Posted in Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft

Chilton and the Wolf

I’m glad that Wolfshead continues to take Blizzard (and to a lesser extent, Tom Chilton) to task for dismissing player housing.  Yes, it’s an old drum that we continue to beat, but it’s just one of those things that absolutely boggles my mind — not just that WoW doesn’t have housing, but that Blizzard seems so dead set against it for vague reasons that are unbeknownst to us lesser mortals.  And that irks me, because I see a lot of other companies looking to Blizzard as the pace-setter, and when they pish-posh housing, why should the upstarts even bother?

I’ll admit that player housing isn’t for everyone.  It’s not.  But not all aspects of MMOs are.  My stance is that the more you strip out so-called “fluff” from MMOs to streamline them into questing/combat/PvP machines, the more you’re killing the soul of the games.  You’re creating a chess board with no frills — just strategy, combat and conquest.  To me, MMORPGs are the sum of their parts, which is one reason why I continue to advocate Fallen Earth.  Its individual parts are, more or less, substandard than what you can find elsewhere, but together they form a Voltron-like monolith of awesomeness.

I’m also more than a little bit confused, because when you think about it, player housing really is within Blizzard’s current modus operandi for World of Warcraft.  It’s casual-appealing.  It’s fluffy.  It could add tons of replay value for gamers to go on a world-wide hunt for furnishings and trophies.  As Blizzard’s spent so much time throwing in stuff like the achievement system, non-combat pets and holidays — and as they see how much people like and crave those features — is it so hard for them to take a step further and see that player housing is ideal for their game and that demographic?  Seeing as how there’s even signs that they fiddled with this in the past, it really shouldn’t be.

I know LOTRO’s housing is looked down upon by other titles, but when I was in the game this past year, it really meant a lot to me to have that little hobbit hole for my goodies and visual achievements when I wanted to visit.  More than anything else the game did, it made me feel at “home”.  It was the game showing me visually that I had a place in the world, that I wasn’t just a drifter, that my character had an origin, a home, and I could return there whenever I pleased.  It was sublime.

And it’s not even as though player housing is this far off, pie in the sky concept — it’s actually far more the norm than not in most of the major MMOs.  Ultima Online, EQ2, Wizard101, Guild Wars, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Runes of Magic, Dark Age of Camelot, Free Realms, Darkfall, Age of Conan all offer some sort of player or guild housing to enjoy.

So yeah, WoW will probably never have player housing, until they do, at which point they’ll pretend as if they invented housing first and will ignore the fact that they flip-flopped on their stance.  And as several other MMORPGs offer housing — I’m crossing my fingers for TOR, I really am — it’s not as if we don’t have alternatives, as long as we’re willing to go elsewhere for gaming.  I’ll just echo Wolfshead’s seniments by saying that Blizzard should be a lot more open as to why they’re not even considering housing at this point, or they should take a long, hard look at this stance.  There’s confidence in where you’re going with your game, and stupid overconfidence that you can do no wrong.  That line gets crossed all the time by all sorts of developers.  And it’s a shame.

26 thoughts on “Chilton and the Wolf

  1. I remember the day Mythic introduced instanced player housing in DAOC. It was the same day population in capital cities dropped by 90%, which totally killed all sense of hustle & bustle, immersion, and community…

    Player housing is a nice concept but until a game can come along with the technology and performance to include player dwellings within a capital city, I’m against it.

  2. When and if they do it, they’ll do it right.

    Not sure why some vocal minority thinks this is feature that has to be in every MMO. Blizzard didn’t get WoW to this point by just arbitrarily following every old MMO convention.

    I’m sure it’s a feature that is frequently discussed. But I remember when everyone wanted WoW to have PQs too. Now look at PQs in WAR and CO…then you realize why Blizzard didn’t hop on it.

  3. I hope it does come in. It’s a good feature and awesome when done well. I think it’s the main reason SWG retains a solid community.

  4. @ Snafzg – Isnt EQ2’s housing in capital cities? Well at least the entrance is and its all appartment based iirc. Unless there is some copyright thing involved, it should not be too hard to activate some of the unused doors for housing instances or to add sections to the city for some such. Its not like WoW hasnt borrowed ideas from other games before.

