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 most of your questions!
First, I would like to thank Cordovan for organizing this and Scenario, Orion, Sans_Arrêt and Baccata for their time and participation.
I would also like to thank everyone who asked questions during that hour! Thank you all!
I worked over the last few days to get the Q&A transcribed – at least most of it – for those of you who missed the event; you can also listen to the audio file recorded from the interview below.
Present during this Q&A session were:
- Cordovan (Community Manager)
- Scenario (Lead World Builder – Housing Specialist)
- Orion (Lead System Designer – Housing Specialist)
- Sans_Arrêt (Localisation)
- Baccata (Former SSG Developper)
About Housing Neighborhoods
Q: Could Orion or Scenario give us a preview of the “endgame” they are working towards with housing? How do you both see housing being integrated to gameplay?
Orion: There are ideas out there, there are some significant hurdles that we do have to clear in order to get there. But our goal is to allow players at some point in the future to expand on their housing experience, to grow their house to something larger, to grow that to something larger and to expand the kinship system in such a way that kinships can develop things along those lines.
The overall goal is to make that another living, breathing aspect of the game world where if you want to spend most of your time focusing on the housing aspect, we want to give you the tools for that. We want you to have those opportunities. It’s a matter of being able to get everything into a state where we can start that implementation and actually start presenting that out.
We do have at least two more years’ worth of development that we’re planning on right now that I can see. And I can’t say that this is going to fit anywhere inside of that.
Scenario: When we launched Rohan housing, there was a degree of feedback from some players that they liked the neighborhoods but they were really hoping to have a Hytbold kind of experience. And I think that Hytbold does a lot of great things and makes you really feel like you’re building your own town back up. I feel like there’s definitely a home for that sort of things in the housing system.
One of my goals when we introduce a new neighborhood is to find a way to add a new feature to it that can be built upon and built upon and so on. It’s an incremental growth of the system that adds more and more to it. And eventually, ideally, those systems will come backwards into other neighborhoods as we have the time to implement them.
Q: When can we expect an Elven Premium neighborhood?
Scenario: That will likely be the next full neighborhood option that we add, but I don’t have an ETA for that. We usually like to give a little bit of time between housing releases.
Q: Are there still ideas about Monster Play homesteads?
Orion: First, they wouldn’t be called homesteads because they’re monster players, so they’d probably be called lairs. Now, there may or may not be a spec floating around that does something along those lines. I’m not going to confirm or deny that it is still a subject that is discussed amongst the team from time to time and that that spec may have existed since 2007. Who knows?
Q: Regarding classic neighborhoods, what is the condition that triggers spawning a new one, and is this done automatically using e.g., preselected names, or something the devs have to do manually?
Scenario: New versions of neighborhoods will roll out automatically once a certain threshold of population is met within all the other neighborhoods. So if a certain percentage of all the currently available neighborhoods are occupied, then a new one will spawn. Sometime we will go in and manually trigger certain neighborhoods new versions to spawn. We have the ability to do that, especially if it seems like on a server there are not enough Belfalas Kin Islands, for example.
Q: Also, how much work might it take to implement buying multiple personal classic houses with mithril or something?
Scenario: That is one of my top engineering requests. I know a lot of people really like to have their classic neighborhood homes and it is very limiting to only be able to have one per account.
About Housing Hooks
Q: Can we expect a Wall and Furniture hooks consolidation in the future? And Enormous/Huge yard consolidation too?
Scenario: So, Wall and Furniture hooks, we probably won’t consolidate those in large parts because of wall items generally having a different rotation/orientation to them where their origin point is different than normal yard items or furniture items. So that means that you could potentially hook something on a floor hook and it could go away, or it could at least appear to go away and that isn’t really a great user experience. So, I think for the time being, Wall and Furniture hooks are going to stay separate (even if there are going to be some items that can work on both).
As far as Enormous and Huge hooks, those are also likely not to be consolidated. Enormous yards are generally either very big or are in the enormous slot because of their expense. If you have a deco item that is going to do a lot of animations or a lot of effects, you don’t want people to place like 30 of them around because it can degrade the performance in those spaces. Housing is already a potential performance pit because everyone can do whatever they want as far as decorations go. And that’s a lot of textures being loaded and that can really eat video memory. And so, with the enormous hooks, we want to be particularly careful just because those usually end up being somewhat special and also large.
Q: Will we be able to purchase additional hooks for our homes in the future?
Scenario: Ideally, we would like to do that. There is a great opportunity for us to allow expansion of housing, not just in hooks but in other aspects as well. There is a prototype for expandable hooks in the game right now as part of our Test Estate.
Q: Any plans to bring Light and Ambient hooks into classic homesteads?
Scenario: Yes, there are definitely plans to do that. As to when those get on the calendar, that’s a different matter. It’s always hard to find time to go back into things like the classic neighborhoods and implement those features.
Q: Could we have new axis of rotation for the furniture? (Lean them forwards/backwards for example)
Scenario: I actually do have a request in for that with our engineering team to allow us to adjust heading, to do bank and pitch as well. Hopefully it will happen, but I don’t have any specific timetable for that.
Q: Any plans to add a hook to change the appearance of ceilings?
Scenario: We do not currently have plans for that. Part of that is because the original housing system was never built with that sort of functionality in mind and it would be potentially a considerable amount of work to make that work in our existing spaces.
