Towers have arrived on the home streets of Ur. What the hell is a tower?
For those not in Glitch, towers are buildings that can be started on players’ home streets and are open to the public. With the recently added ability to sell items out of Storage Display Boxes, I originally perceived towers as simply serving as shops, but since release I’ve come to see them more as a form of expression, aimed at other players.
I still would love to see them work as functional stores, and to some extent they are functioning now—towers are resource intensive projects, so demand has returned to the Glitch economy—unfortunately, the only in-game support for finding or advertising tower sales is a trade channel. I’ve been using it, but I’m not a big fan of trade channels. Without moderation, they are never going to be trade-dedicated, and those that wish the channel to only have trade-related conversations are a source of conflict. Nobody likes being told to shut up, even if they should shut up. And as invites are turned back on and when the game goes live, the amount of non-trade chatter will increase, so the amount of conflict will increase. Never mind that the amount of spam will increase as well — a single trade channel just won’t scale usefully with a larger population.
I’m less concerned about that, however, than I was prior to release. Even immediately after release, I was still seeing them through lenses shaded by my own game goals and “dreams” of future content. Through a combination of seeing players use towers in ways other than as a store and through a post from stoot, I stopped thinking of them as virtual malls — at least, I no longer see them entirely as virtual malls. In response to someone noting that if everyone is a seller there won’t be any buyers, stoot wrote:
I used to think that way too and then I realized it was missing the point: people like to create the space, choose the name, design the vibe, decorate — if it’s a store, select the merchandise, etc — they want to make something. It’s not intended to fill some hypothetical (or real) economic-systems hole. So, it fails to fill that hole, you can’t really blame it.
I think the word “if” might be missing from that last sentence, but I think the point comes across. If Tiny Speck were beyond a doubt working to rid the world of vendors and released a road map explaining each step along the way, towers would not be the economic solution intended to fill the gap. Perhaps a market district, perhaps some other in-game search mechanic, but not towers and the trade channel alone.
As for the idea that people like to make and design spaces, I have to say: he’s right. Especially when it is a space that strangers will stumble into. Even I feel the draw of creating something that others can see, and nearly a month passed after the release of housing before I started upgrading furniture for my house. And while I did turn the first two floors into shops, my new understanding of towers actually inspired me to finish all nine floors—well, to plan to finish all nine floors—rather than call it off early. I’m filling the top floors with flash fiction stories, trying to use a line from each one to inspire the next one, and perhaps someday decorating the rooms to reflect the stories.
The tower is, indeed, something to do and a way to express who I am in the world of Ur. I still hate trade channels, but I’ll complain about economics another day.