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Player Housing, Where is it?

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday June 16 2008 at 8:57PM
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There can be no denying that the MMORPG genre has made great strides over the past decade. Games like Rohan: Blood Feud and Perfect World have graphics that blow Ultima Online and Asheron's Call out of the water. But both those older games had something that few games released today days do: Player Housing.

Some of my best memories during the dawn of the MMORPG genre were spent alone inside my own dwelling. Hours could be spent decorating and designing a large house. These houses not only served as a distraction but often doubled as live event locations. For example, the head quarters of a powerful guild in Ultima Online would serve as a PvP hot-spot. Newer games like World of Warcraft have had to bypass these player generated action zones with artificial PvP zones like the Battlegrounds and the Arena. Now don't get me wrong, both of those are great features in WoW but they do have a structured feel to them. I prefer my virtual worlds to be player driven.

Some games have implemented player housing in a lousy manner. For a good example of this look no further than Dark Age of Camelot. Rather than making houses a geographic feature of the main land, entire new zones were created to act as house parks. Expensive monthly rents were attached to house ownership which made them impractical to anyone outside a major guild.

With the success that World of Warcraft has enjoyed, there doesn't seem to be much demand for playing housing. But with the MMO market growing so fast, there must be a few developers willingly to experiment with this long neglected feature. I would like to point out that a recently released 2D free to play game called Wonderland Online has a very basic housing system. Each player can pitch a tent which can then be decorated. The tent will appear in the game world and other players may enter if the owner permits.

Hopefully we'll see more in depth housing features in the MMORPGs of the future. How soon and to what extent housing is implemented in tomorrows games depends on how much value we put on it. Please share your thoughts on player housing in MMORPGs!


Azmaria writes:

In response to your thoughts on player housing and location, I'm very with you on this topic. 

I've always been a fan of player housing, it's one of the things I always want in a free-world MMO.  But, I've always wanted it in the locations that I choose, not developer placed.  And, then, why limit it to housing only?  As a crafter, I'd love to be able to build a shop along a major highway to sell my wares (or be able to hire a NPC to be the storekeeper). 

As a player, I don't feel like this would be too problematic/difficult to implement, though I admittedly haven't thought of it from a developer's point of view.  If instead of having a set area where foundations are placed by the game developers, why not have a craftable or buyable item that you could place anywhere that had clear enough land to fit an x by x foundation (which could later be added on to) and wouldn't obstruct roadways.  Maybe have an administrative NPC sell high priced land clearing permits so that a player could carve a place for themselves out in the woods, if that's what they desired.  Have it work that when activated, they could cut down and permanently remove a certain amount of trees before running out (not sure how that would work coding wise...) so that they could build their house there. 

Other ideas include allowing player made bridges, houses spanning roads by way of a skyway, or even ramping it up to the point where large amounts of players could form a working city (which the dev's could populate with additional NPCs if it worked out well, perhaps). 

I'm very much for player controlled environments <_<

Mon Jun 16 2008 10:19PM Report
Loke666 writes:

Eq2 have quite nice player housing (and I heard LOTRO and Vanguard have it too).

In AoC your guild can build a city, that combined with personal housing would be really fun (but a bit annoying if your house get smashed during a siege).

Mon Jun 16 2008 10:26PM Report
darktwous writes:

swg in its had/has good houseing .you buy a house deed and place it anywhere thats can then decorate it with alot of different stuff, even place candles on tables and such...i agree mmo's should hve this diversion as they make good meeting places and places to entertain...swg even had vendors which could be place into a house and call it a store...but after a hard day of grinding it was nice to return to your house to relax , tinker. craft. or barbque...

even if the houseing could be damged and repaired by different factions would make it more of an immersive feeling than grinding and hanging out in large game cities.


Mon Jun 16 2008 10:53PM Report
Force_Fire writes:

REAL Player Housing... in a REAL non-instanced a REAL geographical Location within the game space. This is one of my favorite features in a game. SWG almost had it right...they just need to find a better way to handle abandoned structures.

But PH is something I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, want in every mmorpg I play. It's one of the things that keep me coming back.

Mon Jun 16 2008 11:50PM Report
zymurgeist writes:

Non instanced player housing is a huge resource hog. The reduced emphasis on socializing in MMOs  means companies see little point in putting much effort into it. Global private chat and third party chat and voice applications also reduced the need for players to congregate in one place to communicate .  It's unfortunate.

Tue Jun 17 2008 6:31AM Report
nickman1993 writes:

Have you tried Vanguard they seem to have nice housing. Do still love Uo's housing, ive spent like 50hours customizing houses alon

Tue Jun 17 2008 7:08AM Report
kingtofu writes:

Vanguard for the Win !!!


Tue Jun 17 2008 7:19AM Report
Azmaria writes:

Vanguard has the same issue as others - player housing in a remote and dictated location.  While the islands they provide are nice and shiny, it's still being controlled where you build your house.  They're also way out of the way, making visiting rather cumbersome.

Tue Jun 17 2008 8:09AM Report
JB47394 writes:

My problem with all player-owned structures is that there are too many of them and players put them everywhere.  Ultima Online and Star Wars: Galaxies are among the worst examples of this, but even Dark Age of Camelot's housing zones were a waste of space.  Urban sprawl of hundreds of inactive structures is just not entertaining.  Games need quiet villages, active towns and dynamic cities.  Player-owned structures just mean lots of dead space in the game.

