Potions and hoarding
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject: Potions and hoarding Reply with quote

I'm planning to add potions in the near future, but what I really want to avoid is the hoarding aspect that I've seen in many other muds, whereby players run around with (sometimes literally) hundreds of potions in their inventory.

One important point is that potions can't be drunk from your inventory - they have to be held in your hand. You can 'sheathe' them on your belt and later 'draw' them, much like weapons, but you can't wield them during combat. This effectively limits players to 4 potions (all 4 belt slots) in any one fight.

However I can still see players carrying lots of spares in their inventory, to replace their empties after each fight - such is the nature of consumable magic items. But I'd really rather avoid that if possible, as I don't like the imagery (or the need) to fill your inventory with extra potions.

I've considered changing potions to non-consumable items (you take a sip each time, but they never really empty) but that doesn't quite feel right - plus I rather like the idea (from an in-game economy perspective) of consumable magic items.

Perhaps some sort of compromise could be reached with 'doses', allowing players to drink from a potion multiple times before it runs out. However I'm not sure how effective that would be - I suspect people would still carry spares, unless a potion had enough doses to last several hours (in which case I'm not sure how much of an economic difference it would make).

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
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Alister



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Potions and hoarding Reply with quote

Maybe consuming potions temporarily adds radiation, so players are limited in how many potions than can consecutively use. I'm guessing that the hoarding you describe comes from the fact that there's no cost to using them, only benefit.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alister wrote:
Maybe consuming potions temporarily adds radiation, so players are limited in how many potions than can consecutively use.


Even then, they'd carry around additional potions for when the radiation wore off.

Alister wrote:
I'm guessing that the hoarding you describe comes from the fact that there's no cost to using them, only benefit.


I think it's more to do with them being consumables - if they're worth using at all, then you'll need a lot of them.

I'm starting to lean more in favour of the 'doses' idea, whereby you take a sip from the potion each time, rather than downing it on one go. Instead of carrying 100 potions, as you do in some muds, you'd have a single potion bottle with 100 doses.

You could then buy refills when needed, a dose at a time.

However there's still the issue of variety. Even if each potion holds enough doses to last you a month, you're still going to want different types of potion - one for healing, one for mana, one for a damage buff, etc. So we're back to people filling their inventory with potions again, the only difference is that they're now carrying one of each type...
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Alister



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:

I'm starting to lean more in favour of the 'doses' idea, whereby you take a sip from the potion each time, rather than downing it on one go. Instead of carrying 100 potions, as you do in some muds, you'd have a single potion bottle with 100 doses.


Maybe I misinterpreted your post. Are you concerned with people hoarding actual, physical objects, or hoarding potential future consumptions? If the issue is actual, physical objects how do you deal with equipment hoarding?

Just a thought... if potions are done in dose form, is there an issue with players being able to bypass the 4-potions-per-battle idea by equipping four bottles each with multiple doses?
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ide



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:04 am    Post subject: Re: Potions and hoarding Reply with quote

Alister wrote:
I'm guessing that the hoarding you describe comes from the fact that there's no cost to using them, only benefit.


I think that's the key right there, as even if PCs are limited in how many potions they can carry, they still could shift back to their home plane to restock, or keep them on an alt and restock. etcetera.

However I don't see too many options to avoid this, so if your main concerns are aesthetic, then just flat out limiting the number of potions will work, and players will do what they will -- the most competitive will micro-manage supply, and others will be less and less obsessive about it as you go down the line.

With potions you also could have a 'breakage' factor.
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Alister



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:38 am    Post subject: Re: Potions and hoarding Reply with quote

ide wrote:
even if PCs are limited in how many potions they can carry, they still could shift back to their home plane to restock, or keep them on an alt and restock. etcetera.

However I don't see too many options to avoid this


There are things that can be done, not necessarily to flat out prevent it, but at least to mitigate it, depending on what the goal of potions is to be. Here is the angle I was originally thinking about the problem from.

