As we celebrate 50 years of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Poptropica's creators tell us how they brought Charlie's world to life
An introduction to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Poptropica
Over the past five decades, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted for the big screen (twice), the West End stage, as an opera - and also for Poptropica.
Poptropica is a virtual world of themed islands where children can explore and play in complete safety. The Charlie island invites children to take part in their own quest for a Golden Ticket to Mr Willy Wonka's factory - and then to join Charlie Bucket and the other winners on that memorable factory tour.
In this three-part blog series, Poptropica's creators give us an insight into how they faced the challenge of re-creating Charlie's world online...
-- Roald Dahl HQ
"When we found out we had an opportunity to bring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Poptropica, we were thrilled – and a little daunted, too. Even though we pride ourselves on our amazing visuals, we had a high bar to clear. Sir Quentin Blake’s illustrations are classic. Making something that would hold up to his standard was a challenge, but an incredible opportunity.
We decided almost immediately not to try to recreate Quentin Blake’s style on Poptropica. Partly, this was a pragmatic decision. Quentin Blake’s characters are gangly, with elongated limbs, hooked noses, and jittery, broken outlines. Poptropicans, on the other hand, are almost all head and torso, built of clean lines and smooth shapes. Our whole system of movement and animation is built around that style. To make our characters look like Quentin Blake’s might actually have broken the game.
But we had an ulterior motive, too: we wanted to create a brand-new visual imagining of Roald Dahl’s story. We wanted to stay true to the descriptions in the text, while allowing our designers free reign to explore the outer bounds of the Poptropica style. Our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Island would be full of bright, solid colors and simple but huge shapes. It would look fantastic, but not so outlandish that it lost its identity as a factory.
That only left the characters. Again, we wanted to be faithful to the descriptions in the book. Roald Dahl’s Oompa-Loompas wear deerskins and leaves; our Oompa-Loompas wear deerskins and leaves. As for Mr. Willy Wonka, his appearance and outfit are described in detail in the text, but that still left some room for interpretation. We sent three fully-rendered Poptropican Wonkas to the Roald Dahl group:
And after some discussion, wound up with the Wonka you see here:
Our Wonka is completely faithful to the book, yet brand-new. That’s how we wanted to approach everything in our retelling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
-- Poptropica HQ