While I was at the office of Hyper Hippo Games in Kelowna, I conducted an interview with some of the Hyper Hippo and Screenzilla employees. They previously worked at Club Penguin. All of the following questions pertain to Club Penguin. If an interviewee is titled as “Staff”, that means I don’t know who exactly answered.
@BloxorzCP asked, have you tried Club Penguin Island? What do you think about CPI?
Shrublove: I feel like I tried downloading it and it didn’t load.
Me: Oh no! That’s not good.
Lance/RocketSnail: I had my daughter play it. Diehard Club Penguin player. And she had the same outcome I thought, which is… she enjoyed it, but she ran out of content too fast. Was asking people, um what do I do next? And I think, that was the struggle Club Penguin Island’s had, is this, what’s next? Club Penguin the browser always had a… there’s a character coming, there’s a thing coming. Island has never told that story well of… well, what’s next? They’re starting to, I saw their pirate thing just come out. That was pretty cool. But it’s still struggling with… is there enough content?
Cody: The funny thing about Club Penguin, the original, was that it wasn’t quite like anything else. And that was sort of the point. The chatting with the kids… and just go there and talk to kids. Isn’t that kind of dangerous and scary? That’s why we need lots of people working on it. And the Club Penguin Island, when it first came out, it had a bit of a rough launch. But I remember, it kind of more like other games, it felt like it was a step in a weird direction for what made Club Penguin unique. But I remembered being really worried that Herbert wasn’t in the game anymore. I remember messaging my friends that still worked on it and I’m like, “Herbert’s so coming back, he was my favorite character by a long shot.” So they said he was coming but I know he eventually got…
Me: Yeah, he’s there. Now he’s wearing some kind of black sweater and now has bigger eyebrows. Still stuck in recluse. That polar bear. He’s still there.
Cody: If you go back to Operation: Blackout trailer, I did his voice. I did his evil laughter.
Me: Really?! Wow.
Cody: *performs Herbert’s signature evil laughter*
Me: You’re like the guy behind everything in my childhood, man. Like Aunt Arctic, Herbert, AdVenture Capitalist! Oh my gosh.
*laughter all around the room*
@mistermayank asked, are the events of AdVenture Capitalist inspired at all by Club Penguin’s parties? If so, what are the parties that inspired the events?
Tristan: Awesome, thanks Mister.
Lance: I can’t speak for the inspiration, it’s you guys [AdVenture Capitalist team]. I know events, the idea of events, like creating events in games. All of us from Club Penguin know that events drive people to come back, something to look forward to, and something reminisce about. As for inspiration for each event, you guys [AdVenture Capitalist team] have leaden the creative side. I have no idea. I look in and go out. That’s cool.
Tristan: Yeah, the events have been popular in mobile games. But we definitely felt more comfortable building events, knowing what we knew about how players reacted to those things. How to provoke them and… similar to Club Penguin where we were starting to build events and the audience really loved the events and they became so looked forward to, we needed to put out more events, more often. And the base game actually… people played the base game less after events came out because they were just really excited about what that next new balance, new things to discover, new items to collect, which is pretty much the same idea that Club Penguin created with events.
Cody: You’re both right. It’s just that, we felt comfortable getting into this because of like, Club Penguin. This is how we would do it so we didn’t exactly run them like how another game went. AdCap’s a ridiculously simple game, and so we were like, whatever! Just splash paint, more jokes, and we’ll just run with it and see what we can do. There’s a whole bunch of psychology we had to learn from Club Penguin, how users interact with it, how you can do proper conveyances with it. Definitely influenced it and it would be hard to say, this is exactly what we learned from Club Penguin. This is what we learned from other mobile games and it all kind of went askew. It was interesting.
Me: It was!
Staff: There’s Club Penguin references legit in the game, as well. So the themes we were thinking about, we didn’t draw on so much, like what we did in Club Penguin influenced the events we came up with.
Cody: No, just our understanding how our players might react with them.
Me: Cool, very cool. Ok, my favorite event is the Christmas one, where we had that story about the suit guy going through like, some kind of Christmas carol.
Staff: Ad Capitalist carol?
*laughter and comments of exclamation*
Me: Yeah, just like every time I unlock some more, ooooh I get another chapter of the story!
Cody: That’s good, because I thought really hard for that stupid story!
Me: But I remember it really well. Oh my gosh.
Cody: At the time, we had to be very careful of how much we added to the game before it got too big and I remember I was just like, I wanna tell a story. I wanna tell a Christmas carol story. I wanted it to have Die Hard in it. That’s not really going to add much in terms of the metrics and things like that. I’m just writing that stupid story and my stupid Christmas carol!
Me: And it worked! It worked, man. Look, I’m here to talk about that! It should work. Oh man.
Cody: We were like, we don’t have scope for that, Cody. AND I’m like, we’re making scope for that.
*various laughter and chatter*
Staff: Spoiler alert: Tomorrow, we’re going to the printer at some point for a few people and might be just a personal gift for the studio and we’ll probably print some extra copies to send out to some fans.
@PurpleAngry2 asked, does Rsnail have a REAL Red Viking Helmet in real life?
Lance: I do not own a Viking Helmet.
Me: Really?? Oh wow.
Lesley: Whoever gets the first Secret Santa this year… 😉
*laughter and chatter*
Lance: When we were in beta, I just told Chris (he was making all the items)… I just rambled off a list of items to make. I said, Viking helmet. RED. Sombrero. Snorkel.
