It’s the holidays. People are rushing about getting shopping done, decorating homes for the season, scrambling to get the best of the best before it disappears – but not in Azeroth. World of Warcraft players are exploring the Warlords of Draenor expansion – finding all sorts of mounts, gifts, toys, pets and followers while expanding their collective immersion experience with Garrisons. That’s right, a quasi-housing situation has been introduced to this popular game that so many didn’t think could be done! With requests going back as far as 2006 and possibly further, players of Blizzard’s flagship game have been champing at the bit for something to call their own! Somehow, the devs have done it. Think somewhere between between the customizable ownership of Ultima Online (UO) and the collaborative ownership in Guild Wars (GW).
The Custom Home
In UO, an individual player is able to collect enough wealth, purchase a house plan, then plant it wherever there is space. Buildings range from the smallest 7-tile-square customs situated in the remotest areas all the way to gargantuan pre-fab castle layouts nestled tightly betwixt neighbors. If there is a clearing, a player will plop their home down. During the height of the housing rush in 2007 (when Trammel was ‘discovered’) – the land grabbing got vicious! Longtime friend actual rez-killed one another to procure prime real estate! Not to mention the uniqueness of the houses are limited only by player imagination: from square, black boxes to fountain-houses of waterfall walls (yes, we know some players just adore the damp). Take a quick jaunt across more populated shards today and you’ll be hard pressed to see two homes decorated alike.
In GW, guilds and factions work together to earn their property – and it belongs to them all with the leaders managing resources and “diplomacy”. Of course, the group could lose their holdings to competitors, its happens time and time again from what I’ve witnessed. Each group takes the holding from another group – some banners and flags change, but essentially its all static. The conquering group gets private, added access to specialty features, but that’s really it when it comes to “housing” in that game.
The Holy Grail of Virtual Housing
Game developers are looking for the perfect balance of allowing players to have a sort of uniqueness, yet not overload servers and staff with the creation, maintenance and updating of everything involved. As special as UO is, the involvement necessary in updating the graphics, positioning, x,y,z axis, the effect of lighting, viewing position and ambient coloration of items looks to be a nightmare! Not to mention collision with a custom home plopped where it probably shouldn’t be (see any trees poking through walls?) and other abnormalities that have become famous (the 7×7 on the roof of a large tower is my favorite). Is it any wonder the venerable game is still using an isometric view? Imagine all that in 3D? Wait, someone is! Portalarium is getting close (of course, their core dev team are the same people that created UO in the first place) with pre-fab houses that can be decorated in Shroud of the Avatar (SotA) – including player-owned, static towns customized by players (if you have the money).
Blizzard’s ‘Dream Home’
I believe Blizzard has found a nice, happy medium to the problem of utilizing a customized living situation in a fully-dimensional virtual space without bogging the servers, or players. Garrisons in WoD are unique. The individual player is “awarded” the responsibility of developing a fort in historic Draenor, before the Dark Portal was created! Yeah, that threw me for a moment, too. I mean, if we (collectively) succeed in defeating the Warlords who created the Dark Portal, what will that do with present-time Azeroth? Will the Alliance and Horde be eternally united? Will I have to share my holy bread with an Orc?!? 0.o
But I digress, this is about the Garrison!
As you progress through levels, quests, and continuously harder tasks, you can develop and grow your Garrison from a few measly tents to a robust castle complex, including all those ammenities normally reserved for the king! You can pick and choose which buildings go into your Garrison, reap the benefits of developing those buildings, and when you are ready for something else, rip it down and build a new one. You get NPC “helpers” which I’m finding to be really nice touch. You basically tell the NPCs what to do, when to do what, and you can even have them accompany you around Draenor as your bodyguards. And you’ll need them – the upper level mobs are not anything to scoff at.
In the coming weeks, Stratics will be presenting “WoD Garrison Guides” for our readers. These guides will help you learn about the buildings, what benefits you may (or may not) want to reap, and how the Garrison itself is an integral part of the world in WoD. Check back and don’t forget to jump into our forums to share your thoughts! What is good for this Proto-Pali might not work for you Warrior-Orcs, and definitely vice-a-versa.
If you are interested in contributing your World of Warcraft experiences, drop us a line! Stratics is always looking for a few good pens! Visit our Forums and send a PM to Ron Bron or Kirthag.