- Written by Joshua Halls
Player Housing is becoming a popular feature in both themepark and sandbox MMOs offering players a little piece of virtual real estate to call their own. Though not a new concept, player housing started out as a staple in early MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. Currently player housing is making a return in modern themeparks after a few MMO's are starting to add player housing to their titles. Player Housing comes in many shapes and forms in today's MMOs. Some games implement player housing as an instanced areas or neighborhoods so everyone can enjoy the functionality. Some games offer a more limited quantity of in game non instanced locations or plots for housing that let players interact with each other's homes
Looking at many of these aspects of design for player housing, we decided to implement an approach to player housing that incorporated multiple designs and give players flexibility in regards to housing and where/how they can interact with it. For many players having their house out in a non instanced part of the game is important so other players can come visit or simply check out the work they have done. Other folks simply just want a small piece of land they can decorate or use to hone some crafting skills without being disturbed by others. We decided if the player housing design was done in an intelligent and straightforward manner we could cover all of these needs instead of just picking one, sounds crazy right?
The Repopulation will offer 3 housing options for players to choose from: instanced housing, persistent world housing, and player city housing. Instanced plots will be available for the OWON and FPR factions along with an option for players who are not aligned with either. The factions will not share instanced housing neighborhoods. Each instance will have small to large plots available for players to place homes. These instances will create small neighborhood communities within the instance.
Persistent, non-instanced, housing will have similar plot options and will be available all over the world ranging from PvE zones, in/near PvE cities, to larger plots of safe land set aside for housing neighborhoods. The value of these plots of land will vary and you may only own one plot of land at a time per character. While there are ways around this with multiple accounts or characters, it should restrict people from eating up all of the land to only turn around and try to sell it all. In addition, we will have mechanics in place to transfer or sell plots. There will be upkeep costs and other factors to empty out plots that are not maintained so they become available as the game progresses. While the open world land is limited, instanced housing is not. During release the housing plots in non-instanced housing will randomly become available and will continue to do so as we introduce more plots into the game. This should give everyone an opportunity to purchase land and prevent it from being gobbled up early on.
Player city housing is a slightly different beast as far as plots are concerned. Player city plots must be provided by the owner of the city and then assigned to a player to use. You maintain control of the contents of your housing unit and apply any normal restrictions or rules as you would in non-nation housing. Ultimate control of the plot is retained by the Nation that owns the city. If the Mayor of the city wants you gone they simply release your control of the plot and then do whatever they want with it. You can then move your house to one of the instanced areas, world areas, or to another Nation city.
At the core of the system is the Housing Unit Data that is saved for each player. Instead of your house being directly attached to a certain instance or area, the Housing Unit Data is attached to a plot and all of the data is stored in a relative fashion much like a blueprint. Players can begin designing their homes in affordable, instanced housing while saving up and looking for persistent world plots that interest them. When you do choose to move your home, your work will not be lost, the data will be transferred from one house to the other with the click of a button. This system gives players a lot of flexibility and options when choosing where to place their home. Since the home is tied to the plot as well as the owning player, the home will be available for others to view and interact with, even if the owning player is offline. Players will be able to set permissions on their home allowing others to work with the home if you choose. Keep in mind however that the design of the home is completely safe and no one can steal from you or break your home while you are away. Should a player build a home within a nation, the same permissions will hold. When another Rogue Nation seizes a city, the player housing plots will release and package player homes. Players will then have the option of placing their home on another plot. The player's home and and items within the home will not be lost or destroyed.
Another important aspect of housing is placement options. If you have seen our nation video you might be familiar with our free form placement tools. Those tools will be slightly expanded for housing to allow more flexibility. We didn’t want people to be able to place walls upside down or floating in the air when building fortification for a city so it made sense to have those limitations in place with nation building. However, with housing it is very common to want to have a bit more control on object placement. There will be constraints in place to make sure you don’t build outside of your assigned housing plot, but you will be able to rotate the object in strange ways and have objects “floating” off the ground if you so desire. You will be able to select the object and adjust the values using a graphical interface that easily allows you to adjust and see the position and rotation of the object in real time.
Finally, lets look at building your home. We will be offering both prefab assets, whole houses that can be dropped in place, or sliced modules that will allow you to build the house to your own design. The modules will not only be designed to work together, but they will also be tailored to have a consistent look. This will give players the ability to build out or up by combining the right modular pieces.
We hope in the end our housing system will be a robust offering capable of satisfying players who enjoy working with player housing in games. It will not only be a great tool for players, but it will also be interesting for us to see what players are able to dream up and create using The Repopulation's player housing system.