Pop 5: Big Things That Happened to Poptropica

(Hello, Poptropicans! This is a guest post written by Magic Sinker, who has her own site called The Poptastic Blog. Keep in mind that this list represents only the author’s opinions. Enjoy!)

Hi, Poptropicans, Magic Sinker here! Today I am going to do a Pop 5 post, which is, if you had no clue, a post in which a Poptropican writes a list about a topic on Poptropica, which in this case is Top 5 Best things that have happened to Poptropica! Let’s start!

#5: In the year 2007, Poptropica was released!

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Behold, the inevitable truth that many overlook. Yes, this may seem like a small fact to you, but it’s the foundation for everything we’re talking about here!

Also in this year of 2007, this was the year Poptropica founder, Jeff Kinney, published the first Wimpy Kid book! The debut of the game also came with its first and only island at the time: Early Poptropica.

#4: The First Sound-Updated Island, Episodic Island, and Sponsored Island was released!

These three Islands are: Virus Hunter Island (first SUI), Survival Island (first episodic adventure), and Big Nate Island (first sponsored island). All three of these Islands are — believe me — very different when you first take a look at them, but even with their differences, they were all special in their own ways.

Personally, my favorite Island out of these three is Virus Hunter Island.

#3: Skinny Moon became the main author on the Creators’ Blog and the social media manager!

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To all the new Poptropica players, there used to be a few other authors on the official Creators’ blog, such as Dr. Hare and Captain Crawfish, but now there is only one: Skinny Moon. This didn’t only happen on the Creators’ Blog, though.

For all the fans of Poptropica over the age of 13, the Poptropica Creators are on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and a few other social media platforms. Skinny Moon herself has also been known to stop by Discord on occasion!

#2: The Poptropica Help Chat moved to Discord!

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Some of us know that the PHC, which is the PHB’s chat hangout, used to be on Xat, but I think that Discord is the more convenient server option. You may already know about Discord, since the PHC recently had a party for Pride Month, but still, this is big!

Thanks to the ease of use with Discord, many more Poptropicans (including myself) were able to discover and chat with the friendly community of fellow Poptropicans.

#1: Poptropica Worlds arrived at last!

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Yes, we definitely all know this and, sorry to say, but if you didn’t, where you hiding under a rock this past time? We had been waiting for a little more than a year, and a few months ago, the Poptropica Creators posted the sneak-peek teaser video which gave us the name Poptropica Worlds, instead of the mysterious “New Poptropica.”

Anyway, in May, the long-awaited reboot game finally debuted! Yay!

So, I hope you guys enjoyed my little list, and please tell me your opinion in the comments below. Bye!


Hope you enjoyed this guest post by Magic Sinker! If you did, be sure check out her site, The Poptastic Blog.

The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. You can find some tips and guidelines on our Write for the PHB page. We also encourage sharing blog posts on the PHC.

If you have an idea for a PHB post, send it in to staff@poptropicahelp.net:)

Pop Petition: What We Want From Pop Worlds, Pt. 2

Pop Petition Header

Hello once again Poptropicans! Spotted Dragon here with the second installment of our new Pop Petitions series! We received a lot of feedback on our last petition post and I’m thrilled to see not only all the support expressed for this series but also to be hearing all of your shared concerns.

If you aren’t familiar with this series, it is basically a compilation of what the PHB authors and community want to see happen in Poptropica.

No one is fully adjusted to Poptropica Worlds yet and with all the changes it brought with it, there is no way we could fit all of our thoughts in just one post. I mean, we’ve already made more than our fair share of reviews on the subject. Anyway, this will serve as a continuation of our last petition, so let’s just jump in!

#1: Imported Outfits

I have a sneaking feeling that your eyes might have lit up when first reading the title of this section. We all miss our old Poptropican’s outfit, especially those of us who have an iconic look. When Poptropica Worlds was first announced, we were reassured that our accounts could be imported, but recently we realized that did not include our old costumes.

Brave Tomato - PHB Pixels

Awesome pixel renditions of the PHB team from Brave Tomato.

Granted, it’s obviously not a surprise that we lost our old style. It would be a big stretch to assume that each bit of clothing we know and love would get revamped for Pop Worlds, but that doesn’t lessen our loss. Everyone still wants their old clothes back, but the Creators have said that that will not be happening.

It was a long shot to hope for direct transportation of our original designs, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for at least more costumes to purchase. Specifically, more costumes with clothing that’s as similar as possible to a lot of original Poptropica looks. Even more specifically, more costumes that are available to everyone and not only members. I mean… I just want my blue hoodie back guys.

#2: Interaction

When it comes down to it, Poptropica is a game. More on that, Poptropica Worlds is supposed to be better than the original, right? And that means improved game-play. This not only means better interaction in our quests, but better interaction in average scenes as well.

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I think we all know that Crisis Caverns Island was lacking in some categories, but we go into more detail on that in our review. However, I do need to bring up the fact that the quest had very minimal elements of interaction. There were lots of things that looked like platforms that actually couldn’t be jumped onto for example.

I’m not only talking about limitations in exploration, but simple fun features too. I think it would be much more interesting to have things in our houses that we can actually use for instance. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to flip through TV channels (I’d love to watch some Bucky Lucas clips), or serve yourself some ice cream, or play pong on your computer, or design your own posters, or anything like that? Even hidden Easter eggs like the old Hypnotic Costume can spark interest. Little things like this can be what really make a game unique and while it’s not a necessity, I think it would enhance Poptropica World’s whole experience.

