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

  • Yes

    Votes: 9 26.5%
  • Sometimes

    Votes: 8 23.5%
  • No

    Votes: 17 50.0%

  • Total voters
    34

Iavra

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What i personally liked was the system in Fell Seal. Instead of items, you can obtain permanent item upgrades, with individual items being limited per encounter. This allows you to use them without downside (aside from spending a turn). This also means that the game overall has less but more impactful ways to obtain items, which might be good or bad depending on circumstances.
 

Kes

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@Aesica Thank you for that, very interesting and thought-provoking.
 

Wavelength

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Accumulation or Collection, I personally feel, is one of the "hidden" Aesthetics of Play that can drive a fun experience for a game built around it but is rarely talked about as an Aesthetic of Play in game design theory. So it's worth thinking about the fact that finding and keeping rare items can be very satisfying to some players, and that if they have to use that rare item then the player almost feels like they are sabotaging their own collection. In a lot of cases you will not want to discourage the player from hoarding their rare consumables!

Like all other Aesthetics of Play, though, it can be pretty safely ignored where the game is instead focused around a few other Aesthetics of Play such as Challenge (improvising ways to overcome arbitrary obstacles) or Expression (customizing the experience based on the player's own creativity and values). You don't need to offer filling out a collection as a core Dynamic - and if you choose not to, then (getting back to the main idea of this thread) it's worth thinking about how to encourage the player to use their consumables (rather than discourage their hoarding - always think in terms of motivations not penalties).

One of the best ways to encourage players to use a resource is to place a "Shot Clock" on the resource - use it before X, or else it will either be wasted or won't be an efficient use of the resource. Some games do have items "spoil" after a certain period of time, but I find that creates a poor experience because it requires the player to keep checking time remaining, comparing it to other items, and generally spending a lot of unnecessary time in the menus. Rather, very clear and obvious shot clocks such as "lasts until the end of this battle" (for items created inside combat) or "lasts until the end of this dungeon" (for any linear games) make great choices. The player may hoard them for a few turns or a few battles but it is always with the strategic intention they will use it before the end of the battle or the dungeon. Similarly, imagine a game where you can collect power-ups that give you a small passive bonus while held but then can be consumed for some incredible (and flashy) effect. In order to ensure the player uses these consume effects, a designer might introduce a mechanic where collecting another power-up will completely replace the held one. That encourages the player to consume a power-up any time it's useful, as they may not find a better time to do so before finding the next power-up.

Long-term Shot Clocks are rarer success cases, but there are ways they can be effective as well. In a game where you have, for example, a limited number of in-game days to accomplish a goal, it becomes more justifiable in some players' minds to use their resources rather than to try and go without. For example, in Persona 4, if you had unlimited days to complete a dungeon, you'd hoard your MP restoring items (which are rare and are the only way to refill MP without losing a day by returning home and resting). But because you only have a limited number of days to work with, sometimes you will want to push a little further to complete a part of the dungeon, and it will feel like a good investment to consume some of those rare MP-restore items to make that final push. Recettear does something similar with payment deadlines you have to reach along the way (every couple of in-game weeks). Instead of hoarding every item you find, you have to sell most of them off to earn money and make the deadlines - missing one is the only way to get a Game Over!

Another good way to encourage players to use a resource is to combine Plentitude with Hard Caps. Plentitude meaning the resource is very easy to find or refill; Hard Caps meaning you can't hold more than a certain amount of them. This is often done in modern games - to great success - with MP. Most games make MP very easy to recover, sometimes recovering 100% of Max MP after each and every battle. However, since you can't hoard MP between battles to start the boss with 600% of your Max MP, there's no reason to hold back with your Skills unless you think you'll need that MP on a later turn within the same combat. Encouraging the player to sling skills freely is good, because using skills is fun! The same concept applies to some extent with Hard Caps on plentiful consumable items - for example, a game where you can buy Potions for a few gold at shops around the world but you can't carry more than 5 Potions at once. This encourages the player to use those Potions whenever they feel they need them - more will always be there for him when he gets back to town, and it's not like he has permanently made his collection any worse by using those Potions. Just be very cautious about introducing a limit on your entire inventory (e.g. your backpack can only hold 100 items in total) - this not only makes large collections impossible, but it forces the player to go through the very un-fun process of "which items do I discard" every time they pick up loot from an enemy. It's only good for Survival games; most other games should opt for per-Item limits rather than overall inventory limits. "Charges" of your refillable Healing tools in Dark Souls also effectively use this Plentitude + Hard Caps concept.

