able to get through them too!
Best of luck,
I’ll start by prefixing this post with a disclaimer that the content of this post isn’t really related to penguins at all. There is precedence for this kind of post though! Some people may remember another fan-blog from a few years ago called Club Penguin Memories, and more specifically, a series there called “Trainman1405 in Real Life”. Even when I was younger, I was always appreciative of the raw honesty that was conveyed in those posts.
The majority of this post will relate to my personal experience, but it feels wrong not to acknowledge the deadly nature of a pandemic, and the tragic inevitability regarding loss of life. I’ve been fortunate (?) enough that I’ve only experienced that sharp and deep grief just once – incidentally, exactly six years ago today – but such days remain permanently seared in your memory. I can still recall that morning vividly: the Saturday soccer game at primary school, the tears, the phone calls and the flowers. My deepest sympathies and condolences extend to anyone suffering through something similar now.
Something more likely to be impacting people are the effects of each country’s lockdown. As Alastair Campbell put it, coping with those effects is a challenge which every single person around the world is simultaneously facing at the same time, and that’s predominantly why I’ve wanted to write this post for a while.
It’s been 17 weeks since the British government took the necessary decision to close schools in England to stop the spread of coronavirus. By that time, that decision was almost predictable, and the instant reaction to the confirmation of schools closing by the Prime Minister in his 5pm press conference was relief.
Since then, like thousands across the country, I’ve received no schoolwork and had practically no contact with my teachers, and consequently, I suspect that I’m not the only one either to slip into having practically no routine beyond waking up at a reasonable time. The hardest question (maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but one of them at least…) posed to me so far has been “what have you been doing for the last few months?”.
My answer tends to be paraphrased lyric from a popular Prince song:
Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing but different than the day before-Prince, Raspberry Beret (1985)
Because, for me at least, that’s the reality; it’s true that I’ve coded a lot, from websites such as a random coronavirus slogan generator to a variety of things on WordPress.com, and tried to do so daily, while also watching a lot of documentaries, working on this blog, and accidentally rewatching every episode of some cartoons, Yes Minister, and old mermaid shows.
But for me, filling time has probably been the biggest challenge, along with the occasional loneliness. I suspect that for many in our community, the uncertainty at the end of May, amplified by Disney’s intervention and what felt like the opening of Pandora’s Box, made that time even rougher. But in truth, the waves of sadness are much more…random. For me, they tend to be days in which I don’t even open the curtains, and more frequently, probably end up doing nothing.
I recognise that I’ve been banging on about this for months, and it’s been on this blog’s home page slider, but I genuinely fear for the hidden impact the last few months have had on people – my questioning of “how are you” has increased significantly as a result. I sincerely hope the kind-of waves of sadness aren’t prevalent for you in these times. If they are, I wish you well. A lack of routine for months can thwart close to anyone, and though I’ve certainly been fortunate in the sense that I’ve been pretty comfortable, that desire for something more normal has been especially strong lately.
Equally though, as hopeful as I am that things will slowly start to revert to normal, I won’t deny being awake at 3am wondering whether the re-opening of schools won’t be the magic bullet that I sometimes imagine it to be; you tend to look back more fondly on times once they’ve passed, and in my case, though I’m looking forward to things, I do think back to the winter night before my French writing exam where I had broken down in tears outside a supermarket due to school issues, and you do wonder if things will work out. But although lockdown has provided much time for reflection, it’s important to stay optimistic: things can only get better, right? It’s just a matter of hoping for the best in the things that we are powerless over, while also maintaining gratitude for the positive things now.
I recognise that the thousands of people reading this blog each day will primarily be seeking uplifting content, so this is a pretty significant change to that, and not one that will happen regularly! But if this post contributes in bringing solace to even a few individuals going through a rough time in reminding them that these are challenging months, helps in digesting the random and wild thoughts which lots of people are having, or just makes someone ask another person how they’re feeling, it’s worth it.
Welcome to the new Club Penguin Mountains!
The decision to change themes is one of the most agonising for a blogger. Finding a perfect theme is tricky, and Harmonic, the previous theme, has been a remarkable theme. It’s been used on this blog since January 2017, but it’s time for it to be replaced. I wanted to quickly explain why!
The reasoning is a combination between the desire for change, but primarily that it’s been retired for several years now; for example, it contains a feature called Skrollr that’s hopelessly outdated for modern browsers, and was causing several issues scrolling on mobile. When I first announced the theme switch, mobile support was the primary reason behind it. This is a modern theme that enhances that support.
The new theme is Ashe! Immediately, you’ll probably notice the slider that will be updated regularly so you can immediately see the main news on the island. Distributing information as quickly as possible is the key aim of this change, which is why you’ll also see a message on the top of every page as to whether mascots are online (though it needs refreshing to update). This feature is still in progress though, so may have some issues. A few other changes have been made too, such as with some mascot trackers!
I should note two things. Firstly, this theme is temporary; after two years, whatever happens then, there’ll probably be a switch back to the old theme! Secondly, this shouldn’t be perceived as a reflection of my commitment to the game. Instead, I’m simply just using a new theme as I’m now able to!
Plenty of changes can still be made, and I really hope that you like the new design – if you have any feedback, especially criticisms, please let me know! Thank you!
Where do I begin? Five million views! I still vividly remember how exciting it was to receive 500 views, then 5000, then 50K…but 5 million?! Breaking each milestone is always an amazing surprise for me, especially since I’ve really never expected this, particularly six years ago.
