Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 needs real housing

    
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There is no shortage of things to do in Guild Wars 2. Wandering around the world and exploring is a joy, and players are rewarded for doing so. Fractals and raids are generally well received by groups. PvP and WvW could use some love, but both still have a fairly healthy playerbase. We get a nice steady stream of new story content, with each Living World chapter accompanied by a decent sized zone with new achievements to earn, new items to find, and new dailies to chase.

But I feel that there is a big hole in Guild Wars 2’s content: housing. Housing isn’t as much of a staple MMO feature as it used to be, but Guild Wars 2’s world just begs for it, and it would be a huge boon to the game’s large RP community. Last year, Massively OP’s Justin put it at the top of his list of MMOs that desperately need housing, and I agree so strongly that I want to talk about it in more detail.

I know what many people are going to say. “But the home instance is GW2’s housing!” True, in the early personal stories it functions as the player’s “home,” and there are certain things you can add to it: chests, vendors, and gathering nodes galore. You can even adopt a variety of cats that show up around your home instance.

But beyond that, there isn’t much that you can do to make it your own. You get what the designers put there – and nothing else. If it weren’t instanced, it wouldn’t feel any different from any other corner of the city map.

I want a real house in Tyria that I can call my own and do what I want with. With the home instance, you can’t paint the walls, move the furniture, or even turn the lights off and on. I want a place where I can express my creativity, not just a place that is shared by all players of a given race that I should remember to log into every day to click all the things (and usually forget about). I want to turn my Sylvari house into a finely manicured garden. I want my Asura Engineer to have an underground workshop where she builds spy gadgets for the Order of Whispers. I want a volcano-side forge where my Norn can craft and display the finest weapons and armor. I want to build an observatory for my Human to study the gorgeous Elonan skies.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that the foundations of this system are already in the game. The guild hall system, introduced in the Heart of Thorns expansion, includes decoration crafting and placement. That’s great for members of a guild who have been granted this ability, but it’s not something that just anyone can do. And there are a ton of guild hall features that are in fixed positions. I know it’s easier said than done, but it seems like this would be the perfect beginnings of a player housing system.

Not only would it be a fun addition to the game, but it could also add a lot of value to the crafting system. Let’s be honest, aside from making legendaries, the crafting in Guild Wars 2 isn’t the most engaging or useful. Pretty much anyone who bothers to stop at gathering nodes occasionally or breaks down gear using salvage kits has copious amounts of materials in his or her bank, and consequently they are all super cheap on the auction house (except for leather, which is an entirely different problem). It would be perfectly acceptable to add a new crafting skill exclusively for crafting housing decorations, but even better would be to add various furnishing recipes to existing crafts, giving them usefulness beyond simply making gear and making them appealing to a wider variety of players.

Ornate furniture and houses in exotic locales also make great additions to cash shops that housing fans will line up for. Just look up some of the amazing houses players have created in games like Elder Scrolls Online or Final Fantasy XIV and see if you can count the microtransactions. In both of those games you can furnish a perfectly good-looking house without paying another dime, but there are certain items with more appealing aesthetics or extra utility that are cash shop only. Not to mention the fact that you could throw the home instance cash shop unlocks into the new housing system to make those more tempting. For a game that seems to be eternally on the lookout for new ways to increase incomes, this could be a big new revenue stream that makes players get excited instead of rolling their eyes.

To some, housing may sound like pointless fluff that distracts developers from the real meat of the game. But for others, housing is the meat of the game. Most of the players that I knew that stuck around WildStar until the bitter end weren’t the hardcore raid and PvP types the game marketed itself towards – they were the people who loved collecting furnishings and spending hours placing them just so. Owning and decorating a house in a game gives players a sense of belonging to the world. It anchors them to the game. A player who has invested a lot of time and gold into a house is, in my experience, a much more loyal player than one who has invested the same amount of time and gold into raid gear.

Will Guild Wars 2 ever add player housing? I would love to see it, but I’m sure it would be a lot of work. The furnishing system present in guild halls is fairly rudimentary and unintuitive, and I’m sure there would be performance issues if every player in the game got to use it in his or her own private instance at the same time. Additionally, making a bunch of new assets for players to put in a house and testing them in a wide variety of scenarios would no doubt be a massive undertaking. As such, I’m not sure we’ll be seeing true housing in Guild Wars 2 any time soon.

But it would be a great addition to a game that’s already a pretty complete package, and I think that the possibility for cash shop sales and the added value for players would make it well worth ArenaNet’s time.

Flameseeker Chronicles is one of Massively OP’s longest-running columns, covering the Guild Wars franchise since before there was a Guild Wars 2. Now penned by Tina Lauro and Colin Henry, it arrives on Tuesdays to report everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see explored, drop ’em a comment!
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Tiresias

I remember reading an article — I want to say that it was on the old Massively site — that dove into housing and came to the conclusion that it is not a good investment of developer time. That’s because most players simply ignore the system altogether unless it has tangible gameplay benefits and even then most of the housing will be “checkbox rooms” filled with items that give the best buffs and nothing else.

In other words, while there are housing fanatics that will go out of their way to create gorgeous works of art in digital interior designing form, most MMO players just can’t be bothered.

Guild Wars 2 feels like an especially bad vector for housing, as you spend so little time in the cities and have even fewer reasons to go anywhere other than the Auction House and the Bank. It’s not like Black Desert or Final Fantasy 11 where gameplay mechanics are based around the housing system.

I really prefer that Guild Wars 2 focus their resources on developing other aspects of the game rather than housing, to be honest. More zones, more dungeons, maybe even a new class in the next expansion. They put a lot of efforts into mounts and created what might be the most interesting mount system in any MMO at the moment.