Final tip - any time you are going to introduce rare items (or rare anything-else) to your game but you are also going to encourage your players to use those rare items, give the player some kind of "Collection Book" that will show the list of all the items they've found along the way, even if they don't actually have the item in inventory anymore. This will satisfy a bit of the Accumulation/Collection itch without making the player feel like they have to hoard everything they find.
 

kirbwarrior

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any time you are going to introduce rare items (or rare anything-else) to your game but you are also going to encourage your players to use those rare items
Absolutely agree with everything, but I want to talk about this specifically. Rare consumables are just an odd design choice, even if it can be a good one. I don't get the mentality* of, say, putting five full party heal items in the game, because almost never does the game give you any sort of information or feedback of when you'd want to use them. Something like the Master Ball in pokemon or permanent stat improvement consumables are one thing, but even then I'm unsure.

*Not to say I don't do it. But I can guarantee there are multiple design choices I make that later I think 'Why did I think that made sense or was a good idea?'
 

G-G-Games

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...it's worth thinking about how to encourage the player to use their consumables (rather than discourage their hoarding - always think in terms of motivations not penalties)...

...One of the best ways to encourage players to use a resource is to place a "Shot Clock" on the resource - use it before X, or else it will either be wasted or won't be an efficient use of the resource. Some games do have items "spoil" after a certain period of time, but I find that creates a poor experience...

...Another good way to encourage players to use a resource is to combine Plentitude with Hard Caps. Plentitude meaning the resource is very easy to find or refill; Hard Caps meaning you can't hold more than a certain amount of them...

... give the player some kind of "Collection Book" that will show the list of all the items they've found along the way, even if they don't actually have the item in inventory anymore. This will satisfy a bit of the Accumulation/Collection itch without making the player feel like they have to hoard everything they find.
Wow, what a comprehensive answer!

It turns out my implementation of "spoilage" was actually more of a "Shot Clock" after all. Keeping an eye on expiry dates would indeed be annoying.

I really like the idea of using a "Collection Book" for any items which cannot be readily purchased, and agree with @kirbwarrior that consumables are probably best made available for purchase.
 

Wavelength

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Absolutely agree with everything, but I want to talk about this specifically. Rare consumables are just an odd design choice, even if it can be a good one. I don't get the mentality* of, say, putting five full party heal items in the game, because almost never does the game give you any sort of information or feedback of when you'd want to use them. Something like the Master Ball in pokemon or permanent stat improvement consumables are one thing, but even then I'm unsure.

*Not to say I don't do it. But I can guarantee there are multiple design choices I make that later I think 'Why did I think that made sense or was a good idea?'
Definitely get what you're saying here, but I can think of a few reasons Rare Consumables can actually be a pretty good design in the right game.
  • Trump Card - Where the game's design allows for battles that the player can't always reliably win, using a rare and powerful consumable to get over the top can feel great. This design works great for Roguelites like Slay the Spire's rare potions, where you might as well use it in tough fights because can't take it to the grave with you - but it also works great in RPGs for fun, gamebreaking effects like the Tales Of series' Hourglasses which literally stop your opponents cold for ~10 seconds.
  • Flexible, Managed Game Flow - Persona uses MP as the main way to stop the player from completing an entire dungeon in a single run, as they want you to slow down a bit and feel like you're really working for it little by little, presumably doing some slice-of-life segments between runs. The rare MP-restoring consumables are a way for the player to make a final push that's a little out of reach, or to sustain a little longer in boss fights where you've burnt your whole pool.
  • Crafting - In games with crafting, rare consumables are not only the best way to make crafting consistently rewarding (after all, once you've crafted a great weapon or armor once it will be a long time before you need to craft another one), they are also a great way to provide a resource sink for crafting materials.
  • Just for Variety - Some games, like the Star Ocean or Trails in the Sky series, have dozens or even hundreds of different healing items that have similar effects - by virtue of the fact that you're getting all different items from chests, loot, and crafting, most of those items end up being pretty scarce. However, it doesn't feel terrible to use one since you have dozens of other similar consumables with different names and pictures. What I like is the variety makes the world feel a little more real and immersive, and more often provides that feeling of Discovery when you run into a new one.
It turns out my implementation of "spoilage" was actually more of a "Shot Clock" after all. Keeping an eye on expiry dates would indeed be annoying.
Yep, perishable items are one of the most common and effective "shot clocks" in games - they definitely encourage the player to use their stuff and prevent hoarding. If the items have cool, fun effects, that can be a lot more fun than hoarding them forever. It's just that they also can make the work done to get the items feel worthless, as well as forcing the player to spend time and effort on making sure they're using the right items, which is usually pretty unfun in and of itself - so you have to think about whether it's important enough in your game to put the shot clock on the player, or whether it might be better to give them some more flexibility even if that means more hoarding.

