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I was sitting here playing a few games over the last few weeks and noticed something usually over looked in MMORPGS. These potions man. In some games I find myself selling them off as trash loot. In others they are precious life sources, and in others just mild life savers and class dependent. Soon I was drifting off into thoughts of how other games all implemented those glass bottles of love in games. Let's chat about this!

The Logic: I do not want to get lost in the ancient lore of when dragons flew above the land and mighty heroes were given magical concoctions to help them heal and gain magical points to ward off the dragons...based on, Dungeons and Dragons? Books? Middle Age manuscripts? I do not know. Feel free to chat about potion history below in the comments. What I do know, for my MMORPG gaming world, I was introduced to potions and their importance around the time I started playing World of War Craft so many years back. The potion was might gift to have linked to the hot bar. For all classes back then it was a life saver. As one of my first MMORPGS, this was introduced as a drop from mobs.

As I opened the corpse to loot there was some tatered rags, perhaps an apple, and low HP pot. OOOhh what is this? Hovering the mouse wheel over we learn it is HP and MP regeneration that can be used instantly in battle! Not like food that needs to be consumed outside battle. A bottled glass potion. Awesome idea! Hello hot bar! Now I had the courage to take on some higher end mobs and or a boss. Last time I fought that said boss, he took me down, but not before I had HIS HP to 19, if only I had a health boost, and HERE IT IS, HELLO HOT BAR! And that is how I met these wonderful glass concoctions.

It would not be until later I would find it a little silly that in the middle of fighting with a sword I have the time to "woah woah monster, let me take a drinketh from thine Goblet" and end up spamming a potion to boost my HP up. A little illogical if you will. But playable...I can live with it. Besides, the entire idea of keeping armor and weapons in a BAG strapped to you was a little silly. So hey, I can live with putting strange glass drinks next to those swords, arrows, and rocks in the bag as well...

I did notice also in wow the strength of the potion scaled your level progression. That is, the design to give out potions seemed to be intelligently following your level progression and they did not want you recovering TO much HP and MP. There would be a level cap as well to prevent you from getting OP potions. And if you wanted from anything superior, you usually had to craft a great potion instead of buying one. These rarities were so sought after, you were a commerce king if you crafted a good potion and put it on the auction house back in the Vanilla days. At least the crafting logic made sense. Go alchemy, profit with a great in game product.

One illogical feature also was over drinking. I have ran into "you are full and cannot cosume more" in food items in mmorpgs, but never on potions. Apparently all mmorpg characters are Potion-o-holics. We have no logicial limit to how much to consume .

The Diversity: With all the new titles launched over the years, the use of potions is quite interesting. There seem to be 3 major model types, correct me if I am wrong, we have the WoW clonage type of a sort of useful tool in the bag. Then we have the DIablo kind of "must spam them furiously" and then the "doesn't matter, just there to dress up". Let's discuss.

The wow clonage type can fall into 3 sub types. Some that use it exactly like wow where you will find yourself fumbling for the potion button in a desperate scenario. Even as a healer you may want to have at least a good stop of 50 pots in the bag in case your HP And MP sink. This is up to the game design of course. How the class is designed. Does the class use more MP than HP, when and how? etc.. For example, it is just known most boss fights or tougher mobs will be using your hp and mp bar more than typical questing. Even as a class that has heals and "MP" boost as passive skills, it is still a good idea during the hard fights. Some dungeons cannot even be run unless you prepared properly. I sort of like this model as it makes one feel like they really are going on an adventure beyond the typical mob and questing. "Bandages, check, pots, check, new pair of under ware...who needs it". That sort of bag check, and item check before going in made it seem more "real" to me.

The second type, Diablo style. I have noticed this pertains not only to Diablo like games (Path of Exile) but also to other typical mmorpgs. Rosh Online and the now closed 7 Core are examples. Those both heavily relied that the potions you have are spammable and hot bar slotted starting level 1. I see the result. It makes the monsters feel "tough". If you will. There is a chance you die on level one mobs if you are not drinking fast enough. This sort of gave the world a "challenge" feel to it. This is not my thing though. I liked Diablo, but the idea of those two Red and Blue balls always being the survival factor of the game was a little annoying and falls back on the logic part of it all. Really, I need to drink all this to get past all that and not even pee once???
I never really heard or read a developer explain this sort of design in game. I think Diablo just wanted to do something different, and "spammable" to make a sort of sub game. It's popularity was so shocking that we are seeing the potion drinking aspect of it a sort of TRADEMARK to it's genre. So much so that if any one made a game directly after it's release like it, it would probably be a legal issue. That could be the reason why we are JUST NOW seeing other games no start to clone it a little, because the implications of "cloning" are a basic mmorpg standard that, hey, why not? The people want potion popping fun! Give it to them!
7 core did a direct 3D mmorpg style game with potion popping. It made some fghts feel hectic, but only in that "wtf, why..oh, lame, better run back and buy 100 more of these". That at least was my feel of it. It did not enhance battles, or make the game feel "tougher", to me, it just felt like an excuse to stay focused and glued on a single tab targeting system...If you are gonna spam in frantic battle, at least keep it action oriented (like in DIablo, etc). But that is just me.
Forsaken World had a patch that introduced Automatic AFK potioning...YUP. You set the rules, at 50% HP, use X HP pot. And go auto attack and leave the computer...You sit there and auto HP. It was the fuel for AFK gaming.

