A New Look at Floating Inventory

I’m back to MUD-hopping in my spare time, (together with painting, reading, sleeping and EATING! nomnom).

As a result, I had some ideas about floating inventory that could have very interesting implementations. Unfortunately, this new treatment of floating inventory would need a custom system, since it’s a structural change rather than being purely cosmetic.

Floating inventories in MUDs always bother me when I stop to think about them. The thought that I’m this ‘planet’ with lots of potions, knick-knacks and whatnots floating in satellite style about me is definitely giggle-worthy… and not exactly immersive.

So. Single-player graphical games and MMOs don’t have floating inventories. They have bags. But the act of putting everything directly into bags wouldn’t work for MUDs, because the text-based interface lacks the directness a graphical one does where inventory management is concerned. ‘Just click the damn thing!’ vs ‘open bag. look in bag. get thedamnthing [from] bag’.

In single-player games and MMOs, it doesn’t matter where my potions are in my bag(s), because I probably have the most important ones hotkeyed. I suppose you could make an alias to grab your potions from your bags and quaff them (in a MUD) context, but it’s still not the same. 1) It takes longer, 2) you’d still have to specifically look in one of your given bags to find out how many potions you had left.

Solution: Change the ‘inventory’ concept cosmetically as well as structurally.

Rename ‘inventory’ as … er ‘swag bag’ ! (Nods to Wizardry series), but keep the old ‘i’ as well as adding new commands ‘b’, possibly, for bags. So instead of having this bizarre cloud of objects floating around you, you have a general purpose ‘swag bag’ into which everything goes.

So instead of:

Inventory / You are carrying:
Pikachu Treats [3]
A Pokeball
A wren-swatter

You’d have something like

Your swag bag contains:
Pikachu Treats [3]
A Pokeball
A wren-swatter

But then, why DO MUDs have floating inventories and bags? And how should the reasons be addressed? (Don’t get me started on those MUDs that require you to hold and wear and bag everything. Absolutely everything. I absolutely hate them.)

In no particular order:

Reason:
You don’t want people going link-dead from looking at their own inventories. A place I used to play, some immortals actually had that problem.
Solution:
Limit number of items carried in the main inventory/swag bag by weight and dexterity/agility. Dex/agi limitation doesn’t actually make much logical sense (unless you argue it influences how well people grub through their bag I suppose).
Limitation via dex/agi is addressed by placing more bags within your swag bag. Why do that? Well you have a wallet don’t you? 😉 I hope so anyway… There’s a cost in direct accessibility, but you don’t end up with 250 lines in your main swag bag.

Reason:
You want to be able to limit how much your players carry to a sane value. Naturally this also takes into consideration what your system considers sane.

Solution:
This of course depends highly on how stats work in your system. For the purposes of argument,  I’d say give players a hard number, period, that anyone can have if they have the str to carry their stuff. (Though you could also limit items by size if you wanted to.)

So with these things in place, if a player wants still more inventory space (who doesn’t! Gimme moar!), you can add pockets! ZOMG!

So few MUDs I’ve seen (or even graphical games), have pockets. Usable pockets that actually add to the game. What has it got in its pocketsssss?

Having pockets (or holsters, or whatever), could be used to influence maximum weight carried. Stuff in pockets could weigh half the swag bag /inventory weight. This is intriguing because it means that the amount of ‘bag space’ each piece of equipment (EQ) has actually begins to factor in as an interesting part of that EQ. And of course for the sake of ease and sanity, ‘get stuff pants’ rather than ‘get stuff from pants pocket’ (which is stupid), would still work.

Another intriguing factor is the option to then build uber-powerful items with no pockets at all, and making clothing-inventory space one more factor of interest to balance in. Look at all those cute ninja chicks. Do they look like they have change and needles and potions and wren-swatters shoved into their tasty skintight black suits? This would self-regulate what players wear since inventory space tends to become like hard-disk space – but would also allow for min-maxing at the expense of inventory space (one swag is all you get!).

Oh yeah, and some slots shouldn’t have pockets. At all. Sorry. Nope. No nipple rings with magical bags of holding attached. 😉

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