Q: Any thoughts on items to customize the outside of our homes/their facades?
Scenario: This is tricky because of the way our client renders things that are set as far-view objects. So, most houses, when we have them in a neighborhood, are set as far-view objects, and those are typically supposed to be static objects. That means that allowing dynamic change to them doesn’t really work well. However, with something like an estate where your house in the only house, being able to customize the exterior textures of your private estate might be more feasible. Who knows when we’ll be able to do that? But that is a direction that we’ve talked about internally as a housing method.
Q: Will we see Fence hooks in Belfalas and/or Rohan homesteads?
Scenario: I was hoping to be able to backport the fencing stuff into Rohan and Belfalas but the fences that are used in those areas are of a different scale. So, I’m going to have to do some work to make that work.
Misc / Decoration Items
Q: Each decoration takes a slot in the inventory or in the chest, could we be able to stack the same decorations?
Orion: Stacking them is not particularly viable. Like, for example, if we were to allow housing items to be dyeable, if they are also stackable, then that could be problematic and might wipe out those properties if you were to make a stack out of them. You could also try to hook up the stack by accident. And we don’t really have a lot of rules around that, which is why a lot of the items that we actually have, that would go on hooks, are currently not stackable.
Q: Will we be getting more large-scale rugs in different colors, tapestries (like the ones found in Rohan and Gondor), and larger general household furniture for the homes with big floorplans?
Orion: Okay, so I’m teasing something here that I’m working on, on the system side. One of the big changes that is coming to Crafting with the separation of Vocations to make individual professions. Now, I’m not going to say anything beyond that, other than there’s probably going to be something that is added to the Crafting system at some point in the near future – when I say near, sometime probably in 2024 – that will enable some more items along those lines. That doesn’t mean that it would be direct in game purchases or store purchases. It would be more or less something that’s tied into an existing system inside of the game world that gives more player options to craft and sell those items.
Q: Will we be able to get “dyeable” decorative walls/floors, etc. like we can regular wallpaper/floors?
Scenario: I think one of the weaknesses of decorative structures (walls, floors, stairs) is that you can’t dye them to match whatever dye color that you want. One of my requests – that hopefully we will get at some point in the future – is the ability to use the dye system on things beyond clothing so that we can kind of apply that system to things like decorative walls and floors.
Q: Are there any near plans for more doormats available from the neighborhood vendors?
Scenario: honestly, we don’t have a ton of doormats in the game to begin with and they’re usually a fairly special case often associated with festivals when we’ve done them. We recently did a change to doormats and small rugs to basically allow them to be a little interchangeable. So, you can use doormats on furniture hooks, you can use the small rugs on the doormat hooks, so that should give you a little bit more flexibility. And then I would say in the future there’s always the possibility for more things like that, but I don’t have any specific plans myself for creating any.
Q: Since property guards are now becoming indoor/outdoor, what about some more “Visting” Friends? I’d LOVE a Visiting Ranger. Or maybe a visiting Lórien Elf.
Orion: Property guards and visiting friends I know are things that players are interested in. I know there are also questions about what do they really do? The first one that actually has any real appreciable kind of impact is the Sam Gamgee visitor that we just created recently and made available. We’re trying to “robustify” that entire feature and it’s a step in that direction.
Scenario: I will say with the launch of Lyndelby housing, the intro quest introduces one of my favorite visiting friends. So, do the Lyndelby intro quest, even if you’re not thinking about buying a house in LYndelby. But you should buy one in Lyndelby (😉).
Q: Could decorations be turned into a collection, like pets and mounts, so we can collect one decoration and drag it an unlimited number of times into hooks?
Orion: I can neither confirm nor deny that we are looking at something along those lines. There is a significant amount of work that would have to go into a methodology for us to do that. There are some aspects of the game that – we are well aware – are incredibly grindy and that are perceived as a daunting task, specifically when players have multiple characters that they’re trying to level at the same time. And one of the things that we’re looking at for the future is ways that we can mitigate some of that difficulty and mitigate some of those longevity or those extraordinarily long-tailed systems that players have to engage with. And one of the things that we are looking at is ways that we can make it a little bit more accessible. This would fall under that kind of a category. The question of whether or not you’d be able to use multiple of the same decoration would probably… we’d have to see exactly how that would work but there are some options that we are looking at now for distant future to address those.
Q: Can we please have the Bonsai Tree from the Last Homely House in Rivendell?
Scenario: There are standalone entities that can eventually easily be turned into housing items. Some of them, such as the Bonsai Trees that you’re talking about, are actually not just a single object but more like 2, 3 or 4 different objects, all kind of arranged in a certain way, and that requires a little bit of extra art support in order to bring those together into a single deco object.
Q: Something that’s been on my wish list for a long time is a mannequin that we can dress up. Even if we have to commit one outfit per mannequin, like a pet harness or steed halter, would be great for those that like cosmetics as much as housing.
Orion: We’re actually looking at better ways to handle that as we try to refresh things like Lalia’s Market. There are some efforts on the system side to take a look at that.
Scenario: We – years ago – had an engineer look at the concept of socketed housing items and he kind of ran away screaming from it. It’s pretty hard because of the way that the system works in the back end.
Thanks again everyone, to SSG and every LotRO player who made this Q&A possible! <3
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