    EQ2’s version seems like a great model to clone. Its extremely versatile and caters to crafters, trophy seekers and has a great deal of flexibility. Go over to Stylish Corpse and poke around a bit. Ysharros had a few posts on it and may have a few blogs to point you to for more examples. (Take a look at Stargrace’s blog, for something with recent posts with housing pics)

  5. Player housing as a sort of achievement center is great (like W101). Player housing as a sub-community (something LOTRO tried) is not, IMHO.

    In my perfect MMO, I would have a personal home ala W101 with a separate player staging area ala GW guild halls.

  6. Wow will never have player housing for one simple reason, too many people. You can’t have space for everybody to have a house. Blizzard’s been trying to make everything in the game accessible to every kind of player. You’ll never be able to make housing accessible to every player, so you’ll never see it in game.

    Snafzg is right, player housing has a tendency to leave capitals empty. I love going into a full city, makes the game feel more alive.

  7. I’m not personally against player housing; I’m neutral. But I do consider myself a “lesser mortal” (despite my rampantly evident arrogance) and Blizz has revealed to me that player housing isn’t in because of the effect Snafzg describes: it would drop population in major cities and hurt immersion. The have said this explicitly a few times in the past.

  8. In fairness, I believe they have given reasons for not implementing player housing. If I recall correctly it was basically because they want people to be together in the cities, and feel adding housing would diminish that social aspect.

    While I’m not totally sold on that point of view, it does seem to me to be a legitimate concern. One of my favourite things to do in an mmo is just hang out in the cities; I’d hate to see them abandoned.

  9. I want a mage tower damn it, so I can hide from the masses, and not ask me for damn portals everytime I’m putzing around Stormwind.

  10. Hatch, “hurt immersion”, really? I don’t see much evidence as this being a concern of the WoW devs in other aspects of the game. It’s a weak excuse, especially given the “get everyone grouping in instanced dungeons” design ethic.

    As for the social aspect of busy cities, two things: One, people puttering around the city as “background noise” are no better than NPCs. In other words, they *could be* NPCs and give the same “illusion of life” and bustle. Two, housing gives players more reason to be in the game, more potential action to the AH, more treasure hunting. Maybe that means towns are less of a “hang out” spot, but frankly, wanting other players to hang out (not play) so you can see a more populated world is rather selfish in my mind.

  11. Instanced housing is lame and would only serve to create ghost towns.

    For a game like Wow, guild housing is probably the way to go. Or a housing area like with Little Big Planet where you chill in the room while you pick what instance to run.

  12. On one hand, I’d love player housing. I really liked my little cabin in LotRO, it added to that sense of “place” in the game and I enjoyed the process of buying/decorating it.

    But on the other hand… to be honest, once I got that cabin decked out the way I wanted it, it was just a moneysink for upkeep. And I didn’t spend a lot of time in it because… well, there was nothing to really do there. Guild halls seem more useful.

    Beyond the issue of poplation in major cities, the first reason that pops into my head regarding the lack of player housing in WoW is the “Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched” issue. We saw how crazy it was on patch day. Now imagine millions of additional housing instances being created. The infrastructure that it would take to support it would likely be massive (and expensive). And heaven forbid that the infrastructure not be able to support all the instances created… then you’d have both the housing and non-housing players spewing forth QQ all over the place.

    I don’t know that it’s a risk Blizz is willing to take… any gain in subscribers would likely be marginal, and that’s a lot of resources to devote to a potentially volatile feature.

    But it’s Blizz. Nothing is set in stone, ever. 🙂

  13. If they do implement Player Housing it will be exactly the same as player housing in all of the other MMOs I’ve played that actually have it. You’ll either enter a portal or speak to an NPC to enter your house, the exact same portal or NPC everyone else will enter/talk to to get into their house, and everyone will be zoned into their own personal house/instance.

    These houses will not occupy physical (virtually physical) space in the game world unless brand new zones are created for them, so it is very unlikely that you’ll see player houses popping up throughout Stormwind or outside Orgrimmar. They will all be ‘housed’ on their own special Housing Server.

    In Wizard101 and Runes of Magic you never see the outside of any one person’s house. There is a generic building where you enter your house, but your specific house is not visible in the game world to any players passing by. Players have to be personally invited to get into your house (or just be Friends with W101’s ‘Teleport to Friend’ feature) or, in the case of RoM, know your house’s unique code to enter it, and even then you can password lock your house to prevent people randomly typing and guessing house codes.

