Summer School Q&A feat. notMiceElf

Last week for the start of our Summer School Q+A we invited you all to ask one of our resident pixel pushers (that’s a pixel artist for those who didn’t know) anything you’ve ever wanted to know regarding the graphic side of Habbo and we’d force out an answer. Yes, even with red hot iron barbs if necessary and let us tell you, we were itching to use those barbs regardless (moody artsy people pffft, you know you have it coming).  Before we delve into this first Q+A though we wanted to quickly give thanks to all of you for your great questions.  So. Thanks!

Now. Lets get into that delving!  Ah, we should warn you though… this answer is coming directly from the mind of one of those artsy people so we make no claim that it actually makes sense.  Even less so considering it’s coming from notMiceElf.  Good luck dear reader.  Should you make it out consciously intact remember to submit a question of your own for the next round of the Q+A!

How do you go about designing furni so that it is consistent with other Habbo furni?  (question posted by closetspace)

Hi closetspace and thanks for the question.  Actually a pretty cool question if you delve into the historical side of things… which… could be “zzzzz” for some so for those who hate that sort of thing in essence what you’re asking about is the Habbo style and that’s really the tl;dr answer.  So. Yep.  Oh, you actually do want more? Well, grab some popcorn… this could get long winded.

The Habbo style is pretty rooted in isometric game art so the foundation for everything from furni to pets and avatars is going to be based around the rules for that kind of artwork.  For example, check out this screenshot of an old isometric Batman game from the 80s.  Sort of has a hint of Habbo in it doesn’t it? 

example_batman1986

Those basic isometric rules dictate the point of view for everything within the Habbo rooms.  They’re really a kind of blue print which gives us a running start for keeping things consistent.  From that starting point we delve into the specifics of the Habbo style which is actually the interesting bit.

I think you can look at the Habbo style as if it were divided into three stages.  The first stage is made up of the original Habbo releases where the style was, in a lot of ways, in its infancy.  It’s this stage that gave us the foundational rules for what everything going forward would look like.  Items in this stage were much simpler.  Inner edges (like those on legs of chairs or beds) were often black, most items generally lacked texture, and the colors were also fairly simple.  It’s the kind of stuff, now, that I’d associate with someone who’s just learning the basics.  Ok, don’t misunderstand and start yelling, “You’re dissing oldskool Habbo! FOR SHAME!”, at me.  I’m just digging into the visual history to give a little context!  PUT THE TORCHES AWAY.

example_stage1

As Habbo made more items the pixel prowess of its designers got better (as did our internal tools for making items… thank you dev) and we left stage one and entered stage two.  There’s much better attention being payed to shape, volume and animation in this stage.  You’ll notice that vertical banding on table tops becomes pretty common place in this stage and those inner edges are starting to get color instead of being black.  Additionally the colors being selected are much more interesting from an artistic point of view which just adds to items looking like completed thoughts.  This second stage, for me, is really in full swing by the time we released Alhambra and goes on for about two years or so.

example_stage2

Eventually Habbo switched platforms from shockwave to flash where stage three and the real “modern” style takes over (though admittedly there was some overlap between the second and third stages as we transitioned our tools).  Stage three is characterized, in my mind, by items having more visual impact from better pixel artistry and attention to mood by way of color.  The color ramps (that’s basically a kind of controlled gradient from one color to the next) for drawing are often a bit smoother and don’t seem as abrupt as those in stage one and the first half stage two which adds to items looking a little more 3D and complex.  Items also get a lot more texture and transparency effects (stuff that wasn’t possible before. For example: water patches would never have been able to be made in stage one or two).

example_stage3

It’s a little more apparent if you look at how the rendering of one type of furni has changed throughout each stage.  Like. A bed.  Don’t look at theme so much but how the items are drawn.  The types of textures and complexities given to them.  It’s a pretty cool transition.

