Sep 14, 2009

Inventory in RPGs

This blog will be worthless to 90% of you, and is a significant deviation from my typical thought. However, I still think about these things, and need an outlet from time to time.

First, if you care, read this:

Basically it's a long complaint about the looting mechanism in video game RPGs. He focuses mainly on how you collect tons of crap, then go back to camp/store to sell it, and then repeat every hour or so for the rest of the game.

Now, this is something I suffer from. I tend to hoard things to a ridiculous length. I've been playing Oblivion a lot this past summer, trying to finish the game up (sufficiently) before putting it aside in favor of Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition in October. This game, and it's predecessor, Morrowind, also had this loot issue.

Whenever I explore or fight in the game, I tend to collect everything. If there is some value to an item greater than 5 gold (or equivalent), I will collect it. I will max out my inventory or carrying strength with things that I will sell later. Sometimes, I can play for an hour or two before maxing out my inventory; other things, I'm only a few minutes into a mission before I need to either drop everything or run to a store to sell. Some games you can make a lot of money doing this, but Oblivion/Morrowind have a more significant problem: high end loot.

High end loot is great. You get awesome weapons, armor, whatever. And they come with a great price tag! 10,000 gold for that cool looking sword you just got. But there is a problem. No merchant in the game has an inventory of more than 1500 gold. That means that no matter how much that sword costs, you can only potentially get 1500 for it. When I first encountered this problem in Morrowind, I quit playing shortly thereafter. The only thing keeping me going in that game was the loot; I always wanted that better sword, wanted to buy better armor, etc. When I realized I was routinely carrying 10+ of the best items in the game within the first 10 hours of gameplay, and never had enough money and could only get a fraction of what I was selling...I gave up.

Oblivion is a little different. Same limitations, but there is a storyline I care about. Or maybe I just care about achievements. Either way, I have the same problem. I've created two swords that basically kill anything in a few hits (Google has some crazy suggestions), yet I still find awesome weapons. Well, I don't need them, and they are heavy, but due to the merchant gold limitation, I am now just picking up tons of knifes and selling them for the max value, even while dropping that sword that has tripled value but also 6x the weight limitation.

Does that feel broken at all?

Historically, this has been a problem for me as well, ie, the addiction of finding and selling and hoarding. I played Diablo, the first one, briefly growing up; I enjoyed the game, but I quickly reached a point where I had enough weapons and spells that I could spam the game, so combat quickly became just loot grinding. For 3 years or so I played Dungeon Siege off and on (only got maybe 30 hours into it), and due to that game's skill system, I would find this awesome sword that would be great in 2 levels but I couldn't use currently, so I would hoard it.

Unfortunately with Dungeon Siege, in order to use that sword, I need to upgrade not only regular level, but also my Strength level (done by using swords more regularly), as well as my Dexterity level (swords and bows mixed), and maybe even a very specific Magic level (done by using that Magic's spells). Because of all this, half the time, I never got to use that "Sword of WTF?!" that I had found.

Along with a gaming addiction to inventory, looting, and the selling system of games, I also suffer from, well, basically the desire to have the best thing available. Is there an ultimate weapon in the game? I will hunt that down. I desire to have the best. Games that basically force you to play multiple times in order to have all of the best items, well, they piss me off. What do you mean I can't have the best sword if I have the best spell?! Etc. I will go out of my way to find the BFG.

Side note - one of the commenters in that article above mentioned how innovative Halo was in the FPS genre by limiting you to two guns. You know, in that game, I don't mind that. It was strategic and reflected the game world accurately. However, it should never be the standard. I tend to enjoy the fact that in some games, such as Doom, Unreal, Serious Sam, or Quake, you can have 8 different weapons as well as 3 types of ammo per each. Realistic? No, not really. But I find it often comforting to know that in Jedi Outcast I can switch between my lightsaber, thermal detonators, blaster rifle, and a freaking rocket launcher whenever I feel like it.

That article also listed some games that I desire to try some day, including STALKER, Titan Quest, and The Witcher. Still disappointed that The Witcher on Xbox 360 has been put on indefinite hold. I have a whole cd case of games that I want to play but can't currently, such as World of Warcraft, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, and the like. I've heard such strong things about these games, including combat, story, and setting, that I really want to experience it myself...obviously in a limited capacity and within reason, but still enjoyable as if they were a good book.

Yet I'm sure the loot system will drive me crazy.

Oh yeah, WoW's Auction House is brilliant. The only thing that could make it better would be a limited Craig's List effect in that game: the ability to have people come to you with your stuff.

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