So what's in store for denizens of Gotham and Metropolis? Let's start with personal instances that are accessed from realistic points within the cities, functions that stretch to accommodate different levels of creativity and decorating savvy, and a unique dueling system that will be unlike anything players (or their furniture!) have seen before. Players can even get rewards and achievements for collecting items and decorating their homes. Sounds intriguing, no?
Now, not every single manhole cover or rooftop will have access to a lair, but there will be a good variety of choices in different parts of each town, so players can actually place their lair entrances close to locales of their favorite gameplay. Once your entrance is selected, that remains your entrance. Exits, on the other hand, are randomly generated in a general area to prevent people from camping it.
Sounds so good, you want to get your hands on one, right? The good news is that any and every player can have access to a form of the player housing in DCUO, although not every player can have a lair. Players without the Home Turf DLC and free players will have access only to a hideout, which will be a much more restricted form of housing. Hideouts are also ineligible to participate in the in-house dueling. They can, however, be decorated.
Want a penthouse but don't want to leave your lair? That's OK too! According to Jens, players will be able to own and decorate multiple lairs, so you can have a place to kick back and prop your feet up all over both cities. But remember, you do have to maintain and upkeep each lair.
When first decorating a lair, players will be restricted on not only how many items (a decent number I am assured, and "way more than five!"), but on where things are placed. Wall items will go on certain spots on the wall and floor items on the floor, reminiscent of Lord of the Rings Online housing's "hooks." The difference is that you will have a little bit of wiggle room as to where the item can be placed. At first I was disappointed; I personally hate the restrictions and love to see the expression of player creativity. But as Jens explained the reasoning behind this move, it made sense to me in relation to this game. He also explained how this feature can open up into more free-form decorating.
The reasons for this are two-fold. One, as we talked Jens emphasized -- and I wholeheartedly agreed -- how important it is for people to not be yanked unwillingly out of the immersion of the game world. He noted how this was especially important with an established license, like DC. Think about it: Especially if you are a newer player or one very passionate about the license, coming across something completely foreign to the universe leaves a very lasting negative impression. People who want to be in the DC Universe want to be in it, not looking at some psychedelic clown in a 20-color neon costume walking down the streets of Gotham. That same consideration was put into the housing.
Yes, lairs are personal spaces and can be decorated by the player, but thanks to the unique in-house dueling system (more on that in a bit), other players can be brought right into your home. What the dev team did not want was for folks to be brought into an environment ready for the experience only to find junk haphazardly piled in a corner. Instead of a fun experience, players would have their immersion forcibly broken.
The second reason to start with limited decorating freedom was to give players who are new to housing or simply uninterested in spending oodles of time decorating the opportunity to have a nice looking place.
But that is all when you start out! The idea is to have the game your way, and having housing decorating on rails would be a huge turn off to a number of fans. So Jens explained that after a player has decorated to a certain point and experienced the housing system, s/he will unlock the ability to free-form decorate. The idea is to show people what is possible, to know what the potential is. "We want people to see it once before they decide they don't care about it," said Jens. "Players have to cross the threshold to show that they understand how that system works."
What about placing along the various axes, changing pitch and roll, or altering the size of an item? Currently those actions are not possible; you can only place, move, and rotate. Of course, players need to keep in mind that the decorating system had to be used on a console as well as a PC, so controls needed to be possible on a controller. But scaling and such is definitely a future consideration.
Housing props will drop in the game through content. Some items are rare; some are not. If you don't find that perfect piece you are looking for, don't despair! There's a chance someone else did and you can buy it. Jens stated:
"We decided to make all of the items tradeable, so there is a secondary market. If you've already got your woolly mammoth and you don't want two of them flanking your front door, you only want the one, you can go ahead and sell one the auction house or trade it to a player directly."You can use funds you earn from selling your extra stuff to buy what you want yourself! Really lucky folks who get the rarest drops could potentially earn quite a fortune.
But that's not even the most interesting part! While players are fighting, their moves and actions will physically affect the contents of the house. Say if you throw your opponent into a fishtank, you can shatter and destroy it. Now before you hyperventilate at the thought of losing some valuable rare decoration, know that after the battle concludes all items will repopulate in pristine condition right where you placed them.
Additionally, during the duels players will be treated to short vignettes showing that epic moment of victory for successful attacks. For instance, you can see that powerful move that threw your opponent through the fishtank and watch him pick himself up.
For now, this feature is only available for a 1v1 duel. However, plans for the future include allowing friends to fight alongside you as well as PvE fights right within the walls of your own home.
Expected to launch early next year, Home Turf will be a very exciting addition to DC Universe Online. We will keep you informed on information as it becomes available. And you can rest assured that Some Assembly Required will provide you with a hands-on impressions as soon as they let me in to poke around!
Every two weeks, Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie take a break from their themepark day jobs to delve into the world of player-generated content. Comments, suggestions, and coverage ideas are welcome, and Some Assembly Required is always looking for players who'd like to show off their MMO creativity. Contact us!