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Paul Cunningham

Inventory: Space and Weight

47 posts in this topic

Almost finished a combat system and now i''m looking at how the inventory can work in the RPG i''m working on. I''m currently balancing out the values of using either space or weight as a way of handling inventory items. As i''ve worked out so far Weight will take away any hardship in managing one''s inventory becuase it handles everything so generically. While using Space could add some fun. What i wanted to know is how much fun people find in managing there inventory. Do you think that inventories add much to a game? Do you find it fun managing you inventory? I''m also trying to work out if the player could affect there inventory (eg.holding capacity in some way). Apart from just re-arranging items so they fit in better. How many different ways can there be to manage ones inventory. What about having some sort of elastic inventory system that could break if abused. Or actually being able to attack someone''s bag so they''ll have no way of holding stuff. I''m planning so far to use a 3D/2D inventory system which means it''s obviously going to be space orientated. I don''t know, just thought i''d ask. Maybe one of you''s have been through all this before and could pass on some wise thought''s that could help I love Game Design and it loves me back. Our Goal is "Fun"!
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Diablo 1 Mage: "Where would I put this?"

Me: "Bend over, and I''ll show you, dammit!!!"



The idea of rearranging inventory isn''t something I find terribly heroic. I mean, really, would Lancelot have ever lost a battle because he couldn''t fit his sword next to his chalice which was next to his... you get the idea...

In Diablo, the player isn''t doing something that the computer couldn''t be doing, and since it''s not very compelling in and of itself I think it''s one of those things that should be abstracted or automated. So, I''d support weight based inventory.

BTW, by elastic did you mean your bags could break and such? If so, it''s a tad more realistic but if you''ve ever had a trash bag break on you while carrying it, you''ll know that the act of picking up the trash isn''t something that sends thrills down your spine.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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I''m sorry, but I can not totally agree with Wavinator here. I believe many players (inkluding me) think it is fun with inventory managing. Players are in general greedy, and want to take every bloody thing they find with them (even if it''s just a small grey stone). So by adding space I think you add another thinking to the game, now you can not take with you 9 staffs or spears as it is impossible to fit them in your inventory, if it is just weight based then this is in theory possible.

By allowing the player to carry a backpack (maybe of diffrent sizes) s/he can expand the maximum inventory limit the have, both in weight and space. Also by saying that this backpack can only hold a certain weight, but allowing players to over weight it at the prize of that it might break add to the fun, if I say so my self. Imagine you at the treasure of the dragon, filling you backpack with all the goodies down there, and in your greed not realising that you over filled you backpack. Suddenly the backpack breaks and there you are with even less inventory space.

The idea that a player can carry up to a certain weight is not realistic enough, by adding space limits an extra challange is added.

Take care.

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I agree on that idea since it''s in my upcoming RPG design document, and already implemented in the rules system.

(I know my design have many many features, but I''m a 10 years old Game Master, so RPG have no more secrets to me )

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-
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Diablo Inventory managin sux big time. Spending time moving stuff around to make room for that single potion is a waste of time and an utter bore. Lesson is don''t have a inventory that space-wise is realistic.


Working with weight is much better. A certain race can for instance carry more than another. Certain bags can have weightreduction, like the bottomless bag of holding in AD&D campaign.


Your idea about being able to affect inventory works well in the following cases:

- Your inventory eq is smoked. Say for instance you are fighting a dragon, and it breathes fire. Your bag isn''t fire resistant and all burns up.

- You are a thief, and want to pickpocket


A genre that has alot more experience with inventory is the adventure game genre. I always liked the rollover on inventory items in Discworld II.


Being able to lock items in your inventory like boxes etc. is also cool.

Well thats some organized thoughts on inventory from spyder.
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I''d go with the more realistic weight system. More realistic in the regards that if you ditch a halbred in D2, you could sqeez in a set of full plate and a trinket or two.... there is something really wrong with that.
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I think inventory is one of those rarity''s where its actually more fun if its semi-realistic. I like a space/weight hybrid where there is a maximum weight limit and a 3D physical space for each container you carry. I actually enjoyed in tabletop DnD, deciding where to store each piece of equipment. (eg. knife in my boot, valuable gems in the false bottom of the tiny trick chest w/ the poisoned needletrap in the lock) A big thing in RPG''s is distinguishing your character (well, duh 8-) so letting people be tricky w/ different sized and featured backpacks/pouches/pockets/scabbards etc. gives one more dimension to character customization. (bonus points for representing all this graphically) One caveat, though. There''s about a 50-50 split in player tastes on this subject, so allowing players to forego this anal micromanagement stuff in favor of automation would probably be a good idea.
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I knew this would happen, one person likes inventory managment and other don''t. This leads me to one conclusion which is, this issue has never seriously been addressed. What i''m saying is is that some people don''t like inventory handling too much probably becuase it''s never been made a fun part of the game. Or it has been made a fun part of the game but not done well.

