MMOsite: We all know no gamers would like a game where everyone is focused on hunting and leveling. How will you encourage the social aspect of game play in HKO? What kind of community support will you offer? Any interesting group quests?
Ali Aslanbaigi: Early on,we#DY#ve stressed that HKO will not focus on combat and so far,we#DY#ve had a great reception. During the CB,seeing a group of people just hanging back and talking to each other for most of the day was very common. From the minigames to the group house building,HKO is all about mingling.
In the future,community support will come in the form of...hmm for example,a player logs in to Sanriotown.com,and once in,he/she will be able to see the people who are online in the game. It will also display minigame high scores to see if your score is still on top of the ladder and if it#DY#s not... well,time to take your throne back! Forums will always be the backbone of any MMORPG and HKO#DY#s is very much active. We know that it will be a hub for trading (although we#DY#ll have in-game auctions as well),speculation and getting together.
We#DY#ll be having Group Quests in the future,don#DY#t worry.
MMOsite: How often will GMs host in-game events for players? What are some examples that have already been run recently? And any exciting ones on your schedule?
Ali Aslanbaigi: Well,during the CB,our GMs held events ranging from a simple Hide & Seek games to the complex Pass-the-message-along-with-riddles kind of activity. These events were held to let the players take a break from the rigors of farming and house-building. It also fosters the whole community vibe that we#DY#re aiming for. And then,we#DY#d give out prizes like pets that haven#DY#t been released for CB,rare wands,a boatload of money,unique clothes and lots and lots and lots of seeds.
Right now,we have a lot of plans for when OB starts but until then,our goal now is to keep people hyped up and interested in the game. Offline events such as HKO Papercraft,Design-Your-Own-Weapons/Pet/Clothes (that could be included in the final product),are in the works right now to keep the HKO community to feel not left out of the whole process. OB is still a long way to go,but we have the interest of our fans in mind all of the time. Hold on tight,people!
MMOsite: What sorts of items will be purchasable in the item mall? Mainly costumes?
Ali Aslanbaigi: The Item Mall will hold an assortment of items from weapons,Avatar gear (clothes,hair,shoes,etc) and special seeds,pets and crafting recipes. Players can purchase items using Sanrio points gained from participating in Sanriotown.com,be it blogs,forums or checking your email. Another method is paying money in exchange for points using game cards.
MMOsite: How do you think of the future of HKO in the U.S.? What is your business objective on the U.S. market?
Ali Aslanbaigi: We#DY#re currently working with a U.S. publisher to distribute HKO to the American market. The American market is rife with casual gamers that been tapped by games like Habbo Hotel,Club Penguin and Puzzle Pirates. HKO caters to this market but it also caters to people on the other side of the fence--the hardcore. If we base our player base on CB numbers and demographics,around 40% of them have played serious MMOs like WoW,Guild Wars and FFXI which means that HKO has that little something that pulls on the heartstrings of those players which is good.
MMOsite: Is there any sort of rough schedule for when open beta and commercial launch will be available for players? Will there be a character wipe at the end of the beta test?
Ali Aslanbaigi: For both Europe and North America,we plan to have another Closed Beta for Q3 2008. After that,Open Beta will grace both continents during Q4 and commercial launch will be somewhere around the end of Q4 and the beginning of Q1 of 2009. As for the English speaking Asian regions,Open Beta will begin in 2009 and the commercial launch will follow very,very soon after. Lots and lots of work to be done until then,but for now,just keep your web eyes peeled.
MMOsite: Any more exciting news about Hello Kitty Online to tell us?
Ali Aslanbaigi: More monsters,more weapons,more pets,more seeds to worry about and a lot more features. Wait for the coming.