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Author Topic: Design Rant : Inventory  (Read 18644 times)

RogerN

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2014, 11:49 »

Quote
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. 

1) In general I don't like the feel of destroy-on-drop; it feels a little too contrived.  I don't find the stash management to be all that tedious personally.
2) I don't think this mechanic would alleviate backtracking much anyway, as players will still backtrack to get at the corpses, lockers, boxes, etc...
3) OTOH, perhaps you could include a scavenger-type enemy or mechanic that eats/destroys items on the floor when the player isn't around?  Your stuff wouldn't get eaten 100% of the time but it would always be at risk.
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emulord

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2014, 12:43 »

My thoughts on this:
This style of inventory sucks. I love a plain simple list. Playing tetris slows down the game in a way that breaks your "gunning" mindset.
Dropping destroying things sucks.

Having (equipped) at the end of a list is fine. Reworking ammo boxes, modpacks is fine. Having items take up multiple slots (large weapons + armors) is fine.
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2014, 14:43 »

Right, now that I have a moment to properly respond, I might as well try and make most of it:

1. Equipment and Inventory

The equipment part seems find to me. It makes sense to also have equipment take up inventory space, but I wonder if that isn't just taking it too far. Especially when:

To balance this out, the inventory will be made bigger.

Why bother at all, then? To translate a beautiful Dutch saying, it'll be 'fucking around in the margins'. This might depend on the inventory management part, though, since I share emulord's Tetris Stance. Thinking back to Diablo II: "Hell yes I can carry that dagger, it fits right below the gothic plate. Now turn, damn you!". It'll be micromanagement all over again, just in a different guise.
Alternatives? First thing that springs to mind is Baldur's Gate and other D&D based games, where you have a limited number of slots and a maximum weight you are able to carry. Not the prettiest solution, but possibly reworkable. I'm sure there are those among us with better alternatives. Say it, baby; say it, babyyyyyyyyyyy!


2. Ammo

I need a solution that did include the strategy of ammo management, but took away the need of fiddling with a lot of items.

I completely fail to see how your proposed solution changes anything. In the end you'll still be deciding whether you'll be sacrificing the space for Ammo Type A, Ammo Type B, a medkit or an armor. You'll just have it in boxes instead of in stacks.
Give the player 2 ammo slots, to be assigned to a given type of ammo at game start (or rather, pre-assigned). Give the player a Doomish max ammo count for each type. Screw inventory. Allow the player to gain ammo slots (increasing the number of ammo types the player can use) to be assigned at the moment they are encountered. They can be used for ammo for new types of weapon, or for alternative ammo types for available weapons. Restrict the ammo the player can choose to assign to elements he's encountered in the game. Use the DoomRL Medal/Badge system for this, so that the choices are expanded after each game. After go-live, you can even update with new types of ammo.
To increase ammo slot capacity, use something similar to Doom's Backpack.

3. Ammo types

See 2.

4. Items on floor

Tough one. As I said before, chances of accidentally dropping stuff should be slim to none, but I agree that it would really work well on the game's pace. As an aside, if you eliminate the need for the player to go back to previous levels to flip a switch/access a terminal/destroy a power generator/etc as well, this choice would make backtracking completely redundant. Backtracking's not very 90's FPS anyway (:

This:
2) I don't think this mechanic would alleviate backtracking much anyway, as players will still backtrack to get at the corpses, lockers, boxes, etc...
constitutes a valid point, too. My Completionist OCD levels would run high enough as to carry as little stuff as possible up until the end of the level, then go back and fill up my inventory as tediously efficient as possible. Pace? What pace?
And I'm assuming your theory means stashing stuff in said lockers is off-limits, since it would eliminate the thought behind your idea in a spectacularly annoying fashion. And being able to take something from a locker without being able to put anything back in almost always smells of poor design.

There. That about sums it up so far. I do so hope I said something stupid that makes other people come up with brilliant stuff again (:

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Sylph

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2014, 16:38 »

I don't like the idea of this inventory system. One of my favourite things about doomrl is the simplicity of the inventory system, but emergent strategy that it brings. For me, emergent depth from simplicity is one of the ideals of game design.
The new proposal just seems to imply 'tetrising' as emulord so beautifully put it!
Also, you would not want to discard your precious ammo box even if it was almost empty, which destroys the strategy of casting off a little of your ammo to take a few extra medpacks depending on your next area (strategy) because, essentially, you're always gonna want your 4-slot box.

