Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
 
Thought for the day: Player Housing

Wolfshead makes a passionate argument for player housing in World of Warcraft. The problem I see with the idea is that Azeroth is a pretty tightly populated world, and there is no way it could support 10,000+ player houses distributed all over the existing world without looking utterly ridiculous. Thus player housing in WoW would necessarily be instanced. Which means nobody will see your house. So what would be the point of having player housing? What exactly would you want that house for, and what exactly would you want to do in it?
Comments:
i think it would be a great way of blizzard finally giving us that extra storage space for all the stuff that us pacrats really dont want to get rid of.
 
One word:
Brothel
 
Player Housing in Lotro is instanced as well, and that includes both 'player houses' and 'guild houses'

And they do get used quite a bit for RP.

Then again, RP in general is more popular in Lotro than I have ever seen it be in any other MMO.
 
I'd want mannequins to display armor sets I'd collected.

"Hooks" and/or moveable furnishings, either would work - LoTRO's style or EQ2's.

And several choices of location - Shattrath, Stormwind, Ironforge, Darnasuss (who cares about Exodar!)

i think with housing, blizzard would have to either come up with an innovative solution, OR use the same style LoTRO does - essentially, having a "district" that contains 20-30 houses, and each district is an instance.

And honestly, as long as it didn't have the stupid housing problems LoTRO has (ie, upkeep fees being a bit ridiculous (either buy a mount, or buy a house for two months...) depending on house, upkeep collection continuing while you're unsubscribed...). If blizzard could avoid the pitfalls, I think housing could be a reasonable success.
 
WoW isn't a virtual world - it's a large multiplayer game. As a result, player housing would never work in it.
 
I love player housing. It gives us explorers a place to put collectables. (Yeah more useless stuff to collect!)

Player housing is good for storage, and possibly another fast travel bind point.

Roleplayers might like the housing option.
 
Instanced housing would be great. They could put one in every zone, and give players their choice of living quarters. Making it accessible to all party members would be good as well, so that you could invite people in. Guild apartments would be good too. This could be a place for you to have your personal bank, you could possibly select from a list of vendors to keep inside. They could add methods to decorate and personalize as well. Would be a nice add-in to further customize your game play.
 
One way - Retake gnomeregan = player housing zone for Alliance.

Similar zone for horde.

Houses only in these zones like DAoC.

easy. No problem with space (at least for All all underground so not a problem.

Reason for going there? Purchasable merchants and fluff. Portals, bind stone. Etc.
 
i NEEEEED a closet... also it would be nice to have a hearth back to our guild living room to get a gem cut instead of the Dalaran fountain... plus we have guildies with bow or shield collections that would be cool to display... and somewhere to have a pet kennel
 
If it provided extra storage space (beyond the vault), I'd love it.

Beyond that, I know that some people (my wife, for instance) love to personalize/decorate things. Look at the crazy amount of time people spend decorating/designing their farms in Farmville.

Many of us don't care about whether other people can see what we have - I know in EQ, I was more more concerned about whether my character looked right TO ME rather than someone else seeing that I have great gear (e.g., I might have used a slightly subpar sword rather than a better axe because I liked the way the sword looked). I know that there'd be some draw for me if my paladin could have a little keep of his own (even if no one else could see it), my warlock could have a sanctum sanctorum, my hunter could have a hunting lodge, etc. - wouldn't matter than no one else could see it.

It's been a while since I played, but weren't the super hero bases in City of Heroes instanced as well? I know one of my supergroup members loved the idea of being able to decorate with posters, trophies, etc.

Not a huge appeal to me by any stretch (wouldn't get me to resubscribe - not actually playing WoW at the moment), but it might actually get my wife to resubscribe.
 
i think it would be a great way of blizzard finally giving us that extra storage space for all the stuff that us pacrats really dont want to get rid of.
They can do that at any time by introducing larger bags, they just don't want to. Two words: disk space.

Sure, the space required by a single item is trivial: item id, bind status, stack size, enchants, gems and buffs applied. It quickly adds up when you have several million players and every one has several characters with several bags. And all of that has to be backed up every 15 minutes or so. And then you get to factor in all of the characters owned by inactive players..
 
Though I like the way SWG did their housing, letting you place it out in the "woods" long as you were so far out from a major city (which allowed player-run cities), I think a more EQ2 style would work for WOW. With EQ2, there are fixed "houses" in the major cities, each with various rent amounts and rooms/styles. In EQ2 if you wanted to visit someone else's home, they had to allow you to visit and you went to the house, scrolled though the list of players living there, and picked their name and entered. Depending on access settings, you could visit or if you had full access, you could redecorate. Access levels are great for alts as it allows you to have one home for all your toons. The only issue I see with WOW would be to add a check to make sure it was faction based, that way you couldn't have a place for an opposite factioned toon to hang out and harass the town. In EQ2 however, it really doesn't matter since either "faction" can sneak into each others cities, and as long as they avoid the raid level guards, they can walk around without any issues.
 