Even though I'm rarely at a loss for ingredients in Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, it always annoys me when ingredients go bad and I spend a lot of time rummaging through the different recipes to use perishable ingredients that I'd much rather spend exploring, killing things, or farming rice.
 
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kirbwarrior

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agree with @kirbwarrior that consumables are probably best made available for purchase.
The other option is to make them not consumables. One game a friend made had the omni-potion, which acted like an infinite use potion in battle and a full party heal out of battle (technically the same thing, but it was programmed so you wouldn't have to mash the activate button a thousand times to achieve the same result). Another option is to make pseudo-consumables, where you can only use it once (or more) until refilling it (probably for free in town in some manner).

  • Trump Card - Where the game's design allows for battles that the player can't always reliably win, using a rare and powerful consumable to get over the top can feel great. This design works great for Roguelites like Slay the Spire's rare potions, where you might as well use it in tough fights because can't take it to the grave with you - but it also works great in RPGs for fun, gamebreaking effects like the Tales Of series' Hourglasses which literally stop your opponents cold for ~10 seconds.
This is actually my main reason against it. Most of the time, you don't actually know when you need it (what if the next boss is even harder?) without something like outside help or beating the game first. Roguelikes and Roguelites are different, though, they have such a substantially different approach that I wouldn't use the same mentality from rpgs with them. I still remember when you didn't even know what a consumable does until you've used it.

  • Crafting - In games with crafting, rare consumables are not only the best way to make crafting consistently rewarding (after all, once you've crafted a great weapon or armor once it will be a long time before you need to craft another one), they are also a great way to provide a resource sink for crafting materials.
Crafting brings something different to the table, namely that there is more player choice in the matter (such as choosing insanely powerful consumables over merely powerful gear) and that it often moves them from "rare" to "uncommon".

  • Just for Variety - Some games, like the Star Ocean or Trails in the Sky series, have dozens or even hundreds of different healing items that have similar effects - by virtue of the fact that you're getting all different items from chests, loot, and crafting, most of those items end up being pretty scarce. However, it doesn't feel terrible to use one since you have dozens of other similar consumables with different names and pictures. What I like is the variety makes the world feel a little more real and immersive, and more often provides that feeling of Discovery when you run into a new one.
Which again feels like moving it from rare to uncommon, although with the reverse effect for collectors who'll use less because they want to keep one of every item. The latter is less of an issue (I rarely go for 100% until my second playthrough when I know what I'm doing) but is still part of the hoarding process.
 

Wavelength

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This is actually my main reason against it. Most of the time, you don't actually know when you need it (what if the next boss is even harder?) without something like outside help or beating the game first. Roguelikes and Roguelites are different, though, they have such a substantially different approach that I wouldn't use the same mentality from rpgs with them. I still remember when you didn't even know what a consumable does until you've used it.


Crafting brings something different to the table, namely that there is more player choice in the matter (such as choosing insanely powerful consumables over merely powerful gear) and that it often moves them from "rare" to "uncommon".


Which again feels like moving it from rare to uncommon, ...
I guess "rare" vs. "uncommon" are more a matter of terminology (I think of any consumable you can't get more of reliably as "rare"), but as far as the Trump Card idea, I feel the player generally knows when she needs it. When you have two or three allies down and the boss is knocking them down like bowling pins quicker than you can revive them with normal spells/items, that's when you need to use your Revive All to 100% rare consumable. When a character needs to be casting heals (or debuffs) every turn to avoid disaster and that character has run out of mana, that's when you have the pressing need to have another character use the Restore Mana rare consumable on that character.

I suppose the idea that a player might just take the Game Over rather than use their precious consumable up is still a looming concern, but intentionally taking a GO is similar to save scumming in my mind and I don't like to hammer my game design to pieces just to get around the possibility someone might save scum.
 

Milennin

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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!
For me, it's because I tend to hoard items in games that let me, and I see that as a problem, because it means the items are there but there aren't good reasons for me to use them, or when I use them I can cheese any challenge because I've been able to hoard so many. It also bothers me a lot in games where you're given a huge MP pool, but you can replenish it except with items or going back to the inn, giving me no idea of how much I can afford to spend MP before any big boss fight and I see that as a problem too.
Just things I've experienced in games I played that I don't enjoy, and I design my game in ways that fix things I have issues with. I found it easier to just get rid of items altogether, because anything I tried with including them just brought up too many issues to avoid running into the same problems I've had with them in other games.
It's also why I go for small MP pools that are generally only enough for 1-3 casts (if you were to ignore any regens), but get plenty of ways to regenerate during combat, to incentivise using MP at all times, and not just hoard it for a boss fight.
 

