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Paul Cunningham

Inventory: Space and Weight

47 posts in this topic

How about having the graphics of inventory items shrunk and pasted onto the gui. There's no limit to you inventory, but as it fills up it just starts to cover the viewing area of the game screen which acts as natural encumberance?

Then you can just drag and drop items onto your character or left click on an item in the inventory to use them.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

Edited by - Paul Cunningham on August 24, 2000 10:36:43 PM
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The nice thing about UO''s inventory system was that it was highly customizable. You could drag your bags anywhere on the screen. The bad part was extracting items from the packs...certain items like earrings are a major pain in the butt to pickup because you have to click and drag them exactly on the few pixels they existed on (lets not mention trying to take earrings off your paper doll ).

Jagged Alliance 2 had an inventory system that mixed the weight and space limitations pretty well in my opinion. They had varying size boxes representing your inventory (ie the smaller ones couldn''t hold an m-14, but they could hold several clips).

How about hybrid system that has a soft limit for the weight and a hard limit for the volume? The more you carry the slower/less agile you are. That would give you an incentive to carry less if speed and agility were more important to your character class. I guess that would depend a lot on the game mechanics, though.
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Paul, can you pls explain abit more. You suggest having items lying around the viewing area of the game? Like ontop?
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If my interpretation is correct, then Pauls idea is like you think, the items you pick up, are superimposed over the playing area, so if you have too many items, you can''t see, so some players would decide they want to see as much as possible and have a small inventory, while others will cram a lot of stuff in, and as a result suffer.
This idea sounds cool, and it is original, but care would have to be taken as to the placement of them, if the player could place the item anywhere on the screen, they would be constantly shuffling the items around as the travelled in different directions, which would get annoying. So if the computer were to place the items on the screen and the player has no choice as to where they end up, there will be other annoyances, as if the items always get placed on the screen in the same order (eg top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right) then players will be dropping items and picking them up in different orders until they are arranged right.
While if the placement is random, then the drop and pickup trick will be happening. Read annoying.

Another possible option, would be to use a system similar to this, except just blurring the screen, or darkening it in proportion to how much inventory is taken, and the inventry is on a completely separate screen, and unlimited (or nearly unlimited) in size. This would be pretty cool methinks.

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Make the player buy a bag - small for medium for medium or a big one that costs lots. And make two hands as the active inventory so you can only use a weapon or a scroll or whatever when you have it in either hand. And if the player is right-handed, striking with the left could be less accurate.

~Lucas();
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I must admit to loving the Diablo inventory. It represents both shape and size nicely. If you wanted an additional weight counter, that''s easy enough to do behind the scenes.

As for the interface itself, how about this... a small backpack icon in the corner of the screen, or on your toolbar/sidebar, wherever is useful. To pick up an item from the floor, click on it, drag it to the backpack. When the cursor is over the backpack, the inventory screen pops up (make it transparent if you like, or do split-screen like Diablo) and you can now continue dragging the object to the wear-location on your character or the inventory slots. Voila, simple drag-and-drop object management. Perhaps if you were carrying containers, you could drag your objects onto them, and they would pop open too. They would need a ''close'' button in the corner, and dragging your item there would close the container, re-revealing the inventory behind it. The idea being that you can drop your item in any container without releasing the mouse inbetween.

Just an idea.
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quote:
Original post by Kylotan

As for the interface itself, how about this... a small backpack icon in the corner of the screen, or on your toolbar/sidebar, wherever is useful. To pick up an item from the floor, click on it, drag it to the backpack. When the cursor is over the backpack, the inventory screen pops up (make it transparent if you like, or do split-screen like Diablo) and you can now continue dragging the object to the wear-location on your character or the inventory slots.



This sounds good, but having to place every item in the backpack manually could get a bit irritating at times (for example in hectic diablo-like game play). There''s a lot of drag-and-drop involved. What about this:

When you single-click on an item your character would try to pick it up an place it in the inventory automaticly. Only if the inventory is full will the action fail (and this will be relayed to the player in some way that do not break the game flow, no popup boxes, but for example using audio).

When you double-click on an item the inventory will pop up (either transparent or as a split screen) and your cursor will change into a mini-version of the item. You are now free to place it yourself and maybe drop some old stuff in the process to make room in the inventory.

