Dear Developers - Let me make a home!

I’m an oldschool kinda guy. I started back in the day with the red basic D&D set, bought the blue box, green box and finally (sorry!) got a copy of the black box from a friend. One of the things I remember spending hours and hours doing over and over with my friends, was designing our very own castle from the rules that came with the Green box. From fortresses to caves to tree-homes. It was amazing to get rich adventuring, and then BUILDING a home as a 12 year old kid.

As I’ve grown older, I noticed a trend recently, but hadnt connected it back to those early days - I love homemaking in games. Its one of the things I really enjoy spending time with, and judging from EQ2, lots of other peope feel the same. The world gets more real when you get to build something on your own. The more freedom to do so, the better.
A case study in this is Minecraft - This is the ultimate sandbox, and most people build fabolous homes in picturesque settings like cliffsides, treetops, oceanview areas and the like.

My point with this post is this- Why do so few games allow us to do this? Its clearly something that is a market for, and if minecraft has shown us anything, its that it doesnt neeed to be very pretty - we can do with total freedom instead of great graphics!

Am I really alone in this, or what do you guys say? Don’t you want a home away from home?

Agreed 100%. A lot of the appeal of Fable, Skyrim, and the like was that they let you create a home, establish a base. Not with total freedom, but still a good deal of customization. Not just role-playing or “player-perspective” (like Minecraft) games either – even the older Civilizations let you build your palace (from a limited set of choices, but still…).

I think the kind of game you are asking for would be awesome, but complicated to build, and therefore risky commercially. I think the indie explosion we’ve had in the last few years is your perfect opportunity, though.

Does Kickstarter have a request sister site?

I loved my virtual home in morrowind back when i was 16. now ten years later I think I’ve grown out of this kind of thing (I was really bored by terraria)

I really enjoyed the way EQ2 did their housing. They also had a wide range of furniture you could make through trade skills and special items from holiday updates that you could use. It was pretty funny to take Halloween decorations down and then put out the Xmas ones and change them with the seasons, if you wanted to. I had containers with decorations from the different holidays.

UO was another where I probably wouldn’t have played near as much as I did if it didn’t have housing. My entire early career was spent raising skills and money so that I could buy a house. Once I finally got one, that was one of the coolest moments in gaming history for me. My buddy and I got them in the same forest and the way the little towns and villages sprung up everywhere complete with personal vendors was pretty cool for the time. We even had our very own resident PK that loved to roam our woods with his Heavy Xbow looking for victims.

Rather than just rely on having enough gold like Skyrim etc, I really enjoyed Neverwinter Nights 2 where you were restoring the castle and had to hire/convince people to help.

Great post Razgon.

I even liked building the palace in Civilization 1, or was it Civ 2? The castle in Neverwinter Nights 2 was also good, but not very personalized. I’d enjoy a home base in almost any game, regardless of the genre.

It could also be a great money sink. Giving players a use for all that excess money, but without penalizing the player (balance wise) who prefers to take a more direct route through the plot.

Your OP reminds me of my old DnD character bases. Castles, Library Tower Keeps, Thieves Dens. In my early teenage years they were always symmetrical designs drawn on graph paper, the focus was on utility and defense. Then as I learned more about history and fiction my fantasy castles became unsymmetrical and built in dramatic locations, built over the ruins of an old (doomed) civilization. My later designs were based more on an authentic feeling of history and potential story drama.

Tony

I’ve always loved games that let me set up my own space. I still think that Star Wars: Galaxies was the pinnacle of in game housing. The way you could manipulate items and use them in creative ways to make entirely new decorations was incredibly cool. Plus being able to create entire player towns was awesome. Everquest has a similar decoration system now which is cool, and it’s pretty amazing what people can come up with.

Would love to see a RPG with a really robust stronghold creation system. Build in the three D’s, Design, decorate and defend! Let me design it, fill it with all my crap then have to fend off my enemies.

Its interesting how one of the most popular structures in Minecraft is a “home”. Most people seems to need to have a “Base 0” location,where to return to refuel and rearm.

Not everyone is like that. One most servers theres also the “wanderer” type of player, that just explore around the map, visiting new places, but never build anything, or stay in some place very long.

I think the observation that need to be made, is that people want a home in his virtual world, most people.

Sounds great, but the last one, “Defend”, changes it from a fun extra feature into a cornerstone of the game design. Which is great, but only if the designer really wants to go far in that direction. A home base that allows the first two “Design and Decorate”, could probably be added to many games without too onerous a weight being placed on the games design and budget.

Tony

Exactly this.

