Did you miss the Q&A with the dev team we had on Friday? Here you go!
Last Friday, members of the LotRO team were around for an hour on our Discord to talk about housing. Over the course of that hour, they answered dozens of your questions!
First, I would like to thank Cordovan for organizing this and the whole LotRO Team for their time and participation.
I would also like to thank everyone who asked questions during that hour! THANK YOU ALL!
I worked this weekend to get the Q&A transcribed for those of you who missed the event; you can also listen to the audio file recorded from the interview below (sorry for the Discord notification sounds).
Present during this Q&A session were:
- Cordovan (Community Manager)
- Scenario (Lead World Builder – Housing Specialist)
- Baccata (Content Designer – Housing Specialist)
- Tybur (System Designer)
- Sans_arret (Localisation Team)
Audio File :
About Housing Neighborhoods
Question: Next neighborhood…. Where are we going next?
Baccata: That’s a tough one to answer, isn’t it Scenario?
Scenario: It is! We got ideas. I have like a 15-page document full of ideas. So, we have ideas, we kind of know where we wanna build next but we’re keeping that for us for now….
Baccata: I think we can safely say that it won’t be elf-themed or man-themed.
Q: Are there any ideas to ever add more classic housing or is premium housing the way forward?
Cordovan: It is highly likely that premium housing will be the way forward in terms of work [required] to offer a new housing neighborhood. I would never say ‘never’ about work related to classic housing but the idea of offering new classic housing is not likely to happen.
Baccata: Scenario and I talked about the idea of offering a second slot for standard housing. Giving the player the ability to own a Bree-land and a Shire house is definitely something we talked about. Can’t say if and when we’ll do that but that’s something we’ve been talking about.
Scenario: Yes! We probably think more about housing stuff than we should….
Q: Will we be able to enter instances from neighbourhoods so it can become more of a hub to hang out?
Scenario: This is something that bugs us a lot too. It’s tricky because you’re in a housing instance and you’re basically trying to leave an instance to go to another instance and in order to prevent edge-case issues that historically has been prevented, but we’re trying to see what we can do to change that.
Q: Why don’t we have monster-player housing neighborhoods?
Baccata: Scenario and I talked about Angmar or PvMP housing and what that would mean. It can go a lot of ways but we had really crazy ideas for that.
Scenario: There are a couple of other systems that I would like to introduce if we ever get to the point where we are working on a PvMP housing area, but I won’t talk too much about that for fear of getting people hyped for something that they’ll have to wait forever until it happens. So, we have ideas, but we don’t have any plans right now.
Q: Can neighborhoods not take up a big chunk of a cool region? [re: Kingstead housing]
Scenario: The concept with Kingstead housing was to provide the player the ability to own a piece of Rohan. We tried to introduce 2 different experiences with 2 neighborhoods, one in the foothills and one in the plains. Unfortunately with the plains one, we did considerable scouting trying to find a great area for it that was not too full of other content and the spot we chose was the only one available.
Up to that point, all of our neighborhoods have always been kind of walled-off. There were always natural barriers preventing players from going into ground-zero (the public landscape version) neighborhoods. The hope is that through testing we can figure out the edge cases of what happens when players are crossing over into a landscape housing area and maybe be able to remove the walls from the Kingstead area.
Q: What triggers the premium homesteads to generate new neighborhoods? On Gladden, there are currently no mead halls available in any of the Rohan neighborhoods.
Scenario: New neighborhood generation usually occurs when a percentage of the neighborhoods have hit a certain threshold of occupancy. There are also points that if there are already so many neighborhoods opened, we’ll have to create more in a future patch.
Q: Alongside the Rohan homesteads, no kinship houses were introduced; instead, we got the large mead halls and options to visit kinship members’ homes. What was the logic, then, to lock the ability to travel to kin members’ houses behind the need for the kin to own a kinhouse?
Scenario: This really comes down to tech limitations, and the reason we decided that mead halls were going to be non-kinship houses is that we currently don’t have any way to add a second kin house to kinships. We didn’t want people to be forced to abandon their already-decorated kin houses in order to buy a new one in Rohan, so we decided to make mead halls personal houses but created a way for kin members to have a travel skill allowing them to visit them.
