Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 27, 2010
 
EVE Online: Tyrannis and player housing

Yesterday the latest free expansion of EVE Online, called Tyrannis, was released. The part of it which interests me most is planetary exploration and construction, allowing players to own structures on planets to harvest materials. Unfortunately the expansion wasn't feature-complete on release, right now you can only view planets, not build on them yet. That is presumably going to change in two weeks, on June 8th.

The reason I am interested in this is that planetary structures in EVE aren't unlike player housing in other MMORPGs. And player housing in MMORPGs is riddled with a lot of fundamental problems of time and space. Let me introduce some of those problems by telling you about my first experience with player housing in Ultima Online:

When I started playing Ultima Online, there wasn't any player housing where I was playing. I'm not quite sure whether it wasn't in the game yet, or just not on the server I was playing, but it was shortly after UO had been split up in PvE and PvP mirror halves, and I was playing on the PvE side with no house anywhere. I was working on my tailoring at that time, so I was killing walrus on a large icy wasteland, and had logged off my character there. The next day I logged on and found myself in the middle of a city, with the walrus still roaming the streets. Within hours after housing had been turned on, every single flat space in Trammel had been filled with houses. I had a deed to build a house, and spent the next two weeks in frustration searching for a flat space, but there simply weren't any available. In the end I bought a small house on EBay, RMT being legal in UO.

That experience showed me two possible major drawbacks of player housing: Virtual worlds often actually aren't all that big, and building houses in adventuring areas ends up looking quite strange. In an earlier post of mine, which happens to be the one most linked to on my blog, I calculated the size of Azeroth, and found that a "continent" in World of Warcraft is just twice the size of Manhattan. But with most of it not being flat and suitable for building a house on, and skyscrapers not likely to fit into a fantasy world, there isn't actually all that much space where you could possibly build player housing on. Imagine how the look of a zone like the Barrens would change if hundreds of houses would be build there!

That problem can be solved if you make the world bigger. For example Star Wars Galaxies had enough square miles for every player on a server to build houses, and thus allowed the construction of player towns. The downside of that is that really huge worlds are too big to have every corner hand-crafted, and are often created with fractal landscape algorithms. That allows virtually endless amounts of virtual world to be created, but the places often look a bit sameish and aren't all that much fun to explore. And then players complain if it takes too long to get from one place to another. But even if you optimize all this, you still run into the problem of who is actually living in those virtual player-run towns.

Virtual worlds have a problem of housing density that the real world doesn't have: Presence of inhabitants. As a rule of thumb in the industry, there are 5 to 10 times more players on a server than you can find online during prime time. For example EVE has 330,000 subscribers, with 50,000 online during prime time. We don't have really good numbers for WoW, but typical estimates are 3,000 players online during prime time out of 20,000 players per server. Because of this factor 5 to 10, player built cities in a virtual world are always looking rather empty. On a WoW server you would need to find space for 20,000 players, but with only a maximum of 3,000 players online, and those players presumably spending only a fraction of their time in their houses and the majority of time out adventuring, you'll end up with a house occupation rate of around 1%. Running around in a hypothetical player housing town in World of Warcraft and knocking on doors to see who is home would result in 99 out of 100 houses being found empty. Not exactly a lively place to live in.

Thus other games don't allow players to place houses and towns in the virtual world, but put the player housing in instances. Be that Anarchy Online, Everquest 2, or Final Fantasy XI, the player clicks on some entrance to player housing in a city, and finds himself in his house. There are no limits to how many houses can exist this way, as they don't occupy any space, and nobody notices if 99% of them are empty. But it also often reduces your house to an interior which only you can see, or at max some friends you invite in. As a status symbol that isn't quite as impressive as having a castle in the middle of the landscape where everybody can see it. Lord of the Rings Online tried a compromise, where the housing *zone* is instanced, but you can run around that zone and see the houses from inside an outside. But due to the population density problem mentioned above and the small number of houses in each zone, you rarely ever meet your neighbors, and often find yourself all alone in that housing zone.

So now I'm kind of interested to see how EVE Online is handling these planetary structures. There is a large, but limited number of planets in EVE, especially if you consider that most players would want to remain in safe empire space. So the question is for how many players each planet has space. Is that "instanced", that is you don't even see the planet structures of other players, and can go wherever you want? Or are there only a few spots per planet and every viable spot will be taken a day after building structures is allowed? And given that this is EVE, can a corporation wardec another corporation over planetary resources, carpet bomb their planetary structures and build their own structures on that spot?

As for World of Warcraft, I understand why Blizzard never got around to introduce player housing. This is one of these features where everybody says he wants it, but ends up being dispointed by every possible implementation of it. How exactly would YOU design player housing in World of Warcraft in a way that every player can build a house, but those houses not being invisible to everybody else?
Comments:
I wanted to make some blog post about this eventually, but here are the main incredients:

1) Destructable houses (not destgructable by one single mean guy within 10 seconds!)

2) The wilderness consuming your house within some time of inactivity.

3) If you're not incredibly rich, you just cannot have a house on your own, but have to share one with others. As most people in RL do.

4) Houses needing some kind of continual payment/effort to sustain. E.g. taxes.

5) Houses need resources to build. By having a free market and a limited amount of resources the developer can determine how many houses he wants by limiting the resources. The effort necessary to build a house is than determined by the invisible hand.

6) No centralized economy with item teleport, but actual transport of resources. This way a house in a god-forsaken dangerous part of the world were incredibly expensive.

