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Club Penguin Island: Dividing From The Very Start

Greetings Penguins!

As I’m sure many of you will know by the time you’re reading this (ha, people reading my blog?! Ha!), Club Penguin Island was officially announced as the successor to CP, codenamed by many as Project Super Secret – until now! Interested users can pre-register for the 2017 game and will receive a batch of special items for their interest.

https://www.clubpenguin-island.com

After the many troubles of actually trying to reserve a username (wow, that system really needs work), you’ll eventually be ready…to wait until next year to play the game! However, some lucky users who have pre-registered have received an e-mail, inviting them with the potential to test their games in an elusive closed-beta. And that’s where the dividing begins..

Not just mobile only, but USA/Canada only!

When Club Penguin had their beta test way back in 2005, they invited 15,000 players from Penguin Chat 3 to come over and test the game. USA? UK? South Africa? No problem!

Club Penguin Island (CPI) however have instead opted to geo-lock their closed Beta test. This means that only users in either the United States or Canada will be able to participate. Even faking your location won’t save you here, as the game itself will apparently be region locked.

The fundamental issue here is how the game is already dividing users. Mobile-only is something that was a controversial move on Disney’s part and one that left those either without a mobile device (or at least a recent one) out of luck. A true example of capitalism.

The reasoning behind this geo-lock isn’t clear. Surely if CPI is to be a quality mobile game for the masses, testing outside of North America would be logical? But I guess as long as the game works there the rest of us will be happy. Right?! This alienates users, particularly those of us who have played the game for a long time. It’s almost bad enough that our items, coins, Puffles etc won’t be transferred.

But wait! It gets even better..

An Apple A Day Keeps Android Away

CPI will use Apple’s TestFlight service to beta-test the upcoming game. The issue is that this service is limited to 2,000 testers – making the CPI Beta far more exclusive than even the CP Beta of 2005. Simply put, many many fans are going to miss out and I highly doubt they will be too happy about it.

Wait, TestFlight? Apple? Surely not..Yep! The test will also be iOS exclusive. It’s no secret that I’m a big Apple fan and own iOS devices and a MacBook. However, excluding international and/or Android users at this stage is extremely unfair. Android operates far more devices due to the plethora of mobile devices using the Google-owned OS, though admittedly the OS is far more fragmented than iOS and CP hasn’t being shy in flirting with Apple and its’ products in the past.

The First Rule Of Beta Club Is..

So, we’re aware of how exclusive this Beta test will be. But so what, right? It’s the actual game that counts and we all most of us will get to play it presuming we have a recent mobile device! I just hope there’s not too many in-app purchases..

..Nope! Well, kind of. Basically, Membership will still feature. This means that CPI will be a subscription-based game and we will be required to pay for certain features. An annoyance? Yes, but micro transactions are much, much worse.

So there it is, CPI will be the exclusive of exclusives – at first. Geo-locked Beta testing (on iOS only), mobile only and for the most part, membership only. It’ll be a fun experience regardless and I look forward to playing the game when it is eventually released.

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson (Or whatever username I get in CPI because ‘Jimbobson’ isn’t allowed at this time..)

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‘Holiday Party: 2015’ Critical Review!

Note: You may notice the domain Jimbobson.com has expired. The URL is once again Jimbobson.wordpress.com. I may renew it in the new year but for now that’s the only way to get to this site. Apologies for any inconvenience! 

Greetings Penguins!

The final month of the year has always ensured the festivity of the holidays was brought to the island. Whether called the Christmas Party, the Holiday Party or even the Merry Walrus Party; December has always promised to provide an eventful, festive experience.

Content

After last years Walrus-shaped mishap, CP has ultimately opted on playing it safe. Returning to the more traditional ‘Holiday Party’ name, 2015’s edition is admittedly too similar to what we’ve seen in previous years. Whilst the original Christmas parties had different themes (white, snow covered blizzard Christmas in 2006 and the Classic Christmas of 2007), the Holiday Parties have always included pretty much the same elements, with only a couple of new features. Like past years, the Christmas-inspired events have never really had a plot as such, but is merely a celebration of the winter-themed event.

But at least there was no overly-cheesy Walrus this time around, right?

Activities / Quests

The absolute major downfall of this party was the fact there was nothing to do. Sure, players could donate to Coins for Change, hunt down Rockhopper and collect the daily items from the Christmas countdown calendar – but that was pretty much it. Members could adopt the Olaf and Blue Crystal Puffle then pick on their friends by freezing them (by transforming into the Frost Bite). The Magic Sleigh Ride we’ve seen countless times since 2009 also made its’ return which, whilst a fun time waster for new players, didn’t come with any new items for those who have played over two months (it actually returned during the 10th Anniversary..).

To conclude this section, the party fails where modern parties must succeed. The older parties from back in CP’s early history had a plot, a few simplistic free items and endless roleplaying opportunity thanks to a much better filter, which is ironic considering games are supposed to improve their features over time, not go backwards.

