Clubhouse, Creators, Poptropica Store

A very bright clubhouse and store update 🎇

Hello Poptropicans! Maryann here with a rundown of the latest updates to the clubhouse items, store, and Creators’ Blog!

You have no clue how hard it was to get Denali to pose for these with me.

Many of these new items take on a more modern style, including neon lights and a small vending machine. There’s also some gamer oriented decor, including a gaming chair and a neat little wall sign.

All we need now is a gacha system and I can replace my Genshin Impact addiction with a Pop one!

This recent store update included new outfits as well as the return of some familiar ones, including the Heart Astro Knight (a hint at the creators remembering the objectively best much-loved island?), as well as more Winter Girl/Boy sets. New additions include some cute t-shirts!

Along with a clubhouse update post, the Creators’ Blog made another soon after discussing the future of Poptropica in 2021. This post recalls the game’s creation by Jeff Kinney, as well as plans for “new islands… player requested updates to features, launching new side-quests and mini-games, and even giving Home Island a makeover.”

The post ends with dubbing 2021 the “Year of Stories” and hinting at another guest blog post about Paradise (Airport) Island. It also included this really pretty art!

That being said, mentions of new islands have encouraged a pressing question: Where is the news on the Dream Island contest? The most recent addition to the line-up was Goofball Island about a month ago. While outfits and accessories are fun, what makes Poptropica unique are its stories and islands, and it would be nice to have some idea of what is planned for the future, as well as what fan ideas can be achieved through the contest!

I don’t want to end this on a sour note though! So, what are your favorite of these new items? And what are your hopes for future Poptropica islands, both reboots and newcomers?

Castori honorem ~ Maryann/Smart Bubbles

Creators, Uncategorized

A call for guest writers whips up more questions

Greetings Poptropicans! This is Maryann bringing you a recent update from the Poptropica Creators’ Blog, an open call for guest writers!

The requirements are fairly simple: you must be 13 years old or older, and sign up through the usual submissions page with a “quick answer on why you think you’d be a great contributor to the blog.” You must also include your (or a parent’s) email.

Many fans (including myself) were thrilled about the news at first, and many members of our online community have submitted for the position! However, it wasn’t long before some questions arose, notably from the Dimension Bros’ video released soon after, discussing the Creators’ motives for how they approach their fans. (Disclaimer: Individual fan reactions do not necessarily represent the PHB’s views.) Fans have also questioned how writers would be credited, as this is not the first time Poptropica has asked for fan ideas to use and gain rights to, such as when they asked players to submit ideas for merch.

If you want to learn more and form your own opinions/ideas on this, and read through a bit of legalese, I suggest looking through the terms of use connected to the submissions page.

They state, among other things, that Poptropica may use your content anonymously (unless you give them permission to disclose your name otherwise), on third party sites (such as social media), and that you are not owed any compensation for what you submit. Rest assured, though, that Poptropica does not “claim any ownership rights to your content.” In the end, it’s up to an individual how they feel about their content being handled, but at the same time transparency is important, especially with a younger demographic.

In the end, hopefully this turns out in a positive way for both the fans reading the blog and those who are picked to be guest writers! Until next time!

Castori honorem ~ Maryann/Smart Bubbles

Creators, PHB Specials

Q&A with Poptropica’s CEO, Abhi Arya 🎤🤴

Hey Poptropicans — you asked, and Poptropica has answered!

A while back, we asked you to bring your questions for Poptropica’s CEO, Abhi Arya. We selected some for him to answer, and he has responded!

We may have tweaked a few of the fan questions for clarity, but Mr. Arya’s words below are verbatim. For a few of the answers, the PHB asked for clarification, and Ms. Natalie Shahmiri, the general manager of Poptropica, stepped in to answer on his behalf, so you’ll see her responses too. Without further ado, let’s pop all of the questions!


Introduction

Emma I: How does it feel to head up such a great game that has made so many childhoods?

Abhi: It feels great. Whenever I am in a room with Poptropica fans, I hear great kudos. Having association with a recognised game that continues to excite the gaming generation is a proud feeling. But I am not alone – I have a great team supporting me in this journey – in fact our game designers, developers and product team are much more passionate about Poptropica and they push me to do better for our players.

Theo (of Dimension Bros): How are Poptropicans so strong?

Abhi: Rumor has it that they descended from dinosaurs. Some people have said birds, which kind of are dinosaurs? Or maybe it’s just sheer willpower and determination. That’s probably it.

Dino DNA: Won’t find any cloning materials here.

The Future of the Game

Magniventris: What does 2021 hold for Poptropica? Will there be brand new islands, or will the focus be entirely on porting old islands to Haxe? If it’s on porting, how many islands do you project will be converted by the end of next year?

