The Story Behind the Club Penguin Times Newspaper, as Told by the REAL Aunt Arctic

Before I talk about the Club Penguin Times, I will begin this blog post with Aunt Arctic. BUT WAIT! Not this Aunt Arctic…

I am referring to… the REAL Aunt Arctic.

I couldn't resist putting the pink toque and glasses.

I couldn’t resist putting the pink toque and glasses.

Perhaps you’re wondering, who is this guy? His name is Cody Vigue and he was Aunt Arctic. In other words, while he was an employee at Club Penguin, one of his main jobs was running the Club Penguin Times. You know, organizing, collecting the submissions of players, writing, and more. There was a time in which Cody spent his entire job with the old paper; forty hours each week. Creating each issue of the newspaper is actually a lot of work, particularly the ones with the old design.

Around two weeks ago, Cody was talking with us Club Penguin fans about the CP Times on Twitter. We all grabbed a better understanding of the paper, thanks to him. In this post, I describe the behind-the-scenes tale of the newspaper. It’s a real scoop! A big thanks to Cody for providing the truth behind the Club Penguin Times and for allowing me to write about it in a blog post for you all to read and learn. Oh, before you start reading the next paragraph, I recommend that you get a comfy chair, some snacks, maybe a cup of coffee or tea, and relax, because this blog post is very long; over one thousand words!

One of the most discussed sections of the Club Penguin Times is Ask Aunt Arctic. Why is this so highly talked about? The questions that Aunt Arctic answers, that’s why. For most of us, the answers to the questions are very obvious. For example, in issue 495, one of the questions was, “Where do I find new furniture and igloos?” You may think, EVERYONE knows this. In reality, that isn’t the truth. Many players sent these kinds of questions to Aunt Arctic. Cody read and read and read the submissions from players in the thousands. Yep, just reading all the questions and other content took a lot of time. And how does a same or alike question get sent numerous times? Mr. Vigue explained that an occurrence in the game triggers it, even an event that occurs often and isn’t breaking news for the experienced penguins. For instance, if many players like a new catalog that just came out, then Aunt Arctic gets this question thousands of times in her mailbox: “How do I igloo?” You might be wondering about the anonymous names of the senders of the questions, as well. Cody and the Club Penguin team did not want kids to include something like this in their question submission, “Is my question silly?” Additionally, so many players send an exact or similar question. Thus, the sender of each question is given a fake, but witty name. Goodness gracious, just the Aunt Arctic section requires hard work and a humongous amount of time. On a different note, no matter how dumb you think your question to Aunt Arctic is, don’t hesitate sending it! The people who work on the newspaper do spend time reading all the questions. 🙂

Another controversial subject of the Club Penguin Times is the layout change in late 2010. Less pages, less content, no games or puzzles, it’s no wonder that players talk about it all the time. Like I said above, the CP Times team committed forty hours each week for the old style of the newspaper. There was a schedule that Cody and the CP Times group followed. When Monday arrives, they created drafts and drew out the storyboard for the issue. The next two days, which are Tuesday and Wednesday, Cody read and looked through so many submissions, you could tip the Iceberg with all of them! From there, he’d start writing. They had a day for the arrangement of the paper and to scrutinize all those nooks and crannies. After Wednesday is the day that the game updates, which includes the release of the new issue for the residents of Club Penguin Island to read.

Bringing the old newspaper to life meant tremendous effort and time for the Club Penguin Times team. So what was the solution? Downsize it! That’s what they did in 2010. The 19th day of November is a day penguins will always remember. On that day, the first issue, the 266th one, with the new layout was released. Now that the newspaper of Club Penguin was decreased in everything, the people who worked on it earned more time for other awesome stuff for you and all the players. Random fact: Did you know that because of the new design, Cody had time to work on System Defender? His time was spent on just about all content: games, EPF field-ops, parties, and lots more. If the CP Times Squad (that’s a super cool name, don’t you agree?) had to hurry with the paper, they could finish an entire issue in eight hours, including outlining, writing, editing, and formatting. That’s almost nothing compared to the previous forty hours a week! But whatever was going on or any behind-the-scene stuff influenced the amount of time devoted for a specific issue. Less Club Penguin Times content = Additional epic things for the Club Penguin community.

