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[URPG Stratics] Publisher Vs. Player – Episode 4: My Kingdom for a House

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In this twenty-nine minute video titled, “Ultimate RPG: Player Housing – Publisher Vs. Player Ep. 4 ” entrepreneual Ultima Online player, Marcus Eikenberry, leads his viewers through a brainstorming session about players being able to claim digital homes for themselves. Mr. Eikenberry is responding to Richard Garriott’s question about what the gamers (that’s you) want from an ultimate role-playing game; specifically, his and Portalarium’s upcoming game, Ultimate RPG. What follows is not a full transcript, but does contain much of the content from the video for the hearing impaired or for those who prefer to read at their own pace. You can also see the first article about offline modes and the second article about Player versus Player modes here, on Stratics.
Markee Dragon:
Hello, everybody. I am Marcus Eikenberry, also known as Markee Dragon in the games. How’d you like that? Mixing it up a little bit! So, this is the show: Publisher Vs. Player, and we are talking about Ultimate RPG from Lord British, also known as Richard Garriott in real life. He is famous because he was the creator of Ultima Online and the whole Ultima series. And there’s so many groundbreaking things about the Ultima series and then Ultima Online that there’s really too much to list. I could really do a whole show just on that. So he has asked a couple of questions of people on the Ultimate RPG fanpage in Facebook which is facebook/UltimateRPG, and that’s where you can find the fanpage.
The thing I want to add on this, is about player housing. Let me tell you all that I played Ultima Online starting in 1997. And Ultima Online, right from the start, had player housing. Maybe you guys don’t know this, but World of Warcraft was originally supposed to have player housing, and they said it would come out in the first major update. And it never happened.
One of the beautiful things in Ultima Online about player housing was ownership. It was community. It allowed you to basically get to know your neighbors. Your neighbors could get to know you. You could show off your personality through your house. You could show off your wealth through your house. You could just do things in safety in your house; you’d lock the front door, nobody could get in. (There were some instances where people could get in, but that’s a whole other story.)
I just want to go over the Lord British Canonized Truth really quickly. And basically, it’s four items as of the moment, and one of them has to do with housing.​
Lord British:
1) URPG will play on mobile (as well as PC’s),
2) URPG will have player owned Real Estate (as openly place-able as possible),
3) URPG will have interactive decorations (most everything that looks operable, should operate),
4) URPG will contain virtues and ethical parables.​
Markee Dragon:
I want to hear from you guys what you want in player housing.
In Ultima Online, I bought a house. My very first house was this little house. It was just a little wooden shack. I had a little house just outside of Britain, and it was as close to being inside of Britain’s territory as possible. In fact, the guard zone came right up to my house. And that was pretty awesome, to say the least.
The player housing afforded several different things. One is: I worked my ass off to be able to afford a house. And this house afforded me to be able to go inside, lock the door, and then to carry about my business of crafting or sorting items, going through loot, stuff like that. It also allowed me a lot of creative expression because I was able to put things in my house. I had an anvil, and a forge, and then I had chests in there that I could put things in — I could store things in there.
Now, there was risk to the housing as well. The risk to it was that: you had a key. People could steal that key. If someone stole your key, they had access to your house. I can tell you that my house did get robbed a few times, and it was disastrous each time. I really like the threat of having my house broken into, but at the same time, I didn’t like the fact that I got completely wiped out a few times.
And one time, especially, when I was using this little house as a storage room for my merchant-center — for my vendors — I had somebody kill me right at the door, and they stole my key and they went inside my house and they opened a gate and a flood of people came in. They were actually ready to do this, and they all worked together, and they all flooded in and they carried in as much as they could back through the gate.
Now, what we did back then, is that we didn’t have all these instant messaging things. The only thing we had was ICQ, and I immediately ICQ’ed all of my friends, and I’m like: “Holy cow! I’m being robbed, help me!” And a whole bunch of friends showed up with dragons and everything. I mean, it was just awesome because they obliterated all the other people, and they saved about half of my stuff, and they guarded my house until I went and got a new key made.
That was a lot of fun; I actually really enjoyed that.
