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[Editorial] General: The Nesting Impulse: Why Do We Need Housing in MMOs?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,572MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

All good heroes' journeys begin with a young man or woman settling down and living happily ever after. No wait—that's not how it goes. Generally speaking, few things are as unattractive to brave, danger-seeking types as domestic life, and that's why heroic stories start with the protagonist not going toward home, but away from it. With that in mind, and since most of us play MMOs in order to feel heroic, why is it important to us to own an online home?

Read more of The Nesting Impulse: Why Do We Need Housing in MMOs?

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,258Member Uncommon

    It's extremely overrated imo, atleast the instanced version we are seeing is. EQN:L is the ultimate housing maker, but you'll be lucky to bump into 2 people on Islands (maps) the size of Planetside 2's. 

     

    It's not what will make or break a game that's forsure. RIFT dimensions anyone? Now if someone finds a way to do open world housing and allow for the building of cites, they would be on to something pretty special. 

     
  • DEAD.lineDEAD.line LisbonPosts: 424Member

    "Honestly, it is somewhat incongruous seeing a super-heroic warrior, rogue or wizard stop in the middle of an epic quest to go home and plant flowers"

     

    But that's the issue. That epic quest doesn't last forever. In SP games, housing and other customization features are somewhat more irrelevant because it's a story, from beginning to end. In an mmorpg, even if it doesn't have levels and you can explroe the whole world, there will come a time when you start to run out of "adventure".

    Housing, if done right, give us something to do in between your adventures. Also you link tyo crafting, going back to the world to collect materials is another way to give you more.

     

    However, my main gripe with "housing" is that it isn't used as a social feature to build community.Instead of Guild Halls, why not have neighbourhoods instead? It also gives me a sense that my character has a place in the world.

    I guess i just prefer to get cosmetic items like pets instead of the sword that does 10% more damage (not that i don't want it, obviously).

     

  • For me at least housing has always been the feature I thought I'd love right up until I experienced it. I've tried lots of types of housing, UO, SWG, EQ2(instanced). None of them really compelled me in any way, I always had better things to do in the game then decorate the house with stuff to show off after all. Sure some players had really cool looking houses that I enjoyed poking around, but overall it didn't compel me in any special way.
  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,712Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DEAD.line

    Housing, if done right, give us something to do in between your adventures. Also you link tyo crafting, going back to the world to collect materials is another way to give you more.

     

    However, my main gripe with "housing" is that it isn't used as a social feature to build community.Instead of Guild Halls, why not have neighbourhoods instead? It also gives me a sense that my character has a place in the world.

    That's the point, housing is an extra feature in the game, and I agree with the second line as well, if it's done well, it's great for community building.

     

    why not have neighbourhoods instead?

    LotRO's housing is built around neighborhoods, just sayin' :) And in the beginning it worked as planned, numerous events in them - but as time moved forward what's left is mostly kin events in the kin's own neighborhood.

    (because in the old system there was no option to "take back" a house from players who left the game years ago, so whole neighborhoods were empty with closed-up houses without the option for active players to moving in. Turbine changed it lately, and in 2014 there will be a further housing revamp, according to plans.)

     

    STO also changed / upgraded the ship interior system (more or less their version of housing) a year ago, you can invite other captains over, either for using your bridge / bank / mail station if  his/her ship doesn't have one, or just for having fun, looking around, having a drink in the bar :) it's also a nice move for community building.

    edit: not to mention, they can use your Bridge Officers for taking DOff assignments, maybe the most frequent usage of inviting, if somebody learns from their Tac for example, that in the sector there's a rare / unique assignment, that captain can invite others over so they can take it up as well.

  • TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAPosts: 3,605Member

    mmmm...why do avatars need to have genders?  The whole point of genders is the biological imperative of reproduction. 

    I think for the same reason we have housing.  People want to impose a degree of reality in virtual worlds to make them convincing.

    I prefer non instanced housing but I've only seen that implemented once, in SWG.  It was pretty great as a social area and a place to decorate and call your own.

