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serratemplar

Carrying capacity (primarily for RPGs)

11 posts in this topic

I'd like to talk about the purpose of weight capacity in a game, beyond just the simple reduction to "it's more realistic." Some games give you all of the numbers: weight of each object, how much you can carry, and how much you're currently carrying. Some games (modern FPSs mostly) restrict purely the number of items you can carry regardless of how much they might 'weigh'. Still, other games eschew this entirely (e.g. many JRPGs) and allow you to carry 99 Tents and 99 Cabins and 99 Great Big Swords as well as whatever else.

 

I find myself wondering what in-game functions are supported by restricting how much a character can carry.

 

The less you can carry, the less you can bring home to sell from a long haul. Diablo is well known for this (though really it just forces repeated laps to and from town) but even a game like Fallout sees the same restriction (and the lack of teleportation/quick travel makes the limitation even more tangible). This puts a cap on the amount of resources a player can gain from an expedition, as it were; you may need to make choices on what to bring to town to sell and what to leave behind, perhaps not knowing which is more valuable.

 

Carrying capacity also restricts your flexibility; this is its primary use case in modern FPSs (which allow you typically a primary weapon, a sidearm, and some kind of utility item) but it comes up in other games as well; while it might be nice to have two kinds of rocket launchers, a grenade launcher, a flame thrower, two kinds of chainguns, and several rifles - something for every occasion - you just can't carry them all. This very often meshes with the previous effect: you now need to budget carrying capacity between:

  • your ability to address different situations with the ideal weapon;
  • and your ability to carry more junk to sell for money.

Fallout 3 (and New Vegas unless you kicked in Hardcore mode) ignored the weight of ammunition and 'chems' (stimpacks for healing and other things that granted buffs) but its predecessors did not; stim packs were light (and expensive), but first aid kits and doctor bags were heavy, adding your ability to address character injury to the 'what do I carry' budgeting.

 

Items are resources (either they serve an intrinsic function or they can be sold for currency or maybe broken down and used to build things that serve one of those two purposes) which ultimately assist the player accomplish tasks; restricting how many you can have puts a limit on your resources. Additionally, it does add a touch of realism to the game. ;)

 

Does it have any other effect that I'm missing? What do you think?

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In RPGs, carrying capacity is also a mechanic to balance different character builds. For example, you might spend a few points in charisma to get more party members (read pack mules) that you might otherwise neglect in favor of more direct killing statistics. Or a ranged weapon user might buy points of strength to lug around more ammo. I especially liked the Fallout New Vegas version of the pack rat perk which gave you additional carrying capacity for a high barter skill.
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(I feel great when I kept that one potion of resist frost in skyrim and suddenly encountered five frost .. ghosts (name escapes me))

I think they're called Ice Wraiths...if you mean the little icy things that are really hard to see against the white background of snow lol

But potions in Skyrim aren't very heavy...they're only like .2 or .5 weight, and you start with around 300 carrying capacity and get something like 10 more when you upgrade Stamina (approximate values).  The real problem that I see is the issue of lugging around specific armor, because it's heavier.

 

 

In Fallout 3 for PC, I carried different kinds of weapons around with me for different situations, but a big problem I had was actually switching to use those weapons.  It took like 10 seconds to switch to a different weapon, because you had to lift up your hand, look at your little watch (and freeze time in doing so), navigate to Weapons, and then scroll through your weapons (I had like 20 of them...) until you find the one you want.  It's kind of like that in Skyrim too.

 

My point is, if you're going to let your player bring around equipment that is situation-specific, consider offering some kind of quick method for switching to different sets of equipment.  I especially liked the way Guild Wars did it: you have F1, F2, F3, and F4 as hotkeys to switch to different weapons/offhands.  That way, players could put their generic sword and shield in F1 and their +25 energy staff in F2, and maybe add a generic sword with a shield that's especially good against Earth damage, or something.

 

 

Asides from these nagging issues, I actually would prefer it if I could carry as much as I wanted in RPGs.  It'd be a good break from having to worry about everything I pick up, and as long as there's a way to filter the items (e.g. look only at weapons/armor/potions) then I wouldn't mind having a lot of stuff to look through.

I never really cared for the "realism" that limited inventory brought into games.  It was usually just a nuisance.  I always felt like I could play a lot better if I just had enough space to carry around my situation-specific equipment, and proper methods of switching between my equipment.

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Does it have any other effect that I'm missing? What do you think?

Actual space occupied by the stuff you're carrying. ie, say that your carrying capacity is "50", and each potion weights 0.5. Probably a nude guy with nothing more than his two arms for carrying 100 flasks isn't very conceivable isn't it?

 

As I was writing this I remembered STALKER system. If I'm not mistaken, it had a nice system for both weight and space of your items.

 

In STALKER (an FPS) your character has a weight limit. One slot for an armor, two for weapons (dont remember if it was one rifle and one pistol, or two rifles... or whatever). If you have three weapons, you have to get into the inventory to grab the third (which didn't paused the game at all of course)

 

Now, besides weight restriction and equip slots restriction, you also had a "space" restriction. Your inventory was represented by a grid, and different items occupied a different amount of squares (with different layouts so you had to do a lil bit of manual inventory management). You could fill your inventory with 4 weapons without reaching your 50 weight limit for example.

 

This seems like a pretty good system if you want to "force" some survivalism in your game. STALKER designer's didn't pushed that too far, you rarely ran out of space in your inventory. But with some tweaking it could be more challenging.

 

You'd need to design your game around it though. Not having close "resting/market places" around for selling/storing your stuff all the time could piss off your player.

