Created By: Maxaxle on December 10, 2011 Last Edited By: Maxaxle on December 26, 2011

Magpie Syndrome/The Upgrade That Isn't

A character (not always the Player Character) discards their decent gear for gear that is supposedly better, even if it isn\'t.

Name Space:
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Trope
Do We Have This One?

Bob is walking around in an RPG with an adequate wooden sword when he comes across a shinier tin sword. Although the two weapons are essentially the same, the tin sword is slightly weaker with the benefit of being...shiny. So Bob drops his wooden sword and grabs the tin sword.

This trope is most common in Massively Multiplayer games, where players will often switch equipment because it looks nicer or is a status symbol.

Examples:
  • Rebels in Half-Life 2 will often drop their current weapon when they come across a supposedly better weapon. Oddly enough, however, this Troper has found that dropping enough of the right weapons in the same area near a group of Rebels will cause them to compulsively switch weapons with no clear reason. Imagine that Rebel A has a shotgun, and Rebel B has an AR 2. Rebel A comes across an SMG and drops the shotgun. Rebel B then walks over to the dropped shotgun and takes it, dropping their AR 2. Rebel A will then swap their SMG for the AR 2. Artificial Insanity, perhaps?
  • In the Diablo games, it's often hard for experienced players to weigh the merits of two similar items. Beginners usually have to throw their hands up and use whatever drop is the "rarest" and highest-level, regardless of its actual benefits.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • December 11, 2011
    TechUnadept
    shift+8=bullet points.
  • December 11, 2011
    Stratadrake
  • December 12, 2011
    Maxaxle
    Do you have a better name, or are you just going to insult me?
  • December 12, 2011
    Koveras
    ^ Chill out. Stratadrake is merely pointing out that a policy exists against nondescript trope names.
  • December 12, 2011
    Maxaxle
    Well, magpies are supposedly attracted to shiny stuff...
  • December 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Shiny Syndrome? Be warned that "Syndrome" type titles have a particular risk of being considered opaque.
  • December 13, 2011
    Maxaxle
    What do you mean by "opaque"? And "Shiny Syndrome" is *kinda* what I'm trying to express with the title, but not *really*...
  • December 13, 2011
    Stratadrake
    As titles go, "opaque" means you can't Guess That Trope on first sight.

    I see the words "magpie syndrome" and I immediately think of ... okay, magpies are a bird, that's all that comes to mind, and "syndrome" just means an effect related to them. I'm nowhere in the ballpark of guessing the definition but I'm already out of clues to go on. Thus, the title is opaque.
  • December 14, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^The magpie's Stock Animal Behavior is to steal metal stuff; specifically they tend to take shiny things and put them in their nest. If it is carrying a shiny thing and it finds another shiny thing, it will drop its current thing and pick up the new one, even if the new one isn't as shiny as the old one. It might then notice the shiny thing it just dropped, drop the new one, and pick the old one up. And so on.
  • December 14, 2011
    Jhimmibhob
    Perhaps "Upgrade That Isn't"? "Ill-Advised Upgrade"?

    • In the Diablo games, it's often hard for experienced players to weigh the merits of two similar items. Beginners usually have to throw their hands up and use whatever drop is the "rarest" and highest-level, regardless of its actual benefits.

  • December 14, 2011
    Maxaxle
    @Randomsurfer: That's exactly what I was getting at, though almost nobody seems to get the magpie reference. @Jhimmibhob: Hmm, maybe. I'll add the example.
  • December 26, 2011
    TBeholder
    Why not combine them into "Magpie Upgrade"?

    • A fairly typical mistake of Vegastrike newbies is accidental Min Maxing in a bad direction. VS needs basic coordination of components, or upgrade volume is wasted on devices that can't be used efficiently anyway due to insufficient other stats -- stronger shields needs a good reactor to recharge at full power, and without good enough capacitors even overpowered reactor mostly idles while weapons are mostly slowed down by low energy.
  • December 26, 2011
    moocow1452
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xvrlonbl30g4xbklvh1x828b