In a new developer blog on the official website, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning content designer Kitty Hughes takes us through the goals the team had for the game's player housing, as well as the challenges they ran into while adding it as a feature in the game.
When building a player home, it helps me to think of it in layers. I think of it in terms of either building layers up, or tearing layers down. I decided to build player homes from their final upgrades and work backwards. This allows me to nail down absolutely everything I want in the space first, and strip away pieces layer by layer until I feel comfortable with the basic layout you’ll experience when you first acquire the home.
For those who are wondering exactly what I mean when I say “space,” this is how we refer to an individual area of the game (examples would be a tavern, a dungeon, or a player home). Basically, when you see a loading screen in a game, it is a sign you are loading into another “space” in the game. This can also be referred to as a “zone” in some games, and when loading into another zone that can often be referred to as “zoning.”
A good example to illustrate how player housing is built is the Sandstone Villa. In Reckoning, the Sandstone Villa player home is four spaces. Thinking of this backwards means I design the fourth and final space first, which includes full amenities such as crafting benches, lootables or smashables, and the mirror, stash, and bed. Then, I create the third and second spaces, stripping away certain amenities each time. Finally, I strip everything down to what will be in the first space you will see when you enter the house, which includes only the modest starting basics. This gives you incentive to upgrade the home either via purchases or questing, so that you can attain everything each home has to offer.