#3: Glitch Improvement

No, calm down glitching community, I don’t mean to take away your fun. Actually, I’m talking about fixing all the unwanted glitches. Of course it is inevitable for a game still in progress to have a multitude of problems, but there are some big ones that I think need addressing as soon as possible.

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Yes, we are all familiar with the “Bleachy Boy” glitch by now, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many other problems have been reported, spanning from flying through walls to disappearing items. Some of these problems have quick fixes, like just refreshing the page, but others have stopped players from completing Crisis Caverns indefinitely and have made simply enjoying the game impossible.

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until a majority of these problems get fixed, but at the moment it is causing a big hassle for just about everyone. Not only is glitching a big dilemma, but so is lag and poor game response in general. Not that all this isn’t new, but eliminating stuff like this would improve the whole experience tremendously.

#4: Islands

This one is no surprise. In fact, it is guaranteed that Poptropica World’s has more islands in its future, since it wouldn’t be Poptropica without them. I can’t stress enough that I understand Pop Worlds is still new and so still has a long way to go. We aren’t expecting new islands immediately, but it’s still something to look forward to.

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Similar to importing our old costumes, I’m sure we’d all love to see some of our old favorite islands get added to this new world. Another big dream, I know, but still a nice thought. While original Poptropica is still up, it’s in the shadow of Pop Worlds now and we simply don’t want to see our old adventures fade away.

Islands and their story lines take up the majority of Poptropica’s game play. With nothing left to do in game, players tend to quickly get bored and that is what leads to the game being forgotten. New islands can’t be pumped out each week, but the countdown to new releases is something we all get excited for.

#5: Costume Closet

This one shouldn’t be a big surprise either. It ties into us wanting more customizing options as well as us wanting the Friends page back. While “saving up to 30 outfits” was always a members only paradise, some of Poptropica’s oldest players will even remember the costume collector item card that allowed for the saving of a simple 3 outfits.

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While we do technically already have a “closet” in Poptropica Worlds, it only holds the clothes that we have purchased through the store. When it becomes possible to customize random Poptropicans you meet on your adventures though, how will you save those awesome looks for later?

Whether or not we are able to save more of our looks in the future, I think one thing is clear to everyone: we want more customizing! Right now, we are stuck with whatever look we chose when we first logged in. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m regretting not choosing those rainbow shoes right about now…


Despite these setbacks, we still think Poptropica Worlds has a lot of good features as well as potential for more, as outlined in our last Pop Petition post and our Poptropica Worlds Review. This post isn’t meant to bad mouth the game, but simply to let the Creators know what their fanbase wants.

What about you guys? What improvements do YOU want to see on Worlds? Shout out your suggestions in the comments below!

~SD

In the Eyes of a Newbie: Poptropica Original vs Worlds

This post originally appeared on The Pop Blog and is being shared on the PHB courtesy of the author, LillySparkle$. See the bottom of this post for how you, too, can write for the PHB!

newbie eyes

Hey guys, today I am here with a rather unusual yet interesting post: we’re going to see Poptropica from the eyes of a newbie who’s never played before.

Since most of us reading this have probably been with Poptropica for a while, our opinions about the new Worlds are heavily influenced by the Poptropica we’ve gotten to know. But have you ever wondered what Poptropica looks like in the eyes of a little kid playing for the first time? Which would he like better: the new or the classic?

We’re going to dive in by introducing my friend Super Bug (that’s his Poptropican name) – a seven-year-old boy who’s never played Pop – to the game of our childhoods.

To keep things even, this commentary is only about his play-throughs of one island on each: Monkey Wrench on the original, and Crisis Caverns on Worlds.

Poptropica Original

I got Super Bug started on this one first because I think it’s always better to start with the originals. I helped him pick a name and get the basic customization. Then, he went to the tutorial of Monkey Wrench Island and figured things out on his own.

He said he enjoyed the action, specifically when the Red Baroness throws the wrench at the airplane. He liked the controls of the game, like climbing and jumping: “I felt like a ninja playing it!” He thought that “the floating head is sorta creepy and sorta funny!” His favorite parts of playing were the action, solving problems, and the puzzles, such as the one with the rock and the crab.

His only complaint was that the Red Baroness was “mean and didn’t want them to win the race.” When I asked for any final word on the game, he gave the descriptive answer of “it was good.” So there you have it!

Poptropica Worlds

Design-wise, Super Bug said he liked Poptropica Worlds because they had “necks which made them less scary.” Like the original, he said he liked the mini games and challenges. He had so much fun!

He loved the geysers (water-shooting rock formations) you could jump on in Crisis Caverns. He enjoys the jumping because it was “much further than a human jump” and made you feel “like a superhero!” He loves the idea of houses as well and had lots of fun playing around with his!

He doesn’t like the difficulty of controls that was different from the first one. Overall, he said it was “good.”

The Verdict

Before I tell you which Poptropica he picked as the winner, I want to add in how Poptropica could actually be quite educational for kids. I never really noticed it before since I am older, but Super Bug had tons of fun reading the characters and giving them specific voices. He loved solving the problems and thinking of solutions. It was a really cool thing to see, and it took me by surprise!

So, when asked which one he liked better, he chose… both!?