Because of the Club Penguin Times reduction, lots of people joined Club Penguin and got access to some of the best Club Penguin features and events ever. Yeah, we all miss the old Club Penguin Times, but the outcome of the new paper is worth it. Writing the weekly newspaper is not as simple as writing some paragraphs. Oh boy, it takes an abundance of work, effort, and time. I hope that by reading this blog post, you appreciate all the energy put into each issue of the Club Penguin Times. Next time you read an issue, think about the people behind the Times and their work.

@RiyitaCP, @Trainman1405, @TweesTweets, @shodowc3cpp, and I were the interviewers. Thanks to all of you for asking your questions about the CP Times and your desire to know more about it. A huge, mountain-sized thanks to the real-life Aunt Arctic, also known as Cody Vigue, for your time to answer our questions and your passion of creating games and fun stuff for all of us to enjoy. Last but surely not least, thank you, readers, for reading my extra lengthy, immensely riveting blog post!

UPDATE on April 27: I was just chatting with Chris Gliddon/Polo Field, the former Club Penguin social media manager. All of you should know him by now. Anyway, he had a significant role in the Club Penguin Times: Chris was the manager of the CP Times editorial team before moving on to the social media department. Isn’t that cool? Furthermore, whenever Cody was drifting off from his work on Wikipedia, Chris just gave him a friendly reminder to continue his work on the newspaper, haha. Thank you, Chris, for these cool facts!

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Club Penguin is Doing a Good Job at Keeping Up with Technology

As you are playing Club Penguin, the evolution of technology is very evident. For example, the third PSA mission released in 2007 had this oldie computer…

…and today, penguins use the modern tablet.

Club Penguin is moving on with technology as it gets more sophisticated and better. They have done a couple of things within the game that relates to the ever-changing technology.

1. Unity

To play Club Penguin on your computer, you need Flash installed. Just about everyone has Flash now so that should not be a problem. In the old days, what would game developers use? Flash, Flash, Flash! Today is a different story. Ever heard of Unity? It’s a platform utilized for creating games. It works with both 2D and 3D interfaces and the graphics are fantastic. Unity is indeed present in Club Penguin. I think that by now, you have at least heard of the Club Penguin app called Sled Racer. Well, it’s a Unity game! Tap License Credits in the settings and you’ll see it was created with Unity Technology. Flash is still being used, but more and more game developers are using Unity.

2. Mobile

When Club Penguin first released the My Penguin app (now called the Club Penguin app) in May of 2013, it was a huge phenomenon. You could play some sections of Club Penguin right on your iPad. Gradually, the CP team released the app for more mobile devices, added rooms for penguins to waddle around, more games, included parties, etc. Then they went on to create three additional apps for Club Penguin players, YES, THREE! Plus, before these four apps, they created the Puffle Launch app in 2011 (it’s now defunct). Despite all this presence in the mobile world, they are nonetheless actively putting their time for the computer version of Club Penguin, as well. It is worth noting that if you are viewing the Club Penguin website on mobile, they have a mobile-friendly website instead of the interface if you were to be on the computer.

3. New Software

CPNext. It’s something that is being constantly debated by the players of the Club Penguin community. Wondering what it is? If you read Spike Hike’s blog post, you’ll be a CPNext expert in no time. Like Spike Hike said, CPNext is already integrated into the Club Penguin app. But the computer version of Club Penguin? We have yet to see obvious signs of CPNext there. Are you excited for CPNext on all Club Penguin platforms? Another thing that the community is patiently waiting for is Project Super Secret. Spike Hike talks about Project Super Secret a lot on Twitter, but we don’t even know what it is. Is it a revolutionary software? Or an app? Or a TV series? Or a new flavor of ice cream? (Okay, that’s a little too far.) All we know about Project Super Secret is that it is a project and it is super secret.

Spike Hike believes in progress for the future and I do too. Mr. Heatherly has been striving for advancement for the best technology suited for Club Penguin. He is very busy with other divisions of Disney Games though and I wish that he was more involved in his Club Penguin projects. Spike Hike and the Club Penguin team are doing the right thing by keeping CP up to date and they are pros at it.

