Wisdom of Nym: How Final Fantasy XIV’s latest housing war was won and where it got us

    
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Thinking over.
With the removal of the perpetual server restrictions and the opening of personal housing again, Final Fantasy XIV seems to have decided that its housing problems were fixed. Or, if not fixed, at least significantly ameliorated. The game added a huge chunk of new wards, rules were put in place to make sure that people couldn’t snap up tons of houses for themselves, and I will definitely concede that a whole lot of stuff was different this time around. For some time after housing was introduced, small houses were actually available, so Free Companies who wanted one but hadn’t quite made it were ready.

I will be the first to say that the new rules and restrictions were definitely a success. In terms of getting people connected with houses, this all worked, we got stuff more sorted out, and this is definitely the best we’ve had it since housing was first introduced. That doesn’t mean that I think the problem is really solved yet, though; a lot of the rules as they stand are inelegant solutions to a problem, and that’s part of why we are where we are.

Marking the territory.First of all, a caveat that I feel is important to note: I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone playing on Balmung, which is also known as the biggest dang server, the unofficial RP server, and probably the place where housing is going to matter the most. Yes, Mateus is going to feel the sting as the unofficial RP server adjunct, but I assume that whatever happens on Balmung for housing is indicative of the game as a whole as the high-demand example. There’s your salt to munch on.

What worked very well were the facts that players were not able to get into the wards ahead of time to camp by houses, and the one-week delay kept people focused on the content of the patch before having to worry about any sort of housing rush. Keeping things limited to FC purchases or relocation also ensured that the day-one bloodbath… wasn’t. The Large plots got snapped up quickly, but Medium plots took long enough that a friend’s FC was able to get one in the Goblet well into the middle of the day. And my relocated ward itself was a ghost town, with plenty of small plots for anyone who wanted to pick up an FC house.

Of course, this also highlights one of the problems. While the changes to the rules definitely made sure that more people could get houses, there’s still the issue of how much larger plots get, and how unbalanced it is on a whole. The difference in scale is astonishing, and I wonder how many FCs missed out on a Medium only to decide to bypass housing altogether.

No, I don’t think that’s the right call to make. But it’s a call I can see people making.

In some ways, this is part of the reasons why the account restrictions exist in the first place; it’s a patch on a system that’s already broken in various ways. Yes, for the average player, one character is all you need in the first place, which makes the restrictions somewhat irrelevant. But the reason that there are rules about how many characters can have a house per account is specifically because there are few houses, and the more desirable ones are still really intensely rare. There’s no upward mobility, even if you really want something more.

I also wonder about how reasonable it will be to add even more wards at this point, considering how the absolute demand for houses on Balmung seems to have settled notably. This is part of the issue, again; what a lot of the players who have houses want is the option to have a bigger house, not necessarily to get an additional house. Depending on how full the wards are for smaller servers, adding more districts or wards might seem like an unnecessary expense.

This is one of the issues with the structure, though, and it comes back to the same core problem of the housing system. Because of how the game is run and how its rules work, you can’t have extra housing wards on Balmung without having them everywhere else. But the result is that the servers where housing is congested remains congested, because the system can’t be tailored to the needs of the populace.

That having been said, I still feel like this was an improvement over the Shirogane rush and the disappointments that came along with it. People seemed to actually be able to get houses, and the various wards filled up again nicely once personal houses were an option. There are still apartments to be had in various locales, to boot. It’s just that the core issues are still there, unresolved; the rules patch is just a rules patch, not a full fix.

At the same time, I always wonder how doable a full fix really is at this point. After years of asking for instanced housing, one has to wonder if the reason it doesn’t materialize now is because adding more housing servers is cheaper – in terms of work hours or just plain cost – than trying to retrofit the existing housing system. Obviously, we’re here because someone is making the decision to stick with this.

Let the sunlight in.

If we keep getting new housing districts, I think that using the rules and selective rollbacks to them is probably the way to go, which also seems to be the route chosen by the team. It’s an approach that’s worked well with expansion launches, as well – at first you have area instancing and strict AFK kick timers, then those restrictions come down as server strain reduces. Perhaps a few months down the line we can see the rules on houses-per-account relaxed, in case there are still unclaimed places to grab.

So it’s still not great, but it’s better than it used to be, and this time wasn’t as painful as prior housing rushes. It still has a way to go before it really reaches a point that I’d consider ideal, but at the very least it feels like the developers have finally realized how important housing is to players and how much demand there actually is for a place to hang your metaphorical hat. It’s just still also a space with lots of room for improvement that I hope we get sooner rather than later.

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to start talking and speculating about Eureka, since we’ll all be heading over there on Tuesday. It won’t be undiscovered for long, that’s for sure.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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Robert Mann

It should be simple. If you have instanced housing, just have enough instanced housing. Make them account based, you get to own one house. End of story.

It is only when housing is not instanced that this should ever be a source of discussion… and then you need to have other systems in play to ensure that people are reasonable.

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Dread Quixadhal

I don’t see why they can’t treat individual housing the way EQ2 did back in 2004. Instance individual homes that are at fixed locations through the game… doesn’t matter if you want to make that a housing ward, or scatter them all over the place… the idea is, you buy a house instance at an address and go to that address to enter it.

In EQ2, you can visit any house by going to that address and choosing to visit their instance (if they allow it), and even visit an empty one for a “tour” before you buy it.

They *DID* add apartments, which I assume work like this, since there is no exterior other than the shared lobby of the apartment building.

bereman99
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bereman99

there’s still the issue of how much larger plots get

For anyone not familiar with the game, this is a comparison of what each plot offers.