  • Mors.MagneMors.Magne LondonPosts: 1,420Member
    Player housing would have to include play mechanics like Dungeon Keeper. Otherwise, it's just a gimmick.
  • ThorqemadaThorqemada BerlinPosts: 1,277Member Uncommon

    Bcs any intelligent Company knows how to make it a playtime multiplier.

    "Torquemada... do not implore him for compassion. Torquemada... do not beg him for forgiveness. Torquemada... do not ask him for mercy. Let's face it, you can't Torquemada anything!"

    MWO Music Video - What does the Mech say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF6HYNqCDLI
    Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0x2iwK0BKM

  • eddieg50eddieg50 Tolland, CTPosts: 1,613Member Uncommon
    I always thought it was a silly thing to have in an mmo, but to each his own.
  • kinky10kinky10 EwloePosts: 212Member
    Never bothered with it, always would sell my housing items 
  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 8,063Member

    "You can't picture Hercules or Superman cleaning or spending their weekends rearranging the furniture, can you?"

    Correction: Superman as Clark Kent is OFTEN shown in his mundane life. As reporter for instance. He helps his mom often in housework. I am not saying that for smartassery, but exactly that is the point: without a home, what do I even fight for? This was very astute in Tabula Rasa. There weren't even cities, so I never felt there was any home I belong to, to which fight was worth it.

    It highly depends of course HOW housing is made. The only two vital ones were SWG and EQ2.

    SWG worked as open housing, because the planets were LARGE and had plenty of space, because cities had functionalities (hospitals, bars, shops), and because the travel ports allowed people to go to a destined place via the player city.

    EQ2 worked because you had TONS of trophies and the houses were connected directly to the player hubs of auction house and other needed functions.

     

    It did NOT work in LOTRO, for instance, because the housing zones were far away and no necessity ever brought you there.

     

    Personally, I never could shake the feeling of not belonging to a world where I had no house. It was one of my main reasons never to get into WOW. But I want meaningful housing. LOTRO was meaningless and horribly implemented housing, the like that doesn't give me anything. But I vividly disagree about the "heroic" thing. A hero needs a home. I felt profoundly disjoint to worlds without a home, and probably my EQ2 manor, filled with years of trophies, remains my favourite home in a MMO ever. Houses evoke those fond memories I lack in home-less MMOs.

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • NomadMorlockNomadMorlock N/A, VAPosts: 593Member Uncommon

    You make the assumption here that everyone wants to be an epic hero.  

     

    Some of the justification for the NGE was "Who wants to be uncle Owen instead of being Luke Skywalker".  The answer: A lot of players. 

     

    Many players want want to be immersed in a virtual world and for many it means owning a home, running a shop, and (since we are talking in SWG terms) maybe dance in a cantina. 

     

    Talk to dedicated crafters and others who play non combat professions. This kind of feature builds community and retains players much longer than those momentary heroes who have wandered off to another world after consuming theme park content. 

     

     

     

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 8,063Member
    @NomandMorlock: Yeah that irked me about the arrogance of Bioware with SWTOR. The sentence with Uncle Owen was often cited by them, and it pissed me off. A lot of people wanted to be something else than Luke or Vader.

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • Mors.MagneMors.Magne LondonPosts: 1,420Member

    The future player housing in WoW and SWTOR look sucky because there are no gameplay features, and you'll be told where to put them.

     

    WoW and SWTOR are not games about freedom - they are gamers about lots of pre-scripted themepark rides.

     

    Player housing should only work in either a sandbox environment (e.g. - MineCraft) or in a game like Dungeon Keeper - where your dwelling is the game.

  • NomadMorlockNomadMorlock N/A, VAPosts: 593Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Elikal
    @NomandMorlock: Yeah that irked me about the arrogance of Bioware with SWTOR. The sentence with Uncle Owen was often cited by them, and it pissed me off. A lot of people wanted to be something else than Luke or Vader.

    Having a scripted adventure in a virtual world is great. I think it's more important to have a great virtual world. There has been a noticeable lack of development in this area for the last 10 years. Homes, shops, non combat gameplay provides a much stronger reason for players to stay in any given game. It makes it accessible, give other players who aren't your normal theme park locust a way to contribute and belong in a given game community. This is one of the keys to player retention. The alternative is to pump out content faster than players can consume it and I think we all see how difficult that is. 

