Treasure Island: Inventory Research

The Gameplay Goal

In my Treasure Island game, I would like the player to have as much control as possible over their character and their equipment in order to allow the player to play the game in the way that they would like. For example, whilst the main character will have a default appearance and skill set, I would like the player to be able to customise their appearance and attributes to create a custom game experience.


Inventory Systems

In a video game, a player’s inventory is the place where all of the items that the player currently has are stored. There are many different types and styles of game inventories, and these inventories can have a profound effect on the reception of a game. A bad inventory system can ruin an otherwise good game. These are some of the available inventory systems:

Stackable/”Rule of 99″ Inventories:
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Stackable RPGs allow the player to carry as many items as they wish, but only a certain number in a single stack of them. This number is usually 99, but can easily be changed to any other number. The lower the number is, the more a player will have to micromanage their inventory. These kinds of inventories are easy to implement into a game, and easy to modify to that game’s theme and for ease of use. However, because these systems have no limitation to the number of items carried, they are highly unrealistic and items become less valuable as they can be obtained and stored easily. Searching through seas of items can also make them frustrating and time consuming to use.

Weighted Inventories
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Weighted inventory systems assign each item in the game a numerical value which represents its weight. Heavier items (such as Swords, Guns, and Chestplates) will have a higher numerical value than lighter items (such as Daggers, Ammunition, and First-aid kits). The player can only carry up to a certain weight of items before experiencing negative effects of carrying too much, such as slower movement speed or loss of health. Some games prevent players from breaching this weight limit at all. This kind of inventory adds extra realism and depth to a game without making the process taxing or boring. However, it is difficult to calculate what the correct amount of weight a player can carry is, and organising and dumping items can become tedious and boring. Also, low weight items are restricted in the power they can deliver, as many high-powered low-weight items would undermine the weight system.

Visual Grid Inventories
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A gridded inventory is appears in a game as a rectangular grid divided into squares. Each item is represented as a model or image that occupies a certain amount of squares within the grid, an the player can only carry items that will fit in the unoccupied grid spaces. In order to make items fit, players may have to rotate items to better pack their inventory. This type of inventory system allows for micromanagement in a visual style, maneuvering items is easy, and these inventories carry a degree of realism with them. However, oddly shaped items that take up oddly shaped sets of blocks can be difficult to place, and if the size of the grid is wrong, this can take away from the gameplay.

Realism in Inventories
Any template can be used to make a more realistic inventory system, the trick is to drastically reduce the amount of items that a player can carry (as people really can’t carry that much), or to reduce the number of items that can be collected (to make the items more valuable to the layer).


References:

DellaFave, R. (2014) Designing an RPG Inventory System That Fits: Preliminary Steps [online] Available from: http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/articles/designing-an-rpg-inventory-system-that-fits-preliminary-steps–gamedev-14725 [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

Giant Bomb (2016) Inventory (Concept) [online] Available from: http://www.giantbomb.com/inventory/3015-513/ [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

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