Hello fellow TOROgangers, this week I will discuss an issue that is highly popular with a lot of people, but to me as an outsider looking in, seems odd. I am referring to the debate about player houses. Why is this an odd discussion for me? Read on, read on.
One of a kind-ish
Player housing is not a common theme in any other game, outside MMO’s. Though… admittedly, The Sims trumps any MMO in that regard. But I haven't played the Sims so I can't elaborate on that. There have been, as far as I know at least, only a handful single player games that have incorporated the idea of housing. I will turn to examples which I did play. Namely, Assassins Creed, again, and Fable. First off, the former.
Assassins Creed doesn’t use the traditional MMO-style of housing, but it does things similarly to Knights of the Old Republic. In AC, you don’t have to buy a house, you inherit it (that was in AC 2) or you earned it with you becoming the leader of the assassins guild (AC Brotherhood). These buildings are provided to you without you having to do anything. You can’t upgrade the inside, besides getting a couple of banners or paintings inside of it. But you can gather stuff, store weapons there (it is done for you, in a neat way as well), and see your progression in several side missions, like gathering feathers and flags. And that is only in Assassins Creed 2.
In its semi-sequel Brotherhood, it was expanded to also be a house for your subordinate assassins and an effective way to let them go on quests/missions. Though you could access them and their missions, gear, and statistics from afar, there were even further options when you entered the main base of Ezio Auditore di Firenze and saw your “crew” standing around talking to one another. And it was also sad to find the guild house empty when you had sent everyone on a mission. But you still couldn’t customize the chairs, rugs, or tableplacements. That was pre-set.
Fable, on the other hand, does have a history of extended house customization. You can change the seats, tables, wallpaper, beds, etc. not just the look of it but you can even remove certain items and let nothing stand in the same place. You are even allowed to have several houses, to do with it what you want, at least in the last two iterations of the series. Of course, there is more customization in other types of games, but buildings are almost 99 times out of a 100 left out of the loop.
MMOs and Housing
My understanding of player housing is solely based on what I have heard and understood from the podcasts, which we all listen with great enthusiasm to, and a very short trial of Star Wars Galaxies. Again, background MMO 0; paying attention 1. To paraphrase JJ, Star Wars Galaxies had the ultimate version of player housing. The trial I played, and this was after SOE made the big change, I walked into an area of Tatooine that was packed, absolutely packed, with buildings.
Long streets filled with houses without any street names. It was disorienting, because I didn’t know which way I should go anymore. Overkill, but impressive. It is an important element for customization. It adds more time in making the character or your choice, i.e. more money for the company that exploits the MMO (yeah, sorry, a bit of cynicism isn’t entirely uncommon in my normal writings), and makes you look more unique.
The Old Republic’s Take
Well, as far as we know, we won’t have a traditional house system. We will return to the old-fashioned starships that we have witnessed in Knights of the Old Republic. But it looks to me reminiscent, even though Bioware has been fiddling around with their starships of course, of Ubisoft’s star franchise (at the moment). Your crew hangs around in your starship. But not just that, we will probably be able to, because from what I could tell in beta, that’s actually not something we can do yet, but probably something that will be implemented later. Fit it to your likings, though not the outside.
What would be a great asset to the customization option, (and here I am going into heavy speculation), though this is more for a guild, is a capital class ship. It is the house/hangar for your own ship where you could change the hangar in the capital ship, and the rest should be done by agreement with the guild. Well, that last part can be a big problem. Democracy with a large amount of people can cause a problem. But a capital ship per 16 people (i.e. all the advanced classes have a place) could be quite a viable option. Combining that number with the amount of companions that can hang around in the capital ship, can make it a lively place to be. But this will also bring a different angle for other things then just customization. Gameplay can also be affected. How much? We can only wait and see.
Why is this a weird thing for me? Well, mostly because I am not used to it. I am not going to say that I am for or against it, because simply I do not know. What I do think is interesting, is that it is another way for developers to suck gametime out of you, i.e. money. Is it a cheap tactic? Well, not right away of course. Bioware has to make the entire set up for this game extending customization technique. Why don’t you just play Minecraft? I mean, it is a lot cheaper and you can build your house the way you want to. Though pixels, you can make your home the way you want it. Star Wars Galaxies went far in this as well though. Would I mind the real deal in SWTOR?
No, I think I might like it, but don’t forget, it draws a lot of money out of you. And when implemented, I do want to have proper street names. Entire fortresses erected in the middle of nowhere… well, I don’t want that. That would be to me a too great a, well, pollution of the scenery. And that is very important, especially for this game. And I don’t even know if there is room to build into the several worlds. If Bioware doesn´t want a full house construction plans all over the place, they just have to set a switch, or make the maps/areas with too much obstructions to even let us gamers make proper houses. Remember the map of Korriban in one of the game play walkthroughs? I didn’t see any proper room to even build something. This is of course an area where it was specifically designed to have the function of fighting area, but heck, this is just speculation.
Will we have player houses? Is it even viable in the way Bioware is setting their game up? Player houses isn’t of course necessarily in actual buildings. There are always more options than the traditional version of player houses. Anyone up for space colonies? Or orbital space stations? Or instances?
Thanks for reading, rate and comment below and as always,
May the Force be with you.