Despite housing systems gaining traction in online games, not every one has them, nor have we arrived at a point where there is a consensus about a baseline of mandatory features. I’ve been thinking about housing a lot, especially since my two main games are currently denying me that fun (FFXIV is too expensive and TSW lacks it entirely). If I was to codify video game law for MMO housing, here are six things I would make standard:
(1) Universal accessibility
I’d make housing as accessible and standard of a feature as anything else in an MMO, meaning that whether you’re a lowbie or a long-time vet, you’ll have the right to housing without a huge barrier (levels, cost) getting in the way. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to start out with a mansion, just that everyone should have their own place to call “home digital home” soon after character creation.
(2) Freeform placement
I’m definitely not a fan of the hook system in MMO housing, whether it be LOTRO’s strict placement or SWTOR’s slightly less strict panels. Give us the ability to fiddle with placement to our heart’s content and build what we like, where we like.
(3) Housing drops as part of the loot table
I’ve always felt that housing offered a boon to devs by making the loot table potentially more diverse and interesting. As a player, getting a cool item for my house as part of a random drop or a dungeon boss is just as exciting as getting a new set of bracelets that bump up my vitality by two stat points. Maybe a little more exciting. So don’t limit housing decor to a cash shop or crafting only, is what I’m saying.
(4) Customization on every level
The more ways that I can customize my house, the better. I should be able to select (or even create!) my own music, adjust lighting, and perhaps even create simple scripts.
(5) Socializing support
Housing is great for the nester, but sometimes we want to show off our creations and have friends visit. Games should make this as easy as possible, with ways to highlight particularly creative homes. There should also be tools to allow players to throw parties and other limited-scope events in their houses.
Houses shouldn’t just be for hanging trophies and looking pretty; houses should offer a range of services. In other words, when I go to my home, I want to be able to do things there that can benefit my character or account. Storage, crafting, mail, and special buffs are just the start of what could be included in this category.
What do you think should come standard in MMO housing?