I formed a long-lasting friendship with several people I played UO with in its early days, and many of those experiences were forged from having a ‘base’ to operate from that had a physical (digital) presence in the game world. In our case, after being evicted from our small island south of Britain (we filled up the whole thing with houses) by a few PKs who stole a set of house keys from us via a glitch, we embarked on our own PK careers by buying a few smaller houses a few hundred yards north of the Chaos shrine. We fought off robberies, mini-invasions, and planned our virtual crime sprees from those two small houses.

It’s probably been 15 years since these events happened, but they made a hell of an impression and I still remember them perfectly. It seems that out of all our adventuring, our fondest moments and most vibrant memories are focused on our virtual houses.

Absolutely, while there are games that give you a token home and others that give you some creative leeway, I’d love to see a game where it’s an integral part of the design.

I don’t recall all of the details, but Shadowbane had a pretty neat model where you would build up your own fort/base and have to defend it. You always had a huge money sink while out killing NPCs at camps and selling the loot as your fort always needed more cash to build up it seemed. We joined a merc guild for a little while and taking out contracts to mess with certain guilds was pretty wild. It could be brutal, but it had some amazing interaction between guilds and alliances. I still remember vividly the effort it took one night - and I mean all night into the next late morning - when a large group of the server decided to take down the top guild/fort. The siege literally lasted for well over 8 hours it seemed, so a guild with a lot of resources could really hold off the enemy for a long time. I think we were successful in the end. It also meant that scouting and communication were key and guilds and alliances were territorial with the NPC camps near them as they were their moneymakers. You could also wall off people from hitting max level if they didn’t have access to the smaller amounts of high level NPC camps and the lone-wolf player really felt alone in that world.

It seemed like Age of Conan was trying to go down that road in a similar way, but I never got that far in it. Our guild got our own base and started to build it up, but it sorta died then and the PvP was really sparse. In that one you actually had to go out and farm your own materials to build I seem to recall. It was a nice idea, but didn’t seem to really take off.

My experience with the Thief games has convinced me that it’s much more fun to break into someone else’s home and steal their stuff.

I have a great eq2 house. I am a Druid and have the biggest housing option with a fully furnished house. I have a full Druid church in the basement including altar and burial area full of coffins.

To make took months and I still subscribe occasionally just to have a wander round, it’s full of my collections and rare weaponry etc on the walls, bedroom and gaming area in the loft along with an Arabian zone and tent etc.

More games need this.

That raises a potential gameplay idea. Multiplayer model where you have to build/defend your own home but steal stuff from other peoples homes while they’re trying to do the same to you.

So true. My 9 year old plays Minecraft over any other “A” rated game. Mostly what he does is build homes, castles or adds on weirder and more creative rooms.

I love the idea of being able to build, decorate and furnish my own house in games. I too would love for more games to support it.

Minecraft is indeed a good case in point for how lots of people will build themselves a “nest” in a sandbox game.

In multiplayer, I must agree with Shellfishguy on Star Wars Galaxies. Being able not only to build and decorate a house (selected from a variety of sizes) but also a social hub like a cantina or guild hall were excellent features which brought the players together. You learned to know your neighbours and the community pulled together to make the town a better place. And, all the while, people were always coming up with new ideas to make the house look great and make it their own.

Compared to that, zoned housing like EQ2 or even LOTRO feels a bit limited. But the loss in freedom also ensures that urban sprawl doesn’t cover the wilderness. Maybe freeform zoned allotments so you could still personalise your housing zone might be a nice middle ground. But you wouldn’t get the same passer by traffic you got in SWG towns.

One thing is for sure, I miss the pleasure of placing and designing my house and of meeting good people there.

Wendelius

I’m a fan of a lot of hard core gaming genres including turn based strategy and city planning games but I have to say, this is the kind of thing I’d sarcastically suggest Activision release for their current / next COD game.
I have zero interest in building a base for my game character. There was a time when I would drool at Robin Hood or Ghostbusters playsets, but that was before I discovered girlz.

Just adding my input as a gamer, I think this will not appeal to the majority out there. It might be cool for a few thousand people, enough to get a bit of DLC into production.

Minecraft seems to disagree with you, sir :-)

That said, its all anecdotal data of course, but I find it interesting that freeform games with little gameplay structure are as big a hit as they seem to be. Lots of smaller indie games are trying out that way as well currently, and they seem to be the forerunners of whats going to be hot these days, while the big development houses who usually have 3-5 years of design->development->product cycles are of course slower to catch up.

Interestingly, I also remember Civ1 as the first game I did this in, with the big building you could build where you selected the style for each placement - so much fun!

The girls reference is just you being an ox, though, and I really don’t understand why its necessary.