I was planning on using hex''s as an inventory base unit becuase a hex represents 3D space with a 2D perspective (Draw a cube and rub out the lines in the middle and you have a hex). Because hex''s are like the half way point between 2D and 3D. Maybe instead of having a set space to lay down items you have a box on the side of the screen with a number in it which represents hex''s. When you place an item in a blank space then the number in the box ticks down accordingly to the size of the item. This way you can handle 3D without having to display things in 3D.

The problem i forsee is that if you bring space and weight into the one inventory system then it just becomes awkward for the player/yes? Maybe it could be done more remotely thus being able to make it more complex. Time to brain storm!

Spyder, how does the rollover system work in Discworld?



I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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Ironicly our team has just began discussion of this issue. After reading the above post and thinking about the discussions we''ve had to date, I would agree that this is one system in RPGs/MMORPGs that is overlooked or that doesn''t get much in the way of improvement over what has been done before.

The best inventory that I have seen is UO, although flawed, its good points outweigh the bad.

The good
* It allows you to stack certain items.
* You can place items anywhere in the backpack (no grids or boxes)
* You place other bags inside of it.
* The backpack can be placed anywhere in the game screen (as is most of the UI components in the game)

The bad
* Hard to get to items of interest.
* Not easy to drop items (not really an inventory issue, more of a game issue)
* Unreallistic in terms of what can be placed in a backback (eg. A large bardiche shouldn''t be placed into a backpack, unless it is a new foldable version)
* And the amount of items that can be placed in the inventory.


I think your on the right track by incorporating space and weight or just plain volume would be a welcome change in the typical inventory screens that we have become acustom to.

One way that I have been thinking about solving this issue is this. Every object in the game would have a weight and a volume assigned to it and the backpack(s) would have a volume limit set for it. The weight issue is based on the characters strength or what ever system you use to determine the amount of weight a character can carry before becoming incummbered.

What are some other ideals on how to work inventory?

Another point that I think needs to be handled is the ability to change weapons with a bit more ease. Having to open a backpack and pull out a bow and drop you sword and shield in is slow and tedious. If you think about it... a character that used a bow and a sword would probably have a sling to hold his bow on his back and a sheath to place his sword. I know this isnt a matter of inventory, but, developers have made it to be.

Anyone have any thoughts about how to better handle the weapons changing?


Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser
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Having a hot drop key - press the key and what you are carrying is dropped to the ground and a rapid loadout hot key - pressing keys 1-0 select a new loadout for the character to use, if possible.

To keep things in perspective, you never saw John Wayne dig into his saddle bag in the middle of a gunfight to get his spare six shooter out, he drop the one he was carrying and grabbed the nearest gun he thought was loaded or pulled another out of his vest. Anyways, unless it is slung over the back a weapon should have to be on the character''s belt to be used.

Some RPGs have taken a turn for the worse in this regards and started borrowing from FPS games. How silly does it look to see a guy with 9 different weapons in his back pack and change them out in 2 seconds. It just isn''t done in real life. Usually the person drops his back pack and pulls out his favorite weapon to start a fight with. If he has the time, he might scrounge in his backpack to ready for the next fight. The current method takes a realistic ammount of time to ready the next weapon, aside from the quick drop key.

Allowing the character to have only two sword like weapons (one on hip, one slung on back), a bow, a few daggers, some other things on your belt (like potions), and a shield for quick swapping is pretty realisitic, any more is just plain silly. So having hot swap inventory slots and regular volmetric or weighted space for the rest of the junk. For those space freaks, you could always add bags/packs/pockets of holding, within limits.
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I won''t hold my breath for this, but it''d be great to see a more detailed carry concept. If you''ve got a bow, you could hang it over your shoulder. If you''ve tie a rope to a staff, you could hang that over the other shoulder. ''Course, this''d make you a lot less manueverable in combat...

Even with volumetric inventory, are we every going to see movement rate and dexterity reduced relative to inventory?

I think inventory wouldn''t be such a problem if these kinds of games were less fight & shop... but that''s a different subject...

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Just waiting for the mothership...
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I guess that''s what I''m getting at, Wavinator. I''m not sure it''d be worth the development time (Paul C.-gimmick, or anchor?), but w/ a good physics engine, it could be workable. The main thing I''m going for here is some way to make it enjoyable for the player, and its so BAD ASS when you see the knife throwing specialist open his jacket and whip out an array of deadly-looking knives. *ahem* The main thing is that it opens up one more element of strategy. I''m thinking about when in games, you''re imprisoned, and inevitably, your jailors take your pack. What if you''d planned ahead, and you''ve got some poisoned hatpins hidden in your dredlocks, a dirk strapped to your chest, or you''d thought to swallow those throwing stars moments before capture(*ouch*). . .umm ok, scratch the throwing stars. . .but still. Can you see it? BAD ASS, I tell you, BAD. ASS.
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quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham

As i''ve worked out so far Weight will take away any hardship in managing one''s inventory becuase it handles everything so generically. While using Space could add some fun. What i wanted to know is how much fun people find in managing there inventory. Do you think that inventories add much to a game? Do you find it fun managing you inventory?




