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Resources Management Gameplay

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It’s important that you grind. But with no Inns, how are you supposed to heal? Tonics are found trough the mansion, and automatically heal everyone in your party 100% regardless of your levels. That may sound too convenient, but remember, you can’t buy tonics. You’ve to ration the handful, literally through the whole mansion.

In most RPGs, or games with RPG Elements for that matter, resources are simply and plainly unlimited. Except for some Too Awesome to Use stuff, there is little to no risk of running out of something since you'll eventually be able to re-obtain it one way or another. Of course, this only leads to very obvious circular-gameplay strategies like Level Grinding. That and there's the whole Gameplay and Story Segregation thing where the Big Bad won't summon an army of demons while you Take Your Time.

Yet, this is not always the case. Sometimes, an RPG will have a vital gameplay element which makes you unable to play it carelessly; and planning various strategies of what to do and when to do it is the key. This is when you find yourself experiencing Resources Management Gameplay.

All of the sudden, you might find everything from a Healing Potion to a Wave Motion Gun becomes equal in Uniqueness Value, and saving them, a mandatory part of game play. If you upset the Unstable Equilibrium by failing to scrimp resources or train properly on the current ones, the game can become Unwinnable. [1]

In some cases, even Random Encounters might be limited as an Anti-Grinding measure to keep XP and items rare. Or you might require food or other limited resources, so Level Grinding to your heart's content is out of the picture.

One easy way to establish a difference between those RPGs that include this and those which don't is in the main focus: in the former you have to complete a goal in the cheapest/fastest/healthiest you can, while on the later you have to be strong enough to defeat the enemies.

Heck, this mechanic isn't limited to the RPG genre alone; as long as maintaining a resource is hard and key, this still applies. An FPS also has a limited amount of Med-Kits lying around, because the enemies you gun down certainly aren't gonna drop any for your convenience, although you don't really need to worry about it once you've butchered everything… Usually.

This is a Videogame Trope. When the limited resource is time, we are talking about a Timed Mission. Strongly related to Too Awesome to Use, and Unstable Equilibrium. Also see Wizard Needs Food Badly, Anti-Grinding and Min Max. Any game like this is almost guaranteed to be Nintendo Hard and/or Harder Than Hard. When it's applied to magic spells, check Vancian Magic.


 Note: it's really hard to get [x] items,” you can't buy [x] item at stores or You can't carry more than [x] number of [x] item at the same time are not examples of this. The resource itself should be limited, implying that it can only be used a few times.

Examples:

RPG:

  • Most Roguelike RPG work like this. The reason behind it is that Player Characters usually need food (well, so do players, but most human beings find it difficult to consume digital food), and food is limited for each floor, so you will be forced to ration your and go to the next floor when you run out of it.
  • Fire Emblem games. You can't repeat battles, and the items you have are the ones you'll use in next battle, so not wasting your equipment is crucial for progress.
    • Many of the games tend to give heaps of gold on an irregular and unpredictable basis, so you can end up with no gold for several chapters if you spend it all too early.
  • The online flash game Epic Battle Fantasy one and two. The third game broke with this.
  • Monster Rancher. Since monsters have a life-span ranging from 1 year to 11 years, you have to be very cautious of what you make your monster do, and when. In general, the money in this game could be considered as no Economy Management.
  • Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu counts as the Ur Example of this. There is a limited number of enemy encounters, some of which boost your Karma stat to a point where you can't get any experience points (you have to acquire a cursed potion to reduce your Karma, which in turn will cost you some hit points). And the icing on the cake? All slain enemies stay slain for good. That, and you also have to keep a healthy supply of food, and properly make decisions on when to upgrade your equipment.
  • Save points in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. You are given a limited number of them, and while you can use them anywhere, it can be off-putting for those used to being able to save every twenty minutes.
  • Sonic Chronicles can be like this if you don't equip the chao that guarantees you'll get items you can sell after every battle, since there's a finite number of rings (currency) laying around.
  • You're going to have a very tough time in Dark Souls if you don't learn to how ration your spells and healing items between bonfires. Even combat is a challenge of resource management since each attack/roll you make will deplete your stamina meter.

Other Games:

 Note: EVERY game where you have a very small amount of health and a limited number of Randomly Drops, or Ratchet Scrolling/Auto Scrolling Level, uses this. Most obvious examples are FPS and Beat'Em Up games, although those don't really count since in most cases you're contending with a fixed number of enemies or other obstacles, hardly imposing any real limit. So please, REFRAIN FROM LISTING THEM unless there is something interesting about them.

  • In Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox, before the fourth level. After that level, you can buy potions, but there's only one permanent shop building in the world, and the area near the shop is full of soldiers with machine guns who would like nothing more than to kill you if you get careless on your shopping trip. In addition, the price of anything besides a normal potion is so high that even if you master the art of grinding in such a way that the health restore powerups the enemies drop make up for your lost health, you will still have to grind for a very long time to get enough money to buy anything.
  • As denoted by the quote above, Sweet Home.
  • In Wild Arms 3 and Alter Code F, healing items are not available in shops for any price, Justified by the world being a dying wasteland where plants like Heal Berries just don't grow anymore. Later in the game this is subverted, since you can grow your own healing items in a garden (you're still limited in the number of slots for plants and how many can be produced per time period passed).
  • In the original Alone in The Dark (1992), you have a limited amount of oil for your lamp. Keeping your lamp lit is necessary in some dark rooms. If you run out of oil, you're screwed because you won't be able to get past some rooms or find important stuff in them. Same applies to healing items: you only find two throughout the entire game. Not to mention weapons, which break or run out of ammo rapidly, and are also finite in number.
  • Part of many Adventure Games (including the original,) usually in the form of food, lighting, or ammunition. Some even offer a bit of sucker's bargain where you can sacrifice some treasure in exchange for more supplies.
  • The central gameplay mechanic in Turgor, otherwise known as The Void. This is further complicated by the fact that there is one resource to manage that does everything (health, ammo, currency, etc). A limited amount appears in each time cycle, and it's alarmingly easy to render the game Unwinnable through clumsy or reckless spending of color.
  • SWINE's campaigns have this trope, despite the game being a tactical RTS. This is because everything is limited - you only earn Strategic Points at the start of every mission, which you use to field your units, upgrade them and keep them supplied with fuel, ammunition and armor repairs. The number of units you can field is finite, and all three kinds of supplies are finite - in longer missions the supply trailers used to replenish your combat units will themselves run dry. Hence the conservation of the supplies you have, or Points with which to airlift more in, becomes and important strategic factor.
  • Spore has the Staff of Life, which can only be obtained once and only used 42 times.
  • In Mech Commander, salvage is everything. The credits you're paid for each mission don't cover all the repairs and upgrades you need, and some items can't be bought in stores, so you'll have to constantly gather salvage to upgrade your mechs. Also, on each mission, you're given very limited supplies of SupportPowers, such as artillery and sensor probes.

Notes

  1. completing the most difficult levels without those items/levels can be a good Self-Imposed Challenge

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