by Burbie52, HSM team writer
Just a little over a century ago, many people never traveled far from where they were born; a person could live their entire life within a twenty-mile radius or less, depending upon their available mode of transportation, financial situation or position in life. Farming was a big part of life back then; farmers grew their crops, brought them to sell in the nearest settlement and then bought needed items and returned home. Life was simple.
Eventually, people started wandering further from their homes as technology grew, so they began measuring the distances with milestones — usually a simple carved bit of rock. They became more stylized as time went on and began taking on all sorts of shapes and sizes. But they all served the same purpose: to tell you how far you had come, how far you had to go and where you were going to.
Milestones have also become a name for measuring child development and important events in life or accomplishments. This article is a sort of milestone for me, as it marks the one-hundredth article I have written since the day I first joined this magazine. It wasn’t a goal or even a thought when I started; it just happened. But when I look back now, I can’t believe the journey that Home and this magazine has provided for me so far. I have loved every minute of it, and I hope to see it continue for a long time to come.
This magazine itself has had some milestones. The first time we had an interview with a developer; the first cover with an important interview of someone outside Home; the first time we hit over five-thousand unique visitors; the first time we hit — yeah, it’s a meme — over nine-thousand unique visitors. All of these are things that mark our journey here within the Home community and tells everyone where we have been and where we are going.
Home has more than a few milestones of its own to claim, starting way back in closed beta. I wasn’t here during that time, but I have several friends who were. One of the first milestones in Home was the Chamber Apartment, given away for free on May 14, 2009 — often cited as a delineation point between Home’s “senior” users and everyone else, due to the estate’s limited run. Another milestone was when the first game-based public spaces came out in October of 2008: Far Cry 2 and Sully’s Bar (based on the Uncharted 2 game). Clubhouses were also added, and could be considered a milestone, as it allowed thirty-two people to be in a private area together for the first time. The addition of the camera was one of the big changes as well: giving the ability to take pictures of your friends and the fun you were having in Home was a pretty big deal back then, when there was little else to do in Home.
The first general-release personal space available for sale was the Summer House, which came to open beta Home when it launched December 11, 2008; it was followed by many more, as all of us know, but this was a first — and therefore a step forward in Home’s growth. Hard to believe there are almost a hundred spaces to purchase now, and some of the latest ones can be considered milestones in themselves: Blueprint, which allows us to create our own spaces, Dream Island, with its swimming feature, and the upcoming Home Tycoon game, with its city-building capabilities, are all new. Avalon Keep gave us the first personal space with the ability to fly. The MiniBots Training Facility, with its terrain-changing ability and the multi-player game in it, also makes the list of new concepts — as did the active-item singleplayer game they introduced. Being able to play a game in any space you own was a huge change.
Xi has been touted as the best community-based game ever brought to Home, but it can also be listed as a huge milestone in Home’s
history and also in the history of internet gaming, as it was the very first of its kind; a console-based alternate reality game (ARG). Its arrival in Home on March 23, 2009 marked the beginning of a whole new concept for a social gaming community, and people loved it.
I wish I had been in Home during this event; I’ve heard so much about it. I suspect that if anyone ever comes up with another like it, they will be met with a huge welcome by all of the people in Home.
Another milestone: the Feva Arena, brought to Home for the World Cup Soccer games in June 2010, was the first international space to cross all the servers in the four Home communities across the globe. The E3 spaces had this same ability in the past couple of years as well. People really enjoyed these areas, and many hope to see more such region-free attractions in Home.
When it comes to gaming in Home, Lockwood set a milestone — with SodiumOne — for the first MMO-style game in Home, introduced on December 17, 2009 as part of the overall Sodium Hub with the Scorpion Stomp and the Scorpio bartending games. They also had the first pay-to-play game with Salt Shooter. Not too long thereafter, Home offered up multiplayer games via Hellfire’s Novus Prime and Lockwood’s own Sodium2. Since then, there have been some new innovative games that set milestones of their own: Cutthroats, No Man’s Land and Mercia have all redefined Home in the past few months.
The EOD introduced by LOOT was another milestone for Home. Its constant upgrades to Crackle, RadioIo and now portability are all new steps in Home’s evolution since closed beta. The addition of user-generated content on the EOD for use by everyone in Home has set another indelible mark on Home’s future. LOOT’s innovations with the active camera and its stage sets have created some incredible film opportunities for many users, and started new clubs and organizations devoted to machinima.
Club skins were another milestone. For years, the only thing available was the old basic clubhouse; now there are several choices to be had, each unique in design and some boasting increased functionality as well. This was something that the community had been asking for since closed beta, so it is also something to mark in Home’s history books.
Lockwood’s introduction of the gift machine is another huge milestone; it introduced an entirely new market segment to Home. To further demonstrate that gifting is no flash-in-the-pan marketing gimmick in Home, Lockwood also gave us the first giftable apartment recently. New milestones to add to the string they started with SodiumOne.
The release of the redesign of Home’s public spaces on November 11, 2011 has to be mentioned here as well as it marked a huge turning point in Home’s focus toward becoming more of a gaming platform. 2012 will be remembered as the year of the game in Home because of all the content oriented toward games that has been released here. It makes me wonder what 2013 will bring to the table. Will it become known as the year of a social revolution in Home? The newest 1.7 upgrade seemed to be leaning in that direction; we can only hope.
Another big change that came to Home and has grown considerably since its inception in November of 2010 is the idea of having pets. What started with an uncertain future has expanded to the point where this market segment now has its own store, called Sidekicks, within the Home navigator.
Here are some more milestones in Home’s history:
- Dolphy Room Personal Space and Hudson Gate: First Space to provide an evolving mini-game connected to a public space.
- Warhawk space: First removed public area on 7/1/2010.
- Playstation Mansion: First expandable personal space.
- Nasa Space Shuttle launch on 2/24/2011: first event streamed live on LOOT EOD.
All of these things have helped shape Home in the almost four years it has been in open beta. There is no doubt that upcoming product releases will continue this trend and add to the list of milestones Home is accumulating at a much more rapid pace than ever before in it’s history. This is going to be a time of fantastic expansion and redefining of Home, and I for one am looking forward to it with great enthusiasm.
Milestones are important to us all. They mark where our journeys have taken us, point us toward where we should go next, and show us what we have both accomplished and learned along the way. This gives us incentive to move forward as we grow from our past experiences both good and bad. I have learned a great deal from Home, through writing about it and all of its complexities. I have learned to laugh more, love more, embrace the diversity of people…and as my real life and Home move ahead in the future, I pray that this process of self discovery and growth as a person never ends. My wish is that Home does the same for you.