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Author Topic: Design Rant : Inventory  (Read 18490 times)

Kornel Kisielewicz

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Design Rant : Inventory
« on: January 23, 2014, 04:30 »

I'm gonna start doing some design rants, gathering public input -- these are targeted both at the dev team as well as anyone willing to contribute. Let's show some activity :). These rants often will be about things that already have been designed for Jupiter Hell (sometimes even initially implemented), but we're keeping our options open. This is your chance to influence the game!



Today's topic will be Inventory, and items in general. While the DoomRL system works, I have a deeper wish of streamlining some things, especially the ones that either enforce grinding or micromanagement. Inventory is one of the more severe issues.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, let's start with a mockup (done by a complete amateur, ergo myself):



Let's split it into topics:

1. Equipment and Inventory

Equipment/Inventory will function similarly to DoomRL, but with a different presentation (think the Diablo equipment screen), and with a couple more slots. The left/right hand, armor and boots slots stay, but additionally we'll have a head slot and two device slots (think hacking and electronics). Moreover, some equipment pieces will introduce their own slots -- weapons may have 1+ different mod slots (possibly an ammo slot if we go for different ammo), powered armor may have power and extension slots, etc. The big difference I plan however is that anything that is worn, still takes space in inventory. Why? Because similarly to Diablo, not all equipment will take the same amount of space, and this way we'll cut down on any equipment shuffling needed to swap items, and get rid of metagaming moves like carrying a huge item in your hand to save on inventory space. To balance this out, the inventory will be made bigger. Does this make sense? Will this introduce any problems? Any ideas on this front?

2. Ammo

This is a biggie. My initial need of reconstructing the inventory came from my happiness with the AliensRL system. And following it, I wanted to introduce set ammo counters like in AliensRL and Doom. However, this takes away a significant strategic challenge of balancing your ammo types, and balancing your ammo vs. consumables/spare weapons. However, with the DoomRL solution this becomes a constant game of micromanagement also, and swapping items a lot. So I need a solution that did include the strategy of ammo management, but took away the need of fiddling with a lot of items.

The solution I'm thinking about is having all ammo in something that is similar to current ammo boxes. You have a running total of your ammo, that is limited by the amount of ammo boxes you have. So if you have 3 boxes of shells, you can hold at most 3*50 shells. Any shells you find are automatically fit into the boxes, but you get a no-room message as soon as you run out of boxes. You can additionally find new boxes of course, but whether you add them to your inventory or not, this is your decision. Boxes also have different sizes, so e.g. a single box of rockets already takes up 2x3 of space.

Comments? Alternative solutions?

3. Ammo types

There have been requests for different ammo types for both AliensRL and DoomRL, but I always rejected them due to the added UI complexity. With graphics though, we have a couple more options, also the slot system outlined above would fit with different ammo types nicely. The only issue here is that with this system, you should have separate ammo boxes for separate ammo types, which obviously doesn't make much sense.

4. Items on floor

Here's a biggie -- I think about removing items on floor altogether. Items can be found on (highlighted) corpses, lockers, boxes, etc. Dropped items get destroyed. This would prevent doing tedious stash micromanagement, and increase the pace of the game. Also, it'd work well with the boxes idea -- players wont be tempted to do tedious backtracking to get ammo they left behind and couldn't pick up. This is probably the most controversial decision, but it would (IMHO) benefit the game much. 



I'll conclude this first design rant here, hoping to hear feedback and comments from the community -- the way Jupiter Hell will look like is in your hands!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 07:02 by Kornel Kisielewicz »
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Kornel Kisielewicz

Thiebs

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 04:55 »

Let's show some activity :).
Yay! Activity!
additionally we'll have a head slot and two device slots (think hacking and electronics).
Cooooolllll....
To balance this out, the inventory will be made Does this make sense?
Assuming you meant 'will be made bigger.' Correct?
The solution I'm thinking about is having all ammo in something that is similar to current ammo boxes.
I've spoken on this one before for Doomrl, and I like this solution. The alternate ammo container thing is iffy, though. Hmmm... Maybe have alternate ammo boxes be more compact, so as to mitigate the issue of carrying extra boxes? 'Cause Frag-12 rounds would be a pretty sweet thing to find, but probably a lot less common, so you wouldn't need as big of a box.
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 04:58 »