In summary, if your goal was "I need a solution that did include the strategy of ammo management, but took away the need of fiddling with a lot of items.", I think (and I hate to criticise, you're a god to me!) you missed it on both marks. Your solution creates more of a need to fiddle with a lot of items, and removes strategy!

Also, I should mention that I find doomrl's inventory *far* more satisfying that ADOM or nethack, which use a weight-based system. i like your mock-up of the inventory screen a lot, but I think you should go back to 1 item/1 slot, or at the very least ditch this ammo box idea!

Oh, btw, on the subject of switching weapons (mentioned earlier), it might be a fun idea to try out switching to a hotkeyed weapon (aka jugglable weapon) takes the same amount of time as pulling it from the pack, but allows the player to spend that time moving, closing doors, even attacking in melee! It would increase mobility, and mobility usually equals strategy in turn based games.
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Aerton

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2014, 05:32 »

This reminds me of Resident Evil 4 more than of Diablo. Perhaps, some reasoning about it can be applied to JH.


It does not have slots on a doll for a reason. Items still occupy the bag space when equipped, so it would add nothing, but confusion to the UI. Current weapon is highlighted by background and a little 'E' in the corner. Also, you can see Leon wielding the gun. Also, his cloth changes, even if the armour set is not represented in the bagpack. I think it's because there is no reason ever carry a spare vest, so they just reduced the inventory space by a few rows it would take otherwise.

Even though RE4 is an action-oriented game and a very fun one, I remember spending more time rearranging things than I would like. Especially towards the end, when there are more weapons to carry and the bag size gets upgraded. Assuming JH will have more different items, the backpack optimisation minigame ought to be played even more often.

I like simplicity of a plain inventory list in DRL. It's provides the information at a glance, is sorted by type, and you can easily see how much more space you have. I also see a benefit of providing a player with a dilemma - to carry one great item, or a few lesser ones. Can the same choice be provided while keeping the simple structure?

What if an item name was in bigger letters so it takes a two or even three lines in the list? Of course, the actual representation in the graphical game needs to be richer than a bigger font - think of it of having the same inventory grid but it has only one column and all items still having varying vertical size, while all sharing the same width. Since it's actually a 1D space, there is no need for spatial optimisation minigame and items can be freely rearranged. Essentially, this will have the same usability of DRL inventory, while allowing the items to differ in size.

Not sure about having different ammo types and having no items on the floor. The two seems to be at odds. One is a trait of a deliberate slow survival game, another is a better fit for hot-packed action.
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2014, 06:02 »

Wow, we've resurrected Aerton!

It does not have slots on a doll for a reason. Items still occupy the bag space when equipped, so it would add nothing, but confusion to the UI. Current weapon is highlighted by background and a little 'E' in the corner. Also, you can see Leon wielding the gun. Also, his cloth changes, even if the armour set is not represented in the bagpack. I think it's because there is no reason ever carry a spare vest, so they just reduced the inventory space by a few rows it would take otherwise.
This is a pretty valid point! For a moment I wanted to immediately go with it, however, there's another problem -- what about addon slots? Things like mods, or expansion elements for armor? There'll be no easy way to see what you're currently packing.

I like simplicity of a plain inventory list in DRL. It's provides the information at a glance, is sorted by type, and you can easily see how much more space you have. I also see a benefit of providing a player with a dilemma - to carry one great item, or a few lesser ones. Can the same choice be provided while keeping the simple structure?

What if an item name was in bigger letters so it takes a two or even three lines in the list? Of course, the actual representation in the graphical game needs to be richer than a bigger font - think of it of having the same inventory grid but it has only one column and all items still having varying vertical size, while all sharing the same width. Since it's actually a 1D space, there is no need for spatial optimisation minigame and items can be freely rearranged. Essentially, this will have the same usability of DRL inventory, while allowing the items to differ in size.
However, a 1D list has no hopes to fit in even a HD screen, not to mention our lowest supported resolution of 600. Eg, if you don't take any large items, the list could go for at least 40 elements, which gives us... 15 pixels per item?

