Hey Poptropicans, it’s Slanted Fish here with a behind-the-scenes look at the Poptropica Creators’ creative process! 👀✏️
About a month ago, I sent the Pop Creators several interview questions, and this week, the questions were answered! You can catch the full interview on the Creators’ Blog as well as below, along with some additional notes (in italics) here in the PHB edition:
Where do you get your ideas from?
We get a lot of ideas when we’re together talking about our favorite things. That inspires a lot of creative fun ideas. Pets came from the idea that almost everyone on the Poptropica Creators team [h]as pets and the types of pets varies from dogs to cats to rabbits and more.
We also get a lot of ideas from players. Poptropica players are always sharing super cool stuff that they want to see in the game. We get awesome fan mail and see people’s ideas on social media too.
(PHB’s note: We share ideas from the community here on the PHB as well — check out our Pop Petitions for things we want to see in the game!)
What does the process of making something on Poptropica look like from start to finish, whether it’s an item, island, or character?
We’ll use the new store we’re working on as an example! First, everyone on the team does research. We go through player feedback on what people have and haven’t liked about the Poptropica store over the years. We also look at other stores, including stores IRL. Then we start to concept what we want the store to be like. We have to come up with designs that will be easy to use both on your computer and on mobile.
After the sketches are done, some of the artists will start to design the actual scene with color and place items, so we get an idea of how big it needs to be. Once everyone feels like it has what it needs, it goes to the developers.
The developers are the ones who bring the whole thing to life. They code the entire experience and that’s the first time any of the Poptropica Creators can actually play what they’ve designed! We just did our first play-through of the new store and were psyched with how it’s come along.
Everything we make requires the whole team and takes a lot of time. It’s totally worth it though!
(PHB’s note: Check out these sneak peeks for the upcoming interior of the store! Also, it’s cool to hear about how different parts of the team work together to create the game’s designs.)
Can you share some snapshots of what you’re working on?
Here [are] some more sneak peeks [for] the new Fairy Tale Island!
(PHB’s note: Nice pics! We’ve also shared more sneak peeks of Fairy Tale Island on this blog. Stay tuned to the PHB for the latest news on this upcoming adventure! Also, thoughts on this new hands-on-hips pose?)
What kind of stories do you hope to tell?
We love unique stories with a fun twist. Elements of surprise are always super fun too. When we’re brainstorming new ideas or choosing winners for the Dream Island Contest, we’re looking for things that we think we would love to read as a book. If it would make a good book, then it would make a great island!
(PHB’s note: Interesting. We love a good book too, but a Poptropica island is not a book — wouldn’t it be cool to explore more on the affordances of Poptropica’s platform? Interactivity, non-linear storytelling, social interaction, and more are all possibilities with digital storytelling that you would not find with a book. Still, there are certain elements that make up a good story no matter the medium, and we always look forward to what stories will be told through Poptropica!)
How do you gather player feedback and how does it influence the game?
Players share their feedback in a lot of different places, from actual mail to videos online. There is always a lot of feedback and it ranges from super fun ideas to questions about why we’ve made changes to Poptropica. When we get a lot of the same feedback from different players it can definitely influence what we do. For example, there have been a lot of requests for more ways to customize your character now that New You is gone. We’re already incorporating that into the new features we’re working on.
(PHB’s note: Why is New You gone, anyway? BTW, if you have feedback for the Creators, you can send them through their submission form!)
What advice do you have for young creatives who want to work on a game like Poptropica one day?
If you’re passionate about making games, start learning no matter what age you are. One of the newest developers on the Poptropica Creators team started learning how to code when they were 12, and that was before there were so many amazing online courses! Always be open to learning new things and be willing to put in the hard work and dedication to become really good at it. Sometimes starting something new can feel hard, but with practice, anyone can become great!
That’s the end of the interview! Thank you, Poptropica Creators, for taking the time to answer these questions and give Poptropicans everywhere some insight into the game’s inner (and outer) workings. It’s hard work building this space to be quality fun, but well worth it! 💙
What are your thoughts on the Q&A? What questions do you have for the Pop Creators? Share them in the comments here, and/or on the original guest post on their blog, and they may be addressed in the future!