In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "Player Housing - Why has this feature gone from a priority to a feature most developers couldnt care about? by MMOExposed.
Suffice it to say, the thread title explains what our spotlight poster is getting at, so let's get right into it beginning with MMOExposed himself:
Player Housing IS possible. It just is not a priority. If people do not like the game or if they do not find the game fun, they will not build a house.
The reasons make sense though. You could create the best housing feature-set we have ever seen in a game but if nobody enjoys the game to that point, they will not stick around just to have a cool house.?
Seem as if developers now days see no importance in this feature known as player housing. The quote has a point. If Developers put too much resources into Housing over other features, than players may not be interested in the game and wont build houses regardless of how detailed that feature is.
but why has this feature been tossed under the bus over the last few years?
seem like this feature has become very unpopular in the developers offices lately.
Player Housing seem like a dynamic feature that gives players something to do when raiding/leveling/other grinds come to a end. Seem like a win win feature from a consumer point of view, but not from a developer.
What turn of events causes this?
So, why has player housing fallen off as a marquee feature of most MMOs? Read on to find out!
terrant offers a convincing take on why player housing has fallen off:
Because by and large it's become useless from a gaming standpoint.
Devs often try to find soemthing useful to do with homes, to encourage players to visit them often. But at best they end up being a location the player jumps into from time to time, to collect some special item, get a buff, ot craft. Then it's back out in the world the other 99% of the time. Why waste resources developing a segment of content players only spend a tiny amount of time in?
Also player hoursing is viewed as a staple of RPing, which has declined quite a bit in MMOs.
Keep in mind I'm not saying I have an opposition to player housing...I remember the fun I had opening up my Jobe house in AO for the first time and decking it out. But I don't thinkit's something enough people care about and will use for most mainstream developers to care.
Torluk feels its a matter of failing to get housing right all these years:
I get the impression that housing is something which is hard to get right in MMOs.
If they make it instanced then people can lose the feeling of uniqueness their home brings. If they make it buildable in the world then the problems of finite space, land hogging and ghost towns crop up.
I also believe the design focus of the game can impact how useful housing will be. In a linear themepark where players are constantly relocating to new areas for character progression housing becomes less convenient, however, in a sandbox that is trying to simulate a world where individuals are linked to a particular territory housing can more easily become a fully fledged and enriching feature.
Perhaps once the majority of MMOs started dropping the world simulating elements of their predecessors and began to focus solely on being a 'fun' game housing became less relevant?
maplestone offers the likely culprit:
In a themepark design, it is unnatural to anchor a player to one place with a home when the rest of your design is focused on moving them on a constant zone-to-zone path. Similarly, when the general tendency is to on-demand instancing, the concept of player-created landmarks is a little hard to mix in naturally.
There's the coding/troubleshooting overhead to consider in the cost-benefit of giving players what is essentially a mini level-editor.
That said, I greatly miss my UO houses - there are good reasons why "The Sims" was such a gigantic success. Letting those fall was by far the most gut-wrentching part of unsubscribing. If the finale of my stay hadn't felt like a "stay subscribed or we burn your house down" shakedown, I might have been more willing to return for visits.
I started out in MMOs with Star Wars Galaxies where player housing was a major focus of the game. I never got much use out of mine, though. I had a great spot at the Lake Retreat on Naboo overlooking the lake itself, but I really only used the house to dump stuff in. With that said, in my time playing the game I saw some of the most creative and authentic Star Wars looking homes I could imagine and it really did a great job at selling the game as a living, breathing, Star Wars world.
This wasn't just limited to housing, but even player shops (which were often run in houses). There's nothing like walking into a starship engineer's house and seeing what looks like a completely realistic workshop with engine parts suspended from the ceiling and the like.
That sounds great, right? But again, if its so great, why has player housing fallen off in recent years? Honestly, I think maplestone gets the basic idea right: housing doesn't make as much sense in themepark games. When you put together a game design vision, settling on a themepark design means your team is focused on producing content that is then consumed by players. This often means the world is also designed such that the playspace serves to support the content created for the game. Every bit of the map has a meaning and so creating these wide open spaces for players to populate with housing kind of clashes with that.
Sure, there are exceptions, such as LOTRO with its instanced neighborhoods, but by and large, player housing just doesn't fit in with themepark world design. I'd also wager that the people that really took advantage of all the awesome customization offered by player housing often make up a small percentage of the playerbase.
It's also a database nightmare. ;)
Why do you feel player housing has fallen off as a major MMO feature? Share your thoughts in the comments below!