It’s been a while since I posted here on my blog, and I thought it was time to get something new up here for you peeps. Why? Well, many things have happened over the past year! And if you’ve actually taken the time and effort to read this blog, I should honor your time with something authentic.
Here’s a bit about what’s happened in the last year:
1. We started production on Party Parrot World! A new virtual world inspired by Club Penguin, Animal Crossing, and Legend of the Mystical Ninja. (Sure, I have a ton of other things that inspire me personally, but I thought I’d pick the top 3 for this particular project. Why? I’ll save that for another post.)
2. I’m working with an amazing crew of Club Penguin players to help them bring the community’s dreams to life! To me, this is one of the most satisfying things that I am most grateful for in this journey. Watching the Club Penguin community grow up, and having the opportunity to help them where I can. And if you’re a member of the community, to help you where I can. Guess I’ll aways be a dad who wants the best after all 😛
3. That whole not-too-great fallout after the demise of CPR that left a lot of the penguin community feeling displaced. NGL I like game preservation a lot. I just think it’s a more complicated subject when it’s about preserving an online children’s game. Because I believe that children’s safety is more important than game preservation….
4. We will have an alpha version of the Party Parrot World live by the end of this year! It might completely fall on its face, but we are committed to starting somewhere and learning and growing and improving as we go. And since my personal allegiance is to the community, we’ll continue to (perhaps awkwardly) listen and grow as we go! We will launch imperfectly and continue to improve and grow together, and that is both scary and exciting all at the same time!
5. We hit pause on The Moose & Polo Show with the finale of season one. And we’re brainstorming what we want to bring you peeps for season two! (Plus now that we’re not doing the Moose & Polo Show for a hot minute, I might as well try to post here on the blog every once in a while.)
I finally made the time to read Atomic Habits – have you read it? There aren’t many books that I would recommend to anyone, and this is now definitely on that list. EVERYONE should read Atomic Habits.
The reason you should read Atomic Habits? The principle is simple: all good things require unwavering persistence and consistent effort.
And the best way to achieve your dreams is by making it easy to make progress.
And by making small habits a habit.
And that perfectly describes what it’s like to build a virtual world, MMO, or online game. You can’t build some new virtual world just because you thought of it. It takes many hours of work. Fun work, but work. Especially when you’re doing everything from scratch, art and all. To anyone who’s actually done the work and created all-original-from-scratch-no-previous-IP art — my serious tip of the hat to you! Making a game from scratch takes many many many many many hours.
“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”Kate Sanborn
In 2019, I bought a domain as a joke: clubpartyparrot.com
It was a brain fart purchase. I’m sure most of you already know that my significant other was essentially Aunt Arctic for Club Penguin. She was the editor in chief of the Club Penguin Times, and the story lead for the world. I was joking with her, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we made a parody of Club Penguin, with derpy art that makes fun of all our silly past mistakes? I could make fun of how dumb my “I’m a Mod” idea was! We could write our own parody of the Club Penguin Times, and the stupid thing is that it would be written by the actual editors of the Club Penguin Times!’
I picked the ‘party parrot’ part after I kept seeing the animated gif installed on so many startups’ Slack channels. With all of the different versions of the party parrot, it just felt like an older internet. It felt like 2007-2012 internet, just like the great meme Facebook Group. Or even… like Club Penguin itself. A period of its time that many of us are nostalgic about.
Little did I realize that the ‘party parrot’ was a meme from just after that era.
The real-life party parrot — the Kakapo — was turned into a meme after it tried to mate with someone’s head on a British nature program starring the amazing Stephen Fry. Originally, I just thought it was a funny, colorful series of animated Slack emoji. I didn’t know about the video when I bought the domain. It wasn’t until we started working on the project last year that I realized it was something much more important than just a simple meme…
The Kakapo (aka Party Parrot) are a critically-endangered species of parrot that only live on a small island in New Zealand. They are massive chonccy-birbs that only come out at night and can’t fly because of their large bodies… meaning they can only waddle and hop around.
