Tuesday, September 13, 2022

A Shopping Center In My MMO?

Running around Final Fantasy XIV, I thought I'd seen everything in the form of player housing. From 21st century kitchens to 17th century Japanese style homes. I've eaten at a small Starbucks style cafe in my apartment building to visiting a tavern with a live music played by a bard and big hamburgers. The music venues range from discos to a copy of the old Tunnel nightclub in New York City.

A popular item at the launch of Endwalker

But last Thursday I encountered something from a movie. Someone had set up a free company house and turned the building into a shopping center. The house has 15 rooms and most of the space was occupied.

The Forum Shopping Center is built around The Swaggin' Wagon Department Store. Taking up 8 of the rooms, the concept is a bit wild. Each room has a theme, ranging from casual glamour all the way to crafting and gathering gear. The selection is limited by the number of mannequins available plus the 100 item per room limit, but the idea is nicely executed.

What is a shopping center without someplace to eat? That's right, the shopping center has a restaurant called Lil Lyne Mheg Cafe. When I went in, the place was dimly lit with a bard playing on the stage. Have to have the music, right? When purchasing food in an establishment in FFXIV, the prices are a bit high, but that is to help pay for the total role play experience. If you want a place to stick around, buying something from the owner and talking a few minutes helps a lot.

What's a shopping center without specialty shops? The Forum Shopping Center has three. The first one I visited was Time To Dye. The shop goes well with the department store, as people generally like to dye their clothing if they don't have a glamour plate ready. If Tiny manages to expand his dye supply, I can imaging some players searching him out when the Fashion Report goes live every Friday. Too bad the place is officially only open on Thursdays.

The second specialty shop is Eben's Toy Kingdom. The store specializes in stuffed animals and plushie type items for your in-game homes. When I walked in, the room was filled with them. I didn't realize for a few moments that I could buy things.

The final specialty store is Greenhearth Apothecary and Gardens. The shop spans two rooms, with the Gardens a place to buy indoor items. I've seen some of the items, like the Indoor Oriental Waterfall and Indoor Pond, in other people's homes. I personally can vouch for the Planter Partition, as I've used a few in my apartment.

The Apothecary section is the first time I've seen someone selling food and beverages in a shop for actual raiding/crafting/harvesting use and not as a form of roleplay. I have to wonder if the owner is combining a little roleplay with their crafting.

Next comes one of my favorite places, Steamy Ventures. The place is a complementary onsen for people to gather and relax after running around the shopping center. Having built a second floor in an apartment, I have to say the onsen is very well designed. The first floor has two changing rooms, each with a shower. Stairs lead up to the second floor, which has 6 hot baths, three lined up along each side. I wasn't sure exactly what to do, since The Forum Shopping Center is a safe-for-work environment but nudity is mandatory in real life onsens. I played it safe and switched to the bathing suit I use when spear fishing.

Finally, no place in FFXIV is complete without a photography studio. The shopping center has its own place, Peach Pelegrino Photography, to pick up a few gpose shots done by someone with a lot more skill than I have.

Despite writing a bit more than I have lately, I don't have a financial stake in The Forum Shopping Center. No, I just found an unusual place and thought I'd share. Amazing what players can do if given some tools, isn't it?

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