People just want it for RP. If you want extra storage space, you need to ask for more bank slots.

For RPers, there are many "empty" houses already, just spend some time in Darnassus, Stormwind, or Ironforge looking in the buildings.
 
I'd like a place to put my old Tier sets that I have in my bank and perhaps a manikin to put them on so I can see them again in their 'glory'.

But if it's going to lead to more 'additional instances can not be launched' I'll just do without the feature, tyvm.
 
I've always thought that guild housing would be the more appropriate housing for WoW. Have an instanced version for the poor guilds, and have the "real" world real estate cost a fortune with high monthly upkeep to make sure the guilds that get those spots have to keep hustling. Link said house to guild achievements by giving the following for achievements and make the house a great hearthing place; repairs, auctioneer, portals to every major city, rest xp accumulates faster, profession trainers, class trainers, all the stuff you need and want all rolled into one mansion.
 
A creative mind would surely come up with a lot of stuff but there is one thing that would really excite me about player housing: The opportunity to showcase my old stuff. I want to litter the walls with the weapons I used to wear in BWL and Karazhan, I want wooden puppets in the corner showcasing old sets I wore and things like that!
 
We could have instanced housing and get "invited" to the group/raid leader's house. Might be an interesting twist on guild meetings. It would be locked on raid size, but 40 might be sufficient for most guilds.

I just want a place I can stick all the letters from lore figures and other cruft I can't really bear to get rid of. Heck, I've got the Master Sword in my bank. Who could destroy the Master Sword? We are BFFs now and hang out in the Icecrown 5-mans all the time, yet I am still hanging on to Jaina's signet. Basically, I'm a big trophy collector. It annoys me that because I want to hold on useless stuff I lose actual useful bank space.

One of the few things I actually enjoyed about Final Fantasy 11 was the house. I was not one for the moving furniture around bit, but I did like that putting a specific barrel in there would give you resistance to certain elements. It could be another min-max exercise for the OCD.
 
Keep in mind that it's not necessarily (just) the outside of a house players will want to show off. What options the players have when decorating said house on the inside also matters a lot.

I had a house in Ultima Online. It was the small cheap kind, and not much to look at from the outside. I put a lot of effort into decorating the inside, though, even though I was the only one who ever frequented the house.

I guess the house really felt like an extension of my character more than anything else. No longer was he a homeless vagabond; instead he had a place where he could sit down at the end of a hard days worth of monster-killing and enjoy a virtual beer. =)
 
I'd traded player housing for a trophy case for all my hard earned purple items I've acquired through levelling and raiding but can not longer use.

My idea is instead of vendoring my goblin rocket launcher or my Kings Defender I could place the item in a trophy case (making it unusable) that could be viewed on the achievement page in the wow armoury.

And really who doesn't want to brag about famous items and/or low precentage drop items they've acquired to other players.
 
It could work like this:

Depending on what you are willing to pay for upkeep, there are several styles of houses you can buy. The various houses are clustered into a 'village' of some sort, or in a 'residential area' of a major city.

Anyone can see them from the outside. You enter the door of the house type you own, and it zones you into your instance.

In it, you can furnish with goods of varying expense and quality made via the various trade skills. Those goods could include a wardrobe for tabards, a display case for cherished weapons and armor. Extra storage space.

Perhaps 'trophies' could be gathered from various quests and boss kills, for display on your walls. Perhaps, a la Second Life, you could buy player-made paintings (tapestries, drapes?) for your walls.

You can invite friends to whom you can show off your collections. Or chat privately.

Lots of options. All voluntary. All add additional game play options for those who wish to participate.

How can it be bad?
 
I don't expect to ever see this in WoW as I'm sure Blizzard are saving this feature for their new MMO.
 
I liked the way that lotro did it, but in wow there would have to be reasons to go there other than just houses. Perhaps crafting facilities, fishing ponds etc.
 
Not that I expect it to happen, but a coworker and I had a discussion about this. He plays Darkfall where this sort of thing is much more viable. In the context of WOW, we brainstormed (slow and nerdy day at the office indeed) not just how one could make guild housing USEFUL or even compelling to hang out in but also how it could provide a benefit to the guild. Some of the ideas wrapped some of the rumors we've heard related to the guild changes/additions in Cataclysm.