As far as creativity, there’s a whole bunch of things you can do with player housing. One is: it allows someone like me to show off exactly what I am about. It allows me to express myself. And so, at the beginning, I was a craftsman, and I was just making stuff. Later on, I became a merchant, and so I had a whole bunch of vendors in there and I turned it into a store. After that, I became so wealthy in the game that I paved my entire floor with golden checks — all one million gold checks. It was just a display of my wealth that I had so much money I didn’t know what to do with it all. Even after I paved all the floors of my castle, I then started putting columns of them up, and I was just insanely rich. It was disgusting.
(I plan to do that in Guild Wars, just so you know.)
I really love the Ultima Online style of housing and the free form of it, and the risk of it. I think that it should be included in any new game. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to see it.
Then there were some other versions of player housing that I saw in other games. Now, I don’t know if Star Wars Galaxies was one of them; Broken_spoon talked about Star Wars Galaxy, says they got it right. I can’t even remember what — it was like, [Anarchy Online] or something like that? I don’t even remember what game this was. But they did instanced apartments. And they were gray. And they were ugly. Yes, you could place things around, but you couldn’t show it off. Nobody could be walking by through the neighborhood and see the stuff.
I want to be able to show that stuff off. That’s very very important to me. It is an expression of everyone, and it gives ownership, and it allows you to build communities. I’d love to see some stuff like houses being connected together. To where players can be more of a commune. We used to place houses together sometimes in a circle, and block everything off so that the center area was a common area that only our homeowners could get to, and that was really awesome. And I really like the “free-formness” of being able to do that, because what it allowed was for a lot of player innovation and creativity. I don’t know if the games these days can do that.
It reminds me even of Durnik, who was the master at placing houses, and we would see him place houses all over the place. He’d place them places we didn’t think they could go. He’d have a backpack full of books, and he would place books down and raise them up at the right points to be able to actually place the houses down and then he’d just put up these mansions in places we’d never thought they would fit. It was really, really, pretty amazing.
Anyway, what have you guys got to say?
“[Housing] is an expression of everyone, and it gives ownership, and it allows you to build communities.” ~ Markee Dragon​
Think about It:
If communities are a selling point of a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), then it stands to reason seeing a more detailed in-game representation of your preferences and personality can empower you with a voice in that community. Some people want more than a character, and they build estates in Ultima Online, or entire kingdoms in games like Minecraft. Even if you wouldn’t put your time and resources into a virtual house, there’s no question others would.
But consider the goal, not the means. If that level of customized personality is what people are looking for, the question might not be, “How can we bring in player housing?” You can come up with a multitude of other fascinating and exciting ideas if you ask, “How do we give the players this level of displayable customization?” Express your sentiments on our community thread about player housing!
home owners insurance in an MMO maybe?
Markee Dragon:
That’s an interesting idea. I could see that, especially if it’s possible for people to break into your home, steal your stuff. Maybe there could be an insurance claim that’s made. I wouldn’t want my house to be able to broken into while I was away. That would be no fun whatsoever. But I would want: when I am going in and out the door, someone sneak in (a thief). Some sort of risk there. I think that that would be a lot of fun. Maybe there needs to be home alarm systems!
Hey Markee how does Lord British plan to combat the server stress that is sure to come from player housing in a modern mmorpg with a large player base?
Markee Dragon:
That was an issue, and there was the big item reduction that happened in UO, and it was because when you would walk into a neighborhood that had a lot of items in the houses, you could actually get really laggy.
housing needs to be heavily modifiable
Markee Dragon:
I agree and I don’t agree. I agree on the fact: modifiable, also on the fact that creativity with a given set of tools is a lot of fun, too. There’s a lot of people who decorated their house with clothing. They’d stack them to make them pretty neat. One of the ways that that could be combated with the heavy server load, is that maybe you could put items together like that, where you take all the items you stack ’em all up and what-not, and then you use some sort of binding skill to make it into one piece.
The fish tank example that we talked about a couple of videos ago? They used all this cloth to make the fish tank and they’d go catch fish and they’d put them in there and they’d place rocks around it and they made it look like it was a fish tank, and it was really awesome. But it was made up of 250 or 300 pieces, and what if they could bind all that together?
Honestly I think there could’ve been more interaction with trade skills with housing in UO. It would’ve been neat to contract a player carpenter to come out to the site and build it right there as opposed to a simple deed system.
