One of the oldest design issues that have plagued RPG-based design has been the “hoarder syndrome,” where players will refuse to use life saving items and instead hoard them for some time in the future. At its worst, hoarder syndrome can make a game worse to play due to the player not using every option open to them.
However, the simple solution of giving the player more may be counter-intuitive to the design or cumbersome depending on the implementation. There is a solution to this problem, but it requires some advanced thinking.
Over the last decade we have seen an interesting change in action and multiplayer-based designs with the adoption of RPG systems and progression. From the likes of Borderlands, Dark Souls, Call of Duty and many more, the RPG influence has had a profound impact on game design and progression. With that said however, it’s not the magic solution to good design and can do harm to a game’s long term viability if not kept in check.
Today’s Critical Thought focuses on downtime in video games and how it can cause problems with player retention. Downtime can be either from grinding, to UI issues, and even just loading. A good game designer can find and figure out how to reduce downtime, but it can easily sink a good game if not handled correctly.
Today’s Critical Thought looks at problem of item hoarding in video games. Item hoarding can occur if the designer either makes items too good or rare, or fills the world with useless crap that may or may not ever have a purpose.
This is also based on the concept of knowing when something is too good, which we’ll come back to in another critical thought.