The Daily Grind: Isn’t it time to put an end to land rushes in MMORPGs?

    
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The Daily Grind: Isn’t it time to put an end to land rushes in MMORPGs?

When Final Fantasy XIV’s 5.35 patch arrived this week, the hardcore XIV players on the Massively OP team had very mixed reactions. One triumphed in the guild land rush; one did not. I don’t like seeing our writers – or any MMO players -that glum. It burns me up that a game as huge as popular and rich as FFXIV is still making huge unforced errors like letting housing land rushes happen.

And it is an unforced error. As I am fond of arguing, the first land rush I ever saw was in Ultima Online over two decades ago. It was stupid. It was unnecessary. It caused actual in-game wars and ragequits. And over time, the five-person team over at Broadsword learned from the game’s many lessons; the last housing land to open up in the game was set up with a combination auction and lottery that allowed people to bid on the housing plots. Nobody had to get up at the crack of dawn for a land rush, botters and scripters didn’t grab everything before you could blink, poorer players still had a chance at property, and as a bonus, it even worked as a gold sink!

It seems bizarre to me that it’s 2020 and a “big five” MMORPG is not doing what a tiny antique pulled off years ago. Surely Square-Enix has sufficient resources to fix this problem.

Isn’t it time to put an end to land rushes in MMORPGs? What would you prefer studios do when new housing or land or property opens in the game?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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elenie

I also didn’t get a guild house this time around. I don’t understand why the game doesn’t just open up new housing wards when, say, 98% of all plots are occupied on a server (housing wards are already an instance, so I don’t see why they can’t scale them). Every other feature in the game is accessible to everyone, just housing has this extremely odd and tedious mechanic (plus demolition but that’s a whole other story). It’s as if they limited each server to only 10 raids a day, and if you don’t get in, you don’t get to raid.
I would love for Square Enix to do better but tbh I’m not sure they see this as a big issue.

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treehuggerhannah

Honestly I personally would rather just have instanced housing and not have to worry about it, if that’s what it takes to make it accessible to everyone.

I just want a nice little house to decorate. That is all. I don’t need it to be a competition.

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Brazen Bondar

The only land “rush” I experienced was in the various iterations of Landmark. You could eventually find land but it was going to be a ways out from the forge transport spot (was it a forge? I have already forgotten). I thought Glitch had a good solution to instanced housing. Your marker was on the main street. When people clicked it, they were teleported to your instance. In your instance you could place street markers at both ends of your street that could be used to teleport to other instanced streets. It was clever and allowed house hopping as a group activity!

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Anstalt

If the housing is instanced, then you can just spin up loads of instances so everyone can have a piece of land if they want it. Easy fix.

If the housing is non-instanced (my preference), then a land-grab is pretty unavoidable as there will always be prime real estate and players willing to spend/do extreme things to get it. Best way to get around it, imo, is to build a game large enough so that everyone can get some decent land.

Part of what made SWG great was that the player cities could have their own shuttle hubs. Meant it didn’t really matter where on the planet you build your city, once you’ve added your shuttle hub then everyone can get there easily and quickly.

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Toy Clown

I went into the FFXIV landrush with the mindset that if I don’t get a house, that it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The reality was sadly much different and I learned something about myself! So not a total loss.

I scheduled the day off from work so I could participate at 4 am. FFXIV is installed on an SSD and I have a decent speed internet. The previous two days were spent creating /several/ House Rush Plans and parked at a specific spot the night before. I knew success would depend on getting into the queue as fast as possible.

Woke at 320 am. Nerves kept me from sleeping. Since I planned to go right back to sleep after, I didn’t grab caffeine and spent the time downloading the patch, reading last-minute guides that were popping up everywhere to kill time, and figure out which House Rush Plan to use according to responses I saw. Spammed the button that showed server-status starting a minute prior, saw it pop, and logged in! I was elated to get in so fast! Theeen it happened: an error occurred and I was kicked out of the game. I was 983 in queue when I got logged back in and I had that sinking feeling, part of me saying get back in bed. I had to try. Everything was gone with the exception of plots that people had moved from. Those signs had at least a dozen players, if not more, clicking and not understanding why they couldn’t buy them. I saw chat of a guy that was having the time of his life purchasing plots, only to release them, drop them, etc until all the plots were gone. They were enjoying locking players up so they couldn’t get a house.