Items

Perhaps where this party did shine was the plethora of items available. A total of 33 free items were available – a giant amount for any party. Of course, not all of these were for everyone and many were either returning (in the case of Puffles or mascot backgrounds) or re-coloured items. Nothing too spectacular, though the item advent calendar did grant everyone with a selection of furniture items and a Deluxe Gingerbread House (which non-members still cannot access for some odd reason). Certainly an improvement over Operation: Crustacean but falls flat when compared to the 10th Anniversary.

Decorations

The Holiday/Christmas parties have always been richly decorated. From snowmen to christmas trees, these parties had everything you would expect – and more! Last year’s Merry Walrus Party was incredibly lacklustre in decorations and, if we’re being honest, lacklustre in pretty much every department.

Since the Holiday Parties have begun however, we’ve been treated to the dusk sky covered with stars and animated northern lights. Whilst still appealing, I do feel its losing its’ effectiveness. Just like the Halloween parties used to mix eclipses, storms and sometimes a combination of both; I feel the Holiday Parties should consist of something new. Perhaps snowfall?

Regardless, 2015 saw a big improvement in this section when compared to last year. Even the recently released Area 501 had its’ exterior and interior mildly decorated. If I was to suggest some improvements though, it would be more animation! Make those lights twinkle, make the ice sparkle, make the northern lights move in every room!

Pre-New Year Update: CP has recently added fireworks to the Ice Berg and Ski Hill as usual. However, this time they also added dance mats which is a great addition. It’s clear the team is finally paying attention to the community – subtleties really give a room a polished and professional appearance.

Mascots

Out with the Walrus, in with the Pirate! Yep, everyone’s favourite Captain Rockhopper returned for this years Holiday Party – complete with a completely fixed Migrator!

Wait, but didn’t that get destro…oh, don’t mention it? Okay. Moving on..

Coins for Change

Those who attended last year’s Merry Walrus party may remember the whole fiasco regarding CP’s annual charity event. With the goal not reached, Merry Walrus apparently donated the rest of the coins – a cheap attempt of covering up the huge decrease of the game’s fanbase in recent years.

This year however, we apparently hit the 10 billion goal. In 9 days! Whether this was legit or not, we don’t know. Whilst I’d like to believe players donated over 10 billion coins, it could simply be that the coin counter was fixed to hide the fact CP isn’t getting any popular.

Verdict

In conclusion, CP ends 2015 in a satisfactory manner. Certainly an improvement over last year, 2015 has some stand-out moments that will undoubtedly live on for the history of the game. The 10th Anniversary was amazing and the Halloween party was certainly a solid effort. The Holiday Party, whilst unlikely to stand out in anyone’s memory as one of the best in the series, is still an above average party all things considered. Flawed, but not bad. Not bad at all.

Be sure to stay tuned for the 2015 in CP critical review. Basically, my flippers fall off by the end of it.

Random CP Fact #53: At a mod meet up on 30th December 2015, Megg confirmed that Project Super Secret WILL arrive in 2016. 

Until next time, have a Happy New Year!

-Jimbobson

#SaveTheClubPenguin

Greetings Penguins!

I’m sure a few of you are confused with today’s title. Save Club Penguin? From what? Those without access to Twitter are probably going to be the baffled readers here. This post will address what this hashtag means, its’ origin and the significance this popular trend has on our beloved island. Although I don’t usually write posts regarding the trends of Twitter and hot topics around the CP community, I figured this was too popular to ignore.

Where did #SaveTheClubPenguin come from?

For those not familiar with hashtags (#), they are a popular search method on the hugely popular social network website, Twitter. Users often hashtag certain titles, words or phrases to accompany a sentence. Common examples include films or political protests (#IronMan, #ClubPenguin, #ChristmasTree etc). Once enough people use the same hashtag comment, it begins to trend. Once it starts to trend, it becomes noticed around the world. This basic introduction to hashtags will seem obvious for those already in the know, but this knowledge is needed to understand the rest of this post.

Now for the #SaveTheClubPenguin trend itself. It began yesterday (18th December 2014) which is the same day as the Merry Walrus Party began. This is no coincidence, as the party itself is the main reason for the creation of this trend. Club Penguin players were already sceptical of the Merry Walrus party, as it seemed to try and replace the much loved Holiday Party. Upon the party’s release, it became obvious that it was extremely lacking in content. The rooms decorated were actually less than that of the Christmas Party 2006. It has since earned the title of the second smallest Christmas-inspired event ever – beaten only by the first in 2005.

A below-average party isn’t exactly what made CP player’s around the world express their fury on social networks and personal blogs though. 2014 as a whole has had a plethora of mediocre parties at best, most were poorly decorated and didn’t contain much excitement that wanted players to log in each day to earn even more mediocre items – and a Puffle or two for Members. Each party has seemed like a repeat of the last, with a slightly different context. The anticipation that came with the Merry Walrus Party quickly reflected the entire of 2014 upon its’ release. If I was to sum 2014 up into one word, it would be disappointment – and I’m positive many would agree.