ATT_Turan

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How did you implement this, with a specific plug-in? I might want to try this in a future project.
I know you asked this a while ago, but it wasn't answered - Yanfly's Core Engine has a notetag that allows you to specify a maximum item stack per item.
 

kirbwarrior

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I suppose the idea that a player might just take the Game Over rather than use their precious consumable up is still a looming concern
I was literally about to say this, you read my mind XD. If I'm clearly losing a battle that I'm not even certain a rare consumable is going to help in, I'd rather just try to push through without it*, then either change my tactics, change my strategy, or just go somewhere else and come back stronger (in that order). Note the important part is "change", just trying the battle over and over is save scumming and I agree that it's not just impossible but a waste of time and resources to try to completely avoid it.

*I couldn't tell you how many times trying to optimize what I think are my last few turns ended up in a victory, sometimes sooner than my fully running out.

I guess "rare" vs. "uncommon" are more a matter of terminology (I think of any consumable you can't get more of reliably as "rare")
That makes sense. The difference for me is "do I feel like I'm wasting anything using the consumable?". If a given game had, say, 200 megalixirs, I'd start to feel like I should be actually using them once I hit 80 (presuming the item cap is 99). If a game gave me a full party heal that I could only ever use once, I'd literally forget it existed. Most (good) crafting systems I see don't mess around with one-off or similar ingredients, just having them be more or less common, except for things that are permanent (such as needing the rusty sword and divine hope to make the Masamune 100).
 

freakytapir

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I'll admit, I used to be a hoarder, or, no, not hoarder. More a 'forgetter'. I never used items because I'd just never think to do so. I would always just heal. But I don't want to put game elements in my game that I won't even use. So maybe item usage should be encouraged?

But now, I think I've found a way to.
Here's how I'm planning to do it: Don't always let them have access to the healer. or at least not a pure healer.
This works best in pure turn based combats, I find. If the enemy just spiked a part memeber for 75 % of their health, I might not want to wait until the healers turnif the next turn is another enemy. If the healer's silenced, do I toss a remedy or a potion?
Another idea I had was making using a potion a 'free action' but with a cooldown.
Another part that helps is giving the healer damage spells. As soon as the option is there for the healer to nuke, maybe the rogue can potion himself up?
This also contributes to the 'why use a potion out of combat' thing. Yes, the healer could use his MP to cast curaga, or he could use it to nuke the next pack of enemies into oblivion with Holy. Dead enemies also don't deal damage.
Or have potions give side effects. 'Stimulant: Heals 100 HP and ATK up but DEF down'
Or just crank up the MP cost on healing. if it costs 5 MP to nuke and 10 to heal, well, you'd better have a real big booboo.

I've recently been playing FFXIV, and I liked how the whole thing about the white mage was never 'How much can you heal' but 'How much DPS can you crank out while still keeping the rest alive'. Damage came in big 'Waves' and if some DPS guy takes a little damage? Well, that's what potions are for.

That said: Boo to rare or unique consumables. I will never ever use that Megalixir unless I know for a 100 % it is the final boss, so until then it's only there to make me misclick when I wanted to pick something else. They're not 'Rewards' They're anxiety inducers.

Maybe just have a 'Megalixir flask' that can only be refilled at a certain fountain? Then I might actually use it.

Oh, and FFX and XIII's 'recovery to full and acces to a shop' save-point before every boss. It might seem to trivialize bosses, but it just makes me more willing to toss items because I know I won't ever be '****ed over' by using them.
 

Eindride

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In my game the only "healers" will be the Bard and the Alchemist, but their skills only grant regeneration instead of instant healing. If you need instant heal you will have to use a healing pill created by the Alchemist, but it has a side effect where it decreases the healing you receive until the battle ends, I'm thinking of making this effect stack but I'm not sure if it's possible.

About the MP, everyone starts the battle with no MP and have to wait for it to build up. This makes MP granting skills and items more valuable and also incentives the use of skills during the battle since the MP won't be carried over to the next battle.
 

RePeat

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I wouldn't say I "consciously" took measurements, though now that I think about it one of the first things I did was make guard regenerate a bit of MP because I thought it would be fun. As far as items go I don't care. They're there to speed things up but not at all necessary so the player can either choose to use them up ASAP or hoard them forever, it won't make much of a difference.
 

lianderson

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To this day, I still remember my friend fighting a last boss to a game he already beat and refusing to use elixirs because he wanted to "save them". You know.... "just in case".
 

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