Defining Awesome
  • Status Updates

  • Written by . Posted at 9:29 am on February 19th, 2010

    When I first saw a grid-based inventory system in Diablo I thought it was a pretty clever idea. It was fairly realistic and fun – something which I always aim for. Nowadays I see a lot of bad opinions about it. Somebody even making a parody called “Inventory Tetris” – Out of all the make-fun comments on that site one of them states: “… we are falling for the PR people’s “less is more” trap. Basically, mainstream game design in the 21st century consists of eliminating anything that could confuse a stupid person. And it’s good because, that way the audience is expanded significantly.”. I have to agree with this. Players are made dumber and dumber. You can’t make hints or walk-throughs or make a cut-scene out of a grid-inventory system so the only solution for AAA games is to eliminate the system and introduce something simpler than simple. Grid-systems are simple and work well in my opinion. I’m going with my intuition here and will take ideas from X-Com, Hidden & Dangerous 2 and Jagged Alliance 2 inventory systems.

    Be Sociable, Share!


    1. No god damn it. The thing is, the slot-based grid inventory system is not always the best option. It’s a very synthetic option. It’s good for games where it isn’t used often. Where re-packing your inventory doesn’t happen often, it’s great. However it sucks for games when a lot of the cargo you carry gets dumped, picked up and dumped often. It’s bad for typical RPGs because you swap around a lot of loot. Jagged Alliance is an example of that – you fiddle around with stuff a LOT. Weapons armours and all other gets swapped all the time. A grid-bases system would be too much overhead.

      So on the other hand the grid system is great for games with a survival theme, like Stalker. Regrettably Stalker didn’t really expand on this aspect. I assume you’ve played JA 1.13 and seen the new inventory system? I believe survival and hardcore games, like Stalker, or in fact any ambitious game with gameplay that has ambitions of being called realistic should follow JA 1.13’s solution. Meaning basically that your inventory carrying capacity changes depending on skills, load bearing equipment, type of tactical gear and so on. Stalker parely touched upon this, having an infinite grid and a simple number weight limit.

      There’a a lot of potential here. For example having a bigger rucksack means you can carry more shit around, and of bigger size, but pulling it out takes more real-life time than pulling it out from a tactical vest or special, smaller tactical backpack. Here it’s an actual gameplay difference and decision, instead of artificially prolonging the game with inventory tetris.

      And again, when it comes to gear the potential is unexplored, even for casual gamers. For example, tap the r button to throw out the old magazine and the bullets or press R for a longer time to put the magazine in your dump pouch, so you can later reuse the ammo. This could even be done automatically, for the gamer’s convenience and mean the bullets magically make their way to the infinite-ammo-infinite-mags pool. Of course a hardcore approach where you have to not only keep track of ammunition, but how many magazines you have would be an additional challenge and one that I would personally welcome, but it’s something suited for the most realistic and hardcore of games, like stalker. And no, Far Cry 2 wasn’t hardcore. It was about as hardcore as my morning cup of cocoa.

      So my point is: the inventory system has to tie in with the game. It has to present an additional challenge and force the player to make decisions. On the other hand when your inventory system turns into merely a boring human box filling algorithm minigame, it doesn’t make sense.

    2. niko šveikovsky

      one dimensional matrices are all that’s needed, 1×5 or 1×8 squares, or something of that type. that way, one square is strongly correlated to strength of the weapon or item. if a two dimensional matrix is used, it just turns into tetris, as previously stated.

      this next paragraph is loosely defined by my plan for ammo logic of an unreal 1 gameplay mod i’m working on right now, tailored to your game plans.

      if you want to incorporate a limited ammo system, for grenades, guns, or anything, consider this— the player does not want to be constantly modifying the inventory of one particular soldier or class. unless a change in strategy is needed, the player should only have to do this once. this may be easily accomplished with guns, tools, or other miscellaneous inventory that has unlimited usability, but for something of variable “charge,” so to speak, a different approach is necessary. instead of individual clips or grenades taking up space, there are clip or grenade holsters (of several different sizes, 1x,2x,3x,4x,5x, etc) that could be placed in the inventory. (of course, when a gun is placed in the inventory it is automatically granted a full clip of ammo which takes up no space in the inventory because it’s in the gun) even if the space was empty in the holster, the space would not be available to anything else besides ammunition. if one soldier killed another, or came across ammunition, it would automatically pick up as much ammunition as it could fit into the empty spaces on its holster. the gun of the fallen soldier would not be picked up, nor any holsters, just the ammunition. and on the subject of weight? a holster is a very small mass, what adds up are the clips in the holsters.

      anyway, that’s my two cents.