Q: Any chance of having seasons in the neighborhood that affect the permanent items that are part of the neighborhood?
Baccata: It’s a great idea and something we haven’t thought about. My guess is that it’s probably a bit of work to do something like that, but it’s an interesting idea.
Scenario: Jumping in to this question to talk about something that I’m currently working on and that is the ability for players to change what the dayfile is like around their house. That won’t necessarily change the season but it will allow you to do something like having a rainy, stormy or snowy weather dayfile affecting just your house. It’s currently being prototyped so I don’t know when and which neighborhoods it will be available in but it’s sort of related to changing the seasons.
Q: Will we get smaller premium houses?
Baccata: We have plans for every category…smaller houses but also bigger houses. So, yes, you’ll definitely see some smaller premium houses in the future [Yao: like the ones we have in Belfalas].
Scenario: One of the things that we are really insterested to play with is the idea of what a neighborhood is—is it a place with many houses, like in the original ones or Belfalas? Is it a place with a few houses like what we did with Rohan? Could there be fewer houses in a neighborhood? We’re trying to provide a variety of spaces.
Baccata: A neighborhood to me is community and community means a lot of different things to a lot of people, like: a cabin in the woods by itself? That could be community to me. A community garden is also community. So we’ve been having that kind of discussion about what housing is.
Scenario: You heard it here first: we’re doing community gardens! (laughs)
Cordovan: We are not formally annoucing community gardens! (laughs)
About Housing Hooks
Question: General questions about hooks consolidation.
Tybur: With hooks consolidation, we’re greatly reducing the number of different hooks available to a more general type of hook for interiors and exteriors. After the hook consolidation, you’ll have wall hooks, furniture hooks, and floor hooks, but some distinction will remain, like the one between wall hooks and furnitures.
The hooks consolidation update should happen before or with our Gundabad expansion. Once it’s live, your house should stay fully decorated and deco items should stay in their hooks except for a few oddities that might happens here and there [Yao: obviously to small wall items if we can’t tilt them anymore].
Scenario: With the consolidation, the tricky hooks that are being consolidated are the wall hooks because small & large wall hooks rotate differently. With the consolidation, all wall hooks will rotate as if they were all large wall hooks. We also may introduce the ability to have a way to rotate and tilt wall items in the future but it’s not something that will be available as part of the hooks consolidation update.
Q: Can we have more hooks, please?
Scenario: This hook consolidation update does not specifically give more hooks but it does give you more flexibility. I also have a housing test space that we use on Palantir [Yao: the private Alpha test server] and the test space will show up on Bullroarer next time. That’s kind of my test estate space where I’ve been working to kind of find the best metrics for various house sizes and that’s where I tested a few features that might be coming in the future or not. That’s also where I first tested the hooks consolidation as well.
Scenario (again later): Again, that’s another question of balance. This is a question of ‘how many hooks can we put in a space vs what is the load on a server landblock?’ I’ve been trying to test that pretty heavily just to see how much I can do. I loaded up a test space with almost 300 hooks and when I entered it, it took 1 minute to load.
Q: Hello everyone! I am a proud owner of a mead hall in Kingstead! I recently had to undergo a certain crisis where my mead hall music also plays when im at my barn (secondary building for that house). Is there a possibility to have a separate ambient music hook for the barn?
Scenario: The prior implementation for music was basically one music per one interior. In order to make the mead hall and the barn work they kind of have to exist in the same space so they are treated as though they are the same interior. Again, on my prototype test land, I added a way to use multiple music volumes for houses that I’m currently testing. That’s something that works and something we are hoping to add in at least new neighborhoods. Whether or not it will be backported is a matter of time but tweaking the music system is not something as difficult as playing with hooks or backporting light hooks everywere. So it will be backported more easily to older housing areas.
Q: Will we ever be able to get hitching posts or lighting hooks in the original 4 homesteads?
Scenario: It is a matter of time in the schedule. Housing spaces are really complex, really big, especially in those original neighborhoods, so bringing those features in is a considerable amount of work. It’s not an easy copy/paste but we would have to go through every type of house to make the changes.
Q: Would it be possible to allow outside hooks to move around as easily as indoor for placement?