What does #SaveTheClubPenguin mean?

So we know where and why it began, but what does it exactly mean? Personally, I would’ve preferred #SaveClubPenguin instead of #SaveTheClubPenguin. The Club Penguin? Why The? Anyways, many believe that CP has reached a point where it needs saving. Not literally Marvel-style saving, but it needs something to bring back what once made the game so unique. The Merry Walrus party is a fine example of everything that’s wrong with the game. The idea of being purchased by a bigger company (Disney), meant that the game could develop and grow. This was true throughout the 2008-2010 period in particular. The release of toys, DS games and so on was something that Disney had helped create. The parties were also more advanced, more rooms were decorated in such a bigger way than they ever had been before. Puffles were limited to 1 new colour per year. It felt like the original game – only so much bigger.

Nowadays however, we seem to be stuck in limbo. The game is nowhere as big as it once was – probably due to mass introduction of mobile applications (that are often free), social networks (which CP can’t compare against with their overly-strict filters) and how fewer children want to play on virtual worlds anymore. It’s almost been 10 years since CP released – the concept behind virtual worlds has become tired to some – causing fewer players to log in everyday.

Instead of making the game new and exciting with bigger updates than ever, the parties are becoming smaller than ever. The idea behind these events is to make players log in every month by bringing them exciting new content. Why should players even bother if the parties are smaller than they were 8 years ago? Some may argue that the rooms back then weren’t nearly as well-decorated as they are now, whereas others state that the rooms which are decorated today are often too overcrowded and just appear as a cluttered mess. Sometimes, less is more. Think minimalism!

Basically, the user’s who started and are currently using this hashtag trend want more from the CP Team. 2014 has undoubtedly been the weakest year in the games history. Sure, we’ve seen some apps released – but this doesn’t compensate for a year of sub-par parties that raise questions about CP’s funding and management skills. For the past few years we’ve heard about things such as Project Super Secret and the legendary Server Jumping – but when will it finally be released? It took the app team almost a year to give us the main Club Penguin app on Android and even then only several devices are supported. Children are the game’s target audience – yet CP seems to ignore that children typically have very short attention spans and even shorter patience. Maybe the main focus is on Project Super Secret and thus explains why parties have been smaller? Who knows – but one thing I know is that if this project isn’t released in 2015 (which would be a fitting time for CP’s 10th anniversary) – the game’s future could be in serious trouble.

What can we do?

The popularity of said trend grew incredibly fast. Bloggers took to their blogs to express their opinions, whilst others relied fully on Twitter to express their issues with the game. Within a few hours most of the Twitter community had jumped onto the bandwagon. Several even began tweeting old and current staff members (such as rsnail, Screenhog, Spike Hike etc) directly. The idea behind the hashtag is to ultimately make the team aware of the situation. Once aware, they can do something about it. It’s more than likely that staff members already know about this trend since the community has done such a good job promoting it, but whether they will react remains unknown at this point.

All we, as players, can do is hope. Hope that 2015 will bring something new to the table that will keep the game new and exciting. Next year marks the 10th year of Club Penguin, so I believe this will be a fitting time to introduce something that will do exactly that. I still have faith in the team, despite this year of mediocracy and disappointment. If nothing changes then the every-falling traffic of the website will continue to decrease due to angry players becoming bored and frustrated with what remains one of the biggest virtual worlds – in the world.

What do you think of all this?

Personally, I agree that the quality of the game has declined significantly this year. 2013 was far from perfect itself, but the severe lack of decorated rooms is what currently haunts the game (and the introduction of far too many Puffles). The main app was a step in the right direction, but the lack of performance updates (or the use of Apple’s new Metal API) has meant that its’ slow, clunky and often unresponsive. Not a great experience. Puffle Wild is a in-app-purchase hungry Candy Crush copy, that is extremely repetitive and again features too many Puffles.

I’ve played the Club Penguin since May 2007 and attended every party/event which followed. It seems as if the decrease in quality really began to shine after the original creators left. Perhaps because CP started as a hobby, and has since turned into a cash cow for Disney and the drawback of partnering with a giant company means that CP will constantly be pressured into raising the funds to maintain the cash cow status. But how long will Disney’s funding last? Hopefully long enough to see CP revive itself and claim its’ rightful place as the #1 Virtual World.

Note: To read any further updates about this, including updates whenever a new post is posted here or to simply ask me a question, please follow me at @JimbobsonCP on Twitter. Remember, you must be 13 years or over to sign up.

Random CP Fact #33: Entering the code PRINCESS will unlock the Tiara item. It was once very rare, being released in the October 2005/February 2007 Penguin Style catalogues followed by the Treasure Book and then Puffle Digging.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson