By Raevyn Grovemother
Ever had a late-afternoon Bubble Tea craving? Your energy and mood are bottoming out but there’s still butterflies to sing to and the larder is empty. So you hit your store of bubbles… only to find a handful of Plain Bubbles and a lone Blue Bubble are all that’s left. Your only options are to buy bubbles at auction or head out into the world and try to run across enough bubble trees before you pay an unintended visit to the Bartender in Hell. But wait, there’s also the Housing Resource Routes to the rescue!
The concept behind the group is simple: shared front yard resources connected via street signs. In the bubble craving example above, you could jump into Bubble Boulevard, the Bubble Tree Route, and find at least five Bubble Trees at each house. When you’re finished harvesting that street, choose the street sign on the bottom to go to the next house on the route.
These routes are extensive, curving back and forth through the yards of many Glitchen with as many varied themes as there are resources. Hunt for Jellisacs and Peat Bogs along one route, Beryl and Dullite along another.
The concept came to creator and Grand Curator Scarlett Bearsdale before R1, springing from the daily gathering missions she and her friends went on.
“We started visiting the cave housing streets to gather our tree-resources,” she said. “Because each street had five trees plus a lot of metal, and you could hit 25 streets with no backtracking. We liked them because the process of harvesting those trees took a reasonable length of time and you could get 4-8 stacks of bubbles or fruit or beans in one go. We even started ‘farming’ the more abandoned quarters, planting predominantly bubbles in one place, beans in another and so on. So if we wanted bubbles we’d know where to go.”
This worked out great for Scarlett, but the impending end of housing meant that these social harvesting spaces were going away.
“I had a little angst about losing out on that when new housing came, and so I started brainstorming ways that we might replicate the functionality using the new streets … and I asked around a bit in chat and in the forums to see if anyone would be interested in ‘donating’ a sign on the signpost or two for this purpose, and got some enthusiastic answers,” Scarlett said. “I wanted to have the basic idea in place when new housing was released for testing.”
And indeed, it was. The group formed up at the beginning of R1 when players only had two tree patches and a static metal deposit. At the time it centered only around tree routes. Now that Glitchen can more expansively customize their yards, the routes have expanded to include all types of metal, building resources like Dirt Piles and Mortar Barnacles, and community crop and herb plots. There’s even a plan in the works to start routes for animal harvesting.
“After the current batch of routes are well established, we’re planning to roll out some ‘expansion’ routes (with) more combination routes for people who want more than one kind of tree, and some based on filling needs for particular purposes, for a recipe, say,” Scarlett said. “We’re also thinking about a ‘Millionaire’s Route’ of sorts – for people who have everything. And I expect more routes to develop in the community – a community kitchen route perhaps. Once the vendor-SDBs are implemented I hope the community kitchen route becomes more public because I think they’re awesome!”
Scarlett gives credit for the current efficiency of the routes to those who brainstormed early and “beta tested” them.
“Well it was refined through the input of the early adopters,” she said. “For instance, we used to add people to the ‘end of the (route) list, so the last person on the list was the one who had to change their signpost rather than the curator … LokiPDX was using our current system for the Grand Circuit and suggested it to us. Things like that … all those member contributions are what have made it work so well.”
Joining the route doesn’t consign all your sign spots away, though. Right now the only signs used are the top or bottom, with the curators of each route using the middle sign for the Route of All Routes, letting you jump around to different routes. Members of the route are asked to leave a yard gnome or a note with directions to their yard’s resources and how to get to the next stop on the route, especially if they’re on more than one route.
“Don’t be too intimidated to join; much like most of the people on Glitch, everyone I’ve met related to the resource routes has been very kind and helpful,” said Zigniber, who recently joined Bubble Boulevard and hopes to join the animal route once it’s in place. “Ever since the preview of the new housing system, I had always intended to set up my front yard as a place for public harvesting, squeezing in as much as I could. Going heavy on trees seemed like a good idea, since that would make it easy to keep a lot of animals as well. So, I just went with a max-size yard and started squeezing in as much as Glitchenly possible.”
Zigniber’s yard is now full of bubble and fruit trees. “After a few days, I found out about the resource routes and started investigating them, since it seemed like a natural way to help people find my yard. Eventually, after having run the bubble route myself, and being a little less than impressed at my overall take on it, I decided that it’d be a good one to join, so I converted all my trees over to bubbles, and, well, here we are.”
Having your public resource broken can seem like a huge burden to homeowners, but the HRR group’s in-game chat channel is a great resource for help.
“Others in the Housing Resource Routes group chat are always ready to help with restoring resources if they collapse on you, in addition to the We Like to Project group who are also willing to help,” said Zigniber.
“If resources break down while you’re using them, you’re not obligated to do the repair on your own!” Scarlett said. “‘We’ all broke it together, so ‘we’ can all fix it together too!”
Although you can often run into homeowners or one or two other resource hunters along the routes, it’s rarely as crowded as Ajaya Bliss.
“On the forums, when the subject comes up there are definitely people who don’t like the idea (of the routes),” Scarlett said. “They seem to feel that the routes will keep people out of Ur and that they’re less organic than the resources you find in the real streets. And I think that the latter is true, but the former is not necessarily true. People seem to use the routes to go looking for something when they need a large amount of it and don’t want to spend a lot of time harvesting. I don’t worry about it too much in any case – my attitude is that if you don’t like them, then you can totally pretend they don’t exist as far as your gameplay goes.”
The proof of positive feedback is in the pudding, though, as over 330 Glitchen are part of the routes right now, a number that is constantly growing. And a quote on the front page of the group is most telling: “We are very enthusiastic about the idea of player-created networks and routes (and will probably add some features to support them) …” ~Stoot Barfield.