I find it fun up to a certain limit. It can be fun to prioritize among the equipment to cary into a dungeon. Chosing the right type of armor and weapons and such. But it easily becomes a pain when the game suddently forces you to abandon all your careful planning because you have to carry around several different "critical items" (stuff needed for in game puzzles at some unknown point in the future). It may be helped if the player was allowed to have a house of his own (or rent a room at the local tavern). Then there would be some place to store things until they would become usefull.


About Space vs. Weight: I think Fallout 1 made a pretty good hybrid of these two systems. The space was represented as traditional squares (diablo 1 style) but stronger character could carry heavyer objects and thus had more squares available. I liked it because it was so simple.

The only real problem with including (or relying entirely upon) weight for inventory management is that it gives yet another reason to play as a strong character. Apart of the advantage the strong character has in close combat he will also have a easier time solving the in game puzzles and quests because he can much easier find room to carry with him all these "critcal items" needed in by quests.


Regards

nicbä
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I like the final fantasy style: you can just hold a lot of stuff. There is a limit but it is quite high. Adding inventory management usually doesn''t add anything to a game. In the case of Diablo style it adds a puzzle element but if that''s what you''re looking for just add a minigame like tetris. Most people don''t play RPGs to become warehouse managers.
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What about just making your own inventory credits. These could simply be a hybrid of space and weight? I liked the belt idea in diablo but i think that you should have been able to put weapons there instead. I was always jumping into the inventory and refilling my belt which after hours of play became VERY annoying an boring.

So maybe have a belt for items that you use more ofter and don't need to be replaced.

quote:
By nicba
The only real problem with including (or relying entirely upon) weight for inventory management is that it gives yet another reason to play as a strong character. Apart of the advantage the strong character has in close combat he will also have a easier time solving the in game puzzles and quests because he can much easier find room to carry with him all these "critcal items" needed in by quests.



This issue can be balanced becasue those who are stronger usually need to carry heavier/larger items anyhow. You can always make it that stronger people are just slower so they need big heavy items to make use of their strength thus hogging up space in their inventory.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

Edited by - Paul Cunningham on August 24, 2000 1:51:31 AM
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Here''s an idea for storing weapons that I just thought of:
There would be 3 classes of weapons. Primary, Secondary, and Auxillary. Depending on the stats of a character, they could store different amounts of each type of weapon. Your primary weapons would of course be your main weapons, a big sword for a warrior, a long bow for an archer, etc. Your secondary weapons would be the weapons you''d use when it became impractical for some reason to use a primary weapon, such as a short sword for a warrior, a small bow for an archer, etc. The auxillary weapons would be things any class might use that is small, like daggers, slings, etc.

I think that system would work well in a game...
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quote:
Original post by nicba

The only real problem with including (or relying entirely upon) weight for inventory management is that it gives yet another reason to play as a strong character. Apart of the advantage the strong character has in close combat he will also have a easier time solving the in game puzzles and quests because he can much easier find room to carry with him all these "critcal items" needed in by quests.




System Shock is a perfect example of this. You get more inventory squares the stronger you are. Since there''s a lot of crap to haul around in that game (broken shotguns, unresearched alien giblets, computer parts) the player who maxes out strength early has something of an advantage.


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Just waiting for the mothership...
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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster.

its so BAD ASS when you see the knife throwing specialist open his jacket and whip out an array of deadly-looking knives.



I'm thinking of the scene in Desperado, where the assassin starts wailin' on Antonio Banderas with knife after knife after knife. I mean, that guys was practically COVERED with knives. Cool idea...

quote:

*ahem* The main thing is that it opens up one more element of strategy. I'm thinking about when in games, you're imprisoned, and inevitably, your jailors take your pack. What if you'd planned ahead, and you've got some poisoned hatpins hidden in your dredlocks, a dirk strapped to your chest, or you'd thought to swallow those throwing stars moments before capture(*ouch*). . .umm ok, scratch the throwing stars. . .but still. Can you see it? BAD ASS, I tell you, BAD. ASS.


Watchout, now! You'll be making those guards perform full body cavity searches on your poor amazon character, and she won't like that... (uh, or maybe she will, but that gets into a whole different level of player character emotion AI...)