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Thiebs

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2014, 06:24 »

Personally, I like the 2D box inventories like Diablo and Resident Evil 4, so long as you can rotate items. However, if one were to do a 1D list, there are a couple of ways to maximize the space. Imagine your 2D box, and in it a pistol is a 1x3, a medkit 1x2, an armor 2x4, and ammo is 1x1 boxes (for like 15 bullets). In a list, you could just take your largest regular item, the 2x4, and consider that the standard size. Then, you would simply make other items stackable until they added up. So you could stack up to 8 ammo boxes, 4 medkits, 2 pistols, etc. You could even represent this graphically, since you'd need much fewer slots, you could draw the image next to the name in the list, with multiples in the same slot having smaller, side-by-side images. I'd still prefer the 2D myself, but I hope this gives ideas.
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Aerton

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2014, 06:40 »

what about addon slots? Things like mods, or expansion elements for armor? There'll be no easy way to see what you're currently packing.
Does presence of a doll change any of that? If you have five guns in the bag, their slots still need to be displayed somehow. Looking the pic in OP, I guess that slots are added for the current weapon only. The same can be done with no doll. It would not contradict the main benefit of having no item being represented twice.

However, a 1D list has no hopes to fit in even a HD screen, not to mention our lowest supported resolution of 600. Eg, if you don't take any large items, the list could go for at least 40 elements, which gives us... 15 pixels per item?
Hm, I did not imagine these being so numerous... I guess you can resort to having 2 or 3 columns, but it's not so pure.
The main thought was to make the inventory items spatially-independent of each other - both to remove the tetris aspect and to make it sortable automatically. Usually, RPG games solve this by assigning each item a weight, but I don't like how arbitrary the number limit feels.
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thelaptop

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2014, 07:07 »

I forgot to add a comment about dropped objects.

I can see why you don't want object permanence when dropped -- this makes the floor itself an oversized inventory.  But making dropped objects disappear immediately is hokum as well.  Here's a thought: any object within LoS of enemies or DoomGuy doesn't disappear.  Anything that is not within LoS for a consecutive amount of fixed time (say 30s of in-game time) gets forgotten/lost i.e. removed from game completely.

I'm starting to favour the list approach of DoomRL the more I think about it.  Tetris manipulation of inventory may look pretty, but loses the conciseness that a list can provide.  Also, we want the player to spend time killing things and exploring, not figuring out what the hell they are carrying about.  I'd go as far as to suggest a mechanic that DoomGuy carries only what he can remember, and he can only remember a certain amount of things, which justifies the list count.
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Juice

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2014, 09:42 »

This is a pretty valid point! For a moment I wanted to immediately go with it, however, there's another problem -- what about addon slots? Things like mods, or expansion elements for armor? There'll be no easy way to see what you're currently packing.

How about making some sort of pop-up for the weapons/armors to insert the mods?
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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2014, 06:58 »

Inventory tetris never bothered me all that much. For me, the way I play these kinds of games have two distinct phases: action and scavenging. While in ‘action’ mode, all that really matters is ammo and health. After I've secured an area scavenging mode kicks in and inventory management has always been a big part of that, so conceptually it doesn't break the flow of the game at all for me.

As for how to handle dropped items, I'd like to ask what the rationale is behind allowing players to revisit previous levels. Without that, keeping items laying around and wiping them as you leave the level is no issue at all.

I also like the idea of simply having max ammo counts, and not bothering with placing the ammo in your inventory. It's very doomish.
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2014, 06:25 »

Ok, some general answers. I'll be posting rationale for a couple of stuff, any attempt to change the decisions must address that rationale -- just saying that "I don't like something" is not enough.

Tetris inventory

There are a couple of reasons for this choice.

  • Not the least important reason is that it's a well known solution that people instinctively know and will immediately know how to work with. It has been successfully used in many titles that require a lot more fast paced interface than our turn-based game.
  • I plan to address some issues that I often have with such interfaces in other games. Namely there will be a toggleable option to autofit items (seems as most UI programmers never heard of "dynamic programming" -_-), secondly, the rotate option will obviously be there for use.
  • This style of interface allows for a quick view of all the items even if there's a lot of them. Compared to most list interfaces this allows for a much quicker feedback on one's inventory (compare the list interfaces in Mass Effect or Fallout, or the terrible terrible item UI of Skyrim), and a quick info on storage space left.
  • Dedicated ammo containers will prevent quick overflow of the inventory space with spare ammo.
  • This interface works naturally with a slot based equipment system.
  • We will take special care to have all the items easily identifiable, by using border colors for item type, most important numeric stat on the icon itself, and full information on hover.

