Lots of information has begun to leak out about Lord of the Rings Online’s next step in game development. Book 11 is on the horizon set for an October release and the one thing on everyone’s mind is player housing. For a long time we’ve known just the basics about what we can expect from housing. I’ve done my best to keep you all up to date on what we know so far, which makes me excited to share with you this little find on TenTonHammer. It’s an interview done with developers asking just a few questions, but this time we’re actually starting to get some o the juicy tidbits from the Devs.
To get right into it, the usual question was asked about housing sizes and how that would all work within these player neighborhoods.
“I was running through an early demo of it in one of the dwarven neighborhoods,” Steefel said. “Whereas a house would be a small house that you would recognize, the kinship hall looks like the big church in town – a giant central building, whether it’s a church or the city hall. That seems to be the scale of kinship houses over regular houses.”
When asked if players would be able to actually walk through these neighborhoods:
“Correct, it’s not a cul-de-sac,” Steefel confirmed. “It’s not an apartment house – it really is like going into a town. There will be multiple instances of that type of town – they’ll all be different from each other because the players will make them different from each other. There are four types of towns based on the four races, and they’re located near the major social centers for those races. So, for example, the Dwarven housing neighborhood is located in Thorin’s Gate, right near Thorin’s Hall. It feels like it’s in the right part of the world.”
“It really is a whole other town that you go into,” Mersky echoed. “There are opportunities to hang out, to do things with other people. There’s large seating areas for people to congregate at. What we’re hoping people will get a sense of when they come in here is that, first of all, yes, I can get a house, I can customize it, do the stuff I would expect to be able to do to make this house really feel like mine – increase the persistent space that belongs to me and that I can share with friends. But we hope that people start to see that, wow, this is a whole other town. There’s a lot that can happen in here over time – this is the beginning of something that has a huge opportunity for growth. Our plans obviously include how that growth actually works.”
Fantastic news! I am very pleased to hear that housing is being taken a step further than just instanced neighborhoods. Having player neighborhoods be referred to as “Townships” and creating the atmosphere essential to a community is really going to set this apart from other housing implementations. Kinship housing could very well add an additional element to the entire game. When asked if Kinship housing will have crafting stations, teleporters, and usual guildhall stuff the devs had this to say.
“We’re still playing around with what we want to do there,” Steefel responded. “It’s going to be fairly sparse in the beginning; not because we can’t, but because we’re trying to figure out what’s the right balance between locating those kinds of resources in the town that is a neighborhood as opposed to towns that are out in the landscape. As far as things that a kinship has access to- special teleportation, special crafting nodes or special crafting workbenches or things that only that kinship has access to – we’re not going to launch with that. Not that we can’t, but we really want to see how the puzzle pieces fit together. It’s a lot easier to add than to subtract from a system; especially when you’ve got it live in front of an audience, because people tend to get attached to what is there.”
“What we do have, however, is the ability for you to teleport back to your house from anywhere in the world,” he continued. “Similarly for kinships, to teleport at any time back to their kinship houses. There are other benefits that you will derive elsewhere in the world from owning a house that we probably won’t talk about yet, but that’s something we wanted to make sure is there too.”
The interview went on to say that functionality in towns will be limited at start. They want to make sure they having the housing mechanics down before they “throw everything at the players at once.” While I do not agree necessarily that limiting the development is being done on our behalf, I can still appreciate their cautious approach when implementing something of this magnitude. I will say this though, if the developers want to avoid a nasty case of the “But you promised”‘s, then they had better make good on their word that adding functionality to towns will make it into the game eventually. Far too many times have we been given a portion of what was to come and watch as the devs never make whole on their promises.
Player housing and Townships have great potential. I’m almost afraid to use the world ‘potential’ because it has been the source of much disappointment over the past year. Many potentials have been met with coming up short of the goal. I’ll instead say that player housing and Townships are moving in the right direction. As long as the addition of housing and townships adds functionality and more than mere fluff to the game then Turbine will have hit a home run. Don’t make it cheesy and lifeless like chicken-play; something that nearly no one ever participates in. Make it an enormous focal point of the game. Have guilds aspiring to fill their halls with trophies and useful functional gameplay elements like crafting and portals. Make the player housing into something that has more value than a mere achievement in the Deed log. Work the entire game around it so that it has the air of quality.
Much to look forward to over the next couple weeks! I’ll keep you guys updated on what I find as we begin the move into the next phase of LOTRO.