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Housing

Stormay

Apprentice
I didn't anger the player base nearly enough with my tamer post, so this one will for sure do the job. Maybe not, because this is going to be a TLDR and you will just skip this anyway. Trigger warning: TAXES

UO Housing is one of the coolest concepts in MMO history, and yet it has almost never been repeated. The reason is because it has a huge scalability problem. Either housing is based only on deed price, or housing transcends gold value due to scarcity. Most UO servers face both of these issues as the server ages. Unless the population declines (which is actually fairly common on UO servers), housing will only continue on a trajectory of scarcity. Outlands is fortunate to be one of the few servers ever with a consistent and high population, and at this point in its life, Outlands might be in a league of its own.

When we look at the market now, medium-large houses simply aren't really moving. The problem is almost entirely supply side, and larger houses have transcended gold value. If I get a courtyard house, what gold offer would I accept to sell? Almost none, unless it was so outrageous I think I could upgrade. That house at that point is more valuable than gold in most realistic scenarios. I also have absolutely zero motivation to sell, unless I thought I could get a better house. End game housing is a huge part of the UO end game, and besides a 30-day IDOC timer, I have no incentive to ever sell it.

Then you get to the buyers side. Does someone without a courtyard really want one? Sure, but do they want it enough to farm XX millions? Maybe, maybe not. Most people see the effort of farming 15m for a medium sized courtyard house and either decide that the value isn't there, or that the gold would be better invested in advancing their characters in other ways. For example, if you buy store bought bread and a slightly inflated value, it will still make sandwhiches. You might want the artisan bread, but are you going to pay a 20x markup on it? The difference here, is the market has no incentive to actually sell the bread, so that bread is going to stay at 20x markup, or likely even go up.

There are a couple options to help address this. The obvious one is a land expansion for housing. A small expansion doesn't make a dent in the problem, while a massive one might anger people who previously paid a markup for their location. I don't think that is a particularly big deal, bit most importantly, an expansion still doesn't really address the problem of having 0 motivation to ever sell a house. Also, this solution is most likely only temporary, with the effective time based on the size of the expansion, and will only be effective assuming people aren't actually hoarding houses on more than 3 accounts. I am not making any accusations here, I have no idea if it is a problem, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was happening to some extent.

I've been trying to think of a non-punitive solution that motivates someone with 3 large houses to sell. Or motivates someone who is only logging once every 30 days to refresh their mansion. Unfortunately, I am not that creative. I looked at real life examples, despite there being obvious flaws and differences in virtual/irl real-estate, and what I came up with isn't a unique solution that has probably been presented before, but would solve both of these scenarios: property taxes.

Everyone hates taxes. Nobody wants to be penalized for existing. We all agree there. However, property taxes based on the house footprint (except caravans, caravans pay 30x30 pricing because fuck them) might incentivize someone with 3 large houses, where 1-2 see very little use, to sell. It also incentivize the person who only logs once per 30 days to either play more to maintain their house, bring their crew back, or entice them to finally sell to give someone who is active a chance to have a large house.

The big problem here is the numbers. Someone with 3 large houses also probably has enough wealth not to care about paying 20k/month (or whatever) per house, whereas active player without 3 large houses is probably not going to love paying a large amount of gold as just a random fee. Perhaps allow 1 house per player (IP) to be tax exempt/reduced as a homestead exemption, so that people are still incentivized to have an end game house, are incentivized to upgrade, but are de-incentivized to hold on to 3 large houses. Perhaps instead of a raw gold cost to the taxes, tie it to some sort of item, so that some of the gold value of that item is flexible and player-driven. Raw resources maybe?

Maybe instead of calling it taxes, call it upkeep, and have the IDOC timer permanently halved every X days until Y resources are fed into upkeep.

Edit; After speaking to some people about the upkeep idea, VPNs were brought up as potentially being an actual problem. That's not shocking, but I didn't want to dive too far into it until I heard more people mention it.

