I’ve been too busy to spend much time gaming lately, but to be honest, I haven’t really wanted to play all that much either. Many nights I spend my precious gaming time searching the net for new MMOs instead.
Why? Because I’m bored. Timezones and restricted gaming time make it impossible to do typical MMO endgame stuff – such as raids – and I’ve never enjoyed pvp, so now I’m leveling up another character on GW2 [Guild Wars 2] and feeling nostalgic about FFXI [Final Fantasy 11 online].
There were very good, and compelling reasons for leaving FFXI, but player housing was not one of them. In fact I probably kept on playing the game for far longer simply because player housing gave me an alternate reason to keep playing.
You see in FFXI, player housing was a bit like having a real life house of your own. You could furnish it with all sorts of things from antique tea sets to various styles of furniture. Think of it as having a very sophisticated and elaborate doll’s house in which you could move around.
And no, FFXI player housing didn’t look anything like this… but wouldn’t it be fun if it did?
Beyond the fun of redecorating though, player housing had other functions as well. Most of the items in our houses aided crafting in some way, and I always loved crafting so I could spend hours just messing around ‘at home’.
I have always loved ‘gardening’ as well, and in FFXI you could grow crystals in garden pots. I don’t want to go into what crystals were used for – just accept that they were valuable in-game commodities. Caring for my ‘garden’ took yet more time, time I was happy to spend. And of course, finding the materials to feed my crafting and gardening took many more hours.
-sigh- I really miss that aspect of gaming. Not only did it give me something to do beyond upgrading my weapons and armour, it also made the game feel more life-like. After all, isn’t that pretty much what we all do in real life? We work to make life comfortable, and that includes buying clothes and shoes, cars or motorbikes, the latest gadgets, furniture, apartments or houses, vacations, entertainment etc.
In modern MMOs however, we can only really spend our in-game money on three related things – more powerful weapons, better armour, and mounts [personal transportation]. Sadly, GW2 doesn’t even have mounts so the incentive to keep playing is reduced by 1/3.
Now I know an awful lot of players will disagree with me on the question of incentives – most are young and are only really interested in the battling aspect of MMOs. But as those players get older, they too will begin to face the same life constraints that I do, and when that happens they will either stop playing altogether, or they will demand ‘more’ from their games.
In my not so humble opinion, MMO developers who want longevity for their products would do well to bring player housing back into the equation – as a standard part of the game dynamic. The MMOs that retain player housing also seem to retain their playerbase. Just saying.
Another thing I’d do, if I were a developer, is rethink the whole question of armour. At the moment, most Western MMOs combine the look of armour with its function. So for example, the Warrior class wears plate armour while Mages wear cloth, and you cannot mix and match to customize your appearance. This has the net result of making characters look alike, apart from a few small differences.
By contrast, A Perfect World International and Aion both split form from function. This allows for a great deal more individuality in appearance.
I would go one step further. I would make all armour neutral, and stats [functions such as defence] would become slot items. This is not so very different to what we have now. It would merely formalize upgrades into standard components. The difference would be that appearance would be completely separate to function.
In my ideal MMO, a Warrior could wear flowing robes, and a Mage could wear plate. 🙂
Well, the clock is ticking and this little detour into daydreams must end. À bientôt mes amis!