A Huge Club Penguin Layoff and My Thoughts

A tragic occurrence for Club Penguin and the community today: Disney Club Penguin has laid off many employees. As a matter of fact, the whole office of Brighton, England has closed. Why, you ask? Due to the serious reduction in membership purchases so it’s not Club Penguin’s best time right now. You can read all the details here: http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/137843/Club-Penguin-cuts-jobs. Thanks, Screenhog, also known as Chris Hendricks, for informing us about the news. Visit his Twitter page and be sure to read his blog post on the matter.

Did you know that a super low unemployment rate can be bad for the economy? Layoffs are totally normal. (Believe me, I already learned all of this in school. :P) Welcome to the business world! It’s just very unfortunate that Club Penguin is decreasing its amount of employees. Disney’s section of virtual worlds was being entirely focused on Club Penguin and now this happens? How sad! Layoffs are unavoidable and I know Disney is investing money in Club Penguin, but I do wish more money was being put into Club Penguin to steer away from such a gigantic unemployment.

Please look on the good side though: This is NOT the end of Club Penguin yet. This is just a step in the Club Penguin journey. Plus, the Castanet article never mentioned anything about the offices of other countries, like Argentina, being downsized. No reason for panic, everyone. Stay strong, Club Penguin team and community!

“Quitting Club Penguin” Explained

Original idea of this meme by Trainman1405.

Original idea of this meme by Trainman1405.

The above meme you just saw depicts what this post is about: Quitting Club Penguin is not as simple as you think. There are several answers to the question, “What does quitting Club Penguin mean?”

Frequently, players announce their departure from Club Penguin and move on to something else, such as more time for school or playing a different game, like Minecraft. Quitting is totally normal and pleading for someone to stay is not the right thing to do. Some people decide to stay in Club Penguin for the rest of their lives (like me! :P) and some don’t. However, there are distinct variations of quitting Club Penguin. Have you lost interest in the game? Do you want to leave the community? You can still be a part of the community, despite your lack of interest in the game. Or you could be just playing the game, but not interacting with the community. It’s all up to you! You could even be spending less time in the community and/or game, but that doesn’t mean you quit altogether. Remember, if a leader in the community or your friend chooses to quit, YOU don’t need to quit alongside. You all can still be good pals with each other without the different interests separating your friendship.

A couple of cases have happened wherein someone all of the sudden says, “I am quitting!” but they don’t in reality. It’s most likely caused by something that has saddened or angered them. If this has happened to you, don’t immediately declare you’ve quit. Think it over before it may become official. Don’t let a minor event that has made you sad or mad be the source of quitting. In life (and Club Penguin!), bad things will happen, but you gotta keep in mind that good things are certain to occur as well! 🙂

The SoundStudio App: Fun at First, but Necessary?

One of the apps in the Club Penguin family of apps is SoundStudio. It’s almost identical to SoundStudio on the web, except the app includes the Cadence genre (in it, you remix Cadence’s song, “You Got This”) and CP Radio. The genres and sounds are all the same and you can listen to the tracks of other penguins whether you are on the app or on the computer. There are two advantages of the app: the CP radio and mobility. On the computer, you can only listen to people’s tracks on the same server. On the other hand, the app includes the CP Radio and you can hear everyone’s music without separate servers to split up everyone’s music. If the SoundStudio app is downloaded on your device, you can play the game on the go, like if you are in the car (but don’t play and drive!!) I have the SoundStudio app, but I never spend my free time on my iPad to play it; I’d be playing other apps, like the epic Sled Racer app. At first, it’s fun, but after experimenting with all the genres and the corresponding sounds, the gameplay begins to get dull, particularly if you played SoundStudio on the computer prior to the app. The replay aspect of this app is terrible since you are just listening to the exact same music over and over again. If you have a big passion to mix a wide variety of music, go for Apple’s GarageBand or Music Maker Jam for Android, not SoundStudio.

Club Penguin spent months making this app to come to life. Was it worth the time to create this app? In my opinion, no. During those months, CP could have added more games, rooms, and experiences in the Club Penguin app or extra levels for the Puffle Wild app. If these events happened, I believe Club Penguin players would have been more satisfied with them than the SoundStudio app. When it comes to Club Penguin apps, I strongly believe that they should be unique and different from the web version, not alike. The Sled Racer and Puffle Wild apps are great examples. In my opinion, making the SoundStudio app is not Club Penguin’s best decision, but Club Penguin will always make both good and bad decisions. It’s trial and error to see which choice works out the best and go from there!