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Some Assembly Required: Issue #2 -- There's no place like home, Kojani style

MJ Guthrie

Good mornin'/day/evenin' everyone and welcome to the second edition of Some Assembly Required. It is my pleasure to be your host this time as we delve into the realms of player creativity and ingenuity. And let me tell you, I am quite excited to take on this challenge; in fact, it is this very aspect of gaming that I love most! Hopefully, you won't mind my skulking around your houses and events as I seek out all that is player-created. On many occasions, Jef and I might very well tag-team as we crash -- I mean attend -- your various functions (although I don't think he is much of a skulker).

For my inaugural SAR column I chose to focus on one of my favorite canvasses of creativity: player housing. Both housing and decorating are things I am quite passionate about; there are few aspects in games that let you express your creativity like housing. Of course this is certainly a broad topic, so to avoid a 30-thousand-word column with enough pictures to bog the site down, I narrowed this showcase to the world of Telon (and the continent of Kojan in particular) in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Luckily, no packs of wild dogs nipped at my heels as I ventured about for this first exhibition of player decorating.

Open the door and enter past the cut for a tour of housing in Kojan.

Gallery: SAR: Vanguard housing, Kojan | 42 Photos

As I flew, sailed, and generally cavorted around the islands of Kojan, I poked about in different houses (promise, I didn't pick any locks -- I only went in doors that were open!) and found a number of examples of players exercising their creativity. Sadly, as I roved about the housing plots I found that some of the houses and guild halls in my memory did not survive the most recent server merge. After a moment of mourning for the loss of some exquisitely decorated places, I then turned my attentions to enjoying seeing new places and creative uses of items (including beds as shelves and a roast pig maid washing the dishes).

Expressing creativity and personal taste through housing in Vanguard starts with choosing which continent to live on -- Kojan, Qalia, or Thestra -- as each can only only use the indigenous style of housing. You can choose from one-story, two-story, or two-story-plus homes, although the prevailing choice is two-story-plus for the additional items and storage chests allowed. Of course, large and small guild halls also exist. Kojan has a decidedly oriental feel to both the land, people, and housing.

Although the houses themselves are continent-specific and each style has their own furniture line, there is no restriction on which furnishings can be put inside the the home once it is built. To decorate, players have the choice of a myriad of different items made by crafters (beds, lighting, dishes... nearly everything within a home) as well as some you can simply buy for a few copper from the housing merchant (such as flowers, books, food, and fireplaces). Veteran rewards also offer a number of furniture selections in different styles. Unfortunately, you cannot place any random item from the world inside -- it resembles a wooden cup when you do.

Now, once you have the items, the next step is to arrange them. This is where the housing in Vanguard shines: When placing items, players have the full use of the x, y, and z axes. Want to split a room in two? No problem, just turn a rug vertical and make a wall. Think that shiny plate would look good on the wall? Flip it and stick it. It isn't just about 90 degree turns either, but minute tilts using yaw, pitch, and roll that can lead to propping a broom against the wall, leaning books on the shelf, or any number of rotations. For these reasons, decorating here really showcases some unique and fun ideas. My deepest regret is not being able to place armors and clothing in the house (unless this was added very recently, but I saw no examples of it in any house I visited).

Now for the really fun part: checking out the houses! Individuality still showed, but there were some common themes throughout many of the buildings. Even though Telon is a fantasy world where functions of daily life are unnecessary, basic necessities were a popular theme when decorating; kitchens and even bathrooms populated many homes. Some buildings were furnished as obvious homes, some were more functional meeting places, and others took on the role of taverns and inns. I even enjoyed the unique feature of partially constructed homes dotting neighborhoods; this really brought a sense of life and realism to the area. While most places were empty when I visited, I could just imagine people sitting around the fire, enjoying some ale, or discussing business.

Our first house to showcase is called Shadows Flame Inn. The proprietor talked about how the original tavern (see picture above) grew from one room into the two story inn with an office, large bar and dining area, and rooms for rent upstairs. The larger inn was always a dream for the designer and the goal was to make a gathering place for folks in-game to hang out and roleplay. After signing the registry in the office (too bad you can't actually do this and record who comes to stay!), there is a rack for your weapons, a stage for performers, a cellar with extra kegs, and a fire to warm yourself both upstairs and downstairs. The dining area sports plenty of seating, the bar has plenty of food, and I am told the cabinet over the bar is actually a refrigeration unit. Chilled elven wine anyone?

When traveling upstairs, there is an extra space for visiting or hosting games of chance (I noted that many of the houses used a rug like this to create extra floor space instead of keeping the two-story entryway) and then a commons area that led to four different rooms: three for guests and one for the owner.

Unfortunately, no one was around when I toured the other homes across Kojan, and many more were inaccessible. I hit every housing isle and tried every door; perhaps some were worried I was trying to sell them the latest in vacuums? However, of those I did get to see, there was plenty of ingenuity. In most houses I found quite the array of food. One place even had a fish frying on the stove -- hopefully the unattended stove didn't cause a fire after I left! I must admit, there was some rumbling in my tummy as my tour continued. There were fish tanks, 3-D "paintings," and giant libraries. While the inn did not sport any "facilities," two homes had a room dedicated to the throne. One even had a roll for the paper -- though I noted it was empty! I made sure to hold it as I continued on.

I quite enjoyed my tour of the Kojan housing districts. Next time, I hope that I can catch more players at home for guided tours and hear the inspiration behind their ideas and layouts.

What about you? Do you have a place you want to show off? No matter the game, send us an invite for a visit or send us pictures highlighting what you have created. We look forward to sharing more of your creativity and ingenuity with everyone!

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!

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