And there are less than 200 in existence. 200!
2. 0. 0.
I can’t stress that enough. We have a species on the literal verge of extinction here. For real. Every single kakapo is tagged.
Once we realized how urgent and critical the issue was for the kakapo, it only made sense to create something meaningful as a tribute to them. To raise awareness. After all, even if almost no one showed up, at least we will have created something truly meaningful. Something beautiful.
When I first started to talking to Lance about the dream of making new virtual worlds like Club Penguin, I was most certainly not looking for a flightless, colurful, waddling bird that waddles around a small island. That bird found us. And I have that little meme to thank. Genuinely.
Building a single-player game from scratch is a lot of work. A multiplayer game? Even moreso. But building a massively-multiplayer virtual world for multiple platforms, with all of its infrastructure, social features, customization options, and safety mechanisms, is a tremendous amount of work. Almost Herculean, actually. An elephant worth of work…
So what’s the best way to eat an elephant?
As the old adage says: one bite at a time.
I often encourage creatives to ‘start with the easy and less important stuff’ when they’re tackling a large project. When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, do you think he started with the face of God? Or did he pick the less noticeable stuff, like that little bit of blue sky in the corner that most people don’t notice?
That’s kind of what we’re doing with the Party Parrot World. Starting with tiny little details that we need, but aren’t necessarily going to ruin the painting if we do them wrong! The whole project started with a dumb little meme drawing offer I posted on Twitter. Nothing fancy.
One key thing we have done in trying to make PPW is to make things as easy as possible to make progress on.
A year after my public and painful divorce from Club Penguin, I discovered a software tool that I had only dreamt of when I started the CP Archives… Airtable.
I’ve been using Airtable since 2016. It is single-handedly my favorite SaaS app of all-time, and I use it for just about everything. I recommended it to many people (including rsnail) early on as a quick and easy way to spin up a database and manage the data in it.
And now we’re using it extensively for the Party Parrot World.
The reason it’s been so powerful? It makes it very easy to collect and organize information, to make progress, and share results with anyone. Most importantly of all, it is ultra-flexible, allowing us to add and subtract information or change workflows at any time. We can adjust very, very quickly thanks to some clever Airtable setup. If the Airtable co-founders hadn’t spent two years carefully planning out the product, we wouldn’t be able to be here, quickly adjusting our plans on a dime with a diverse team around the world living and working in different time zones during a global pandemic. Talk about luck.
My encouragement to you: make it as easy as possible to make progress. Use tools if you have to, but you don’t need to. Any thing worth doing requires a zillion baby steps and (most importantly) drive and persistence. Make it easy on yourself by making it easy to progress. No matter how dumb or how small. Just make it stupidly-easy to make little tiny baby steps.
One baby step I’m talking about with Lance is starting a podcast about virtual worlds. After all, he and I both think quite deeply about virtual worlds, having spent close to 30 years living in the (already-in-existence-since-the-80s) metaverse. From BBSes in the Web0 era to IRC and forums in the Web1 era of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to the Whatever-The-Heck-Web-5-Is era, it’s fascinating to watch the evolution of virtual worlds and digital toys first-hand. Sure, I didn’t make Club Penguin (a teensy-tiny-little thing I didn’t build), but I have been living in, managing, making, and documenting these virtual worlds since the 90s, too.
The question I have… what would you want to hear about in a podcast about virtual worlds, both new and old?
Of course I will eventually re-start The Moose & Polo Show in some capacity later. Once we have a little bit more to show for everyone’s hard work the past few months since the season 1 finale…
Anyways, if nothing else I hope you consider reading Atomic Habits. You can apply it to your professional development, to your schooling, to your relationships, and your life. Sure, we’re applying it to the creation of new, family-friendly virtual worlds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply it to your own life and extract maximum value from it!