The reason I suggested my first solution was because I'm pretty certain hoarding behavior is related (probably exponentially) to the strength of the reinforcement schedule that item use is tied to. Potions (in muds) are typically on something resembling a fixed ratio schedule, with one use = one reinforcement, with no delay between uses. So if you want to limit hoarding behavior, you can just change the schedule of reinforcement to something less powerful like, e.g., a fixed interval schedule. That means adding cooldowns to potion uses, or implementing some sort of force that constraints how many uses per unit time a person can get out of a potion (which the "using a potion increases radiation" solution would accomplish, at least for players pushing the limits of their radiation). The way I prefer to look at the issue is as adding a temporal cost to use, but the problem can probably be looked at in multiple ways.

It's not really surprising that equipment-hoarding is the most pervasive type of hoarding on muds; the benefit gained from hoarding possible equipment is much like a variable ratio reward, which is the schedule most likely to result in repeated behavior (you never know when you're going to get a benefit from it, but there's always a chance). Or putting it in the context of consumables, Savory Delights are the only thing in World of Warcraft that I know of which are hoarded more than healing potions. It's because you never know if you'll get the preferred effect on any given consumption (becoming a ninja, or becoming a pirate), compared to healing potions where you always know.

Yes, people will still stockpile potions to some extent. Short of putting a hard limit of how many potions a person can own at any given time, that's *always* going to be a possible behavior, if not probable. But you can still manipulate the relative amount of hoarding people are likely to perform even if there's no hard limit on number of potions that can be owned. I'm making an educated guess that having your potions work on some sort of fixed-interval schedule will decrease how much people hoard. Whether that's consistent with what potions are intended to do is another story, I suppose. That kind of information would be useful.

KaVir wrote:
I'm planning to add potions in the near future, but what I really want to avoid is the hoarding aspect that I've seen in many other muds, whereby players run around with (sometimes literally) hundreds of potions in their inventory.


I guess it's worth considering why this happens in the first place. Trying to remember back to when I did this, it was always because I could quite realistically (even if improbably) go through all of those potions in a single fight if, e.g., I was jumped by two PKers. Even if I didn't stand a chance, it would at least give time for backup to arrive. But if you're already limiting people to four potions per fight, maybe the reason for hoarding in the first place has been removed. Or maybe there's other reasons for potion hoarding.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alister wrote:
Maybe I misinterpreted your post. Are you concerned with people hoarding actual, physical objects, or hoarding potential future consumptions? If the issue is actual, physical objects how do you deal with equipment hoarding?

It's primarily the actual physical objects I'm concerned with. This isn't a problem for regular equipment, because it's non-consumable, so there's no benefit in carrying spares.

Alister wrote:
Just a thought... if potions are done in dose form, is there an issue with players being able to bypass the 4-potions-per-battle idea by equipping four bottles each with multiple doses?

I don't mind that so much. What I'm trying to avoid is people filling their inventory with items they need during combat.

Alister wrote:
Potions (in muds) are typically on something resembling a fixed ratio schedule, with one use = one reinforcement, with no delay between uses. So if you want to limit hoarding behavior, you can just change the schedule of reinforcement to something less powerful like, e.g., a fixed interval schedule. That means adding cooldowns to potion uses, or implementing some sort of force that constraints how many uses per unit time a person can get out of a potion (which the "using a potion increases radiation" solution would accomplish, at least for players pushing the limits of their radiation).

I agree, and that is definitely something worth adding - but I don't think that alone is enough to stop people hoarding them. Consumable items need to be replaced, so if they're worth using people will need to keep a supply on hand.
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Alister



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
I don't like the imagery (or the need) to fill your inventory with extra potions.


I think I misjudged the importance of this. So this is the only issue you are concerned about? Can we have some idea of the specifics on potion use, for thinking about how to deal with the issue? e.g.,

What is hoarding? Is it 1 extra? 10? 100? 1000? How fast are players expected to run out of potions, or doses of a potion?

