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Uplink Analysis: Housing

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on August 10, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (@CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and @CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

This week's topic centered on our latest announcement:

What needs to be "done right" in order for a housing system to be successful?

We carefully phrased our question, as there are a billion features that could be added to Housing, but we wanted to know what, specifically, people feel are the core features of a good housing system:

jleithart: Houses shouldn't be required for certain things (e.g. crafting) but there should be a good reward for having one
MOOMANiBE: It needs to be discoverable. MMOs are about interaction, and if other people can't see your house then why have it?
Mark_Mahooon: I would say a house must have the possibility to store your gear. Boxes, crates and so on.
MightyMik: Needs to 'feel like home'. A place i can personalize, and is always there, a base to work from.
jleithart: The ability to show off trophies/armor sets/something else would add to the uniqueness for individual houses
delnippez: @jleithart Agreed - Like the throne room in CIV II. Rare achievements, banners, trophies.
Catrie: I'd like to be able to show off my house, without anyone else being able to take my stuff.
Mark_Mahoon: So I think it would be great to have the possibility to have a house or shop or small factory and so on.
delnippez: @Mark_Mahoon A brewery for the finest home-made!!!
nohelixws: Ability to paint is a must. It needs to not draw people away from the world. You shouldn't live in it just visit.
Wildstars_fr: The houses have to be different and highly customisable (avoid phases). A lot of mini-games (eg :farmville-like).
Xintia12: It can't be instanced only. That runs the risk of dividing the community and creating a sense of isolation.
Lethality_mmo: Player Housing should tie into all other game systems - tradeskills, combat, faction/reputation. Should in a persistent real location in the world, even if the interior is instanced/phased
grieger: Oh, yeah, and please, please, please make the placement tools simple.

In addition to what needs to be done, there were lots of suggestions for features WildStar should consider:

delnileppez : Would be cool if Settlers need to be consulted/hired for state of the art housing in Wildstar.
Mark_Mahoon: One feature would be really great: Guildhouses. Everyone talks about it, nearly no one integrate them
strykus: Setting up your own merchant would be pretty cool in your home.
zaprobo: I see trophies for dropping a boss, themed by Path - DNA strand for a Scientist, decap'd head for a Soldier, etc.
jleithart: What about housing PvP? Perhaps one faction could steal the other factions civilian land?
siegaplays: Group pvp play idea: Leader queue up house for a pvp attack, group defend, Objective for other faction: enter house

A good question was raised: Where's the balance between giving players a reason to hang out at home versus visit big cities?

grieger: For the most part, like people are saying, having a reason to go home. For me, though, it's usually storage/crafting like in SWG. Of course, there are a variety of other needs: Social (showing off items, meeting up), time-savers (access to bank/AH), etc.
nohelixws: I worry if you do it all from your house, people will live there giving you an empty world feeling.
CRB_Scooter: You both make it clear that there has to be a balance between living in your house, and visiting the world.
nohelixws: Yep but I still love customizing my space and take pride in it. I am a hoarder so I love a place to show off
Lawlypop_: agreed, dont devalue citys, just add new features or reasons why there is a housing system.

We've been getting numerous requests for us to speak out more in the Uplink Analysis, to share our thoughts on the topic as well with you. This week, we asked Victoria Dollbaum, Social Systems Designer, to respond to your comments from the Uplink. Here's what she had to say:

Hey everyone,

I wanted to take just a moment to join in on the great discussion going on with the WildStar Uplink about housing.

We agree with you that your property in WildStar should feel like home. We want players to become residents of the world of Nexus, rather than being homeless and laying characters down for the night in a bank or on the streets. One of our main goals for designing housing is that it ties into lots of other systems throughout our game. Whatever you're interested in, you'll be able to supplement your normal gameplay through housing. Your home (and your property) is for you to customize in whatever way you like, and a great way to begin and end your daily adventures in Nexus.

Designing housing and its perks is a balancing act; we want to encourage players to visit their properties without making cities ghost towns. We have some good ideas on how to direct players to both cities and their housing properties without completely trivializing one or the other.

We want to build WildStar's in-game community, so it's important to us that players are able to see and interact with each other daily in a housing system. You'll have the opportunity to visit other player properties and perform tasks on those properties for mutual benefit. If a friend is out of town for the week, he can give you special permissions to take care of his property for him while he is away. The best houses will receive special recognition, encouraging players from your realm to go visit and see what all the hype is about. Guilds will have some unique features for housing, but I can't say more about that just yet.

Practical functionality in housing, like décor with extra storage, is always much loved by players. I personally love the option to have extra storage in an MMO house, such as crates or mannequins. I think a lot of games offer this, but I've never been happy with any implementation offered. Storage space is so valuable in MMOs that players often end up filling their entire house with crate after crate after crate just for the extra storage. The player then finds it difficult to decorate their house in the way they want with other objects because half of the room is full of crates. In WildStar's case, we'd like to offer players the opportunity to attain a bit of extra storage through décor without forcing you to place half a room full of crates to access it.

We know that not everyone is into housing and we certainly want to enable you to play as you want. Owning a housing property is never required of players, it merely supplements your regular play experience. We offer some great rewards for participating in housing though, so we hope you'll try it out!

Victoria Dollbaum
Social Systems Designer

What other social features would you like to see? Let us know on Twitter at @Team_WildStar and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's discussion, and have a great weekend!

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