Monday, October 03, 2016

Club Penguin: Early Concept Art - Part 1 (Rooms)

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Let's talk about something new today. Let's talk: concept art. Since Club Penguin is a flash game, and has been that way since 2005, (read this article to learn more about how flash runs the game) this means when the Club Penguin team wants to add a new item, they have to draw it in Adobe Flash before it's allowed to be hosted on their media servers.

However, most times, before working on the final draft, they sketch out some concept art on paper, or sometimes they make an early prototype digitally. Over the years, most of this concept art has been stored and collected, as it is used as a basis for the final model.

This makes for some crazy art that us regular players never get to see. Until today. I have with me some concept art that I've collected over the years. These released images have been posted around the web, primarily on the social media accounts of old art designers, or the official Club Penguin blog.

So without further ado, let me introduce to my new blog series, documenting and highlighting the wild, wonderful world of concept art! I will be doing the series in parts, focusing on different aspects of the game that concept art was created for. This post is part 1, where I will be discussing early room models for Club Penguin.

Why rooms? Well rooms are my favourite to look at. We don't usually give a second thought to the rooms we see on Club Penguin, or the many hours and scrapped versions that have preceded the end copy.

This is a very early piece of concept art for the Plaza on Club Penguin. Notice the Pet Shop, and how there is a cartoon picture of a dog, and all the signs hint to human pets ("puppies", "birds" etc). The reason for this? Puffles weren't actually around in CP when this was drafted! To be specific, this particular was draft pre-dates the beta testing days of the game.

RocketSnail—a former Club Penguin moderator—posted the image on his Twitter last August, accompanied with the message:

"Working on my blog post about the history of ninja penguins. Here is the original concept for the Dojo."

Wow, I never knew the Dojo was originally planned to be in the Plaza instead of its own room on top of a mountain. The history of Club Penguin sounds very extensive.


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Following on the same lines, here is an early concept of the Ski Hill. Nothing much to see here, except it's COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

Again, this was posted by RocketSnail (gotta love the guy) on his Twitter. He mentioned that he simply "found" this early concept of the Ski Hill.


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I like this image actually, especially the huge amounts of snow that are a Club Penguin novelty, and really make the game stick to it's canonical climate.

I do not like, however, the minimal room that would allow a penguin to move in. Today's Ski Hill focuses on a higher birds-eye view of the mountain, allowing penguins to move more freely at the top. This design, however, severely hinders the movement of the penguin, as nostalgic as it may be to look at.

Club Penguin posted this next image on their Facebook page, stating it was one of the "original sketches of the Dojo," dated August 25, 2005.

It certainly looks very old. I like the dragon-esque creature on the rug. I also adore the open-plan feel of the building. Makes it that much more epic to realise you are on top of a breezy mountain, surrounded by nothing but snow and wind. Makes you feel like a true ninja.

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On June 26, 2015, the following picture was uploaded to the Club Penguin blog as an announcement for the Inside Out party.

Now, this doesn't necessarily hold any historical significance like the previous sketches I've shown, but I included it because it gives a detailed insight into how a new room for Club Penguin is planned.

From this sketch, we can tell the team pasted a translucent blank layer on top of the current SWF of the room and draw the room around it, so it still fits when they install the new files for a party, or whatever the reason is for the new design.

I think it really makes me appreciate the effort put into the room designs for parties on the island.


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The next piece of concept art was taken for RocketSnail's "Sneak Peek" series he published on his blog during the months leading up to the beta release of Club Penguin in 2005.

During this time, not many people knew what was going on with their beloved Penguin Chat 3, just that what was referred to as the "BIG" update was coming soon. Little did they know, this update would turn into the biggest and most successful MMORPG the world has seen.

Little sneak peeks like this is what kept players interested, and this concept art for the Dock did not fall short of keeping everyone entertained and hopeful for the future.

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Finally, we have some early concept art for the Snow Forts. The clock tower that we all know and love is integrated on a pile of snow, an interesting design concept.

The two iconic snow forts are still remaining, as they were conceived in this concept art. The game stays true to its roots.

If I am correct, Screenhog, the original CP artist, designed this very image, that would later become the Snow Forts we all know and love today!

That concludes part one of my new blog series about Club Penguin's early concept art. Thank you for your viewership.

Stay tuned for more parts of Club Penguin Concept Art, coming soon.

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