The True Plight of Fantasy Gamers – AKA #Blaugust Day 22

I’m here to talk to you today about the TRUE plight of fantasy gamers everywhere. Inventory management.

Fuck inventory management.

Seriously, in every fantasy game i’ve ever played, you always end up having to play inventory tetris at some point or another. “Do I keep this, or do I just toss it and sob quietly to myself at a later time?” Some games are worse than others. In Mass Effect 1, for example, I can make it solidly through about 1/3 of the game before I start getting that “Your inventory is full” notice, and then I go sell off a bunch of shit that I wasn’t using anyway (or convert it into medigel), and then I go another 5-10 hours of playtime before it comes up again. Dragon Age: Origins isn’t quite as generous with your inventory, but you can buy a few backpacks through the game to expand your inventory to almost double it’s original capacity. The problem THERE lies in the fact that this game will seriously just throw all kinds of shit at you, and their upgrading system is… interesting. It’s not always clear cut if something is an upgrade over what you’ve got or not. And don’t forget about the people back at camp! You might bring out Oghren at some point after all, and you want to make sure he’s got gear so he isn’t completely useless. Skyrim goes another direction that’s far more realistic, but also far more annoying for it. Everything in Skyrim is based on weight in a (semi) realistic way. A sword will weigh more than a dagger, and a battleaxe will weigh more than a sword, but less than a warhammer, and so on and so forth. In and of itself, it’s not the worst system, but the problem is that the weight you’re given tends to not even last a full dungeon crawl. Especially later on in the game, some of the longer dungeons you get through, you’ll start making a LOT of “Take it or leave it” decisions. And god help you if you go through any Dwemer ruins. Those are just… They’re just bad, okay?

Now, i’m not saying that I want all these games to have unlimited inventory, because it wouldn’t make any sense, and honestly would probably break immersion for a lot of people. But I know that when you’re in the middle of a 30 minute dungeon crawl or space mission or WHATEVER, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is getting that stupid “Inventory is full” notice (or in Elder Scrolls games, you become “Overburdened” and suddenly can’t move at full speed anymore). To me, that breaks immersion far more than having a much bigger carry space, because then you have to sift through your bagspace for 20 minutes making tough decisions on what you want/need to keep and what can be dropped on the corpse of that poor person you just set on fire.

The problem here is that I don’t really have a solution to this issue. Unlimited inventory, like I said earlier, just wouldn’t make any sense for most of these games. There are some mods that can help alleviate this in a game-friendly way (one mod I use in Skyrim has backpacks that just add an extra 50 lbs to your carry weight), and this is one of my favorite answers. At the same time, a lot of people don’t want to turn to 3rd party programs, or simply can’t access them (because they’re on consoles or whatever). And so, we trudge onward, stopping every hour or two staring at our bags, wondering what we can just toss on the ground in a pile, and sigh.

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5 thoughts on “The True Plight of Fantasy Gamers – AKA #Blaugust Day 22

  1. I nearly fainted when I found out that there is a crafting materials storage bank, accessible by all alts anywhere, in Guild Wars 2. Fainted or cried with relief maybe 😉

    The worst thing is when you log back into a game after a period of time away – I’ve done this, looked at my full-to-bursting bags of ‘wth is all this?’ and logged straight back out because I couldn’t face organising my bags of unknown and unremembered stuff…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Inventory doesn’t really bother me all that much. It’s gotten easier and easier to handle in games over the years too. I wouldn’t mind seeing a more survival-oriented RPG that goes all-in on inventory management though. It’d be kind of neat to build a game around making those hard choices, plus having a way to maybe drag loot.

    The thing I hate are the all-or-nothing encumbrance systems. Oh, that’s one pound too many? You are frozen in place!

    Let me crawl on my hands and knees like the greedy adventurer that I am.

    Like

    • There were games like that. I remmeber Fallen Earth and Neocron 2, where you lost speed based on how much stuff you carried. The loss of speed followed an exponential curve, so at low weights adding stuff mattered little while at high load even adding a little more cost you noticeable speed. I am not sure about FE, in NC2 you could finally end up being immobile, but people reduced their load much earlier as the game also had a shooter-style combat system and being slow just made you an easy target. (Even for NPCs. ) So different players had their different point of how much they were ready to drag around, but generally people tended to keep their load significally lower than what would’ve been technically possible.

      Combine this in either case with ammo using weapons and the weight of ammo being calculated by the number of rounds you carry and you end up with quite different decissions and requirements. In NC2 when we went to one of the “dungeon-like zones”, i couldn’t explain it better in short time, we always had somebody along who could recycle junk loot into ammo and somebody who could to repair to weapons and equipment. (The game also had wear and tear, a repair system but also item decay as every repair of durability reduced the maximum durability of an item. )

      In contrast FE had (and i don’t think it by now has, it’s still running) some quick crafting options like that. So when i was there, people actually crawled slowly when going to attack a NPC hold and came out much more agile, as the actually taken loot weighted less than the ammo carried at the start.

      In either case, not every possible loot was brought home. In NC2 a lot of it was recycled
      in place to make ammo out of it and in either of them only the most valuable pieces were taken to keep the load light and stay agile, the rest was left behind.

      In either case, the system was allright in my eyes. Just like while you can pick up sticks and stones in masses along every road in RL, you don’t do that. So why would you do so in a game? Pick the essentials, leave the rest. 🙂

      And all in all, i very often would prefer a weight based system. It just makes so much more sense to me to say “yes, i took that piece of armour and that axe, now i leave that anvil behind” than to say “i already took two feathers and a gem, so this piece of gold i have to leave behind”. But inventory bags make good money at the in-game store and also are much easier to create and balance than a weight system…

      Liked by 1 person

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