Question Inventory management, love it or hate it?

This question popped into my mind from @Frindis resent post in @ZedClampet 's https://forums.pcgamer.com/threads/...me-thoughts-thread-19-june-to-25-june.129016/ about the inventory in Witcher 2. My experience comes primarily from RPGs, but I know it can be a factor in other games as well, like the Far Cry games that @Brian Boru often mentions. So do you love it, hate it, or are you somewhere in between, depending upon the type of inventory system employed in a game?

And there are so many types of inventory systems used in games: space limited, weight limited (often dependent upon a STR or END statistic), both space & weight limited, no limits, single character type, companion-based games where you have to manage everyone's inventory. Those are just off the top of my head, but there's so many variations in games, and it can also be influenced by whether you have a storage chest/stash, or a home base where you can store the excess. I think if there's a crafting or settlement/base-building element in the game, that those elements can influence what you pickup. This question/topic probably bleeds over into strategy games where you have resource management, as it amounts to basically the same thing.

For myself, I'm a fanatical inventory manager, whether it's a single character or party based, I'm constantly shuffling things around or trying to find that perfect armor/weapon combination for a companion, and I pick up absolutely everything that can be picked up, especially if there's any type of crafting or base/settlement building element. Being able to sell unwanted equipment/items in a game is also a factor. I couldn't even guess how many times I've crawled slowly from a dungeon in Skyrim because I'm overburdened, but I'm not dropping those 12 suits of plate armor.

So without giving too many examples, what it boils down to is, I love detailed inventory management, just as I love a detailed character creation or leveling up system. Some of these inventory systems are better than others, and some are better when modded (SkyUI for Skyrim being the obvious example), so I'd be interested to hear from some of you on your feelings/examples of inventory management.
 
I think it depends on the genre, for the most part. My more general view is that inventory/weight restrictions in games are annoying and I don't want them. However, I think such restrictions can make sense in a variety of cases, such as in a survival horror game, for example. But in fantasy RPGs - where these restrictions often occur - I really don't like them. I'm already hurling fireballs at people, so I don't think that limiting what I can carry is doing a whole lot for realism.
 
To be honest, none of them are realistic. There's no way you could carry all that stuff in real life like you can in games. But I'm ok with it being unrealistic.

I think I prefer weight limits more than space limits. Seems like it's easier to upgrade your abilities that way. One thing I'd like to see more of is automatic sorting with different filters. Breath of the Wild kind of had that, but it needs to be improved upon.

I couldn't even guess how many times I've crawled slowly from a dungeon in Skyrim because I'm overburdened, but I'm not dropping those 12 suits of plate armor.
I did that a few times carrying a ton of Dwemer metal when I was trying to build up my smithing skills.
 
I dont mind it in RPG's as long as its not too restrictive, just throw an odd point into whatever stat lets you carry more or buy a bigger bag. Also happy to just throw away whatever is least valuable if it comes to it.

But this reminds me that the only game I've refunded to date was Resident Evil 2 Remake. Early in the game I needed to pick up a key and there was no room in my inventory to carry it. The game forces you to go all the way back to a storage chest because you cant drop anything on the floor or swap anything out without losing it forever.

All the gameplay and graphical updates they did, and they basically kept the inventory and item management system from the 1995 Playstation.


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I think there is nothing inherently wrong with inventory management in the right type of game or (more importantly) implemented properly. if this was a survival game where stamina/fatigue is a factor i'm all for it, provided that the system is implemented properly.

I keep saying when done properly so what do i mean by that?

Inventory management is accessible, simple and easy to understand. A no brainer really with KB+M these days. Some use weight constraints, others use space constraints as a factor. Either is fine in the relevant context.

What i don't want to see are:

Limit constraints. i can only carry x number of medikits at any one time even if i had the ability to carry more. its stupid. i decide the limit not you game! ok, i'll let it slide if its an FPS but be reasonable about the limit! at least 10 please or have an upgrade system to carry more or something.