How long do potions (full doses) last? Minutes? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months?

How many types of potions will a single person practically be able to benefit from? Not necessarily all at once, but rather how many options are available?

Is there a particular reason for a limit of 4 belt slots?

How are potions acquired in the first place? Are they readily available at a store? Do players have to brew them? How long does it take? Do players have to rely on other players to get certain types of potions? Do they get potions at random from fighting monsters? Or maybe a combination?

How often do players encounter situations where they can restock on potions?

How much of a difference are potions expected to make? You imply they'll be worth using, but what does that mean? Are they a matter of dying and not dying? Are they a matter of long-term combat efficiency? Or is it more immediate efficiency, but not necessarily a matter of dying if you don't use them?

Depending on the specifics, players will have different behavior surrounding potion use/storage. I think the issue could be already solved or completely unsolvable depending on what the specifics are.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please understand that (almost) none of this is finalised - I'm still trying to decide how potions should work, and I've already been influenced by the responses on this thread.

One thing I am sure about is that I don't want inventory space to be filled with stuff you need for combat - I want inventory to be used for storing things you've found during play, so that you would usually set out with an empty inventory.

The duration of a potion dose would probably vary depending on what it was doing, but let's assume you can carry enough doses to last multiple fights - you're not going to run out in the middle of combat unless you're careless. By default a player would be able to benefit from only one potion affect at a time, although this could likely be expanded through certain specialised abilities.

The game already supports 4 belt slots for sheathed weapons, so for the sake of simplicity I would rather have potions utilise the existing system. They would therefore be worn on the belt instead of spare sheathed weapons.

My current thought for potions is that they'd be created by players, utilising a system similar to the GW1 quest system (which was horribly overused in GW1, but isn't a bad concept when used in moderation). You find recipes as random drops or as quest rewards, collect the necessary ingredients from the specified monsters, solve a little alchemy-themed puzzle, and out pops a potion (using up the recipe). I imagine the entire process would take 1-2 hours, so a single potion would be quite a valuable thing.

However potions wouldn't be permanently consumed. Instead, think of the potion bottle itself as being the real magic item. I imagine you'd have to have a certain skill to replenish the doses, possibly even be the creator of the potion, but doing so would likely have a purely financial overhead rather than an effort overhead.

In this way, the creator of the potion could continue to make an income after selling their potion to another player. The drawback of this approach is that if the creator stops playing, the potion becomes worthless - likewise if the person who bought the potion stops playing, the creator loses a source of income. I'm not really happy with that.

Another alternative I considered is to allow the creator to create duplicates of the original potion, which would then serve as a sort of blueprint. The problem then is that once a player has created a specific potion, there's no real need for anyone else to create their own, as they could just buy one from that player.

The plan is that potions will make a difference, but also have some sort of drawback, so that they're not a "must have". For example it may be that the potion itself has a radiation value, counting towards the total number of magic items you can wear - so carrying it on your belt means you're missing out on other magic items.
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ide



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:

In this way, the creator of the potion could continue to make an income after selling their potion to another player. The drawback of this approach is that if the creator stops playing, the potion becomes worthless - likewise if the person who bought the potion stops playing, the creator loses a source of income. I'm not really happy with that.


This gave me an idea that could sort of build off of this, though I'm not sure if you want to go this far. When a player creates a potion what they really are creating is the alchemical apparatus to make the potion, and the magical vessels that contains the potion. They can give the vessels to other players, and replenish empty vessels (for a price of course).

Anyone with the appropriate ability can use this apparatus to refill vessels (designed to work with that apparatus), but of course an active player will guard their apparatus -- they could or could not share it with friends.