Tybur: Outside hooks cannot move as easily as indoor hooks because the interior of your house is private, but the yard is part of the neighborhood landscape. So those limits on exterior hooks need to remain in place.
Scenario: For housing, we have a code object called ‘housekeeper’ and every item’s movement is based on the position of this object. The old neighborhoods were build without the hook movement system in mind so the devs back at the time placed these “housekeeper” where they wanted it to be and not based on the hook movement system. Exterior decorations can move closer to the “housekeeper” object and not farther, which, depending on where the “housekeeper” was placed, can lead to weird behaviours. One way to make it more easy for everyone to move exterior hooks is to place the hooks really far from the house so people can move items where they want. Unfortunately, we also have to take into account that some people want an easy way to decorate their house so we also have to place hooks in a place where someone who doesn’t want to spend too much time tweaking things can still do it.
Q: Would it be feasible to have different lawn textures for house lawns in the same manner we can change interior area floor textures? Something like a short-grass well-kept lawn, long grass that needs mowing, a full-on English garden, a patchy lawn, a pasture, etc.
Scenario: Unfortunately, because the landscape is its own separate thing, that’s probably not something that would likely happen. It’s possible that deco items could be created in the appearance of a certain kind of thing but the terrain that is underneath your house is going to stay the way it is unless we have a pretty revolutionary change in our tools.
Q: Will it be possible in the future to move items further (Currently 15m inside and 10m oustide)?
Scenario: That’s something that I’ve been playing with a little bit as well. The thing to know is that certain interiors are stacked. So in the original neighborhoods, all the interiors of one type, like a small hobbit house, are stacked on top of each other, so we want to be careful about how far you can move items.
About Decoration Items
Q: Will we ever be able to put yard items indoors?
Tybur: Outdoor hooks are a special type of hooks that’ll remain what they are, but if you feel that one yard item should also fit an interior hook, please let us know on the forums so we can take a look.
Q: When will cosmetic pets be prevented from moving?
Tybur: Unfortunately, because of the way pets/skills housing items are working it would require a lot of work and new techs.
Scenario: Right now the current implementation of cosmetic pets was done largely to avoid considerable data bloat because there are so many pets. The way they handle right now is that they are basically skills and we didn’t really want to add that many new items to the game that need to be maintained so the system by which cosmetic pets are created (similar to how the hookable mounts are created) is fairly complex. We’d like to be able to get those pets/characters moving and more interactive when you place them on a hooks, but for right now they’re kind of ‘as they are’ and we don’t have immediate plans to address that.
Q: Would it be possible to make a furniture item that is a prearranged living room group (chairs, ottomans, sofas, end and coffee tables, etc) for sitting areas? If so, is it possible to have them in different themes… Rohan, Shire, Gondor, Thorin’s Hall, etc.
Tybur: The thing is that what you’re asking is basically having a few items into one and the issue is that the way our system works is that a housing item has to be a single entity. So if we were making such a deco item, the physics of the entity would not work and you wouldn’t be able to put things on this deco item and/or sit on the chairs etc.
Q: Can we have mannequins that we can dress with cosmetic items from the wardrobe to show off a set of armor?
Tybur: That is a thing that we would absolutely love to have; unfortunately, the technology allowing you to do that is not something that we currently have and it won’t be simple to create. But trust me, I really want that too!
Q: Is it possible that we could ever be able to shrink or enlarge our housing items?
Tybur: It is very easy for us to make a new housing item which is a smaller or larger version of an existing decoration, however, that would be incredible if we could actually allow players to do it but we currently don’t have plans for that and I don’t know what amount of work it would take to allow that.
But if there are specific items that a player feels they need in a different size, feel free to poke us on the forums.
Q: Would it be possible to add a “dye” option to some housing items? Is the recent bed that was added a test in that direction?
Tybur: I did make the Gammer’s Bed so I can partially answer that. Our housing items do allow you to dye them from the developer end, so I can choose a dye color on my end, then I put a script on that bed to allow you to use it and cycle through a certain number of colors; however, we currently don’t have any way for our players to dye items.
Q: Who creates the deco items?
Baccata: That’s actually a team effort between the system team and the art team. Basically, the art team will create the visual of the item and the system team will do the back-end work to make it work into a housing space.
Q: Is it possible that in the future, raid housing items will be obtainable with Embers?
