Why I decorate in Everquest 2: The return!

Ah, the insights we get when we are can’t sleep, don’t feel like doing it but we know we must try otherwise we became living zombies. Anyhoo, in a previous post I rambled a lot about why I love decoration in Everquest 2. However as often happens in such endeavors I think my point got lost, even to myself, amidst of all the rambling. It is one of those gut feelings you have but you just don’t know how to put it in words or even explain it to your own self. You just know it is the thing that is right to you. I think I finally got it in a more rational way now. So to avoid losing track of what I am trying to say, let’s do something different this time and delve directly to the point, shall we?

There have been too things that have been bugging me a lot since I got into decoration in Everquest 2. The first is why I have so much trouble with little details and colors in my decorations while to other decorators it seems as natural as speaking? The second is why I care so much about a game’s feature that pretty much the majority of the MMORPG industry and player base doesn’t seem to care about, namely a good housing system? I mean, it is pretty much the only reason I am still playing Everquest 2. Everything else is just my silly obsessive side.

Although both questions seems to require different answers, in my case, they have pretty much the same answer. Thinking about the first one my conclusion is that to most of the other decorators, to decorate a house in Everquest 2 is kinda like painting. A painter will try to recreate the world, as they see it, with a brush, a select choice of colors, shapes, etc. With the average decorator it is not very different. Except the subject is a lot more restricted in subject and by using the in-game house items as their brush, color oils and a way to create different shapes. While a painter will make paintings of whatever they feel more strongly about, a decorator will try to recreate in-game some type of real life architecture they like or some fantasy image they have in their head. It is something I am just realizing more now as I see some of my friends who decorate mentioning what type of architecture they were trying to recreate in-game. It is not something totally new either. People have been doing it in-game for a long time. There also plenty of examples of people trying to recreate some cool house from a book or a movie or just getting inspiration from those.

Why I think the analogy works so well is because just like a painter considers the entire piece, from the big picture to the small details, these decorators seem to do the same. It is kinda like they have the entire mental image of the place already in their head. They only need to figure out how to translate that to something  that can exist in-game given its constraints.

Where I differ, and this ties to the second question, is that I am more of a world builder instead of a painter. Unlike a painter, a world builder doesn’t think so much in terms of image as in terms of what kind of features that world needs to have to be interesting. What kind of characters will live there, what story it will serve as a setting to. That is not too different from how I approach house decorations. The first thing I think of is what kind of character lives in that house, what is his story, what kind of features his house are necessary for his usual activities, what kind of stories could happen in that place and so on and so forth.

That is why it is so hard for me to think in terms of little details. To me the little details are linked more with the story of the character and that can be hard to implement since we can only get pretty much the same items as everyone else in the game, instead of say, something more personal to the character.

It also explains why I care so much about decoration in a MMORPG of all places. I’ve always love the idea of having as much freedom in a game as possible to shape the game’s world through my characters actions. How much of that is actually feasible in a game or even if it is interesting in a MMORPG is a ramble for another time. But the fact is the housing in Everquest 2 provides that to me. There is just something right about it where I feel like I am carving my little spot in the world of Norrath. It might be a complete insignificant spot, that doesn’t change squat about anything else in the game but it is my spot. It is the spot I made with my own imagination and effort. It also helps that I can still enjoy the rest of the game just barely enough to allow me to indulge in such endeavors.

Ultimately, the reason that I still play Everquest is because its housing system can scratch my creative itchy. A type creativity that just so happens to be different from the majority of the other Everquest 2 decorators. It also explains neatly why a good housing system is important to me when considering a new MMORPG nowadays.

Now that I think about it, it also explains why I have been struggling with the idea of trying my hand at the dungeon maker. It feels like a different beast where I feel the need to entertain other people with an interesting place while with housing it has been always about entertaining myself first and anyone else would be a (much appreciated) bonus. The problem with the dungeon maker though is that I feel the tools to do it right now are very primitive. That however is also a rant for another time, perhaps if I actually decide to try making dungeon.

For now I will just continue with my usual house decorations and ramblings. It is just what feels more natural right now.

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