An interesting possibility then is the concept of an abandoned apparatus -- maybe one not used for a while or not guarded appropriately. These could be discovered by another player and with the right ability, put to use again.
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Deadsoul



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

one of my favorite aspects of mudding is junk hoarding.

consumables are meant to be consumed.

now its not a question of someone being dedicated to getting potions, in quantity or not. but rather how they get them.

do they just walk into a shop, hand the shop keeper a sack of gold in exchange for a wagon filled with super duper healing juice (tm)

do they have to collect a ton of ingredients in order to brew the potion in question.

do mobs drop them, a little or a lot.

can the potion backfire

can the potion lower constitution or some other stat.

can the potion react to other potions the person has drank, sipped, quaffed. one does not mix medication.

if the person an alchemist or an herbalist who can verify what they are about to drink. did the shop keeper just hood wink them into buying 50 potions of detect invisibility.

is there a time limit between potion useage. can they just drink 60 various potions, become super human for anhour and then kill spree for 60 min, then fall over into a coma for 4 days?

do the potions mutate/stagnant/ruin after so many hours or days while unused? do potions break while fighting from being hit/jarred around.

is the potion volatile from being shaken, bumped.

now here is my big question. joe orc slayer, has his weapons, his armor, his spare weapons, his spare armor, his backpack, his keyring, his belt, pouches of gold and silver. does joe orc slayer have a dimensional hole of apothecary storage woven into the seam of his robe. a box on a mule that follows him around so he can waste a combat round fetching his juice box.

are some potions illegal or not in some towns.

lots of variables.

i miss coding. Sad
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Alister



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
The duration of a potion dose would probably vary depending on what it was doing, but let's assume you can carry enough doses to last multiple fights - you're not going to run out in the middle of combat unless you're careless.


So, presumably, "multiple fights" is about the usual amount of time (or longer) a player will spend outside of the city / away from some place where they can refill? If it's less, that's going to be motivation for players to carry extras in their inventory. Realistically, it's probably going to be the worst case situation for potion use that motives players to carry extras. That is to say, a full set of doses will need to last players through the most extreme, but plausible, chain of events they could encounter in one session of being away from a place to refill. Otherwise, they will carry extras in their inventory.


KaVir wrote:
However potions wouldn't be permanently consumed. Instead, think of the potion bottle itself as being the real magic item. I imagine you'd have to have a certain skill to replenish the doses, possibly even be the creator of the potion, but doing so would likely have a purely financial overhead rather than an effort overhead.


If players can replenish their doses in the field with, say, "loose primal" that escapes after you kill an NPC, but dissipates after 30 seconds or so, you can probably escape any reason to stockpile extras in your inventory if the rate players can replenish in the field balances the rate of consumption. Of course, that would only work if anyone can refill a potion and not just the creator of it.


KaVir wrote:
In this way, the creator of the potion could continue to make an income after selling their potion to another player. The drawback of this approach is that if the creator stops playing, the potion becomes worthless - likewise if the person who bought the potion stops playing, the creator loses a source of income. I'm not really happy with that.


I think it's absolutely wonderful. It gives items history, so the "best" potion maker will not easily dominate the market; there's an inertia that needs to be overcome before switching from one vendor to another. The drawback is no more of a drawback than, say, your favorite games store closing on you. I've had this happen (a couple times). It didn't make me want to stop playing board games. It just energized me to go out and find a new store.

It's a little different if, say, the store closes abruptly with no warning (I guess as sometimes happens when players leave a mud, especially if you do not know them personally). But here's a thought. You'll be running into problems of synchronization anyways. If players have to refill potions from the potion's creator, either those players will have to synchronize (which may be difficult, and will probably lead to stockpiling, though maybe not in the inventory) or players will need a way to interact asynchronously. e.g., maybe vendors can set up "refueling machines" for their customers. If the vendors need to regularly restock their machines (say, every week?) and if customers can somehow check the fuel level of the machine, you can also handle the issue of vendors disappearing abruptly because consumers can watch over a few days as a potion machine's fuel level slowly depletes.


KaVir wrote:
Another alternative I considered is to allow the creator to create duplicates of the original potion, which would then serve as a sort of blueprint. The problem then is that once a player has created a specific potion, there's no real need for anyone else to create their own, as they could just buy one from that player.


