I think it was about two months ago when I first started seeing comments about housing coming to SWTOR in the near future, based on a dataminer finding some references to housing while doing his... datamining thing. I wasn't sure what to think of that. On the one hand personal housing didn't really strike me as something that would fit very well into the game's world as it is... but on the other hand it would very much be in line with the developers' recent push towards adding more "sandboxy" features.
Well, it's more or less official: during a livestream yesterday, Eric Musco revealed a short housing teaser trailer to the crowd. It starts with a view of Coruscant's skycars, then zooms out until you can see that the viewer is inside a Coruscant apartment. There are a few brief shots of the character walking around in it, then she spreads her arms as the words "welcome home" appear on the screen.
Like free-form space combat, housing is one of those features that have been asked for virtually forever by a certain segment of the player base. Alas, I am once again not one of them. I can see the appeal to people who like to build and decorate, but if you're not part of that demographic, I'm not sure what the point of housing is to be honest. I don't think I've ever played an MMO that did have player housing actually, but I'm not sure what purpose it's supposed to serve in a theme park game other than as another instance to hang out in on your own. Something for private roleplaying sessions maybe, but generally I prefer to hang out on the fleet... where the people are. I haven't even bought most of the personal starship legacy upgrades because I spend so little time on my ship.
Speaking of our personal starships, as these were previously touted as being "kinda-sorta" like player housing, some people wonder why Bioware decided to now make housing a separate thing instead of allowing us to customise our ships some more. I can't find the official quote now, but basically they've previously said that since a lot of different places on the ship are used for class story and companion conversations, they can't let you edit those or it would mess things up. It's not a pretty answer, but an understandable one. Nonetheless I have to wonder what incentives we're going to have to spend time in our home instance. At least we need to board our starship every so often to travel, but why hang out in your apartment on Coruscant as opposed to somewhere else?
A lot of other questions come to mind too, such as how customisable the whole thing is going to be. From what I understand, housing systems across different MMOs vary pretty wildly, from some letting you build whatever you like from the ground up, and others only giving you a pre-made house where you can more or less arrange the furniture and that's it. Personally I expect SWTOR's system to be closer to the latter, because... it's just not that kind of game. That's not necessarily a criticism either, as not everyone likes to build their house from scratch, and having to do so can frankly be overwhelming to less crafty players (I think it would be to me to be honest). I just hope that we'll be able to purchase real estate on different planets. I bet a lot of people would love to live on Tatooine.
I wonder if we'll see changes to crew skills related to this. Typically, housing is the kind of feature that lends itself perfectly to making additions to crafting, because people love the idea of making their own furniture. I can't really see any of the current professions fit this role very well though. Synthweaving my own curtains? Erm, not really. I guess this would be a great opportunity to introduce a new crew skill, if Bioware is willing to go down that road.
Sadly I expect that their focus will be more on how to monetise this new system via the Cartel Market. Personally I expect basic housing to be available for in-game credits, plus maybe a handful of furniture options, but all the good stuff will probably come from the Cartel Market, particularly the Cartel Packs. Oh well, as long as the underlying system is good... I never have any trouble finding the contents of the packs on the GTN if I want any of them for myself.
Lastly, I can't help but wonder about companion involvement. The teaser video shows a droid in the apartment that looks like the Jedi knight's T7 companion. I suppose it would make sense for droids and love interests to hang out in my house, but unlike on my ship, I'd find it weird if my whole crew was on a never-ending visit. Some privacy, please! I suppose in my ideal world you'd be able to "invite" your companions into your house and unlike in the outside world they wouldn't follow you around all the time but maybe walk around and lounge on the sofa or something. Not sure how feasible that is, but I think that's how I'd like it to work.
You know, for someone who isn't particularly interested in housing, I'm still quite excited about this. It's a feature that definitely has the potential to surprise.