Just a quick thought today. The venerable Big Bear Butt and the inimitable Syl have articles up today that reminded me of one of my old wishes for World of Warcraft: Housing.
Big Bear Butt’s Putting the Pieces Together
And just for reference, my old collection of Allods Online screenshots.
Y’see, I’d love to see private Outland/Allod style floating islands as housing locations in WoW. Wizard 101 does almost exactly this already, and for their trouble, they earned some money from me when I bought my Marleybone steampunk island home. (That I currently can’t find any screenshots for, sadly.) I’d love to have a little floating island home out off the coast of Nagrand, or maybe a Dalaran satellite. Maybe I could have a little research hut out by Area 52 and a winter home tucked in the Grizzly Hills. Of course, these would all be phased, so they wouldn’t be a blight on the world, but that’s OK, I don’t necessarily want visitors anyway.
…it all reminds me a little of the system of outposts I tend to make in Minecraft, actually. That’s a delightful game that I’ve spend a great deal of time in. When I’m out exploring a Minecraft world, I build little waystations in interesting locations, and I link them with shortcuts via the Nether, since moving one “grid square” in the Nether is equivalent of 8 spaces in the normal world. I have developed a good sense of how far to go before the Nether portals don’t just tether to existing portals, so I can leapfrog a series of Nether portals and overworld exploration to cover a lot of ground. I wind up with the Arctic home, the Swamp home, Anvilania, the cliffside village, the Burrows, the tree farm, the diamond mine and so on… a whole system of locations that fit into the larger world, but that are uniquely mine. (Get it? Minecraft? OK, my humor needs work.)
If I could have a set of private islands or shacks in the World of Warcraft, especially if they were linked via a portal system… I’d spend more time in the place. It’s even another monetization vector. Yes, it would cost something to develop, but I think it would be worth it. I’d prefer the game to go subscriptionless, of course, and note that I’d spend money on said housing… y’know, while I’m dreaming.
And yes, I know WURM Online kind of scratches this itch, as does Minecraft. I know LOTRO has housing, as does Wizard 101 and Puzzle Pirates. I’m not hopeful that Blizzard will do this, and I’m not really looking for them to take over the world. I just think this is an obvious design area that WoW could go in, and I’d have fun with it. Just ruminating a bit on a Tuesday morning.
Ah, and many thanks to DÀCHÉNG for taking the idea and running with it over thisaway. There really is a lot of fertile design space to mine in this housing concept. Blizzard is missing a trick here, I think. Maybe they don’t need to leverage the Minecraft/DeviantArt “artist” impulse to be successful, but I’m pretty sure the cost/benefit ratio is firmly tilted in the benefit direction. Letting players modify their experience a bit and share their creativity is at least partially the heart of the whole “transmogrification” scheme, and that’s been a success.
I suppose I should have made it clearer, but yes, I am assuming that players would be able to invite friends to see their homes/islands/fortresses. They wouldn’t just be private instances, forever sealed away. They might be instances, but they would be places that other players could access in some way.
…as far as I’m concerned, that builds community while granting players ownership and letting them invest emotionally. That sounds like a game design WIN to me.