Hey Poptropicans, SD here to bring you another Pop Petitions post! Like our islands petition, I want to focus on a very important game element. So today, we’ll be taking a look at what makes a good character engaging!
Unlike previous petitions, this post won’t emphasize so much on what the Creators are “doing wrong,” but more on simply what we love about a great character, and thus what we hope to see more of. Let’s get started!
#1: Character Development
We understandably can’t see a whole lot of development in every single character we meet in Poptropica. That’s just too unrealistic, as we can’t learn every detail about everyone. Still, development is important when it comes to making characters with depth.
Most importantly, we need to see development in major characters that have an influence on plot. I’m talking about those who get the spotlight, the most prominent example being villains. If every villain were the same, Poptropica would get pretty darn boring, pretty darn fast.
The game isn’t a novel or a movie, so we can’t expect a whole lot, but I for one still love seeing someone’s personality evolve. Is that asking too much from a kid’s game? I really don’t think so, as it’s kinda important to teach kids that people can change, especially after slowly learning a big lesson. Isn’t that what educational games are about? While 2D art can be amazing, 2D characters are much less impressive.
#2: Diverse Clothing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Customizing is a huge part of Poptropica, at least for me. Costume contests are hosted, ASGs are made, rare items are collected, etc. So, fans are always looking out for cool new clothes! Besides ads and the occasional store update, NPCs are the main way to find unique new accessories. There isn’t much diversity in things like body type in Poptropica, but clothing can still be wide-ranged!
When designing a character, their clothing is obviously very important. What they’re wearing gives insight on their personality and significance in the island, but it should also catch the eye of various players. We’ve all seen development sketches of our favorite NPCs! The Creators can be meticulous in getting designs to be perfect.
The Creators have started to implement more modern fashion, which I personally think is a step in the right direction. These modern clothing options are more likely to appeal to newer players. The more unique clothing can be found throughout the game, the more diverse Poptropicans can be made, which is more accurate to real life. Having lots of detail in an outfit can really make a Poptropican feel individual!
#3: Captivating Dialogue
Other than appearance, dialogue is a prominent way in which a Poptropican’s personality shines through. The way someone talks can hint at what kind of person they are, in addition to their role in an island (just like clothing). Our own Poptropican’s speech can’t easily match our own in real life, but the variety of NPCs’ dialogue options are kinda endless.
Word choice is particularly important in a kid’s game, as it can be used as a tool to expand the player’s vocabulary, but can’t be so complex that it’s hard to understand. Humor is often used throughout speech in Poptropica, which is perfect for the tone of the game. Plus, this isn’t a novel so characters shouldn’t be spouting out paragraphs upon paragraphs of text.
The back and forth conversation can’t be super long, but it also needs to move the plot forward. In order to not be a chore to read, the script needs to be captivating. Jokes and lines that build excitement are strongly needed! A balance needs to be reached in order to not only be easy for the target audience to read, but also entertaining!
#4: Individual Personality
I’ve already mentioned this factor in previous categories, but I still feel like it deserves its own spot. In any form of entertainment, whether that be literature, movies, shows, or games, the characters need to be unique! A pretty simple concept, but sometimes hard to make a reality.
There are many ways to show a character’s personality, even in a simple game like Poptropica. These include appearance and dialogue, like I’ve said, but also things like actions and location. A favorite character should be hard to choose, merely because how diverse real people are. It’s important to keep the young target audience in mind, and make many significant characters easy to relate to in some way.
Similar to real life, not all Poptropicans should be perfect. When developing a character, flaws and quirks need to be embraced just as much as desired traits! Doing this gives even an NPC a bit more depth, believably, and interest. Rounding out these characters makes a game so much more immersive and enjoyable! Seriously, I would die for some of my favorite characters.
#5: A Purpose
Something easy to overlook, but still (in my opinion) important. Characters should not just be included in a scene to take up space. NPCs need some purpose to be where they are, to wear what they’re wearing, and to say what they say. Does background Poptropican #17 catch your eye?
Before you ignore my point, I know that we can’t take a close up look at every single minor islander and see what their purpose in life is. It isn’t necessary to think that significantly on characters that don’t have that much impact on plot. Save that for your fan-fics. Still, Poptropicans shouldn’t be randomly places on streets. Unless the Early Poptropicans on main-street just really like standing in the sun all day? No shame in that I guess.
Unless you’re going for an abandoned, Steamworks Island theme, characters should be generously placed around an island to create atmosphere. That, like other elements I’ve touched on, adds to a sense of immersion. Still, some thought should be put into why a character is a certain way, relatively simple purposes included. This is similar to how actors create backstories for their characters, to really give them life! Even a mundane purpose, because it’s not uncommon, makes a character realistic.
Remember that this post isn’t meant to bash the Creators, but instead voice the opinions and suggestions of fans. In fact, there are many instances in which Poptropica characters check all these boxes! We all want Poptropica to be as awesome as possible!
So, what are your thoughts? Do you agree with our list? What kinds of characters do you want to see in the future? Be sure to let us know what other Pop Petitions we should make as well!