Lance: Just ridiculous things, cuz I thought that penguins should eventually… we never got to it… like there’s tons of designs in the thing. But I wanted the vikings to raid the island. I had all sorts of violent ideas. VIKINGS NEED TO RAID THE ISLAND.
Lance: Oh, we got pirates.
Lance: Nope, never owned a hat. Not a baseball cap either.
Me: Really?! Any hats? At all?
Me: Ooh, now we know the real truth behind Rsnail, huh? The red viking helmet guy doesn’t have one. Okay!
*laughter and chatter*
@Dialga22239 asked several questions…
First one, do you play Mancala in break time?
Various staff responses:
“I haven’t played that since I left Disney.”
“I was terrible at it while I was in the game”
“I don’t think I remember how to play it!”
“We had set up like a little space at Disney.”
“It was more foosball and ping pong.”
Lance: I played a couple thousand times before Club Penguin, but not at Club Penguin. I just took the code from my RocketSnail game, just dropped it into Club Penguin, because it was faster! Add more mini-games! But people loved it. It went on a little long. If you actually read the statistics, a lot of players didn’t finish the game.
Shrublove: I just remember people quitting, like, right before I was about to win. Like I had SO many of the stones and they’d be like NO! Because I think you’d only got like half coins or whatever and they’d quit and was like, NO!!
Me: I was more of a Find Four person.
Cody: I was more into System Defender.
Cody: Lance practically designed every game but I helped design System Defender.
Me: Oh really?
Cody and staff: That was Hib‘s game.
Me: Oh, Aaron?
Cody: I remember, the first version of the game, he launched it, it was so hard and we couldn’t do anything. And they’re like, why is it so hard? And he’s like, woah watch. And he just did it. He’s like, I could do it. It’d like, YOU could barely do it! You freakin’ played a billion times!
Second, did you draw classic Club Penguin mascots in the artstyle of your other games? If yes, could you show us some?
NOTE: I think the air-conditioning kicked-up really hard at this point and so I couldn’t transcribe all of the responses to this question.
Staff: Other games? Hmm. Not a whole lot. Just pretty much on the… cuz I was in marketing. So my job was to sometimes just reconcept the… different depth to the image. Did the takeovers and whatnot.
Lance: There is references to pop culture. We never really knocked anything off.
Finally, if you could be in the early age of Club Penguin (CP) again, which other CP villains would you sketch and add?
Shrublove: There’s a whole, like, crab mob.
*excitement all around the room!*
Cody: We made it into a silhouette on the main homepage. And there’s a silhouette character where they had.. Herbert and the villains and in the very back, there was a one that was this little, that was Claudius. He was like this ancient, gnarled crab. And we had this whole, like, storyline planned where there was going to be other colored crabs that would show up and we had a blue crab show up at one of the events on a really limited timer. And we had this whole storyline planned and then it got scrapped.
Staff: But eventually, it was lead by Klutzy, right? A crab syndicate.
Shrublove: Klutzy seems like the defector of the family.
Cody: Cuz Klutzy just likes Herbert. And every time there would be a story plot in point, Klutzy happened to be *something something I couldn’t hear 😦 * with Herbert.
Me: Oh yeah? Ugh, I feel like he is always distracting Herbert. Sometimes more of a distractor than a sidekick. But that’s what I love about Klutzy.
*chatter and laughter*
Cody: Actually, yeah it’s funny, cuz is the character sheet I originally wrote from. When I started Club Penguin, we didn’t really think very in-depth about the characters. And so, when I was decided Herbert, I said that Herbert was the brain AND Bowser from Mario. So that was exactly, like, what I was going for.
Me: Oh wow, Okay, cool. Alright, well, that’s all the Club Penguin questions I have. Yep. And now I have some Epic Snails questions.
I was about to start the Epic Snails interview but then…
Lance to me: “So what did you like about Club Penguin? We had you decide, and we always had to go to meetings. So, you the player. Now you grew up, and you stayed loving it. Why are you still loving it?”
Me: I basically said that for a few years, I wasn’t very social in school. Club Penguin was MY social place. A place where I didn’t have to feel lonely.
Lance: Now you played AdVenture Capitalist. Cuz you know you just have to turn it on, and then turn it off.
Me: I play it mostly on Steam though.
Lance: Steam? Interesting.
Me: I’m more of a computer user. I just love the physical interactions with the mouse and keyboard. I might be retro! I grew up with computers. I wish I knew about Club Penguin earlier. I think I knew about Club Penguin because my uncle bought the DS game for me as a birthday present. I don’t think he knew what Club Penguin was.
Lance: A weird gateway. I would have never guessed that. Never guessed that it went the other way.
Me: Well, I’m one of the backwards people, I guess.
Lance: No, no, that’s good insight for all of us here.
To everyone who attended the interview, thank you so much for your time to share many interesting thoughts and facts about Club Penguin-related stuff. I learned so much, and I bet whoever is reading this interview is, too! The fans of Club Penguin and I appreciate you all for this wonderful opportunity to learn more about a game we will never forget.
I will be posting my Epic Snails interview at some point within the next few weeks. Keep an eye out. It will be posted not on this blog (after all, this is a Club Penguin blog!) but on my new Hyper Hippo fan blog.