A horrible inventory management system. A horrible system where you have to scroll through your items, no options to just select you want.

Resident evil 5 stands out like a sore thumb how not to do inventory management. Absolutely atrocious it was compared to Resident evil 4's inventory system. hell, it didn't even make sense half of the time! Why does my armor take an inventory slot when it provides additional slots? a rubbish shop also baffled me. Why can i buy the guns but not the ammo? Oh, you know it reduces the horror being a main excuse and one that i think is BS.

But on the flip side, it can get in the way of my fun. Minecraft springs to mind as to how aggressively small your inventory can be. Sure you can constantly build chests but yeah, still not great. Although i think the durability side of things irked me more. No fun needing to craft pick axes constantly when i'm mining. Let me have fun with one durable axe and explore damn it!
 
space limited, weight limited (often dependent upon a STR or END statistic), both space & weight limited, no limits, single character type, companion-based games where you have to manage everyone's inventory
Hmm, appreciate the inventory of inventory systems. No wonder you RPG types are so… er… umm… uh, never mind.

Far Cry games … do you love it, hate it, or
FC3 is generally a terrible game from PC UI perspective. One real PITA is how janky the IM UI was. Mouse skittering around the IM screen, having to dump $1 items one at a time to make way for more loot. Much of this due to FC3 being a console port without any worthwhile upgrade-to-PC work being put it—later FCs are much better.

From hating it in FC3 to appreciating it in FC4. Not loving it, but the UI was much better—somewhere around 'not bad'—so its strategic function wasn't obscured. I doubt I'll ever love it, but it can add a nice strategic choice when well done.

how many times I've crawled slowly from a dungeon in Skyrim because I'm overburdened
Is that crawling all the way back to a shop in town? I like the FC4+ mechanic of wandering merchants you could usually reach easily when you needed to unload. FC has always been space-only limited, never weight or value or anything else—'space' meaning number of items, whether they were chewing gum wrappers or bear skins.

I love detailed inventory management, just as I love a detailed character creation or leveling up system
Yeah… no!
'Detailed' is the killer for me, and a big reason why I steer clear of RPG. Far Cry New Dawn had a long long list of perks available—much too long for me to be bothered with it. I also see shooters providing more and more weapons to use—which for me kills any motivation to check some out, as I would do with a smaller selection. There's usually only 2-3 bows so I'll try those—but 20 ARs… forget it!
 
I actually thought the inventory management in Deus Ex was pretty good. It was space based, and usually the largest items were the weapons so you had to pick maybe the best 2-3 guns you wanted since you didn't have room for any more.

Similarly those same decisions work really well for Don't Starve when you're trying to decide what materials you need the most. Which leads to some very tough tradeoffs on whether you want to keep the manure vs. the lump of gold. (Not as obvious a decision as you might think!)

In comparison the unlimited inventory in the original Mass Effect was a complete pain to manage. Just a ton of scrolling through lists of almost identical weapons trying to find that one gun with slightly better stats than the others. On the plus side though you only need to do this infrequently, compared to picking up items through the course of a level, which is often.

Still with that in mind I think there's something to be said for an inventory system where you can literally see everything you have on a single screen. Or maybe related items on a single screen. eg. Weapons on one screen, consumables on another, crafting materials on a third.
 
doing a whole lot for realism
I don't think realism is a factor in game design of IM systems, except in Sims. Nor should it be imo, it's function is either tactical or strategic.

One thing which has always made me shake my head like @Kaamos_Llama's guy above is that my IM capacity doesn't increase when I'm driving a truck or boat around, or when I'm travelling with companions. I avoid vehicles, but a role in IM might make me consider 'em early on.

only carry x number of medikits at any one time even if i had the ability to carry more. its stupid
Hear hear. It's much better now, but over a decade ago healing was a real PITA. I remember in FC1 there were frequent decisions "Do I use this medkit to heal my 1/3 injury, or do I leave it and wander on so I know it's here when I get really hurt.