Abhi: We’re working on a mix of both, plus some remasters of the old islands. We’re also looking at ways to allow players to access the old islands once Flash isn’t widely supported anymore.

Natalie: Our current audience plays a big part in how we approach converting islands too. For example, the remastered Mythology island is a departure from the island you grew up with. It’s linear and definitely simpler (but still not too easy for a younger kid!). We have a lot to weigh when creating new content, from special events to remastered islands, so we don’t really know yet how many islands will be converted by next year. That’s also why we’re looking at options to ensure our older fans can still play the original Poptropica islands. We know how much the Poptropica you grew up with means to you and want to make sure you can always play that version.

The remastered Mythology Island on Haxe deviates from the original.

Emma I: Will non-members be able to access old islands anytime soon, and when can we expect that to happen?

Abhi: The original islands use some old technologies that make it harder for us to support in a live environment. Limiting it to members-only keeps our systems from being overwhelmed and allows us to focus on the long-term decisions of how to keep them available. We’ll share more by the start of 2021.

Short Glove: Will player names be customizable from a prescripted list in Haxe, like they were in Flash? (Right now, only a handful of names are possible in Haxe based on the default character you first choose when making an account, but many more options were available in Flash.) (Editor’s note: Since this question was asked and answered, the Friends Beta released in Haxe with the option to change one’s name.)

Abhi: It’s something we’ve definitely been considering. We’re working on optimizing a lot of the player features right now, like the ability to add friends by username. We’re also working on some new ideas for player dashboards, which may incorporate customizable names or use usernames instead.

Small Beginnings: This was our very first attempt at designing your friends profile page.

Bee: Will there ever be a multiplayer option for playing through Poptropica islands with friends?

Abhi: Adding multiplayer to the older islands would be a little tricky since they were designed for a single-player experience, but we’re actively testing how to do this in new ways.

Purple Paw: Will the Photo Booth, Costumizer, and old Friends profiles be brought back? Why were these features taken out in the first place?

Abhi: The photo booth and old friends’ profiles weren’t very popular and were pretty dated. That’s the tough thing when you have a popular game for over 10 years, some things just start to feel out of place, especially for a new generation of players. Whenever we make these decisions we look at the data: what are users engaging with? If something no longer resonates with players we look at how we can update it or sometimes make the tough decision to remove it from the game.

Natalie: Engagement with things like the photo booth and old friend profile was less than 10% of the players. They were definitely fun features but as gaming has evolved, we need to evolve with it. We want to reintegrate features like that, but in a way that makes sense for today’s players. 

Invisible Ring: What’s the plan for Poptropica Worlds? Will there be more islands there, or will it eventually fuse with Poptropica Original?

Abhi: We had to pause development on Poptropica Worlds so we could focus on the conversion of Poptropica from Flash to Haxe. We’re still working on a plan for Poptropica Worlds, but for now, our focus is still on Poptropica.

The Pop Creators are focusing on Poptropica Original, not Poptropica Worlds.

Maxx: Will the old islands be adapted for the Poptropica app (iOS and Google Play)? (I really enjoyed playing Cryptids and Big Nate for the nostalgia factor, and would really like to replay them on the iPad.)

Abhi: Some of the older islands won’t be available on mobile in their original form. They were built using a version of ActionScript from prior to mobile games even existing! Since they can’t be converted there aren’t a lot of options outside of working on a way for players to still access and play them after Flash is no longer actively supported.

Mess of a Being: When recreating old Flash islands for Haxe, will you consider making changes to the stories, like with the new-ish 24 Carrot Island on Poptropica Worlds?

Abhi: Yes, this is definitely in the plans. We’re also tweaking some of the islands since we know there are spots that were too hard or confusing for players. Mythology Island that comes out in November will be the first island we’ve converted that will have changes to it.

Editor’s note: The remastered Mythology Island came out on Haxe ahead of schedule last Friday, October 30. Read more about the release and initial community feedback here!

Aphrodite now gives up her precious vanity mirror without a challenge.

Fandom Fun

wow: What do you think about the Poptropica fandom community?

Abhi: We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our fans. We’re actually bringing back our VIP program to help elevate our super fans. Stay tuned to the Poptropica Blog for more details coming out soon.

Theo (of Dimension Bros): Do you keep up with certain Poptropica fans’ postings (blogs, Instagram artists, YouTube channels, etc)? If so, which ones?

Abhi: We definitely do and Dimension Bros is one of them! We see almost everything tagged with Poptropica and regularly share our favorites among the Pop Creators. We’re also working to share them more on our blog and social media.