Afterward, I felt drained by how the event made people go at each other’s throats. From posts on the forums to how people were treating each other in-game and couldn’t sleep after. It took two days to recover from the lack of sleep. I was irritated at how people were treating each other in FFXIV over the houses and the volatile divide between the have’s and have-nots. It added to the small list of things that irritated me about the game and caused a scale to tip: I unsubbed.

The light at the end of the tunnel was getting a free house in ESO earlier this month and the ability to earn another free house for the Witch’s Festival at the end of the month. When I had enough sleep, I resubbed to WoW and played with character creation and with the new leveling experience, then hopped into ESO and happily played with one of the two free houses I’ll be getting this month.

FFXIV and ArcheAge have the worst housing rushes by far, making housing open only to a percentage of the population. Housing is an end-game activity I enjoy and being denied does cause me to wonder why I play. UO’s housing was bad in the first few years when it was difficult to fit anything outside of a small and SWG also has open-world housing placement, but that differed with player-run cities allowing housing placement as well as there being lots of land to place on.

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PanagiotisLial1

Yes unfortunately land rush can bring toxicity and hurt a community’s unity. FFXIV not the right game for me but I hope things get back to normal for you and other players that enjoy this game

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EmberStar

Limited land in a digital world is a stupid idea. Mostly because the worlds simply aren’t big enough. I tried Star Wars Galaxies a while before the official sunset. Tatooine was one giant (and completely abandoned) city. I don’t think I found a single place where there wasn’t at least three player-owned buildings in render distance. Random stormtroopers and jawas were wandering in and out of houses, because they didn’t have anywhere else to spawn.

Ark’s maps are “big” by some game standards, and even then they don’t really deal well with more than a hundred or so people. (Less if any of them are ambitious at building stuff.) The only reason you can’t walk from one side of the map to the other in half an hour is that you’ll probably get eaten. But the entire “huge” map is still smaller than the valley the town nearest me sits in.

That’s aside from all the other issues with “persistent” housing. I know the ideal that people have in their head is impressive, complicated housing that fits the setting and environment. What you mostly GET is “peen towers,” troll buildings designed to block access to stuff, and cubes.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

It’s all dumb anyway, you don’t ‘own’ any of it. If that game goes under, your ‘land’ is gone.

Personally, I got bored of instanced housing(LOTRO)…because nobody but maybe 1 or 2 of your friends comes to visit. So you put all this effort into making a place, and it’s barely enjoyed.

Now games are making it so it ‘adds more storage’…so you have to pay RL money for some trunks that will be put in there to give you more storage. (ESO), and gating it with long load screens.

Nah, I’m good, I just won’t do your housing anymore.

On the game I played for 4+ years, each SERVER counted as a ‘land rush’ because as soon as they opened, people would RUSH in to try and nab the ‘best’ spot they could find. (Usually right next to some resources they’d require) I never participated in that either. I found nice spots regardless.

People are in such a rush nowadays…

I played FFXIV and visited maybe 2 houses. One was a guild thing, and a guy who was trying to recruit me was showing off what they could do, I wasn’t that impressed. It was all ‘for your convenience’ stuff, crammed into one room, but you had to work your behind off to acquire it all in that room. I never bothered to get one, just used the basic ‘inn’ room, and even that I barely touched. And it’s not even that I don’t expend effort. I left owning the Gold Saucer’s expensive mount…

Just a lot of things just are built to waste your time/effort.

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Franklin Adams

You can get the storage boxes in ESO by doing master writs, which you can buy from guild stores if you don’t feel like collecting them yourself. I’ve got all of them and didn’t spend actual money on them ever.

I get not wanting to take the time to do that because it’s not really a short time investment, but it sounds to me like you’re saying they have to be purchased in the cash shop, which isn’t the case at all.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

It’s time to put an end to open world housing, period. I’m not usually one to spurn old MMO tropes, but this (and boss spawn timers) are one of those times where the mechanics don’t mesh with the sign of the times we are in for the genre.

If housing is going to be a core feature of a game, then the devs had better make damn sure that 100% of the playerbase can participate in that feature at will. Otherwise they’ve just opened up the cut for the slow bleed of players that will result.

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Ken from Chicago

“Mmo biz glacially slow to change.”

Stop the (yawn) presses.

“Mmo fails to take the hint from MOP reporters leading to avoidable suffering for players and devs alike.”

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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Arktouros

It’s similar to the argument regarding PvP. Anytime the topic of PvP comes up people argue that there should be instanced PvP with no item loss and factions they can join and be with and yada yada yada. The problem with all that is it dilutes the “value” of the activity in that if you just show up and happen to be on the team that wins then “hooray” you “won.” I can tell you for sure when you woke up at dawn each day, fought hard each day, took on all comers and still won the victory feels much greater and better. It’s more difficult, and thus more scarce and thus much more valuable.

So too here with a land rush you have the same thing. Scarce land means if you secure a big spot that has much more value. If you just pop into a house in ESO it means nothing, congrats you have a mighty credit card or in game gold farming method. I managed to scoop a Villa spot up after days of extreme playing schedules for coins on an Island in ArcheAge and it was amazing feeling securing that site. The pay off was huge especially as a pirate. Securing prime property in games like Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call etc are easily on the highlight reel of MMO memories.

So really it comes down to that mentality. You can have everyone wins, but then winning is meaningless because everyone won or you can have a competition for it and achievements and goals have much greater value and meaning. I should also state that I mean this in the context where it’s a designed or planned feature of the game and not just frustrating technical limitations or otherwise.

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Schmidt.Capela

The “value” is subjective, though. The kind of PvP you value is not just utterly and completely without value for me, but instead a liability that can make an otherwise great game worthless for my enjoyment.

Similarly with housing. I hate the “competing with others” part of scarce housing because it makes me feel bad not only if I “lose” (for obvious reasons) but also if I “win” (because then I’m depriving other players of the housing plot they wanted). So, any housing system where a land rush is possible at all actually has negative value for me.

It’s why I don’t bother with housing that isn’t fully instanced and non-competitive. If there’s any competition for the houses or housing plots even getting the exact plot I wanted would make me feel worse than if the game didn’t have housing at all.

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Arktouros

I find that a generally useless argument to make. We’re talking about a game market of millions of players with a near infinite shades of grey in what they subjectively value. Like, obviously some will be against whatever various topic you want to choose (PvP, housing, PvE, raids, dungeons, end game, whatever really) and some will be for those topics. This isn’t a scenario where because a point of view isn’t true for you then it must be entirely false. We’re not dealing with universal truths here, we’re discussing opinions and viewpoints and maybe even broadening our viewpoints by seeing ones different than our own.

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Schmidt.Capela

We’re talking about a game market of millions of players with a near infinite shades of grey in what they subjectively value.

Exactly. Which is why saying that something “dilutes the value” of an activity is going to be subjective. You seem to relish the competition, high stakes, in-game exclusivity you need to fight for; I, on the other hand, assign a negative value to all of that. For example, completely instanced housing where every single player can have their house of choice at the same time is something that for me greatly increases the value of a game’s housing system, while for you it devaluates it.

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Arktouros

To which again I say pointing out it’s subjective is meaningless. Your own opinion on it being a negative experience is subjective. All opinions are subjective. All you’re doing is saying there are different opinions on the matter than mine, which looking through the rest of the replies here, obviously. Like what is it you exactly think you’re accomplishing by pointing this incredibly obvious thing out?

The article, like all Daily Grind posts, generally ask our opinions on topics. This is my opinion on why land rush mechanics are good and why it’s not time to put an end to land rushes.

Also again, sometimes our experiences and perspectives can be quite limited in their scope. Your takeaway from my post shouldn’t be I’m 100% right and you’re 100% wrong it should be that even though you don’t like land rushes for the various reasons you stated others do like them for the various reasons I stated. Now you can see the picture from a greater viewpoint than the narrow one you started with.

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treehuggerhannah

Re: the subject of the article, I don’t see the point of a game having so-called competition where the main thing being judged is how fast you can log in, or the script you’re using, or whether you have the job flexibility to skip work. What’s the benefit of a “win” in those circumstances?

To use the PVP example- you wouldn’t get fun, competitive PVP by saying “Only the first X number of people who manage to sign up get to participate.” PVP would be about bots and trolls and people who were just lucky, not about skill or dedication.

If you (general you) managed to get a house in this, I’m happy for you. But things that rely on luck or lack of real-world time commitments or running a script don’t count as achievements to me. Achievements are things you earn through skill or time by actually playing the game.