7) Houses need some significant amount of time to build.

8) Normal houses just aren't incredibly large.

9) Possibility for palyers to play police and defend each others houses in a certain region. EVE effectively has this, btw.

10) ...

A quote from my blog:
The challenge for MMO designers is to implement features that players have always wanted in a way that is actually fun.

You can implement player housing in a myriad of ways. Most of them are not fun and bad for the game.
The challenge is to implement player housing in a fun way. The challenge is not to implement cheap psychological tricks that nobody wants, but everybody gets addicted to once in front of the monitor!!!
Has anybody ever wanted an eternal item grind in heroics upgrading his standardized Tx set to T(x+1) ??

 
DAoC housing was well implemented.
 
Tyrannis is not about housing it's about gathering resources. It is not instanced, this wouldn't fit into EvEs ideology. More players on the same planet will result in less resources for each player.

You can't attack a players structures yet, but "Nuke it from orbit" will be implemented and introduced to the game later on and there will be a link to CCPs upcoming shooter Dust 514, where you can hire Dust players as mercs to attack hostile planetary structures.

But you may camp planets and especially customs offices which are around planets and used to get goods to and from the planet. Planet camping will become a viable wardec tactic once planetary interaction is fully in game and the player economy starts to kick in.
 
nils wrote: The challenge is to implement player housing in a fun way

And your 9 suggestions are what you would consider a "fun way"? You are aware that you basically listed 9 drawbacks? Why would I ever want to build a house?
I think what you described leads to some kind of pvp minigame where you raid other players houses to gain loot or ressource advantage or whatever. Following this concept only players wanting to get involved in this minigame would build a house and therefore take part in it. Not what I would call a real "housing" concept. More like a persistent battleground.
Might be an interesting idea though.

Anyway I never understood the appeal of the traditional "player housing" concept. What do you want to do in your virtual house? Cleaning? Cooking? Thank you very much I take a new dungeon instead.
 
@Tilman:

Well, nothing is without consequences. Ignore those rules that I suggested and you end up with the scenario Tobold described.

There might be better rules out there. Those 9 have been brainstormed in about 5 mintues.

I think what you described leads to some kind of pvp minigame where you raid other players houses to gain loot or ressource advantage or whatever.

You look at the whole thing through WoW-like glasses. If looting a house had dire consequences (as it does in RL), it wouldn't happen as often.

If you cannot just enter any area of the game (like Tobold tried some time ago..) your house could be quite safe.

Now, dire consequences is something Wow doesn't know (except for falling in disgrace with your raid), so housing in WoW becomes real difficult and I have never asked Blizzard to implement it. I cannot think of a good implementation in WoW without some radical changes to other parts of the game.

Point is: The solution for immersive world problems are often already there in RL. Sometimes there is a brilliant solution that is only possible in a virtual world and works, but if you cannot think of one, try RL.

But the most important point is really this:

The challenge for MMO designers is to implement features that players have always wanted in a way that is actually fun. [..] The challenge is not to implement cheap psychological tricks that nobody wants, but everybody gets addicted to once in front of the monitor.

 
Planetary interaction is not unlike any other resource gathering in Eve: There's theoretically unlimited capacity, but the planet's resources are going to deplete faster if the planet's crowded. It's just like mining. You can stuff dozens of mining vessels into the same asteroid belt, but that only means that the belt's going to be exhausted faster and each individual's share of the resources is going to be small. This creates an incentive to spread out and find an unoccupied location to harvest in peace.

For now, the structures on the planet are invulnerable, but that's going to change with Dust 514. You can still ambush players traveling to planets to drop off supplies or pick up goods, though.
 
@Tilman:

There are a few things that just don't go together. An example:

1) I want a big house and I want it now and it must not cost much time investment! My house should be special.

2) I don't want many other players to have a house in my neighborhood, but I want to be able to build my house anywhere I want.

3) I don't want my house to fall apart or be overtaken by somebody else, but I don't want empty houses in the landscape, either.

4) I don't want instanced houseing. Everybody shall see my magnificient house that didn't take any effort to build. it shall be a sign of how successful I am within the game (and in case of RMT: outside the game)

5) I want to be able to build my house anywhere I like! But I don't want other players to put their houses on spots that are inconvenient to me.

6) ..
 
The housing problem could be solved if house spaces are limited and houses can be traded for gold. They also have tax to upkeep and get back to the king (for sale to players) if the owner runs out of cash (gold deducted every day, even if he does not log in).

This way a house would be a rare status symbol that only few player would have.
 
DAoC housing was well implemented.

Daoc had pretty much exactly the same housing system as Lotro, unless they changed it after I quit. And it still has some of those problems Tobold listed. Being deserted is one of them.
 
Instead of player housing, how about a Guildhall, available to guilds with a minimum amount of active players.

As for space, I'd say the Floating Isle of Housing that would travel over Azeroth.

There would be an initial Gold investment, followed by guild efforts to put it together.

Inside you would have Raiding, PVP, and Lore trophies (depending on your guild type). Prospective members looking for a guild would fly up to the Isle, and explore the Halls until they find the one they like.

Alternative Idea: Instanced zone (similar to SW/IF tram). One for alliance, and one for horde. You go into it, and travel down the halls. The map expands as more guilds make a guild hall. Essentially you'd have a hall with several doors (name and banner outside each door). Going into the door would lead to a instance of your Guildhall.
 