Basically what you're describing is how enchanting and crafting works in World of Warcraft. You'll end up getting a few people dominating the market, but that does not exclude the possibility of others when, e.g., the main people are busy or offline. Maybe that might not be bad?


KaVir wrote:
You find recipes as random drops or as quest rewards, collect the necessary ingredients from the specified monsters, solve a little alchemy-themed puzzle, and out pops a potion (using up the recipe). I imagine the entire process would take 1-2 hours, so a single potion would be quite a valuable thing.


Uncertainty and a time-consuming processes are going to set up a situation where people very strongly want to stockpile potions, if for no other reason than they can be viewed as "collectibles". If what people get is an ability that lets them create actual potions, maybe this isn't so bad for what you want to do. If what they are getting is the actual, physical potion, I don't think there's much you can do in the way of restraining people from collecting them. I'm sure the answer is yes, but is there some place collected items can be stored besides your inventory?
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ide wrote:
This gave me an idea that could sort of build off of this, though I'm not sure if you want to go this far. When a player creates a potion what they really are creating is the alchemical apparatus to make the potion, and the magical vessels that contains the potion. They can give the vessels to other players, and replenish empty vessels (for a price of course).

Could do, that would be pretty much like the blueprint approach I suggested though - the apparatus requires time and effort, but once complete it can churn out potions on demand.

Alister wrote:
So, presumably, "multiple fights" is about the usual amount of time (or longer) a player will spend outside of the city / away from some place where they can refill? If it's less, that's going to be motivation for players to carry extras in their inventory.

And I want to avoid that. So perhaps we should assume that a single potion can hold an unlimited number of doses (or at least sufficient that running out is never a concern). You will get people hoarding doses of course, but at least they're not taking up inventory space. There's no need to buy additional potions of the same type you've already got, instead you simply fill your potion with more doses. Additional potions would then only be carried for variety - for example you might want a potion of healing, a potion of mana, a potion of strength, etc, but you wouldn't want two potions of healing.

If there's a large variety of potion types then I'm sure players will still end up carrying spares in their inventory, to deal with different situations. However that's not really any different from players carrying a spare torch for dealing with insect swarms, a spare axe for dealing with treants, etc. And to be honest that's not a big problem, so with luck it won't be too much of a problem with potions either.

Alister wrote:
If players can replenish their doses in the field with, say, "loose primal" that escapes after you kill an NPC, but dissipates after 30 seconds or so, you can probably escape any reason to stockpile extras in your inventory if the rate players can replenish in the field balances the rate of consumption. Of course, that would only work if anyone can refill a potion and not just the creator of it.

I don't so much like that from a flavour perspective, as it undermines the consumable nature of the potions. It would also take away the economic possibilities of the original creator setting up shop.

Alister wrote:
I think it's absolutely wonderful. It gives items history, so the "best" potion maker will not easily dominate the market; there's an inertia that needs to be overcome before switching from one vendor to another. The drawback is no more of a drawback than, say, your favorite games store closing on you. I've had this happen (a couple times). It didn't make me want to stop playing board games. It just energized me to go out and find a new store.

My concern is that creating potions has a large effort overhead. If people keep coming back for more doses, then selling your potions can serve as a long-term investment - but if they quit the game, they're taking away your investment.

I've also been wondering about adding an expiry date to potions to get around that problem. If a potion lasted (let's say) a week, after which time it vanished and the creator could make a replacement for free, it would allow the creator to continue profiting from their investment even if the player quit. However I think that would greatly reduce the interest in buying potions, as most players seem to prefer owning rather than loaning.

Alister wrote:
But here's a thought. You'll be running into problems of synchronization anyways. If players have to refill potions from the potion's creator, either those players will have to synchronize (which may be difficult, and will probably lead to stockpiling, though maybe not in the inventory) or players will need a way to interact asynchronously. e.g., maybe vendors can set up "refueling machines" for their customers.