Incredible Fire: Can we have another Create Your Dream Island contest? This monumental contest that gave us Arabian Nights Island happened 7 years ago, and many fans today would love the chance to participate.

Abhi: Definitely! How about after this interview gets posted we start the contest?

IsaacEntertains (of Dimension Bros): Since a few fans have shared their lists, we’d like to know: who does the Poptropica team declare are the top 10 hottest Poptropica characters?

Abhi: That’s like asking a parent which kid is their favorite. 


Creative Process

Emma I: What does the process of making an island look like?

Abhi: We actually just did a blog post about this for the Zomberry Special Event. To start off we talk about different story ideas and iterate on that until we have a story the whole team likes. From there we start storyboards so everyone knows the sequence of events and has an idea of what each scene will look like. The developers use the storyboards to start their initial coding while the artists start to make all the art and animations. There are a lot of meetings during those steps with feedback, changes, more feedback, and even more changes. It takes months for an island to be built because of how many scenes, mini-games, NPCs, and prizes need to be made. There’s also music that needs to be composed and of course, a lot of testing.

Artists use software to create in-game animations for Poptropica.

GEAR: How long does it take to make one character, from their initial design to putting them in the game?

Abhi: Anywhere from 1-2 weeks. Characters with a lot of animations take the longest.

GEAR: Are you hiring? How do people get involved in working with Poptropica, and what kind of skills/talents do you look for?

Abhi: If someone is new to game design and development it’s best if they keep a lookout for when we post internship opportunities. We look for all types of skillsets, from artists to animators to developers. Outside of game development, we have marketing, which includes making videos and social media posts, and analysts who help go through game data to see how things in the game are performing. There are a lot of ways to get involved with Poptropica, it just depends on what part of the game industry you want to get involved with.

The Poptropica team in 2016 celebrating the game’s 9th birthday with cake at the office.

PHB: What does the Poptropica team currently look like now? How many people are on the team and doing what kinds of work?

Abhi: The Poptropica team is made up of team members all around the world. We have artists, game developers, web developers, graphic designers, testers, and more. Maintaining and growing a game like Poptropica requires a lot of people!

PHB: Fans have noticed that Poptropica’s newer (and fewer) islands lack the depth of storytelling found in many of its older islands. Why has Poptropica strayed from this original vision, and will you return to this key element which made the game unique?

Abhi: Storytelling is still core to what Poptropica is and always will be. Creating a full island story and experience can take anywhere from 3-6 months and requires the full team. Since we’re still working on converting the old islands we’ve been creating some smaller and shorter experiences so you have something to do in-between the islands being converted.

The Zomberry Hero special event was a smaller and shorter experience released in October 2020 while island conversion was in progress.

Dangerous Icicle: Why are there so many ads in the Poptropica browser? (The whole screen is littered with ads, even ads for Poptropica, and the new video ads in between scenes were not well received.)

Abhi: We added more ad units to the game browser and in-between scenes due to demand. A lot of the new units, like in-between scenes, are being tested and may not stay permanently.

Natalie: The demand for more ads came from advertisers. COVID-19 has made most businesses change how they approach advertising and that impacted how our partners work with us. While we know players aren’t crazy about the ads, advertising is part of what funds the development of Poptropica. We’re always working to find the right balance.

With the recent inclusion of video ads, it is possible to encounter a full screen of ads while playing Poptropica. Sometimes the ads are for Poptropica itself!

Tyler N: What is Jeff Kinney’s involvement with Poptropica these days?

Abhi: He isn’t actively involved at the current moment since most of our efforts have been focused on converting the game from Flash to Haxe instead of new islands. Plus, he’s pretty busy with his book series!

Tyler N: What, if any, do plans for a Poptropica movie, TV show, or animated series look like right now? (It was hinted at in the Q&A with the previous Poptropica CEO.)

Abhi: This is something that we’re always considering. It takes time to make partnerships like this happen and isn’t something we’ve ruled out.

MaryannTheConqueror: Are there any plans for more Poptropica merch, and is there a way fans (especially the nostalgic ones) could be involved in creating/suggesting ideas for that? Many have some very cool ideas!

Abhi: We have a new shop launching in November and yes, we definitely want suggestions! We’ll let you all know more on the Poptropica Blog.

Editor’s note: Since answering this Q&A, the Poptropica Creators’ Blog has shared about their plans to sell merch and invited fans to give suggestions!

MaryannTheConqueror: Are the Poptropica Creators OK with small-scale sales of fan-made merch (such as through Etsy or at conventions, or print-on-demand sites like RedBubble)?

Abhi: I love fan art and creations that are inspired by Poptropica. Using our art and logo files for merch isn’t okay though.


