WildStar Player Housing Preview from PAX East 2013
Im a huge fan of player housing in MMOs, so when Carbine Studios first announced that WildStar would feature a housing system last year I was pretty excited. Ive seen and played a sizable chunk of the game in the months since, but it wasnt until this weekend during PAX East that I was able to get a proper feel for just how much depth the housing system really has.
As part of a longer presentation on various aspects of WildStar, executive producer Jeremy Gaffney provided an overview of some of the main features of the system. While some of the info has already been floating around, for me the big win of the presentation was getting to see things in action.
I am a rock, I am a (floating) island
Weve seen quite a few iterations on the concept of player housing over the years. Some will be simple interior spaces that allow basic object placement functionality or the ability to alter the surface texture for walls and floor. In other games the complexity can scale up to factor in both interior and exterior space, or the placement and usage of more complex interactive items such as crafting stations.
WildStar takes the latter example as a starting point, decided thats cool, but could be so much cooler than that even. Starting at a pretty early level, all characters will gain access to a personal, floating plot of land. During my hands-on time playing through Deradune earlier this year, a quest was available right around level six that would point me in the direction of the local housing rep. The quest was disabled at the time, but I expect that will continue to be roughly when youll gain access to your shiny new housing plot.
When you first gain access you wont really have much there, starting out with a very simple camp where youll eventually be able to build up your massive home like the one shown at the start of this article. From there youll have a lot of freedom to tinker with a pretty massive assortment of options as you continue to customize the interior and exterior space of your new home.
Welcome to the Dollhouse
Stepping inside your home, youll notice right away that it creates a bit of a Tardis effect. In other words, it is seemingly far more spacious than it may appear from the outside. Dont get me wrong, the exterior structure is still pretty darn massive. However, the idea here is to give you as much room to mess around with as possible without it making that exterior structure too massive.
Speaking of structure, youll be able to mess around with base elements such as walls and floor to tweak the textures to your liking. While you wont be able to upload your own textures (sorry, no flying penis wallpapers) there seemed to be a fair number to choose from. Many of these will pair well with some of the themed object sets that will allow you to create a more distinctive atmosphere. An example shown here was a window from what Jeremy described as the spooky set that cast flickering shadows as though a massive thunderstorm was raging outside.
Objects can be scaled, rotated, and stacked to your hearts content, so youll be able to do some of the creative things youve seen in other housing systems like EverQuest II where you could create spiral staircases leading up to loft or attic spaces with a little creative object placement. There arent really a ton of restrictions in WildStar as far as that stuff goes, but there will be bonuses and buffs you can gain based on the types of things you place. Your home will also be where youll want to log out each day to gain a rested XP bonus.
Get off my lawn!
The exterior space has a lot of potential, and in some ways can become an active part of gameplay depending on the types of things you choose to place there. Unlike the interiors, the exterior space uses a system of sockets and plugs that help determine specific locations for objects, or the scale of structures that can be built.
The structures are probably one of my favorite aspects of the housing system so far. This will allow you to build up a variety of different functions and interactive elements such as crafting stations, mines that can be harvested, raid portals, buff statues, and a lot of other interesting stuff. So in one scenario you might craft some consumables, buff up, and then take a portal to your next raid all from the comfort of your own housing plot.
You can add a number of functional things such as the training dummies shown above
If that sounds like a lot of antisocial gameplay well, it kind of is. But then again, so are most activities within real world homes unless you have some other friends and family around. In WildStar this will work the same way, so youll be able to let your friends visit your home or even do things like tend to your harvestables or fight invading bandits while youre away.
One of the final variables Im still itching to learn more about is the crafting system. Weve been told you can craft items for player housing, or even build crafting stations there. But as for details on the crafting system itself, thats one thing I have yet to see in action.
So it may be a simple yawn-fest-style yay, I clicked a button system, or it might be something more complex like the systems found in Vanguard or EQ2. It might even involve blinking backwards five times while breakdancing in the rain. Given that so much of WildStar tends to lean on the meaningful silliness end of the spectrum, Im guessing that crafting will follow suit.
Either way, I consider player housing to be a pretty major win in WildStar based on what weve seen so far. Im looking forward to seeing things like just how spooky the spooky object set can get, stuffing my lawn full of hedge mazes, and creating my own WildStar haunted house. Apparently players may get a chance to do that kind of thing soon, as WildStar will be kicking off closed beta in the near future.