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Tile-based Inventory System

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It has been noticed that in most games of the RPG genre uses some form a listing method. This method stores (almost) any number of any item at any time. Some games, however, have found ways to limit your items (like NetHack uses your bulk load as a solution). Perhaps another way to limit your backpack is to use tiles in the form of an array. Tile-based inventorys work in the ways that items are stored in the form of squared tiles. Some items, due to size, can hog up two, three, or even four tiles total. How can this stop the bottomless container? Maybe the designer can include BACKPACKS/STORAGE CONTAINERS as something to upgrade. The better the pack, the more items that can be stored in the matrix. Ask yourself this: how many RPGs have you personally encountered that uses such a system to limit your load? Probably a few have gone through some measures, but most of your games will still have the bottomless backpack.

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Their have been several games that use Grid Inventories.

Personally the only game where I ever liked it was xcom, mainly because you were only fiddling around with what you actually needed for one battle and loot was handled separately. Inventory Tetris gets old quickly if I just want to haul monster guts back to the pawn shop in the least number of trips or even worse in jrpgs when you get a limited amount of inventory spaces and they clog half of it up with plot macguffins.

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Stay away from them is my vote. Arranging items is a pain. I've used it in the Diablo 2 and the first Deus Ex. If you need a limit on large items I suggest having slots for specific item classes. Say one or two large items (i.e. a two handed weapon) two to four medium items (i.e. single handed weapons) and some number of small items that would fit loose into a small sack (i.e. magic stone and other items no bigger than your fist). If you need to limit it further, have a total weight allowance along with these slots. If you want more flexibility, allow the large item slot to hold two mediums and the mediums to hold two sack's worth of small items. Then let the player use the total spots how he wants.

This may sound worse than the grid system but it gives each inventory space a specific function with a defined size that isn't dependent on the arrangement of the items.

EX, you can hold a spear (L) and a tower shield (L), a short sword (M), a dagger (M), a medium sized quest item (M), and four small sacks (S)(S)(S).

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Or you can just have items have weight, and the player becomes encumbered when they are trying to carry too much. I agree that grid inventory systems are terrible. You spend a frustrating amount of time shuffling your inventory items to make oddly-shaped items fit. Or, like in Sacred 2, almost every item only takes up one slot which makes you wonder why they had a grid inventory system anyway.

Grid systems are just not fun. That, along with the fact that you could permanently mess up your characters, was one of my biggest gripes about Diablo 2. I know I couldn't have unlimited space, but grid inventories are just frustrating.

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I vote no on "inventory tetris". Whatever it gains in realism it quickly loses in obnoxious meta-micromanagement, and it causes players to have a moment of unpleasant doubt when they think, "What if this awesome sword really would have fit in my inventory if I'd been better at that stupid minigame? Maybe I could have kept the fruit of my labor if I hadn't failed at a totally unrelated task."

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Personally I love the Grid Pack system. I hate scrolling through endless lists of items and even when they have sorting options built in they become tiresome. I agree there is some micromanagement to organising the pack but if the amount of items being dropped compared to what you can store is out of whack I think it’s more of a balance issue. Diablo 2 I think had an "auto shuffle" which would sort the items in the most efficient way possible grouping all the spare squares together with a single click of the mouse.

I plan to use a grid system for my games because I believe they can be presented really well and are easy to understand. Some items could be really light in weight but huge in size so you'll need a separate state to measure volume.

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Another vote against Inventory Tetris.

Most inventory systems are unrealistic in some way. In Fallout 3 you could wander around with seven miniguns and a suit of power armour hidden down your trousers and no-one would notice. In Dragon age, a piece of paper takes the same amount of space as a suit of full plate armour. In Neverwinter Nights it was slightly better - the piece of paper only took 2/3rds of the space of the full plate armour, and counted significantly less towards your weight total - but you had to spend twenty minutes rearranging your pack to be able to fit it in.

The key is finding the right balance between realism and playability. Inventory Tetris was horrible in NWN. From a gameplay perspective, the Dragon Age and Fallout 3 approaches are far, far better.

Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
If you need a limit on large items I suggest having slots for specific item classes. Say one or two large items (i.e. a two handed weapon) two to four medium items (i.e. single handed weapons) and some number of small items that would fit loose into a small sack (i.e. magic stone and other items no bigger than your fist). If you need to limit it further, have a total weight allowance along with these slots. If you want more flexibility, allow the large item slot to hold two mediums and the mediums to hold two sack's worth of small items. Then let the player use the total spots how he wants.