  • sakersaker harrisburg, PAPosts: 993Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Elikal

    "You can't picture Hercules or Superman cleaning or spending their weekends rearranging the furniture, can you?"

    Correction: Superman as Clark Kent is OFTEN shown in his mundane life. As reporter for instance. He helps his mom often in housework. I am not saying that for smartassery, but exactly that is the point: without a home, what do I even fight for? This was very astute in Tabula Rasa. There weren't even cities, so I never felt there was any home I belong to, to which fight was worth it.

    It highly depends of course HOW housing is made. The only two vital ones were SWG and EQ2.

    SWG worked as open housing, because the planets were LARGE and had plenty of space, because cities had functionalities (hospitals, bars, shops), and because the travel ports allowed people to go to a destined place via the player city.

    EQ2 worked because you had TONS of trophies and the houses were connected directly to the player hubs of auction house and other needed functions.

     

    It did NOT work in LOTRO, for instance, because the housing zones were far away and no necessity ever brought you there.

     

    Personally, I never could shake the feeling of not belonging to a world where I had no house. It was one of my main reasons never to get into WOW. But I want meaningful housing. LOTRO was meaningless and horribly implemented housing, the like that doesn't give me anything. But I vividly disagree about the "heroic" thing. A hero needs a home. I felt profoundly disjoint to worlds without a home, and probably my EQ2 manor, filled with years of trophies, remains my favourite home in a MMO ever. Houses evoke those fond memories I lack in home-less MMOs.

    Batman has his mansion and Bat-cave, Superman has his magnificent Fortress of Solitude. The super-hero genre definitely has it's perfect archetype for "housing" and it's place in-game with the places the heroes or villains gather.

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,451Member Uncommon

    I think the issue with housing is that it gives the player a sense of place and belonging in the world.

    It's not about "planting flowers" unless you "want to plant flowers". Seriously, how many of us actually plant flowers around our houses? Some do, some hire people and some just deal with the vegetation that is there (provided there is usable owned land where we live).

    What we DO "do" is we create work out rooms, home offices, "man caves" sewing rooms, Art rooms, "family rooms" etc. Essentially spaces that reflect what we care about in our lives.

    housing "should" allow one a spot in the world that is ours, a context for where we come from or where we want to be and the ability to add to this space to reflect who we are and what we want to be.

     
     
     
  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,712Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by NomadMorlock

    Homes, shops, non combat gameplay provides a much stronger reason for players to stay in any given game. It makes it accessible, give other players who aren't your normal theme park locust a way to contribute and belong in a given game community. 

    As much as I agree, sadly the late addition into the mmo playerbase don't even care. To them combat is the only activity which is worth anything. I'm telling since years that combat is maybe the least important aspect of how one can interact with the world in an rpg, but for the new kidz that's where the fun is. Actually that's not even true, there were players with that mindset back in the days as well, only the % ratio went up to the roof with the boost of new mmo gamers.

     

    Elikal, I don't fully agree upon LotRO, true, housing there has no "real gameplay" meaning (besides 1 extra travel and some additional storage space), but roleplay- and community-wise it was great in the first few years - until the number of abandoned houses slowly suffocated the neighborhoods. That's why a revamp was constantly asked throughout the years by the community...

     

    edit: "non combat gameplay provides a much stronger reason for players to stay in any given game." just check Albion or the Horned God in TSW, absolutely no ties to combat or xp or anything in game, it's purely for fun and rp, and it's awesome. It's sad that the wast majority in games today can't see further than "gear, loot, xp" and "how's the combat in it?"...

  • rodingorodingo Posts: 2,346Member Uncommon

    I see housing as a mixed bag.  Certain aspects of it, when done right can really be cool.  I loved setting up my "Chop Shop" in SWG which was a house outside of Bestine on Tatooine that served as my store to sell all things that a Smuggler needed to grind levels.  I basically sold crates of knives, clamps, etc.. for those that know what I'm talking about.  Just outside and around back of the store were my little factories about the size of a tool shed that pumped out those crates of knives and clamps.  It was cool for me to set up my factories to do some runs or re-stocking my vending machine and see other player Smugglers pull up to the shop on their speeders to buy my wares.

