“I’ll Definitely Need This Later…” (Probably Not)

Image By Flickr User: Elen Nivrae

Image By Flickr User: Elen Nivrae

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?

14 responses on ““I’ll Definitely Need This Later…” (Probably Not)

  1. Ooooh, man. I’m exactly the same. The hoarding is definitely prompted by the near-infinite inventories in most games in the aforementioned RPG style, but also by the idea that the game is providing me with something FOR A REASON. I can’t just tell the game that its provision is worthless. It’s like . . . accepting a gift from a friend.

    I can’t just snub my friend.

    • hadn’t thought of it like that. Since everything in a game happens by design it’s definitely hard to deny the thought that there’s purpose for everything one comes across. Perhaps that’s why the idea that somehow, at some point, every scrap we come across will come into play.

  2. Oh man this is exactly what I do with items, weapons, and even ammo. I end up using melee and close quarters combat and miss out on using some of the cooler weapons of most games. I’m a hoarder by habit in real life and it is reflected accurately in most games I olay. It’s kind of sad actually. I never realized I was a hoarder until I noticed it whilst playing Oblivion a few years ago.

    • It p’s one of those gamings habits that die hard once you pick it up isn’t it? For me, realizing it really didn’t do anything to stop it.

  3. That ‘I’ll need it later’ has been a pretty strong factor for me in the past, and I know that’s why I hoarded ethers in older final fantasies, for example. Who wants to be stranded in the middle of a cave without a save point in sight, and not be able to heal?
    In Skyrim, I started hoarding potions and their ingredients as normal, but I did end up using them very often and in bulk (I love restoration magic, but it’s not instantaneous). I did eventually stop picking up every carrot and potato however; unlike potions, the stews didn’t seem worth it.
    In the case of the older Paper Marios, I hoarded because I like making items, and after going through the trouble of making my jelly ultra or deluxe feast, I wanted to make sure they were used at key points (which I assumed to be the final battle, but during the battle itself they weren’t necessary). Thankfully the in-game storage kept the best of my collection for me to browse (the cakes and cookies do look tasty).
    The new Paper Mario is testing my ability to use items by making every single attack a consumable item. I know part of the reason I have trouble enjoying it as much as its predecessors is that it makes every single battle feel like an exercise in resource management, but it might be a good thing for me to play for that same reason.

    • I haven’t played the new Paper Mario for that very reason. I don’t want my whole game to be resource management, I just imagine it being annoying. Is it still fun though?

      • I was not very happy about it when I picked it up (no party members? Expendable stickers?), but I’ve come around to it more since I started thinking of it as a different kind of game that could be fun on its own right. There are ‘standard jump/hammer’ stickers everywhere, and you can buy them really cheaply, so that aspect hasn’t been too bad. And it keeps that paper mario humor and general fun.

  4. I can relate to this really well. I’m always reluctant to trash something or sell it if I feel like I may need it later. I’m scared to have one of those “kick yourself” moments if you got rid of something you actually needed. I find it incredibly easy to be a hoarder in any RPG. I think it also comes from this innate feeling of wanting to be prepared for anything. You don’t want to be that person that screws your character over when you thought you may not need that potion. It has happened to me at least once.

    • Yeah, you want to be prepared for anything the game throws at you. Which is why things like unbeatable bosses really annoy me. I mean you spend the whole game saving up items and then when you get to the boss you think “Oh man this guy is really hard, I’d better use my items”…only to discover that the boss wasn’t supposed to be beaten anyway. All that work for nothing you know?

  5. I do the same thing. I will let my characters die before I use an item. I’ll just level up more. If I waste my phoenix downs now, what if I need them later, and I used them all? Then, I end up with 99 phoenix downs, 99 of every kind of potion, etc. I also am really cheap. I never spend money. Why buy something when I may just find the item for free later? Then, I end up with millions in whatever currency the game uses.

    For me, the reason I hoard items is because of games like “Illusion of Gaia” and “Quest 64″. You can’t buy items. You can only find them, so there is a limited number. Once you use it, you’ll never ever get it back. I would play through the games, using healing items willy nilly, and then when I desperately needed it, there would be none. So now I remember which bosses really need items, and I save it for those, then I set a limit on how many items I’m allowed to use during that fight. I don’t care if my character is about to die, and I have 20 loaves of bread sitting in his inventory to heal him. If I went over my limit, that’s that. To this day, I can hardly bring myself to use items.

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  8. Wow, yup this totally me as well! I am an incredible hoarder and I’m pretty sure it’s from playing classic RPGs as well. I always convince myself that I MIGHT need items later, even though as you said, with most modern games you can get through the whole thing without ever using many of the items, especially consumables. Even knowing this, I can’t help but pause before selling it or dropping it, because you never know… it mighhhhht come in handy. That’s what I love about the Witcher 2 – consumable items are actually incredibly important and can often sway the course of a battle. At first I still kept trying to save items for later until I realised that this was what I was saving them for! To actually help me in fights! My hoarding for the first time in a long time actually became useful. :)

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