example_stageall

Alright. I can tell your eyes are getting droopy and your popcorn has run out which means it’s either time for me to stop with the history or plant some kind of subliminal message.  What we get from all this history though is that the Habbo style is something that’s been in a constant state of change because of individual artists and the platform Habbo was developed for changing.  There’s a core set of “rules” that were formed as we traveled those style stages to this point that we now follow. A few of those rules for example are: black outlines, light goes top left to lower right (this is an odd one… maybe someone will ask about Habbo light sometime), vertical bands for top sheen, small items being slightly larger than real life, ducks are funny.

example_ducks

To a certain degree that long slow change in style and the sheer volume of items (seriously, we have a ton of items) gives us a lot of leeway in keeping things appearing consistent without needing to redraw everything every few years (yeah, I’m looking at you original Area, Iced and Plastic).  In a way it’s like having a bunch of red crayons of slightly varying shades. Chances are that any new red crayon will fit somewhere in the bunch and look like it belongs.  That is, as long as we follow our style rules of course- ie: make a red crayon not a blue one.

So that’s the long way around the Habbo style reason.  But there’s actually a little more to it than “just follow the rules” (see they let me out of my cage, I’ll ramble for as long as I possibly can before I’m pulled back in).  That long history of items I mentioned before also means that, more than likely, we’ve already made something similar and we can go look to it for reference.  The trick there is to copy only what’s needed so items still look fresh.  Sometimes  you’ll see that we take outlines or bits of previous furni and tie it into new furni.  It’s an elegant way to ensure a kind of shared visual communication goes on between furni from past and present (helps keep our crayons red as it were).

example_reuse

So there ya have it.  Our overall Habbo Style and incorporating shared elements between new and old items help keep things looking cohesive.  There’s a whole separate topic concerning keeping items within a line cohesive too but I think I’ve probably bored you enough already :p  Plus I can hear the chains rattling which means it’s time for me to be put back in my art cage. I hope you’ve found the answer as interesting as I do!

The future is here: Habbo for Tablet!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane..?

It’s finally time for us to announce what’s so special about 04/04. We’ve seen your guesses, and you’ve heard the rumours, but now we’re here to tell you that we’re finally ready to make the big announcement… Habbo for tablet!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daEXEHuTne8

The tablet edition of Habbo has been in the works for a while now, developers have been slowly losing their minds, designers scratching their heads and even the marketing guys broke a sweat in the build up to getting this ready you.

So, what can we expect?

Well, the entirety of Habbo for the tablet has been re-designed to make it more touch friendly. There’s a brand new navigator, the catalogue is much more interactive, and how you touch and interact with furniture has been rethought too.

Screenshot 2014-04-04 12.18.00

There’s a few things that have not made it to this initial soft-launch release – whilst you can chat, build and create with your friends, you cannot yet manage your groups, play Habbo stories or chat over IM (You can however manage your friends and even follow them to rooms!). These features are all planned for future updates of the app

Screenshot 2014-04-04 12.18.15

Can I make purchases through my tablet or should I purchase on Habbo first?

You will be able to purchase Habbo credits directly through the tablet, this means that if your tablet has previously made in app purchases, and you have permission from the card holder then you can go-ahead and purchase Habbo credits that way!

 Can I use the furniture I have on my local hotel, or is this separate?

Unlike some games that separate PC and tablet versions, everything you have on the normal Habbo client, will be available on your tablet device! That means all your inventory is available as normal here.

Screenshot 2014-04-04 12.18.08

You said I can create.. Can I build rooms on the tablet?

Yes! You can build rooms just as you would on the web version of Habbo. It may take a little getting used to if you’ve been building on Habbo for years, but we’re sure you’ll be building masterpieces through your tablet in no time.

Screenshot 2014-04-04 12.18.23

Where can I download it?

This release of tablet Habbo should really be considered a late closed beta, at the moment it’s being released only in Canada, this means that if you live somewhere like Australia or the UK you’re going to have to wait a few weeks first.

Those that are in Canada, the app will be available on the iPad 2 or newer, it will not be available on iPad 1 as of yet.

Updates, updates, updates!

So many new things!

Welcome back to another issue of behind the pixels! Today we have loads of new things to tell you about – From New public rooms, furniture and clothes, to general Habbo features. We’ve been very busy!

