There’s no place like it…
Do you ever find yourself wandering from game to game, finding friends and taking down the bad guys, then losing interest? Perhaps the game gets repetitive, or you feel that you’re not getting real value for the time and money you’ve spent. However, I’d venture that what you’re looking for is a place to call home.
Housing: Just another time sink?
- Developer’s Perspective — the time sink means more money earned for less effort. Large MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) that don’t have housing always startle me, as this is an often requested feature that requires very little development time and reduces server load through instanced neighborhoods or houses.
- Player’s Perspective — everything you do in a game that isn’t what you want to be doing is a time sink. Every time you run, ride, or fly from one area to another. Every time you return to your home city to craft or sell materials. Every time you “grind” a dungeon (run the same task over and over) to gain better gear — so you can do it all again in the next dungeon. Every one of these things has the potential for the Time Sink label.
As time sinks go, housing is actually a lot of fun. Achievers stand around capital cities displaying their beautiful (read: high-level) gear, and often place rare goods in the auction house or their personal store at impossible prices, just to display their achievements. Collectors turn in sets of similar trophies for in-game money, or they fill valuable storage space with trinkets they’ll never use again. And then, there’s the role-players….
Lord of the Rings: the Ecstasy and the Agony
LotRO’s beautiful landscaping (Image from Dawnsong Explorers)
Yes, I love the RP in RPGs, when I just want to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. I became deeply enthused (read: crazed) when Lord of the Rings Online announced the addition of housing to what is, in my view, one of the very best games running. I did the research, I purchased a house and paid ahead on my mortgage, and I began loading my trophies into the proverbial wheelbarrow, carting the products of taxidermy and quest rewards to a pretty little two-room home in Falathlorn, the Elven housing area in Ered Luin. And yes, I knew all about “hooks” — or so I believed — and felt certain I could still work within these limitations and furnish a lovely house for myself, complete with landscaping.
And you know what? It IS beautiful, and I’m very happy with the way the outside of my home looks. From the birch saplings to the clumps of clover and the inviting little picnic table, plus the gorgeous view, I could sit outside and wish for a gardening plot for hours. And then I went inside.
I tried to place a bed in the second room of my house (looks like it a bedroom to me). I can put that bed in one place: the very center of the room. Not against a wall, but right in the middle. Well, fine. So next, I’d like to add two chairs by the fireplace, with a small rug between them. No, pick one, any one, but just one of those three things. Frustrated, I moved back to the living room, and placed a table in the center, hoping to display a few books, a map, and perhaps a piece of gear or two. If the table hasn’t been designed with these visuals in place, I can’t add them. Also, no stacking; you can’t place one thing on another in your home. Apparently, I hadn’t researched this feature as well as I’d thought.
LotRO Elven Housing: Kinda empty? You’re out of “hooks”!
Terribly discouraged, I felt that perhaps Turbine should have left housing out after all, as this apparently simple issue — hooks rather than free placement — pushed me away from LotRO for many months. I returned to a game that didn’t tease me with possibilities, World of Warcraft, a game that degraded, through one expansion after another, into arguably the easiest graphical MMO available. No challenge equals no fun for me, but that’s fodder for a future article.
Recently, I’ve started chasing hope again, looking for a place to call home. Part two of MMOs, Housing, and Hope will continue my walkabout through the realms of fantasy, as I seek a place to hang my scabbard and put up my feet by the fire.
Read the next part of this article, MMOs, Housing, and Hope (Part 2).