Do you consciously try to prevent item/MP hoarding in your games?

  • Yes

    Votes: 7 25.0%
  • Sometimes

    Votes: 8 28.6%
  • No

    Votes: 13 46.4%

  • Total voters
    28

G-G-Games

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I saw a video on YouTube a while back which discussed various ways of discouraging item hoarding in games such as limiting how many can be held, 'expiration dates' for consumables, and plentiful consumables to be found.

Something I tried once was making HP recovery only possible at inns but making MP recovery items plentiful in the hope of encouraging players to spend MP liberally to avoid trekking back to the inn very often. Furthermore, resting at the inn caused MP recovery items to lose potency (be replaced by worse versions).

Do you encourage players to spend MP and use items? If so, how?
 

overlordmikey

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As someone who hoards MP healing items in games, it really depends on the game. Typically I am somewhat influenced by how common magic is in the world. If magic is something rare or that only wizards do then magic items are more scarce (sometimes not even available at normal item shops) and using them should be a big deal.
 

TheoAllen

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Skill resource (MP/TP) is easy. Just make it limited but easy to recover. Should prevent them from hoarding the skill resources. I still have a problem encouraging my player to stop hoarding items, however. One person complained about the boss in my game being hard but refuse to use items to win the fight.

Item limit to encourage usage of items with plentiful supplies you can get on the map may be a solution. The main problem lies in the fact that you have no idea what lies ahead of you. What if the next boss would be harder than the previous one, what if you spend all items at once then you screwed it up in the next dungeon because you can't resupply.
 

ATT_Turan

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Some of this is semantics, but I don't love the mindset of trying to discourage a particular player behavior - to me, this smacks of trying to tell the players there's a right and wrong way to play. I think it's better design to have different play styles that are equally viable.

After all, in what way does it harm you or the game or the player's experience if they don't use items? Or are you just figuring you went through the trouble of making the items, they should darned well be used?

That all being said, here are a few of my thoughts:
- I almost never use items in any game, except to resurrect characters because that's often difficult to do in this genre. It's not because I "hoard" them (which means there's a desire to possess), but because I don't find it useful or necessary to use them.

- I also think a component of "hoarding" items is what TheoAllen touched on - the fear of lacking supplies. But this approaches a balance issue - if you are leery of using items because you might be ill-prepared for something coming up, the obvious solution is to supply plenty of items so the player won't run out. But then you might ask what the point is, in the first place...if an effect is being achieved by an item, and those items are plentiful, why not just give the effect to the player instead of making them go through using items. That's why I chose in my game to completely recover stats when you level up, and to make unconscious characters revive at the end of a fight.

- Items vie for the same resources as equipment. In most games in the genre, upgrading your equipment is significant and expensive (it's the most common reason you see grinding). So why would I spend a chunk of change to buy a full stack of potions when I could spend that on armor that makes me take less damage and not need as much healing?

- If you still want to encourage use of items, therefore, the goal is to make them particularly useful or necessary.

Useful:
Make them different or better than other ways to achieve the same effect. Maybe potions heal more than spells (which is usually the other way around), or confer some other kind of buff at the same time. Maybe effects like healing or damaging a group of targets is only achievable through the items you get.

Necessary:
Maybe there aren't healing spells, only items. This box is often checked by MP recovery and resurrection items. Maybe it's a really tough choice to spend your MP on healing or damage. Too often, I find characters ostensibly supposed to be casters are too decent at just attacking, so the most effective strategy is to attack with them and save their MP for healing, which makes HP recovery items pointless. For my part, I made my casters have very weak attacks, so the only way they're effective in battle is to use spells. This means that also healing via spells puts you in the real danger of running out of MP until your next level or rest.
 

Zevia

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I think it's important to look at why you have items in your game to begin with. There can be a sense of including them just because every other game always has. The standard "need an HP recovery item," "need an MP recovery item," "need a status effect curing item" list - why?

If you have someone in the party who has healing magic, then the only reason you'd use your HP recovery items is because that person is either busy doing a different action or is dead - or perhaps to top yourself up after battle in order to conserve magic for your healer because MP items are rarer or more expensive.

