MMO housing IS gameplay

And yes, I’ve heard the Ultima Online house analogy. But until I can plant a flower box outside my POS, I don’t buy it. EVE ain’t Minecraft.

Going to pick on Jester a bit in this post. I say pick on because while Jester is extremely knowledgeable about EVE (and writes the best blog about it), his overall MMO experience is somewhat limited, and I’m 99% sure he did not play UO and experience its housing.

So with that said, flowers did not make UO housing. Not even a little bit. And ‘flowers’ would not be what would make EVE’s POS revamp. ‘Flower’ housing systems, like what LotRO has, suck. They are pointless, vapid wastes of instances space. That type of housing has zero gameplay. But that’s not what UO had.

The reason housing in UO was amazing gameplay was because it centralized you in a huge world. Without a house, you lived out of an NPC city, and those cities were not ‘yours’. As soon as you had a house, that was YOUR spot. Everything around you was important, because it was connected to YOUR spot in the world. That alone is perhaps the biggest retention ‘hook’ in the genre.

But housing in UO went further than just claiming land. It also opened up options such as running a vendor, or a crafting station near a mine, or just being a guild house for everyone to store items in and work out of. Each of those avenues further branched out. Once you start running a vendor, you care a lot more about the economy, and what items are worth. Or you go into crafting to ensure supply. Or you make connections to a crafting guild to work out a deal.

Point being, a house is the central point of the giant spiderweb we call sandbox content, and it’s a damn crime so many MMOs do it so poorly or don’t even do it at all.

Returning back to EVE, running a POS is painful. Really, really painful. No one likes it, very few tolerate it. Yet even in the sludge that is the current system, you have some interesting gameplay. Jester himself covers one example here.

Now imagine if CCP removed the sludge of the horrible UI you have to use to place POS guns, or the mishmash that is placing refineries and hangers. Designing a house/POS should be fun, like it is in UO. It should allow talented individuals to do something like the deathstar, but to the degree EVE lets you do things (think EVE market manipulation vs WoW kiddie pool economy).

And if newish players are given the chance to jump in and setup a small home, how many new players does that bring in? What kind of splash would a video showing the creation of a great looking and function POS make in the media? Hell, new players often struggle to define a ‘why’ in EVE; and building/growing your POS could be just the ticket. Reach a certain size, and the game should naturally encourage you to branch out, socialize, and work with others to continue on, much like UO subconsciously did way back in 1997. Again, the problem has been solved. The solution has simply been forgotten and drowned out in WoW-clone me-too trash design.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EVE Online, Housing, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Ultima Online. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to MMO housing IS gameplay

  1. evehermit says:

    Agree with this view – there are lots of people who play EVE to in effect build virtual homes. Make that mechanic more interesting and accessible, and then those who play EVE to burn down and destroy homes will have a whole lot more targets.

  2. Pingback: Building Homes.. « Evehermit

  3. Kobeathris says:

    I’ve been thinking about hopping back into Eve, a new POS system would probably make me do it.

  4. Kody Gloval says:

    Completely agree. Having played upwards of 30 MMO’s and Eve since beta, player housing is what keeps me in a lot of games. Eve’s lack of it has always been quite bizarre to my mind and I agree with your take over Jesters.

    If they can tie some gameplay into the modular POS they are considering, it can only lend depth to the game and provide many with that place to call home.

  5. Xyloxan says:

    Do I recall correctly that houses in UO could deteriorate if not used for some (weeks?) time?

    • SynCaine says:

      In my mind that was always a rumor, kinda like blood magic. I think at some point long after I quit they added that (I think blood magic is also in?)

      Unlike a lot of later changes, decay actually makes sense.

  6. Mekhios says:

    I’d love player housing in EVE (don’t laugh Syncaine). My own little station in highsec space. Of course still vulnerable to other players with the usual consequences. I’d really love it in GW2 but it seems the developers have other priorities.

  7. tithian says:

    If setting up and maintaining a POS was made more stremlined, I’d be back in heartbeat.

  8. Gavin says:

    Agree totally, an expansion themed “Living in Space”. (not living in stations)

  9. Good article. I often think back to my days on UO and how brilliant the player housing system was. I’ve never wanted anything in an MMORPG as much as I wanted a house in UO. Never got one of course, but it was a nice dream! I can see how it could make you feel like you had a place in the world, it was more like “home”.

