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Kest

Inventory access

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Does anyone have any ideas for concepts to allow inventory access in a game where it needs to be limited during combat? The basic idea is to allow the player to carry large amounts of gear and equipment. But during instense situations, he is only allowed access to items that are equipped. For example, he can equip up to 8 throwing items (such as grenades) to throw during combat, even though he may be able to carry 30+ in inventory. Weapons work the same way. Sometimes (depending on armor features), up to five weapons can be holstered and sheathed for combat access, but a few others can fit into inventory. Sort of like bringing a duffel bag and leaving it by the door, I guess. What I want now is to not prevent inventory access during combat. Instead, I would like to force the player to make themselves vulnerable in some significant way in order to access it. If the player is willing to be vulnerable enough, it should indicate that he's safe enough to be digging through a bag for more ammo. There's another big catch. I don't want inventory access to be time critical. The game world will be paused while it's being accessed. That would indeed be an easy way to implement vulnerability, but I don't like the concept of players trying to optimize use of the interface to reduce it. I would rather give players time to think while they're in there. The best solution I have so far is to play a lengthy crouched animation right before inventory access is granted. The player can't control anything during the animation, except to cancel the animation. If the animation is interrupted by attack, the player can't access inventory. Any other ideas?

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The player has a belt and two bandoliers for grenades and stuff, a handful of ammo pouches, a few holsters on his belt and could carry a larger rifle on either shoulder (But if he carries two he should take a penalty to using one rifle unless he drops the other). Before combat he can put stuff where he wants it on his 'quick' item slots.

If he should need something else he would have to 'access' his pack, take it off his shoulder and put it on the ground. This is an animation with a set time +/- a few seconds for flavor. Past the point of slipping it off his shoulder, any canceling of the action will result in simply dropping the pack and leaving it there, requiring an action to pick it up again. (Depending on the game, this could include running-rolls to grab your pack and bring it back to safety! Cool options there.)

Once the removing animation is complete the game pauses and gives you time to think about what you want from your pack. (Or a hard core option where time goes on for those that want the challenge) After you pick what you want, the game will start an animation of you pulling it out, canceling it before you get the item past a set point results in the item and pack being dropped while you run for cover/shoot the guy in the face/whatever your response is.


You can make it more complex by offering 3 parts to your pack. Two side pockets and a main pack. The side pockets can't hold much, but you can press the inventory key and shift your mouse left or right and inventory again to select that pocket (or double tap inventory key for the main pack). When accessing the side pockets, you don't have to take your pack off. If accessing the main part you can get to any section of your pack.

This means players have to pay attention and remember where they store stuff, after all fishing around the main pack for something in a side pocket in the middle of battle sucks.


Also, if you wear your heavy pack into combat, you'll take negatives to your performance. You move slower, and can't turn as quickly, jump as high/far, and maybe have issues with stumbling on broken ground. The player then gets the option of deciding how much they want to carry, (A nearly empty pack isn't going to effect them much) and when they want to put a heavy load down, as they might not have the option to go back for it.

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I can't come up with anything to beat the idea you've already chosen. It's a tough situation for you as a designer. Without knowing what your game is like, here are some of the other things that crossed my mind:

1: AP penalty. Looks like you're going real-time, but if you weren't, then the inventory access could basically cost you a turn, letting your enemies act while you rummage.

2: Literally leaving it by the door. Require the inventory to be "dropped" in order to perform combat actions. When the shit hits the fan, you unsling your pack and cast it aside, and then in order to access it, you have to walk back to it. The bag becomes your "base", where all your ammo and gear is.

2a: Penalties for carrying it. You could keep the bag on, and thus have access to it at all times, but you move slower, make more noise, can't climb ropes, are bad a wrestling, etc.

3: Status ailment. Make a special debuff status that takes effect whenever you access the inventory, simulating the need to focus your attention on the bag and to use both hands to access it.

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I've recently played through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and I think adapting it's inventory system could work for you. In the game you can hold about eight items while you carry everything else in your backpack. You have to pause and can switch items in to/out of the backpack with no real penalty.

What I would suggest for your game is that your character would have to crouch for a few seconds or otherwise leave themselves vulnerable(maybe have a progress bar) and after the time is up they can access the inventory menu with the game world paused. I would suggest making quiting the menu two tiered so the player doesn't accidentally quit.

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I appreciate the input.

I'd say that literally carrying a bag that can be dropped would probably be the most correct way of dealing with it. I'm just not sure I would want my player characters to literally carry bags through every moment of the game. Still, it's something to consider.

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Just a quick note: With the whole bag dropping/picking up mechanic, wouldn't it be cool if enemies tried to steal your bag and/or used stuff in it against you?

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Pulling out your secret weapon and using it against you? [smile]

If there was a decent penalty for accessing it, the player would normally have enough time to stop them from getting into it. But it would still be a great feature to enforce the concept of protecting the bag - not venturing too far from it.

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I see that, so far, all ideas are aimed at a fire-arm based system set in modern - future times. This is probably the setting intended by Kest (correct me if I'm wrong) , but I thought I'd come up with systems for other possible settings.

1. Equipment Summoning
In a mystical setting a character may summon weaponry and equipment from a far storage location, or conjure them from another realm.

2. Pack Animal/Squire/Vehicle
In an older setting the player may be accompanied by a pack animal or horse carrying the remainder of his equipment. The player would have to go to this animal or call it in order to access the inventory. This would work similarly if the transport was a technological vehicle.

Alternatively the player could be accompanied by a squire. This offers further potential in terms of timing. The squire would carry the excess equipment by hand, using an animal or on a pull-cart. The player could then access an 'inventory' on demand. Having chosen an item he would call the squire to bring him the item. The squire would then slide, toss or run the item to the player after he finds it. Using this system would allow small items like helmets, small numbers of arrows or daggers (sheathed) to be thrown to the player quickly. Moderate sized (and not too risky) items such as quivers, short swords, small axes, crossbows, etc could be throw/slid to the player with a greater delay and possibly the risk it won't slide as far as hoped and will lie on the field. Larger items such as warhammers, battle-axes, longbows and claymores would need to be run to the player.


Just a few options for alternate settings.

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Feel free to discuss the concept in general, for any setting. It will provide help for others, and may also help spark ideas.

My game's setting is futuristic. Most of the technology is close to a modern level, but there is a brand new portal technology. It's really rough around the edges in the game as a science (being brand new), but it may be possible to use it in some way for this feature. Maybe something like the Resident Evil concept of storage trunks in specific locations, where the trunks are actually more like portalized mail boxes. Seems iffy, but there may be something there to work from.

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Could use a back-pack portal pager of sorts. Would basically be a small capsule with an interface on it allowing for access to a central vault. New items that couldn't fit on your person you could automatically send back. A delay could be implemented for portal transit times in which the player would have to stand still.

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