And I am not making this up or anything. He played through both and said he couldn’t pick! He liked both for different reasons, and he thought the game was so fun! He loved every minute of playing both games! I am really excited to see him completing more and more islands.

Well that about sums up the first taste of both Poptropicas, as experienced by a seven-year-old. And because he is only seven, his answers and reviews on Poptropica aren’t the most complex or detailed, but that’s fine. What matters is that he had fun and enjoyed the game!

Hope this was an eye-opener for you guys! Let me know in the comments if you remember any first thoughts you had about Poptropica as a kid, or just your thoughts on the whole ordeal!

 Signing out,

Lills (Maroon Jumper)


Hope you enjoyed this guest post by LillySparkle$! Be sure to check out her site, The Pop Blog.

The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. You can find some tips and guidelines on our Write for the PHB page. We also encourage sharing blog posts on the PHC.

If you have an idea for a blog post, send it in to staff@poptropicahelp.net:)

My Place in Poptropica: G-Hopper

This is the My Place in Poptropica story of G-Hopper, who runs his own Poptropica blog at Brainy Pop BlogSee below for details on how to send in your own MPIP story!

Hey guys! My name is G-Hopper, and I have finally decided to write an MPIP! I hope you enjoy it! If you want to add me on Poptropica, my username is Wheze4. Shall we proceed?

|2011–2012| A Small Beginning

It all started off when I was a little four- or five-year-old, watching my sister play Poptropica. I loved the game, and was impressed with what she could accomplish! I decided to try out this game myself, not really completing any islands, due to me being so young. (I also may or may not have forgotten every account’s username and password.)

However, I continued to enjoy the game, even without achieving anything whatsoever. Also, my younger individual was completely attracted to computers back then – they were the building blocks of me today. I used to play Club Penguin constantly until I found Poptropica, and then I’d play a little of the two.

But as the year went on, Poptropica disappeared from my mind, since it grew a bit dull to me as I grew up.

|2013–2014| Small Sparks

In the following years, I remembered the game a bit. Still, I didn’t play it as much since I still could not recall usernames and passwords. Plus, the difficulty of the game just got higher.

To be honest, 2014 is a year I can’t even remember. The fame completely went to Club Penguin at that time. Also, around this time, SUIs (sound-updated islands) were being introduced, and I got seriously confused when I saw color on the original, iconic Poptropica map. All thought of the virtual world went to sleep, until…

|2015| Up and Playing Again! (And the PHB!)

2015 was the year of revival for my Poptropica activity, as I was seriously losing interest in Club Penguin due to Disney’s actions to the game.

By this time I could beat so many islands on Poptropica, thanks to the PHB’s great walkthroughs. I didn’t even know about all the other things the PHB had until some months later!

Also, Escape From Pelican Rock Island was introduced at the end of the year, which really piqued my interest as a player. However, I couldn’t play the new island until 2016, since they released in later for non-members.

|2016| Entering the Community

In mid-2016, as the PHB prepared to host the Poppies 2016, their annual Poptropica community awards, I decided to make a great leap to get more involved in the wider community surrounding Poptropica, starting with creating a Discord account. I received pretty warm welcomes, and I was guided by one of my first PHC friends, Orange Shell.

From there, I managed to get a meme face scheduled, make a deviantArt account, and start my blogging experience by creating the Brainy Pop Blog, which I run along with a few others. This was the greatest year for my Poptropican.

I evolved through blogging and attended tons of PHB events. It was a whole new start for me, and it felt like it was never going to end.

|2017| The Whole New World and Beyond

The beginning of 2017 wasn’t all that eventful, but anxiety for the upcoming Poptropica Worlds continued building up. I passed the time by getting involved with the Pokemon fandom and another game called ROBLOX.

Then finally, in May, Poptropica Worlds was introduced! It caused a large revival in the activity of my blog, and Poptropica news was popping up everywhere. I’m so thrilled for what’s to come in this community!

And that’s My Place in Poptropica.

~ G-Hopper (G) (Cuddly Brain) (CB) (DJ Waffleman)
(The-guy-who-has-gone-through-too-many-nicknames!)


Hope you enjoyed this “My Place in Poptropica” story!

If you haven’t already, we invite you to send in your own. Please include your username and a minimum of 550 words, typed with good spelling and grammar, and divided into labeled sections. If you send in your story, we will continue to post new community MPIPs!

~the Poptropica Help Blog

Announcing: The Poppies 2017!

This round is now closed. Check out the voting round here!

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♫ It’s the most wonderful time of the year… ♫

Welcome, ladies and gents of the Poptropica community, to the Poptropica Help Blog’s third annual Poptropica community awards event: The Poppies!

What are The Poppies?

If you were around for last year’s event, you may remember how this works. We start off with a nomination round, where you nominate your picks for a certain category. This begins today, Wednesday, July 5, and will last for a week, until Wednesday, July 12.

Next, we move on to the voting round. Once the nominations have been narrowed down, you’ll be able to vote from the most popular nominations of each category. This will commence on Saturday, July 15 and will end a week later on Saturday, July 22.

Finally, this leads us to the awards ceremony, where we will be announcing the winners as we celebrate the PHB’s 9th birthday on Wednesday, July 26. More details about the party will be announced soon!