Actually, if you want to create something truly new for GW2, I’d like to see hirelings return. It was a great concept in GW1, and while I don’t need a full party of computer-controlled lackeys, I’d like to have at least one person along for the ride, SWTOR-style — personality and all. Skip the romance options, though.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

I think you just hit the key for the future of the MMO genre. Far too much time and resources are wasted on creating story and end game content for MMOs when it has been proven over time that there is no cadence fast enough to keep up with demand, and it doesn’t help with retention in the long term.

The future of the genre is simply beautiful scenery to explore when picking a site for your home, and the decorating thereof. Crafting can then take a vital place in the game as materials for your home would require the gathering of raw materials and recipes to make whatever it is you want. No need for questing, XP grinding, or raiding any more.

Don’t know if it would be any cheaper than those interior designer programs you can get, but I guess if you are not inclined to be a whale, then you can get a pretty good bang for your buck.

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MassivelyMacD

“Fractals and raids are generally well received by groups.”

Maybe because only those who love such content are left over?

My guild disintegrated over the introduction of raids.

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Why, though? It’s not as though some other content was removed and replaced with raids.

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MassivelyMacD

Because in order to do raids, some where raiding and raiding only. So for the guild activities like our regular WvW group and the guild missions, we lost our critical mass and from there on it all went into arguments and stuff. Which in the end lead to practically everybody except the raiders quit the game and not return.
I didn’t want to look for yet another guild so I hung around a little bit more before even I lost interest. It seemed to me that Arena Net had abandoned development of everything I loved when GW2 came out and focused on things I didn’t care or even didn’t like.
In particular I liked:
– servers and server communities in pve
– exploring the open world
– wvw
– living story season 1 with such possibilities as destroying lions arc and rebuilding it; permanent changes you had to experience in time; great open world events; I still like this way more than expansions or the shallow things they now call living story which basically is small permanent maps which are superfluent outside of the living story episode combined with awful story instances.

All of these have crumbled to dust over time.
When you see that it is time to bid farewell as there is no use in complaining. It was a great time, now it is over. Don’t look back in anger.

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Anton Mochalin

For me as a GW2 player housing is lowest priority and if it takes even a single ArenaNet’s dollar or man-hour from working on other aspects of the game I wouldn’t like it.

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Nate Woodard

In all honestly, I’d rather them work on things that need their attention. sPVP and WvW. Revamp on talents and skills. New Content. It’s always nice to change it up. People like change and I think that’s one of the main reasons that Battle for Azeroth, to choose my words carefully, has been received so poorly. I keep hearing popular WoW Youtubers say that “WoW needs a win.” Aaaanyway, sorry to sort of derail the topic. This all of course is my two cents for what it’s worth, but to recap PVP, WVW, New Continent and content therein. Yeah, that’s about it. Bruno reminded me of the revamp on talents and skills. I don’t like the current iteration at all. Anyhow, that’s officially it. xD

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Toy Clown

They released a statement prior to release that there would be housing, just not at lauch. After the game’s release, in the first year, they released another statement saying that the home instances would be the extent of housing added and we’d see more features for it down the road.

That was such a huge turn-off for me. I love my housing and easily count it as an end-game activity between decorating and RP reasons.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

Guild Wars 2 needs real housing

Absolutely.

Fractals and raids are generally well received by groups.

Dunno who you’re listening to but GW2’s Fractals are a very poor attempt at instanced small group content. It’s end-game only. They’re too short. It’s tiered and nobody seriously plays anything but tier 4. Better have a full set of Ascended Gear and some very expensive agony resistance infusions. Anet wants very badly for people to believe that RNG mechanics make the limited number of them interesting. Spoiler Alert: Most people know it’s lazy design.

They have interesting small group content (Dungeons) that were abandoned (the excuse was spaghetti code) and are showing the neglect.

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Dragon Whimsy

I do actually think we’ll get player housing. They keep circling around it. First with the home instance, then with guild halls, and finally with Sun’s Refuge. It is also the biggest money maker they could add to the gem store now that we already have mount skins. And what else could make as much money that they could center the Mastery system around and form the basis of LW5 or the next expansion?

I would not be surprised if it’s the next big feature.

And while some might be against that idea, it’s because they’re thinking of other MMO housing systems which don’t appeal to them. But look at what ANet did with mounts?

For a large feature like player housing there is no doubt they would be just as innovative.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Instanced housing is a put off for me. It’s nice to feel like you own something that anyone passing by can see. Gardens to tend, husbandry, being able to walk into your house with no load times. Open world land plots or instanced housing districts are my type of housing. Unfortunately, not something I see GW2 providing.

RIP Archeage Alpha. You are sorely missed.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

In my experience, non-instanced housing is an utter disaster.

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h4

I’m reminded of a different game that got covered on here some time ago, doing non-instanced housing by selling plots of land for cash. I’ll definitely take instanced housing over that.

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McGuffn

archeage and ff14 had awful blowups over this.

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Bruno Brito

SWG?

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PanagiotisLial1

There are a lot of things that do not click with me on GW2 and a few things I like a lot about it. One of my major concerns is also the direction they had chosen on classes many of them less fun than they could be, but housing also is something vital. To be honest to you if they got great housing and start slowly improving the rest I would give it a fair second chance

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How would you recommend improving some of the classes?

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PanagiotisLial1

For example I played an engineer. There is like mainly a couple cookie cutter builds and all rest skills do not matter. The number one thing for every class is to have an identity that makes it different that the rest of the pack and the second thing is to be possible all skills to potentially matter. To be fair its not just a GW2 problem. Overall I dont find the game bad, I just wish they could improve that and have some housing. I can even overlook the Charr limitations on picking gears for better looks.