I've often thought about something similar. I think it's an idea that has potential, although it may prove annoying in conventional monty haul style CRPG gameplay.

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How about simply giving all the objects weights in (say) grams and also an "unwieldy" rating. So, coins are light, but not much of a pain to carry. Armour is heavy, but not unwieldy. Spears, on the other hand, are medium weight but unwieldy.

Then put a cap on both the weight and the wieldyness a player can handle. As a bonus, you could wieldyness as a modifier in combat to represent that fact that someone carrying a ten-foot barge pole can't dodge easily.

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Size or unwieldiness or some such measurement would be a good abstraction of what the grid system is trying to show without making you arrange things.

Please do step away from calling pole weapons unwieldy in combat. They wouldn't be used if they weren't very effective. 10 foot might be a bit long to handle, but 7 certainly isn't at all and some how I doubt that system would treat them very differently.

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Not sure if I understand "inventory tetris" right, but I think it makes sense to somewhat limit the inventory in some noticeable way, both to make the amount of data manageable and to provide extra difficulty or challenge. It is just important that you don't make it permanently annoying.

For example, only being able to carry 5 items or 10 bulk units total where each average item is 2 units and some are 3 or 4 will be annoying if you need to pick up keys or quest items in addition to the items you want to use. Especially if you need 2 or 3 keys in some situations.

On the other hand, allowing a player to carry around 2000 items in a multiplayer game with cutomizable items means a lot of extra traffic from your database backend to the game server in addition to storage. It doesn't make the game easier for the player either, because the inventory will be a total mess. It will also result in "pick up everything" gameplay, which isn't terribly interesting in my opinion.

Lastly, inventory limitations can be an interesting game element. For example, if you can't put certain items in your backpack (say, a longsword or a spear), then you must carry them openly, so these will be visible to others.
That will prevent you from taking them into an area where those items are not allowed, unless you find a way to smuggle them in. Think of the Robin Hood movies where they smuggle their swords in a wagon or hide them under a priest's robe when walk past the guards at the city gate.

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Quote:
Original post by jackolantern1
Or you can just have items have weight, and the player becomes encumbered when they are trying to carry too much.
I think that inventory limits of any kind should be done away with. Does it really add anything to the game, that you are only able to cary 4 sets of full plate, 12 weapons and 100 potions? Unless you are going to go all the way to a Halo'esque "2 weapons and nothing else" system, arbitrary limits just distract me from my primary purpose: collecting and selling loot.

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Samoth-
Inventory tetris is the situation where you have 4 1x1 squares in your grid and you have to rearrange everything to get those squares in a 2x2 space to add an atime, or rearrange a 2x2 space into a 1x4 space, etc. Its annoying and often times leads to to leave items you have room for because you cant rearrange the items to fit it.

This is not fun, especially in a game with a strong central looting mechanic. As you put it, it becomes permanently annoying.

As for your other notes on the topic, basically what you are saying is inventory systems designed with little regard for the needs of the greater game design are bad, which is rather obvious. Of course if you are filling a limited inventory with quest items that's not well thought out, or letting players haul thousands of items in an MMO you are wasting resources the player could hardly enjoy.

Your last point of carrying weapons openly that don't fit in the inventory only works in the first place if that is an option. In most cases the inventory system is where you carry weapons, if you aren't putting it in the inventory you aren't carrying it. Second, are you saying you can hide a spear in your backpack so you don't have to carry it openly?

I guess this isn't you, but I'd like a system that actually makes some since, no matter how abstracted it is.

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Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
are you saying you can hide a spear in your backpack so you don't have to carry it openly?
What I'm saying is that if an item is in your bag, it is "gone", or put differently, it isn't visible. If you hold it in your hands, it is visible, and AI in some games even responds to that if it is a weapon (Syndicate comes to mind, as a very early example).

Now, a spear (or a halberd) might be 1.8-2.2 meters long, so it quite obviously doesn't fit into your pocket, nor into the biggest sack that you could possibly find. You therefore have no other choice than to carry it in your hands, if you want to bring one. Similarly, a longsword that is maybe 1.3 to 1.5 meters won't fit in a backpack or a pocket, either.
You could carry a sword in a sheath, but it will be as evidently visible as if you carried it in your hand (though a well-made game might give you a chance to hide it if you have a cloak/cape and maybe some kind of hiding skill).