I think this upkeep idea actually helps address that issue, although the "1 house free"/ homestead exemption could be a problem for curbing VPNs. Perhaps the homestead exemption would entail a 1 time upkeep, however it would be bigger than normal. That might be enough that if someone happened to have more than 3 houses, they would opt to not keep them. It would have to be big enough to be a meaningful choice, maybe not something everyone would choose to do for a smaller house even if they used it. Large enough that someone with an unused house would absolutely not see value from it.

If anyone has a creative solution that incentivizes someone with multiple houses to sell (especially non-punitive), I would love to talk about it with you.
 
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The problem is...
To be clear. What is the problem?

A look in #real-estate shows houses are for sale. I saw several CYs the past couple weeks. There are STILL spots available to PLACE your own wagon. Again, what is the problem? I see several people mention there is a problem with housing. It is expensive for medium and large sized housing, but that is end game stuff there. Rare cloth is expensive too - that's a mid to end game thing too.

However, with all of that said. I completely think taxes would be a fine thing to help take gold out of the economy. If you have 2+ houses then there should be some type of luxury tax. Maybe even on your first house too? I don't know that is debatable. Haha, I'd love to see tax collector NPCs roaming the lands.
 

Rephren

Neophyte
Good day,

Thank you Stormay for your post and ideas. I have been wondering about a creative solution to the housing problem on Outlands (which is a great problem to have - we are all happy Outlands is so active and full!).

I really like the resources for 'upkeep' idea. Perhaps 2500 boards and 2500 ingots needed a month to 'keep up' with housing 'decay' to offset the natural state of decay of timber and stone. This would equate to roughly 60k worth of resources per month which is nothing for any half casual player. Those with bigger houses could be subject to larger amounts? I like the idea of giving everyone 1 'free' house per IP, and then the upkeep 'tax' is applied to your other houses. Those who are retired but sitting with large houses they refresh once a month will be incentivized to play at least a couple hours a month, which is more ideal than people not playing for years but having massive houses they just refresh because, 'they might play again one day'. This would take gold out of the economy and have people actually playing. People could also just mine or lumber the resources needed, meaning they wouldn't have to actually PAY for the resources, so it wouldn't technically feel like a tax, which I know the admins are loathe to put in.

Having a big house is indeed end game content as it should be, it just shouldn't be this hard. In the year I've been on Outlands the housing market has gotten progressively more difficult to get a decent house. People are trying to sell small stone towers for 3mil, which is ridiculous (in non-amazing places). Adding such an 'upkeep' requirement which, if not paid, greatly lessens the IDOC timer, would be a great addition to Outlands as help against the trend of people sitting on 3 large houses on 3 accounts and never playing, just logged in once a month to refresh.
 
Good day,

Thank you Stormay for your post and ideas. I have been wondering about a creative solution to the housing problem on Outlands (which is a great problem to have - we are all happy Outlands is so active and full!).

I really like the resources for 'upkeep' idea. Perhaps 2500 boards and 2500 ingots needed a month to 'keep up' with housing 'decay' to offset the natural state of decay of timber and stone. This would equate to roughly 60k worth of resources per month which is nothing for any half casual player. Those with bigger houses could be subject to larger amounts? I like the idea of giving everyone 1 'free' house per IP, and then the upkeep 'tax' is applied to your other houses. Those who are retired but sitting with large houses they refresh once a month will be incentivized to play at least a couple hours a month, which is more ideal than people not playing for years but having massive houses they just refresh because, 'they might play again one day'. This would take gold out of the economy and have people actually playing. People could also just mine or lumber the resources needed, meaning they wouldn't have to actually PAY for the resources, so it wouldn't technically feel like a tax, which I know the admins are loathe to put in.

Having a big house is indeed end game content as it should be, it just shouldn't be this hard. In the year I've been on Outlands the housing market has gotten progressively more difficult to get a decent house. People are trying to sell small stone towers for 3mil, which is ridiculous (in non-amazing places). Adding such an 'upkeep' requirement which, if not paid, greatly lessens the IDOC timer, would be a great addition to Outlands as help against the trend of people sitting on 3 large houses on 3 accounts and never playing, just logged in once a month to refresh.
I really like the upkeep/resource cost idea. Seems completely logical to me.