Good idea. I plan to add shops anyway, so this could just be an extension of that concept. I guess the alchemist wouldn't even need to restock the machine, he could simply set his price for refills and continue to provide that service forever more, even if he never logged on again.

Alister wrote:
KaVir wrote:
Another alternative I considered is to allow the creator to create duplicates of the original potion, which would then serve as a sort of blueprint. The problem then is that once a player has created a specific potion, there's no real need for anyone else to create their own, as they could just buy one from that player.

Basically what you're describing is how enchanting and crafting works in World of Warcraft. You'll end up getting a few people dominating the market, but that does not exclude the possibility of others when, e.g., the main people are busy or offline. Maybe that might not be bad?

Possibly, although I'm not sure how well that would work in combination with the offline shop/vending machine concept. I suppose you wouldn't need refills anyway though, if you could just buy new potions.

Alister wrote:
Uncertainty and a time-consuming processes are going to set up a situation where people very strongly want to stockpile potions, if for no other reason than they can be viewed as "collectibles". If what people get is an ability that lets them create actual potions, maybe this isn't so bad for what you want to do. If what they are getting is the actual, physical potion, I don't think there's much you can do in the way of restraining people from collecting them. I'm sure the answer is yes, but is there some place collected items can be stored besides your inventory?

Yes, players have stores which can hold up to 250 items. If each potion can hold a potentially unlimited number of doses, then I don't think players would have any real incentive to own more than one of each type. Allowing players to create a "potion machine" instead wouldn't really change that, as once again they'd want one for each potion type. I suppose it could be done with a single machine (where each potion type is an option you have to unlock) or even through abilities (creating potions is an unlockable option on your character rather than via an item).
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Alister



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
I don't so much like that from a flavour perspective, as it undermines the consumable nature of the potions. It would also take away the economic possibilities of the original creator setting up shop.


I can understand how they wouldn't be very potion-y. There might be other ways to look at it too, though. For instance, maybe potions are something more like rechargable batteries. It's an idea certainly consistent with the angle you're taking with doses. You can still get the consumable end of it by having them disintegrate, say, every week or so like you suggest. Consumption is just happening on a slightly longer time scale.

KaVir wrote:
If there's a large variety of potion types then I'm sure players will still end up carrying spares in their inventory, to deal with different situations.


If potions can decay, increase the rate at which they decay. Instead of a week, what about a day? Potions are effectively unlimited in the time they exist before decaying, but they have an expiry date. Using potions is a game of balancing cost vs. effectiveness. That's a nice easy ratio to manipulate, and with trial and error you can certainly get it into a range where players will select 1-4 potions they want to use that day and not take any extras with them. Maybe when potions are in a store, they are effectively "on ice" so a vendor can put them up for sale without having to worry about them decaying before consumers make a purchase.

KaVir wrote:
I've also been wondering about adding an expiry date to potions to get around that problem. If a potion lasted (let's say) a week, after which time it vanished and the creator could make a replacement for free, it would allow the creator to continue profiting from their investment even if the player quit. However I think that would greatly reduce the interest in buying potions, as most players seem to prefer owning rather than loaning.


I don't think this is a problem about them expiring. Consumables by nature are not something you own. A consumable you get attached to is a pretty useless consumable indeed. That said, I can see how carrying an item for a week and then having it vanish could be perceived in the way you're suggesting. Maybe the implication is that a week is too long for a consumable to last. Maybe their decay needs occur much faster so restocking is an accepted part of your routine, instead of something out of the ordinary that is perceived as a hassle. Sort of the difference between paying your bills and taking a shower. Both take about the same amount of time. One's typically perceived as a hassle, the other is not. Maybe that's a loaded example, but I think the idea stands.
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chaos



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a simple question with extensive and maybe useful implications: why is it that, most often, a character can be knocked ten meters into a wall by a giant warhammer, and all the glass potion bottles in his backpack remain intact?
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