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Vanity Items in Games: Cool or not?

Posted by Programmer16, 03 July 2012 · 876 views

Game Development

Vanity Items in Games

Cool or not?


I'm not sure if 'vanity' is the best term, but I'm going to use it. I'm referring to items that do not actually affect gameplay any, but are usable. Some example:

  • A coin that the player could flip in-game
    • Do I want Item A or Item B? COIN FLIP!
  • If your game has an in-game smartphone/pda (something that is always available to the player), it includes a random number app
    • I have 3 doors to choose from; Random Number App, give me a number from 1 to 3.
  • A talking equipment item

I personally don't think I've played any games that had the first two, but I loved sitting down and having a conversation with Lilarcor, the talking sword from Baldur's Gate 2.


I've been contemplating using this idea in games before, but I really think it could add something to a point and click. However, being an avid point and click player, I know how frustrating having useless items in your inventory is (especially when you get stuck and start trying to combine everything you have or use everything you have on something.)


So, vanity items: yay or nay?

Would it preferred if they were useful for something in the game? For example, near the beginning of the game you find a special coin that you can flip throughout the game, but at the end there is a vending machine that will only take that coin. It dispenses a key that leads to an alternate ending or perhaps a special developer room (think Zombies Ate My Neighbors).


Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!


[edit]

Here are a couple screenshots, just for kicks:

Attached Image

The SAGE editor, now with more Item Editor!


Attached Image

Added some clutter to Aaron's desk.


Attached Image

Reworked the trash can so that it didn't look so...horrible.

[/edit]






Vanity items can be fun. And they don't have to go into the player's inventory.

Vanity items can be fun. And they don't have to go into the player's inventory.

That is true, they don't have to; I could place an icon on screen, place them somewhere in a room that can be revisited, a new menu option, or something to that nature. Any ideas in particular that you were thinking?

Were it an RPG I'd just sort them into a special category or something lol.

Thanks for the input!

sunandshadow, on , said:

Vanity items can be fun. And they don't have to go into the player's inventory.
That is true, they don't have to; I could place an icon on screen, place them somewhere in a room that can be revisited, a new menu option, or something to that nature. Any ideas in particular that you were thinking?

Were it an RPG I'd just sort them into a special category or something lol.

Thanks for the input!


I was thinking of an artsy gui which has blanks in it that get filled in with interactable items as the player unlocks them. I've seen games that handled compasses, flashlights, and other items which aren't intended to be used at one specific place or time that way. Or you could have an inventory page for toys/trophies/other useless but amusing items.
Ah, those are good ideas! Thanks again for the input!
WoW had the coin vanity item. I think for this kind of question you will get a bunch of people who hate vanity items, and a bunch that love them. I know personally my wife absolutely loves all these vanity items where as I on the other hand hated them and felt they just wasted space. To wrap some context around that though I hated vanity items that I felt had no purpose ie: the flippable coin, but in other games like EverQuest I collected every vanity item I could that would cast an illusion on the player. So with that being said I personally vote for vanity items that serve some purpose.
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