It took me years – literal years – but I landed a personal house in Final Fantasy XIV. Not an apartment, not a room in my guild’s hall; an honest-to-goodness house, on a plot of land, in one of the game’s neighborhoods, surrounded by other claimed plots of land. That distinction is important because there are mechanical differences, mostly related to how much space you have.
It’s a small plot. But it’s my plot. And being a first-time homeowner in Eorzea, I wanted to summarize my whole experience.
We’ll start with the process of getting a house, which has undergone some adjustments in order to try and stop squatters from overtaking entire neighborhoods (hereafter called wards in the game’s vernacular). I’m generalizing here, but the crux of the matter is that players go to the sign outside of a desired plot of land, put in a bid of millions of in-game gil, and then wait for a few days to see if they win the lottery for that plot, which selects a random player’s name from the list of bidders; winners get the land, losers get their deposit back.
This ramped up my stress levels significantly because not only did I find a housing spot that I really liked, I also ended up being the only bidder, even up to hours before the lotto results were scheduled to be determined. I was terrified of being sniped by others and losing my spot, but I got stupendously lucky and was the only bidder, which meant the house was mine.
With a huge sigh of relief and several minutes’ worth of excited shaking, I got to the fun part: decorating. The small lot I have has a meager limit of 20 furniture pieces I could put down on the lawn, but I was still able to assemble what I felt like would be things my character would want in her yard, namely a little garden area, a deck to entertain guests, and a cute little tree with a swinging bench hanging from one of its branches.
As for the interior, that had more space in general – two floors and an item limit of 200 – which meant I had lots of space to play around. My mind was reeling with some possibilities about what to do with the space, but considering I had personalized the outside, I immediately figured that I should put together a similarly personal interior. I finally had an in-game home, so my character deserved to have an actual home herself.
Crafting both spaces was an interesting exercise in maximizing the little space I was allowed. The yard outside didn’t have a lot of ground to it and, the interior was effectively two apartment-sized floors stacked on top of one another. This restriction did help my creativity, however, as I had to carefully block out sections of floor space with walls or furnishings to ensure my layout was comfortable and cozy. This ended up with an open floor layout for the living room and kitchen, while the downstairs became the bed and bath.
My days of decorating would not have come together they way they did without a lot of help. The engine that powers decor placement is pretty limiting at first blush, but players have found ways to effectively break the whole thing and make it do things that were likely not originally intended. One of the primary player resources I used was HGXIV, which is absolutely teeming with guides on how to glitch things. I used a hearty amount of lifting, crane building, and manipulation of height values for furniture pieces to get the results I wanted, and while none of these tricks are technically necessary, following them opened up a whole world of creativity and creative thinking.
As an example, pictured below is the start of my kitchen area, which uses a specific cooktop item as a base to build around, framed with counters and chests that have been spun around and sunk to create a customized counter space and wall decor that couldn’t be achieved by simply placing existing items. Most of my decorations were arranged without glitching, but at the same time, the kitchen, some overhead lighting for the bedroom and bathroom, and a little reading nook would not have worked out quite as I envisioned without resorting to glitching.
To that point, it is a bit sad that I felt forced to go through the hoops I did to get the looks I wanted. Again, this all was optional, but my brain would just not let me have things any other way. It’s a mental wall that I had to scale. When I saw how a pair of couches meshed together to make a nice, fluffy settee, I had to have it in my reading nook. Housing-focused mavens probably understand the issue here.
Furthermore, even though I won a housing plot, I still contend that the housing system in FFXIV is one of the worst in our genre, bar none. The fact that housing space is artificially limited is awful, the lotto system is agonizing (I can’t begin to tell you how many guildmates who have been in the same years-long housing drought as I have been were wailing at their lost bids), and the stopgap solutions of apartments and guild hall rooms is hilariously miserable when compared to the size and sensation of actually having a house.
What’s worse, it doesn’t seem like the devs are able to truly fix the whole mess, simply relying on adding more wards in a desperate attempt to have supply outpace demand. It’s a garbage solution to a garbage situation, and I hope they can find some way to do something more.
Despite these frustrations, however, I am extremely grateful that I have what I have. I also would be remiss if I didn’t point out the help I had gotten along the way, from generous donations of gil to put it all together to helpful tips from friends and guildmates to people even just stopping by to goof off or peek in at my progress. It really felt like an inter-circle communal effort, which is why I rankle at how FFXIV housing is managed. Everyone should be allowed to feel this happy!
Still, the great feelings outweigh the bad, especially since I now get to join in on what feels like a connection to a wider community power line. I’m going to enjoy just idling near a beach. I’m planning on having an in-character open house party with friends and guildies. And I get to join in on the time-honored tradition of sharing pictures of my personal space with copious visual filters applied, as seen in the gallery below.
More than ever, I’m home.