Assuming you meant 'will be made bigger.' Correct?
Uh yeah, corrected, thanks :)

I've spoken on this one before for Doomrl, and I like this solution. The alternate ammo container thing is iffy, though. Hmmm... Maybe have alternate ammo boxes be more compact, so as to mitigate the issue of carrying extra boxes? 'Cause Frag-12 rounds would be a pretty sweet thing to find, but probably a lot less common, so you wouldn't need as big of a box.
They could be made more compact. Still, waiting for all brainstorm to happen :P
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2014, 05:46 »

I have few comments on inventory except please make it less annoying than SotS: the pit.  I can't bloody hell decipher what it is I have most of the time without hovering my mouse over them, and it gets worse for stacked objects.  Also representation in console mode, which seems to be something that you have planned for.

I'd rather make it such that you can store extra rounds when you don't have boxes, except that you have to pay an inefficiency premium.  For instance, say a box can handle 50 shotgun rounds.  If you run out of boxes, you can trade up one inventory slot for every 30 shotgun rounds.  Each time you reload, you will first load from these loose rounds before going for the stuff in the boxes.  So we allow some trade off here while minimising micromanagement, and can encourage planning ahead for more DAKKA without having first finding boxes.  Think of this as a gradual backpack upgrade in DoomRL parlance.

As for ammo types, I'd rather think of it as gun-level alterations.  Maybe a mod that allows the chambered round take on different characteristics.  I'm stealing this concept from Borderlands 2, of course.
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 06:15 »

I have few comments on inventory except please make it less annoying than SotS: the pit.  I can't bloody hell decipher what it is I have most of the time without hovering my mouse over them, and it gets worse for stacked objects.  Also representation in console mode, which seems to be something that you have planned for.
I need to play it again. Still while playing I saw so many things in the UI that annoyed me that it will be time not wasted :P

I'd rather make it such that you can store extra rounds when you don't have boxes, except that you have to pay an inefficiency premium.  For instance, say a box can handle 50 shotgun rounds.  If you run out of boxes, you can trade up one inventory slot for every 30 shotgun rounds.  Each time you reload, you will first load from these loose rounds before going for the stuff in the boxes.  So we allow some trade off here while minimising micromanagement, and can encourage planning ahead for more DAKKA without having first finding boxes.  Think of this as a gradual backpack upgrade in DoomRL parlance.
While this'd give even a more strategic approach, it'd revert the gain that I wanted with the ammo boxes. In DoomRL each time you find a new item, you need to ditch ammo -- which is annoying. The limited boxes were meant to prevent that, while this solution will bring us back to point zero.

As for ammo types, I'd rather think of it as gun-level alterations.  Maybe a mod that allows the chambered round take on different characteristics.  I'm stealing this concept from Borderlands 2, of course.
This'd be a good solution if we can't find any other.
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2014, 06:35 »

I would assume that you would start with at least 1 ammo box, probably one of each (common) type? Doesn't seem like you'd need over 50 shells at any given time in the first few levels of most any game, since you'll be finding more loose ones all the time. And I'd also assume that ammo boxes would probably be slightly more common than in Doomrl, as they don't also provide fast reloads. Right?
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2014, 07:03 »

The first box would come with each time you pick up a weapon needing ammo that you don't have. Actually you reminded me of an important thing I didn't include in the post... Updated the opening post with:

Quote
4. Items on floor

Here's a biggie -- I think about removing items on floor altogether. Items can be found on (highlighted) corpses, lockers, boxes, etc. Dropped items get destroyed. This would prevent doing tedious stash micromanagement, and increase the pace of the game. Also, it'd work well with the boxes idea -- players wont be tempted to do tedious backtracking to get ammo they left behind and couldn't pick up. This is probably the most controversial decision, but it would (IMHO) benefit the game much. 
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 07:05 by Kornel Kisielewicz »
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2014, 08:14 »

That's a big thing to leave out! This means that levels can be gone back to later, or am I reading too much into that?
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2014, 08:19 »

Levels can be backtracked within a single episode.
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2014, 08:42 »

Ah, I see. This would make 100% kills a bit easier, anyway, though I can't say I like my items mysteriously disappearing when I let go of them. Maybe just clear items when you leave a level?
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 08:44 »

It might also appease players if instead of just disappearing, you got some small reward, though that might encourage vacuuming.
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2014, 09:01 »

Maybe just clear items when you leave a level?

