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Community Spotlight: The Importance of Player Housing?

Posted by MikeB Thursday December 9 2010 at 4:17PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Player Housing The Key to Enjoyment?"" by Skillzeroo. Skillzeroo comments on the lack of player housing in contemporary MMOs and how he feels they add so much to the experience:

Really tired, too lazy to type out a big long post on it but does anyone else feel like player housing is sort of... needed in new MMOs? It obviously isn't limited by hardware and there doesn't seem to be an excuse to not get it out.

Mounts, faster travel? Been done ten thousand times over...

End Game raiding to look forward to in your "goals"? Been done ten thousand times over.

But player housing, while it has been done, has never REALLY been a standard for MMOs especially recently.. Why is this? Its something to work towards and something I'd definitely want... I remember my first time in LOTRO being amazed and spending an entire night just going around looking at all of the houses and things people put around them and inside of them.. Its something in the game itself that you can claim is "Yours".. Its something that doesn't disappear when you log off and come back when you're back online.. Its always there!

How does the rest of the community feel about player housing? Find out below!

Honoursword enjoyed the housing in Star Wars Galaxies, and offers a few ideas of his own as to why player housing isn't more commonplace:

The best player housing I have ever played is definately SWG. That game had so many things wrong with it but had Crafting, Resource Gathering and Player Housing years ahead of any other game in terms of quality. In fact it still does.

Player Housing is apprently quite resource intensive in terms of hardware and databasing. Most games that have it will do it from the ground up, in other words will add it while they developing the game engine initially. I remember a Blizzard dev saying somewhere that if Player Housing was a 5 minute job then it would definately be in WOW by now. Unfortunately, it isn't and takes a lot of planning and dev work to certainly do right.

Would love to see another SWG housing system developed in an MMO.

Cephus404 doesn't see the appeal in player housing:

I honestly don't care about player housing, except as a place to store things I don't want to lug around with me all the time.  In any game I've ever played where they had player housing, I've never once done anything there that meant anything.  I don't think anyone ever came over to my "house" more than a handful of times, I don't think I went to anyone else's "house" very often either.  Therefore, decorating my "house" seems pointless if there's hardly anyone who will ever see it.

I'm there to play a game, not show off.  Most people are the same.

Chasemme takes the middle of the road point-of-view:

I think housing is a great addition to an MMO if done well. Not necessarily the 'key,' but definitely worth the time if done correctly. I have memories of people designing and decorating their houses to hold auctions in, it's where guild meetings were done. People would set up an entire casino, or turn it into a large shopping mall with their own vendors.

None of this stuff is necessary. All that can really all be done effectively in a small space where you put an auction house, a guild chat, and a dice mechanic without having to give an individual player anything special, but the point was to offer immersion and freedom.

Having a place to decorate was never important to me. So a random piece of data that only I could access I don't really care about. Having my own house in a world with limited space, where not everyone would have one, made it something I aspired to someday afford.

All depends on how it's done I guess.

Since Star Wars Galaxies was my first MMO I found the presence of housing to be a pretty important feature given how awesome they were in SWG. The irony though is the fact I never actually did anything with my giant house in Star Wars Galaxies, I simply used it as a storage bin. However, houses and player structures really added to the game world (though they took from it in some cases, especially on more wild worlds).

People really came up with some amazing stuff. Walking into a crafter's ship/tech shop and seeing it actually look convincingly like a workshop with machinery and parts hanging everywhere in a sort of organic fashion really added to the game's immersiveness and encouraged players to show off their creativity.

We often focus on what the developers are providing for us in MMOs, but sometimes the most interesting additions are what the players contribute themselves through their own creativity and expression. The beauty of sandbox games, I suppose. But that is for another discussion! :)

What are your thoughts on player housing? Share 'em with us in the comments below!

Halibrand writes:

Many newer games seem to revolve entirely around combat.  Outside of combat, there's very little to do.  Myself, while I hope that any game I play has a diverse and balanced combat system, I look at all the things there is to do OUTSIDE of combat.  It's nice to have more to do than to just gear up for PvE and PvP.


As for player housing, I think the time investment in development will generally be worth it.  It gives a huge time-sink to a selection of the player-base that isn't always excited by raids and battles.  I think that's very important right now, as the list of games on the market is growing faster than the MMO audience is.


As for my own preferences, I like it when games have housing.  But in games like EQ2 or Anarchy Online where no one else will ever see it unless you team with them and bring them in, I don't use it as anything but storage.  Then there's games like Star Wars Galaxies, where the housing is part of the world, can be experienced by anyone, and you can create reasons WHY random people need to visit your house whether you're online or not.  In SWG I spent insane amounts of time decorating my cantina and my guild hall, creating vendors to put in them, customizing things for them to say and their wardrobes, filling them with exotic and high quality items to sell, redecorating a month later.... For me the decoration and showing it off was almost like playing with LEGO again.  Not only did I get a chance to be CREATIVE in a game, instead of just kill a thousand orcs, but I actually affected the world I was in.  That's something that goes beyond just the concept of 'player housing,' as there's other ways this can be accomplished.  But player housing is one big, giant example of how an MMO can reach the player desire to have their time spent in the game 'actually matter.'  How we can have an affect on this persistent world shared by all, instead of just an affect on a momentary experience shared by a few specific people.


But yeah... housing good.  More variety makes your game more viable in this struggling market.

Thu Dec 09 2010 11:15PM Report
Lord.Bachus writes:

Housing is fun, when done right.. SWG indeed is awesome, but i also like how its done in EQ2, just a place with stuff to remember your travels. I don't like the empty housing zones from Vanguard and other games, housing zones in desolate places that noboddy ever visits..


But strangely i don't miss housing when its not there like in WoW..

Fri Dec 10 2010 12:09AM Report
nate1980 writes:

My first two games played (DAoC & SWG) had housing, but I never cared much for them. Like someone else said, most people won't ever visit your house, so decorating it is pointless unless it's just something you enjoy doing, which I don't. So I just used my house to store stuff in SWG.

Now I would like to see player ran cities, but that's only really worth it when there's ample enough reasons to use it and spend time there. If player ran cities is extremely useful in a game, then I'd be inclined to want player housing, so I can build a house in a nice player ran city.

But a place to decorate, that only I will most likely see, no thanks. I'd prefer that effort put into a new race, class, dungeon, zone or whatever.

Sat Dec 11 2010 12:02PM Report
Evasia writes:

I like the player housing in Darkfall we can decorate alot and these days also do alot in and around house with safe or a vendor selling stuff slotmachines and workbench.

It still can be improved alot but its very nice own a house in Darkfall.

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