What do you want from housing?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 March 2013, 11:34 am
Syl, who by the way stopped being a Raging Monkey and is now apparently a MMO Gypsy, is writing an excellent post about MMO housing. His key point is that housing in a MMORPG needs to be significant, that is have some sort of function. But while everybody is excited about player housing being shown in the Wildstar trailer, I still haven't found anybody who even had a concept of how to make player housing significant without causing trouble for other players.

In Ultima Online housing was significant. You needed your house to store your stuff, and you could use it to sell your crafted items to customers passing by. But because there were a lot less housing spots than players, and the location mattered a lot for the houses significance as sales spot, housing in UO was also a source of constant annoyance. Star Wars Galaxies did somewhat better, because it had much more territory, and thus sufficient space for everybody to build his house on. But in the long run I wouldn't say housing was a success in SWG, because people tend to leave MMORPGs sooner or later, and thus people found themselves in dying neighborhoods. When player houses are created in the open game world, they always negatively affect other players, either by "taking their spots", or by the negative effect of neglect on a neighborhood. This is also a typical problem in A Tale in the Desert, albeit less so because that game regularly resets.

Since then most games I've seen used instanced housing, or the LotRO hybrid of instanced neighborhoods. In EQ2 you could craft in your house. But I haven't seen any good social activity implemented for player housing in any game. There are more or less good systems to decorate, but most players would balk at the idea of inviting their friends over to show them how they decorated their virtual home. And even if they did, it isn't something you can do regularly as a group activity.

So I was wondering why everybody is always so excited about the idea of player housing. What exactly do you want to *do* with that house? Do you want your house in the open world, or do you want it instanced? And apart from solo crafting or the like, what *group* activity do you think MMO houses could be good for? What would make player housing significant for you?
Tobold's Blog



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