I’ve just come from posting a medium-length rant on Rampant Coyote’s blog about loot / inventory management in RPGs. The impetus came from playing mount & blade and realising (i) how much better it is to have an end-of-encounter roundup screen than manually to have to search every damn corpse; and (ii) how much more painless the process of carrying out immersive everyday tasks (like camping out, visiting the markets or going to the castle to speak to a possible employer) is when everything is handled through a text interface. It’s reminiscent of Darklands, which I find a wholly good thing.
But it set me to wondering: what’s the current state of thinking at QT3 as to what is ‘good’ inventory management in a game? The most common model seems to be that of Diablo / WoW / NWN2: each player has n number of slots, which can be increased by levelling up or paying money or otherwise doing something in-game, and each item in the game (sometimes including gold, sometimes not) takes up one or more slots. I find this a chore, not least because it involves lots of clicking on items and moving them around. This is a task I dislike.
For the record, if a game makes me fight more than twice each hour, I’d like to see end-of-encounter screens so that I don’t need to go track down every chopped up goblin etc. after each fight and mouse over the screen to find the ‘loot corpse’ hotspot. I guess the technical issue is working out when an encounter is ‘over’ if one of the opponents escapes or gets stuck or something, but this shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem. Should it?