They also have tax to upkeep and get back to the king (for sale to players) if the owner runs out of cash (gold deducted every day, even if he does not log in).
Corporate offices in Eve work this way. In addition, having an office on a popular station like Jita 4-4 is more expensive than having an office in the middle of nowhere. Alliances can also build their own stations that come with a predefined number of office slots.
 
I like the guildhall idea too. Not instanced, but because guilds are by definition a collection of players, there wouldn't need to be as many as if all players had their own houses.

They could be allowed to be placed anywhere, but perhaps have higher tax rates for popular areas (maybe the tax rate could be a function of how many other guildhalls are nearby).

Perhaps there could be ways to customise them, so the larger guilds could have larger halls, with fancier structures.
 
"Instead of player housing, how about a Guildhall, available to guilds with a minimum amount of active players."

Forcing people to group would just allow leeching as it does today. I would suggest that the tax collected would be calculated based on the wealth of the player: if he's rich, he pays less. If he's poor, pays more. In this way the M&S would be excluded and/or forced to make money while the good players would be rewarded.
 
@Nils

If i want a life simulator i just log off and live. Or maybe I'll play Sims. Immersion? Your suggestions, while realistic, would take all the fun. I'm sorry that you can't be a hero and kill a dragon IRL but you can't just turn a game into a way of life.
 
Oh hey, both real and fake Gevlons commenting. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
 
To be honest.. in World of Warcraft even a single house in a major city with an instance entrance that leads into your house could be cool. Take banks out of the game and put a chest into the house instead. Implement a room for training professions (and take out the normal alchemy labs usw). Take out trainers..and implement a library in your house instead. That all serves the purpose to make people visit their houses. And to make it something cool: Implement some kind of "museum" in the houses where people can showcase their old equipment instead of having to sell it. It would have been really cool and nostalgic if I would still have my T1 and T2 and stuff around.
 
@Kiseran

Sure. Take all the motives to visit cities. You can do everything from your house and never see anyone while playing. That would be fun.
 
Concerning the first ingredient you listed: You cannot (or rather, should not) implement a feature like player housing in such a way that it takes less effort for other players (no matter how many they are) to destroy your house than it takes for you to actually build/get hold of it. If something can be abused, it will be.


I agree completely. There isn't necessarily a contradiction with what I have written.


Since the purpose of player housing (again, from a developer's perspective) is to create lasting bonds between the player and your MMO, allowing other players to destroy that bond would be pretty damn stupid.


That's alright we me, but you somehow need to have a mechanism the destroys houses unless you want to eventually forbid to build houses or have an ever-increasing number (Tobolds point). The only way around that dilemma is instancing. But that somehow defeats the whole point of having a house for me.

You could make it rather hard, like you need bulldozers and things like that which can be destoyed rather easily when attacked. There are a lot of ways to actually implement something like this.

All that is moot, of course, if your game is actually designed around griefing other players and you don't care about customer retention. Then destruction of their property, permanent killing of their mounts, looting their equipment is probably perfectly reasonable. :P

In fact I hate agressive, destcructive PvP. I like immersive PvP. The kind of PvP we have in RL: You can kill your neighbor and take his house this afternoon. That's probably not very hard at all. But there are a lot of reasons why you really woudn't want to do that.
 
@ Adru:
If i want a life simulator i just log off and live. Or maybe I'll play Sims. Immersion? Your suggestions, while realistic, would take all the fun. I'm sorry that you can't be a hero and kill a dragon IRL but you can't just turn a game into a way of life.

Well, I can try :)
This is the kind of game that I payed a lot of money to play. And I am pretty sure that if well done (polished etc), a lot of other people would also like to have an immersive experiemce instead of an after-work distraction.

Some people, of course, don't want that. That's all right.

@ Tobold:
Sorry for spamming the comments section once again, but you asked a question, I aswered it with a proposal and now I discuss it. |:
 
instanced guild housing could work.
 
@Hirvox: Don't you think its kind of sad that our only motivation to visit the hugest cities in World of Warcraft is "Blizzard placed Bank and Trainers there"? To me it sounds much more logical that my Master Alchemist would brew his Stuff in his own Lab and read books about Alchemy. Even while learning a profession I don't think its good to let them simply stand around somewhere and thousands of people visit to learn whenever they like. If they are important, give them an academy..if they are not, give them a house on their own (that also solves the problem of young characters not having their own house).
If Bank, AH and Trainers are the only reason to visit a town, isn't it more towns who are missing somewhat? Also I want a town to be alive. A hundred odd people idling between Bank and AH is not my definition of alive.
 
@Hirvox: Don't you think its kind of sad that our only motivation to visit the hugest cities in World of Warcraft is "Blizzard placed Bank and Trainers there"
You might want to double-check who you're responding to.
 
@Kiseran

No. In the real world you visit cities for exactly the same reasons. Unless you're a tourist and want to take some screenshots. Blizzard has been taking away some of the reasons to visit capitals and towns (LFD and random BG being the last ones) and that sucks. With your suggestion everyone would be living in their little house aka egg, shielded from the evil players.
 
It's not simply about owning a house.

It's about having something else to do in the game OTHER than waiting around for your raid to start (if you get in it, if enough people log on), or doing the same old mindless PvPing over and over and over. If you can work to improve your house - upgrade it, add custom furniture, maybe entice an npc mate to live with you - at least you have another reason to log into the game.

I, personally, am getting really really frustrated with having my fun dictated by the whims of other players. I would rather have as many options as possible to play the game. Adding housing (instanced probably works best)is one way to do that.
 
