Weekly News Recap: Dec. 20, 2008

We have a ton of links to share with you in this week's recap of our exclusive content and noteworthy news items (which can be found after the jump). With the holiday season upon us, most MMOs are celebrating with numerous events. Some, such as World of Warcraft's Feast of Winter Veil, are listed below. Whichever game you play, take some time to enjoy the festivities. Also, feel free to browse our news archive to check out everything that couldn't fit in this weekly recap.

Allakhazam Features

Dangers of Sanrio Town : Hello Kitty Online features an in-depth social network. While it's a good tool for meeting other players, it could be dangerous for the game's younger fans.

Ten Years of Lineage II : Sam Han, Lineage II Producer for NCsoft West, and Young Park, the original Lineage Production Assistant for NCsoft West, talk with us about the Lineage franchise.

Jumpgate Evolution Media #3 : These exclusive screenshots showcase fighters class ships and factories that are used in crafting.

Swordsman Screenshots : We take an in-depth look at this class from IGG's free-to-play Zu Online.

Station Crap : Allakhazam Editor-in-Chief Andrew "Tamat" Beegle has a less than favorable personal opinion on SOE's new Station Cash microtransaction service. What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments section.

Dangers of Sanrio Town

The following editorial contains views that are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views of Allakhazam.com

Due to the relatively anonymous nature of the internet, the safety of children is paramount in the eyes of most parents, law enforcement officials and other concerned people and organizations. Whether it’s through online games, social networking sites, blogs, forums or chat rooms, youngsters can interact with strangers at a rapid pace. And in the world of Hello Kitty Online, all of these communication tools have been combined to make a player's life accessible at the click of a button if they so choose.

The focus on social interaction in Hello Kitty Online, a new massively multiplayer online game developed by Sanrio Digital and Typhoon Games, is not necessarily a negative aspect of the game. It can actually grant players the opportunity to work together as a team rather than against each other in combat or competition. However, it does draw attention to the necessity of a safe playing environment for the game’s target audience, which tends to be younger Hello Kitty fans.

Kitty White, also known as Hello Kitty, was introduced in 1974 by creator Yuko Shimizu. The fictional character turned 34 on Nov. 1, which demonstrates why the popular franchise appeals to fans of all ages, including adults. Players of Hello Kitty Online will certainly span all age groups, but children will easily be drawn to the virtual world of Kitty White and her friends.

Founders' Beta Officially Ends; Keep the Client!

The Hello Kitty Online Founders' Beta officially ended at midnight and the HKO team has already taken the time to thank the players for their support.

They don't mention any sort of release date for the upcoming open beta in the post, but they do give us a surprise bit of information:

we will be having SOMETHING before Open Beta so it’d be awesome if you guys KEEP THE CLIENT !

Check out the whole post below or here.

HKO Community Raises $12,000 for Charity

In an amazing showing of support from the Hello Kitty Online community, players created and submitted 344,965 in-game food items during the "Food for Friends" event, which means Sanrio Digital will donate $12,000 to be split between UNICEF and the Asian Youth Orchestra !

From Nov. 1-6, players produced raw materials on their farms and crafted them into food items. Each item carried a different value based on how difficult it was to create that item. Foods included chocolate milk, lemon pies, strawberry cakes, roasted vegetables, oat biscuits and more. This really was a wonderful event. Every MMO should follow Sanrio Digital's lead when it comes to charitable events.

Also, the Founders' Beta ends tomorrow at midnight, but there's still a bunch of new events to participate in before the doors close. Check out the HKO news post or events blog for more information on the Blog for Thought, Crop Circles, A Day with Hello Kitty and Friends, Body Doubles and the Kevent. Winners will get fine diamond jewelry from MBLife.com.

Founders' Beta Set to End Saturday

The Hello Kitty Online Founders' Beta is going to end on Saturday, Nov. 8 at midnight EST, so be sure to log on and enjoy the final stretch if you're a part of it.

Also, check out the HKO Event Blog for updates on all the in-game happenings.

The closed beta is ending to make way for improvements for the upcoming open beta.

Celebrate Hello Kitty's 34th Birthday in HKO

Hello Kitty's birthday is tomorrow, Nov. 1, and she's turning 34! To celebrate, a huge birthday party will be held in the virtual world of Hello Kitty Online with a ton of events, including one for charity that will raise money for UNICEF and the Asian Youth Orchestra.

The birthday party for Kitty White, who was introduced in 1974 by creator Yuko Shimizu, will be held Nov. 1-2. Hello Kitty herself will make special appearances throughout the event, and players can enjoy mini-games and gifts during the celebration.

In addition, guilds will race to build the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty from Nov. 1-6 for special items and formal recognition. The "Food for Friends" charity event will also be held during that time to provide help for the two worthwhile children's organizations. This is the final week of the Founder's Beta, and the developers are ending it with a bang!

A full press release from Sanrio Digital can be found after the jump.

In the Pink: Calthine Goes to SanrioTown

Following up on our editorial yesterday we present another tester's experience in Hello Kitty Online.

I don't often do beta tests just for the sake of doing them. Between Allakhazam and the kids I'm usually short of time, and I have this low-key fear that some game will seduce me away from my beloved EverQuest II. But I got the chance to slip into Hello Kitty Online's Closed Beta, and I figured, oh, why not?

Now, I'm not one of the millions of people who dote on Hello Kitty. The 34 year old sweetie drives one billion dollars in world-wide sales a year , but in 1974 when she hit the scene Alaska was a bit out of step with current trends, and I don't think I even saw any Hello Kitty merchandise until I was out of high school (that'd be nineteen eighty-mumbledy-something). So the initial draw, that of "OMG! It's HELLO KITTY!! *squeal*" completely passes me by. It does, however, give the game a huge advantage with a large and diverse consumer base that is ready to embrace everything and anything Hello Kitty. I'm quite willing to embrace the game experience despite my lack of Hello Kitty savvy.

HKO – a New Take on the World of MMOs

So most of us know what HelloKitty is - the backpacks, shoes, funny little kitty images etc. But the makers of Hello Kitty Online, a.k.a. SanrioTown, have taken these things one step further. They have created a virtual world where players, young and old, can interact with their favorite characters from this franchise in a whole new way. And to some, this is a refreshing take on an old genre. A far cry from the standard hack and slash MMOs, with their world of raiding, loot and punishment of the "enemy", HKO focuses more on friendship, doing things for the greater good and simply having non violent fun in a virtual game world.

I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about so I checked out the beta for this. The first thing I noticed was the color scheme. It's very open and approachable, with lots of bright pink, yellow and white, colors that look like they are designed to appeal to a younger crowd. When I first logged in, the character creation screen was pretty generic as well, no "overly defined" male or female types, so I think they did a great job of keeping the game as non defining in terms of sexuality as possible. The last thing kids or younger people really need exposure to in a game like this, is a predefined self image.