Created by Finnish software developer Sulake, Habbo Hotel represents what may indeed be the future of chatting on the Internet.

If only the furniture didn't cost so much.

Habbo Hotel is a multi-user chat program, not at all unlike Fujitsu's WorldsAway. What makes Habbo Hotel unique (besides the odd name) is that it's completely web-driven. Created with Macromedia Shockwave, Habbo Hotel represents one of those most in depth uses of Shockwave seen yet on the Internet. A two-megabyte download is required into your browser, after which you're ready to start interacting.

Habbo Hotel features several public areas, and several user-created private rooms. The public areas feature several lobby areas equipped with information kiosks, a gaming parlor (complete with working multiuser games), several bars, waiters and waitresses with poor voice recognition, a nightclub, and more weird little avatars than you can shake a stick at. Each user has the ability to create private rooms, which can be customized in a number of ways; most requires money. While the service is free, the extras aren't -- to buy furniture, wallpaper, bar equipment, appliances and the like, you're required to pay Sulake in a number of ways, one of the easiest being through UK cell phones. In fact, Habbo Hotel seems to tie in very well with mobile phones, as SMS messages can be sent from the console.

In Habbo Hotel, you create an avatar, which at this point is limited only to a male and female human (why they don't include robots is beyond me). Your Avatar is fairly customizable, choose your facial style, hair style, clothing style, and colors to match, and you're set. Where the real customizability comes in is when you create your room -- you're free to have it as an open area, closed or locked. You're free to put whatever furniture Sulake provides in the application, wherever you want in your room (Sims anyone?), just as long as you pay for it (which becomes annoying, as right now most payment methods are limited to those who live in the UK), or it's given to you.

Habbo's chatting functions are adequate, but there are a few glaring flaws. An instant messaging system is built into the client, so you can keep track of any 'buddies' you have. Chatting is done through 3 modes: whispering, where only those in your immediate area can hear, talking, where those within a fair distance from you can hear, and shouting, which pretty much makes you audible to everyone in the room. In the lobby, it's not uncommon to see someone shouting at someone else from across the room. It's also impossible to scroll back through or log conversations, so if many people are talking at the same time, unless you can read quickly, you're out of luck.

It's a nice program, not without its flaws, and disregarding the costs of the extras, a fun distraction for an hour or so.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention something: one of the best reasons to visit Habbo Hotel is to see the SA Goons running around. Habbo was introduced to the SA forums, and they took quite a liking to it.

Just watch out for the mantrains.

I discovered this website recently when i was introduced to it via another message board. Me and this group of people invaded the board under the name 'pfc' and for a time ran around in yellow hoodies harassing people. (PFC still lives although it is currently somewhat dormant) This website is amazing because of its customibility, and because it offers a sort of 'sense of place'. For this reason, it is even more likely to be invaded by various clans, societies, gangs, and groups, than other websites. Some of the few recognized on the site are the PFC, the GENOS (from Something Awful), the WSC, TCI, and DOM. The whole webpage is truly a little society and it is amazing to watch it unfold.

I predict that this will become a big cult thing soon, if it can get through its lag problems. Like E2, it is quickly expanding to a larger size than the servers can support.

It would be neat to see E2 form a society on this webpage too... it makes me wonder how it would turn out. A word of advice though: if you want to bring your friends from another site to habbo, don't let your original URL be released, or your site could be flooded with 12 year olds.

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