I would like one loot bag for… well, loot eg chewing gum & gold coins—and another let's call it Gear Bag for tactical or strategic stuff like ordnance or protection. FC—3, and maybe 4 if I recall correctly—went overboard on the latter, with different upgradable bags for ammo, throwables, and heavy ammo. That's just busy work, confusing complicated with tactical, annoying with challenging.

So say I have 20 slots in my upgraded Gear Bag. It should be up to me if I want to stuff it with medkits, at the expense of mines and rocket rounds.

an inventory system where you can literally see everything you have on a single screen. Or maybe related items on a single screen
Absolutely! I used to work in IM a long time ago, and if our info system was anything remotely like what's often in games, heads would've rolled! It's another head shake every time I see a game seriously compromise function for the sake of form.

I guess screen shots of a pretty screen have more sales impact than that of a useful one.
 
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A couple of related old threads, if anyone wants more around this topic:


 
Is the question about on character inventory or stash?

if on character, endless trips to town to empty bags, no matter how much space I have I always run out.
I seem to recall games being annoying and only giving you drops you might actually want when you already full. So whats more valuable, time it takes to portal to town to empty bag, or whatever you just dropped to make the space?

if in stash... well, sacred 2 and my 13 spare characters just for bank space is probably a clue. So many items I can reuse. So many sets. Every set has newer better parts every 15 levels, so you constantly replacing armor with better parts. It helped the Community Patch made town stash bigger.
Torchlight 2 I still ran out of space having a stash 20x bigger than standard.
Diablo 2. Think I am full again. At least I don't have a character limit here, unlike DIablo 3.

Most of the games I play I save parts other classes might use. That is what the majority of space is used by. I never know if I might use it later...
 
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I started to say that I really like inventory management, but then I realized I usually download mods that give me more space in my backpacks/chests. But I really do enjoy it. I just want more space. I've spent most of yesterday and today in V Rising doing nothing but organizing the many chests, bookshelves and wardrobes in our castle.

The thing is, I'm neurotic about collecting things. If I'm in an RPG or survival game and I'm a 20 minute walk from home and almost where I was headed, but I suddenly run out of inventory space from picking things up on the way, I will turn around and walk all the way back home, sort everything out into the proper places, and then start the 20 minute walk back (generally I won't pick up a single thing on the second trip just because). When I run out of inventory space, everything comes to a stop.

Now, I'm not completely stupid about it. I only pick up things I think I'll really need, and occasionally I'll just drop stuff on the ground to pick up better stuff, but there will come a time when I think everything that's left in my inventory is important, and that means a trip back to my base.

But when I think of great inventory management games, I think of the Resident Evil series, especially 4 with your briefcases and playing Tetris with all your stuff to get them to fit. Plus, you had to make serious decisions because you were always out of space. And, of course, there was the huge rocket launcher. I always made space for that. Could basically one shot everything in the game with those except for the final boss (two shots for him).
 
I started to say that I really like inventory management, but then I realized I usually download mods that give me more space in my backpacks/chests.
Two of the games I mentioned had mods that expand space. It doesn't matter, I would need infinite to really be happy. Otherwise I will eventually run out.

If I can't share parts between other characters I am less likely to care about parts I can't use or I have grown out of.
 
I'm usually fine with inventory management as long as the UI isn't terrible (and my standards are pretty low on that, I never even used SkyUI). In a lot of games it mostly just gives you an incentive to keep going instead of looting every damn object you can find. Yes, I will leave all of those plate armours on the floor. I did download a mod to decrease potion weight in Skyrim once, as I couldn't bring myself to get rid of any, but later learned to only bring what I would use.

I don't really like when a game restricts your inventory size and make you do busy work to increase it to usable levels though, like in Assassin's Creed or Far Cry games. Stardew Valley also gives you a tiny inventory to begin with and the first upgrade is fairly expensive, so every new game I feel the need to first chop trees until I can build a chest to store half my tools in so I have room to pick stuff up, then grind for cash until I can afford that upgrade, as playing without it is too bothersome.

