Irresistible, futile player housing (#Blaugust 3)

Last night I finally rid myself of a 300k gil in FFXIV to acquire a private chamber in our guild house on Cactuar, mostly out of curiosity to see how SE handled the housing feature. Five hours flew by in which I found myself in a familiar building and decoration frenzy until I was pretty much “done”, browsing web databases and the auction house included. Significantly lighter in the pocket change department, I had to ask myself: what’s it all for? It is the age old question of the MMO player and the future still hasn’t arrived.

Welcome to the cosy SPA!

Welcome to the cosy SPA!

Maybe we’re asking for too much when we demand meaningful housing from MMORPGs. Building and housing simulations are an entire genre of their own and one need only look at Landmark, Minecraft or the Sims to understand the required freedom and complexity to make this activity, even as an end in itself, appeal to players longterm. The issue with building and decorating your house in an MMO is simply that “it ends” without further use or consequence but MMOs aren’t designed toward the finite. Once that item limit is reached on your plot, and FFXIV sports an underwhelming 50 items maximum, there’s only so much re-decoration you’ll be willing to do (or afford). At most, you’ll be adding the odd achievement trophy further down the line, yet the question about more meaningful and consequential player housing remains. May be that the two genres really aren’t a great fit, may be that nobody’s interested enough to allocate more resources towards figuring it out.

For what its worth, I had immense fun with my room in FFXIV while it lasted and SE’s housing isn’t even that great. Dealing with their fussy and limited tools, I missed my huge Wildstar plot with a sudden, overwhelming acuteness. And yet, as self-serving and ultimately futile as this whole activity was towards my further journey in FFXIV (if we are even allowed to question the futility of any actions in MMOs), it was engaging and made me learn a few more things about the world I hadn’t realized earlier. It was 5 hours well spent because I enjoyed it – I just wish there was a bit more to it than immediate and short-lived solo gratification.

8 comments

  1. I miss Ultima Online’s housing. It wasn’t all that amazing at the time (preset plots, limitations to items you can place, etc), but people found ways to make some things look like other games using the game’s fixed camera and what not. It took a lot of creativity and sometimes imagination.

    I haven’t played through a modern MMOs housing that has come anywhere close in the feels.

    1. Ultima alllll the way! But with today’s servers and performance, I can see why non-instanced housing is an issue. LOTRO or FFXIV both have tried to invoke the town feeling at least with instanced neighbourhoods but it’s still not the same. It feels forced and isn’t a natural part of the world. Also you’d have to vigorously strip the game of NPC shops and crafting stations, services etc. and then make player houses take that place, too scary for people.

  2. I think the important thing about player housing is the customisation – of having your own space in the world, and then the people who take it even deeper and create “builds”, which is something I’ve seen in both Rift and Wildstar and oh my gosh some people create some fantastic housing builds!! Chestnut’s YouTube series on Wildstar housing is amazing.

    On a side note – oooh, a private room is 300k gil? I has that… (no, Jae, no spending of the gil just yet)

    1. 300k yeah, before decoration costs. I wasted a lot of money early on buying stuff from the auction house that would’ve been available elsewhere, so make sure to inform yourself in advance. ;)

  3. I thought EQ2 had superb housing as well. A lot of the flexibility and creativity of UO’s housing, but in a 3D engine. The big thing it lacked, though, was the public space to display your creativity. But, there was a reason to go people’s houses to get cheaper AH rates for stuff they were selling.

    1. I have heard great things about EQ2 housing, sadly I never got to try it out myself. I understand there was a physical, collective representation of where player houses were located ingame (as in a building with a door that served as port?).

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