    I think implementation of a system like UO has made developers weak at the knees, as there are numerous impracticalities with modern MMORPGs. Still, I think there could be solutions, and studios should be more willing to give it a shot. I heard something about player housing in Aion that sounded a bit like UO, but it probably isn’t.

  10. bonedead says:

    I loved when I played on a free shard and would kill a guy and find a copy of his house key. Then all it was was a matter of finding where his house was and bam, take some shit and kill him in his home. Wasn’t like the original UO where you had to actually trick people into trusting you or whatnot (or waiting for a house to poof), but it was still fun imo.

  11. TurAmarth says:

    Well, then I am someone you have never met… a small +1 in the LIKES POSes column. Yup, that’s right, I LIKE the POS interface… ‘cause it’s IN-YER-FACE, “We will anchor the POS in this wormhole and do the other things… not because they are easy… but BECAUSE they are HARD!”

    You see IMHO a POS is ‘supposed’ to be a virtual representation of a Planetary Orbital Space STATION… can you tell me that the (in comparison) miniscule pup-tent called “Freedom”, currently in orbit round ‘ol earth, was EASY to put up? That it was quick… that it was simple? That the computer interfaces for its multiple complex systems are made by LeapFrog? And yet you want a virtual SPACE STATION, in a game well known and lauded for it’s complexity, that is EASY, and QUICK, and SIMPLE to put up, use and maintain…?

    Well, I don’t. I want a POS system that is as complex as required, a complexity that gives one a feel that you are doing “Something Big”. Explain why it takes months to skill up for a BS? I mean a BS is JUST A SHIP… a POS is a STATION… vastly larger, vastly more complex and capable of SUPPORTING, MAINTAING and SUPPPLYING all classes of ships from noob to Titan… so it should be HARDER to skill up for and use and maintain than even a Titan… and yet…

    To setup a POS, all you need is to be in a corp, have the “Config Starbase Equipment” role and train the ONE following skill:
    > Anchoring L1

    Now, all that gives you is a Spike with a working Forcefield… if you want to do more with the POS there are other skills you need… just as you can skill up to ‘just’ fly, say… a Megathron (not looking at fitting it), with the following base skill requirements:
    > Spaceship Command L4
    > Gallente Frigate L4
    > Gallente Cruiser L4
    > Gallente Battleship L2

    Explain to me how this works? How it takes several months of skilling just to undock a BS, and yet it takes only a few minutes to ANCHOR, SETUP, FUEL and RUN a SPACE STATION. Does this really seem balanced… realistic (in a virtual sense) to you?

    One man’s Fascinating Complexity is another man’s Broken Mechanic… POSes should be HARD…. They are SPACE STATIONS… If it were up to me you whould have to skill up to at least Commodore or even Admiral before you could run one…. But a NOOB, who can’t even fly a Dessie, who’s inna one man corp can have one anchored in Anoikis inside of a week… (granted all he is doing is puttin’ up a indefensible target and he WILL DIAF sooner than later… but that’s beside the point) but this works for you? doesn’t for me.

    (It is MHO that those who will disagree with me the strongest are those who see EVE as a game ONLY… and they will argue to see it any other way is silly and childish follishness… to them I say…. neener neener…)

    • kalex716 says:

      It really isn’t that much of a barrier of entry to learn how a POS runs.

      Anybody can learn how to do it right now with just a few hours of trial and error. After that, its just days, weeks, and months of some REALLY annoying quirks, and the mystery is long gone….

  12. Prime says:

    Best “housing” system yet were the Star wars galaxy. Your home, which allowed you to store your stuff and trophies. But also to create vendors. Also the house were build into a community setting were the inhabs did chose majors and stuff

  13. Agree completely with your assessment – this from someone who has put up and taken down a few POSes. Yes, I’ve learned how to set them up and run them, but only from necessity, not because I enjoy doing it. When I think of what CCP could do with POSes, and how much more interesting EVE could be if they were done well, I just scratch my head and wonder: why haven’t they done it yet? I’m hopeful they are finally getting the message, and that we’ll see some progress on POS design soon. One can dream…..

Comments are closed.