While I do not normally post other people’s content here on Club Penguin Memories, from time to time I make an exception and will re-post other people’s content that I find interesting – with permission and proper credit, of course. This open letter V0rtex wrote to Club Penguin is one of those few exceptions as it’s very important. It’s about what needs changing in Club Penguin to make it fun again and also to keep up with today’s social media features.
You see, back when Club Penguin launched in 2005 it was top notch. It was one of the first of its kind to offer a safe social playground for kids that was safe and secure. But comparing now to back then, the social media landscape has changed immensely. Back then it was just MySpace, but now there are social networks teenagers use daily such as Facebook, Twitter, or even messaging tools such as texting, SnapChat, or WhatsApp. There are drawbacks to this though, as you need to be 13 or older to register for these services and kids younger than that age want to join them. What’s the solution on how to be safe online yet still interact with friends through Club Penguin and keep it very social? V0rtex thinks he has a solution, and I agree with it completely. With that said, I present to you V0rtex’s full letter to Spike Hike:
Dear Chris Heatherly,
You seem like you’re lost, looking for an answer to fix Club Penguin. I apologize in advance for my lack of proof reading. This might seem like I am shaming your company (I am in a way) but I’m also sympathetic because it’s not entirely the fault of you and your company. People go on Club Penguin, logoff, and talk about their experience on Twitter with their friends. What happened to people talking about it in the actual game? The issue is your game is no longer primary. When it launched in 2005 it was the all in one (chat, emotes, games, and more). Being a player since 2006, it was all I could ask for. The price seemed to match up very well with the game because nothing else could offer these safe tools for kids. Of course we could talk about competition… but you guys blew them out of the water. You probably average around 17000 users a day, that’s not a whole lot compared to your millions of registered accounts. You might be asking yourself what I know about the game that could help you. I have some ideas but it’s your choice to implement them. Before doing so let me describe some times where you guys took the wrong turn.
Content, you guys were really good at it. It’s essentially the same game from 2005 but you don’t understand why people lost interest, November 18, 2010! What a shame, you guys changed those newspapers and I never read one again. Why? They’re boring, slow, and missing a story! What happened to the secrets, the surprises that made me think you guys had something up your sleeves? What happened to the small changes that occurred in the middle of preparation for a party that made me imagine? I used to feel like the island was bigger than me; I could find mysteries that weren’t already discovered for me (Puffle Wild). I don’t need to know that there is a secret at the beach, let me find it myself. I want to know that when I’m logged off I could be missing something, because I have faith that you guys are adding the little things. You don’t need to do this all the time because that would be overwhelming. Just every so often, move a rock or two and leave it up to me to decide what happened, you don’t even have to solve it for me.
Items, I only wear the old ones. Why? Because I like to be unique, nobody else has them, and it makes me stand out. Yeah this could end in “rarity” issues but that’s just a problem with growing, not your game. I also missed when you guys made the clothing so it didn’t all look the same and wasn’t a representation of stuff I normally wear in real life. What happened to me being able to wear but a scuba-suit instead of 30 white shirts? I know your art department works hard but let them be crazy sometimes; it’s good for them. Also, hide those pins better and add a hint button so kids don’t go to blogs for the answer.
The client is outdated. I login, pick my server and get my content. It’s all built around the server, why? I don’t want my social experience to be constricted to me actually being in a server because that means I can’t talk to my friends if they’re not also active. That’s when I go to Texting, Facebook, and Twitter because I know that my friend will always get my interaction even if he/she is not active at the same time. At this moment I get caught in a conversation while Club Penguin is open in another tab, I get disconnected for inactivity, close my computer, and use my phone. Your game lacks interaction, although you have all the tools there for me to interact. How do you fix this? I have come to an idea that seems to be the best solution for you. Rather than building the game around the Online server you need to build the Online game inside an Online/Offline interaction.
Instead of one server that delivers movements you build two servers. One server would store activity and a normal one would deliver movements. What do I mean? I want to go on [www.clubpenguin.com] and know that I will be able to interact with my friends without them being online. I want a social world that is built around the virtual world. When in one click I can join a server and talk with my friend but its not constricted only to my friends in the room with me, which would be lonely. I can also upload screenshots that somehow can’t be defaced/intercepted with web tools. Don’t make it so that the only way the game is active is for me to actually be playing, that’s essentially how Metaplace/CPMobile works and it’s confusing and doesn’t make sense with your current world model. Servers would serve as organization rather than singular entities. Your interface is currently built into the client but move it into the social world and get rid of buttons and clutter over the virtual world. Make use of the blank space around the game, but don’t make me feel like I’m controlling a commercial airplane. A profile page would act like the stamp book, currently used in Club Penguin. Have the ability for me to challenge friends in single player games, store my score, and have my friend try to beat it. The ability to make groups where all group messages are stored for those users when they return. Groups get coin paychecks based on how many ‘challenges’ they complete. A member cannot be added/removed from a group unless all group members agree for the member to be removed. Groups can be reported for being unfair + all current CP rules. Groups can also pool coins together in order to achieve a special item that they can all wear in game. Groups do not have a popular page and serve as a private entity. Social world messages are formed by pre-made single or double sentences because there is a risk of having parents be against the social features:
2.That was fun!
3.I have to go.
1.Hello. How are you?
2.That was fun. Lets play again!
3.I have to go. See you soon!
To reduce spam players are limited to two or three messages before the other player replies. This social world is built around the client but doesn’t require me to exit the virtual world to use the tools. When it comes down to member benefits there are a few things that can possibly work:
1. The ability to create groups.
2. Customize your social world text/special chat effects, text size, colors, so on.
3. All the member benefits you get in game now in the external interface.
4. Member badge in the social world.
5. Customize your profile page layout.
6. Ability to throw snowballs at people like the mobile version but non-members can only throw them back.
7. Ability to send out party invitations for a certain time and day (only one until that event is completed) [stop spam].
Of course you can do more but thats not up to me. If you’re still confused on the concept of this I will take a moment to explain it in first person:
1. Visit www.clubpenguin.com
2. Already be logged into my account [User Bar, Notifications, Friends, My Profile, so on..]
3. Notifications that alert me if anyone was looking for me while I was gone, if I received any postcards, igloo visits, igloo likes.
4. I can then see if those players are still active and what server they’re on.
5. If not active I can group message them and say “Lets meet up on server “Blizzard”.
6. I can then see if it was read to determine if I should wait around for them.
7. I say to my friend “Hey want to challenge me in a game of Mine Carts?”
8. He says, “I can’t right now. I’m in the middle of a party quest”
9. He posts a screenshot of the room that he’s in captioned “Want to help?” with a button to join.
10. Then, without having to login again will be brought to the server that my friend is in.
11. My friends get notified if we have mutual friends “Your friends Player1 and Player2 are in a party quest together, would you like to join?” [The players could also disable this feature]
12. We finish the party quest and we get some achievement.
13. I say to my friend “Hey want to challenge me in a game of Mine Carts?”
14. He says, “Yes”.
15. He waits at the Mine until he’s notified in the social world that I finished. When I finish he plays and coins are distributed to whomever wins”
16. I then, in the social world, create a group challenge for Mine Cart scores, we can all collectively try and beat a score with our points added together or have a group battle for the best score.
17. I message “I have to go” and log off.
That’s it, how you should fix Club Penguin. It sounds complicated but you don’t have to try it all at once, baby steps. If you have a different idea, go ahead and do it. Whatever floats your boat (don’t use bricks).