When it comes to RPG’s I’m what you would call a hoarder. My character’s house in Skyrim is filled with old armor, weapons, potions that I’ll never use, and gem I will never sell. In traditional RPGs like Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger or Mario RPG, I never use the best items, even as they take up more and more of my inventory. I’ve gone whole games without using any of the items I’ve stockpiled, and why?
“I’ll need it later.”
How often do items, especially consumable items, make or break an encounter or battle? Not very. It seems like items (again, consumable items especially) have become more and more irrelevant in games. Unless you’re playing on a higher difficulty, it is now fairly easy to make it through a game while barely making use of them, yet the need to make sure we have enough is ever-present.
Skyrim is a prime example of this. With Smithing, Restoration magic, and alter blessings, what need is there for potions, weapons & armor found at shops, or stats buffers? This is all stuff you can ignore completely in the game and still thrive. And yet, many of us still save the potions we come across, still get excited when we find gold, and still fill our virtual houses up with stuff we won’t even use, much less buy at one of the in-game shops. It’s just funny is all, that even though we may not have a use for something and haven’t up until that point, we can still somehow imagine that we will in the future.
“I’ll need it later”
I couldn’t say where that thought comes from for all, but I know where it comes from for me.
Classic RPGs, like those listed above, games that were masterful when it came to making the player unsure if they should use an item or not. They kept the most useful things just scarce enough to make each use a calculated decision, kept you wondering if using it here and now would result in catastrophe when confronting an even harder battle. The games trained their players to always plan for later, to try and do without in the short term so they wouldn’t have to in the long. Play enough and you could eventually get through without ever touching your most precious resources. The situation remained the same but the cause motivation changed, from “I’ll need it later” to “I shouldn’t waste it”.
For those games, I’d call it masterful design. They manage to keep items out of the equation for the experienced and in-experienced player alike. For games like Skyrim, I think it’s just a matter of not knowing what else to do with them.
What would you say prompts hoarding in games? What’s your reason?