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - wavinator on August 24, 2000 2:35:38 AM
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RE: Paul


In discworld the items animated, like a box of matches would open etc. It sounds kinda corny but I enjoyed this feature.
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quote:
Original post by SeanHowe

Here''s an idea for storing weapons that I just thought of:
There would be 3 classes of weapons. Primary, Secondary, and Auxillary. Depending on the stats of a character, they could store different amounts of each type of weapon. Your primary weapons would of course be your main weapons, a big sword for a warrior, a long bow for an archer, etc. Your secondary weapons would be the weapons you''d use when it became impractical for some reason to use a primary weapon, such as a short sword for a warrior, a small bow for an archer, etc. The auxillary weapons would be things any class might use that is small, like daggers, slings, etc.

I think that system would work well in a game...


So you just switch between these weapons by doing something like clicking on "+" or "-"?



I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
I like the final fantasy style: you can just hold a lot of stuff. There is a limit but it is quite high. Adding inventory management usually doesn''t add anything to a game. In the case of Diablo style it adds a puzzle element but if that''s what you''re looking for just add a minigame like tetris. Most people don''t play RPGs to become warehouse managers.


(This section is off the topic of personal inventory)
I laugh at this... reason is that one of my guild brothers (who will remain anonymous) spent so much time in our guild hall organizing all of our loot, that we started calling him "Warehouse Boss" (or WB). If you''ve ever played UO you know what I mean, if not... The size of the house determines the number of boxes that you can store. Then size of the box determines the amount of items that you can store within, etc...
Well, we had so much stuff that it was a full time job for the WB to keep it organized





Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser
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You''ve given me an interesting thought there Dak Lozer. If you allow the player to hold to much then they will which end up having the player blame the game for not having an easier way of orgainising their inventory.

I''m curious, those of you who have played Diablo2. I heard that you can use storage places in the game. Can you tell me if you think this is good or bad and why. I havn''t played it as you can probably guess.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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The chest is ok, but it holds less than what you can carry. What would have been nice - they have this somewhat in Darkstone - is houses. A place to call your own and camp for free with only a theif or two to bother you. Players can upgrade their security system for their house as they get more cash. It will give people a place to call home and theives jobs. To add a bit more security, you can always include or sell unpickable chests to store in the house.
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D2''s chest is too small. I like the way UO''s bank works. You can place a certain amount of items into this bank box. This is the only safe place to store your personal items. My main character in UO has 6 bags inside of the bank box. Inside these bag (which I have dyed to color code them) are various items. For example my green bag has all my gold and precious gems (get it green == money (well, here in the states)). Red bag is full of weapons that I have collected and the grey bag has some spare armor. You get the ideal.

One of the nice things about the system is that they just provide the bank box, and each character sets up the box the way he thinks is easier. I''m sure that if you could look into other players boxes you would see all sorts of different methods of organizing their loot.

If you are going to give the players a place to *keep* items, make sure it is large enough to keep them happy. Everything about D2 spells *MONEYSINK* and thats why the chest is so small

Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser
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A restrictive inventory has never been to my liking. It''s admittedly a matter of taste, but any time I have to deal with inventory management, I''m doing something I don''t enjoy. Any time a game forces me to do something I don''t enjoy, that''s bad.

Key''s to a good inventory...

Flexible storage and adequate capacity. Overextending capacity at the cost of lowered character abilities, but not at the risk of this whole exploding backpack idea. I wouldn''t enjoy that.

Easy access to items. Quick access functionality (Ability to swap weapons or use items at the stroke of a key.) Diablo''s belt was a good example, though it shouldn''t be limited to specific items. Also, the key should access inventory, not a special slot like in Diablo. I''d much rather Diablo had a key you could assign to drink a specific potion, but the potions were in your inventory. Having to pause every few minutes to refill my belt was not fun. Thus it was an annoyance feature. Didn''t add anything to the game for me.

Diablo should have added a weapon switching ability with an adequate switch time built in for balancing. Shield or off-hand switching would have been good too. Armor switching would have been nice, but not really necessary, and should impose a lengthy switch time penalty simply due to the nature of removing and wearing armor. The Bioware/Black Isle games should have added this armor switching ability too, again with the lengthy switch time penalty. Inventory screens in that game consumed the whole viewable area. Another bad thing. Neverwinter Nights has a transparent inventory. And from the E3 demo, it looks like they have item quickslots that are flexible enough for any items. I noticed weapons and shields being put into them, but no armor. Oh well.

Here''s an overall rule of thumb. Any action that is used even semi-frequently should never take more then 2 keystrokes or mouse clicks. Any more then that and it will be considered tedious to some degree to a good portion of your market.

Inventory management did not make Diablo I or II a better game in my eyes. It didn''t make Baldur''s Gate or Icewind Dale better games in my eyes. right now I can''t think of a game that did have what I thought was good inventory management. The Final Fantasy games had open ended inventory as far as capacity, but they still had a cumbersome element to them (partially due to the lack of a mouse interface to the game. Get a clue Squaresoft)
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