Shadowisadog gave a good suggestion about data-driven design, storing all your data (maps, enemies, inventory items, food, etc...) in files which you load inside your code as arrays, this way all your stuff is abstracted away as single index into an array. You can then also create functions to locate specific items in your inventory without hardcoding checking each slot for each element (use a loop) and all that.
Hmm. Thanks again for the tips.. I do realize this is a pretty big undertaking, especially for my current level. But, I do feel like I -can- make what I'm trying to do work... it'd be extremely tedious, but I could make it work. And of course, as time goes on and I learn more code fundamentals, such as arrays, I'll use them. Could you believe that I had originally tried to make this game with nothing more than If statements? Then I learned sub procedures.
But.. as for the way I'm trying to do it now.. do you have any tips for making it easier? Or perhaps a couple tips on how to code this in an easier way? Such as using sub procedures.
You said something about good code not being just a crapload of If statements... so, what can I do instead?
Another big one is using objects and classes. Purely imperative code doesn't lend itself well to game logic where each object may do a different thing. By using objects, you can group items into categories, which all do the same thing, e.g. you have an Enemy class, which holds the name of the enemy, its hit points, special abilities, amount of damage it can inflict on you, etc... this means any enemy can be represented as an instance of this class. Do you see the pattern?
Hmm... honestly, I'm starting to feel like I may have indeed jumped into this project way too early, because I currently have no clue how I'd go about having multiple classes, and using those together. I'm probably just going to put the project on pause at this point, and wait until I'm finished with my Visual Basic class before picking this up again.
However, thank you everyone for your tips. I'll definitely keep this thread saved in my favorites, and will likely update it and reuse it in the future.