The Big Questions

PHB: Will Poptropica consider adapting its content for a progressively older player base? Though many started playing Poptropica as kids, many fans are now teens and young adults. And as Poptropica Creators have shared before, Poptropica stories have the potential to carry more than just a superficial experience.

Abhi: It’s an interesting idea and we often talk about how we can extend the stories outside of the main game. The core of our audience is still on the younger side, similar to when you probably started playing. It’s who the game is made for, so we have to stay true to that as our core focus.

Natalie: The majority of the Poptropica players are still under 13. We have over a million kids playing every month and while the PHB fandom is big, it doesn’t encompass all of our players. Similar to when a lot of you started playing, a lot of our players today are introduced to and play Poptropica in school. They also discover us through advertisements on kid-specific websites.

Oh Baby: Young at heart is usually good enough.

Mess of a Being and Tiny Bean: What do you have to say to criticism about the ending of Monster Carnival Island, which some fans have found problematic? (This fan video highlights the issues, explaining that Ringmaster Raven’s portrayal plays into ugly stereotypes and that he is given disproportionately unfair treatment by the townsfolk.)

Abhi: I totally get it. This is definitely one of those instances where you know the intent doesn’t align with the issue and you have to ask, “How was this affected by implicit bias?” We’re actually auditing all the islands for this reason and have already revised Monster Carnival for its conversion to Haxe. I appreciate that players bring this to our attention. It’s the only way we can all collectively move forward in the right direction.

Ringmaster Raven deserved better.

PHB: What is the current vision of Poptropica in terms of how it hopes to impact the next generation?

Abhi: I want Poptropica to continue to inspire young fans around the world. Gaming has changed a lot since Poptropica was first introduced and I’m proud of the fact that kids still love our characters and stories. Seeing videos of people coming to play Poptropica after 10 years and their enthusiasm for the game is amazing. All of the fan art (and fanfiction) is inspiring and shows that Poptropica holds a place in players’ hearts.

Mess of a Being: Are there characters in Poptropica that the Creators see as LGBT? Who might they be? (For fan discussion on this topic, see Dimension Bros’ video on analyzing queerness in Poptropica.)

Abhi: Poptropica always has been and always will be inclusive. It’s part of why we want players to be able to customize their characters however they want and why we removed the gender selector when setting up an account. I don’t think we have any characters where their gender identity or sexual orientation plays a role in the story, but it’s something I think we should consider for future islands. Representation matters and we’ll always work to create a place where everyone feels like they belong.

And finally…

GEAR: Thoughts on Dr. Beev?

Abhi: Dr. Beev is an enigma. He does periodically show up for parties though.

Nice gnawing you too, Dr. Beev.

You made it to the end! Thanks so much to Abhi and Natalie for joining us on this Q&A and taking the time to address some fan questions and concerns. It’s assuring to hear there are big plans for Poptropica even beyond the end of Flash gaming!

What did you all think of their responses? What further questions do you have for the Poptropica team? Share your thoughts in the comments below and on the PHC Discord!

— the Poptropica Help Blog —

Clubhouse, Creators, Haxe Javascript, Member Gifts, Membership, Pets, Poptropica Store, Social Media

Colorful and warm assortments hit Poptropica’s stores and social media 🌈

Howdy, Poptropicans! How are ya? It’s Lucky Joker here, and today we’ll be taking a look at this month’s member gifts, the latest updates in all of Poptropica’s stores, some social media shenanigans, and more. It’s a lot to go through, so let’s pop into it!

The three items for the paying members are: a Walkman (which is a modified, black version of the 80s Walkman from American Girl: Courtney’s Island), a slaying Rainbow Furry Jacket, and an adorable Llama Follower.

Considering the creators completely skipped over October and missed the opportunity to give us some cool, spooky-themed goodies (*ahem*), I think these items act as a bit of a payoff because this is a pretty cool bunch in my opinion. 😁

Remember, if you buy a membership at any point within November, you’ll receive these awesome exclusives automatically!


Another month means another rotation of the Poptropica store selection. The current stock is made up of 15 costumes, 7 followers, 5 powers, 5 pranks, and 14 miscellaneous items (for a grand total of 46 items) — 17 of which are exclusive to members. Not bad this time for the non-members! (Items marked with a * are members only; all items listed below.)

