Unlimited Inventory or Limited Inventory?

Elliott404

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I am sort of stuck whether I'd limit my project's total inventory, or leave it unlimited (I've already limited the item's quantity from Yanfly's Core). The best thing about having a limited quantities is the player's panic lol.

I also want to read everyone's opinions. So, what do you guys think? What benefit do these features serve for a game (did I asked this right?)?
 

Poryg

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Many game makers don't even bother to balance unlimited inventory and gold income and you wouldn't believe how many games can be cheesed through item spam (and you don't even have to grind, usually you have so much gold anyway).
So I prefer limited inventory over unlimited inventory any day. If you however use limited inventory, be advised that unless you use strict limitation, there's no point in limited inventory.

The biggest advantage of limited inventory is, it allows for a great strategic/tactical potential. Item spam is out of the question.
 

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Personally I think it depends on the kind of game I am playing (or making).

In some cases, a limited inventory can be a neat feature if it's done right and means the player can't just hoard everything they find, but actually have to limit themselves to only keep what they really need. Key Items being an exception to the rule, of course.
And while I haven't personally tried, or even thought about until now, I'm assuming there might be a way

In other cases, keeping a wide variety of items and equipment for different situations might be a better choice. Then again, I also don't know whether or or not having a limited inventory means you will just be unable to carry a certain amount of items, even though some are the same item (Ex: 10 potions counting as 10 towards the limit), or just being able to carry a certain amount of different items (Ex: 10 potions only count as 1 towards the limit).
Of those two options, I'd personally prefer the later, as that would also mean reducing the amount of items in the items list, while not necessarily limiting the player's ability to carry a lot of remedy-type items for various situations, as an example.
Then again, I'm also the type that likes carrying 10-25 Antidotes with me in any Final Fantasy game just in case I should happen to run into an enemy that can poison my characters.
 
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mathmaster74

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@Elliott404 I'm with Poryg on this one. I think game design should be just that...design. Items you can have in your inventory should have a purpose. Limitations should play a role in proper inventory management. Making everything "spam-able" :rolleyes: only makes getting a bunch of an item fun for those who are not interested in the real mechanics of your game. I can only think of two instances where I personally used unlimited inventory as a player...and in one case it was just a waste of time (spamming an abundance of tin cans from Super-Duper Mart in Fallout 3 because they're ingredients to make a custom weapon I never ended up making many copies of) while in the other case it was just min/maxing away part of the fun of the game (collecting every dwemer metal piece from Mzulft to max Smithing early in Skyrim). If the inventory is pointless, that's even more reason to limit it. There's more interest to be had with limited inventory over unlimited inventory any day.
 

Elliott404

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Yes. I am trying to balance the gold, and items limitation (and hopefully logically lol). I've played some games that had both features, and tbh, while the limited has a good advantage as you mentioned, but, my biggest issue was the gold (it went to the point where I don't want any anymore lol).
I am working on a system: instead of getting money after every battle like any RPG, you'll get rewarded the amount of money you deserve throughout each quests you fulfill. As for the healing items, since I am working on a cooking system (in case you've seen it), you'll notice the favorite feature. The player will very likely focus on the fav. dish since they heal specific actor(s) 10x better than otherwise.
Same goes with other items, I'm planning to give an item that sticks only for a specific purpose than having it stick to you throughout entire game (or just useless), then you'll discard it later on.
 

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90% of the time I will recommended an Unlimited Inventory. You need a really good design reason to justify limiting the player's inventory.

The Limited Inventory forces the player to spend a lot of time looking through their items and deciding what to keep and what to trash - and this is not a fun activity. They're going to have to do this a lot as they keep finding stuff in treasure chests and receiving monster drops. I can't even describe what a boring, frustrating, immersion-breaking dynamic this is (and it's even worse if the treasure chest simply says "you can't get this" and forcing the player to open the menu and discard something herself). It also feels awful for "collector"-types who like to travel around with all the cool stuff they've earned.

There is literally no harm in an Unlimited Inventory system. If 'Spamming Items' becomes a concern (as @Poryg mentions), then implementing Cooldowns on items, or simply improving the game's economy, can usually fix it.

The one time that Limited Inventory can be a cool game dynamic is if the Inventory you can bring with you into a dungeon (or similar) is Limited. For example, Recettear and Azure Dreams allow you to keep as many items as you want with you in town, but when you enter the games' randomized dungeons, you have to pick X items or fewer to actually take with you into the dungeon. This forces you to make interesting (sometimes tough) choices, it gets rid of Unlimited Item Spam, and it also puts a high premium on powerful consumables (that 300 HP potion is now much more than three times more appealing than the 100 HP potion you can buy at the shop!). All your other items wait for you back at town, as part of your 'Unlimited' storage inventory. I like when once you're in the dungeon, you can continue to pick up an unlimited number of items without having to throw anything out, because it gets rid of the unfun "pick something to trash" screen you'd have to look at over and over.

