|New Feature, Week Two, AWAY WE GO.|
The Garrison's position as a mini-game dressed up as something else been a long time coming for this game: player housing's been almost as persistent request as the Dance Studio feature since we knew it was a possibility. Hell, even that got a hat-tip in the graphics for this feature when they were released at Blizzcon. What you need to remember, when we look at the introduction of this in the wider context of the gaming experience, it's been promised in some form pretty much since forever... infact, when Alpha was released, if I am to believe my internet research:
Katricia : "Guild Halls will most likely not be implemented before World of Warcraft is released. They are very similar to Player Housing (which also will not make the release).
Both Player Housing and Guild Halls will be implemented as soon as possible after release.
I have no information available regarding the functions of either Guild Halls or Player Housing.
Various people have stated they would like it, and not been more specific than that:
Nethaera : "The word is that we like the idea of player housing and would like to implement it at some point in the future, however we don't have any particular ETA of when we will. There is a laundry list of things we still would like to add to World of Warcraft and this is just one of them."
Some even flatly ignored the idea completely (if I am to believe what I read,) even if the original article stating this from 2010 has vanished. Subsequently Mr C did something of a U-Turn...
Tom Chilton : "No, we're not working on right now, but it's incredibly complex to do right and we're not sure yet if it's going to be the right thing for WoW in the long run. It has major implications for the game itself and again I wouldn't go out of my way and say never but it's not on the immediately of things to do."
We can establish therefore that there's been a lot of internal discussion about the principle: so why introduce it at this stage in proceedings? I think we have to look at the massive success story from this Expansion that's not linked with battling small, furry creatures to the death for the answer to why this is now the right moment for player housing...
|I think I'm going to need a bigger trowel...|
Let's face facts here, Farming's been HUGE. Possibly THE most successful part of Pandaria in terms of hours spent has been on a part of the game-play experience that NO-ONE ELSE COULD SEE. This is perhaps not optimal in terms of the overall experience, and we are reassured by game designer Ray Cobo that this won't be the case when Garrisons are introduced:
"Player housing from other games is very cosmetic," he said, citing examples from other MMOs that let players "set up drapes” or rearrange carpets but little else. "In WoW, we really want to make sure that there’s a reason to do it."
Hate to break it to you, Animal Crossing lovers, this won't just be you buying stuff and shoving it in place... there will be work and effort involved in the process. However, the fact you'll want to invite your mates over to come see what's going on, and the fact you'll be able to have your Garrison doing the business for you even when you're not actually online should make a number of people unreasonably excited. You'll also be rewarded for Achievements in game being reflected on your Garrison's land: a giant globe, for instance, once you've explored every zone. There's also a sense in this interview that if you build stuff in the original Warcraft games this experience will be similar, with between 12 to 15 plots of various shapes and sizes... but the benefits of this endeavour do not simply extend to the land use itself.
There have been hints in Archaeology and the treasure-hunting aspects of the Pandarian experience that loot you get without having to enter instances is of increasing significance and importance to those people who play with a large alt family. Loot appears to be high on the priority list, along with a way to link material gathering to Professions as we already do with various seeds on our Farm. However, it's appearing more and more obvious we can set 'followers' to automate these tasks for us, which means you won't NEED to visit your garrison nearly as often as you would do your farm. I'd suspect at some point you'll be able to set your Hearthstone at your Garrison (though perhaps not immediately, I sense you might need some work on buildings for that to happen, or at least to have established your Town Hall to a certain level.)
The other big fat grey area is how Professions will work with all of this, as they're pretty much excluded from the current Farming experience. After further prodding on the Internets I unearthed this little nugget, which looks like some 'official' Warlords press materials:
What’s in store for professions?
One of our goals in Warlords of Draenor is to make each of the game’s existing Professions more engaging and integrated into the gameplay. To that end, the Garrison will play a major role in your character’s Professions in this expansion—similar to how your farm was key to the Cooking profession in Mists of Pandaria, only on a much more epic scale.
This is the first time I've seen anyone mention the Cookery Masterplan in relation to how other professions might be altered, and of everything I've been able to dig up thus far this has made me the most excited about what we might have in store for the future. This isn't just a place to hang out and invite your mates, Garrisons look like they may be pretty much integrally linked to the Profession experience in game and, as a result, I'll be getting unreasonably excited for quite some time to come...