I also like the tax idea, I think there could be some cool RP elements to add in here. Some ruler of some sort being the dreaded tax collector we have all read about in history books. I always thought the faction tax thing in old school UO was pretty neat - I think that specific execution was kind of stale and boring, but the idea is quite neat.

Rephren, you mention the admins loathe taxation, can you elaborate any on this? Was there a discussion held previously?
 

agweber

Neophyte
I definitely like the idea of taxation/upkeep with the alongside of reduction of cost for those with only 1 house on their IP (akin to real estate-related taxes actively being lived in).

I'm not sure how possible it would be, but I think restricting wagons to only the first house for an IP would allow it to be a more proper 'temporary' house before the players can move up in the market. That could be an alternative to having the raised cost for these wagons for newer players and will restrict their usage considerably. Right now, the wagons effectively set a baseline price for all real estate on the shard. I doubt an 8x8 has been sold for under 250k in who knows how long.

I'd also like to suggest changing the wagons to have lower item limits. An 8x8 has 3 secures and 6 vendor slots. It also has a nice sturdy foundation. These wagons have the same limits and are on wooden spoked wheels, how strong could they actually be? If the price of the wagon comes down, reduce its utility likewise.

Some variety in appearance could make them look less trailer park-y as well. Jotha in discord suggests same footprint hunting cabins or blinds to try to help. I don't really like the way the wagons look all that much because of how frequent they are.

As a new player, I think the Inn system is *great* for the time between getting one's first house.
 

Stormay

Apprentice
A look in #real-estate shows houses are for sale. I saw several CYs the past couple weeks. There are STILL spots available to PLACE your own wagon. Again, what is the problem? I see several people mention there is a problem with housing. It is expensive for medium and large sized housing, but that is end game stuff there. Rare cloth is expensive too - that's a mid to end game thing too.
I have been keeping track of the realestate channel as well as checking the existing deeds for sale vendor multiple times a day. I am not opposed to houses being expensive, I dropped 10-12m (I dont remember) on the server first 30x30. Felt like an accomplishment, and I liked that part.

To bring it back to the artisan bread analogy: $150 for artisan bread isn't expensive, its prohibitive with no value in that buy to the shopper. There's a ton of reasons you don't see that in real life, but the biggest one is that a shop has a tradeoff value in not selling that bread. It will spoil, it takes shelf space for something else that could sell, it's not on a permanent trajectory of increasing value, etc.

So the problem isn't really expensive housing, it's that their being priced to the extent that they aren't selling. Because to the buyer, they aren't worth that much gold in value. The seller is only even trying to sell at that price, because if it did actually sell at that crazy high price, they believe they can upgrade to a better house (or maybe they have another CY, and that price will buy them a ton of links). At the moment, there is no incentive to sell at all, so you are stuck with housing having 2 radically different values to both the seller and the buyer. The result is a stagnant market where houses aren't moving.

Sure, there are some occasional posts for houses for sale, but they are rare, and from what I can tell (especially on the NPC), they are just sitting.

So the idea behind an expansion is an immediate band-aid fix that has a temporary reprieve in the market, while implementing a upkeep/tax is more of a long-term solution, but will also take some time to kick-in, so to speak. The core idea is to move people away from holding onto 3 CY houses, or the polite term, 'provide an incentive to sell.' Right now houses will only ever inflate, and that probably won't change to some extent (especially for 30x30s), but an upkeep would go a long way to being things back to being a somewhat sustainable and active market.
 

Stormay

Apprentice
After speaking to some people about the upkeep idea, VPNs were brought up as potentially being an actual problem. That's not shocking, but I didn't want to dive too far into it until I heard more people mention it.