Part I: Nomination Round

First up is the nomination round. Each award category announced will be followed by a brief description (see below). To keep the nominations a surprise, you’ll be putting your nominations in our survey, where the Poppies team will look at the most popular nominations to create the voting options for the next round. Keep in mind that some of these categories are applicable to both Poptropica Worlds and Original Poptropica.

Start filling in the survey now!

Without further ado, the awards up for grabs are:

Poptropica Gameplay Awards:

  1. Best Store Item: With over a hundred store items Poptropica has released, which one stood out to you the most? Was it a costume? A power? A mini quest? Whatever it is – nominate it!
  2. Best Tribe Common Room: Ah, the Tribe common rooms; the exclusive space where tribal mates can meet up and plot their revenge enjoy each other’s company. Each room has its own interactive elements and they all have awesome designs, but which one is really the best?
  3. Best Common Room Game: Poptropica’s common room games include: Sudoku, Hoops, Sky Dive, Paint War, Star Link, Balloons, Soupwords, and Pathwise. Nominate your favorites from the list!
  4. Best Adventure Island: Poptropica has classified four islands as Adventure Islands. These include: Mythology, Arabian Nights, Survival, and Mystery of the Map. Which one is the greatest play?
  5. Best Challenging Island: Poptropica defines the challenging islands on the map as the following: Galactic Hot Dogs, Timmy Failure, Poptropicon, Spy, Shrink Ray, Reality TV, Escape from Pelican Rock (EFPR), Red Dragon, Super Power, Zomberry, Wild West, Vampire’s Curse, Cryptids, Monster Carnival, Mystery Train, Mocktropica, Wimpy Boardwalk, Shark Tooth, Night Watch, Astro Knights, Back Lot, Early Poptropica, Lunar Colony, Super Villain, S.O.S., Poptropolis Games, Counterfeit, Skullduggery, Ghost Story, Virus Hunter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Nate, Steamworks, Great Pumpkin, Twisted Thicket, and Nabooti. Wowie, that’s a lengthy list; it does offer some great choices, though. Which one do you think is the most challenging?
  6. Best Poptropica Merchandise: Over the years Poptropica has released quite a wide range of merchandise: books, toys, video games, and even clothing! Whether it was released or never released – which piece of merch was your favorite? If you’re not quite sure, our merchandise page is a good place to browse for favorites.
  7. Best Island Trailer: Typically a couple of weeks before a new island releases, Poptropica releases a  video trailer to give us a preview of what our next adventure has in store for us. They’ve made one for almost every Island, and they’re all very good, but are some better than others? Which one is your favorite? Whether it’s on a basis of cinematic feel, the music, or just the island itself –  go ahead and nominate it!
  8. Best Poptropica Ad: While Poptropica’s Islands keep us occupied most of the time, sometimes there isn’t anything to do. Quite often, advertisers contract for temporary games that appear on Poptropica. Advertisers have included Disney, Kellogg’s Froot Loops, Lego toys, and various animated movies and DVD releases, but there have been many others as well. If you can’t remember many of the past ads (then again, who can?), the Ad Transporter, developed by Keith Sammut, allows you to teleport to retired advertisement stages – so go check it out!
  9. Most Surprising Plot Twist: When playing a Poptropica Island, it’s not a surprise to expect a surprise, but sometimes it’s just not what we saw coming. We can think of a few examples that are perfect for this category, but we’ll leave it up to you to come up with the plot twist that surprised you most.
  10. Wittiest Poptropican Name: We’ve chosen the best (Golden Dragon & Golden Sword), we’ve chosen the worst (Big Belly), we’ve chosen the funniest (Cuddly Cactus), but how about the wittiest? Poptropica names can be pretty witty, but which combination is just too witty? Check out our Poptropica Names page to come up with something clever.

Community Awards:

  1. Best PHB Author: The PHB currently has a team of eight staff writers who work hard to provide informing and entertaining content, and each author presents with their own unique style. The current team consists of Slanted Fish, Brave Tomato, Spotted Dragon, Slippery Raptor, Lucky Joker, Happy Lobster, Silver Wolf, and Purple Claw – and all of us are automatically nominated!
  2. Best MPIP: Here on the PHB, many poptropicans have written their “My Place in Poptropica”, where they’ve shared their stories on how they came to Poptropica as well as their involvement in the community. (Look back on every MPIP here!)
  3. Best Active Fan Site (outside of the PHN): We, the PHB, want to take a moment to recognize another Poptropica fan site out there that’s doing awesome work, and this is that award! That means this award is not for the Poptropica Help Network, which includes this blog, the PHC (chat), our Twitter, videos, and wiki. Don’t worry, though – there are still so many content creators out there who put out neat stuff. Whether it’s a blog, a YouTube channel, or something else, go ahead and nominate it if it’s your favorite! As for blogs, the Poptropica Bloggers Network is a perfect place to start looking through a few.
  4. Best Fan Art of 2017: Poptropican artists from all over have created wonderful masterpieces throughout the year so far, but which of them deserves the title of “best”? Our DeviantArt group is a good place to start searching. This category looks for works that were created/published in the year 2017, to give the more current and active artists a chance at the award.
  5. Best Fan Fiction: Because art consists of such a diverse range of creative and imaginative pieces, we thought we’d make a category specifically for fan fictions. Again, the PHB magazines and our DeviantArt group are great places to look. Get reading!
  6. Best Realm: Another form of art on its own; there are tons of realms that have been created. Look through some of them and provide the code in the nomination survey so that we can see it too! You may nominate your own Realms, your friends’, or even someone you don’t know – it’s up to you.
  7. Best PHC Staffer: In case you’ve been living under a rock, the PHB hosts a chat server on Discord called the PHC, which stands for Poptropica Help Chat. You should really stop by! The PHC has a staff team of kind and reliable people who keep the chat a fun and safe environment. That sounds pretty award-deserving, don’t you think? Nominate your favorite staff member and tell us why you picked them! This award excludes PHB staff but includes any current Guardian (mod) or Supreme Overlord (admin).