    The down side to that non-instance typed housing though is that it turned the desert of Tatooine into a suburb.  You couldn't go in a straight line straight into the deep desert from Bestine without running into another house every 50-100 "feet".  This eventually turned my attitude to favor more instanced type housing, like something seen in Lotro with their neighbor hoods.

    "If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  • NomadMorlockNomadMorlock N/A, VAPosts: 593Member Uncommon
    SWG could have handled open world housing much better.  There was no reason every player could own 5 to 10 small houses. Their lot system was one of the primary reasons for over population of buildings.   I would prefer non instances housing with som limits of where they could be placed and a limit of one or two Buildings per account. 
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member
    Originally posted by Sovrath

    I think the issue with housing is that it gives the player a sense of place and belonging in the world.

    It's not about "planting flowers" unless you "want to plant flowers". Seriously, how many of us actually plant flowers around our houses? Some do, some hire people and some just deal with the vegetation that is there (provided there is usable owned land where we live).

    What we DO "do" is we create work out rooms, home offices, "man caves" sewing rooms, Art rooms, "family rooms" etc. Essentially spaces that reflect what we care about in our lives.

    housing "should" allow one a spot in the world that is ours, a context for where we come from or where we want to be and the ability to add to this space to reflect who we are and what we want to be.

    This is what housing means for me.  My character has "a place in the world."

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • TbauTbau Chicago, ILPosts: 401Member

    So, to be a hero or adventurer one must be homeless?

     

    How about MMOs go back to what they used to be and provide many different ways of playing instead of just themepark grindfests?

  • EndoRobotoEndoRoboto Silverdale, WAPosts: 275Member
    I can't quote it from my phone but Terranah, love your post and agree 100%.
  • firefly2003firefly2003 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 2,555Member
    Originally posted by NomadMorlock

    You make the assumption here that everyone wants to be an epic hero.  

     

    Some of the justification for the NGE was "Who wants to be uncle Owen instead of being Luke Skywalker".  The answer: A lot of players. 

     

    Many players want want to be immersed in a virtual world and for many it means owning a home, running a shop, and (since we are talking in SWG terms) maybe dance in a cantina. 

     

    Talk to dedicated crafters and others who play non combat professions. This kind of feature builds community and retains players much longer than those momentary heroes who have wandered off to another world after consuming theme park content. 

     

     

     

    Have to agree there, most of the time I dont want to be the HERO I just want to craft or build, or decorate my home, most MMOs with no housing or a decent crafting system  dont keep me very long, I get tired of quest hubs and raids I long for sandbox elements and housing to keep me busy. And once again not everyone wants to be the hero... even heroes have homes to go back to or a place to hang their hat. Me personally I want a place to hang my trophies or items at to show off.

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  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,966Member Uncommon
    I am NOT a fan of housing however I do believe in having more realistic virtual world. Housing is clearly a vital component in creating such a world and is favored by some portion of players even if they don't regularly participate in it.

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • firefly2003firefly2003 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 2,555Member
    Originally posted by NomadMorlock
    SWG could have handled open world housing much better.  There was no reason every player could own 5 to 10 small houses. Their lot system was one of the primary reasons for over population of buildings.   I would prefer non instances housing with som limits of where they could be placed and a limit of one or two Buildings per account. 
     

    For active players in SWG I needed all the space I could get  and they would agree as well, the problem with SWG they implemented the house pack mechanic too late and didnt make it ongoing to keep dead housing packed up. As a player that had 6 accounts I literally had houses for storage on each character on the same server, three of my characters had show houses or museums to show off all the cool goodies I had collected over the years. The TCG housing like the Hangar or the pet Zoo had those set up as well for people that would stop and look. Plus I had a store as well I sold thing and crafted there as well within our city. You could never have enough housing slots in SWG :P

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