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When you give the player a rare but powerful item which can only be used once but is never really required to proceed, most players will not use it at all, because they are waiting for the perfect moment. But even when this moment comes, they will still be reluctant to use it, because there might be an even better moment later. So they keep hoarding it for a moment which will never come.

In the end, they will carry the item around until it is outclassed by other, more readily available resources, or even until the very end of the game. That means that such one-shot items don't provide any gameplay-value at all. They are simply too awesome to use.

What can you do to encourage the player to make use of their one-shot items and not hoard them?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Josh Petrie Feb 14 '14 at 16:11

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I do not recommend adding a maximum level cap on an item. It makes no sense gameplay-wise (you're too strong to use the item?), and the players will most likely feel cheated. – user15805 May 15 '13 at 15:47
I'd probably just add the item to certain shops and put the price real high( after receiving it first ). Or a smith that needs tons of various items to produce it. Sure it takes away the rarity/specialty/significance. But i can bet on it that a player will be more motivated to use it. – Sidar May 15 '13 at 17:07
@BenjaminDangerJohnson: Yeah, that worked real well for the rocket launcher in RE4 (which took up half my inventory space, but I kept hoarded in my inventory anyways until the final boss fight, where it was useless because you get another rocket launcher anyways) – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 15 '13 at 18:36
Personally I never used such items because I knew that there is limited amount of them, if there would be unlimited supply (no matter how hard is it to obtain the item) I would use them. – Kikaimaru May 15 '13 at 19:23
You could have a game mechanic that makes getting consumables happen more often if you don't have any. Basically, the more the player uses the item, the better the chance of getting a replacement. This way, they know that if they use it, they'll soon have a replacement. How soon, soon is, has to be balanced. – William Mariager May 16 '13 at 10:05

33 Answers 33

If an item is too good to be at least rare (such as the Megalixer), yet it is a 1-use/expendable, yeah players are going to hoard it.

This isn't really a problem. Your game is cooler for having awesome rare items that don't manage to break the game. And there's always the 1 in a million chance that a player would find such an item useful.

But if these ultra-cool unattainable non-usables still bother you, it sounds like the item may need to be:

a) reduced in effectiveness and made more common

b) made at least replaceable (if at an astronomical price)

c) made not expendable but given a really long recharge time instead

d) taken out of the game altogether

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Maybe it'll will work in "super-need" situation. e.g.: a-bomb got 2000 points of splash damage, typical mobs got only 100 health points and easily beaten with sword. but here comes boss with 2500 health points and his minions. you can't beat him... or you can, if you use your a-bomb. then boss will stay alone with 500 health points, so you can (not so) easily kick his *.

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What if the player uses the a-bomb before reaching the boss? – dpatchery May 15 '13 at 17:02
Morrowind-like thing? "Live in your sacred world now"? Actualy, i see other question in topic - "How to make player use awesome feature". Not "how to keep player from using awesome feature". But yeah, my "a-bomb" thought is not so transparent tho. Will try pick other example later. – KatShot May 15 '13 at 20:07

You can punish the player for carrying it, either by taking up many available slots, or slowing him down, you can make him unable to use other weapons when carrying it, and you can make the vending price low. Also, you could make the ammo of a radioactive type, which decays so its strength is reducing while carrying it.

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Yeah, all of those would make me throw it away, not use it. – Nicol Bolas May 15 '13 at 18:12
You cant throw it away, its bound to you until you use it. – user30714 May 15 '13 at 18:14
And that would make me stop playing the game. Giving me an item that inhibits my ability to play is not fun. – Nicol Bolas May 15 '13 at 18:14
Great, aslong as you already bought it, we are glad to get rid of you. – user30714 May 15 '13 at 18:15
I don't like games in which it is better for a player to waste a valuable item than to conserve it. If there are limited inventory slots, a player may decide that dropping an unused item and taking something else would be better than keeping the unused item and forgoing the new item, but to the extent possible a game should allow the player to return for the dropped item should that be desired. – supercat May 16 '13 at 22:41

protected by Byte56 May 16 '13 at 16:43

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