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Old 01-27-2009, 03:39 PM   #1
Threshold
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What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

What ever happened to this feature? It seems like modern MMOs have totally given up on this. What a shame! I love player owned housing. My wife and I kept our DAoC accounts for at least 6+ months extra solely because of our house.

I wrote a blog post about this recently - focusing mainly on what people want from a player housing system.

Little House on the Internet: What You Want from MMO Housing

So what's the deal? Why has this feature disappeared? What would you want from this kind of game feature?
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:51 PM   #2
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

I hear you Thresh, reading your article now.
We have them but 'hand built' in my game at the moment, but I'm looking at self-creation as we go more and more into crafting (so people can paint pictures (rofl in a mud yeah hehe), make tables, etc and have it all save through reboot and such).
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:18 PM   #3
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
What ever happened to this feature? It seems like modern MMOs have totally given up on this. What a shame! I love player owned housing. My wife and I kept our DAoC accounts for at least 6+ months extra solely because of our house.

I wrote a blog post about this recently - focusing mainly on what people want from a player housing system.

Little House on the Internet: What You Want from MMO Housing

So what's the deal? Why has this feature disappeared? What would you want from this kind of game feature?
I've always been surprised WoW didn't add instanced player housing, but then, hard to argue with WoW's continuing growth/success.

One of the features we're going to be launching a few months after Earth Eternal releases is our Groves system, which is basically a player-housing system except you don't just get a house, you get an entire island, or an entire valley, etc, in which to place anything from forests to buildings to creatures. You can even get a Grove with your guildmates and all hang together. If we can get the tools working well enough for users, we may even allow them to alter the 3d terrain in their Groves, retexture the ground, etc etc. They'll also be able to do things like embed mini-games into their Groves, embed various services normally tied to cities (merchants, skill trainers, shops) into the Groves, and more.

Should be pretty cool!

--matt
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:11 PM   #4
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

That sounds pretty exciting! I'm a gigantic fan of player owned housing simply because it keeps me tied to the game and gives me "my" piece of the world.

I'm excited that EE will be trying to open with a player-housing type system. I feel that's been sorely lacking in a lot of the graphical games.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:58 PM   #5
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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Originally Posted by the_logos View Post
One of the features we're going to be launching a few months after Earth Eternal releases is our Groves system, which is basically a player-housing system except you don't just get a house, you get an entire island, or an entire valley, etc, in which to place anything from forests to buildings to creatures.
That sounds awesome. I don't understand why so few games are doing this sort of thing. Not only is it a major type of content for players who use the tools, but it is new content for their friends who come and visit. It is a huge win-win. And making people feel like they own a part of the game world is a great way to keep them playing as well.

I keep wondering if WoW actually has a fully realized player housing system coded, and they are just holding it back for the first time a competitor actually presents a legitimate threat to their subscriber base. At that time, they'll drop the housing system and lure a ton of people back - squishing this "promising" competitor.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:34 PM   #6
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

Player generated content generally sucks, especially if you have Wow's demographics.

I've seen player build clanhalls fail to produce anything decent as well, they just cram in all the cool goodies and leave it at that. I guess you'd really need to look at mushes to see what works, and even then it wouldn't be helpful because they have a different userbase. What could work is making building a player skill, allowing players to build to make money, which might create a working system of demand and supply with talented builders making a profit.

I also doubt that private player housing is a good idea, it physically remove players from the game if they spend time there.
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:15 AM   #7
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

We have player housing, survives reboots. It allows those with the proper construction skills to describe the rooms any way they wish, and the owners can even sell the titles to others (transferring ownership).

We also have pre-made houses that can be bought, and rent-able properties, as well as clan properties that can be expanded without staff intervention.

The biggest issues I have had with them are players treating them like warehouses. Some clan halls ended up with thousands of items lying about.

I agree that PC housing can add to a game.
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:45 AM   #8
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

Can you guys explain more how the housing works? Why are there thousands of items lying around?

I like our housing system, but it's mostly about player creativity which can get kind of crazy.