In my opinion, "the player's panic" is not a good enough reason to limit inventory, because it's more likely to become "the player's boredom".
 

Poryg

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The Limited Inventory forces the player to spend a lot of time looking through their items and deciding what to keep and what to trash - and this is not a fun activity. They're going to have to do this a lot as they keep finding stuff in treasure chests and receiving monster drops. I can't even describe what a boring, frustrating, immersion-breaking dynamic this is (and it's even worse if the treasure chest simply says "you can't get this" and forcing the player to open the menu and discard something herself).
You've never played Diablo, have you, @Wavelength?
Keep the best, sell the rest. That's the rule of thumb. When you have a full inventory or reach a shop, sell excess items. If the UI is well made, this is a question of seconds, maybe minutes in rare cases. Definitely not long time.

It is not pleasant for item hoarders, that is true. But it is not the end of the world and believe me or not, I have yet to see a single single-player RPG where inventory management was a problem and which was not subject to pay-to-play mechanics.
 

Elliott404

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@Wavelength
It was meant to be a joke about the player's panic thing. Tbh, some unlimited inventory can be a frustrating feature if you're the kind of player who'd sell/discard useless ones constantly, especially the ones you have no need for them anymore. I'd rather have limited inventory, in a sense of decent limit, to keep what I really need than take whatever I want whenever I want however I want.
 

Poryg

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Decent limit can be relative though. Golden Sun had a limit 15 items per character. And except for equips, which took four slots, you did not need anything if you had at least 5 djinnis of all elements and two healer Djinnis. If you had all of them, then you were unbeatable, since all you needed to do was just to cycle Djinnis.

Nevertheless, if I remember correctly, Yanfly's limited inventory actually limits only buying items, not picking them up off the ground, which is kind of a waste of the purpose of limited inventories.
 

Elliott404

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@Poryg
Djinnis?
TheoAllen made a limited inventory plugin. I've been having my eyes on it ever since I've found it, but not sure about its compatibility.
 

The Stranger

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I've never found it fun to need to manage my inventory; just feels like busy work. A limited inventory needs a good reason for existing other than to annoy and hobble the player.

Limited inventories, stamina bars, etc - they're all annoying if they don't serve any real purpose.
 

mathmaster74

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You need a really good design reason to justify limiting the player's inventory.
1) Encumbrance. Part of role-playing is putting yourself into the situation. I can't run around with 10 suits of armor and 20 swords to swap out as needed for upcoming encounters without asking myself: "How am I realistically carrying this?" So... 2) Immersion.
 

The Stranger

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@mathmaster74 Most limited inventories don't prevent the player from running around with 10 suits of armour and 20 swords, though. It's also not realistic for the player to be able to walk around with thousands of gold pieces on them. It's not realistic for the player to carry loads of glass bottles around on them without them breaking at some point.

Most limited inventories are no more realistic and immersive than unlimited ones.

One limited inventory system I greatly enjoyed, and which I found to be very immersive, was the one in Metro Exodus.
 

mathmaster74

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if they don't serve any real purpose.
I made that condition part of my original post in the thread as well. I can't think of a way, however, that unlimited inventories serve any real purpose.
 

The Stranger

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One purpose an unlimited inventory serves is being a simple inventory that doesn't annoy players by forcing them to throw stuff away or traipse all the way back to a shop just to sell things. :p Torchlight did it right by giving you an animal you could send back to town to buy and sell stuff while you were in a dungeon.

I, like many others, simply don't enjoy managing inventories. It's never fun, and it's rarely interesting. Hated playing inventory Tetris when RPGs used those stupid grid based systems back in the day, and hate weight based inventories nowadays. But, you know, at least weight based inventories are often tied to stats or out and out roleplaying. Those inventories with arbitrary limitations imposed on them only serve to piss people off. You can only carry 20 items. Doesn't matter what those items are (they could be swords, potions, scrolls, or entire suits of armour), but you can only carry 20.

I can see a reason for limiting available resources and supplies in survival games, horror games, and games that are generally all about resource management. I'm okay with those. What I don't like are seeing these systems implemented in such a half-arsed manner in games that don't need them.

If you've created mechanics and systems that rely on a limited inventory - cool. If you're including it because you think it's 'realistic', or just because, then it will do naught but vex me.
 