As a possibly-interesting solution, consider houses that appear when you log in with your character, and disappear when you log out.  They are placed according to simple rules, such as occupying the first empty lot in town, expanding out along the road system from the center of town.

Log out and your house vanishes, to be replaced by the next person to log in who has a compatible house in that town.  Finding your house would require a glance at the map when you get to town.

Conceivably, your house would attempt to be placed as close to a certain location as possible - but always end up being adjacent to other homes and always in the same village/town/city.  Pay for an expensive home and it always appears in the area with the expensive homes - but always adjacent to the rest of town.

If there are things like NPC shops, have a limited number of them that work for whoever will pay the highest salary.  That, combined with a live goods market will ensure that only players interested in narrow margins would operate such an NPC shop.

But please, stop putting houses all over the wilderness and stop leaving so much absolutely useless content in the game world.

Tue Jun 17 2008 8:25AM Report
Vaden writes:

Its sad its not used everytime, PLAYER HOUSING and AUCTION HOUSE are two easy things to make a game more enjoyble and economical yet most developers for a simple reason, that just my be "forgetting" always neglect to code it in.

Mabinogi Online kould use both with such a KEY on Crafting threw out the whhoolllleee game lol but I heard they are adding it in later. Simple storage space and Selling crafted goods become a problem.

Tue Jun 17 2008 11:47AM Report
Vaden writes:

Oh as for player owned structures, you kan make Tents in Mabinogi, just helps heal and gives a "spawn" location thats not as far, as say.. a city, from the patch of mobs ur fighting that u may happen to die on lol

But FFXI type housing is good, or a zone specially made for housing near or in a city. DEVs are lame for leavin stuff like that out.

Tue Jun 17 2008 11:51AM Report
Vortigon writes:

I love player housing, more and more though I feel like I'm in the minority.  Alot of the new MMOrs who have only tried WoW just dont get it.  They don't see why housing is needed or wanted.  It's sad that their entire MMO outlook is based on such a limited game which does nothing to inspire imagination.

Every MMO should have player owned housing of some kind or another, whether that be instanced towns, or pre-placed plots for purchase I don't mind as long as its available and accessible.

Wed Jun 18 2008 5:52AM Report
Realedazed writes:

Player Housing has always been a huge draw for me. I'm not sure why, but I like owning a little piece of virtural land.

I played Horizons for about a day after its beta and a few hours afterwards. ( I have a crappy computer, but kept denying the fact. So,  I couldn't run it. The game was empty then, anyway) I haven't touched or read about that game since then, though.  But, if I remember correctly, they had a decent housing system.  You could gather resources and build a house and make player cities - similar to SWG.  What I liked about it is that you had to fight of the beasts or whatever creatures lived in that space and continue to defend your city from the creatures as well as other players.

I may be thinking of another game..or even several other games, though.

But on the flip side of the coin. I see a huge drawback in player cities.  I sampled SWG and visited a few and everything was empty and dead.  It seemed like a wasted resource.  I seem to like an eariler poster's idea of a housing system that appears when you are online and disappears when you are not. That way a player neighborhood aways has someone running around and doesn't feel so empty.

Thu Jun 19 2008 3:31PM Report
barenone writes:

OK I cannot help but say a couple things here. First and foremost I love player owned housing. My favorite would have to be the orginal galaxies. I do believe the best set up I have seen for player housing would probably be asherons call. You start out with a mass produced garbage apartment but you can invest in a bigger and etter place that you can find all over the world, this reduces resources for housing to just the people who want it and since they invest more it is more likely they will use it. I wanted to point out 2 games for you to check out housing wise if you havent yet. The first is anarchy Online, free mmo graphics are not the greatest and you start with a basic apartment in a instance type setup. You can however (for an extreme amount of cash) set up and build your own city wherever you like. The second game is one im rather addicted to called Wurm online. This game you can literally just bunker down wherever you like and start building everything you need from the earth around you. from tools to castles. even dig your own mines and search for veins. very indepth java based game. it is lowstream at the moment so not to crowded and it takes patiants to build from scratch so it keeps alot of the immature crowd off. if you try it call me in game andI can help you out. of course its barenone there as well and I am on freedom server. Thought i would let the P.O.H fans get there fix untill somthing better comes out (fingers crossed)

Mon Nov 16 2009 3:55AM Report
MasterWan writes: system was the system in EQII. The housing was more like instanced apartments. Limited, but at least there. If you used the EQII system for lower level housing and a more Ultima Online system for more advanced housing I think it could really work. Housing is really what keeps me immersed in an MMO, and the good thing is, if some people dont like player housing, they dont have to buy housing. Thu May 20 2010 11:49AM Report
MasterWan writes: the other good thing about the player housing in EQII was that it kept people coming back to the cities again and again regardless of level. It made the cities seem more populated. Thu May 20 2010 11:56AM Report
blacknova541 writes:

The BEST housing system there is.


freerealms by SOE

its the only game where YOU can make your house, not plop down a premade house and sh** you buy blocks and bricks and go to you lot, and start placing, and build a lot. there isnt anything beter

Sat Jan 22 2011 2:07PM Report
Ergload writes:

The best player housing in any MMORPG are to be found in Achaea. Very deep and customizable options, including thousands of furniture presets

Sat Feb 11 2012 6:07PM Report
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