Last but not least, the no need to have them other than decoration aspect. This has been the case for me in ALLOT of new mmorpgs. It is like they have the potions in game just to say "see we are fantasy, we have potions". So many titles I have gone through and all these 50hp, 150 HP over 15 seconds, all this...garbage. No need. Will never need. Now this breaks down into two other catagories: The need at end game for good potions and class specific.
Allot of games I have ran through have no need for potions in the noob and mid game stage, but end game they are great to have for end game content.
The other aspect is class specific needs. Some classes, like healer based classes, usually do not have a huge need for potions unless designed for MP burns. Most other classes will need them to get through the mid levels. Rouges, mages, etc. some games alos introduce this as a sitting out factor. Sure, potions exist, and sure you do not need them, but to get HP we will make HP and MP regen so slow after every battle, your best bet is to use the potions (replacing food usually).

The exploits: In the F2P market, with all these well hearted publishers (sarcasm) thinking about their precious gaming community and how they can help us (help them in cash), the rovel over all the possible things in game to manage, and potions can take quite the exploiting.
One game comes to mind is the Perfect World and their "charms" that refill hp and mp at the 50% mark to 100%, draining them until you need to cash shop a new one. Well, a charm sure does seem like a bottled potion to me...In fact I have played other games where you are teased with mild potions that will get you just far enough, but the goods of the game require higher level potion, or potion making that only comes through the cash shop. UGhhh. Oh that sweet nectar of life! He who controls the life source, controls the game! Or is it, he who controls the game, controls the life force, controls all! GASP!

This can also work in monetary terms of grind. Some potions being not in the cash shop but in the vendors at high prices. To pay them you need gold, to get gold you need to farm X long enough, then buy the potions, then take your one chance to use them in a map or dungeon push. If you fail, back to money grinding.

Pay 2 potion...don't quote me on that :)

The Size, types, utility and bars: POtion size is a funny thing. Both physically and non physically. As potions get more potent, usually the icons get larger...and larger, until the get SUPER good and then they glow! or bubble, or whatever happens to be in the icon pool of the developers kit. Funny stuff. Some keep it "real" and just always shop a red cup and the stats are something you just read.

So many types exist also. Some games have crystals and other consumables to boost strength etc. But allot stick to the potion set up. How many kinds of potions do you link to your hot bar? I think the worst is when developers try to mask potions as other things. The horrible example of 7 Core bothered me ALLOT. In 7 core the spammable potions were SODA and HAMBURGERS! YUP! The same text for HP And MP potions where there, the same red and blue bar under your profile, but the icons and description were changed to soda, hamburgers. YOu progressed to beer and hot dogs later on...In a fantasy themed game that called itself steam punk in a land with elves and bugs...it felt off, odd, and just stupid. It added a very child like feel to it's possibly adult like world. UGhh, but that game shut down...I blame the hot dogs.

How util are these potions when forced to use them? I personally keep USually 2 slots on the bar for potions. One red, one blue, one just my level range. Ill keep OP potions in the bag thinking: "I will open the bag and use a big potion if the need be" That never moment never arrives...I usually just die. I have seen, and I probably should follow their example, people use en entire hot bar to the side for all the potion types, and sizes and manage them accordingly. Instead of vending the under powered potions, like I do, they use them in conjunction with heals, giving that heal that leading edge...I prefer a few copper than that extra self hp.
Also, some games require drag n drop heal, right click, left click, and some just suck altogether. RIFT comes to mind in sucky potions. I Was playing ecently and all the heal potions I had, I would link and spam them and nothing would happen. I double check to see if it is my level (which they control by level very strictly) and yes, it is, but wtf? I guess it is mostly out of battle hp you get (which is fine, they usually always have a healing alternative, healing fairy, spell, etc). Pretty soon we will have Google Glasses MMORPG where we have to reach down, open imaginary bag, look in, find the bottle, open it, lift it to mouth and POOF, HP boost...or they will keep it lazy and just have flaoting buttons to push...

Another entertaining aspect is the introduction of bars. Bars are the places you can buy the same drinks but with alcoholic of other beverage names. 150 hp in this beer. Well heck, I prefer beer than some red portion. But then games go the extra mile to make you drunk if you drink to much alcohol...but potions, again, are fine to abuse XD. Do you use the bar as your potion replacement?

Conclusion: Love it, hate it, we seem to be stuck with it. I am still awaiting a sandbox mmorpg where potion sickness exists and you can throw the glass bottles at people...or use it as other crafting items like smeting them down for making a window for a hosue...See how small details can turn into big game changing aspects? That is called creativity people. Take the time to enjoy the little things and you can really see why, perhaps, people are liking less and less the mmorpg field. It is not because we are missing things, it is because we have everything we need. But how it is being exploited could be the thing turning people off the this genre of gaming.

Also, it is entertainment. Beer, potions, etc... All of this usually has been exploited in the real life with gamer's potion energy drinks etc... The point is, keep it fun and we will be thirsting for more!


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