Player Housing? Yes. No. Maybe.

I love player housing. Almost all of my favorite games include it in some form or fashion: Animal Crossing. Wurm Online. World of Warcraft. LotRO. Of course the World of Warcraft version right now is the garrison, but it just isn’t the same. When I think of player housing in a theme park MMO, I think of an actual “house” somewhere in the world, instanced if necessary. It should be customizable, with lots of decorations, exterior and interior options, and music. It’s a place to show off items from the gameplay that you’ve done, plus get a little creative. It’s NOT a place to send followers out on missions, do major crafting, farm profession materials, do defense missions, or sit around all day.

I’m going to say something here that might get me cast out of the MMO blogger community altogether, but here goes: I really don’t care for the EQ2/Rift/Wildstar format of player housing. I know, it’s incredibly customizable! You can build your own crazy thing! But something about that in a highly story-driven and thematic MMO just seems slightly off to me. You may be in a medieval world, but you can build the Starship Enterprise in your personal instance. Or you might be in a futuristic sci-fi game, but you can build a giant medieval castle. That doesn’t seem so crazy to me in a purely sandbox game such as Minecraft, which is for all intents and purposes a blank slate that can be medieval, sci-fi, futuristic, wild west, or any combination of the above, and tells no specific story line. But in a game like EQ2, or Rift, or Wildstar, or even WoW if they were to attempt it, it just seems out of place.

“I’m going to go over to Samurai Jack’s medieval castle and we’re going to play his asteroid platformer jumping puzzle”.

No. Please no.

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All The Things!

LotRO’s housing gets a lot of guff from the big boys because it’s not as customizable and comparatively there’s really not a lot going on there, but honestly, I like their housing model the best. It’s a house, themed by race, that you can decorate as you like and show off trophies and items that you’ve crafted, won in seasonal events, or gotten during raids, and it has a modest storage area. That’s about it. There’s no stables, no crafting facilities, no auction house… it’s basically just an extra milestone/hearth. I’m okay with that, because people in LotRO generally don’t hang out at their house all day long. They may stop by once a day to grab something from storage or update a decoration slot, but other than that they’re out in the world. The only thing I would add is the ability to see where your guildmate’s and friend’s housing is, and the ability to quick-port there to check it out.

If they were to implement this in WoW, I would be ecstatic. Instead of Garrisons, this is my concept:

  • Instanced housing zones for all the different races, plus a few neutral options.
  • House locations that you “buy” with weekly or monthly upkeep (gold).
  • The ability to change the color of the exterior walls, doors, and roofs, as well as interior walls, ceilings, and flooring by room.
  • The ability to place any trophy anywhere, interior or exterior. To reduce lag, a limit on how many items you can have in your instance… maybe 100? 200?
  • A jukebox so that you can change your housing theme music.
  • If you kill Onyxia, you get her head to place in your home or yard as you see fit. You could take a shard of Frostmourne from the Lich King, or Garrosh Hellscream’s tusk, or… well, the possibilities are endless.
  • Crafted decorations from each profession. Tailors make carpets, pillows, and drapes. Leatherworkers make nice chairs, rugs, and upholstered items. Smiths get to make candelabras and rod iron furniture. Scribes could make paintings for the walls. Alchemists can make paints and dyes for the interior/exterior. And so on.
  • The ability to have a little for-looks-only stable with some of your favorite mounts and pets.
  • Plaques that can be made from any achievement that you currently have. Did you get Insane in the Membrane in 2010 when it was super-hard? Make a plaque, hang it on your wall, and show it off.
  • The ability to set up “home tours”, basically a set of linked housing instances either between guildmates or friends. People could then go from house to house easily on a tour of sorts.

It honestly isn’t the biggest or most ambitious housing system, but I think it would scratch the player housing itch that so many players have, it wouldn’t be so high-maintenance and indispensable as garrisons are, and players would still be out in the world rather than rotting inside a private instance 24-7.

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3 thoughts on “Player Housing? Yes. No. Maybe.

  1. Syl

    The problem with instanced and limited housing like in Lotro is/was, that after the initial land rush and decoration frenzy, the neighborhood have turned into ghost towns. Hardly anyone goes there anymore and there’s not much left to do once you’re through the initial work. There’s no longevity to the whole thing and no more meaning, I find that a little sad personally (given that devs spend a great deal of time designing housing mechanics and models). It doesn’t seem like making the most out of a big opportunity.

    Reply
    1. Moxie Post author

      And I agree with that, because LotRO housing is still too limited. If players were allowed to place items anywhere, to do exterior decorations, to more easily link up to their guildmates and friend’s housing, we might see more life in the neighborhoods. But as it stands it errs on the side of too dull – which has its upside too. At least it doesn’t take away from having players in the world.

      Reply
  2. C. T. Murphy

    World of Warcraft just needs guild halls. Real housing isn’t worth the trouble unless you want to fully commit, and Blizzard has no track record for fully committing to anything in WoW outside of adding more raids to do.

    Reply

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