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Limited inventory is a balancing question - or rather it's two different balancing questions.

1) What do you want to balance?
As said above placing a limit on items (and that can be done in a lot of ways from weight over slots to max numbers) will cause the player to have to think about those limits. And you as the developer need to think about why and what part of your game needs that limit.
Because as also said above if that limit has no effect on game play then don't bother.

2) Can you balance the limits?
Balancing is work that takes time, especially if there is only a small range between "unplayable" "player-challenge" and "useless limit".
The closer you try to place the item limit into "player challenge", the more work you'll need to place into balancing to make sure that it doesn't go into "unplayable", like being unable to carry enough healing items and extra weapons into the later dungeons.
A lot of small developers simply don't have the capacity for a large number of balancing playtests, and unless you do you shouldn't burden yourself with parts that have only minor effects on the game.
That is the reason why a lot of games go with unlimited inventories - it might be exploitable, but it is better than having a limit that makes the game unplayable.
 

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Limited inventories can sometimes be a bit of a pain, but at the same time, unlimited ones serve basically no purpose half the time. Who's getting 99 health potions unless there's only one shop in the game, in which case, that's just bad design. The inventory system I found the best is likely Eternal Sonata's where they have unlimited general inventory, but limited battle inventory. That way, you can have as many items walking around as you wish, but you have to decide what is the most tactful approach to the battles that you face in that area, not only with the skills you use, but with your items as well.
 

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You know, I'm the man behind limited inventory script/plugin yet I hate to use that design. I'm with wavelength at this case, I prefer unlimited inventory most of the cases. I've heard people use my script, but really is there any game that has good use of my script out there though? I wonder.

This also serves a different kind of gameplay. Unlimited inventory serves a casual play where you don't need to worry about item limit at all. Limited inventory serves a feeling of "I ran out of supplies, I should head back to the store and restock my supplies". While I haven't really tried this, the limited inventory design should be designed around that kind of feeling.

The main problem with both systems are still based on the same psychological problem of "What if I need it later?". You see people hoarded 99 elixirs because of that feeling. Limited inventory still has the same problem. You need to make space for new items, but you either have other important items in your bags already (rare equipment, rare materials) and consumables that you may fear that you need it later.

That said, unlimited inventory does no harm at all. It may be exploitable, but as Andar said, better than making it unplayable because of limited inventory and bad design of using it.
 

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Im with Andar and Wavelength on this one.. I hate limited inventories mostly.. I usually end up torn between bringing items to keep me relatively safe in the journey but risking not being able to get the items along the ride because of full inventory, or keep my inventory clear..

@Poryg - Diablo made it easy to use the limited inventory. D1 and 2 just have this very small box where you see all your items making it easy to sell any unwanted stuff, plus they are fast paced hack and slash games, hoarding items isnt really a thing for those games. D3 has an auto system for removing all non legend stuff, so it was also easy... Using those to justify a limited inventory for the usual types of RPGs made in RPG Maker doesnt sit that well because they have different styles..
 

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You've never played Diablo, have you, @Wavelength?
Keep the best, sell the rest. That's the rule of thumb. When you have a full inventory or reach a shop, sell excess items. If the UI is well made, this is a question of seconds, maybe minutes in rare cases. Definitely not long time.
I have. And I have to wonder: in what world is that kind of forced inventory management fun? When I'm having a good time hacking and slashing my way through hordes of enemies, the LAST thing in the world I want to think about is what I need to throw away in order to make room for whatever the monsters dropped. Let me just take it and get back to the swords and sorcery!

I have yet to see a single single-player RPG where inventory management was a problem and which was not subject to pay-to-play mechanics.
A few that come to mind immediately for me are Recettear, Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy, and Accel World vs. Sword Art Online. These are all good games where the limited inventory hurts the experience and breaks immersion. There's a decent reason for it in Recettear, where it creates risk-vs-reward as far as how many items you bring with you into the dungeon, but the others can't justify it at all.

@WavelengthIt was meant to be a joke about the player's panic thing.
Ah, I see. Took ya too literally. :)

Tbh, some unlimited inventory can be a frustrating feature if you're the kind of player who'd sell/discard useless ones constantly, especially the ones you have no need for them anymore. I'd rather have limited inventory, in a sense of decent limit, to keep what I really need than take whatever I want whenever I want however I want.
To make sure I understand you correctly - you think Unlimited inventory space is a frustrating feature? Why?! If you want to sell/discard stuff you don't think you'll need, nothing is stopping you from doing so. There's no reason to feel frustrated, because nothing is holding you back from doing what you want to do!