So if you want to force using HP recovery items, perhaps limit the amount of healing your party can do otherwise. If they don't need the items, then they'll simply hold onto them just in case they do later. If you want to force MP recovery items being used, find a way to force MP usage. I've had plenty of Final Fantasy playthroughs where just holding the confirm button to select attack and the first enemy was plenty to get me through everything that wasn't a boss fight, so I never needed to use MP recovery items - by the time I got to the boss, I still had full MP or close to it and a single MP bar was enough to kill the boss without refilling it. Better hang onto those ethers just in case there's a boss that doesn't go down that easy later, but how will I know? Oh, it's the last boss of the game? Guess I could've been more liberal in my magic use earlier. Too late now, unless I replay it.

But there's some value in maybe trying out new systems - maybe we just don't need items, or we only need a couple types and most of them are just superfluous work that the player will never make use of. Or perhaps make them limited in a capacity other than single-use - Legend of Dragoon had some great items that did a lot of damage or had a very powerful effect, could be used once per battle, but then replenished after battle. If you know your item isn't going to go away and all you're doing is missing out on its benefit by not using it every single battle, you're a lot more likely to use it. I made an item in my first game that restored itself after battle and players used it all the time because there was no fear of losing out on its benefits later if they used it at a suboptimal moment.

Players shouldn't feel regret for using an item or feel anxious about using them because they might need it later - and players will always hoard items if it's not clearly communicated how necessary they might be. The caveat would be if it's a survival game or something where item rationing and resource management is a core mechanic.
 

Milennin

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I encourage players to spend MP by having a multitude of ways to regen it back in combat, using skills and passives. I don't have items in the game, because the problem I have with items is that you, as player, never know when's the right to use them, and using them at the wrong time could mess you up in later parts of a dungeon.
I've made my game in a way that your party is always prepared to take on every new encounter they get into, and that choices are made in the moment, not by planning ahead for things you can't see coming.
 

overlordmikey

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I encourage players to spend MP by having a multitude of ways to regen it back in combat, using skills and passives. I don't have items in the game, because the problem I have with items is that you, as player, never know when's the right to use them, and using them at the wrong time could mess you up in later parts of a dungeon.
I've made my game in a way that your party is always prepared to take on every new encounter they get into, and that choices are made in the moment, not by planning ahead for things you can't see coming.
Wow, I'm like the reverse. I like to reward preplanning and try to find quirky uses for items outside of their usual use. (The Stars Here Below is a bad example, I didn't have time to do anything fun with the items).
Like having a character who can mix items during battle to cause stuff to happen. Taking a normal healing potion and turning it into an explosive as a mild example. So that way even if magic starts to become yer main source of Healing (or you switch over to stronger healing potions) the old junk doesn't just waste away.

Edit: Now I kinda wanna try and make a game with no items.
 

Cythera

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Never. As someone who hates when games force me to play a certain way or use a certain team or use certain items/skills, I am trying my absolute best to make a game where players can play how they want.
So what if they stockpile items? So what if they want to trek backwards and use a free heal or an Inn after every second fight? If that's how they have fun, if that's how they want to play, go for it! :yhappy: I am more concerned about making sure they don't have to do that in order to play. If players ever reported they couldn't progress without stockpiling items or without playing a specific way, then I have a balancing issue to solve haha.
 

RCXDan

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Ooooh baby. I was kinda waiting for this one.

So - my games have natural, permanent MP regeneration for lore purposes but also because I feel it gives far more freedom to play around and experiment with the skills, as well as prevent hopeless "checkmate" situations. You know, where you're locked into losing because you can't outperform the enemies in a damage race or can't heal when you don't have items left.

Powerful skills, especially of the limit break kind, are limited by cooldown so you can't just use them, then drink a TP potion and rinse-repeat until you win.

I want people first and foremost to have fun like @Cythera said, and I feel it'd be more natural for the difficulty to come in because the player has to think of how to use their current set of tools vs. being forced to work with minimal resources. Play how you want the way you want, basically.

Recovery items are also balanced around this: MP restoratives remove the one status effect that drains your MP to zero and HP potions drain some of your MP to give you health as an equivalent exchange kind of thing.

I also have a counter to item hoarding in the form of having individual items limited by stock, kinda like what @TheoAllen said. You can only bring 3 of the game's megalixir, for example - the more valuable the item is, the less you can bring. I feel this works especially well with gauntlets that test your endurance and don't allow you to refill between matches.

