Yes, I'm a fan of player housing, and if you're one of those unimaginative souls who thinks housing has no place in MMORPGs, well, you're wrong. I've touched on housing here and there, mentioned it in passing, and certainly written a few news articles about it when patch notes have warranted a mention, but The Tattered Notebook has thus far lacked a proper discussion of housing in the world of Norrath.
Turn the page to remedy that fact.
First off, let's get the obvious out of the way up front. Unfortunately the MMORPG powers-that-be have yet to pass a law declaring that housing must be an integral part of every new title. For every EQII, Ultima Online, or Star Wars Galaxies that comes to the table with a novel approach to virtual spaces and non-combat gameplay, there are a hundred Vindictuses (Vindictii?) that slap a chat room on a combat instance and mislabel the one-note wonder an MMO. The conventional dev (and player) wisdom seems to be that housing is an afterthought and simply isn't required for a good game. To this I offer a hearty "bollux" and a few more unprintables that won't manage to slip by our editorial staff.
At the risk of turning this particular column into a lengthy diatribe on virtual worlds vs. games (more on this in an upcoming Soapbox), I'd like to spend a minute talking about MMORPG housing before we check out EQII's particular implementation. In a nutshell, there's no reason not to have housing other than pure laziness. It's been done before, in numerous games that are all nearly a decade old, which means that it's much easier to do with today's tech than it was back then. And yet developers continue to treat it as some sort of red-headed stepchild (which is doubly bizarre to me because redheads are cute as are most kids, regardless of parentage). Anywho, I continually scratch my head at such short-sightedness, as what could possibly be more important than giving your players more options for investing themselves in your game world?
Sure, some people just won't care. These are the folks who speak with a certain amount of derision any time something other than violence/combat is brought up. "Go play the Sims" is a common refrain. "Hello Kitty is that way" is another. The problem with such attitudes is that they take a very narrow look at what makes MMORPGs sustainable over the long-term. Look at the ancient games that are still drawing subscribers to this day. What do all of them have? Housing. Yes, they have other attractions too, but it isn't a coincidence that these worlds manage to keep players around long after technology and the newest version of cool has passed them by. This is in large part due to the fact that they offer many ways for characters to take ownership in the game world (housing being one example) as opposed to simply heading down progression path number 1,354.
Honestly folks, if progression is the only reason you play MMORPGs, here is your game. You don't need to elbow the virtual world enthusiasts out of the way to play it, either, and it's already F2P and designed with your OCD in mind, so have at it. When you want something more, come back to MMORPGs and virtual worlds, provided they haven't been completely dumbed down to the level of lobby shooters by that point.
Anyhow, OK, maybe that was a bit of a rant, but it's an opinion column so what are you going to do.
Getting started with EQII housing
Housing comes in many flavors, depending on the city you call home and the funds at your disposal. New players can pick up the First Time Buyer quest, which leads to a small, cheap apartment that will give you a bit of storage space, access to the game's broker and consignment auction systems, and a couple of rooms to decorate. Larger houses are available in Qeynos, Freeport, Gorowyn, Kelethin, Maj'Dul, Neriak, and New Halas, and these will either have a substantial coin cost (for example, a 50 gold purchase price and a 3 gold weekly upkeep fee) or a coin and status point cost (i.e., 50 gold and 40,000 status points to purchase). Status points are earned by completing certain quests (Heritage, Signature, and others), completing writs, and selling city tokens or status loot to the appropriate NPCs.
Once you've decided on a house and forked over the purchase price, you'll enter your personal instance and gain the ability to start decorating using items in your inventory. Right-click the desired item, and if there is a "place" entry in the resulting context menu (or if the item highlights green on your screen), left-click to drop it in your house. You can also rotate the item using your mouse scroll wheel and resize the item by holding your shift key and using the scroll wheel again. Finally, hold your control key and use the scroll wheel to move the item up or down the game's vertical plane (useful for placing items high up on walls, for example).
Truthfully, I could write for days about EQII's housing; it's just that awesome (and guild halls are a whole 'nother level of incredulity). That said, the best thing you can do is try it for yourself. Regardless of your decorating skills, housing comes in handy for everything from storage, to roleplaying, to giving you a change of pace from leveling, loot-collecting, and dungeoneering. If you need a little decorating inspiration, or if you'd like to see a listing of all the housing options and their associated costs, check out these handy community guides:
- Zam's excellent player housing guide
- Items, info, and ideas at EQ2 Decorators
- The Norrathian Homeshow forum
- The official SOE housing FAQ
Jef Reahard may be an eternal EverQuest II newb, but he writes a weekly column about the game anyway, through the eyes of a Ratonga Wizard (or any one of 3,720 other alts). If it has to do with the huge and ever-expanding world of EQII, it's been jotted down in The Tattered Notebook. Send Ratonga fan mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.