Wednesday 6 March 2013

Home is where the hearth is

Tesh's article Private Islands reminded me that we still have no housing in Azeroth, and the Sunsong Ranch is a poor substitute. His suggestion is excellent: Outland, that abandoned strange world through the Dark Portal, is full of islands floating in the air off the main coast. How about generating millions of these (procedurally is fine) and letting adventurers build their homes or castles here?

I don't think it will happen. I think Blizzard want to have control over the aesthetics of the open world, and don't trust us not to build giant penises on our islands. They would be right, there. I think the Sunsong Ranch shows the direction in which Blizzard would take private housing, if they ever chose to implement it: a privately instanced area in which you may make some decisions about what to put where, from a limited range of options.

All the same, it would be nice if the building blocks were there to allow us to express our creativity, such as it is, in our privately instanced areas. Wouldn't it be great if, Minecraft-like, we could build a house to our own design out at the back of the ranch? In Minecraft, of course, many people have built giant penises in their private world, but many more have built homes and structures of real beauty. Moreover, there's something satisfying about creating your own home, and putting your stamp upon it. Making a place in the world your home, even if it's instanced.

But once you've built your home, what can you do with it? Well, you could add useful work-rooms: a forge, a smithy, a mill (for automatically milling herbs into pigments), an alchemy lab, and so on. You could add display cabinets where you can display loot that brings back fond memories: Omokk's head, for instance, or the Gordok Ogre Suit.

 Or you might create a beautiful home to relax in and admire. And what if you'd like to show off your home? In Minecraft, you can invite others to your private world, by opening your server to others you invite. Wouldn't it be cool if you could do the same with your instanced home in Azeroth? How about if you could? How about if you could open a portal and take your party into your instance? Or, say, there was a portal stone inside your home that you could use to summon party members?

At the moment, your hearthstone takes you to an inn of your choosing. Soon you'll be able to hearth to your instance of the Sunsong Ranch. But wouldn't it be great if you could create hearthstones, or portal stones, that you could give to other adventurers, so they could visit your home, even when you aren't online?

Once you start thinking along these lines, there are other things to consider. Each such hearthstone has to be uniquely linked to your instanced home, and be distinguishable, so that for instance I can distinguish between a hearthstone that takes me to John's house and a hearthstone that takes me to Mary's (you might call them "invitations" rather than "hearthstones").

And how about if I could put them on the auction house? Maybe my work of art is so beautiful or thought-provoking or fun that people will pay me to visit, just as they pay to visit an art gallery or a museum. Now I have a new career: artist! And I must keep developing my collection to attract repeat visitors, opening new wings to house the new pieces of art. Or it could be a funfair I built, or a puzzle, or a pleasure garden where people can relax together and shoot the breeze.

What would you build?

I'm so enthused about this that just in case Blizzard like the idea, but are wary of using an idea that I might later claim ownership of, I hereby give up my rights to any and all ideas in this article and permit anyone freely to make full use of any or all of them, either as they are or in any form of adaptation. Just make it happen, please!


  1. It's that "artist" mentality that really makes the Minecraft community tick, I think. Make cool stuff and share it. That's the heart of DeviantArt, too. It's a healthy impulse to leverage. I'm honestly baffled when Blizzard just dismisses it.

  2. Very nice article with some great ideas. Housing in WoW and specifically the chance to craft items and to place trophies from iconic quests and dungeons would be the No1 feature to get me back into playing WoW longer-term.

    So far only EQ2 has this how I like it but coming to such an old game as a newbie isn't easy.

    I do wonder if Blizzard's dev culture is just against such things, which is a real shame because the rich game world could easily feed into some amazing housing instance locales and some wonderful housing items!

  3. I agree, Tesh. The creative, artistic impulse is a large part of Minecraft's success, and it woukd be a pity to ignore it in WoW.

    But I think, gamingsf, that you've put your finger on the reason: the dev culture in Blizzard is against it. I suspect they're wary of giving up control of any part of the environment.