... Also there'd be a storage system where excess items are sent there instead of being lost forever, to still incentivize exploration while making the player work with what they currently have in their inventory.
 
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G-G-Games

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Some of this is semantics, but I don't love the mindset of trying to discourage a particular player behavior - to me, this smacks of trying to tell the players there's a right and wrong way to play. I think it's better design to have different play styles that are equally viable.

Maybe my poll question should have been, "Do you actively support/incentivize your players' use of consumable items and spells in your games?"

In my mind the questions are nearly the same, but this one is phrased in a more positive way.

As someone who has struggled with item/MP hoarding in the past, I appreciate it when I feel like a game is "giving me permission" to use spells and items outside of boss battles.
 

G-G-Games

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I also have a counter to item hoarding in the form of having individual items limited by stock, kinda like what @TheoAllen said. You can only bring 3 of the game's megalixir, for example - the more valuable the item is, the less you can bring. I feel this works especially well with gauntlets that test your endurance and don't allow you to refill between matches.
How did you implement this, with a specific plug-in? I might want to try this in a future project.
 

Aesica

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I put "sometimes" but really, "other" is more appropriate.
MP Hoarding
My overall design philosophy for designing spells, skills, etc is to just make MP not something you need to hoard in the first place. Having played plenty of oldschool RPGs as a kid, i always hated how it was "fighters kill everything while mages defend until we reach the boss". Here's the steps I take to accomplish this:
  • In a lot of cases, MP auto-refills, either in part or in full, at the end of a battle.
  • During combat, there's plenty of ways to refill or regenerate lost MP: Defending/guarding, certain abilities, mp regen gear, etc.
  • Different takes on MP entirely. One of the plugin I made awhile back was made specifically to facilitate giving different characters different "flavors" of MP. For any wow players out there, you can use it to replicate Rage, Energy, Runic Power, Focus, etc in addition to classic MP/mana all on a per-class basis.
The standard "mp pool that only empties unless you drink a potion or stay at an inn" approach is pretty dated, and I wish more developers would take the time to flesh out mechanics to make MP more fun and less stale.

Anti-Item Hoarding
I don't have as clear of an solution to this one other than just making consumables easy/cheap to get, but stackable in very small quantities. "Use your 6-pack of healing potions wisely in the dungeon, but know you'll easily and cheaply be able to get 6 more once you return to town again."
 

Tai_MT

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Basically, I had to rewire everything I knew about RPG's to accomplish it. I removed "Dedicated Healers" in favor of getting players to use Consumables. I wanted a Gold Sink and to have the game be more difficult (Dedicated Healers really break the difficulty of the game unless you nerf them into the ground... MP Healing is far too efficient in most games).

This caused a cascade of large and small changes to pretty much all the gameplay. For starters, I did not want players spending every single piece of money they had on healing items. I wanted the Healing Items to be used to "erase mistakes". That is, the player would only use them in specific sets of circumstances.

Those circumstances are:
1. Player under-estimates the enemies or over-estimates their own skills/stats/builds. Need to heal up to stay in the fight.

2. Player is spending an extended time in an area. Dungeon, leveling location, etcetera. Healing items would be expended during long treks and during gauntlets.

3. Player needs to remove a state from the characters.

4. I need the player to stop DPSing for a few turns and heal up so I can implement more strategy into boss fights.
---
Ideally, my players would need many Items early in the game as they're learning mechanics. Or, as they're learning new strategies and tactics from locations. As the player gets more skilled, they would need less of them. As the player conquers each area, they would need to buy less and use less, offering a small sense of "progression" as well as a "safety net" for unfamiliar situations.

The gameplay itself is meant to be a "tug of war" to some extent. Players can buy and hoard items only after they've proven that they're skilled enough to do so.

I also opted out of the "item is too good" mentality. No "Elixirs" in my game. Or rather... there are... sort of. Instead of items you get very rarely that restore all HP and MP to a single or multiple characters... I created "Tiers" of an Elixir that have a third effect.

The third effect of my Elixirs is that they also fill your TP gauge. They come in 5 percentages. 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%. They refill HP/MP/TP to that percentage at any time.