So sit back, put on your reading glasses and prepare to be blown away…

  • Brand new clothes! – That’s right. We have hoards of brand new clothes for all you guys, after weeks of work we’re now ready to get them in to the Hotel for you. We’ve got lots of things for both boys and girls, including hair pieces, backpacks and every a ponytail! We have even created a few special accessories for those role players out there. So chose your best outfit and get ready to strut down world wide catwalks during Habbo fashion week.
  • Builders at work – We recently started a new initiative for those of you with a special building flare! Each hotel is soon going to have a group of builders that will be hard at work creating awesome new room designs for all us not-so-great builders to enjoy. Each local Building team is comprised of 1 main leader and a small selection of other Building savvy Habbos, who will work together on various Building projects.  The teams will be rotated frequently, so don’t worry if you didn’t get in this time – there’ll be plenty of opportunities for you to get yourself in there! Get your hard hats ready for some nail biting room building…
  • HC Update – We are bringing you one of the biggest and best(est) HC update yet! New commands, new floor maps, new clothes, a bigger ducket limit, new HC public room and much much more. We can’t wait to see the great new rooms and outfits you guys put together once this update hits the hotels!
  • Custom room filters – Soon to be the newest feature in the hotel is the ability for the room owner to implement a custom filter. No longer will you be plagued with unwanted language in your room… instead you will be able to filter it out yourself! There is no set date for this feature launch yet, but there’s no reason you couldn’t start preparing a list of those words that don’t really tickle your fancy!

These are just some of the awesome things you have coming to improve your overall Habbo expericen. We hope you enjoy and would love to hear your feedback!

Let’s talk updates!

In the last post, we had a look at the ‘Day in a life of a Developer’. We hope you guys enjoyed!  This time we’re going to be looking into some of the updates and improvements that have been made since then…

The most prominent new feature at least for you guys is that you now get to highlight specific lines of chat you would like the moderator to see. This has been a much-needed feature, which we hope will aid success of moderation process overall. Now when you report, these chosen lines of chat are highlighted so that a moderator can easily spot them. You can see an example of what a moderator will see, below.

Moderator Tool

Did you send a Valentine’s cards?

This year for Valentine’s Day the Habbo Stories team created some really neat valentines cards for you to send to your friends. They’re a really cool way to interact with your friends, and there were some free options too!

If you haven’t already sent one, pop on over to Habbo Stories and check it out! It’s always really nice to receive some special gift from a friend…

Habbo Stories Card

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s HabboTalk!

We’re very happy to announce the introduction of HabboTalk to the Hotel. What is ‘HabboTalk’, you ask? To put simply: It’s the re-invention of group forums. We’ve spent a lot of time working on this, taking feedback from users and it is almost ready to let you start using!

There are a few slight differences, that old school Habbos might remember. For instance, HabboTalk will be completely accessible inside of the client – no need to leave the hotel! How cool is that?

Below are some mock designs of how the feature will look, but remember it may be a little different by the time it hits the hotels. We are hoping to have this out for testing within the week, however as this is a pretty big update this could change.

If you would like to be a beta tester for ‘HabboTalk’ and you are in the .COM hotel, send an email to habbocompetitions@sulake.com with your Group name and Habbo name. Make the subject “I want to be a betatester for HabboTalk”.

A Day in the Life of a Habbo Developer

Since the first post on this blog we’ve had lots of requests for there to be some kind of ‘A day in the life of’ blog, discussing some of the steps and stages of development here at Habbo. So today I will be walking you through my average day! We’ll be looking at a small – but mighty – feature that went live last week; When a user reports another Habbo, the reported Habbo will be automatically muted.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 10.37.32 AM

So what’s first?

After walking into the office, helping ourselves to a cup of java goodness, and pondering about the exciting things ahead, we sit down and check our emails! Basic, but important. We need to know what’s been happening in all the different Sulake departments before we have a daily dev (development shortname) meeting. At this meeting we discuss any new problems or issues that might be occurring, as well as keep each other updated on our other projects progress.

Once the meeting is over, we can move on to the more interesting stuff! We log into some of back systems, check on how the hotels are doing. We typically tend to check on what’s been deployed recently, what’s still being worked on, and if they’re any new bugs that have been reported.

