Player owned houses

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Arrows old.gif The content in this article is historical. Arrows old.gif

It may not accurately reflect the last version of RS Classic.
Historical map of Varrock as teased on jagex.com in November of 2000, prior to the release of RuneScape

Player owned houses were an early concept present in RuneScape even before its release on 4 January 2001. Ultimately, "Player Owned Houses" were never made available to players to own. In most respects, the content was unreleased, and the concept was abandoned entirely in Classic on 26 July 2001 (Update).

Beginnings[edit | edit source]

Player owned houses existed on the World map for the first 6 months of RuneScape as an inaccessible area, teased to be released fully in the coming months.

This quote from Tip.it archives[1] in January 2001 describes the original concept:

As I have seen on new Official Discussion board Andrew posted a reply on houses. I can't remember all but in short lines there is still a some months before it will be finished, there will be different houses from 3 x 3 rooms to 4 floors building and there will be chests in so you will be able to leave your items in guards and thief's permitting ;-), There will be ton of things to buy for your house too. He don't know yet what a prices will be but it will depend on offer and demand. .

The Player Owned Houses concept predates the ability to Bank items, so it would have been the only place to leave your items. Houses would have been non-instanced, and the land on the map actually owned by a specific player. As RuneScape had not exploded in popularity yet, or even been released when the homes were designed, this still seemed like a feasible concept.

Models available[edit | edit source]

On the release of RuneScape, these buildings existed in Varrock:

  • An estate agent building near the front gate. This was the only building with furniture in it, as the concept would have allowed players to furnish their own homes (other than the ladders)
  • 24 houses 3x4 tiles, with no yard. The most basic house.
  • 14 houses 4x4 tiles, with an upstairs equally as big. A 2x4 fenced front yard is provided. A house for a richer person.
  • 6 houses 6x6 tiles, with 7 rooms each across 2 floors. A 2x6 fenced front yard and a 2x6 fenced back yard are provided. Likely intended for smaller clans.
  • A unique castle-like clan building, for a very large and powerful clan.
  • A unique second sprawling building, for a very large and powerful rival clan.
  • 3 enormous apartment buildings 3 floors high. Each floor had eight 3x3 rooms and 2 wide hallways.
    • Later on, around May 2001, the two apartment buildings to the east no longer had their ground floors finished. It seems that Andrew considered re-dividing them into rooms only 2 wide and 3 deep to help meet growing demand. However, their top floors had the same 3x3 rooms. If he finished re-dividing the apartments into 2x3 rooms, as was partially begun, each floor would be able to hold 12 apartments, for a maximum of 36 domiciles per building.

All in all, this would have provided accommodations for 134 individual people[2] (and perhaps their best friend/significant other), 6 clans of between 5 and 10 people, and 2 clans of two to three dozen members each, for a generous estimated maximum capacity of around 350 people and an actual 142 properties available[2].

RuneScape gains popularity[edit | edit source]

By April of 2001, there was still only one game world, but it was sometimes seeing peaks of over 1024 players online simultaneously.[3] RuneScape's success was a problem for the concept of Player owned houses, but Andrew had not yet given up on the idea. He added more Player owned houses to the map with the release of Asgarnia, in Falador.

On 6 April 2001, Falador's Player owned homes added additional capacity:

  • 6 houses 3x4 tiles, with no yard. The most basic house.
  • 2 houses 4x4 tiles, with an upstairs equally as big. A 2x4 fenced front yard is provided. A house for a richer person.
  • A unique castle-like clan building.
  • An apartment building similar to the ones in Varrock, divided into eight 3x3 rooms per floor, but with only 2 floors
  • Enough empty space for another apartment building

In retrospect, the added capacity from these homes would have been like trying to put out a bonfire with a turkey baster. These homes were likely placed as a way to show players that the idea wasn't abandoned and was still planned to come out soon. Andrew would make a public statement to Tip.it[4] re-committing to Player Owned Houses two weeks later:

After talking to Andrew he said that Player Owned Houses WILL be for auction, so there will not be a set price. Also he commented that due to high demand it's looking like that POH's will be for clans only.

At this point, it may have seemed like the free market would take care of the supply-demand issue, as the continued growing popularity of RuneScape had not yet become evident. It wouldn't seem to be so bad if the houses were just so expensive that only the top 10% of players could afford one. However, that percentage would quickly become much smaller.

Removal[edit | edit source]

Three months later, on 26 July 2001 (Update), the Player Owned Homes were removed from the map. Runite items and the item bank were released at the same time, two other highly anticipated updates, to help ease the disappointment. Andrew says in the news post:

The player owned houses have been removed. This is because since they were original planned runescape has become much more popular and there is nowhere near enough to go around. Instead the 2 updates above have been included to compensate. The item bank lets anyone store the items they want to, and the runite items are an alternative for people to spend the money they have been saving on.

Final impact[edit | edit source]

The idea of Player Owned Houses was one that Jagex never fully abandoned, as evidenced by their eventual release on 31 May 2006 in RuneScape 2.

Some players have believed the Carpentry skill (added to the stats menu on 30 April 2002 and removed by 12 December) had some relation to the idea of Player Owned Houses. The work required to implement Player Owned Houses would require several more years to be completed, but it would turn out to be true that "Carpentry" was linked to Player owned houses. This is evidenced by the fact the name "Carpentry" would be mentioned in a Behind the Scenes article from June 2005 referencing the in-development Construction skill.

A less obvious impact that Player owned houses had, is the impact had on the final design of the world map. Their influence on the world map is sometimes seen even into modern versions of RuneScape.

  • A 3x4 tile house in south-east Varrock would remain throughout the entirety of Classic, be converted for RuneScape 2, and survive several redesigns of Varrock. It still exists today in RuneScape 3.
  • Two of the 4x4 houses with front yards would become accessible and remain in south-east Varrock until the release of Biohazard on 23 October 2002
  • The giant clan house in Falador would remain as a mostly empty building throughout Classic. It retained a mostly similar appearance in RuneScape 2 until the space was converted into the Falador Party Room on 24 July 2007.
  • The six 3x4 tile houses in Falador would remain throughout Classic. Their configuration would change drastically beyond recognition when converted for RuneScape 2, but the same number of small houses still persisted as apparent inspiration. Four of those six houses still exist today in RuneScape 3.
  • All three of the roads leading into Varrock Player owned houses area remained after the area was removed. The gate near the estate agent office was not the only entrance; there was also a planned north entrance and south entrance, which at the time had roads cut off in the middle with standard walls.
    • The middle entrance is most obvious, as it would later become the eastern gate of Varrock.
    • The south entrance road initially was converted to lead to some extra NPC houses in south-east Varrock, but in 2002, that area would be transformed into the Members only section of Varrock used in the Family Crest and Biohazard quests.
    • The north entrance road was north of the Church north of Varrock Museum. This road was not changed at any point throughout Classic, and seemingly doesn't make any sense, as it's just a road with a wall through it leading behind the church to nowhere. The north entrance road was removed on transition to RuneScape 2.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Tip.it "www.jagex.com DOWN !!!" 25 January, 2001
  2. 2.0 2.1 Assumes the two apartment buildings to the east are subdivided as 2x3 rooms on all 3 floors and the west apartment building stays 3x3 rooms.
  3. Update:Server problems
  4. Tip.it "About Player Owned Houses.." 21 April, 2001