But on the flip side, it can get in the way of my fun. Minecraft springs to mind as to how aggressively small your inventory can be. Sure you can constantly build chests but yeah, still not great. Although i think the durability side of things irked me more. No fun needing to craft pick axes constantly when i'm mining. Let me have fun with one durable axe and explore damn it!

Minecraft has gotten so much worse over time as they added more and more items without increasing the inventory size. Especially since a lot of items have variations that each need their own slot, like the dozen different types of wood.
 
To be honest, none of them are realistic. There's no way you could carry all that stuff in real life like you can in games. But I'm ok with it being unrealistic.
Exactly, I think whatever inventory method is used in a game, they all require a "suspension of disbelief" on the part of the player, even becoming immersed in a game world requires a bit of that.

I think I prefer weight limits more than space limits. Seems like it's easier to upgrade your abilities that way.
Weight limits are my preferred inventory also, and depending upon the game, can often be tweaked to higher limits during level-ups, or temporarily adjusted with potions or spells.

I did that a few times carrying a ton of Dwemer metal when I was trying to build up my smithing skills.
Smithing was one of the main reasons for me to be overburdened in Skyrim as well, I always tried to max out my smithing and other crafting skills. Dwemer ruins were great for metal scrap.

A horrible inventory management system. A horrible system where you have to scroll through your items, no options to just select you want.
A horrible inventory system can be a pain to manage (even though I still try), I like organization in my inventory, and being able to search by categories using tabs, not scrolling endlessly through the entire contents.

Hmm, appreciate the inventory of inventory systems. No wonder you RPG types are so… er… umm… uh, never mind.
Yeah, when it comes to stats, skills, & inventory I'm a bit of a fanatical-compulsive-micromanager-sorter. Sorta.

Is that crawling all the way back to a shop in town?
Of course! Well, either the nearest town with facilities (shops/smithy), or to my nearest house where I could unload, and sort things by type into different containers to be later sold or broken down in smithing/crafting.

I actually thought the inventory management in Deus Ex was pretty good. It was space based, and usually the largest items were the weapons so you had to pick maybe the best 2-3 guns you wanted since you didn't have room for any more.
Space limits in inventories has never been my favorite type, but I have to agree that the original Deus Ex did it well. I always remember that the sniper rifle took up a bunch of slots, but I had to have one, so I had to put some thought into what else I kept.

In comparison the unlimited inventory in the original Mass Effect was a complete pain to manage. Just a ton of scrolling through lists of almost identical weapons trying to find that one gun with slightly better stats than the others. On the plus side though you only need to do this infrequently, compared to picking up items through the course of a level, which is often.
As much as I loved ME1, scrolling through that inventory of armor, weapons, and mods was terrible; whether I was selling stuff or looking for a specific item. Sometimes I'd get halfway through it and forget what I was originally looking for.

The thing is, I'm neurotic about collecting things. If I'm in an RPG or survival game and I'm a 20 minute walk from home and almost where I was headed, but I suddenly run out of inventory space from picking things up on the way, I will turn around and walk all the way back home, sort everything out into the proper places, and then start the 20 minute walk back
You are not alone. I do that on a regular basis in both Skyrim and Fallout 4; leave my house and head to a specific location, only to get side-tracked by something interesting, or attacked by a dragon or raiders, and of course I can't leave all that stuff lying around, and I pick everything up. So 20-30 minutes out, I'm overburdened again, and walk back home to sort things in containers.

Is the question about on character inventory or stash?
Both or either one. To me they're both part of inventory management, one you carry around, the other is at a safe location. But they both require input and management on the players part, at least they do for me.
 
My thoughts on inventory management, and keep in mind this is partly because RPGs are the much smaller portion of what I play, is that if I must do it, it better not involve a lot constant resorting. TW2 had a very poor inventory system that needed categorization (among other things), so I gave up on that game real fast after trying it.
 