Below is a little graph showing the number of issues reported in 30 days vs the number of issues fixed in 30 days. Those with a eagle eye will notice there are more resolved than created, this is because we also fixed issues reported more than 30 days ago within these 30 days!

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 10.49.50 AM

Great.. but I haven’t seen any coding

Before we can start coding we actually need to put in a lot of preparation into a plan for the feature. Even something as seemingly small as automatically muting a user after you report them takes a large amount of pre-planning.

For instance, for this particular feature we first had the user care team contact us and say “Hey guys, we’ve got this idea for an amazing new feature.” Once we have that initial concept, we have a lot more questions to answer before we can proceed; How long will it take? Is it actually possible? Does the feature exist already? Is there a better alternative? Who is going to work on it? …and much much more!

Once we answer all of those, then someone on the Development team starts working on it. S/he develops it locally on their machine – this is where coding gets involved! Then once they are happy with the feature, they test it and then publish the feature on one of our testing hotels. Only Sulake staff have access to these not-so-top-secret testing hotels. Once the feature is live on the test hotels, a number of different staff from different departments will test the feature. We wouldn’t want to publish something that wasn’t the best it could be!

So when does it get onto Habbo?

Well that’s a good question. After a large amount of testing has been done, and any required localizations have been completed, we start preparing the live hotels for the new feature. Typically, this is when a number of different fansites start to pick-up on the new features and will comment and report on them.

Is that it?

Well, not exactly…. There are many smaller stages involved, such as code reviews and documentation, but for the most part this is it! We hope this brief overview will give you a good idea of how feature development work happens in Habbo!

State of the Habbo Economy

Hello! My name is CrazyAceOne and I’m one of many people working behind the scenes to bring you new furni and fun campaigns. I’m going to try something that’s never been done by Habbo before (at least I don’t think it has). I’m going to share some marketplace stats and insider information to help all my trader friends out there to make better choices.

As you may know, the trade value of items are closely linked to the supply and demand of that item in the hotel. For that reason we are careful about the frequency in which we sell items in the catalog. Here are the guidelines we use to help us decide how things should be rotated into the catalog:

  • Catalogue Furni – These items are always on sale. We refer to these as permanent lines, but we’ve also heard Habbos call them “Norms”. The purpose of these items is to make sure there is an infinite supply of basic building blocks to make cool rooms. Builders club is based on a similar concept, but with a greater feeling of being limitless. We really want our builders to have the tools they need to make cool rooms!
  • Seasonal Campaign Furni – These items enter the shop, typically for a 2 or 3 weeks at a time. Once the campaign has ended we avoid selling them again for 4-12 months in order to leave window for the trade shops and marketplace to build businesses around them. The purpose of these items is mainly to fuel our creative builders with unique stuff and reward those who participate in the festivities. These are also a good opportunity for traders because the supply is somewhat limited. The semi-limited supply allows for some “treasure hunt” style fun for our builder Habbos to find those bits and pieces to perfect a room design.
  • Rare Furni – There are many types of rares such as Rare Prizes, Bonus Rares, Campaign Rares and Loyalty Rares. These furni are only available for a limited time and will not be re-released. These are mainly for the collectors and traders out there. Rares are a good opportunity for traders since the supply will not go up and in many cases will go down or consolidate as users collect or use them in designs.
  • LTD Rare Furni – A special type of rare, which comes in a limited quantity. We couldn’t exceed the quantity limit if we wanted to! There is also an item number on each LTD making them truly unique.
  • Rare Credit Furni – An interesting class of rare. These have an exchange value for credits which make the trading values stable, but since they are sold in limited quantities they are also rare and over time become more rare as some supply is converted back to credits.
  • Bonus Rare – A relatively new rare to the Habbo Marketplace, Bonus Rares are acquired for every 120c a Habbo purchases. Bonus Rares are released twice monthly, typically on the 1st and the 15th, and, as with other rares, will never rereleased.