The draw of the Elixirs isn't the HP/MP restoration. It's the TP gauge you fill. You can effectively use "Ultimates" back to back by expending these items. Likewise, players can buy these items in the 5 Tiers as the game progresses on. The idea is that the player will save them and use them for boss fights in order to "pile on" damage.
---
There are items I don't want the players to hoard either. State curing items. I jacked up the potency of each state to encourage players to want to remove each state as quickly as possible. You'll want to cure Poison Level 4 as quickly as possible when it drains 20% of your HP every single turn and doesn't go away for 20 turns. All states are of similar power level to encourage players to expend state curing items as often as possible and to stay stocked up on them as well.
---
Finally, I have items that are "unique" and can only be purchased through a single store. They never drop from enemies, are never found in chests, and you must buy them if you want to use them. These are "SR" versions of all the standard consumables. That is, they offer buffs in combat and can't be used outside of combat. You can use a standard Potion to heal 20 HP... or the SR Potion to heal 20 HP and give you 25% more Defense for 3 turns. You can use an Antidote to Cure Poison... or use an SR Antidote to Cure Poison and give you an Agility Buff of 25% for 3 turns.

Now, the SR Items ARE more costly and involve a lengthy chain to unlock all the items, but if the player likes the bonuses, they can buy them and engage with them. Players don't buy items they don't intend to use. At least... not usually.
---
Other changes I made to gameplay in order to discourage item hoarding:

1. Chests don't drop Consumables. Monsters don't either.
2. Players are usually hit with at least 1 attack every fight.
3. Equipment exists to improve potency of Consumables while worn.
4. One "Inn" per area. You may eventually travel far from the Inn and be unable to easily return for a while. You should stock up on Consumables. The "Inn" is usually in the center of the map, or close to it.
5. Bosses drop "damage spikes" to get breathing room from the players.
6. No item is multi-target.
7. State Immunity is very rare and quite difficult to come by. Resistance can be gained, but it is difficult to get it up to levels to resist any 1 state in the game.
8. States have "Tiers". Immunity to Poison Level 4 does not grant Immunity to Poison Level 3.
9. HP and MP gains are tightly controlled to keep players from making massive pools of these stats so that they'd have to "heal less often". Instead, they need to wear the correct equipment to minimize damage rather than just try to "tank" damage and spam their Skills.
10. Inn Prices scale depending on how many characters you have recruited. It can be far cheaper to heal with Consumables than to visit the Inn by about the Midpoint of the game.
11. Dungeon length was increased to some extent. Likewise, enemy variety and gimmicks were increased above what you might find in a standard RPG. This isn't a "6 screens and done" affair with dungeons. Minimum screens is usually 10-12. Average fights in this dungeon is usually 35 (not including boss fights).
12. Stats were divorced from level ups. Equip things for highest increase in stats, or do quests to get permanent stat increasing items. You want more HP? You better get questing! Nope, doesn't matter if you are level 99 before the first boss. You're still going to have Level 1 stats if you haven't done any questing.
13. Wearing incorrect equipment for enemies/dungeons can result in massive damage spikes to the players from standard enemies.
14. Sentient enemies (like Bandits!) will use Consumables to extend the length of fights. Or remove states you put on them!
15. TP resets after every fight unless you're wearing equipment to preserve it. This equipment is rare and often not as good as other equipment.
16. Consumables have "Tiers". As the player gets more HP/MP, older versions of items are nowhere near as useful. It can be useful to sell off the "Heal 20 HP" Potions once you're able to buy the "Heal 100 HP" Potions and are sitting on like 400 HP.

All of these are designed to get you expending Consumables and buying more. I want players only carrying what they're going to use and using anything they have fairly frequently.
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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It honestly strikes me as weird how preoccupied people are with little things like this and the amount of theory-crafting that goes on around it or around the idea of "controlling/influencing player behavior" in general. If people want to hoard items, or MP, or items that restore MP, unless this is actively making your game less fun...who the heck cares? And if it is actively making your game less fun, even then I feel like probably look at what it is about your game that players at any point having a **** ton of items and/or plenty of mana/MP makes it less fun? This isn't meant as a dig at anyone!