- The obvious thing was perhaps add it as an additional bind spot/hearthstone/recall for guild members.

- slot machines/games were an interesting idea… like a mini-game room. Proceeds of those gold pieces per play going to the guild bank.

- crafting tables/forge/etc (i.e. +10, +20, etc…) like in other games

- choose a location in one of the houses or rows of houses in a major city. Guild gets to pick.

- increased rest XP

- portals to other cities INSIDE your house (for a price -- gold, achievements, etc...). Stay in Ogrimmar, but have the row of portals like you were in Dal

That last one we thought would be really compelling IMO.

As to housing implementation, what more could you do than just pick one currently "boarded up" building in each City and designate? That, at least, is the cheapest solution. You could make it "magical" where you have to stand at a certain point in a city and use your guild house key to open the door to the house (located with a glorious view of the ever Shifting Nether!)
 
I loved how EQ2 did player housing.
 
I think they don't do it because they can't do it so much better then anyone else that everyone is WOW..that is Blizzard polish!!! look at them!! wow!!

I want player housing and vanity slots for gear. With the introduction of the RMT store they will be adding them, they just won't until they have to.

I think they should as it creates more player involvement, and investment, which both lead to longer subscriptions. Look at EQ player investment is HUGE either into there avatar or there friends. Now EQ isn't a bad game, they have changed a lot, its not the same game, but most of the people I know still playing have been playing for 9+ years and feel they can't leave, its to much time, to throw away.
 
Well there is also the Rune of Magic way of housing:

It's primary use is to have more storage.

Secondary use comes with furnitures that gives you:
- +XP with rest / +TP with rest but this is acquired in WoW with the inn.
- Improve your chance to make critical when crafting.
- Gardening (taken from FfXI)
- Simply display your armor sets.
- Some items could only be used inside your house like books to improve your craft.

The funny thing is that you can invite other people to come to your house to visit.
 
Player housing destroyed the social element of Asheron's Call. Even the devs admitted as much when Turbine refused to consider anything more than Guild housing in AC2.

Someone mentioned the RP aspects of player housing in WoW. I'm sure that has a huge following. Not.
 
Player housing is a fun side activity that drives a small economy in it's own rite. Some players get really into it and are willing to pay a lot for rare furnishings. It also give you a place to show off trophies of personal or guild achievements.

DAoC, EQ II, LoTRO, Wizard 101, CoH, AO and EQ (off the top of my head) all have some form of instanced player housing and or guild housing. It's a popular feature among the players of all of those games.
 
The key to instancing player housing, in my opinion, is to follow the Lord of the Rings Online model and don't instance individual houses, instead you instance neighborhoods. Imagine taking something about the size of Stormwind where you could easily have a few dozen houses/guild halls/etc (even stores if you wanted) and instancing that.

I think it could easily work quite well.
 
Housing is perhaps the best place for players to express their preferences in a social game. Yes, you can change your avatar's clothes, but changing around a home gives so many more levers to twiddle with. Also, you can change your home and not nerf your character's performance (where are the WoW appearance tabs already?).

It's about letting players have some control and forging emotional connections with the game. That's key to retention, and ultimately, much healthier than addictive loot lotteries and unholy rep grinds.
 
Housing, when well done as in EQ2 Vanguard or Wizard 101 to name a few I've enjoyed, isn't so much an addition to the game, it's the basis of the game. It grounds my character in the world in a way that is difficult to emulate in a game that doesn't allow you to make a base for yourself.

In games that don't offer actual housing, I always choose Inns or outdoor areas that appeal to me and make them my "home". I finish sessions by returning to those and camping there, sleeping in beds where the animations allow, eating and drinking at tables and so forth.

It's massively more satisfying to do this in a space you can furnish. And interior decorating is a much more comprehensible activity than killing monsters. It feels a lot more "real" to move furniture in a virtualhouse than to hack animals to death with an imaginary sword. Fortunately.
 
All the folks that are talking about moving city level services (banks, portals and such) inside houses should remember why those services are outside in the city in the first place. WoW has populated cities exactly because those things are not hidden inside instances that are effectively private. The devs get this and got this 5 years ago. None of that stuff will ever move out of the shared city areas.

Also, the fact that WoW (the most successful MMO by two orders of magnitude) does not have housing firmly demonstrates that it's a non-feature feature. That is to say it does not and will not affect the success of a game in the positive direction. Don't expect to see it in WoW (or any other Blizzard game). It’s wasted development time.
 
I agree that instanced housing is dumb. I found it more than a little pointless in LotRO.

