by NorseGamer, HSM Editor-in-Chief
This is a somewhat unusual Wishlist Saturday article, in that I don’t think it requires a core update to pull off. Unless I’m very much mistaken — which is possible, because we’re talking about technical functionality in Home — it could be implemented right now.
Earlier this year, a prior Home update merged the memory channels for personal estates in such a way that the user could potentially go from fifty furniture items to one-hundred, albeit at the cost of any active items. And, now that active items can take up less than twenty-two memory blocks apiece, the full effects of that update are only now starting to be felt.
That update didn’t create any new memory; it simply reallocated what was already there in a more efficient fashion.
What I’m proposing is basically the same thing, except that it doesn’t require a core update to achieve: create personal estates with lower invite caps and higher furniture caps.
This isn’t really new in Home. Developers have launched public game spaces with lower invite caps — limited to thirty-two or even sixteen players — in order to have more memory to work with. I’m simply suggesting that the same thing be done with personal estates.
Is it such a sacrifice to give up a twelve-person limit for a personal estate?
Think about it. Do you consistently entertain eleven of your friends in your estates? Or do you use clubhouses for that sort of thing, particularly now that you can buy clubhouse skins? Aside from unlocking a hidden bonus feature like a LOOT Sunset Yacht caper, when’s the last time you actually had a dozen people in one of your personal estates? I’ll wager real money that the average population for personal estates is one, or very close to it.
So imagine now, that a new estate was created which was limited to six people, rather than twelve. Would you even notice the difference? Would you be inconvenienced in the slightest? And what could developers do with that extra memory?
Well, for one thing, it might give them more memory to create even wilder personal estates with more moving parts. We’re seeing a very welcome trend of re-imagining the personal estate as a private game unto itself, and this practice could be enhanced by reallocating memory from a less-used channel to a more-used channel. But where it could be very conspicuous, and indeed used as a selling point, is furniture.
Just as users struggled with the fifty-item limit in Home’s older days, so the hundred-item limit is an issue today. Thing is, Sony didn’t create any additional memory to get from fifty to one-hundred; they just reallocated it in a more user-aligned way. I’m proposing the same thing. How far could furniture decoration be taken if the memory allocated for a dozen users was cut in half to six users?
One-hundred-fifty items? Two-hundred? Hell, even if it was just one-twenty-five, that’s the equivalent of getting an additional active-item slot.
The reason why this innovation could be so important is because we need to examine the consumer’s motives behind purchasing a personal estate. Generally speaking, here are the primary reasons why someone would lay out money to buy an estate:
- Furniture decoration
- Aesthetic experience
- Gaming experience
- Technological feature
So let’s look at how the list plays out.
In Home, there are a number of people who purchase estates because they like the meta-game of decorating them. It’s a challenge, and a form of personal expression. For this group, the proposed memory reallocation is arguably the most beneficial.
Glitching is practically as old as Home itself, and arguably contributed to some furniture sales in the past. However, as each successive core update fixes various bugs and weaknesses in the client which impede the creation over more complex games, it’s clear to see that glitching is becoming a thing of the past. And, indeed, no computer program should have bugs or glitches; I know this is a popular hobby for a lot of users, and this publication does hold a mildly pro-glitching position because of the idea behind glitching (to think outside the box and violate what can be done in conventional reality), but it’s becoming an increasingly diminished part of the Home experience. Plus, developers are finally catching on to the sentiment behind glitching, by designing estates which allow the user to explore every part of the setting. A memory reallocation for fewer visitors probably wouldn’t affect what’s left of the glitching community positively or negatively.
For aesthetics and gaming experiences, having more memory to work with is a plus no matter how it’s measured. So if the invite cap was lowered and the memory reallocated to other channels (leaving the furniture cap alone), this could potentially allow for developers to shoehorn even more features into an estate. Something as simple as having more memory for lighting — enhancing the effects of diurnal controls — or sound design could make for a more engrossing experience.
The personal estate, as a market segment, arguably hit its nadir in the first or second quarter of this year. It has been revitalized thanks to a core update for active items, as well as a re-imagining of the personal estate as an unfolding game space which does not have to conform to the laws of physics. That said, what seems to be the next logical step is determining what channels are the most memory-intensive, and where that memory could be pulled from without adversely affecting the player.
It’s entirely possible that I’m wrong, and that lowering the invite cap does not allow developers to reallocate memory to other channels, such as the furniture cap. While I do have some limited exposure behind the scenes with the Home development kit, I’m not a trained programmer who knows the ins and outs of the system, nor do I pretend to be. Rather, I’m just the guy who studies Home’s consumer trends and tries to discern low-cost methods of enhancing sales opportunities.
If I’m right, lowering the invite cap and shifting the memory over to the furniture cap or some other channel is one such low-cost innovation which will not adversely affect Home users, does not require a core update, and can be pitched as a major selling point for the target demographics who do purchase personal estates. If I’m wrong…well, hey, it’s Wishlist Saturday at HSM, after all.