Undesirable Awards:

  1. Most Underrated Character: While some characters are given much attention, some are very overlooked. Which Poptropica character do you think is the most underrated? (Note: Don’t nominate fellow players. This is for NPCs.)
  2. Worst Poptropica Update: Poptropica has come out with many amazing updates that have really expanded the game such as the friend feature and restart-an-island feature, but there have been others that many weren’t on board with. Do you have any in mind? Which update is the worst to you?

As said before, the nomination round starts now, so sound off in the survey who/what you think is deserving of the awards! Please limit your nominations to a max of three per award. Also, you’re not required to nominate for every category, though it is encouraged!

Remember, the voting round starts next week, and next week’s poll options will be based on this week’s most popular nominations. So, be sure to check back in next week to cast your votes! For now…

Make your nominations on our survey!

Keep popping in to keep up with Poppies events throughout this month!

How a Fear of Nickelodeon Informed Poptropica’s Core Identity and More: The Oddball Show with Mitch Krpata

Hey Poptropicans! It’s… Captain Crawfish?? Or, as he’s known in the real world: the one and only Mitch Krpata, Poptropica Creator extraordinaire!

mitch oddball

You may have heard of him: Poptropica writer of island scripts, dialogue, graphic novels, and more. The PHB even had an interview with him a while back where he shared with us about working for Poptropica. You’ve probably heard his voice if you’ve watched any of the Poptropica video walkthroughs, which he voices as Captain Crawfish.

And now, you can hear his familiar voice in a new video! As a recent special guest in a podcast called The Oddball Show, here Mitch talks at length about writing for Poptropica, including, among other things, the story of how a fear of Nickelodeon informed Poptropica’s core identity as we know it.

This episode is almost an hour and a half long, and worth a listen if you want to hear a Creator talk about Poptropica. However, below the video on this post, I’ve also summarized the flow of conversation – so you could listen, read, or do both! It’ll be long but insightful, so enjoy the ride!

On this edition of the podcast, the Oddballs welcome Mitch Krpata, Senior Story Developer and Narrative Designer for StoryArc Media, the company behind the popular kids’ game series, ‘Poptropica’. He is also the author of the ‘Poptropica’ graphic novel series, the third installment of which is due this September. We are excited to discuss the unique joys and challenges of writing for children’s media, what’s next for the worldwide ‘Poptropica Worlds’ game series, and his beginnings as a video game reviewer for the Boston Phoenix.

The Oddball Show, co-hosted by Prof of JP Lime Productions and Oddball Magazine editor Jason Wright, welcome in the guest of honor who’s “one part Oliver, one part Octavian”: Mitch Krpata. (Great intro, guys.) And so the show begins!

An intro to Poptropica: inspired by Monkey Island, best for pre-teens, made of world-building elements and more

The hosts jumpstart the conversation with some reminiscing of an old-school video game series: Monkey Island, by LucasArts. Mitch agrees that Poptropica is quite inspired by Monkey Island, considering it a children’s version of the older game. He goes on to describe Poptropica as a game with unique stories and puzzles, making up long-form experiences that require time and effort to experience, which players are willing to put in.

When asked about the age range of Poptropica players, Mitch remarks that a kindergartener could probably play the game but might not get much out of it. The sweet spot, he says, is around ages 8–12, when kids can both read the dialogue and understand the larger story. After that, you may still enjoy it, but – he laughs – you may want to “move on to your PlayStation 4.” (That may be true for some kids, but a large amount of the Poptropica community are also teenagers – and not all of us have PlayStations!)

Next, the guys compare Poptropica to The Sims games by Electronic Arts, commenting on the world-building aspect of games and how there’s no age limit for wanting some of that. Mitch notes that Poptropica Worlds is a little like that, where you get to build your own house and avatar. For almost ten years, this was the most requested feature for Poptropica: a way to build their own space, which finally came as houses on Worlds. Such a feature, of having a thing that is one’s own, transcends age and gender.

Then Mitch brings up the seamless gameplay that Worlds offers – as in, the ability to pick up where you left off from one device to another. He comments on how this kind of thing has been available for things like movies (Netflix) but not so much for games, so it’s pretty neat that Poptropica has finally done it. He gives shout-outs to Poptropica’s in-house developers, as well as the outsourced devs from Tricky Fast Studios.

Development of Worlds would start and stop quite a bit, and Mitch estimates that it took about a year and a half (18 months) to finish the project. At first, the conversation makes it sound as though there are 50 islands in Worlds (which would make the timeframe more impressive if that were the case) – but the 50 islands are actually on Poptropica Original.