I could imagine player housing self-balancing in the world were it a free-for-all pvp area allowing houses to be torn down by other players if they're not being actively supported.

For example

- you can attack a player's house. Doing this gets you flagged free-for-all, but during the attack you can salvage materials that were used to build the house and its services.

- you can 'hire' a variety of elite NPCs to guard your house, which will also flag you free-for-all pvp if attacked. The maintenance costs of these NPCs is high, and increases exponentially as you have more of them (or NPCs of higher level).

To me that would seem to make it a mildly fun mini-game.

And yet... what's the point of paying to keep them?
- to have your own portals to cities or vendors or bank?
We already have that in Dalaran.
- to hide from other players?
Then no one sees your shinies, no one wants to compete, people stop thinking they have to play every day, subscriptions decline and wow closes.
- to farm herbs or food? (Farmville anyone?)
Then the supply of herbs/food is oversupplied and there's less for the levelling player to do and sell.

And so it all comes back to what Andrew posted above - WoW is a game, not a virtual world. Dalaran is the lobby client. Player housing would... not fit.

For player housing to work, I think it needs to be part of the starting point of the game's design, rather than tacked on at the end.
 
Have a guild house purchasable at, say, 100k gold with upkeep taxes of 10k gold per month (or through special mercenary quests from guild housing merchant). If arrears are paid up in advance, a guild keep is created where players can drop gear off, sell to other members through a special vendor or even sell to the public.

Housing also allows portals to all major cities and special guild quests that are offered for additional purchases within housing.

Small guilds can group together to purchase if they have to through the creation of a special "alliance" channel linking different guilds together.

This stops any guild having a house, only serious, commited and working guilds can hope to earn housing.

Guild houses can offer special bonuses to player abilities, however, these houses must be set with /pvp flag, allowing guilds from opposite factions to raid them for trophies and 10% of money in guild bank.

Big question - what happens when the guild breaks down? Is there a house sale open to the public? Or does it disappear into the aether dumping your belongings back into your bank?
 
The next thing WoW should copy from EQ2 is player housing and guild halls imo :D.

If you read up about it a little, maybe even watch some videos people made of events in their houses and guild halls, then you don't have any chance not to be blown away ;).
 
Comment by Hirvox:

They can do that at any time by introducing larger bags, they just don't want to. Two words: disk space.

I'm late to the comments, but this is a big misconception. It's not about disk space, it's about server queries to the "item server" (which might just be the realm server).

Did you know the initial 10-dailies was a server limitation? So is bag space. There are design advantages to limiting bag space, but it is as much a hardware compromise as it is a design compromise. Moving items in your bag, buying and selling, using items, crafting, and so many other tasks, requires a lot of server queries to the item database. And remember that "bag space" also includes what you're wearing, as well as your bank.

I don't know what the amount of data transfer is, or what the limits are, but there have been blue posts that said it was a hardware limit, and it's not about storage, and that limit is surely based on throughput. Player housing would probably not be constrained by storage either.
 
There are design advantages to limiting bag space, but it is as much a hardware compromise as it is a design compromise. Moving items in your bag, buying and selling, using items, crafting, and so many other tasks, requires a lot of server queries to the item database.
Of course they do, but those queries only process data about items you're actually using. For example, the item server does not need to process the items in your bank when you're out adventuring. And assuming that the overall database structure and indexes are up to professional standards, the increase in the quantity of items has only a negligible effect on query durations.

I don't know what the amount of data transfer is, or what the limits are, but there have been blue posts that said it was a hardware limit, and it's not about storage, and that limit is surely based on throughput.
Again, the server only needs to transmit information about items that you are actually using. The worst-case scenario for the item server is when you log on, go to the bank and open every bag that you have. However, that information only needs to be transmitted once per session. The items in the bank or in the bags can't change unless a player does something to them, so the client can grab the item information from it's local cache if you close and reopen the bags. And when you move, craft, buy, sell, loot or use items, only the data about those specific items will be transmitted. That strain on the item server and it's network interface is constant no matter whether you're a newbie who just got his first four-slot bag or a decked-out veteran with a full complement of 24-slot bags and your personal guild vault.
 
Blizzard have stated before that they like it when lots of players congregate in the capital cities - it makes the world feel 'alive' and encourages people to keep levelling/farming in order to get the loot/titles of the players they see.
Evidence of this policy can be found in the AH/class trainers.

If all the players are in separate instances, the cities themselves are going to seem a little empty?
 
I think my opinion on player housing follows a majority of comments here.

Storage space for historical items that would allow you to track your gear history through wow would be awesome.
Some form of armor dummies where you could display your old tier equipment rather than destroying it to save bag space, and some form of display case or rack for old weapons.
There is one warrior in my guild that has an epic axe collection that goes all the way back to MC.

