The Tattered Notebook: Jeremy and I go house-hunting

As I write this, EverQuest II's Game Update 61, The War of Zek, is about to hit live servers. There are several exciting changes on the way, including the itemization revamp, two new scalable dungeons for levels 60-90, a new AA tree for tradeskillers, an AA revamp, and a new questline that gives the Fae and Arasai the ability to fly. For those at the level cap, there is a new dungeon and raid zone that continues the overarching storyline, and all stats are now uncapped. Those who like questing can find new content in Eastern Wastes. And everyone can now record her adventures on YouTube with a new Video Capture system.

There's a plethora of new content that will appeal to both new and veteran gamers, but of all the additions, the one that's most intriguing is the new house rating system. Players will now be able to design, showcase, and rank each other's homes. The housing directory will also make it a lot easier to find and visit players' homes, something that was increasingly difficult to do because of all the different types of homes -- and addresses.

As it so happens, Massively's Jeremy Stratton, who pens the Runes of Magic column Lost Pages of Taborea, has been spending quite a bit of time over in EQII's Norrath and fell in love with the housing system. This week's Tattered Notebook features Jeremy's impressions of housing in EQII, and then he and I present a few tips for those who are interested in showcasing homes through the new system.

Jeremy's thoughts:

I've gone back to EverQuest II Extended with gusto. My Half-Elf Warlock is only 27, but I've seen and learned a lot. More recently, I've been exploring housing for the first time. It's very daunting the first time you start decorating. There are just so many items, and those items can be rotated, tilted, shrunk or enlarged. Not only can you do a lot with the items provided, but you can creatively combine or manipulate items to become new items. It's really a test of imagination.

After randomly viewing other's houses, I started to piece together a strategy.
  • View houses in-game and on the forum
  • Browse items on websites while checking the broker
  • Just start randomly adding items
View houses in-game and on the forum

I literally started learning what was in the game by seeing it for the first time in other players' houses. In some cases, I had some EQII veteran friends help me identify objects, but I spent a lot of time visiting homes that provided addresses. You can click on any item in a home to get a name and description.

On both the regular and Extended forums, you'll find a Homeshow thread. That's where you can see pictures and possibly get addresses to see the homes in person.

Browse items on websites while checking the broker

I keep my game in window-mode to tab-out to Everseek. Everseek is a great repository of EQII furniture. Type in the name of what you want to see, and Everseek returns with a picture of the object. I've found nearly everything I've looked for so far. There were a few items it came up empty-handed on, though. There are also other databases you can search through.

It's great to have the broker window open in the game while browsing Everseek. If you know you want to look at different chairs, for instance, you can just type "chair" into the broker to get a list of names. Of course, you can do this in Everseek, but I found that sometimes an object that really is there won't appear unless the spelling is exact. There's also slight variations on the name of similar items, such as "bookshelves" and "bookcases."

Just start randomly adding items

By now, you may have come up with at least an idea. I know that I want some kind of library. Will it fill a whole room? Half? The details don't concern me too much at this point because I'm still rifling through items, but it is a starting point. Maybe you have a detailed plan or no plan at all. No matter. From the items you've seen, pick out some -- or all -- that you like and start placing them into your home. After viewing a particular interesting house, I decided to take inspiration from it and try a room divider. So far, I think I'm going to go with the default walls, ceiling, and floors. I may change my mind, but that's part of the creative process. I've lined up a handful of interesting objects to see how they look together and in the room.

Take crafting as a tradeskill

I've added this as a last, unofficial, recommendation. I didn't want to make this a must-have. You can get your hands on any item without the need to take carpentry, but carpentry allows you to make a lot of the items as well. If you are really into housing and furniture, I'd suggest taking it. It could save you some coin

Conclusion

You may already have a good idea of what you want, but don't let that keep you from exploring what else could be out there. There are many items in EQII, and those items can be used in many ways. This process won't be all fun, either. There are times when I'm sifting through dozens of items. It will feel like you're meticulously combing through a thick product catalogue. However, by doing this you'll quickly learn what's available, which will help you find just the right style or look you want.

A few additional tips from Karen:

Find a vision

No, not Vision™ but rather some sort of theme or concept that you aim for with your design. Maybe your home has a certain look, such as an Asian dojo, mountain retreat, or Halfling hideaway. Maybe it's designed around your favorite Norrathian holiday, such as Frostfell or Erollisi day. Maybe your home has a particular function, such as a tavern, natural grotto, spa parlor, or library. Or you can even go outside the box and let the items pick your path, like the "Fire and Ice"-themed room that my guildmate Mirjana designed in our guildhall. If you're looking for some advice on how to get some fairly easy yet unique items, be sure to look back at my recent column on vanity items.

You don't have to use it all

There's a tendency to feel that every house item you earn must be placed in your home. But don't try to cram too much into your house. Some of the most impressive homes are done by designers who show restraint in their conception and design. Yes, that adorable bear plushy pet is super cute, but does it really fit with your war-themed abode? Also, don't fall into the trap of shoving so much in your home that you end up taking for granted the beauty of the home itself. Good designers strike a balance and design around the spaces and architecture of each unique home.

Click it!

Jeremy's suggestion of visiting homes is a great one because oftentimes screenshots don't do these amazing homes justice. But when you're there, keep in mind that these homes also have lots of useful, functional items that provide buffs, display items for sale, tell a tale, and even turn you into bizarre creatures. Certain house items given out during live events and holidays grant some nice short-term buffs, such as the fountain and staff in the picture above. Other items, such as the Bristlebane Day crate, dole out silly illusions to the unsuspecting passer-by. There are vendor items that allow players to put up goods for sale. You can purchase those goods on the auction house, but if you visit the player's house and buy directly from the crates, you can save yourself the cost of the commission. And probably the coolest of all are the books that allow you to write, edit, and display your stories, guides, and tall tales.

Everything in its place

If you're new to decorating, keep in mind that you can shrink and enlarge items, rotate them around, raise and lower them, and pretty much place them anywhere you'd like. Those who are serious will definitely want to use the layout editor and perhaps even take advantage of the weekly tutorial that is now offered every Thursday on the test server.

The housing bust has definitely not affected EverQuest II. There are now more choices than ever to hang your hat, and you can even own more than one house at once. In addition, there are ways to alter the floor plans of your home (or even construct brand-new ones if you are clever enough to get outside!). There are lots of placeable walls, columns, and tiles, ranging from marble to red tile to even hedges. But if you're just starting out in a basic home, don't worry -- you can still right click on the walls, floors, and ceiling, and for a nominal fee, you can choose from several different wood options by right-clicking on which area you want to change.

But at the end of the day, what matters most is that you design your home in a way that makes you comfortable when you retire there after a hard day of adventuring. Thanks to Jeremy for some valuable advice, and happy decorating!

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to karen@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.