Exactly, I think whatever inventory method is used in a game, they all require a "suspension of disbelief" on the part of the player, even becoming immersed in a game world requires a bit of that.
One thing I love about Skyrim is you can have an end table with one little drawer in your house, and you can pretty much stash unlimited items in there. Definitely not realistic, but I loved it.

As for inventory management, I'm playing the campaign for Halo: Infinite right now, and it drives me nuts that these games only let you carry two weapons. I wish I could carry at least 3. I'd love to be able to always have a Mangler, Ravager, and some kind of sniper rifle.
 
One thing I love about Skyrim is you can have an end table with one little drawer in your house, and you can pretty much stash unlimited items in there. Definitely not realistic, but I loved it.

As for inventory management, I'm playing the campaign for Halo: Infinite right now, and it drives me nuts that these games only let you carry two weapons. I wish I could carry at least 3. I'd love to be able to always have a Mangler, Ravager, and some kind of sniper rifle.
LOL, yeah those little pieces of furniture that are like a bottomless pit remind me of The Pink Panther's suitcase!

A big part of playing Halo is knowing when to switch to dropped enemy weapons and which marines and when to equip with the more powerful weapons, like giving your passenger seat marine a Rocket Launcher, Spartan Laser, or Fuel Rod gun.

I actually like games that only allow you to carry two weapons, it makes you strategize more.
 
LOL, yeah those little pieces of furniture that are like a bottomless pit remind me of The Pink Panther's suitcase!

A big part of playing Halo is knowing when to switch to dropped enemy weapons and which marines and when to equip with the more powerful weapons, like giving your passenger seat marine a Rocket Launcher, Spartan Laser, or Fuel Rod gun.

I actually like games that only allow you to carry two weapons, it makes you strategize more.
The problem I run into is that there are a lot of times when a sniper rifle is the best choice for a while, but then also a lot of times when you want something up close and powerful. I know I can usually find a ravager anywhere I go, but sniper rifles are harder to come by. And I always like to have a Mangler handy at all times. It's a pretty good general use gun, and you can find ammo for it about anywhere. If I could have that third weapon spot, it would be perfect. But it does make it a little more challenging to have to think ahead and figure out what you're going to need.

I'm really enjoying that game, probably more than any other Halo game I've played. I never thought I'd say that, but that's how it's panning out for me.
 
I like inventory management as much as I like the system governing it. If it's about space management rather than weight, that's fine with me. Most games have a sort function, and if you can sort individual bags (see World of Warcraft), all the better. I particularly like how Dragon Age was one of the first games I'd played with a 'Junk Tab', meaning anything in there would be sold in one go if you chose to at a vendor.

What I don't like is weight management. Having to stop the game and work out value:weight is not fun, and trying to calculate how much I can drop before I can move again is particularly painful. More than that is games of varying encumberance - it takes practice to know the levels of speed which exist, and in some the difference is hardly noticeable (see Insurgency: Sandstorm).

Honestly I can't complain too much about it. In the tabletop you have to do that in pen and paper. God help you if your GM uses coin weight. Which reminds me: I didn't know bottlecaps were a currency in Fallout 3, so I dropped what must've been thousands of them because "they were just taking up room". Jesus wept in a Super-Duper Mart...
 
Most of the games I play I save parts other classes might use. That is what the majority of space is used by. I never know if I might use it later...

on a slightly off topic, i have a feeling the game is screwing with me when it comes to ARPGS. the kit that you really want/matters/ need NEVER drops on that character. Play as another char and class and it appears useful. annoys me a lot. its probably why i play one or 2 characters and thats it.

Minecraft has gotten so much worse over time as they added more and more items without increasing the inventory size. Especially since a lot of items have variations that each need their own slot, like the dozen different types of wood.

i think if they increase the biomes i'm all for new types of wood and design furniture and such as others have pointed out problems begin when on character inventory management is a bigger problem then stashes. Minecraft is no exception. But that said, minecraft's inventory is aggressively small as soon its filled with cobblestone and you have to configure a waste disposal system or turn it into stone slabs to save space.

