Luucaz - November 23th, 2009

It feels necessary to say something, to complain, but at the same time, I hope and trust you, at Sulake HQ, ‘Know your product’, and have an awareness of its origins, where it started, and what its core is, and maybe should stay. That being socializing and pixels, nice (!) pixels.

Now, I’m aware I’m voicing some sentiments I see floating around, and only those that reflect my own. Those are at fansites, and to be honest, at our own msgboard foremost (worse: mainly in our crew forum and basement part of it all). What’s the amount of Habbo players actually caring and being involved this deep ? 0.0001% ? Not really a group to take into consideration when making business plans. Then again, just hoping to get a point across.

Is this evolving into a complaint ? Yes, it is. Like loads of followers, I’m following the blogs of Osma Ahvenlampi and Sulka Haro (your two most open active and open frontline people (not commenting there, not a place for active Habbo ‘players’)). I’ve found the references to Scrum and Agile software development (from Wikipedia): “Agile chooses to do things in small increments with minimal planning, rather than long-term planning. Iterations are short time frames (known as ‘timeboxes’) which typically last from one to four weeks”. For the regular user, short-time, fixed goals. It’s obvious you in Helsinki are pleased. Quoting Sulka Haro: “I just watched the team give a sprint demo today back at the office, and it’s glaringly obvious people are happier now than what they were before we started using Scrum. And we’re getting more done, too! :)”.

Agreed, really. I do not want to be like some oldschool users that complain about everything new. Not all the changes may be my cup of tea, but I acknowledge new content, which in general seems to be welcomed by most users, is delivered in a steady and fast pace. If I feel things are rushed in (and I do), it’s because I feel something is lacking, rather than critisizing speed of development. What I feel lacking is quality control. I do realize bugs are inevitable and as such acceptable in the process, them being fixed in a next ‘sprint’. When I talk about quality it’s about pixels, not features, nor bugs.

Tempted to create a list of annoyances in this respect, I figured one example would suffice, actually. Well, that was like 6 months ago, pre-beta, when I wrote that. I listed 10 reasons the catalogue was a fugly thing, that did what it needed to do, but aroused annoyance nonetheless. It told what I tried to say, in this article. Since I’m only finishing up now, I needed to get a close look at catalogue at time of writing (v40-build61, check at 22-11-2009). I will no longer call the catalogue fugly, overal look has much improved (a close button that aligns makes a lot of difference). Actually, loads of fixes in this version. Yet, if there’s one place to spot errors, it’s still there. Do note this is capturing a moment (only), just to illustrate a point.

  1. The tabs now have proper borders, icons display correct, submenu’s don’t use weird colors anymore. But the tabs section has a double border bottom and the scrollbar, better make the ends square if not rounding the box itself. Not really fitting complaint but I could go on about icons needing some space, and aligning icons for categories and subcategories, and a hover version for subcategories maybe;
  2. Most users, me too, hardly see frontpage, click it away instantly (we’re heading somewhere ;). But shouldn't that promo/teaser item be same width as boxes below and wasn’t it clickable at some point (it sorta invited me to) ? Old issue, that header is needing a revamp;
  3. Preview images too big to fit in, quite a few of those around. Actually quite old, and the solution came when you created public room sized private rooms, or better, the new versions displayed in inf-o-matic. Display that version instead;
  4. The scrollbar instead of page 1/2/3 (small furniture previews on the left). Design choice, ok, and default view has no cut-off previews anymore. But when scrolling selection images still get cut off, and that looks weird with background color of the subpage and the section with selection images being the same. A rounded box, very light grey might do it. Did user research show more items were bought with scrollbar instead of the arrows ? Them returning would be much better;
  5. Great solution, displaying effects on a grey background, showing effects on your own Habbo. On the automobile page the box is not rounded, text over it;
  6. Headers and teaser images with a white background, notably the ‘Country’ section and a couple of pixelshop pages. At first I figured you missed using pure white (#FFF), but not true, it is white, just doesn’t get transparent (those are .gif these days, correct ?);
  7. Is this old ? The spacing of the text/font (Volter) is a bit messed up all around, characters getting tied together and readability in general suffering. Not just in catalogue;
  8. The box with the ‘buy’ button is yellow, around. Not at the pixelshop, sometimes it’s grey there, sometimes it’s blue (?). Aahhh (!), got it. Blue is pixels only, grey is both pixels and credits. Clever, but no-one understands, maybe simplify;
  9. I love how a clicked small version now has a nice rounded rectangle when selected. After selecting another item, its white background is gone ? And when I hover it, it’s back. Almost a game;
  10. Random sloppyness. As I’m checking UK catalogue as we speak, accessories preview bubble says “I love my rabbit”, but the UK accessories section doesn’t have the bunny. Title text of the plastic color options box collides with box itself. Scrollbars at pet section get cut off at the bottom. Some teaser images get cut off now too, might be the scrollbar for selection images taking up some space. Speech bubbles in teaser images (those align nicely now) have catalogue general background color, wouldn't white be better here ? Candy says ‘promo now on’ but where is that promo ? Windows have no blue behind in preview, could be a choice, but doesn’t look good.

Ok, enough already. The point ? The issue is I know you’re gonna fix all that, in the end. Well, do I ? I know you’re gonna fix most of it, in the end. Or, most noted now will be gone, new notable issues there. But I don't feel them having any priority. The next set of goals seem more important. And basically, some people find that a shame (as in, pity). Because besides being a social tool, Habbo Hotel is a work of (pixel)art and those things ruin it a little. Ever since them monthly versions there’s annoyances like that. For an outsider it seems as easy as appointing a member of the team to note bugs created, and add the list as a goal for next sprint.

Oh well, point made. Sorry for being arrogant. Re-reading, the words sound like that. Wasn’t the intention. I started writing ‘we’ at first, knowing a few people that agree on these things. But that is sorta hiding yourself. I may be critical and sound arrogant, but I’m still a fan. And stuff to keep me a fan is released like every week. Like, this Twilight furniture is sorta not my thing, but I bought like 5 toolboxes. Kudos to the one that designed it.