It would be quite easy to place restrictions on this space to prevent players from using it to keep current gear, such as having a row of lvl 60 dummies, a row of lvl 70 dummies, a lvl 60 display case, a lvl 70 display case etc. so that it could only be used for items that you have levelled past.
 
Hirvox, you're assuming that the client only tracks changes to your inventory, and doesn't ever refresh the whole inventory. Even though that might be a lot more efficient, I'm betting that it's also incredibly sensitive to exploits. I'm betting that it checks and double-checks data against the server all the time, which leads to a nontrivial load on the server.

But maybe not. I think this is one of those discussions that is impossible to have without knowing that they really do.
 
Hirvox, you're assuming that the client only tracks changes to your inventory, and doesn't ever refresh the whole inventory.
Yes, I'm assuming that Blizzard developers are competent. Silly, I know.
Even though that might be a lot more efficient, I'm betting that it's also incredibly sensitive to exploits.
Only if you don't abide by the first rule of client-server system design: The client is in the hands of the enemy. Do not trust the client.

Let's say that our potential exploiter has one valuable item in his inventory. He hacks the client not to remove the item from it's original location when he moves it from one inventory slot to another. In effect, he's creating a duping exploit. This is how the discussion between the server and the client should go:

Client: I'll move item A from slot 1 to slot 2.
Server: Ok, item A is now in slot 2.

This is where an unhacked client would update item A's location in the cache.

Client: I'll move item A from slot 1 to slot 3.

This is a crucial point for the exploit. Does the server double-check that item A is actually in slot 1 before doing the move? This is how it should respond:

Server: Wait a minute, there is no item A in slot 1. Error!

I'm betting that it checks and double-checks data against the server all the time, which leads to a nontrivial load on the server.
It might as well, but that doesn't deter exploits. The exploiter can just hack the double-checking part to return whatever he wants. Let's see how that scenario would proceed if the server re-sent the contents of the inventory:

Server: You have item A in slot 1, and item B in slot 4.
Client: I'll move item A from slot 1 to slot 2.
Server: Ok. You have item A in slot 2 and item B in slot 4.

At this point, an unhacked client would update it's internal state to match what the server just told it. But the hack replaces the state of the inventory with the previous one, allowing the exploiter to try the move again:

Client: I'll move item A from slot 1 to slot 3.

Again, this is the crucial moment. The hacked client is sending the exact same messages in both scenarios, therefore whether it's supposed to cache the data or not does not make any difference on resistance to exploits.
 
I would show off the 10 items of rp/for show clothing that blizzard has made in the past 5 years.
 
I just always assumed that a larger set of elements (i.e. expanded inventory space) would require more computational work to manipulate, and that some kind of scaling law would apply. I also always assumed that that client-server lag would never permit any dependence on a local cache for inventory usage and management. But I guess I have some major misconceptions how these things work.

I never meant to imply that Blizzard employess (or your comments) were incompetent, I just assumed they were difficult and subtle issues. I apologize for my unfounded criticism.
 
I just always assumed that a larger set of elements (i.e. expanded inventory space) would require more computational work to manipulate, and that some kind of scaling law would apply.
Searching through a table of one million items is indeed slower than searching through a table with a thousand items, but the slowdown factor is not what you would expect.

Let's use a phone book as an example. If you're looking for John Smith's phone number, you don't start from A and read all of the entries in sequence. You know that the listings are sorted, so you estimate where S would be and open the phone book at that part. If you hit T, you know you overshot and browse backwards, skipping less pages this time. If you hit R, you know you're almost there and skip forward a bit. Then you estimate where names starting with Sm would be, and so on. Or if the phone book has a hierarchical table of contents, you first check that, find S, then Sm, then Smi until you reach a small enough section of pages that you can browse through. Because you're constantly skipping pages, the time to find the entry is not directly proportional to the overall size of the phone book. The database does the same, only with more precision. Also, the database won't suffer from having a lot of John Smiths, because the database assigns the key values and thus can distribute the entries evenly.

I also always assumed that that client-server lag would never permit any dependence on a local cache for inventory usage and management.
Desynchronization can be a problem, but the two methods we discussed are no different in that regard. They're both updating the client's state after every request. The full-update method is better when there is a chance that the client's state becomes corrupted, either because of programming bugs in the client or unreliable network connections. However, WoW uses the TCP protocol, which automatically detects and retransmits any lost information, guaranteeing that the WoW client either receives nothing or exactly what the server sent and in the correct order.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool