The Daily Grind: How would you solve Final Fantasy XIV’s housing problem?

    
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I bought my very first open-world house in an MMORPG as a teenager in 1997. A couple of friends and I decided to pool our gold and buy a two-story wood-and-plaster home in Ultima Online and plopped it in a clearing just outside of Britain, in what was at the time an exceptionally awesome site. A few weeks later, one of those friends lost the key to a ganker, and our house was looted clean and made functionally worthless as there was no way to change the locks at the time.

Let’s just say that many lessons were learned in those first attempts at MMO housing; for example, when we upgraded to a small keep a month later, we didn’t give that guy a key. But MMO devs were out there learning lessons too. Just in a couple of years in the late ’90s, we saw a huge revolution in housing development by the folks on the OSI team; every inevitable technical and social problem that cropped up, the devs had to try to solve. Keys. Locks. Size. Location. Storage. Travel. Logging. Hacks. Burglary. Zoning. Purpose. Decoration. Ownership. Security. Decay. Vendors. Events. Control. Density. Floors. Roofs. Unsightliness. Urban sprawl. Demolition. Looting. Moving. Placement. And above all else… space in the world.

And to this day, the biggest problem facing any open-world MMO housing system is making sure there is enough space for housing to actually serve the players who want it. There are ways to do it. Instancing is one. Having an absurdly massive gameworld is another. But whatever you do, you have to solve it. So when major games also demonstrate they’ve failed to learn a 25-year-old lesson, it makes me want to smash my keyboard in frustration.

This brings me to the Final Fantasy XIV situation that’s been simmering all week – and the subject of today’s Daily Grind. MOP’s Eliot has already gone into great detail about the longstanding problems with FFXIV’s housing situation, how it got that way, and why it’s probably a serious technical challenge else Square-Enix would’ve fixed it properly already and saved itself all the backlash. I don’t need to relitigate that here.

What I want to know is what you think Square-Enix should do about it. Is instancing the answer? Is a technical do-over essential? How would you solve Final Fantasy XIV’s housing problem?

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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