Quotes of the Day: Housing and Volume 2

First up is a quote from the always-humorous (and insightful) Killed in a Smiling Accident:

“Once again Turbine employ the Magic As Plot Protection device, where your band of plucky heroes is rendered utterly helpless by Random Villain B so that he can monologue without the vexing interruptions of you trying to stab him in the face, an occurrence so common now that one wonders just what sort of mismanagement must be going on at Sauron & Sons Ltd. for them not to have cakewalked their way to victory already, given that they can render whole groups of heroes utterly helpless seemingly at will, or at least when it’s most terribly convenient. Perhaps they’re all too busy monologuing to actually get on with finishing the job.”

Melmoth provides better commentary on Volume 2 in LOTRO than I could, really (and, er, did).  While Turbine’s epic storylines are certainly some of the best highlights of the game, they do have their frustrating/nonsensical/tedious/weird aspects — and by frankly discussing them can we hope that Turbine improves upon this feature for the future.

I’ll add one more thought to this storyline.  There are two points where the game seems to give you an actual complicated decision — both revolving around saving an important prisoner or not — but it’s just a charade.  No matter what you choose, the NPCs force you to do what they want anyway, so potential rich exploration of choice-and-consequences averted.

That really, really disappointed me.  I don’t want the game to protect me from my choices during quests, I want to decide something and have to live with my choice (and if I’m so terrifying of choosing “wrong” I can consult a local walkthrough).  These epic stories would really benefit from more of a choose-your-own-adventure slant, and it’s something I hope comes to the future.

Next quote is from Tales of the Aggronaut, who discusses player housing:

“I mentioned above that no one has done player housing right. What I mean by that is that no one has designed a model for player housing that makes it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s worth the trade-off.”

This is a hard article for me to read, because I’m very much pro-housing (as you’ve all learned by now).  Still, this post makes a lot of valid points from a design perspective, and I completely agree with his final point that housing should be more involved with one’s character and the rest of the game to give it purpose.

And for developers who don’t want to go full-fledged housing route, I wish someone would take my idea of temporary player camps (shh, Fallen Earth, I had it years before you did) and bring it into more games.  Being able to put up a tent and show off a few of your favorite acquisitions in the game world would give players another way to “show off” and fart around in the downtime between raids and whatnot.  The roleplaying possibilities are endless as well.

9 thoughts on “Quotes of the Day: Housing and Volume 2

  1. I don’t really buy Belghast’s argument. His main point is that there’s “no actual gameplay” involved with decorating, showing off your house, etc. Leaving aside the fact he doesn’t even mention player events and/or roleplay, his argument — and definition of gameplay — is completely subjective.

    Plenty of players value decorating and personalization mechanics above the ability to kill the same raid boss for the 3,720th time, or any other iteration of whack-a-mole.

    His reasoning also seems to completely invalidate the Sims in terms of “gameplay,” and it’s only the most popular PC game of all time.

    I’m all for newer approaches to player housing, but leaving it out because it isn’t “gameplay?” Nope, sorry, not even close.

  2. Ariad is a game designer, so when he posts on Aggronaut he tends to post from that perspective. Personally I would love to see the EQ2 player housing system in Rift. Only major tweaks I would do to it would be to make it more modular and almost minecraftish, in the ability to place items far more easily. The existing system in EQ2 could do some amazing things, but the problem is those amazing things were only done by in theory hacking the system and exploiting the characteristics of the items.

  3. Hehe I just read the comments from Jef, folks are getting confused I guess. I didn’t post this one, and honestly it goes against alot of my desires for player housing, but Ariad is a collaborator on the site, and he posts his thoughts on matters. That was not a “Belghast” post 🙂

  4. I like the post you referenced… it was refreshing to hear a perspective from the design level at least that covers the difficulty AND shows rough resource trade-offs (player housing vs 4 zones).

    I offered on one comment section of some blog (perhaps here) the “player tent” or camp idea and the uniform response was “if you don’t do it ‘right’ don’t bother”.

    At a Meta level Player Housing falls squarely into the too tough for not enough $ to make it work. I think expanding the “tent” or camp idea is a possible doable. This functionality would fit nicely within an inventory/dodad/pet type functionality that already exists.

    But let’s be frank… if you put the nose under the tent here you are only going to hear the loud cries of “not right” “do more” incessantly. So why bother?

    Do a PvP zone instead!

  5. @Belghast

    “Personally I would love to see the EQ2 player housing system in Rift. Only major tweaks I would do to it would be to make it more modular and almost minecraftish, in the ability to place items far more easily.”

    This is an ASTONISHINGLY good idea sir… now all we need is a mechanism to license minecraft “into” a network game world as a mini-game mini-world… This is a truly good connection.

  6. “No matter what you choose, the NPCs force you to do what they want anyway, so potential rich exploration of choice-and-consequences averted.

    That really, really disappointed me.”

    I’ll second that. I very much appreciate that they were trying to give the player the option of doing the Right Thing, presumably so any player who cared could try to stay true to their character (or just themselves), but unfortunately the railroading is too blatant to maintain any real illusion of choice. I understand that they don’t have the system in place to have multiple story paths, but I can’t help but feel that they could have worked the illusion with greater success by applying a little more subtlety to the approach.

  7. I think we might have a terminology mismatch, Jef. Your comment made me realize that I was bandying terms around that have different meanings for different people.

    But! It did give me something to talk about, which might or might not be interesting, so thank you. A huge amount of game development involves people disagreeing with one another; having people disagree with me is valuable.

  8. I loved housing in SWG. Sure you ended up with hardly a place on planets where you could build houses that weren’t colonised to some respect but forming your own cities was awesome. As it was (originally) a sandbox game a lot of what we did revolved around the towns and the player towns did become RP hubs. I still remember the fondness of the Malador cantina parties outside of Mos Eisley. Still the best RP I’ve been a part of in any MMO.

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