    3. niko šveikovsky

      one more thing— i hope these inventory layouts will go hand-in-hand with the combat style profiles that you were talking about before.

    4. Use a weight system, say 60kg each. Weapons and equipment way certain amounts (even if it’s unrealistic). You can only get a certain amount of stuff that way.

    5. niko šveikovsky

      gnoblar, essentially my one dimensional inventory idea does that. there’s no fitting stuff around each other, and you don’t have to tie things to weight, you can give important things (like flashlights) two squares without saying that it weighs 20kg. each object does have a mass, but the correlation between mass and squares occupied does not have to be linear. plus, squares are simple.

    6. In your day to day, do you store your things in matrix-shaped, one item/section only per matrix slots? Or do you use deformable pouches in which you can just drop stuff? And is inventory managing something you want the user to focus on during the game?

    7. I like it Niko. I like it.

    8. Good points guys. I have it figured out and will present a screen very soon. The thing I’m thinking about now is whether to allow the player to use the inventory menu at all during gameplay (he would repack only after death). Everything in inventory during gameplay should be handled with short-cut keys. This is a real-time game after all.
      The bots should handle their inventory in their own AI way. If you want them to do something specific you would just order them “Use the sniper rifle” or “Bring out the ol’Painless”.

    9. I’d rather inventory pickings and choosings whilst on the spawn screen.

    10. niko šveikovsky

      it’s true that my model is specifically for RTS purposes. for a player controlling a soldier, it would need to see some adjustments to allow things like easily swapping out guns. whatever that solution would be, it needs to end up just as easy as picking up a different gun that’s lying on the ground in soldat.

    11. I think there shouldn’t be a complex inventory during gameplay.

      I think you should do a small hud inventory system. Probably 4 items at a time. Lets say the inventory button is shift. Hold down that button and it bring up a small hud appears above your character. Then hit one of the four direction buttons and choose one of the weapons placed in the slot.

      Probably similar to Gears of war except it requires a two button command.

    12. I still consider the Crysis / cortex command in-game weapon management the best solution. Just hold right-click, a circle-menu appears around your soldier, then quickly move the mouse over the item you need and release the right mouse button.
      After some practice you can do an item swap in way under a second (it’s just a click), but you can still have many objects and complex actions inside the menu.

    13. If im correct, the current plan from michal was to have a
      listen/right click menu based control system,

      basicly a menu which listens the commands, and makes the player choose whatever the unit is going to do( in fact, i believe michal took some advice from me over this some time ago, not saying you didnt think of it xD ).

      so im not sure if this can also be implented, or if there is just a second side menu which shows the available equipment.

    14. There is really nothing wrong with a bit of tetris, especially as many of THOSE games feature a ‘auto-sort’ button anyway.

      I like the 4×4 grids a lot more than 1×8 or 1×5 stuff. The idea to tie shape and size to it’s location in a grid, really isn’t that bad.

      It’s obvious that from a point of realism, you might be able to carry 10 shovels of a few KG each when it comes to weight, that doesn’t mean it should also fit in a backpack designed to carry 60 KG in total.

      It really makes a lot more sense than people seem to assume.

      Also, I am against developers trying to oversimplify these kinds of things as if the average gamer is a total moron. They’re not.

    15. agreeing with phemox here, a bit of tetris and realism vs 20 shovels in a backpack ? id go with the tetris, if you were a commanders youd pack ur soldiers combat ready and efficient right ?

    16. This is why I’m making this inventory system. As a commander you should really be careful what you pick to arm your soldiers.

    17. This isn’t about dumbing down players the grid system is simply inconvenient in many games(though that’s not the grid system’s fault rather the ‘gobble up everything and do a hundred journeys to the town for cash’ but fiddling with the grid just adds to it)

      The only annoyance the grid system can cause in L-D is that it’s slow and it can result in ‘OMFG that dude shot my dude in the ass while I tried to fit in a Megaboomcannon in his inventory!’ of course this depends on the pace of the game.
      On the other hand it can prevent people from turning into automated vacuum cleaners sucking up everything they find so they might give a bit more thought to risk picking up the awesome stuff or pass.

    Post a comment.