I think the above method would be good because it would minimize the amount of time spent on managing the inventory. The inventory screen would only be seen when there''s not enough room in it or when the player himself choose to. The choise of quick-and-easy pickup on single-click and inventory management on double-click could of course be reversed or left as an user option.

Regards

nicba

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The inventory system that i was previously talking about would work in a similar fashion to the way window''s handles icons. With the exception that the icons would be closer together acting in a more cohesive fashion. You could even file them into sacks (directories) if you wanted more space but at the cost of ease of reach. The player would be able to move/handle the icons by using hotkeys that shift them in preset postitions or if they wanted they could handle them manually. Example preset postions might be 1. Frame - which makes all of the inventory items spiral around the outer edges of the viewing area 1. All left - all inventory items are pulled to the left of the screen as if there''s somekind of inventory magnet there. 3. All right/top/down. 4. Corner - same as "All left" accept the items would be pulled into a corner (of the players choice). Note that the way the i had invisioned this idea was that the area where the inventory items are have a filled in backdrop that would look like leather or something that appears like the inside of a bag. So it is in a way a separate area that is chewing up screen space as you place more items in it.

Another idea i''ve had recently is to have drop down menu''s at the top of the screen that act as bags. These drop down menu''s would obviously be graphically altered to fit with the style of the game. The problem with this one is that it can be quite easy to accidently use something becasue something going on in the game might disturb you while you''re trying to select an item.

Both idea''s use the drag and drop method of handling items (collecting items) and double clicking to make use of them.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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Paul,

I''d strongly recommend against cluttering the screen space with icons. At work it''s a necessity, but in a game it''s almost unforgivable. Screen real-estate is already at a premium, and in the interest of realism there''s no real life correspondance between having too much to carry and not being able to see. ( Unless you''re somehow carrying a bag on top of your head )

I think the interface and the game world should be highly separated... that is, no making the UI unresponsive or obstrusive, FOR ANY REASON, especially not as a result of some game context. You''re already going to have performance and art issues to deal with, why make things harder for yourself?

Your drop down menu item idea sounds a lot more workable. Consider adding group selecting to make inventory manipulation a little easier. That way, you could drag huge chunks of whatever from your backpacks to the ground, and vice versa.

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If you are going to show all of your items, you should still be able to get away with a hotkey to bring up their screen, or an icon of the bag. This could indicate the time that it would take to open the bag up... so it doesn''t degrade from real-estate or gameplay IMO

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I''ll just ask one, annoying little question:
Why do you want inventory management?



Think about it long and hard, what is the object of having inventory management in your game?
Is it realism? Realism is not a very good target in anything but a simulation - so if you''re building a "medieval simulator" or worse, "simbackpack", that would be a valid reason. However, I doubt most of you are working on this kind of game.
Is it challenge? Yep, managing weight, shape and size for storage is a challenging problem ( see the Knapsack problem in Computer Science if you want to learn more ), but does it really fit within your game? Is it consistent with the other kinds of challenges you''ve put up? You''re really building a complex jigsaw puzzle here.
Is it to provide something else? You could be adding limitations to what you can take, so some strategic planning is needed before heading out on a mission. This I personally think is a good motivation, but there are many other ways of attaining the same challenge. Players could choose from "packages" of goods to take, and you can take only one (or any set number). Or any kind of simplified system would already impose a constraint on what you can take. Does it really have to be realistic?


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I think this really ties in with the ''creation of a home'' for a player (from the infamous doc ). You can pack a few backpacks with different stuff for different occasions (you wont need a torch for swimming eh?) so you keep seperate backpacks fixed up and ready to dash in your characters house.

As for the space in a backpack: I would just have a number that represents area/volume, and a number that represents weight. I would then have an unlimited grid, but the total objects cannot have an area/volume that is greater than the total area/volume and cannot have a weight that is greater than the total weight. Maybe you could have this to allow a few more kilos of goods to be carried, but at a risk of breaking your backpack (it is then a player decision of whether or not to risk it).

You could base this on ''running'' as a higher risk of breakage (bouncing backpack is likely to split) and a walking is a fairly low risk. Fighting is likely to cause an overlaiden backpack to be cut up (the player would be slow carrying all that extra weight ).