We know furni values are very important to Habbos and so we do our best to maintain a healthy economy. We do this by limiting how often items are available in the catalogue in order to give our traders the opportunity to run shops and use the marketplace. That said, an economy with over 250k Habbos trading every month is clearly not possible to control entirely. Even if we could completely manage all the values, I’m not sure you’d want us to. Its much more fun if things stay market driven.For example, when re-selling a campaign line, we often see comments in forums such as “why are these back on sale, are no prices safe?”. The truth is that there is an item with a very safe and stable trade value – credit furni. The safe and stable price of credit furni allows it to function well as a unit of exchange, but it doesn’t leave much opportunity for profit and that’s not fun. The fluctuating aftermarket values actually allow for opportunities to trade and profit and the market driven forces ensure that those values are relevant to the demand in your local hotel.

As promised, here are some Marketplace Stats you might find interesting…

In 2013 over 1.2 million items were traded in the marketplace with a total trade value of 13 million credits! The amount of items traded in rooms is many times more than this. Below you’ll find the top 10 items traded in marketplace by value (price * quantity) and number of trades.

Habboconomy

Tell us what you think. Did you enjoy this post? If you’d like to see more posts and stats like this in the future, please share your comments.

Thanks!

Au revoir game center!

By now you’ve probably read your local article discussing the game center leaving Habbo. We opened the game center in October 2012 for game developers, and boy did we have a big amount of interest!

Shut down!

Regular Habbos and up-and-coming game studios started working hard to polish their games and have them published onto the game center for all you Habbos to play. We’d like to thank all those who took the opportunity to create a game for our Habbos.

This decision has come because ultimately we want to improve our user experience. Plus the graphics of some of the games simply did not fit with Habbo. We want to provide the best service to you guys and we know that keeping in tone with Habbos pixelated graphic style is important, so we’re going to stick to what we know best!

The game center will continue to be operational until March 31st, so if you have credits left to spend in a game, make sure you do before that date. Of course, Habbo Stories will continue to be available after this date. (We’ve got some exciting campaigns coming soon from Habbo Stories!)

So, what’s this number verification thing?

Habbo

A few of you investigative types have delved into the client, found references to a new number verification feature, and have concerns about the security of your number should you opt to provide it. I’m here to put those concerns to bed.

If a player gives us their number through this service, an SMS containing a verification code will be sent to their phone, then they simply enter this code into the client window. Afterwards we store the number in such a way that means even we don’t know what it is, similar to how passwords are stored.

This new feature comes hand in hand with some upcoming changes we’re making to new user registration – we’re not going to force anybody to give us their number and we’re certainly not looking to spam your phones! After the SMS verification, you won’t receive another SMS from us.

On the plus side, being able to verify numbers is a good thing! If we can verify that an account is authentic, then we can offer that account better prices and exclusive deals! There’s even something for you old schoolers.. what was that thing’s name.. the R-O-M?

Meet the designers…

This year at Sulake, we have decided to take a slightly different approach to the digital design and production for Habbo. We have a growing team of designers and we have chosen to split them into 2 teams; Team Serenity and Team Savant. Both teams have a balance of newer, and older, designers and will alternate campaign design throughout this year.

We hope you enjoy getting to know our designers – Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for regular ‘Designer’ blog posts, that will include updates about upcoming campaigns and awesome sneak previews and polls!

Team Serenity

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 1.39.17 PMHiyas! My name’s Jenny and I go by the name ‘Kuyit’ in the hotel. I’m one of the many designers at Sulake and I’m part of the Serenity design team. I love all things geeky and cute, and sometimes that reflects into my work when I go into creative mode. I hope to do my very best to bring you new and exciting designs! :) – Kuyit

Sparkaro

Hello! I’m Caroline (AKA Sparkaro in the hotels) and I’m a graphic designer for Habbo/Sulake. I’ve always loved to draw, and in recent years have become very interested in creating digital art – including, of course, pixel art! I also like to create 2D animations. Apart from the arty stuff, I enjoy watching movies and TV shows, (mostly of the science fiction & fantasy genre) reading and listening to music :) – Sparkaro

