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Player-Created Dungeons

Chronicles of Elyria Developer Journals - By Jeromy Walsh on December 01, 2015

Player-Created Dungeons

In last week's design journal Player Housing - Architecture & Construction, we talked about how player housing interacts with the survival, crafting, nobility, and family systems to create a real purpose for player housing. We also talked briefly about how player housing interacts with the inventory system - or rather, the notable lack of inventory, to create a safe haven to store your personal treasures. But what really makes player housing "safe"?  

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In this week's design journal, we're going to talk about ownership, barriers to entry, hidden chambers, defense mechanisms, and finally, damage and demolition of structures. By the time this design journal is complete it should be clear that player housing in Chronicles of Elyria isn't just a neat place to hang family portraits. It's a sophisticated system of player-created content, and ultimately, one of the most innovative sandbox elements in Chronicles of Elyria. 


Figure 1 – In-game screenshot of a room with a hidden door

Land Ownership 

First, much like in our world all land is owned, if not privately by individuals, by the highest government in the land. In Chronicles of Elyria, those governments are (initially at least) the kingdoms. That means at game launch all parcels of land will be owned by the kings. As a king, however, it's impossible to either defend (or benefit from) such a huge amount of land. So in exchange for taxes or other resources, the kings can appropriate land to citizens through one of two methods.   

 Obtaining Land 

1. Land Purchase: A family or organization of sufficient wealth can take ownership of land by purchasing it from the local Count (if it’s unincorporated land) or from the local Magistrate/Mayor (if it’s part of a town or city). The benefit to this method is it's safe, easy, fast, and gives you access to a large amount of land all at once. The drawback is that land can be expensive.  

2. Adverse Possession: If you lack the financial resources, but still want to own land, you can find a parcel of land which is currently unoccupied (or abandoned) and can take ownership of it. This is done by building a structure on the land and then defending it for a full month. Defending means preventing the actual landowner from destroying your structure. Note that the landowner (king), someone appointed by the king (duke, count, sheriff), or someone given a bounty to do so are the only ones that can legally attack/destroy your structure.   

It's also important to note that this mechanic works the same way whether the existing owner is a king or another citizen. So if someone buys land and doesn't log in for a month, or just doesn't pay close attention, you can reclaim the land which was previously appropriated to them.  

Leasing Land 

We'll talk more about this in a future design journal on townships, but in the meantime, in addition to owning land it's also possible to lease property from another player. Leasing is similar to purchasing but has a few differences. First, when you lease land you're bound by a Lease Agreement rather than a Deed and are generally limited in the types of structures you can build on the land. In addition, leasing generally comes with rent or other dues in addition to taxes, but doesn't have the up-front cost that purchasing does. The trade-off here is that people who purchase a large amount of land can utilize your services to work the land or pay taxes on it so the land doesn't go to waste. Also, by having someone lease the land it's less likely to be squatted on and taken via Adverse Possession. 


Figure 2 – In-game screenshot of a hidden staircase

Home Ownership 

Home ownership is a closely related, but slightly different subject than land ownership. In general, if you own a parcel of land you own the structures on it. This gives you the freedom to both build, as well as destroy things on your land.   

Similarly, if you own a building, you own all the rooms inside of it. However, just as you can lease land, you can rent or lease rooms. Leasing rooms is done with the help of a special Housing UI, which looks like a floor-plan of the house and allows you to do things such as assign names to the different rooms, as well as grant/limit access to different people (identities) or groups of people.  

The main purpose of this system is to provide rooms in your house for your children, as well as for running establishments like inns. Once you've updated room access, it's possible to create a Lease Agreement which contains a copy of the floor-plan so the lessee knows which room is theirs and what permissions they have.   

As with many of the systems in Chronicles of Elyria, this is handled with contracts and is up to the parties involved to negotiate the terms of the Lease Agreement. Will the rent be a fixed amount per in-game year? Will it be a percentage of your total income? What happens if they break something? As usual, it’s also up to the individuals to enforce the contract.  

In addition to residences and inns it's also an obvious system for creating guild halls. You can use the access system to control who can legally enter which rooms, giving you the opportunity to have private libraries, armories, or other things which some guild members shouldn't have access to.   

That's all well and good but it begs the question how do you keep people out of rooms in the first place? 

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