If you can work to improve your house - upgrade it, add custom furniture, maybe entice an npc mate to live with you - at least you have another reason to log into the game.

Why not just log off and play The Sims?
 
Adding housing (instanced probably works best)is one way to do that.

Actually, I see no reason why a AAA game shouldn't allow instanced as well as non-instanced houses. While I would prefer 'pure' non-instanced housing, I really wouldn't want people to complain, because I influenced their play time in a way they didn't want.

So, if there are people out there who want to pay money to support my MMO and all they want is to have their very own instanced place in the world that I will never see.. great :)


(No irony here, although it may sound like it. I *do* think that were great)
 
@Fake Hirvox (and Fake everyone else, it seems)

What's wrong with hiding in an egg from evil players? Kiseran's idea actually sounds like the best description of a purpose to a house. Have each feature cost an additional upfront+upkeep fee. Incentives like bank space, alchemy lab/mana loom, profession trainer (library), class trainer (training yard) can all be implemented so that players not only FEEL good for having a house, they actually have shortcuts to other features.

This would remain in line with similar blizzard implementation:

-BoA robe is not better than arugal robe, but removes the needless grind of running SFK over and over til it drops. Saves you more time looking up higher level robe later on wowhead.

-Hearthstone, teleport, death gate, and portal to blasted lands are not considered overpowered, since they only do what can already be done, only difference is time spent.

Lastly, if avoiding major city was such a sin as you say, then blizzard would have done something to fix trade chat, and like Kiseran mentioned, actually encourage player interaction, as opposed to finding 90% of players on /who stormwind parked between bank and auction house, and 50% of those AFK.
 
Never looked at Tyrannis being the Eve equivalent of housing. More like alternate resource production sites and making the planets worth fighting over when the proposed bridge to the DUST 514 FPS become a reality.

Eve University guide to Planetary Interaction: http://www.eve-ivy.com/wiki/index.php?title=Planetary_Interaction
 
Cleaning? Cooking? Thank you very much I take a new dungeon instead.

Read any D&D book, and 80% of the fights take place in what is, when you think about it, someone else's home (lair, base, castle, fortress, stronghold, demiplane, ...).

So make one player's house someone else's dungeon.

With guards, guardians, castellans, traps, loot. Plus scenery, possessions, trophies, ... Use some points system for balance (more loot = better guards).

You could, I suppose, try making it
non-instanced with permanent loss or destruction a possibility. But instancing, and a positive-sum currency system (like WoW PvP) would be an order of magnitude easier to balance and make fun.
 
You could, I suppose, try making it
non-instanced with permanent loss or destruction a possibility. But instancing, and a positive-sum currency system (like WoW PvP) would be an order of magnitude easier to balance and make fun.


This is actually one of those brialliant tricks that only work in virtual worlds: To transform a 0-sum game (or even negative-sum game) into positive-sum game.

This example isn't very immersive, but I'm pretty certain that it would work to employ players as dungeon designers. The most difficult part is probably to offer an easy-to-use way to build your dungeon and powerful incentives to build a 'good' one and not just a hard/easy one.
 
I wanted to make some blog post about this eventually, but here are the main ingredients:

1) Undestructable houses (you can't do raids to a player's house and steal his loot!)

2) Your house would never get dirty or be consumed by wilderness (so you don't have to log on during vacations just to clean your "virtual house").

3) Even if you're poor, you can have a house. That's to avoid having to share it with other players. We have enough random dungeons with that.

4) No taxes. If taxes are introduced in the game we'll have to declare our goods soon after. Monthly subscription is enough.

5) Houses don't need any resources to build and are freely given by developers in the same way mounts are.

6) No need to transport the building materials. This way, a remote house would be as easily to build as a house in central Orgrimmar. Why? Having a house far far away is enough trouble due to time we spend traveling there (and it will mimic RL)

7) Even if not instant, houses shouldn't take too long to build.

8) Normal houses should be large enough to hold a mammoth.

9) No need to police the neighborhood.

10) ...
 
I'd make the world big enough to fit housing and allow multi-level rentable housing to be built, so that if space or currency is low, people can still have something.

This would make the world bigger and add random landscaping, but I don't think I'd mind. It would make the world seem more worldy and would fix the problem of enemy camps being right next to each other. To help with transportation, player towns could make their own flight paths, with an upkeep cost and the ability to charge flight fees to compensate.
 
I have been thinking about player housing in WoW, and I think Kiseran has hit the nail on the head. Player housing needs to provide a game play function, not serve as e-peen enhancement. Kiseran listed a few neat ideas; you could easily expand on them with ideas such as having your own forge in the backyard, a kitchen to do your cooking. Each of these would, of course cost you some gold for the functionality.

I think the variety of storage options that could be implemented in player housing is intriguing. Rather than keeping your stuff in a bank, you keep it in your house. The house would be a gold sink, for sure, but you could purchase additional storage drawers or cabinets, maybe of a specialized nature, such as an herb drawer, or an ore drawer.

Given the amount of old tier items I have in my bank, having a museum, or trophy case in your house would be invaluable. Items could be placed there permanently, and only equipped when in your house.

The biggest advantage of instanced housing, though, is that the housing could be placed in any of the existing villages. You want to live in Stormwind? No problem. How about Mudsprocket? Just as easy. Goldshire, Auberdine, Booty Bay, all of these communities would be neat places to live.