  • Costumes: Stylin’ Outfit*, Cool Outfit*, Glam Gamer Girl, Sweater Weather, Comfy Vibes, Warm Vibes, Day of the Dead (girl [designed by yours truly]), Day of the Dead (boy), Lightning Knight, Soccer Player (boy), Soccer Player (girl), Karate Master (girl), Karate Master (boy), Sky Hawk Warrior, and Xenon Trooper
  • Followers: Elephant Follower, Noodle Guy Follower*, Dolphin Follower*, Deer Follower, Charlie the Chocomonkey*, Atlantis Drone, and Mini Dr. Hare*
  • Powers: Binary Rain*, POPGUM (Cinnamon Fire Flavor), Meteor Shower*, Bobblehead*, and Electrify
  • Pranks: Sticky Notes, Sneezing Power, 8-Bit Birthday Pixel Pig Power, Inside-Out Power*, and Love Potion*
  • Miscellaneous: Party Popper* (which was a member gift back in August), Flamingo Floatie*, Watermelon Purse*, Drone Flying Follower*, Popsicles*, Hover Scooter*, Fox Mug, Unicorn Mug, Autumn Scarves, School Backpack, Notebooks, Marshmallow Roaster, Hiking Shoes, and Silly Streams

In addition, some new items (1 face and 4 body) have been dealt in the pet barn shop. They are: Round Glasses, Red Scarf, Magic Cloak, Pearl Necklace*, and Green Cloak. Only 1 (marked with *) of the 5 new items are members only, so that still leaves a good selection of cuteness, once again, to players who don’t have a membership.

Very adorable, am I right? (Of course I am.) My bunny, Clover, will totally be rocking the oversized spectacles and green cloak — and I think my lizard, Ivy, will love those pearls.


If all that wasn’t enough, we’ve also been given a different array of clubhouse décor including an armoire, a funky bookcase, and a diverse variety of appealing wallpapers. Neato!


On the topic of stores, it’s been found that the new release of Mythology Island doesn’t have a Quippy store, making it the only island on the Haxe version of Poptropica to not feature the little common room droid. It may show up later though, like how it did on Time Tangled Island. I guess we’ll wait and see.

(UPDATE: Quippy has made an appearance on Haxe’s Mythology! Stay tuned for a follow-up post soon here on the PHB.)


In other news, the Poptropica Creators featured some more awesome community works of art on their Instagram story yesterday. Check ’em out below!


Also, on the Creators’ Blog, Poptropica has (hopefully) finally satisfied the fandom’s curiosity by addressing some of the questions people had regarding the game’s fate post the shutdown of Flash at the end of this year. Here’s a snippet of what they had to say (Check out their post to see the full responses):

Once Flash is no longer supported, your account will still be accessible. Your existing account will work in the Haxe version of the game too. You’ll keep your stuff and we’ll give you a mega credit bonus so you can get to shopping for anything available that wasn’t in the Flash game. For those of you who started playing Poptropica in March 2020 or later you’re already in the Haxe version!

We’re also working on how to make sure you can play all the classic islands in their original format. We know our long-term fans love the classic Poptropica they grew up with and we want to keep that going forever. 

Poptropica Creators’ Blog, “⚡Oh How Time Flashes By⚡”

Another thing — Short Glove, over on the Poptropica Help Chat (PHC), shared a short video demonstrating how to costumize your character on the Haxe version of Poptropica in case you wanted to know how. I know I’ve been wanting to! It’s kind of ingenious, really.


Whew, that was a lot, wasn’t it? Well that concludes this post. I thank you all for reading and I’ll talk to you in the next one. Pop on!

– Lucky Joker 🍀

(By the way, we’ll be releasing the Q&A we (and you) did with current Poptropica CEO, Abhi Arya, soon, so stay tuned for that! He had a lot of promising responses I think many of you will be pleased to hear. 😉 )

Creators

Bring in your questions for Poptropica’s CEO!

Hey Poptropicans, we’ve got something special lined up for you!

We’ve been in touch with Poptropica’s current CEO, Abhi Arya, who is also the chief of Coolmath Games and Sandbox & Co., Poptropica’s parent company. We asked Mr. Arya if he’d be interested in doing a Q&A with readers of the Poptropica Help Blog, and he said yes!

Do you wonder about what goes on behind the scenes of making Poptropica, what the future holds for the game, and more? Send in your questions in the comments of this post, and we’ll gather some of your questions for the Poptropica CEO and team to answer.

While we wait to hear their insights, you can revisit this 2015 interview we did with the then-CEO of Poptropica, Jess Brallier! Poptropica has changed a lot in the past five years, especially with the external factor of having to adapt to a post-Flash future, and this is a great opportunity for both fans and the Creators to reconnect about what’s been going on.

We’ll be taking questions from now until next Tuesday, October 20, so fire away in the comments! And we’ll keep you posted on their answers here on the PHB, so stay tuned… 😄

— the Poptropica Help Blog —