Here is a visit to The Goblet, outside of Limsa Lominsa. You visit any of the residential areas with a quest at level 5 called “Where the Heart Is”
Currently, player housing in FFXIV is a “Fixed” resource. This is odd, since nothing that is virtual need be limited. In FFXIV, as you enter a residential area, you are presented with a panel with a number of “Wards”, each the same with the same layout and same houses. These are instances of the Ward and constitute the fixed resource. It also in some sense breaks the immersion experience of visiting housing, since one is aware of the fixed and overlapping nature of the housing by seeing this panel.
Virtual Housing need not be a fixed resource of course. Let’s compare what other games do with similar concepts:
- World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor expansion introduced “Garrisons”. Garrisons are instances of player housing, but there is only one plot for each faction: Horde or Alliance. So as you, as a player, enter the zone, and complete the quests that create the the Garrison, you create an instance. As you move in and out of your Garrison, it becomes the instance that you have created. The number of Garrison plots is unlimited, one for each player that has one.
- Wildstar has player housing as well. In this case there are two styles of plots based on your faction, and Capital City. But there is only one style of plot, one instance type, if you like, for each faction. So there is no fiction of a neighborhood. In a sense Wildstar housing is like Wow Garrisons in that regard. As you add more things to your plot, one of things you add is the house type, and there are several house sizes you can put on the plot.
- Guild Wars 2 has Guild Halls which are like player housing except that they are acquired and maintained by a Guild [Free Company in FFXIV] rather than a single player. GW2 has no player housing that I’m aware of at this time. Guild Halls are an Unlimited Resource in GW2.
Currently in FFXIV
To summarize player housing currently in FFXIV:
- Each residential area has a number of houses laid out in a neighborhood. Scattered through the neighborhood are three types of houses.
- Upon entering a house of a given type, you are presented with an instance of that type. There is no view of the outside from the instance, so no view need change based on the plot location in the neighborhood.
- There are a limited number of plots in the game. Each of the four housing areas contains a number of “Wards” each of which contain a fixed number of houses. So oddly, these constitute a “scarce virtual resource”.
- Members of a Free Company can acquire a Private Chamber, which is a private instance room in the Free Company Residence, which is just another house that is acquired by a Free Company rather than a single player.
For FFXIV to fix player housing to not be a fixed resource, it could operate in the following way. Note that this change would not change anything about the house instances, or furnishings themselves. Those are all instances and are not scarce in anyway. It is only the style of navigation to get to a housing plot that makes Housing a limited resource in FFXIV.
The new non-limited scheme would work as follows:
- As you enter a housing neighborhood, you see it before you. There is no menu to choose an instance, or ward, of the neighborhood. There appears to be only one copy of each of the four housing zones – including the most recent one added for Stormblood. Houses are in fact just a fiction at this point. Each house has a front door that is a portal to an instance which has not been decided as yet. This differs from the current design where the instances have been decided based on which ward and plot you have visited.
- As you wander around the neighborhood in the new design, you might see other players. Unlike the current design which is apparently private, there is no reason to make this zone Private to one visiting player.
- As you approach a house and trigger the front door portal, the system selects an appropriate instance of that house to lead you into. It may be any of the houses of that style – there are only 3 private and 3 Company styles.
- The system then picks a house instance owned by a player that is not marked “Private” and is not completely empty or completely full. Other than that, it does not matter which house is selected from those that are active. The idea is to show a populated house rather than just an empty one to show the visitor what is possible for their house. Of course, if there are no houses active in the game, an empty one is shown.
- When you decide to buy the house on that plot, you walk outside again, and click the house sign or whatever UI option is decided to perform the purchase. At this point you are given an empty instance of the house type on that very same plot, and then you use the portal to create and enter an instance of your house. Of course, you were there just a moment ago in a house that was populated, but now it’s your house and it’s empty. A fresh instance was created for you.
- There after, when you visit that plot you will enter your house.
- If a party of folks visit player housing and attempt to enter a house, a decision needs to be made what to do. I’m not yet clear what FFXIV does currently. One might allow the party members to visit the party leaders house at this point. But of course the other party members must not be permitted to modify the house contents. Apparently this problem has been solved for Free Company residences, since presumably all members can visit but only Company officers can modify the Residence. I see no reason to change whatever rules are in place in the new design.
Voila. Unlimited player housing with no Navigation Panel at the entrance to the neighborhood.
Unless, for some reason, FFXIV has decided to make a limited “Market” in homes, this is a better design. Also, since housing is currently a limited resource, it is subject to scamming as outlined here. This is similar to the kind of scamming which occurred in Second Life, again due to the limited nature of a virtual resource. Nothing in Second Life is instanced, as far as I know. At least from the several years that I played it long ago.
Currently Transfers are a Problem
Another problem with the FFXIV limited housing design has to do with Transfers between worlds. Now the rules require you to completely remove your housing before transfer. Of course you do. What if your house used the same plot where someone had a plot in the new world? Disaster.
But with the “Unlimited” virtual design above, world transfers could move your house and all furnishings without problems since there can be an unlimited number of virtual houses using the same plot.
Of course the real problem is that there are “Worlds” in the first place. The previous post dealt with how to fix that.
FFXIV should change the design of how housing works. Nobody’s houses or plots would change. They would only notice that the navigation panel no longer appeared, and scams would disappear since there is no longer a limited resource to be exploited.