Advantages Something A Bit Different, Possibilities Are Endless, Quite A Small Community At The Moment
Disadvantages Language Barrier, Full Rooms, Potential Misuse, Still In The Beta Stages
I think it's quite safe to say that the main use of the Internet is to communicate to other people in one way or another. Take Ciao for example, every time you post an opinion or comment you're communicating to everyone that reads it.
Up until now the best way to talk to people over the Internet has been in Chat rooms such as Yahoo Chat. Sites such as this look very plain... you just communicate to each other through a wall of text (sometimes smiley faces if your lucky!). Some Chat sites have tried to make things a bit different but have never really got it right.
www.habbohotel.comThe site is yet another product of Internet design Gurus Sulake (www.sulake.com) who are based in Helsinki, Finland. Habbo Hotel was launched in January 2001 as a beta version (meaning that it's not quite perfected yet).
The idea is simple... to communicate to other chatters through actions as well as words. This makes perfect sense considering that normal communication between individuals is mostly from body language. The Hotel is aimed at younger people in the UK (it says at the site entrance). Don't let this stop you entering if you're older, everyone is welcome... I'm 26 and it hasn't stopped me.
When you first join you are asked to enter your Habbo details. This is very straightforward since it's aimed at young people. Just enter a unique Habbo name (your user id), a password, your birthday, e-mail & your mission. You can also enter your mobile number to receive text messages (I chose not to). Oh yeah... most importantly you have to choose if your male or female.Once that's all done you get to create your Habbo character that will represent you on the site. You get to choose the style & colour of your characters hair/hat, head, upper body, lower body & feet. This all works very well, it's hard to create a character that looks too stupid or disfigured. The amount of different body parts/clothing etc is fairly limited & you wouldn't be called 'picky' if you couldn't find a character to represent you. Then again you could call 'The Sims' selection limited, but Habbo hotel don't seem update or release 'new' skins or items very often. If you mess up your character... don't worry because you can go back and change it any time you want (even have a sex change if you want).
You can also enter private rooms that other members have created unless they are locked. Private rooms are a lot smaller than the public ones and have more of a personal, zoomed in view. You can create your own private room if you want, this is considered a privilege though. You are given the room for free, but furniture and other objects have to be paid for with Habbo Credits which UK members can purchase. Habbo credits are only a few pence at the moment, but are a bit awkward to purchase if you’re a youngster, you'll need either a parent to pay for you, or a cheque book. There was an option that let you pay by SOLO card, but this seems to have gone at the moment.
A Room With A View
You view the Habbo Hotel from an isometric view similar to computer games like The Sims & Command & Conquer, some people call it 3D... but those that do aren't very bright. The detail level is quite basic, but reasonable. Public rooms are all decorated in their own unique way, with seating areas, bars, dance floors and many other objects.
You may notice that there is no sound on Habbo Hotel at the moment, this is being worked on for later versions when more people will have faster Internet connections. It doesn't make much difference really, you soon get used to it.
Private rooms - Rooms that users have created (get to that in a moment)Lobby - Quite a simple room at the heart of the hotel (max 25 people)
Habburger's - Is a virtual fast food restaurant (max 25 people)
Club Slinky Helsinki - The hotel nightclub has two sections, the dance floor & the chill-out room (max 40 between the 2 sections)
Cunning Fox Gamehall - From here you can play games such as chess, poker & battleships against other members for fun (max 40 people between the different sections)
The Dirty Duck Pub - a pub that looks more like a bar (max 25 people)
The hotel has since added more rooms & some of the above rooms have been deleted or changed. The hotel structure is being changed monthly, so I have decided not to include these changes as it's probably best to check for yourself.
Get To Know Each Other
The clever thing about Habbo is that you can only hear conversations of people that you are standing near to. So basically you approach another character and start chatting... it really is that simple. If you don't want other people to hear you who are near by you can whisper, or if you want everyone to hear in the room you can shout. Walking around or interacting with objects or people is just done by a simple point & click system. You can interact with quite a few objects in private rooms from candles to bathtubs.
Since the site is still being developed I can't really criticise it too much because minor problems are expected. The only problems I have found with the site is not knowing when one of the chat pages is loading or not because there is no status bar.Another problem for some users will be the speed of the site, I understand that the loading times can be quite long for people with 56K modems or below. I myself have a satellite connection at home and at the office (not that I doss), so the loading times were good to satisfactory for me. This could be something to consider before packing your bags & moving over from another chat site.
Even though the site is aimed at UK chatters there are still quite a few foreigners that use it, this causes a problem with communication because no one has any idea what's being said. I've had situations where more than four different languages have been spoken in a single room at once, which as you can imagine is very hard to follow.The other thing that might put off some people is the fact that to get the most of the site you'll have to put your hand in your pocket. If you're into making friends on the net or a hardcore chatter then having your own private room is a must. As I explained earlier you have to purchase items for your private room by buying 'Habbo credits' from the site. So to have a good room that you can call your own that isn't very bland looking your going to have to spend a few pounds. There is nothing forcing you to pay for use of the site though, you could just use the public rooms or other peoples private rooms. But by doing this you are getting a small piece of private chat space that is your property, whilst at the same time helping Sulake (the owners) fund the improvements to the software & environment.
Another problem that is beginning to develop is that just as in real life the hotel has a maximum capacity. This is currently only around 2000 Habbos at one time (including the user rooms). Whilst this does improve the speed of the site & makes it more exclusive than other chat sites, the Habbo community is increasing all the time. I should think that it won't be long at all until the site does start becoming too crowded & people are unable to access the site. Over the past few months new rooms have been introduced to try & combat the problem, so it's good to see that the site is being taken seriously. Saying that, I know for a fact that Sulake are working on new chat sites (Project M Chat being one of them), so I don't expect it to be a huge problem if the Habbo hotel does reach it's capacity.
© 2001 The Firm Family
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