So, for my "Robin Hood like" rescue-off-the-gallows example, you would have to enter a fortified city through the city gates where guards will see you. If you carry a spear or a halberd, they will stop you and confiscate the weapons (and most likely jail you). So you have to find a workaround to bring the weapons into the city. Limited inventory is a plot element and an additional challenge here.

On the other hand, if every item is just a size/weight agnostic slot in the inventory, everyone in your group might as well bring a great sword, a pavise and 5 readily loaded crossbows, 2000 bolts, as well as 5 large barrels of oil, a burning torch, and maybe a cheval de frise too. And don't forget the 120 healing potions.

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Which is why grid inventory systems are a bad choice. They offer no complex planning like you just exampled and provide only annoyances and frustrations in packing a bag. I quite agree with your points in the last point though. Unfortunately few games have such a subtle and intricate system.

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Everything depends on the point of the game and how this is going to be depicted. If you've got a kill-loot-sell dynamic going on, I don't think inventory limits add all that much unless they're quite large or travel is easy. On the other hand, if you're trying to work concealment into plot elements, I think you should go for a more obvious, clear cut system as JasRonq suggested-- maybe even a paper doll with front facing and side facing slots could work if access speed to gear was a factor.

Without such detail and other factors relating to the world itself I just don't see your Robin Hood example being much more than a gimmick. It works in movies because it happens one time-- then you'd expect (after the king's assassinated or the prison break) the guards to get wise and start prohibiting cloaks or stabbing pitchforks into the wagons of hay.

I didn't play it but in terms of games using containers within containers I believe Ultima Online used this and had a mechanic of not being able to steal certain items out of a pack if they were also in a bag. I can't speak about how cumbersome it was, but at least you could use it as a defense.

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Basically, keep the system as simple as possible and only add features when it makes the game more fun.

Limit by weight because if you could hold everything you ever found in the game, you would obsessively pick up everything in the game, which is not fun, and every character would have the same items. By limiting weight, you reduce an unfun behavior making the game more fun by its absence. You also create diversity in characters increasing replayability and your own sense of specialness.

Your robin hood example could be fun if the AI caught on to your tricks but the game provided you ways to get around that creating a cat and mouse game of tactics. You would then need to figure out how to create that game play and agust systems accordingly.

Ultimately though, use the simplest solution that fits the needs of the design in a fun way and no more than that. The grid inventory might have a use that fits that, but in most cases the grid part is unnecessary and gets in the way of otherwise fun looting.

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If you want to use a grid-based inventory, you can avoid item shuffling by giving items a size. If you put in an item of a larder size, it will ‘gray out’ multiple blocks in the grid.
I use this in one of my own project where the hero can use bags that can only hold a certain number of items and only up to a given size. A bag can have 20 slots available and hold up to small items.
Adding a small item will use up two slots in the bag:

Tiny 1 potions, materials, etc
Small 2 Books, Scrolls, possibly a wand, Daggers
Normal 4 Short Swords, axes, torch, arrow/bolt quiver
Large 8 Long Sword, Battle Axe, Staff, Small Shields
Huge 16 Two handed swords, Plate (Non bendable) Armours, Lances

This way you can take size into consideration without a need for inventory Tetris

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I quite like Inventory Tetris, but as long as it adds something to the game. RE4 and Deus Ex are good examples of where I think it worked well - you're forced to make interesting decisions about what weapons to keep and which to discard. So you might want to take that huge powerful rocket launcher, but to do so you might only be able to carry a couple of regular guns. Alternatively you can hoard the smaller guns so you've got a rapid fire pistol, a silenced pistol, a revolver, an SMG etc. giving you good variety but having to fall back on (say) grenades for heavily armoured opponents, which are generally more difficult to use.

Grid inventories work here because of the different playing styles that the different weapons allow you to use, and the trade-offs you can make between them. Plus it's the *only* use of your inventory - plot critical items go in a separate list, and you don't have to harvest and sell enemy bodies for loot, you just get the money directly. If your game does involve the kill-loot-sell loop then grid inventories are usually just annoying as they're big enough that you don't have trade off weapons against each other. Alternatively have a separate 'loot' inventory that has separate limits.

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Seconded. Grid inventory worked great in RE4. It forced you to make interesting choices, not just between Weapon X and Weapon Y, but between immediate firepower, immediate healing ability, and long-term investment in health increases. Working with limited resources practically defines a survival horror game. I would say that physical inventory spaces are generally more intuitive, immediate and thus satisfying than a bunch of numbers representing weight and load capacity.