Markee Dragon:
You know, that’s a really good idea, and that could go along with what I was talking about, about a binding-type skill. They could come out and place the wood all together, cut it at the right lengths, and place different things together, and then bind the whole thing together. To make a whole fireplace mantle. To build a fish tank. Or to build whatever. I think that that actually might be a really good idea.
I think should focus on what the rent/.paying taxes sytem will be like. Also have a skill were you can train guard dogs or monsters againts intruders
Markee Dragon:
Oh my God, let me tell you about one of the houses that I had. I had this keep, and I really loved the keep. I had White Wyrms, which were a type of dragon, and I put four of them — one in each corner and we blocked them in. To get near any of the high-value items in the house, you had to be near one of the White Wyrms.
If someone snuck into the house, they would probably catch a fireball from one of these guys and be taken out. It was such a great system. I had a friend who used the Taming skill to bring them in, and they would get them to stand in the corner, and while hidden, we would place boxes around them there and we’d lock down the boxes. And we would then use them as defenses. It was really, really, a lot of fun to watch people come in and get their asses kicked. They’d be dead on the floor! That’s one of the things I’d really like to see with player housing. I’d really like to be able to trap animals. I’d really like to be able to use animals for skills. Fighting a monster like a White Wyrm or a Dragon, your skill would go up just by fighting them, and so what we would do is go into the room and we would combat them, and our skill would go up, but we wouldn’t kill them. That’s one of the fond memories I had, and I’d love to be able to replicate that again.
Hey markee what about being able to borrow against your house to other players so you can get a loan for a mount or something and if you dont pay it they get your house?
Markee Dragon:
I don’t think that home loans is a good idea in the game, but who knows? Maybe.
But having a house should bring something special to you as the player. having each thing in ur home do something special. Your Closest does so you can transmogrif your armor. your bed gives youu 30% more rested XP. making food in your kitchen gives you special buffs.
Markee Dragon:
I really like those ideas. And doing them in your home to give you that advantage or in a guildhome maybe give some other advantages. What if, as a guild, you could be cooks. And let’s say that you get two cooks together and a few of the recipes are available. Get three cooks together, some more recipes. Maybe as many as ten or fifteen cooks together? That if you’re all high enough skill, that you can make very special foods that give buffs.
I don’t think housing will ever be as good as UO until the developers get in in their head that items that are droppable on the ground really does add another layer of immersement.
Newbie Notebook:Dropping items on the ground might sound strange to you. In most games, dropping an item is like throwing an object away. For the Ultima Online interface, you simply dropped things on the floor, but you can consider it more like item placement done by the players.
Markee Dragon:
That was one of the very special things about Ultima Online is that you could drop items on the ground and everything. I think that that could totally fit into the thing where I talk about the binding skill to bind things together and then it becomes one object. And if that could be done, I think that would be a fabulous, fabulous system. I’ve never heard of that being done before; if that happens in the game, you guys have heard it here first!
There’s a lot of ideas I’ve never heard of before. You guys are so awesome, coming up with all of this stuff. Please, do leave your comments in here. I’ll be giving the URLs of these to Lord British himself as well as his staff to take a look at.
Ooo what about being able to customize the music to your own house so other players can hear your custom soundtrack
Markee Dragon:
That’s an interesting idea. I don’t know how they’ll deal with copyright, but maybe you can have musical instruments in your home that you could work hard at writing the music to it and it will play that in the game with that stuff.
I like the idea of maintenance of the house; where a tradesman could easily fix his house with the right materials, and if you are not a tradesman you must pay gold to have a NPC or PC fix it.
Markee Dragon:
Oh, that’s a good idea. That you’d actually have to hire somebody to come around and fix it up. What if they could fix it up without getting into your house, or they could be given a special key, that allows them to go inside to fix up each room without being able to get in to any of your stuff, or allowing anybody else to get into the house?
I think that you guys had a lot of really good suggestions, and I really like the brainstorming that we’ve done tonight, and in fact, maybe in some future videos, I’ll figure out how we can go through a brainstorming session together.
This marks the end of the three-part series of articles for Stratics about Markee Dragon’s Publisher Vs. Player, regarding Ultimate RPG. Your adventure doesn’t have to end here: be sure to sign in and share any additional ideas you’d like to see in Richard Garriott’s new game!

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