There is a small game play function in allowing others to enter your home and use your stuff, so I could see a UI functionality that allows players in a 5 person group to enter your house, with a dialog box to confirm entry, and use your forge or see you wearing your T2 armor, but, of course, not open your storage drawers.
 
The most I've enjoyed player housing was in Uru: Myst Online. Every player would have a Relto, an instanced home island.

You'd grow attached to your relto and look on it with pride, as it changed to reflect your accomplishments. Completing the main quest lines would generate objects in your relto. There were also hidden pages scattered about the world for you to find that would change the appearance of your home, adding different trees, a fancier house, birds, even rain. You could turn each of these on or off to create your own preferred look for your home. Clothes you find out in the world would end up in the wardrobe at your relto. Same for music, glowy-sparkly things, etc.

For an explorer-completionist type, it was crazy good. You'd go around the worlds looking for ways to augment your relto. Like in one age you can get fireflies to light a dark area. If you link back to your relto with them, they'll fly around your house (but they'd leave as soon as you turned on the rain. :( Also worked better if you set your home to night).

It was decently well integrated into the gameplay. Every time you finished exploring an Age you'd link back home to your relto. Your home served as your transportation hub, granting you access to the various quest ages (zones) and the city age.

One way of viewing the entire game is you running around trying to improve your relto. Certainly not the only way to view it, though. Just as easy to see it as exploring every little bit of the ages and solving all the puzzles, or working your way through an incredible storyline.

Uru did the most important thing with player housing: they made it FUN.
 
I regularly find myself deleting items which have sentimental value due to lack of bank storage space. It would be great if I could use those items to decorate my house, e.g. put the faded photograph of Link and princess Zelda on my wall, or Onyxia's head over the mantlepiece. I'd also like to have manequins on which I could hang up old sets of armor, as in "look in what stuff I raided at the end of the last expansion before I replaced it all by quest greens in this this expansion".

But what I would like most is having vendors in my house, so that instead of putting up the same stuff again and again every 48 hours on the auction house, I could just sell it without a time limit from my house. But that then leads to all sorts of tricky questions on how the other players find your vendor, because if you make an interface for that which allows you to search all vendors and buy from them, you basically created a second AH. And there is a good reason why there is a time limit on the AH.
 
It would be awesome if we could buy a computer for our houses and let our characters play WoW.
 
You could even put screenshots you took on a wall of your house as poster.

I should copyright that idea! ;)

@Tobold:
Allow the 10 vendors with the highest total revenue to rent (for money) an extra shop in town for two weeks.

I'd love to buy some glyphs from Gevlon as he is always the cheapest seller :)

This way you get dedicated sellers to operate your Orgrimmar shops.

Btw: It is this kind of innovation that Blizzard just doesn't do any more with WoW.
Sure, some of this is tricky, some is difficult. But: Find a good balance and you got your WoW killer; promised.
 
in a way that every player can build a house, but those houses not being invisible to everybody else?

Something's gotta give. If you want every player to be able to build a house (and having concept of player number is unlimited), then it's impossible if you want the house to be visible IMO.
 
I figured if WoW ever did player housing (which it won’t, players would complain that their classes and gear aren’t getting enough dev time) they could implement an entire new world. It would be an Azeroth that represents all the unused flat space in every region. So in the new world Stranglethorn Vale would be miles of mostly flat jungle, and Shimmering Flats would be… Shimmering Flats. You’d still have the semblance of the world and all its regions, but it wouldn’t get in the way of all the handcrafted terrain and quests.

Also, “Why not log off and play The Sims.” Really Tobold? Really? That’s disappointing to hear.
 
There's also the EQ2 model: individual houses are instanced behind a small number of overland entrances. The difference from FFXI and others is that EQ2 offers a decent incentive for strangers to visit your house (and for you to open your house to strangers in the first place): broker sales containers are located in your house and buyers don't have to pay the 20%-40% broker fees if they go to your house and buy directly from the container.

Sure, a lot of players just slap down a container right in front of the door and others don't even bother at all. But at least there is some in-game incentive for housing to see activity.

What I can say is that the Asheron's Call model (housing neighborhoods in the middle of the wilderness) and the Lord of the Rings Online model (instanced housing neighborhoods) both fail in an epic fashion. "Housing" ends up being nothing more than "extra, inconveniently located, item storage."
 
Also, “Why not log off and play The Sims.” Really Tobold? Really? That’s disappointing to hear.

But its a serious question! If all you want to do in your house is things that have nothing to do with the MMORPG, but are features that are already provided by The Sims, like redecorating and living with a virtual NPC spouse, then why not play The Sims? I doubt housing in any MMORPG will ever reach the same level of quality that housing in the Sims already has.
 
I don't think you'll ever see player housing in Azeroth, for the same reason there isn't an AH in Shattrath or Dalaran. In a game where the appearance of your armour and weapons is everything, there needs to be a reason for high level players to parade around in front of low-level players. Gigantic glowy shoulderpads are advertising and incentive to get to the endgame. Hey, I want my character to look like that someday .. I'll keep playing!
It's interesting that any of the games I've played that have player housing (LOTRO, SWG, W101) all have systems in place to customize your character's look in such a way that you cannot judge a player's gear just by looking at them. In SWG you add stats to crafted clothing. LOTRO has their costume system. W101 allows Stitching the stats from one piece of gear into another piece for it's looks. I'm pretty sure there's no deliberate correlation, but it's interesting nonetheless.
 