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The whole inventory issue is basically about role play. The modern audience doesn't care about atmosphere, they just want to kill kill kill. Hell even the classes in modern games are the same. Warriors practically have spells in GW2 and WoW. Actually screw practically. Its all about constant button mashing.

 

Did you see those people up thread? "But, But, But, I want to be able to carry the optimal gear for every possible circumstance and switch into it for no penalty."

 

Jesus Christ. Why even have the gear for fuck's sake...

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Digging through a backpack for That Thing That Will Save Everybody can make for an intense moment, but not a very heroic one; whereas weight and space constraints do hand the player some tough (and fun) choices on what to carry and how to be prepared for different things, making the system technically difficult from a control-angle (i.e. having them manually jigsaw their gear tightly enough to fit more stuff, not pausing the action when they go in there after what they need) could frustrate the player. That's my concern with manual packing...but I had forgotten it, haha. :) It's a big part of Diablo and games like it; Deus Ex too, and the most recent one auto-packed your inventory for you to get the most space (and did pause the action when you went in there, iirc).

 

@Altar, I admit I'm not so pessimistic with my thoughts on "the modern audience." The kind of people that buy and enjoy games where heavy-handed inventory management is a 'feature' are not the kind of people that are only in a game for frag count. They're the people that really enjoyed everything that the Interplay gang put out. When designing a game for the lowest common denominator, maybe eschewing inventory management is a good idea. The core of that's a discussion for another time though. <3

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@Altar, I admit I'm not so pessimistic with my thoughts on "the modern audience." The kind of people that buy and enjoy games where heavy-handed inventory management is a 'feature' are not the kind of people that are only in a game for frag count. They're the people that really enjoyed everything that the Interplay gang put out. When designing a game for the lowest common denominator, maybe eschewing inventory management is a good idea. The core of that's a discussion for another time though. <3

I was only responding to what people said specifically in this thread about inventory management.

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JRPG inventory systems are mostly a holdover from when limited cartridge space made a more complex serialization system impractical. 

 

For inventory complexity it entirely depends on if its purpose is for tactical load outs or a scavenger / door to door salesman sim.

Edited by Kaze
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I guess that "modern audience" aka "lazy people" of any ARPG/RPG/MMORPG would probably just take the most generic weapon available with the most overpowered skill as to not having to switch around and only looting the shiniest rares as picking something up seems like useless work to them (and later whining about being poor and needing free things if its an online game), which I would find sad.
Opposite to these are more oldschool people taking the effort to optimize everything, switching weapons, armors, skills constantly, picking up everything for crafting, selling, using.
When restricting inventory you actually encourage the lazy playstyle. Imagine going into a dungeon, fighting your way through and 1/10 the way in your inventory gets filled and you start puzzling around everything to make a bit extra room. Then you start killing 1 monster, looting, calculating gold per inventory square for all items you carry, dropping the least worthy, finding next monster,... and you spend 90% of your time with accounting and 10% with RPG playing. Or you could be getting into a mob, something good drops and you can only choose between getting killed while sorting out or having that item disappear from time limit for looting, which could get incredibly frustrating. I would prefer games with at least enough space to just loot everything I find in one dungeon visit or one walk from one merchant to the next.
The halfway good thing with restricted inventory is that people cannot carry around unlimited amount of potions, though I would prefer a weight limit for this over systems where you can only carry 10 potions of this one type of potion even when you dont carry any other type which you could. Also theres the issue that this seems more like a bandaid for having given too much gold to the player or making potions not expensive enough or dropping too often.
People not being able to make use of equip they have earned by playing when there is no space for it, I would not see as a good thing.
Making the inventory small to conserve on database capacity for your MMO seems reasonable at first, but could get frustrating when there are thousands of different things people need to collect for quests and you allow them only a few hundred while still needing space for equip. Also hdd have more space nowadays...
The worst thing would be a F2P game with extra tiny inventory as to make it extra frustrating so people have to buy more space with real money.

For a FPS I can see how later levels could be made more interesting when the player can for example only carry a pistol, a rifle and one other weapon and you plan for this in your leveldesign so there are enough(but not too many) replacements available at certain points when needed.

And for a trading sim, TBS or RTS it would be almost natural to want a fixed capacity on a ship/whatever for that added realism and more complex planning needs. Edited by wintertime
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Allow a hefty normal capacity (for various reason often to do with gun/tactic combinations to experiment with)

 

But maybe give some well define bonus's for keeping a light load :- to make it a goal worth pursuing

 

Faster movement/maneuverbility, quicker reactions, lower exhaustion rate,  fitting thu smaller holes, being able to go prone, etc...

 

 

Sufficient availability of required tools/resources  to 'grab' for specialized situation would be required (and sometimes is a 'dead give away' that such situations are approaching)

 

 

Player would have option of when to discard for advantage or to hoard inventory/tools

Edited by wodinoneeye
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Give access through a quest or whatnot, that rewards the player with some sort of "mule". This "mule" will come to the player when called/summoned/is always following the player or any other reason you could get it to you.

 

The point to the "mule" is for it to carry anything you give it, to your house/HQ/base/robbed bed and box. This mule could be a summoned creature or demonic shopkeep (poke at skyrim), a bird or pack dog to be called, or an actual mule that follows you around and waits outside dungeons. The downside to followers that every player knows is that they have a penchant for getting themselves killed (by enemies or friendly fire), not to mention bad pathfinding that runs them off cliffs or "the long way around".

 

There was a diablo clone that you had a pet that would do something similar and when you sent it to town you would have to wait till your pet got back.

A summon would have the advantage of a one way trip but with lower capacity.

 

This solves the inventory game while your adventuring and postpones it until you get home.

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