Tybur: Typically, we keep our raid cosmetics for our raiders; however, in an upcoming patch, for the newest raid (Azanulbizar), people who were not lucky enough to get the deco items they wanted from the raid will be able to barter those for embers at the new raid barterer as they can barter armour (so, you’ll need the corresponding deed). But we’ll keep raid housing items for people who have actually done the raid.
Q: What about racial barbers/bankers/suppliers? They are all ‘man’ and none are dwarf/hobbit/elf/beorning; maybe you want a hobbit banker in the Shire homesteads.
Scenario: It shouldn’t be to difficult for us to provide those in a future update.
Q: We need more housing items that we can interact with for things like outdoor activities, like an ice-skating rink!
Tybur: The thing here is that the player actually can’t skate. We don’t have a skating emote. So currently we could do an ice-skating rink with an NPC skating on it but a player won’t be able to do so until we have the time to create such animation for players’ avatars.
Q: What would it take to get a working mirror deco?
Tybur: There is actually a funny story about that. We had made mirror deco items but it turns out that, unlike the other mirrors you can find in the landscape, when we made it as a deco item it actually crashed. So, they have not been released because we have not been able to fix that bug.
Q: Is there a plan to add, in the future, some new housing items (existing assets, for exemple) in a ‘regular’ shop not tied to reputation, festivals or raids?
Baccata: Yes; we added some new housing items to a vendor in the Rohan housing areas. I would expect that we’ll do that again.
Q: Could it be possible to buy a new room for houses?
Baccata: This is actually something that Scenario and I discussed in our brainstorming about housing. We don’t have it prototyped yet but it’s a discussion we had: adding rooms, levels, different buildings to your house.
Scenario: It was actually something we talked a little bit about for Rohan housing with unlocking other outbuildings but unfortunatelly we did not have the time or tech needed for that.
Q: This question is about the hobbit presents, as they weren’t available this year for the Midsummer festival; I was wondering if the Yule ones will be obtainable in some way this year?
Tybur: I can’t 100% promise anything, but our current plans do include special Yule hobbit presents for this coming Yule (old items as well as new items!).
Q: The tech is already in the game which allows a user to resize text; resizing the decorating mode window to be larger and easier to use would help folks with eyesight and point/click challenges.
Cordovan: My understanding is that this could happen as part of a general UI revamp that we would love to do in the future, but there’s nothing to announce.
Q: What houses do you all own?
Scenario: I own a mead hall in Rohan. Unfortunately, I have not decorated it all that much because I’ve been focused on getting my Beorning up to cap and also getting all the housing items I would need to decorate it.
Tybur: I own a Shire standard house because I think they are adorable and I own a Belfalas premium house because I love the music in that neighborhood and I find it super relaxing…and my houses are decorated!
Q: Would it be possible to reduce the cooldown on ‘Travel to Kinship Member’s House’?
Tybur: The reason we can’t is that teleporting and loading the landscape is actually an expensive operation from a performance perspective.
Q: What is it about housing that you, the SSG devs, love the most?
Scenario: For me, I really love seeing how much love, dedication and effort some players put into their own personal homes. I think that when we made the system years ago, it certainly feels like you could personalize your house a little bit, but it was all just really static. Then, once movable hooks came in, that just really improved the creativity every player could have in their house. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people blocking off rooms in order to move deco items into another area, and this concept didn’t even like touch my mind at first, and it’s always just fun to see that kind of creativity on display.
Cordovan: I really feel strongly that all of my characters should have a bed in a place to call home, so it feels really important to me as a player that I have, if not a fully decorated house, a home where that character at the end of the day can sort of have a place of their own.
Baccata: I actually agree with Cordovan here. My favorite thing about housing in LotRO is that it gives players a tranquil setting where they can always go. This is a section of Middle-Earth that is always at peace compared to other places. That’s one of the things I always had in mind when creating the Belfalas homesteads, because most of Gondor is under conflicts and battle, and I wanted to have a peaceful place in that area where a player could go.
Sans_arret: I could add that I always wanted to have a perfect hobbit house and LotRO gives me the chance to try to make that happen.
Thanks again everyone, to SSG and every LotRO player who made this Q&A possible! <3
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