With the delay of Galactic Strongholds, many SWTOR players feel that the game is suffering from a bit of a content draught right now. I'm inclined to agree that it kind of feels that way when you consider the size of previous patches, but I can't really blame the devs when it's obvious that they are pouring all their resources into the next two large releases right now (housing and the as of yet unnamed story expansion). Not to mention that SWTOR is still pretty good about its content patch cycle compared to a lot of the competition.
Either way it was interesting to read today's developer update by Jesse Sky, giving us a sneak peek of Galactic Strongholds and hopefully rekindling some player interest in the process. There is some stuff in there about how you'll get your stronghold and how other people will be able to access it, but the biggest bit of news was that the system will be hook-based.
Unsurprisingly that immediately sent some people howling on the forums, especially after Eric Musco emphasised at the Vancouver Community Cantina that SWTOR's housing system would be "different and new". To be fair, it does seem different and new to me in so far as it tries to strike a balance between limiting players to what seems sensible (e.g. furniture going on the floor, wall decorations going on the walls) but still giving them as much freedom as possible at the same time. Anyway, haven't all the recent housing additions to MMOs been more or less freeform anyway? RIFT? Wildstar? Why should all games have to follow the same rules?
There are definitely advantages to having some limitations. I reckon that for every wannabe artist that feels let down by being unable to make things float in the air and hates being blocked from manually building a piano out of a hundred teacups, a system like this will win over at least one player who would've otherwise just dumped all their decorations on the floor and gone: "Screw this, I can't be bothered with meticulously placing all this crap in three dimensions." Honestly, I suspect that I'm more likely to fall into that latter category myself. Admittedly I've never played an MMO that had housing before, but I know that building in The Sims was always a bit of a chore for me when all I really wanted was a serviceable house to be able to actually play with my Sims.
So I'm on board with what they previewed so far. The only thing that worries me are the repeated comments about how the UI is just a placeholder as the system is still in alpha. Isn't this whole thing supposed to launch in a little over a month? I would've thought that a major new system like that would have to be in beta by now.