I freely admit I didn't engage with this topic or what's been said here in a particularly deep way! I do see peoples' thinking is guided by what makes sense "in universe" for their game's world and its lore, and I am the same way, so that's cool.
 

Tai_MT

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It honestly strikes me as weird how preoccupied people are with little things like this and the amount of theory-crafting that goes on around it or around the idea of "controlling/influencing player behavior" in general.

Game Design, in general, is about getting the player to "engage" with the game. Players will optimize the fun out of your game if you let them. To this end, influencing and controlling player behavior is in the pursuit of ensuring a player will have fun with your game.

Is hoarding consumables you will rarely ever use all that fun? Can the act of having the player use Consumables be turned into a fun activity? Or, can you impose limitations and restrictions in order to make the player have fun?

A lot of Theory-Crafting has to do with finding a "definite" way to make the most amount of players have fun as possible.

Player Psychology, on the other hand, is about manipulating players into engaging with your content in a specific way for a variety of goals.

If people want to hoard items, or MP, or items that restore MP, unless this is actively making your game less fun...who the heck cares? And if it is actively making your game less fun, even then I feel like probably look at what it is about your game that players at any point having a **** ton of items and/or plenty of mana/MP makes it less fun?

It might not be about whether or not hoarding the Items is fun or not. For someone like me, it is about removing superfluous portions of games. There is nothing to be gained from giving a player 99 Potions that they will never use. There is no point to letting the player have 1,000,000 Currency they will never spend. If it exists and the player isn't using it, why did I waste my time putting it in my game? Why did I waste my time balancing the game around something my player will never engage with? Why did I waste my time creating something my player will never use?

There is nothing inherently wrong with players "hoarding" things. Sometimes, this can be fun as well. But, if you can make the act of spending things fun rather than hoarding them, then the player has options.

Let's take "Mercenaries 2" as an example here. If you've never played it, that's fine. Unless you're into that sort of game (like I am), you're not missing anything. You can probably YouTube the Yahtzee review of it and get a pretty good sense of the game and the problem I'm about to speak on.

Mercenaries 2 had an "Airstrike" mechanic. You could pick up or purchase or sometimes earn Airstrikes that you could use in the world. Generally speaking, these were pretty cool. They did pretty neat things and served a variety of functions. There were strikes that destroyed enemy vehicles in the area. There were strikes that obliterated buildings. There were strikes that effectively acted as anti-infantry carpet bombs. Many many options.

But, most players ran into the issue of, "But, I might need it later". Using an Airstrike was fun, but... you know... I might need these later. So... you know... not gonna use the Airstrikes I have. Doesn't matter that I have 2 Nuclear Bunker Busters on me... I might need them later. If the player could be convinced to STOP hoarding the Airstrikes in Mercenaries 2 and to use them as often as possible... the player COULD have a lot of fun with the game. I should know, I began doing it. I kept thinking, "I have a bajillion of these things, what if I just threw these at enemies rather than trying to shoot everyone to death and hijack every vehicle?". They rendered most of the game insanely easy. Not just easy... but FUN. A massive SPECTACLE to behold in most instances.

So, now we come back to items. Is it better to just let the player accumulate items for no reason or to find a way to make the gathering and spending of those items fun? What if the spending of those items was a facet of gameplay that made the player THINK about what they were doing? That is, they had to plan, strategize, and come up with tactics that revolved around using the items? Is that more fun than "mash attack or best skill and never use items"? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

But, if you can turn something in a game from "useless" to "fun", shouldn't you?
 

Kes

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For any wow players out there, you can use it to replicate Rage, Energy, Runic Power, Focus, etc in addition to classic MP/mana all on a per-class basis.
Never having played WoW, could you give a brief explanation of what this means?
Thanks
 

kirbwarrior

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Maybe my poll question should have been, "Do you actively support/incentivize your players' use of consumable items and spells in your games?"

In my mind the questions are nearly the same, but this one is phrased in a more positive way.
I think the nuance matters. Preventing something often focuses on making it harder to do something. Incentivizing something focuses on shifting what the player wants to do. For instance, if I think players using the same skill over and over again is a problem, I could prevent them from doing so (skill cooldowns) or incentivize changing things up (skill combos).