Small Plot (Cottage):
Exterior – 20 items placed (20 in storage)
Interior – 200 items placed (200 in storage) – recently increased
6 vendors placed – recently increased
4 crafting facilities (don’t this one has changed
1 garden patch (8 planting spots, does allow for cross-breeding)

Medium Plot (House):
Exterior – 30 items placed (I believe 30 in storage)
Interior – 300 items placed (300 storage) – recently increased
8 vendors placed – recently increased
6 crafting facilities
2 garden patches (16 planting spots)

Large Plot (Mansion):
Exterior – 40 items placed (40 in storage)
Interior 400 items placed (400 in storage) – recently increased
10 vendors – recently increased
8 crafting facilities
3 garden patches (24 planting spots)

The amount of exterior grounds and interior floor space obviously goes up as well.

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Coldin Torrence

The interior sizes is probably the biggest deal. you go from 2 rather small floors on a small, to 3 floors on a medium that are twice the size per floor. And a Large has a giant center staircase and several large rooms to work with. It’s kind of crazy the size difference.

bereman99
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bereman99

The amount of space is nice, but sadly the game doesn’t handle the bigger houses as well – there’s a limit on how many interactable objects will display based on how close you are to them, and it’s under the 400 item limit of the mansion.

It’s also a lot of space to try and fill, so it kind of limits you to either doing really busy sections with sparse other areas or spreading everything out in terms of design. Medium house is probably the best for really decorating.

Though I wouldn’t underestimate small plots. The upstairs is slightly smaller than an apartment while the downstairs is slightly bigger, and the 200 item placed cap means you can have quite a bit of creativity in those areas. I’m about 3/4 done designing and tweaking my upstairs area and about 1/2 done with the bottom floor, and I’m at only 86 out of 200 items placed so far (the one with the bar type area is the upstairs taken from a corner, the hottub is taken from the stairs and shows about half the room).

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Vincent Clark

I still think this is a case of people not realizing and/or accepting that resources are not infinite. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t own a house in-game. The quality level of the housing system means certain restrictions have to be applied.

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cursedseishi

Pointless as it is, I’ll continue hoping that they’ll just scrap the whole damn thing and go back to FFXI’s proper working system. The fact that the game requires a massive downtime JUST to put in these new wards shows that the system itself is stressing against it. Congested and player-heavy servers will continue to suffer an utter lack of options whilst low-player servers will have more and more houses simply rotting and going to waste.

And if they want to continue on like this, then you know what? Divest the housing servers from the actual servers. Keep them regional much like how servers are grouped, but ensure that there is a total pool all of them draw from. Then again, Balmung’ll likely spill over and flood the other ‘server’ housing wards.

This current system is just so… so much… gah bad design! Free Companies shouldn’t be competing with the playerbase themselves, housing prices shouldn’t be skewed such that anything below a medium (if you’re lucky) is well out of a players range. And a free company shouldn’t be forced to settle with a small house simply because the availability of large houses is ludicrously low by comparison.

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Coldin Torrence

Unfortunately I was one of the unlucky ones and didn’t manage to get a house once they opened it up completely. I’m still hoping they will add more over time.

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BDJ

I don’t know why they just cant let anyone who wants to buy a house that has the set amount of gil, buy one. If a ward fills up, open a new one. Its all instanced anyways. I don’t see what the big issue is.

Xijit
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Kickstarter Donor
Xijit

Retention: Housing the carrot on a stick that SE is using to keep people in game (AKA subscribed).

Making the Housing system competitive gives emotional weight to having it and puts and Axe over players heads with the threat that they will lose something rare if they quit the game.

… making the bloody expensive is the stick to keep people active and re-grinding away at content they probably finished within the first month of the latest Expansion.

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BDJ

I disagree. I saw the stuff happening with housing and figured I’d never get one. It didn’t dissuade me from playing or not playing the game.

Xijit
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Xijit

Not saying you have to, but the bottom line of the issue is … well … the “Bottom Line” of the company. These games are not made for free, and when you get down to it they are not even made to keep the employees paid; they are made so that investors can turn a profit & everything else from there is incidental.

You asked “why are they making them so artificially rare” and I responded that it was for money. Everything that goes on with this game is for two reasons: to get new people to buy into the game & to keep the people they already have subscribed. Making the houses limited and expensive is a “carrot & the stick” mechanic: it baits players into playing more so that they can grind up enough money to buy one, and then the limited supply gives owning one a sense of accomplishment that will likely keep players emotionally invested (and thus continuously subscribed).

Not saying that is bad or good: it just is what it is & if the game doesn’t make money it will get shut down … on the plus side, it isn’t really a bad thing for everyone who plays because having a high player population.

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BDJ

I think you are still resting waaaaaaaaaay too much on them making money around the fact that housing is rare. The way the housing has worked, I honestly cannot believe that players play just at a random shot to be online in 3 months when more housing is released. It just doesn’t make sense to base anything financial around that.

bereman99
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bereman99

Instanced but basically always loaded, which is an important distinction.

Apartments, FC rooms, and interiors of houses are only loaded when a player enters one, wards are effectively always on (possibly due to the market board being accessible from each ward, though that’s only my best guess).

That particular design decision means they can’t just generate a new instance when one fills.

Bannex
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Bannex

Housing should be a feature that is accessible by everybody who plays the game like mounts.

The way they’ve implemented housing in this game, it shouldn’t even be considered a feature and they’re wasting development resources to band aid a system that frankly sucks.

This game gets far too much credit for doing nothing great.

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BDJ

They do a lot of things great. The lore is second to none. The golden saucer was great. The way they do crafting is great. The raid bosses are extremely fun. You have to give them some credit.

Tizmah
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Tizmah

The lore and story is basically everything typical of Final Fantasy all mixed together. Not saying its bad, but it is a rather been there done that feel.