Mitch Krpata: script shifter, sarcastic shadower

Mitch’s main responsibility within Poptropica is writing the original scripts for islands. It’s mostly him, although he sometimes also works with freelance writers, and works a lot with Jeff Kinney (Poptropica’s founder) for ideas as well, trying to figure out the answer to “What story do we want to tell?” The script changes a lot during development for various reasons: sometimes it’s too difficult from a programming perspective, or things that seem funny on the page don’t work well in the game.

There’s a lot of diplomatic, back-and-forth collaboration when the Poptropica team works together. Everyone speaks different “languages,” says Mitch – he himself doesn’t understand code, whereas programmers didn’t study English like he did, and then there are the artists (whose skill is amazing) who need to work towards a shared vision.

When asked if his personality comes through in the characters of Poptropica, Mitch laughs that it does. He recalls a tweet he saw of a screenshot from Poptropica, of dumpster boxes labeled “hopes and dreams,” captioned “same old Poptropica.” Mitch says he sees the Poptropica community/fandom as somewhat sarcastic, but not exactly negative – he considers Poptropica a positive place, but at the same time, it’s not like other kids’ media he sees where it’s cheerful all the time.

Mitch talks about how his favorite books and movies as a kid all had an edge of darkness in them, recalling the classic storybook Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This feels true of Poptropica as well, he says: it looks cartoonish, but it’s not a superficial experience – there is depth there for the kids who are paying attention to it.

The part about how Nickelodeon second-handedly changed the course of Poptropica’s identity

The Oddball hosts then speculate how the name “Poptropica” came to be: is it about pop culture and a tropical setting? Mitch says “kind of” – actually, they were originally going to call it Poptropolis, with pop being just a fun-sounding word and, although not mentioned, the –tropolis ending is probably city-inspired, as in the word metropolis.

Anyway, just as they were on the verge of releasing Poptropica, Nickelodeon came out with their virtual world… Nicktropolis. (The Creators talked a bit about this before, but didn’t mention their competitor’s name, although we did! And as you may know, Poptropica did release a Poptropolis Games Island back in 2012.)

Well, with Poptropica worrying that Nickelodeon might come after them if they tried to release their own virtual world with a similar-sounding name, they decided their project needed a new name. Mitch and the other Creators who were brainstorming from the beginning threw out other ideas, and eventually “Poptropica” came out.

And that was how a fear of Nickelodeon ended up informing Poptropica’s core identity as we know it today: it was because of the “tropic” part of the name that they came up with the idea of separate island adventures. If it hadn’t been for that, Poptropica would probably have been one continuous adventure, as they would’ve been if they had been Poptropolis. It just goes to show, Mitch says, how much this kind of a project is not a master plan – it’s more like spinning plates to get to the next thing.

Jeff Kinney: bestselling author, lesser-known programmer

We know Jeff Kinney created Poptropica, but more know him as the author behind the wildly successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and movie series. So, how did he end up doing both a big gig and a smaller one?

Well, Mitch explains, before Jeff had published any books, he was an employee of the company along with Mitch, then called Family Education Network. Jeff was a Shockwave programmer (this was pre-Flash, in the early 2000s). (Flash is considered outdated now, which is why Worlds was developed!) Anyway, Jeff made educational games for Funbrain.com, some of which are still there, like Penguin Drop, even though they’ve been re-developed in HTML5.

One day, Jeff went to editor of the company and brought up a project he’d been working on: a cartoon-novel hybrid, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which he suggested would be good for Funbrain. The editor liked it, so they published the series daily in 2004-2005. Jeff didn’t get extra money for this.

It was decided at some point that Funbrain – the educational games – was getting a bit “long in its tooth,” and so the company started thinking of doing a Funbrain 2: something that would be educational but also fun, maybe with your own avatar. As this happened, Jeff got a publishing deal for Wimpy Kid, and in fact, the first Wimpy Kid book came out the same year Poptropica did.

Jeff retained the rights to Wimpy Kid and became wealthy overnight, but continued his day job on Poptropica, which Mitch says is more than you’d expect for someone who’d built this empire. Poptropica and Wimpy Kid are both very important to him, but at this point, he’s finally much more focused on Wimpy Kid than Poptropica.

Planting Poptropica seeds: the game, the books, and pop culture

As far as numbers go, Mitch reports that there are well over 500 million avatars created, and over 100 million players. However, he also says the game is “definitely not as cool now as it was before.” If you go to a school now and ask, “who knows Poptropica?” you might get about a dozen or so hands raised. But at the peak of Poptropica’s popularity, in 2010, every kid would be raising their hand – it was, for that while, the biggest site in the world for kids.

Then Mitch discusses the Poptropica graphic novels, which are related but separate. They share the same basic idea for what Poptropica is: an area of the ocean where these different islands are. But, he says, the difference is like planting two seeds: one is Poptropica the game, one is Poptropica the graphic novels. While the first book, Mystery of the Map (which he did not write), is also an island, there’s nothing in the game for what’s in the other books.

The books have also been published in other languages, like Spanish – but he remarks that it’s “funny how they don’t tell me any of that.” He doesn’t know how many languages they’ve made it in, but has observed that it’s in most European countries and some Asian countries – “way more than I thought.” Mitch had the opportunity to pick up the book series when the person who wrote the first one (Jack Chabert, aka Max Brallier) wasn’t available, but he says he “did not foresee seeing a Greek version of the book!”