A horrible inventory system can be a pain to manage (even though I still try), I like organization in my inventory, and being able to search by categories using tabs, not scrolling endlessly through the entire contents.

Agreed. A filter system would be nice and an auto sort button to save space would be nice. but again, double edged sword.
 
The problem I run into is that there are a lot of times when a sniper rifle is the best choice for a while, but then also a lot of times when you want something up close and powerful. I know I can usually find a ravager anywhere I go, but sniper rifles are harder to come by. And I always like to have a Mangler handy at all times. It's a pretty good general use gun, and you can find ammo for it about anywhere. If I could have that third weapon spot, it would be perfect. But it does make it a little more challenging to have to think ahead and figure out what you're going to need.

I'm really enjoying that game, probably more than any other Halo game I've played. I never thought I'd say that, but that's how it's panning out for me.
A lot of people carry the Battle Rifle and Pulse Carbine when in areas where you don't necessarily need or have access to specific weapons. Reason being the Pulse Carbine strips shields with a few bursts, then a BR headshot finishes them off. In older games you needed to charge the Plasma Pistol to strip shields, but it's less practical to do so in Infinite because it drains must faster now.

For much of the game though, I find it's best to go with what other weapons are available, like the Shock Rifle and Stalker Rifle, both of which are more available than the UNSC Sniper Rifle. They may not pack quite as much punch, but they have more ammo. You'll still see a UNSC Sniper Rifle here and there when it's needed to take out troublesome enemies from a distance.

Grenades should not be discounted when bemoaning only being able to carry two projectile weapons though, because they make dealing with tough enemies like Elite Warmasters and Ultras, and even Brute Chieftains, much easier, as do weapons like the Skewer and Needler. The Shock Grenade is the most useful grenade, and when you need them most, they are plentiful.

I also got tons of use out of the many energy coils lying around, which are very helpful on tougher enemies like Red Hunters, Tremonious, Chak 'Lok, Jega 'Rdomnai, and Escharum. I even beat Jega 'Rdomnai in about 11 seconds on Legendary with no upgrades (including no use of threat sensor) only tossing one coil at him after piling up lots of coils where he first appears, then using less than one Sentinel Beam clip to finish him off. I didn't even need to use the HMG Turret I carried to the fight from the previous area.

With all the tools they give you to battle with in Halo Infinite, there's a solid argument for only being able to carry two projectile weapons. Even the battle at the ziggurat in the Conservatory mission, one where most use primarily sniping weapons, can be done using mostly the jump pads, tossing coils, and firing a heavy weapon like the Cindershot while in air. One of the truly great things about Infinite is there are so many useful weapons, vehicles, and explosive items at your disposal, you can pretty much play it any way you want.


(Skip to 25:18 for the Jega 'Rdomnai fight)

(Skip to 43:05 for the Ziggurat fight)
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
One thing I love about Skyrim is you can have an end table with one little drawer in your house, and you can pretty much stash unlimited items in there. Definitely not realistic, but I loved it.
Was that "safe" to do? I thought only certain containers would keep everything in them over the long term. You could put a bunch of stuff in there then, one day, you find it has all been replaced with random things you would find in a drawer because the game forgot what was there. Maybe that doesn't apply in houses? (Or maybe I'm just confusing games?)
 
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Was that "safe" to do? I thought only certain containers would keep everything in them over the long term. You could put a bunch of stuff in there then, one day, you find it has all been replaced with random things you would find in a drawer because the game forgot what was there. Maybe that doesn't apply in houses? (Or maybe I'm just confusing games?)
You're right for anywhere except your own house. If you're in your own house, your stuff is safe. Anywhere else, and it's a risk.

I believe I've heard of people killing an NPC and storing stuff on them, too.
 

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