Many RPGs have you collecting items (like books, or cosmetics) as inventory items, which you then have to "use" to actually unlock their benefits (say a higher knowledge stat, or being able to use the cosmetic on your character), forcing you to stop periodically in game and using all those items to clear up inventory space.
This is often the case even for items that can't be traded or sold, and for items that have a standard description (you would miss no lore by having the game immediately unlock the cosmetic). Is there a game design reason behind this? Things I could think of:
- Artificially extending play time to prevent players from being done too early.
- Allowing the player to not unlock an item to keep their list of available "free of junk cosmetics" they wouldn't use anyway.
- Making it more like a simulation of real life, where you also have to unwrap purchases or read books to learn
- Allow items to drop in combat without triggering the "reward animations", which can then be postponed to when the item is used.
- Cause additional artificial scarcity in the inventory system.
- It's just been done like that in Ultima or whatever, and devs mindlessly copied the design.
- Engine limitations.
None of these seem really convincing. #1 is a very dissatisfying way to extend playtime, and #3 doesn't really simulate much. #2 would work but is also done for things that aren't listed but just result in a form of XP.
#4 would work, but many of these still present level up dialogs during combat instead of making them an item, and many also don't show any rewarding animations when using these items.
#5 There are so many better ways for causing scarcity in inventories to prevent people from gaining resources too quick or not focusing on certain gear and switching at will instead.
#6 So many things have been re-thought in games, and this seems like extra effort for most engines when a less cumbersome mechanism also exists for other items.
#7 Since most MMORPG engines have to implement transaction guarantees for the systems you already have for currencies and XP, I don't see how modeling a book as an item would be any improvement over using.
Does anyone have a reference to an industry source that explained why things like this are done?