@ Tobold

But the ultimate reason I play MMORPGs is for an immersive world shared by other players. I know to an extent that makes me sound like I’m a hopeless dreamer and a roleplayer, but I’ve honestly found that experiencing an MMO as a world with other living people is the biggest draw for me. Games like Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls (both which I actually find quite boring) offer an immersive world but without anyone to share it with the immersion goes only as far as until you realize the world revolves around lonely old you.

I realize it’s still just a game, and combat will almost always be more exciting than standing around socializing. But everything we understand we only do so because of how it compares to everything else we understand. All games should be judged in their own context, and a purely combat game will grow stale without the juxtaposition of non-combat, personally identifiable opportunities to pursue. This isn’t a gameplay mechanic you can make; it’s a feeling of personal belonging that though superficial, increases your experience of the game world.

So while The Sims does have the gameplay mechanics to create a nice house and furnish it, it doesn’t have the exciting struggles of a MMORPG to give it that sense of a living world within your computer. Stats and mechanics can only get you so far, the experience is ultimately how we appreciate a game. And if we’re fighting for our land, it can only get better the more we’re able to relate to it within the context of the game.
 
But for the record, I don't think this would work well in WoW.
 
Bri said

"...there needs to be a reason for high level players to parade around in front of low-level players."

I find this aspect of MMOs in general, and WoW in particular, especially humorous. Because, in actual fact, the low-level players don't give a damn what the high-level players have. Players only care about what they themselves have. No-one looks at another player sporting the Ultimate Foozle-slayer of Doom and thinks "He's so cool". Instead they think "What a jerk. How do I get one?".

A lot of people (though obviously not all) seem to want housing because they seem to think that other people want to see all their stuff. News flash : no-one else wants to see your stuff.

(Real?) Nils @ #7 sums up the basic problems with player housing.
 
Housing imho was always sort of "meh" -for exact reasons tobolds described. Its urban landscape with no one around actually

The only time player owned structures made sense was in context of guild ownership and serving as social hub (such as in Asherons Call) or economic and territory control such as in Shadowbane

Otherwise SWG had decent model , but because housing really serves little purpose aside of being "collection item" resources spent implementing it (which are enormous) imho better spent on other places
 
Guild Housing.
 

(Real?) Nils @ #7 sums up the basic problems with player housing.


By Tobold's decree the fake Nils nowadays calls himself 'Fake Nils'. So Nils=Nils .. at the moment ;)

I put the player-housing post online at my blog, btw.
 
So now I'm kind of interested to see how EVE Online is handling these planetary structures. There is a large, but limited number of planets in EVE, especially if you consider that most players would want to remain in safe empire space. So the question is for how many players each planet has space. Is that "instanced", that is you don't even see the planet structures of other players, and can go wherever you want? Or are there only a few spots per planet and every viable spot will be taken a day after building structures is allowed? And given that this is EVE, can a corporation wardec another corporation over planetary resources, carpet bomb their planetary structures and build their own structures on that spot?


Until DUST allows us to hire mercenaries to go destroy the structures - each players planetary structures are instanced. BUT the resources are not. There is even a feature to see where other players have placed their extractors so you can avoid the worse concentrations. Each hotspot refils itself at a constant pace, the more players extracting and the higher the extraction cycles the faster the hotspot empties (represented by reduced extraction amount next time you have your extractor pick a choice to extract) There's an un-disclosed "sweet spot" for the number of extractors specific hotspots can handle before the start getting depleted and head towards a minimum amount (you'll always get something, but if there's too much competition it'll suck).

And no nuking from orbit (yet - CCP Oveur really really wants that in there). And no killing off the opposition's workers until DUST arrives.

Of course you can still wardec the corps the people on your planet belong to and kill them when they go to pick up their goods to go to market.

Or if you're a real ass you could simply suicide gank them when they go to pick things up (intelligent players will not be at risk - idiots will whine at high volume).
 
By Tobold's decree the fake Nils nowadays calls himself 'Fake Nils'.

When he is not calling himself Gevlon or Hirvox. Somehow I'm waiting for him to call himself syncaine and leave lots of comments on various blogs asking people to buy Darkfall.

As a troll he is relatively harmless. As a reminder that identity on the internet is relativ he is extremely valuable.
 
I believe Asheron's Call had the best system of any housing system. There were non-instanced little neighborhoods (and in some highly coveted locations individual houses) in the normal gameplay world. The limited number of hand placed areas avoided the despoiling of the countryside seen in UO or SWG.

To avoid abandoned housing, one needed to pay rent for these, not just gold, but also a quested housing item or items. So if you didn't play actively or you quit or you simply didn't want to dedicate yourself to maintaining a house because you didn't care enough, then you lost your premium "real gameworld" house.

The scarcity and cost of housing was solved because at the same time as there were premium houses in the main gameplay world, there were instanced little apartments that were basically yours forever and were limitless.

Eve planetary interaction isn't about housing, but Eve has had player owned structures and stations for years. The scarcity in Empire is solved by requiring owners to be in a player corporation that is subject to a war declaration. Presumably planetary interaction will be the same, but most people's guess is that the actual taking of planetary assets will be done in the Dust FPS game, not within Eve.

And FWIW, I think it's unfair to take an implementation strategy of phased in "seeding" of skills followed by structures and blueprints and refer to that as "feature incomplete."
 