Boxed ammo

The fixed amount of ammo boxes prevents a quick overflow of the inventory with basic ammo, which prevents constant throwing away ammo in the early game. By the mid game, the valued ammo will be of the type that is not easily available, and other items will also rise in importance. Also, this will allow us to do X/Y ammo counts on the main HUD. Also, if you find ammo of a sort that you already have, the game wont even tell you that you don't have space left - hence, no frustration ;] (and works because of item destruction on drop).

Items on floor

There are a couple of reasons for this choice.

  • Any solution that leaves items on floor pushes people towards optimizing carried items at level exit by boring backtracking of their steps and filling up inventory with junk.
  • It doesn't make much sense to leave opening containers for later, as you barely will use up items in your inventory (due to ammo boxes, spent ammo doesn't free up space) -- you also have no idea what a given container/corpse will hold.
  • Backtracking is enabled to allow for more complex quests. Auto-travel however will exist to speed up any longer journey through explored space. Also, some levels will change on return, or have places that are inaccessible earlier.
  • The game will prompt the player before item "destruction", this system was used in many games (also online) and I havn't heard much complaints about the destruction being final.
  • Items on floor introduce clutter, and foggen what is actually happening.
  • Items on floor also introduce interface complexities that could be fully avoided.
  • The general rationale is "you go forward and leave what you don't need behind"
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Thiebs

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2014, 07:00 »

I like the first two parts a lot. But here are my thoughts on the last section:
  • Any solution that leaves items on floor pushes people towards optimizing carried items at level exit by boring backtracking of their steps and filling up inventory with junk.
  • It doesn't make much sense to leave opening containers for later, as you barely will use up items in your inventory (due to ammo boxes, spent ammo doesn't free up space) -- you also have no idea what a given container/corpse will hold.
  • Backtracking is enabled to allow for more complex quests. Auto-travel however will exist to speed up any longer journey through explored space. Also, some levels will change on return, or have places that are inaccessible earlier.
  • The game will prompt the player before item "destruction", this system was used in many games (also online) and I havn't heard much complaints about the destruction being final.
  • Items on floor introduce clutter, and foggen what is actually happening.
  • Items on floor also introduce interface complexities that could be fully avoided.
  • The general rationale is "you go forward and leave what you don't need behind"
  • People will still try to carry as much as possible at all times to maximize their later options. It just means they'll be scavenging in a different manner, not that they won't be scavenging.
  • To me, it seems like it would make it more important to save containers until I'd cleared out the area/level. I wouldn't want to open a container with a cool item only to have to ditch a medkit I'll be using in a few moments, or find a bunch of ammo in one, then a new container to hold it in another after the first one is exhausted. (This would be avoided if you could go back to containers, but that would just make for even more shuffling about.)
  • I love every part of this point. :D
  • This is also valid, I never thought accidentally loosing items would be an issue.
  • True, but they can also add to a sense of realism, as bodies and fallen weapons go hand in hand, though this is a minor point.
  • Very true, unfortunately. :(
  • While I can suspend my disbelief if needed, this feels a little thin, since you'll be leaving things behind whether you destroy them or not, and I imagine a lot of people won't realize or appreciate that it was a conscious decision.
And I feel it's worth stating again: The first two sections definitely have my vote, for what little that's worth! :P
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Simon-v

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2014, 12:11 »

How about making the "tetris inventory" purely visual by making it auto-sort intelligently every time an item is picked up or discarded?
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thelaptop

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Re: Design Rant : Inventory
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2014, 15:52 »

How about making the "tetris inventory" purely visual by making it auto-sort intelligently every time an item is picked up or discarded?
Unless the sorting is stable, we will see the "dancing items" effect.

Also, some people remember placement of items, and having it purely visual and always auto-sorted will go against their perceptions at being able to tinker.  This may not be a good thing.
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