But whilst I’m amazed, and whilst me six years ago would’ve been incredibly shocked if told this would happen, the thing which I really want to do is just express my gratitude. This wouldn’t be possible without you, and I appreciate you all reading. 💜
Equally, my gratitude extends to all of those who made this site possible. Many of those people from over half a decade ago are long gone from the community, but the history of many Club Penguin fan-blogs is always a fascinating one.
I don’t know how much of the journey is left, the last six and a bit years have been amazing, but however long it is, I’m truly grateful to everyone for making this possible and so fun.
As I’m sure you’re aware, today is Club Penguin’s 14th Anniversary, and as always, there’s a lot going on as a result! Jet Pack Guy and Sensei have already visited Club Penguin Rewritten with new backgrounds today, and Aunt Arctic is confirmed to return.
However, something a little different is ongoing soon. At 21:00BST/16:00EST, Screenhog will be streaming! In case you’re unfamiliar with him, he is the original Club Penguin artist and had a huge role in the game.
Update: at the time of writing, the stream is ongoing and it’s great fun – Screenhog is playing some classic tunes, many from Club Penguin!
The livestream will be available above, and in it, Screenhog intends to play some music and answer questions, and it should just be an enjoyable time.
Be sure to check it out!
Screenhog has released a new video on Club Penguin! This time, it features ten facts about the game. Some of them may be familiar, but many of them are not, and they even include some exclusive artwork, such of the atrocity of the first puffle.
If you’re interested, I’d highly recommend watching it!
If you’re not interested, please enjoy the original puffle design which was featured in the video above. 👻
In all seriousness though, it’s really amazing to see how puffles, something we’re all so familiar with, have progressed since the initial concept. All that and more is featured in Screenhog’s video, so I’d highly recommend giving it a watch!
Thank you for reading, waddle on!
If you’ve been part of the Club Penguin journey for the last few years, Spike Hike is probably a name which will instantly cause some nostalgia; he was the former General Manager and one of the many icons of the game.
Just a few hours ago, Spike Hike made a return to the community on Twitter, after over two years of hearing little about him. He said he missed the community and left some kind words.
“Club Penguin kids, I’m proud of you. You continue to make the world better, I see it every day. Remember, this world is what you make it. You can fill it with anger or joy. Choose joy, if nothing else it’s a lot more fun! #WaddleOn”
-Chris Heatherly (aka Spike Hike)
I’m sure that a lot of you might remember him, so I thought that this would be worth sharing, especially since he’s not been around for so long.
You may remember from a couple of weeks ago that there were plans from former Club Penguin staff members to create a documentary on Lance Priebe’s (rsnail) games, and a trailer was even released! If you’re unaware of this, you can find some more details here.
I promised that I would keep you informed regarding this documentaryo, and unfortunately, Chris Gliddon (Polo Field) gave an update last night that this movie pitch had not been selected by Storyhive.
Update on our movie pitch: looks like our pitch wasn’t selected for the Storyhive program. That’s okay! We’ll find a different way to make this thing happen. Thanks for your support!
-Chris Gliddon, one of the people behind the planned documentary
That doesn’t mean a film relating to Lance Priebe’s work is completely out of the question though! As Screenhog, a former Club Penguin artist, said:
There’s certainly enough fan interest in Club Penguin to make this [film] a reality. It’s just a matter of tapping into it.
But unfortunately, the idea was not accepted for the $50K production grant. I’ll let you know if anything else regarding the project is revealed though!
Thank you for reading, waddle on!
Some more information has been revealed on this here
Voting has begun until May 31st for the documentary about Lance Priebe’s games, featuring Chris, Emma and Johnny! You may recognise them as Polo Field, Bambalou and Businesmoose, who were three really iconic staff members from classic Club Penguin.
It will be based on the making of Mech Mice, AdVenture Capitalist, Box Critters, and of course, Club Penguin, and will also feature many of the workers behind the games, including Lance/rsnail himself! In fact, there’s even an amazing pitch video regarding it.
For this to happen though, the project needs to be voted for on Storyhive. Thirty documentary ideas will win (only fifteen through voting), which offers a $50K production grant to the winners. Polo Field has stated though that “this may seem like a lot, but in the film world, this is really only enough to get started.”
It’s also going to feature a variety of people regarding a really amazing topic to all of us!
All three co-founders (Lance, Lane, Dave) have agreed to participate. We also have some key other folks like Lance’s brother Chris (who coded the original servers for Club Penguin), AdVenture Capitalist creator Cody, as well as the mayor of Kelowna (because why not have a cameo from the mayor, right?)
So in order to support this documentary, we can all vote for it on Storyhive! The voting process is very simple, you need to go to the link and click the orange “vote” button at the top.
You can vote once per a day until voting ends on May 31st!
Definitely please do vote, as this seems to be a fantastic documentary made by some fantastic people who are hugely connected to the games. Hopefully, it’ll be a winner!
Small Bursts of Imagination tells a story about the level of deep personal investment and sacrifice that goes into creating companies. It’s a journey that anyone who has been told “you can’t do that” can relate to. In 2007, Lance Priebe sold the virtual world he created with his co-founders to Disney for $350 million. He built a fun social game for hundreds of millions of kids around the world to play. He’d also created jobs for hundreds of workers in Kelowna, BC in the process. But replicating the success of Club Penguin was harder — and more costly — than anyone could have imagined. In this story, we learn about how Lance and his new studio Hyper Hippo Games almost fell apart, and what they did to create success once again.