    So if passers by can’t see your house, what is the point to it?

    It would be a place to store & display all the items you’ve found which are taking up valuable bank space because you can’t bear to vendor/destroy them. Things like Rhok’delar, or your set of T1 armor. Perhaps you could release your Vanity Pets and have them running around your house. If you’re a crafter, perhaps you could buy the necessary items to have crafting stations in your house so instead of running back & forth between anvil & forge you could just pop into your house for all your crafting needs. Saylah (of Mystic Worlds) did this with her house in Runes of Magic and made it look good. It wasn’t like she had an anvil just sitting in the middle of the room, everything melded with everything else and it looked like a real house you could actually live in.

    But I think someone else already said, and maybe not here, on another post/blog/thread elsewhere, Blizzard are probably holding Player Housing back for their next MMO.

    Come on, you know you want to play World of Diablo. We have cookies…and Player Housing 😉 Mwah hah ha!

  14. Nice write up. Housing is also very important for me and was so in Lotro too, that´s why i was realy disappointed about the last changes Turbine made.

    Well, i don´t want to sound like a smart ass, but i think the reason behind Blizzards aversion against housing is very simple. It´s money and nothing else. It takes time to create and implement and additional servers, there is no way their engine can handle this in the open world.

    Looks very simple for me.

    Snafzg point is a very good one too. That´s the downside of player housing, and something to think about. An entry to the housing zones in the citys would be good, but hardly does a lot against the dwelling in the city itself, however depending how well housing is made, it could set up a new social hub in the housing zone itself.

    Everquest 2´s housing is downright the best of all ever.

    @Gemski – oh please, WoW simply consists 99% of features from other games. Just because you don´t know this, doesn´t mean it´s not true. Their 1% inovation in their games usualy consists out of making things easier nothing else. Crossrealm lfg is something new as far as i know but also has a big downside. Blizzard makes good and great games but they will never stand for inovation.

    The reason there are no PQ´s in WoW and other games (at least not directly like WAR´s and not with that name) is that Mythic or better EA has a trademark on that stuff. Also their RvR is a trademark btw.

    @Hatch – if that´s their reason it´s not an important one. Population in cities have droped with instant pvp invites from anywhere in the world and now again with instant dungeon invites. That can be hardly their reason. No matter what they say.

  15. Worthless feature really.

    WoW isn’t an RP game where you stand around and decorate things.

    You get in, you kill and you improve your character.

    And thank God too.

    I understand the deflection type article to take the thunder away from the awesome LFG system they released least week but please…. player housing?

  16. Of all the things to waste time in WoW doing, housing would be pointless. Everything that housing is used for in other games WoW handles with a bank and post system.

    You set your hearthstone to inns. You’re an adventurer, not some boring old man looking to settle down.

    Fuck player housing, it would do nothing but make cities ghost towns, and have us waste time finding the perfect couch to finish our living rooms. You want to play house, play the Sims.

  17. I used to really want housing in WoW. But then I realized that I had no reason to want it. The entire reason I loved housing in UO was because I could hide from PKs or PK from my home. It was a safe haven or a dungeon depending on how the day looked, and it was a place that was mine and mine alone, which was reinforced by the sandbox nature of the game. I could literally live in the middle of a battlefield if I were lucky enough (which I was).

    But in WoW, there’s no reason for that. All PvP is instanced, and my achievements that I can show off are show-offable from my character, if I even care enough to do that. So meh. I don’t care if we ever get housing in WoW.

  18. Personal housing? Nah.

    Guild housing? Sure.

    Particularly with the guild changes coming in Cataclysm, I could think of some ways to make this a worthwhile development.

  19. Those who stand against player-housing probably never played UO- which by the way *is* the best housing system to date.

    Can you build your house from the ground up selecting every floor tile and wall placement in EQ2?

    Can your house hold a vendor that can be accessed ONLY from visiting your house in the open-world, thereby creating not only your slice in the world, but a slice that other players seek to visit?

    I’m sorry, but I would rather *no* housing than some stupid instance crap. And, if you ever played UO then you would know what I’m talking about.

