Late last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Derek Brinkman about housing in Shards Online and how it will be different that most MMOs out there. It all begins with a very simple premise: Real estate matters, in terms of location (location, location!) and in terms of one's neighbors. Derek envisions players banding together to make towns house by house, guilds banding together, market squares run by the inhabitants and all of it based on the chosen epoch the shard embodies.
"Shards create a sense of community. Each is relatively small in size but create a sense of camaraderie. Shards are like a small town where everyone knows their neighbors."
To build on that, Derek wrote a brief look at his vision for Shards Online housing and expands on how community benefits from the feature:
Player housing in Shards Online is unique for many reasons. The biggest reason is because your house and the decorations/furniture/trophies you put inside it are more real than in other MMOs. Everything you find or create as you explore the worlds of Shards Online can be used to decorate your home, inside and out, to make it stand out. You will hire NPCs to work on your land as guards, merchants, or even an apprentices to your craft.
Where you build your house actually matters since you will have to deal with your neighbors. Shards Online will bring back the sense of community lost in other MMOs that use instances to create fake areas for player homes. Going beyond the simple idea that each player gets one structure, you and your guild mates will build multiple structures (shops, guard towers etc) on your land to suit your needs. It won't be long before some home shards will be bustling market places where players from all over the cluster travel to conduct their business.
This is the vision we have set forth for player housing and player owned structures in Shards Online. We have already come a long way towards making that vision a reality as you can see from the latest housing feature video.
Given that Shards Online is a fully modifiable game, I asked Derek whether or not there will be User Generated Content (UGC) where players can sell their creations either for real-world cash (as Daybreak Game players can do) or for in-game currency. At this time, there are no plans for that on launch, though an asset store is clearly a consideration for post-launch development. In the meantime, players are using a system to share code with one another through a player / modder created site called GIT.
All in all, Shards Online is set to bring some unique and much-desired features to fans of MMOs, not the least of which is housing. You can keep an eye on development of Shards by visiting its official site.
What housing features and abilities do you want in your next MMO? Let us know in the comments!