Still, the best graphical player housing system I've seen is a toss up between EQII and DAoC. I loved them both and am sad to see them removed from modern graphical games. One thing that really caused problems in DAoC is that you could do just about anything in your house which left the cities nearly completely deserted. Everyone just sat in their house doing their own thing.
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:49 AM   #9
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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Player generated content generally sucks, especially if you have Wow's demographics.
Yeah, I saw this on EQII. I walked into some house where a dude had decorated it with about 70 wall sconces because it reduced rent. It was definitely ugly and a total bleep to load. Other people, though, had some brilliantly gorgeous houses, so I guess sometimes you trade the bad for the chance of something really good. I think you ended up not being able to do anything all that awesome in your house, so people really went there just to decorate or to buy things from other players. Cool, but it didn't totally remove people from all other public areas, which was a real problem in DAoC.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:44 AM   #10
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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Player generated content generally sucks, especially if you have Wow's demographics.
...
I also doubt that private player housing is a good idea, it physically remove players from the game if they spend time there.
Cons:
These are two huge reasons for not having houses. Giving players houses is similar to having all the players on your game taking a portion of your areas and designing them themselves. What do you get? A hodge podge of crappy description with some good thrown in. Like a beautiful mural in a pig pen.

Consistency and quality are important in a believable immersive environment.

As for the guy who said he had clan halls filled with 1000's of items? *boggle* Reset your rooms mate. Junkyards are for old cars.

Pros:
Houses and similar player run areas (clans, ships, shops, etc) give a sense of ownership and involvement to a player and can be a lot of fun for creative players who like to own something more than just a character and gear.

I think when controlled properly, houses and other ownerships can be a huge advantage and a definate draw for players.

What we do on NW is moderate the construction and design of such ownerships within the game, keeping everything in character. How do we do this? It's a secret, you will have to play to find out! But, I definately think it is the only way to have ownership areas and maintain a semblance of quality.
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Old 01-28-2009, 08:19 AM   #11
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

We have housing as well. Our building staff writes the rooms in the area files, and players can choose which rooms(and how many) to build off of their main room. They are charged a buying fee per room they build They're also allowed to rent in select rooms of the house such as a bedroom, for example. Our ownership system permits the houses and their contents to stay over reboots and the players are charged a daily "upkeep" fee, which is based on rooms and content but usually still pretty small. If the player's bank account doesn't have enough for the upkeep fee, the house is repossessed and the contents are dumped outside but ownership is still on the items for another 6 days to give the player time to collect them. There is also a hard-coded object limit per room so that we don't end up with thousands of items. Our current limit is 50 objects per house room.

While the staff limits what the room descriptions look like, we allow players to use what we call coupons to change the description of the furniture within to whatever they'd like(within the rules of course). Usually, if a player wanders the mud, they can find the house they like since we have everything from tree houses and caves to massive Roman villas and German castles. Our clans are also able to use the housing system for their guild halls.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:15 AM   #12
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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Originally Posted by Newworlds View Post
Giving players houses is similar to having all the players on your game taking a portion of your areas and designing them themselves. What do you get? A hodge podge of crappy description with some good thrown in. Like a beautiful mural in a pig pen.
I use generated descriptions, so I avoided that problem. However that didn't stop players from scrawling their names across the landscape using buildings or by planting crop fields.

So now I just give every player their own customisable world. You still get mountain ranges spelling out offensive words, and rudely shaped islands, but at least the players can't mess around with the main world.

One major problem with player generated content is that the more freedom you give, the more it can (and will) be abused. If you've played Spore, you'll know the sort of thing I'm talking about!
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:17 AM   #13
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

Coincidently, I noticed this today:

Middle Earth is the opposite of actual Earth in terms of home ownership | Fidgit

I'm not going to address much regarding housing in MUDs since much of my points have already been made as well as the fact that RPIs have been doing it and continue to do it for a long time (even if not every player takes advantage of it). The H&S I used to play a decade ago had the feature too but it wasn't well-supported primarily because the staff were too lazy. *shrug* In a RP environment, not having it just doesn't make any sense unless you're RPing a group of animals or homeless bums.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:56 AM   #14
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

Yea, I played LOTRO for a while last year and loved their housing. Asheron's call had housing years back, but it was pretty plain. It is nice to see that some MMOs still do have it. I know that some of the free MMOs often have housing. Runes of Magic being one.
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Old 01-28-2009, 11:21 AM   #15
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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As for the guy who said he had clan halls filled with 1000's of items? *boggle* Reset your rooms mate. Junkyards are for old cars.
Regular rooms reset, scavenger MOBs wander about for those between times, and even our NPC corpses will decay into malicious spirits if not properly laid to rest...

