You know what sucks about the popularity of MMOs? Housing. It's an arduous task to put housing in and have it "work" because it was hard in 2000 for it to happen and it's harder now. Housing is best when it's placed in the open world, but the open world only has so many slots for housing. Since it's such an attractive feature, it's difficult for gamers to not want housing when they play a game. However, if everyone wants a house and if they're in the open world, then you either need giant house farms or have limited space. House farms defeat the purpose and limited space defeats the desire, the two things that make housing fun.
We need a better system in place to make it worthwhile to have a house, but at the same time make it accessible. I honestly, while I don't like the concept IRL, wouldn't mind an MMO that tiered housing to where the instanced room / apartment / hovel that you get is free for everyone and home for the majority, but those with ambition can seek out fancier non-instanced housing.
While I try not to give game developers too many ideas for free, I like to at least get a compliment before I start rambling, I do think that something has to be done to make housing attractive otherwise it'll be a feature we all want but never can have. Shroud of the Avatar does housing right, because I mean, UO did housing right, but again numbers and scale. There is also other features like backer only housing, a commitment to making space available but useful, and so much more, which makes a very cohesive system.
SotA wouldn't support billions of players and it's not designed for that right (instead focusing purely on its supporters and fans of the game), so it works on that scale, but not on say a scale like WoW where garrisons are everyone's favorite feature, but it's a solo endevour, just like in WildStar. You get to walk in, see it yourself, maybe invite a friend over with desperate amounts of begging, and yeah you're still forever alone in this giant open spaced with NPCs.
SotA does bring a lot of interesting ideas to the table though. City housing is expansive, crowded, and valuable but safe. Building in the middle of nowhere may be cheaper, but you're more at risk. Houses are gated through the crowdfunded campaign currently with various limited options for deeds post campaign. Players who just want to have a hosue to play in can do so in the single player game. It's a very tight system, but it's a system unique to SotA.
In DAoC, which uses the housing farm method (big zone full of house space), I at least enjoyed the time with my neighbors, but without the open world the house was still really only for my eyes only and my garden for my guild's. However, the real fun of housing was in Ultima Online where you could put your house in the middle of nowhere and still have random strangers walk up and chat with you while you're inside, since they were in the area. That's the real beauty of UO, to me, was the fact that you could own a house and people could come and randomly visit.
I think housing needs to be an emphasis but it needs to be done right. It needs to give players prestige while at the same time giving players the ability to congregate and have fun. TERA is doing it.. weirdly, the floating skycastles are available to the top guilds only and can be seen from the city which is wonderful.... for the top guilds. Which will become more of a monopoly now that there is an even bigger reason to try and join them. The biggest hurdle is giving players prime real estate but having enough prime real estate to fulfill demand, after all what good is a feature if we all can't have a route to enjoy it?
I do think that UO/SotA housing is the best, but games like ArchAge have a hard time replicating it and other MMOs like Vanguard weren't successful enough as a property to flesh their housing out, while games like WoW have quasi housing, GW2/Phantasy Star Online 2 have instanced areas to hang in, and WildStar has an insane housing editor but only you and your friends can see it, because they're built with scalability and that requires sacrifice. The trick is to understand that housing is important and to craft a system for your playerbase and for the size of your audience, a lesson many devs can take from SotA.
Housing for everyone I say. Until tomorrow folks.
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