Mitch admits there may be some humorous elements in the books that kids read and would not necessarily get. The Oddball hosts bring up a few they really like: in The Lost Expedition, there’s a reference to the R. Kelly song “I Believe I Can Fly,” as well as Rodney King’s “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”, and on the ship, Mya imagines singing the sea shanty “Barrett’s Privateers.”

This all lends to the style being crafted – it’s more than just the story at face value, but there’s more with the connections to pop culture. Part of the reason he does this, Mitch says, is that if he pretended to know what kids were into today, “they’d see right through me.” He’s also hoping to broaden his audience, as maybe parents will get something out of it.

Mitch likens it to his own “Simpsons moments,” which is when he sees something later on in life that he had seen as a kid watching The Simpsons, and realizes, “that’s what it was!” He wants kids to have these moments with Poptropica – maybe later in life you’ll hear that song that Mya is wanting to sing on that ship. He describes it as “cross-disciplinary thinking that is not really in vogue these days.”

The hosts ask if there are any Star Wars references in the Poptropica books, to which Mitch points to Galactic Hot Dogs, where Max Brallier “tries to write Star Wars for kids.” GHD is also owned by StoryArc Media, whose biggest mistake, he says, is probably letting Jeff Kinney keep the rights to Wimpy Kid, which is worth far more than the entire company now.

Then the conversation shifts to discuss Kory Merritt, the sole illustrator of the Poptropica graphic novels, although he has worked on other stuff too. Kory has his own drawing style which differs from the game. Mitch says that Kory has bailed him out many times in the creative process: if he didn’t know whether something he wrote would work, Mitch would write “need space!”, send it off, and get it back – and Kory would somehow make the joke work on the page. Although making the books is a collaborative effort, Kory decides how to do the illustrations, and it’s always better than he imagined.

Next Mitch is asked if he gets a lot of crossover with fans and the target audience who are interested in other quirky concepts, like those of Harry Potter. Mitch says he hopes so, and talks about having the chance to meet many kids at school visits who liked the Poptropica books, and how it’s weird that they look at him as a star. He also hopes they are kids interested in big ideas: the nature of existence, why we read and write books, and so on – he says we’re never too young for that.

Writing for Poptropica: big growth, big ideas

Mitch is then asked how he got into writing for Poptropica. He answers that he’s always been interested in writing; in fact, his college degree is in writing. His career path led him to writing for the company that included Family Education Network and TeacherVision, which he says was not too exciting, but they also owned Funbrain.

As he got to know people in the company, and because at the time he also reviewed video games, the company needed someone who could write about video games and he was asked since they didn’t have the budget to hire someone new. Mitch was in the windowless conference room where they first discussed what Poptropica would be. The game took off immediately, so they did have to hire more people, and he went back to his regular job. However, they later needed more people again, and he found himself back on the project by 2010.

Then he’s asked what it’s like to watch something like that grow. And he answers, “When you don’t have a frame of reference, it just seems normal – it was so popular so fast. Not that we weren’t amazed.” Mitch says their best day was when there were 1.5 million unique kids on the site in one day.

However, he says, kids are fickle, and they will move on to the next thing. There have been so many competing games in the past ten years, so the Poptropica team used to worry about competing with Neopets, then Club Penguin, and now Animal Jam. Still, if you keep giving them something to come back to, they might stick around.

He’s also asked if he ever beat the game, but to that he replies, “There’s no point where it ends and the credits roll.” He does confirm that “I have played every island to completion.”

Mitch contends that there are many challenges to writing children’s media, as well as joys that make it easier. Although he’s writing for a child audience, he doesn’t feel like he’s “writing down” to them, affirming that kids are earnest and open to big ideas. Teens, meanwhile, would be suspicious if you try to communicate something big. Kids are still critical, though – “they’ll let you know if you didn’t do a good job.”

Mitch says it’d be fun to be a player, and fun if the audience buys into the story. He also says there’s adult-style stuff in the game that “I’m trusting on the kids to get.” (Perhaps he’s referring to “big ideas” like life, death, love, crime, etc. – he doesn’t explicitly say.)

Mitch’s background as a writer: video games and The Phoenix

Then there’s a break in the conversation as the Oddball hosts promote their own work, and the show resumes around the 58:45 mark.

The discussion next moves to Mitch’s background as a writer and his first writing job at a paper called The Boston Phoenix. Mitch says he’s always loved video games, but he also needed to find a job. Despite his expensive private education, the only job he could find after graduation was through a friend doing customer service at a personalized company – “a terrible job.” Somewhere down this frustrating road, he checked for job postings and found The Boston Phoenix desperate to fill a position, so he applied, interviewed, and got the job. The job was to take the content from the newspaper and put it on their website, which in 2003 was quite the cumbersome process.

One day, Mitch’s boss asked him if he knew anything about video games, to which, of course, he said yes. His boss figured they could start doing video game reviews on the website, and before Mitch knew it, it became his responsibility. A year or so later, the reviews went on the print version of the paper, which gave more exposure and Mitch started getting paid standard rates for his reviews.

He left The Phoenix in 2005 but kept writing video game reviews for them as a freelancer for the next 8 years until they closed, while simultaneously being employed at Family Education Network. His dream job at the time was writing game reviews on IGN, but this gradually faded.

Mitch raises an important question to consider about writing: Why write about something if you’re just going to say what everybody else is saying? So, he says, “for a 600-word review in the paper, I’d rather dig into one element of a game and really explore it.”