MrCroissant

Hi! My name is James aka MrCroissant and I’m a designer. My hobbies and interests include sketching, pixel art, digital painting, illustration, collecting vinyl, video games and going on nights out with friends. I’m always open for feedback and ideas from Habbos. See you around the Hotel! ~ MrCroissant

Team Savant

Elementary_Kage

Greetings to all! My name is Kelly and I’m a graphic designer for Habbo. I’ve drawn since I could hold a pencil and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I am an animator and comic designer at heart but pixel’s are super fun to work with and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of making cool stuff for you all. I also love gaming. Whether it’s retro style arcade games or your modern day rpg shoot-em-up with rocket launchers, I love them all. Story is what drives me and I hope to bring all of these things I love to Habbo! – Elementary_Kage

HungrySparrow

Hi my name is Patrick, I have been working for Habbo Hotel since November last year. My background is in freelance illustration and animation. My preferred art software is Photoshop. I have been interested in pixel art since I was a lad – when all the best games were made with pixels.” – HungrySparrow

Read the rest of this entry

New Year, New Blog!

Happy New Year from Habbo!

A New Year, brings a new blog! We decided to kick off 2014 by bringing this blog back to life to give you a look ‘Behind the Pixels’. We’re not going to be talking about local Habbo events or updates, instead we’ll be trying to focus on updates that are global and relevant to all of our users! Excitied? You should be. You can expect a bi-weekly update related to game development, frequent campaign updates from our designers, as well as a monthly update discussing the Habbo Economy.

A look at least year…

Pocket Habbo

As many of you know, 2013 was a pretty busy year for us. We had an overhaul of our entire client interface, based on user feedback. We also introduced Builders Club, Free Flow Chat,

Walking 2.0, and lots of new features to Pocket Habbo. In addition we created a whopping 549 pieces of furniture and 922 new badges – which now means there are over 8000 badges in Habbo.

We know there have been a few hiccups with these updates and changes, but it is because of your continued feedback that we’re able to react and make positive changes to your Habbo experience – Keep it coming!

Upcoming plans

Over the next few weeks, we have some pretty awesome stuff coming to you guys. On top of the exciting quests and events that your local managers are coordinating, we’ve got a brand new range of furni coming. This new furni is something that will finally give room builders the tools they need to make the most of their rooms.

Builders Club

We ran a poll at the beginning of the New Year asking you various questions, focusing around the different categories you all would like added to Builders Club. We received huge number of responses, and here are the global results of that poll. Interesting, hey?

biggerPie

This will be talked about in more detail in the monthly economy update, but we have to be very careful with what we put into the Builders Club Warehouse. We know trading is an important part of Habbo for many of you and we don’t want to ruin that. We currently have over 650 furni in there, but we certainly can see where everyone agree on what they would like to see more of, and will be looking into which of those furni could be added to the warehouse. In  addition to the furni updates for Builders Club, we are working hard on adding alternative payment options and are happy to announce that we will soon be releasing an SMS option for Builders Club!

User Interface

The UI has some more exiting changes coming its way too. Those of you with eagle eyes will have noticed the little changes that were made between different hotel builds, but we’re not done just yet! We’re hoping to have the final changes done soon, things like the navigation and friends toolbar is coming close to the final stages. Here’s what we think the final product is going to look like…what do you think?

friendsbar_final

Next Issue: In the next issue, we’ll also be discussing the upcoming number verification feature, how and why your data is safe and the upcoming Valentines Campaign!

About the Author

Dom the Developer!Hi, My names Dom and I am developer here at Sulake! You’ll often find me wandering the hotels on the avatar ‘Macklebee’. Every few weeks I will be posting a new ‘Behind the Pixels’ post, talking to you about what’s up and all the exciting stuff coming in the hotel…We will be sharing more than ever before, so make sure to tune in. This is really important to me – I hope you enjoy! I feel strongly that Habbo is a place where creativity can bloom and I really want you to feel as though you’re a part of it.

Beta Testing of Rentable Spaces

This blog post was used to coordinate beta testing of Rentable Spaces. As the feature is released now, we though it could be interesting for everyone to see how it went…

/dmitrym

Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 593 other followers