And I feel the same way with item hoarding. I spent so much of my life basically only spending MP on either healing HP or boss fights. And somehow in my mind mp heal items are rare and expensive. In Chrono Trigger I'd get to the final battle with something like 30+ megalixirs and still not use them, only to notice them max out on ng+++. Once I actually started to use magic and items more liberally, I actually had more fun with the games.

I feel Four Heroes of Light helped a lot there. Instead of MP, there are Action Points and every action uses them (except Defend), but you get one per turn. Instead of hoarding action points, you're looking for ways to use exactly as many as you can without taking away your options. And yet you can play it a bit safer and use Defend to accumulate some. That's the kind of thing I'd aim for.

As an entirely different example, traveling and exploring can be fun, but backtracking rarely is. Fast Travel is a great boon for this kind of thing, so I try to make sure the player can backtrack before they need to (it's rarely possible or even wanted to entirely remove it except in hyper linear games). In Pokemon Red/Blue they ask you to backtravel immediately (give Oak his parcel) while in Skyrim they also ask you to do quite early (go to that dungeon a stone's throw from the first town) but the latter lets you fast travel back to where you've been right off the bat. But Fast Travel doesn't prevent you from just walking back and some players really do want to walk back.

Mind, limits can be a good thing. I very much like how Paper Mario has a ten item limit. And is very generous with dropping items from random encounters. It even shows you this before you can get to a store to buy consumables. There's no "buy 99 potions" option because the game is structured differently (such as you don't use MP to heal HP, you use items). And further, the game really wants you to learn how to lessen and even prevent damage than heal it back constantly.

But generally speaking, I aim to make fun optimal rather than prevent things outright. But I'll also aim to remove entirely unfun things altogether. I'm not going to put QTEs in my games, especially in rpg maker. I'm not making DDR.
 

Aesica

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Never having played WoW, could you give a brief explanation of what this means?
Thanks
Fair, especially since admittedly I'm critical of others who say stuff like, "How do I make a battle system like SuperAwesomeGameIveNeverHeardOf?" And here I went ahead and did it myself in a sense.
  • Energy: A resource (100 base, does not grow with level) that is generally used to power abilities with fairly high costs. To compensate for how quickly it gets spent on just a few abilities, it also recovers passively and quickly every round. In the main game I'm using it for one of the characters in, it comes with a whopping +35% per-turn regen. Always starts full when a battle begins.
  • Rage: Similar to energy, it also has 100 base and doesn't grow with level. It always starts empty (or very low) but dealing or receiving damage causes it to fill, based on the damage dealt or received. Both dealt and received damage is relative to the rage user's max HP to prevent tiny increases per attack at low levels and huge increases per attack at max level.
  • Runic Power: Another 100-base-no-growth-on-level-up resource, it starts empty like rage, but is is recovered/gained by using certain abilities and spent by others.
  • Focus: Kind of a hybrid of Energy and Runic Power: It recovers naturally, but more slowly than energy, and using certain abilities will help build it up more quickly. Always starts full.
 

HeathRiley

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Never. As someone who hates when games force me to play a certain way or use a certain team or use certain items/skills, I am trying my absolute best to make a game where players can play how they want.
So what if they stockpile items? So what if they want to trek backwards and use a free heal or an Inn after every second fight? If that's how they have fun, if that's how they want to play, go for it! :yhappy: ...
I'm more of this mindset, while I might try to push a player to run out of resources early, if they wanna backtrack giving them a good feeling, I wont stop them.
 

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Day 2 of my redesign journey, as a follow up from the previous post :kaothx:
pXiRJSm.jpg

This is Cedric's son, Apollo!
New pet peeve: Telling tech support personnel what something is doing, only for them to tell me (in excessively condescending tones) what it should be doing. Yes, I know what it should be doing, and if it was doing that, I wouldn’t be talking to you and your attitude problem about it right now, would I? >.<
uglywolf wrote on Khulse's profile.
Hello.
The rules I makes pun about on your last thread is about "Verify Files" before anything else, if the stuff comes from STEAM. Which means, if it could be fixed with just that, there is no need to redownload the whole stuff.
But glad the reinstall worked, hope you enjoy it and your days too.
uh oh, I just tapped into a fresh, deep vein of nightmare fuel right here guys:

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