Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Player Housing

I’m going to try some different things with the blog as summer wears on. There isn’t a great deal going on in World of Warcraft so I’m going to talk about whatever strikes my fancy.

I have ton of respect for MMO Blogger, Tobold, even if I disagree with him on some occasions. Tobold did a great job explaining some of the problems associated with the often requested feature of Player Housing.

The first problem is that of space. You have to room to put all these houses. Houses in adventuring areas seem out of place. Imagine the Barrens or Desolace filled with houses. It doesn’t feel right. The only way developers seem to make really big worlds is to use algorithms. That results in worlds that are not overly detailed. If the world is too big, players will complain about it taking a long time to get from Point A to Point B, especially in the leveling game.

The second problem is one of persistence. There are typically far more people who call a server home, than the number you see at prime time. Tobold estimates that your average WoW server has about 20,000 players on it. If everyone built a house, and then you had only 3,000 on, even at prime time, it makes your player towns feel deserted. Plus, even all 3,000 aren’t likely to be hanging out in their virtual home. They will be out in Battlegrounds, Raids, or even just doing dailies.

I wonder if the developers thought about the problem of player housing while they were redesigning the world for Cataclysm. This is an often asked for feature in WoW and Cataclysm would seem to be the ideal time to setup the world for housing at some future point.

I’m also intrigued by the announcement that Star Wars : The Old Republic made over E3 regarding Player Housing. They way they plan on addressing it is to give players individual ships. These will be large ships similar to the Ebon Hawk if you played Knights of the Old Republic. This address the problem of space in that you only need docking space for the amount of ships that will be on a world during primetime. Once someone logs off, the game can assume they are back in orbit around whatever planet they are on, eliminating the need to have player housing while the player is offline. I think it’s an intriguing idea and I’m curious to see how well it’s executed.

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