I think this upkeep idea actually helps address that issue, although the "1 house free"/ homestead exemption could be a problem for curbing VPNs. Perhaps the homestead exemption would entail a 1 time upkeep, however it would be bigger than normal. That might be enough that if someone happened to have more than 3 houses, they would opt to not keep them. It would have to be big enough to be a meaningful choice, maybe not something everyone would choose to do for a smaller house even if they used it. Large enough that someone with an unused house would absolutely not see value from it.
 

AreYouKidden

Legendary
VPN's, and cheats should never really enter the equation of the conversation - it's sad that they are who we cater to. You can't beat em, annoy the heck out of them. The reality is, if you have taxation, and make it a multiplier for owning multiple homes, and a player thinks to skirt around it with VPN's, eventually they are going to screw up, is it worth it for them? My thoughts - taxation / upkeep across the board. Everyone pays an upkeep monthly - I'll even throw in a formula below as an example.

Yes fees are intentionally high for eating up a large footprint, as you are blocking many others from experiencing housing - which is a player retention issue, a 30x30 can eat up the space for almost 9 - 8x8 houses, at the very least 6 8x8 houses + 3 wagons. I don't begrudge anyone for aiming for the largest housing in the server, but there should be a cost to maintain such an estate.

Upkeep & Taxation:
  • encourages players to live within their means - not going to buy an excessive home without a purpose
  • encourages real estate moguls to sell at a fair market price in order to move homes, as opposed to sitting on them, for the best offer
  • acts as a sink to resources - which is a boost to economy, and crafting.
  • the resource amounts are low enough a person could easily gather themselves
  • for those who have no desire to gather, they can buy them off of others (like new players) - which provides an avenue
  • taxes: increasing the gold spent in multiples per house owned - encourages owning less houses - and gives back to new players
Taxation: (give back to new players?)
With two homes on the account group - gold costs are doubled.
With three homes on the account group - all gold costs are tripled.

Taxation fees are separate from upkeep, and go into a weekly pot - where anyone with an account less than 90 days, and a character with 700+ skills - is automatically entered into a lotto. (require an amount of time logged in game for the month (5h?), not in shelter, a town, or a home even) - maybe this is an idea better left alone..


Upkeep:
  • 500 iron, lumber, leather, 100 delectable food, 10,000 gold is the base upkeep for a 8x8 standard home (8x8=64 standard for base multiplier).
  • Your footprint is used to calculate your multiplier to determine your monthly upkeep. Take your two house dimensions, multiplied against each other, divided by 64 to determine your multiplier for upkeep.
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Gracekain

Neophyte
Upkeep:
  • 500 iron, lumber, leather, 100 delectable food, 10,000 gold is the base upkeep for a 8x8 standard home (8x8=64 standard for base multiplier).
  • Your footprint is used to calculate your multiplier to determine your monthly upkeep. Take your two house dimensions, multiplied against each other, divided by 64 to determine your multiplier for upkeep.

Damn, I really do like this idea. Create another market for gathers, and sinks more gold. A++
 

Basia

Master
Using resources for upkeep is a bad idea that would just encourage more VPN gatherer bots.

If there's a tax, it should be for inactive homes only -- those giant mansions gathering dust that are owned by people that haven't played here in a year. Active players should not be penalized for the hard work and money they put into acquiring houses.
 
The resource upkeep idea is an alternative to putting a hard limit on houses at 1 per IP. You're either in the IP limit camp or tax/upkeep camp in regards to solutions to free up housing.

I think there should be BOTH. Tax/upkeep on something like a 12x12 should be very reasonable and easily manageable by someone actively playing the game, but tax/upkeep on something like a 30x30 should be increasingly significant. No one needs a 30x30 house, a house half that size is more than enough room. But if you wanna take up several plot spaces on your 30x30 that's fine, but you will pay for it.

TO BE CLEAR:

Limit houses to 1 per IP (with an exception for guild houses). Add in an exponentially increasing Tax/Upkeep cost based off of square footage. Tax/upkeep on an 8x8 should be miniscule, 12x12 should be easily manageable, once you get into the 20x20 and 30x30 range the upkeep/tax cost should be exponentially increasing. 30x30 should be meant for guilds, not a single player.
 
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