  20. if they ever do it they should look how AoC did it and improve on that. Lets face it you will never get 10,000 + houses dotted all over the place so an instanced area with say 10 guild forts 5 Ally 5 Horde could make some very interesting pvp and seiges. Lets not make it too much like wintergrasp however and actually have displays of guild achievements etc – i.e. Onys head mounted on the wall

    Anyway yeah wont happen

  21. Making cities Ghost Towns is their major worry? Really? I think that’s the lamest excuse I have ever heard.

    I mean a company that does not look back on its older content (I’m ruling out Cataclysm as we’re yet to see what it really, really brings), and leaves behind Ghost Continents.

    The new Dungeon Finder thingy moves even more to the Ghost Continent direction. You wont even see the random parties running for dungeons anymore… Leveling is also so much faster that chars breeze through areas.

    And every major hub City will be deserted by the next expansion. Creating Ghost Towns. There will only be one or two cities at a time with a real buzz in town (depending if there is neutral or faction based major hub city)..


    It’s almost funny really, because with this development path WoW reminds me of the most gripe people used to have on DDO when it launched. “You just hang in the hub and jump to the instanced dungeon…” I mean, yes WoW actually does have the world around it, but Blizz almost acts like it doesnt..

  22. Wouldn’t it be crazy awesome if they added a feature in our favourite MMO where you could do trivial but fun and engaging activities to occupy our time when we are not slaying every species known and unknown to our virtual civilisation!?

    No. Don’t be pathetic. We are here to accumulate non existent wealth and rub our poly-deltoids together. For we are on the “keep-it-real-don’t-be-a-pansy-pshaw” end of the full time escapism spectrum.

    Remember when “MMOs” were “MMORPGs”? Where different people had many different reasons to play one MMORPG?


  23. I think people misunderstand the “role-playing” in a role-playing game.

    You play the role of a Warrior, Priest, Shaman, Druid, Warlock, Mage, Rogue, Death Knight, or Hunter.

    What does a warrior do? Smash things or holds the line.
    What does a priest do? Shadow Nuke things, or heals.
    etc. etc.

    I really don’t see how player housing is going to help the puppet show that is RPing in an MMO, to “role-play” the way anyone here seems to want to do so.

    One thing I can agree with is Guild Housing, in the sense that it would be like a in game guild website. If they included a forums type feature, guild achievement display cases etc etc. But they’d also have to make it so that you’re still returning to the major cities to do AH, and even trade chat, again to try and avoid the Ghost Town effect (which if a major city is empty, can suddenly make playing the MMO much more lonely).

  24. I for one am a huge fan of player housing. First let me say that instances player housing is completely unsatisfactory. However player housing in sag was excellent. I was lucky enough to have helped create a thriving city on Lok which often had many visitors there for the player run shops, cantinas etc and I found myself spending additional time in game socializing in town or decorating my in-game home. It made the world feel very alive and made me feel very much a part of it. I miss player housing and hope it can be done well in future games.

    however, I don’t think it would be a great additional to wow.

  25. @Pangoria I think it is you who has misunderstood what role-playing is. Your definitions are blandest of the bland.

    Warrior smash things? So he is nothing more? Just a smashing-machine…

    You’re defining class roles as roleplaying roles, which they are not.

    RP examples: A warrior can be a lone mercenary, longing for his dead wife and their home. He visits his home from time to time. It’s a place where he can recollect his memories of glories past and his lost wife.

    A priest can also be a scholar. A scholar who loves to study magic, but he never really liked libraries. He likes to own books and study in peace at his home.

    The examples why you could have a house for your character are as endless as is people’s imagination.

  26. Role-playing means playing a role, in an MMORPG, the role is defined by the class and race you pick (and later what talent tree you choose).

    The role playing you’re talking about amounts to be nothing more than puppetry when it comes to MMORPGs. In that sense, you can “role-play” in first person shooters and deathmatches as well.

    I’ve been to the “role-playing” realms in WoW, and I’ve tried the puppetry, and even the “camp fire” stuff. It’s completely unsatisfactory to do so in an MMO, and nothing compared to role-playing in a pen-and-paper game, where both types of role-playing can be done much more completely (especially the type you’re talking about).

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