Just a couple more things to think about

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"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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If you allowed the player to carry as much as they wanted to in an inventory system that scrolled like fallout out then it will take them longer to find what they want. This would have the same affect.under the conditions that the game couldn't be paused when looking into the inventory. Maybe anyhow. That other idea (using screen space) could/should probably be refined and test first so i won't go on about that, enoughs enough Thanks for the feedback everyone!
quote:

By Dwarfsoft
You could base this on 'running' as a higher risk of breakage (bouncing backpack is likely to split) and a walking is a fairly low risk. Fighting is likely to cause an overlaiden backpack to be cut up (the player would be slow carrying all that extra weight ).



This reminds me of another system i was thinking of where the player can stack heaps of stuff in their backpack but at the risk of breaking inventory items. You'd have to keep a tab on what was put in first and the more that goes in on top to more damage items get.



I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

Edited by - Paul Cunningham on August 27, 2000 11:50:58 PM
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I see that my question has conveniently been ignored

Think about what you want to achieve, and why, and then start designing the features around it.


Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
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quote:
Original post by MadKeithV

I see that my question has conveniently been ignored



Ouch, that hurt I feel so guilty now, My apologies to you.
quote:
By MadKeithV
I''ll just ask one, annoying little question:
Why do you want inventory management?

At first i was thinking that inventory management had always been around and that we were just asigning a term for something that needed it. But then i realise that what you''re saying is that inventory systems should be aimed at automation in the same way that gui''s go for user friendlyness/ yes? Thus no need more inventory management in some games.

*Brainwave* I wonder how an inventory system could work in a RTS?!! Inventory management could hold a purpose there?!

quote:

Think about what you want to achieve, and why, and then start designing the features around it.


I tend to agree that this is probably one rule of game design that will hold sted for many a type of game. Damn it, now i got to work out how to break that rule I shall keep it in mind, that''s what i''ll do!



I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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Paul, I''ve added some thought to this. Cluttering up the gamescreen with items sounds abit irritating, being able to put them left/right/top/down etc, i take it you dont have any other interface or buttons? Will they get in the way?



I like dropdown menus especially in web forms, but the idea of having them in a game, makes alot of a "program" technical feel. If you are making a Sci-Fi or technical type of game then perhaps this will work, otherwise this type of interface denotes the wrong things.


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Unless you have scrolling parchment, unrolling and giving you the menu in fancy writing... Then you are right back in the game

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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I''m curious, as i''m not a programmer i don''t know - if you used the drop down menus for inventory handling of items could you use predone programs/libraries from windows to help with this? Making the game a bit faster to program.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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You certainly could use good old windows user interface components - they work fine. You would be stuck with the look and feel of those interface components though, and this could be a problem for the look of your game. You can also add owner-drawn controls, which are more complex, but you are only responsible for drawing them, not for their operation, so it still saves a bit of time.

Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
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Here''s a system that I don''t think anyone has implemented yet, that might be interesting:

When you open your backpack it is empty, however, one by one the computer picks a random object that you own and the object slowly falls from the top of the screen into your backpack. The player can rotate the object or move it back and forth horizontally, but when it lands it stays there permenantly. When the objects in the backpack reach the top all the remaining objects are discarded. The higher the level of the player the faster the objects fall from the top of the screen. There is a catch, however: if a player completely fills a horizontal row, the whole row disappears, possibly leaving only parts of objects or even completely removing objects. (The player better be careful that the bottom half of the potion of death doesn''t disappear of they are in for trouble.) Once an object has disappeared, it is unrecoverable (unless you make it a quest) because these objects have disappeared into that mysterious zone into which your socks wander while in the dryer.

Well, maybe not, but at least it would make inventory management more fun! Players might even play your game to manage their inventory.

Sunriath
"Against stupidity even the gods contend in vain"
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That reminds me of tetris... Or 3D tetris for that matter

Sounds fun, but a bit dodgy, I don''t think most players would enjoy having to play a game to save their ar$e from the other game

I like the bottomloss bag idea though. Anyone for an orange? Reminds me of Nakor from Raymond E. Feists books. He is one of the most powerful magicians, and all he really does in most of the books is pulls oranges out of his bag . It''s the stuff I tell you!

The catch to the bottomless bag? You have to restock an area somewhere on the map. It is just a small rift/portal to another location that allows the user to pick up things there... Quite intriguing I believe

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          
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The halflife system was pretty much the same as windows drop down menu''s. I thought that was really good and it only just occured to me now.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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quote:
The halflife system was pretty much the same as windows drop down menu''s. I thought that was really good
and it only just occured to me now.


Thats true, but halflife had a limited amount of items to store. It worked well with the hotkeys.
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