Tuesday, December 08, 2009

home sweet home

Almost without exception, when a person walks into a home for the first time, that person will deliberately look around at the furnishings and decorations. The same can't be said for businesses, schools, etc.

A great but uncommon feature in RPGs is a place the player can call home and fill with stuff from his or her adventures. From Everquest 2 to Oblivion to The Sims games, player homes have been offered in many forms but always to great appeal. Gamers like to be able to share their personalities and experiences with in-game visuals.

The Sims games are rare in that player-created content is a cornerstone that enables endless variety. Most games aren't open to that, so I'll instead focus on Oblivion as an example.

Oblivion allows me to own multiple homes simultaneously in different cities. Those homes vary greatly in architecture and size. I prefer to focus on just one place, a castle I got through DLC (Bloodhorn Castle). I can't buy new wall textures or furnishings, like in EQ2. But that's alright, because the beauty of Oblivion's system is that it allows me to bring back items I find in my adventures and place them where I like. That includes weapons and armors, gems and jewels, clothes, quest objects, tableware, and even food.

So, for example, in one display case I keep all the gemstones I find. In another I keep jewelry I've won and stolen (my character's a thief). In yet another, I have the decorative breastplate and shield of the castle's former owner.

Every wall has a small nook, and in these nooks I place silver, pewter, and decorative urns. In the corners, there are helms and shields from the different enemies I've slain. On racks are various weapons and shields from quests and merchants.

The beauty of this is that it is truly my home. It reflects not only my preferences and aesthetics, but my experiences and desired memories as well.

Homes reflect their owners. They provide subjects for friends and strangers alike to discuss. And they provide owners with comfort and tools for reflection. In a game, that means players socializing and looking back to remind themselves of all the experiences that make the game worth playing.

Incidentally, Oblivion allows players to make considerable money through alchemy, so in my latest playthrough I haven't needed to sell any extraordinary item I find. I can bring these back as souvenirs. Of course, I can sell these at any time. My decorum is also my financial collateral.

The home is a too often neglected feature in RPGs.

By the way, I'd show you pictures of my furnished castle, but I play the 360 version of Oblivion. My PC isn't good enough to run the game.


  1. Have you got far enough in to experience the 'villa' in AC2? How does that compare?

  2. AC2's villa is all about accomplishment -- zero customization. The only thing I really like about it is the way you can store and display all the weapons and armors you buy. But even those are displayed where and how the developers decide. It's like being given a statue and then being told, "that goes there".


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