Clan and PC owned housing allows for saving across reboots. I have examined setting a hard limit on number of items allowed in the rooms, and that is likely the way I will go. But since we have an extensive crafting system people often save raw materials and items that can be scrapped for them (yes, that randomized steel strongbox you took off the orc can be scrapped back into steel after you empty it, if you have the proper skills).

Back to perpetual alpha...
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Old 01-28-2009, 11:45 AM   #16
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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I have examined setting a hard limit on number of items allowed in the rooms, and that is likely the way I will go.
I assign every player 10 stores, each of which can hold up to 25 items, and that seems to work out okay. You could cosmetically describe the stores in any way you like (or even allow players to choose or customise them) - perhaps as furniture, or physical buildings, or even secret caves (if located outdoors). Then you just prevent people from dropping equipment elsewhere, or have it automatically swept away after a while (I'd suggest the former though, as your players will be used to dropping gear on the ground, and it's a bit unfair for them to lose items when they forget).
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:04 PM   #17
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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Yeah, I saw this on EQII. I walked into some house where a dude had decorated it with about 70 wall sconces because it reduced rent. It was definitely ugly and a total bleep to load. Other people, though, had some brilliantly gorgeous houses, so I guess sometimes you trade the bad for the chance of something really good. I think you ended up not being able to do anything all that awesome in your house, so people really went there just to decorate or to buy things from other players. Cool, but it didn't totally remove people from all other public areas, which was a real problem in DAoC.
Ugh. Don't get me started with EQII.. Million collectible books, but no working shelves. Every rent reducer is either some monstrous gadget, or a wall sconce, or a pet. Almost nothing "functional", and then you only get a small number of rooms to work with, so you have to cram in all in any way you can. I have an entire fracking pile of tomes in the "back yard", up against the wall, like a staircase, both because a), you can't stick the things one shelves at all, and b) my personal, but sadly failed, amusement at seeing if there was actually anything visible over the wall...

They really need to do something to "fix" the clutter issue with that stuff. Like a shelf that you can "add" your tomes too, so they disappear, as more books fill in on the shelf, while still counting, partly, towards your item total.

But, its still better, in some respects, than what I had on the mud I played on. Design anything you like, but it was months before you could add "look items", and you still can't place physical items in the house, like plates and forks, or a shovel, etc., which someone could "pick up". And... I would love it if you could have hired guards, or placed locked doors, or just lighting effects.

Oh well...
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:01 PM   #18
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

User generated content (UGC) is indeed usually poor, but the beauty of channeling it into houses is most people never have to see it. The people who see it are somewhat self selecting - the friends of the creator, or people the creator sought out to see their content. In that case, the blame clearly goes on the house creator and the viewers know it is user generated.

Also, the degree to which someone makes an effort to "market" their content to others is generally somewhat congruent with the effort put into the content. If there are contests in the game, the winners usually have decent stuff and the general populace tends to check out the winners.

That works out better than other types of more sweeping UGC that is right in people's face.

What specific features do you think are important to have in a housing system? I listed a bunch of mine in the blog post in the OP, but I'm interested to hear what features other people think are important.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:57 PM   #19
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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That works out better than other types of more sweeping UGC that is right in people's face.

What specific features do you think are important to have in a housing system? I listed a bunch of mine in the blog post in the OP, but I'm interested to hear what features other people think are important.
I can tell you what worked on Aardwolf - a private "manor" comes with the ability to add a number of rooms at increasing costs. Manors are private - only the owner and their spouse can enter. Other players can stand on their porch and ring their doorbell, at which point the owner can "invite" them in (or not).

It doesn't matter how good or bad their descriptions are of what their manor items/servants are called - the rest of the game with the exception of their friends will never see them.
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:43 PM   #20
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Re: What Happened to Player Owned Housing?

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It doesn't matter how good or bad their descriptions are of what their manor items/servants are called - the rest of the game with the exception of their friends will never see them.
This allows players to express their creativity without having it severely impacting your world. We allow players to set their house to Open which can mean that a lot of the rest of the world can venture inward.

I find it pretty interesting that housing seems to be a major part of design for MU*s still, but it seems to have been dropped by some of the big graphical games. I know the older ones had it: UO, AO, DAoC, and FFXI. WoW, LoTRO, and WAR all released without player housing. Glad to hear that LoTRO added it.

Our housing system is pretty open ended which, of course, allows for player abuse, but the players themselves help police it pretty heavily. We still get the mystical forests in the middle of the city, but it's hard to fault players for wanting it to design their own little place on the mud.
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