A weight-based system has the property that if something weighs just a little, the decision to toss it or keep it is very inconsequential; good design avoids inconsequential actions. I'd say a well-tuned weight-based system works not unlike a grid without the graphics: you have to have significant differences between the weights of the objects, you have to have a pretty high minimum weight, and there's little point to having tiny fractions of weight.

If you wanted, you could do a grid inventory without inventory tetris and without sacrificing obviousness. Call it the Duffle Bag System in contrast to RE4's Suitcase System. Just have a bag logically consist of a specific number of "space", auto-arrange the items and empty space to fit when they are dropped in, and when a simple rearrangement won't do, have the bag deform slightly while retaining its volume.

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Weight is a good system to start with, but size can be equally good. I think that in any situation that would consider a grid system, having each item have weight and size which have running totals for your person is better. Have a max size and weight and each item can have a different impact on each. It might be negligible for one but not for the other.

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Quote:
Original post by swiftcoder
Quote:
Original post by jackolantern1
Or you can just have items have weight, and the player becomes encumbered when they are trying to carry too much.
I think that inventory limits of any kind should be done away with. Does it really add anything to the game, that you are only able to cary 4 sets of full plate, 12 weapons and 100 potions? Unless you are going to go all the way to a Halo'esque "2 weapons and nothing else" system, arbitrary limits just distract me from my primary purpose: collecting and selling loot.


There are reasons to limit inventory space in some games, particularly RPGs and MMOs. The first is that it provides another dimension of advancement. In WoW and FFXI, players looked forward to being able to increase their bag space, but the amount they could get early in the game was sufficient for most uses.

Second would be game challenge. Without having any limit, players could carry around hundreds of every type of potion and every other item that would help them. This, in effect, lets players buy an easier route, and most players do not like that. The only other method to prevent it would be to actually have mechanics that limit potion use, like WoW does. However, if that is not what you want in your design, you have no other option than to limit the amount players can hold.

Third, in online games, it encourages players being grinding hermits. Requiring players to head back in to town to sell their loot when their inventory is full puts more people in the cities, thus increasing the amount of players to communicate with there, and it appears more populated to other players. Without a limit, players could just head to a secluded point in the countryside and kill through their entire play session without ever seeing another player.

Fourth, it can be hard on the server. If you have no limit at all, some players may be carrying around thousands of items, whereas forcing them in to the cities to sell it resets their inventory back to a more workable amount.

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jackolantern1 already presented four reasons for limited inventory space. Here's some more: having unlimited space for functional items means constantly having a crapton of options. Especially in a multiplayer game, this is likely to result in one or more of:
1) need for excessive and time-consuming hoarding,
2) need for excessive micromanagement and fiddling, or
3) shattering the game balance.

Using old version World of Warcraft as an example, having infinite inventory space would - among other things - certainly have resulted in some high-end PvP players collecting and carrying a plethora of super-specialized armors, such as an insanely shadow-resistant, low-armor, high damage garb for fighting shadow priests. A lot of trouble for a very specific, localized and relatively unexciting gain (1), having to retain order in the inventory, most likely by tinkering with UI addons (2), and an unfair end result which the opponent has no way of avoiding (3).

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Personally, I really like realism when it comes to inventory in an RPG game.
I really like to manage inventory, the problem is that in most games inventory management isn't realistic at all. You can't organize your goods because the system doesn't allow for containers within containers. usually all your items are all over the place and there is nothing you can do to organize them.

I think that most people who have played Pen and Paper type rpgs such as D&D really like to keep a detailed account of their characters inventory.

In pnp games it is very important to detail how items are stored for a number of reasons. Some of which include pickpocket attempts, item damage from falling, movement, and swimming.

For me, a good inventory system for an rpg system should have weight, dimensions, volume (for containers), and allow for containers within containers.

You shouldn't be allowed to place a Tower shield in standard sized backpack. Perhaps you can attach it to your back, or carry it, but that is about it. Allowing characters to walk around with 20 suits of armor in their backback is just ridiculous. Characters should have to buy a pack mule for that kind of thing. I also think that gold should be an item that you can put inside a pouch and hand it to another player.





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Have a fairly smallish inventory screen that can potentially hold an infinite amount of items. However, if you do that, the thing is going to be this unusable glob of items, as they all overlap and it's not gridded so you can put them wherever. Thus, you want to keep in organized pack for the same reason you would in real life -- so you can actually FIND things.

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