Another thought, I actually never minded the “ghost towns” left behind by players. Back when I played Star Wars Galaxies there was an entire city on my server that was deserted and everyone referred to it as the Ghost City, and I thought it was pretty cool. The problem with player houses that take up space is that they feel empty when nobody is around, but I think the same thing can be said about NPC houses. I walk into any NPC establishment and find a couple of dead-inside NPCs just standing there staring off into space like they were born without souls. How can that be any better than finding an old abandoned player city, or a player house that you know was once given more care and attention than any NPC house ever has? And to be fair, it’s very easy to add NPCs to player cities, or even to make an NPC of your character appear in your house when you log off.

The difference is that at least the players built that part of the world with their own power, instead of a mechanical god who runs a playground of gullible players like we’re all a part of the Truman Show.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Guildhouse would be perfect for their new "guild progression" system.

-Only the GM of a guild could buy a "Deed" from a vendor in major city.

-They'd be different deed available at different price.

-Instance zone where every guildhall could be seen by everyone else.

-Upon using the deed. A team of "entrepreneur" would appear with daily random quest. Those quest would be of the material gathering kind and would only be available for guild members. (quest items could be drops from monsters but also stuff from gathering professions)

-Guild members must do X number of quest before the structure of the guildhall is complete. (that would stimulate guild activities and implication)

-Once the structure is done. Old entrepreneurs disapear and a new npc call Guild Architect (or whatever) appears. He sells his services to add a bunch of possible options to the guildhall.(alchemy labs, forge, renowned Chef, etc.)

-Those new options are REQUIRED to create the new BoG (bind on guild) stuff available. Higher quality flask, some Tier equivalent BoG armors and weapons, fine cuisine (better stat food), etc.

-Adding those thing to your GH would require more questing. And it could even require some RAID questing. For example, the forge could require you to bring some item dropping from the last boss of Molten Core with some part from Mimiron! The alch lab require something from Putricide and something from Sunwell...

-The more gadget your Guildhall have the higher the status of your guild grows. Plus, it require ppl to revisite some of the old deserted content and helps create a bigger sense of community inside the guild.

-Also, the weapon, armor, falsk, food created in your guildhall would actually be usefull in your raid (not BiS but better than reg crafted gear).

-You can also require some exotic material to craft those thing. Material that could be gathered in the actual top raiding content (aka orbs, saronite etc) and in lower raid content again. And maybe also some good ol 5 man quest in the world.

And thats just for the "usefull" thing...

You could add a whole decoration aspect into it! Cabinet for ppl to expose their old Tier gear, fireplace to put Ony heads above, chest that would serve the fonction of guild bank (i would also make the city guild bank 1 tab max to force people to go to the guild hall to get stuff from the bank).

-That could lead to new profession for player, like carpentry! Player could create table, chair, wall tapestry, Cabinet, chest etc. Rare carpentry pattern could drop from Heroics, raid and random mobs round the world. Thatd would allow guild hall to be really different from one another.

Anyway, the possibility are endless!
 
I don't really want to play World of Houseworkcraft. Being at home is what I'm getting away from.

People that want to log on to an MMO and sit in a house? Have a dinner party? Vaccuum? That's just odd.

Oh, Skippy, have I showed you my rare collection of Kobold candles? I keep it in this small box along with my beloved T4 and my first ever uncommon BoE. Let me just click here and we can enjoy a trip down memory lane...
 
@Remy, that sort of thing is what I was thinking about as well (though I only addressed the location issues).

@Bristal: What I'd want from player housing is more like Animal Crossing, I could set up my armor, and some trophies, and set some items for sale (or give away) for people who visit.

I wouldn't need to be there when they visit. As a bonus, putting screenshots as paintings on the wall would be awesome.
 
My system would be guild halls, rather than player housing. There would be a variety of them in various locations throughout the world, so that your guild could choose the style they prefer.

I can see tying it to the new guild experience Blizz is adding in Cataclysm, so that it isn't limited to only the biggest guilds or the most serious raiders, but that some random bank alt with a vanity guild title couldn't have a guild hall all to themselves.

The larger guild halls and/or the ones placed in key locations would have a higher cost, but would have more benefits.

-The ability to teleport back to your guild hall, freeing up your hearth location.

-Maybe a garden where some rare herbs regularly grow that only guild members can harvest.

-Special vendors that sell guild-bound heirloom items and recipes.

-Display trophies based on guild achievements, maybe portraits on the walls or statues of key officers.

-Special areas dedicated to RP events and guild meetings.

-Maybe the guild could set up an NPC shop of some kind, based on the guild members' professions, to help bring in some income.

-A training room with target dummies that can do more things than just stand there passively, to help the guild practice boss fights? (The training rooms in Champions Online come to mind, those were awesome.)

All of these things could cost additional guild experience points to unlock.

It would be incredibly awesome if it were non-instanced, so that the "best" guilds by some criteria would have huge guild halls in the major cities. They could have a real presence in the cities, with guild-tabard themed banners flying outside and such.

But even if there are a LOT of noninstanced guild halls scattered around the cities (How many active guilds are there on the average server? Hundreds?), this still opens up a lot of issues, like how to deal with guilds that are inactive, what criteria you need to meet in order to keep your guild hall, so that if your guild isn't as powerful as it once was, new rising guilds have the ability to take over the choice spots, etc. Though if handled properly, it could add a lot of interesting competition between guilds.

Either way, the officers would need the ability to lock the doors to visitors during certain times, so nobody's butting in when the guild is having a meeting or something.
 
The feature I remember most about player cities in SWG was the game killing lag.
 