This would prevent a lot of frustration. The player should not be punished for accidentally clicking 'Drop' instead of 'Equip' (or whatever mechanism we use). Although dropping a stack of bullets in a puddle of water should have some effect on them. Not to mention dunking a crate of RPGs into a campfire.
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2014, 10:10 »

This would prevent a lot of frustration. The player should not be punished for accidentally clicking 'Drop' instead of 'Equip' (or whatever mechanism we use). Although dropping a stack of bullets in a puddle of water should have some effect on them. Not to mention dunking a crate of RPGs into a campfire.
It might, but then it would seems as a engine limitation, not a conscious design choice. Not allowing items on floor at all will provide a system that is much more consistent.
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2014, 10:14 »

OK, a few thoughts incmoing (all IMHO, of course):

1. First, I like the overall inventory mockup. Looks very nice!
I'd like to ask, whether the mods from the extra slots would be removable - in  DoomRL they're not, creating another DiabloII similarity (think socketed items, and assemblies as runewords).
The inclusion of equipped items is a _very_ nice thought. I already saw this approach in the first Deus Ex (although the only changeable items were weapons there).
Possible idea: To further discourage unnecessary items switching, you can make the both the switched-out and switched-in item ineffective for some time, depending on the kind of items switched. E.g. A pistol might have a "switch time" 0.5s, a rocket launcher would have 2s, and the total time would be the sum of those two times - so switching between two pistols would take 1s, but swtching between a rocket launcher and a pistol (both ways) would take 2.5s.
And, if such an idea is incorporated, then (in similarity to Deus Ex) assigning items to hotkeys would me highly desirable.

2. I agree with thelaptop on this one - if I understand correctly, Kornel's way might easily lead to a frustrating situation when I would not be able to pick up some ammo simply because I have no free ammo-boxes, even though I have a half of inventory free. That being said, I also agree that an ammo-box should hold more ammo than free slots of the same size (e.g. if a shell-box takes 6 spaces and holds 100 shells, than one free space should hold 10 (60 in the same 6 slots)).
One possible way to prevent this would be to have _all_ ammo be found only in ammo-boxes with an option to stack those boxes and tossing the empty one if the player wants to do so (for freeing inventory space). But this seems quite unrealistic to me, doubly so if unloading dropped weapons would be possible.

3. If different ammo types should be available for a weapon, I'm all in for different boxes for each ammo type. The fact that 20 standard 9mm bullets and 20 armor-piercing 9mm bullets of the same size should fit into one 50-bullet box is true, so I see Kornel's point.
But my point here is organization and clarity of the inventory. It may be just my point of view, but when I open the inventory, I'd like to see that I have two different bullet types on the first sight (and for further clarity, I'd like to see that I have 30 standard and 15 AP bullets - easy to achieve with displaying the number in a corner of the ammo-box). IMHO this clarity serves gameplay more.
And that being said - a hotkey for switching ammo type might be in order, as well as a reloading time being in effect, should you want to change ammo type.

4. IMHO - that's not a good idea.
First, items dropped on the floor don't simply disappear (unless dropped into lava or somesuch).
Second, in pretty much every game there's time for action and time for scavenging. Unless I'm direly pressed for getting towards a mission goal, I take time to search all of the area I'm in for whatever may be helpful; depending on the game it may be more ammo, another weapon or hidden clues.
That being said - Kornel mentioned levels being open for backtracking within an episode. If that is the approach, then making items on the floor disappear once I leave the level may be a fair option, especially if combined with smaller levels.

Oh, and regarding Kornel's last post - "minor demons and rats stole everything they saw once they noted you're off, and went back to their hiding places" ;).
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Thiebs

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2014, 10:46 »

It might, but then it would seems as a engine limitation, not a conscious design choice. Not allowing items on floor at all will provide a system that is much more consistent.

I get what you mean here, but from personal experience, it always ends up feeling like an engine limitation rather than a design choice, unfortunately. Perhaps have certain types of items deteriorate naturally? Think old school NES games, where things flash and disappear after a while. Maybe the corrosive environment is just too hard on things like exposed medkits/ammo/etc to be leaving them around, so after X turns, they melt away?
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