What’s next for Poptropica Worlds?

When it comes to Poptropica Worlds, the goal is absolutely working on more content, says Mitch – more new islands, remastered versions of classic Poptropica islands, more customization and costumes, and more decorations for your home.

He’s asked if there is a movie on the way, and replies with, “I hope so! We still have a dream to get an animated series on the way, so we’ll see what happens.”

This episode of the Oddball Show is finally brought to a close with links given to read more about Poptropica and Mitch. You can read more about Pop at Poptropica.com (of course), with Mitch joking that their biggest mistake was in making a name that’s hard to spell. Mitch says he’s not terribly active online, but you can follow him on Twitter @mkrpata, and his personal website is WriteMitchWrite.com.


Well, that concludes this super long post of over 3200 words (or about 83 minutes’ worth of audio for those who listened to the podcast)! You made it through, and hopefully you learned some interesting things about Poptropica from a Creator’s perspective.

What did you think about Mitch Krpata’s commentary on The Oddball Show? Share your thoughts in the comments below – he may even read them!

Keep on popping on, Poptropicans!

~ 🐠

Community Creations: June 2017

community-creations-logo

Hello once again everyone! Spotted Dragon here bringing you the June recap for Community Creations! This month’s theme was Poptropica Worlds. The featured work is not in any particular order. Be sure to check out all the featured artists!

No clue what’s going on? Go see our intro post.

Top 5 Picks

Crisis Caverns by Jesta7

Jesta7 - Crisis Caverns

Despite some disappointments from Crisis Caverns, I think we can all agree that the island had beautiful scenes. Taking inspiration from those scenes, this drawing excellently uses lighting to its advantage. Stunning shading and a very cool color scheme. Everything gives off an intense, motivated vibe. Brilliant! Find her DeviantArt here.

Crisis Caverns by HappyCloneTrooper

HappyCloneTrooper - Crisis Caverns

Another piece that captures the beauty of Crisis Caverns Island very well. The bright, glowing crystals easily captivate the eye and make it hard to look away. Though the entire drawing is fairly simple, it makes for a crazy cool background and expresses a great use of geometric shapes. The lighting and pink tone in my opinion are just great. Find her DeviantArt here.

Meeting Poptropica World’s Happy Sun by TechnoBunny16

TechnoBunny16 - Meeting Poptropica World's Happy Sun

Yep, it’s what we all first saw when Poptropica Worlds was announced… fingers. A simple figure drawing, yes, but a very accurate portrayal of what our original Poptropicans would feel upon meeting their new counter-parts. We all had to give up on some key parts of our old outfits, but that doesn’t mean our new characters can’t have just as cute of a design! Humorous and adorable. Find her DeviantArt here.

Who Spilled the Bleach? by Jellow McFellow

JelloMcFellow - Who Spilled the Bleach

Okay, I couldn’t not include this piece, because it’s just too relateable. With Poptropica Worlds’ release, many, many glitches were released along side it. Including one in particular now widely known as Bleachy Boy, where all of a Poptropican’s clothes and color disappear. The situation in the drawing is hilarious and it provides a feeling that lots of us are all too familiar with. Well done, haha! Find his DeviantArt here.

The Poptropica Worlds Gang by Yumgirl

Yumgirl - The Poptropica Worlds Gang

Very cute characters that you can just tell had a lot of thought put into them. Don’t believe me? Well, you can read each Poptropican’s detailed description yourself. We all have our beloved Poptropica OC’s, but there aren’t nearly as many Poptropica Worlds specific OC’s our there yet. Simple composition, but adorable and well drawn! Find her DeviantArt here.

Honorable Mentions

Click to view the images in full.

July: How do I Participate?

Community Creations is a cool series for anyone in the Poptropica community to join in on. To sum up what it’s about, it’s basically a chance to show off your artwork, creepy fan-fic, realms, costumes, and anything else that pops into your mind.

If we really like the piece you submit, we will feature it here on the PHB! As long as it relates to that month’s theme. So what is July’s theme? July’s theme is…

Literature!

We tend to mainly get visual art submissions, but remember that this series embraces all forms of creativity! So, I wanted to provide a month that focuses the spotlight on other media. That being said, visual art is still welcomed this month!

Ever wanted to cross over Poptropica with your favorite book series? Now’s your chance! Ever want to see a Harry Potter or Hunger Games Island? Make it yourself!

harrypop

Any and all written work will be accepted this month, no matter the theme of it. Just has to be Poptropica related as usual! Poetry, songs, fan-fic, etc. are included. But if you’re not much of a writer, don’t worry! Just make your piece relate to a famous novel, comic, poet, etc. Make sense? You can even make a book character into a Poptropica costume if your heart desires!

  • Submitting: Comment below with a link to whatever you’ve created OR share it with me (SydVC aka Spotted Dragon) on DeviantArt, Twitter, or Discord.
  • Results: I will feature 5 of the submissions as well as 3 honorable mentions.
  • Limitations: Nothing NSFW, and make sure you relate to the theme.
  • Due Date: I will take any entries before the end of this month. Submit as many things as you’d like!

I will always be sure to let you know I have seen your creation. Bonus points if you make a compelling description for your piece! While quality counts, I’m mainly looking for something to simply catch my eye, so don’t be afraid to join in!

So what are you waiting for? Go make something awesome!

~SD