Bristal, this’ll come off as harsh butdon’t take it too personally, I’m just using your post as a prime example for my point and I'm making no assumptions of your personality.

Standing around a city spamming the trade channel, playing the Auction House, raiding, admiring that nifty new armor, is all just as superficial as owning a player house. The difference is your imagination, and how well the game tricks you into liking only a certain aspect. In the context of the game, a lot of things boring in the real world can be fun. Anyone who would stand around in their house admiring their candle set and throwing tea parties is even more of an escapist than you. They also play to get away from the real world, but they’re so much better at it that you and I (yeah I think straight role playing is odd too) think they’re weird, even though we do the same thing.

This attitude is something that’s becoming way more common in gamers, which I think is kinda sad. More and more games are being developed to follow the shallow frat boy crowd. Just the other day I heard a friend’s 19 year old bother say “That game fucking sucks, there’s no combat whatsoever” about Harvest Moon. That was his sole reason for hating the franchise. Never mind that the game includes just as much soulless requisition of goods as an MMO. Yeah some people will say they don’t want to spend a game farming but that’s only because they refuse to appreciate the potential enjoyment and focus on the easy to insult premise.

Yes you play games to escape from the real world, but not from reality. You still want to feel real feelings in games; you want some sort of context and structure. This sarcastic “I don’t wanna play World of Housecraft” mind-set scorns the unconventional by looking assertive. They’re the instant gratification types who are comfortable with belittling the imagination because it’s intangible and can’t be easily supported through argument. They always choose the most dominant side and never try to enjoy more than what is easily perceivable.

I’ve found that everything (to an extent) that is enjoyable by some is (to an extent) enjoyable by me. The problem is your attitude going into it. For example, I always thought I’d hate Dungeons and Dragons, but recently some friends have shown me that it can be fun. I still don’t like many aspects of it, mostly the role-playing and some seriously annoying people, but at least I tried and was able to enjoy most of it. I know some people who would hear D&D and say “That’s gay-ass nerd shit” then go back to pretending they’re a USMC veteran and masturbating to disassembled gun parts. They have no idea how much enjoyment I can get out of not needing everything spoon fed through an explosion because the easily accessible aspects of entertainment culture are very narrow.
 
So as a direct response to Bristal’s comment: It’s not World of Housecraft, housing would be optional. And it wouldn’t be vacuuming and throwing tea parties. You can sarcastically talk about how player houses would obviously only be in place for those odd roleplayers you don’t understand, but there is a lot more to it than that. Owning a house might not be inherently fun, you may have to use that imagination that society shuns out of you once you hit thirteen, but if that house gave your characters +30 Strength it’d suddenly be better right? You’d have to have one. Or is that different than your totally not odd helmet that gives you +30 Strength? At least the house gives you potential; all the helmet does is give you stats.
 
@Hobonicus:

Just the other day I heard a friend’s 19 year old bother say “That game fucking sucks, there’s no combat whatsoever” about Harvest Moon.

He's obviously never heard of Rune Factory! =D

(Though I admit, it's not a "Harvest Moon" game, it's made by the same people and I consider it part of the franchise.)
 
"Why not just log off and play The Sims?"

Because I want to play WoW, not the Sims.

I was using housing as an example because that is the topic of discussion. The problem in a game like WoW, is that there is precious little to do at the high end - which I think you have already found out Tobold. And considering I am paying a monthly fee, I think I should be getting my money's worth.

Housing can be an entertaining diversion for those who want to partake in it, and it doesn't have to be a 'sim' in itself, just some more goals to work toward (furnishing, decorating, hanging your 'trophies'). Housings adds additional game-play value - which I thought you of all people would appreciate.

I really don't understand what is wrong with having additional game-play options available. Maybe someone could explain clearly the problem with having choices?
 
why can't we have both?

Guild Halls that house player apartments.

There could be a limited number of "Guild Hall" spaces (like 5 per city? 20? whatever, Ironforge higher in demand than Exodar), but inside each Hall are avenues to instanced player houses.

Then the guild hall can offer "accomplishment benefits" (Remi had some good ideas on how to grow it via dailies), and the player housing can be where people put their old items that no one else wants to look at.

Then I can finally achieve my true dream as a GM, charging my guildies rent.

btw, the main reason Blizz avoids this kind of stuff is being tight-wads on their server loads. They won't let us run raids seamlessly when they first come out, why would they let every player have their own instance?
 
Well for WoW they could just put all player housing in Darnassus; plenty of room and no one ever there.
 
I am not big on guild housing. There is way too much forced grouping as it is.

What I want is player shops; places to advertise and sell wares. No wimpy 48 hour time limits.

And of course warehouses. I have 3 guilds just for bag space.
 
I wouldn't bother with player housing and go for guild housing.

There's a decent chance to meet some guildies in there. Maybe before the raids to create those flasks or even add some dailies you can only do in your guild hall (in game 2 player peggle?).
 
I'm not convinced housing is needed in WoW, but if implemented it should certainly be instanced. There could be many different houses available at different cost, from a large mansion in Stormwind with extra bank slots and portals to major cities, to a small cottage in Westfall somewhere. (What costs, I don't know... one off payment, monthly rent, real money or in-game gold... it might vary between house types.)

To enter, join the owner's party or raid group.
 
Sorry for being late to the party.

Why can't player housing be like building a Facebook profile?

You start off with your own home but later you pick which friends you wish to be neighbours with and their homes get joined to yours in an instance.
 
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