While you're ultimately in charge of your own game, from what you've posted so far I don't see any compelling reason to include a Limited Inventory system in your game (in fact, your Cooking system actually encourages Unlimited Inventory, because the Cooking requires multiple inputs for a single output and also because players will want to enjoy looking at the diversity of dishes they created!). I would highly suggest not putting this limit on your players where there's no need to.

1) Encumbrance. Part of role-playing is putting yourself into the situation. I can't run around with 10 suits of armor and 20 swords to swap out as needed for upcoming encounters without asking myself: "How am I realistically carrying this?" So... 2) Immersion.
With much respect and good will, I feel you're missing the point. Encumbrance is a mechanic; it is not a justification and in fact encumbrance needs a justification itself in order to justify its inclusion as good game design!

As far as Immersion, immersion is not about realism. Completely unrealistic fantasy can be immersive; games that attempt realism often aren't immersive. Immersion is about selling the idea that you are part of the world, that the character's actions are your actions. Immersion is about connection, and about the willing suspension of disbelief. Almost like - you believe that if you move your hands around, you'll hit or grab or touch something in the game world.

The problem with Limited Inventories, from the frame of Immersion, is that being told "you can't carry this" is a complete immersion-breaker. The human brain isn't wired to deal with hard limits (in reality, you could always carry that one more item; it just becomes heavier and more unwieldy), and even more importantly, you're forced to take yourself out of the immersive action you were connecting with in order to visit a menu and look through a bunch of text or objects. In an Unlimited Inventory system, the player's focus is never being turned to the space in their bag, so they remain focused on things that are immersive.

@Elliott404I can only think of two instances where I personally used unlimited inventory as a player...
Actually, you've used Unlimited Inventory as a player in every single game that didn't have Inventory Limits! The fact that the game allowed you to grab all the items you wanted, rather than stopping you and making you throw something away every time you went above 5 (or 10 or 20 or 50) total items made it a lot more convenient for you to play and enjoy the game. Your experience would have necessarily been different (even if it's just a little different) had those games you played limited you to 20 items.

If the inventory is pointless, that's even more reason to limit it. There's more interest to be had with limited inventory over unlimited inventory any day.
Maybe it's a misunderstanding of meanings, but how can "the inventory" be pointless? The inventory, as I frame the word, is simply the total collection of your items - nothing more, nothing less. So the items themselves are pointless (in which case, get rid of items entirely and don't worry about limited vs. unlimited inventory!), how can "the inventory" be pointless?

I can't think of a way, however, that unlimited inventories serve any real purpose.
The "purpose" is to keep the player's attention on the parts of the game that are interesting and immersive, and to allow the player to appreciate the variety of interesting items in the game.

However, I don't even think that Unlimited Inventory needs to have a "purpose", per se, because it also presents no onus upon the player. The Unlimited Inventory is a lack of limitations and a lack of busywork. Arguing that it needs a purpose is like arguing that allowing the player to move in any of the 4 directions needs a purpose, or that not putting damage caps on damage formulas needs a purpose. When you add a mechanic that introduces limitations or busywork, that's when you need to be able to express a purpose for that mechanic!

Hopefully I'm not coming across as arrogant or overly argumentative; I just feel passionately that several of the things you said are dangerous design beliefs.

The inventory system I found the best is likely Eternal Sonata's where they have unlimited general inventory, but limited battle inventory. That way, you can have as many items walking around as you wish, but you have to decide what is the most tactful approach to the battles that you face in that area, not only with the skills you use, but with your items as well.
I like this approach in theory (and I think it would be great for a board game), but in practice I find it to be more annoying than interesting (especially if a game is using the Dragon Quest/RPG Maker 3 approach where each party member has their own bag of items for battle use).

After all, every time you use an item in battle, you have to visit the menu screen after combat to restock the "battle bag" from your main inventory (or risk not having the items you need in the next battle), which means a lot of menu visits that wouldn't otherwise be necessary. This limitation can create some interesting strategy if the items are designed especially well, but I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze.

It's perfectly fine to ask the player to do this once before each dungeon, or similar - but if it should be done after every battle that's tough enough to require using an item, I think that's too much.

You know, I'm the man behind limited inventory script/plugin yet I hate to use that design. I'm with wavelength at this case, I prefer unlimited inventory most of the cases. I've heard people use my script, but really is there any game that has good use of my script out there though? I wonder.
You're kind of like the genius scientist who creates something amazingly powerful, only to regret it when he realizes the world is using it for all the wrong reasons! "I set out to create a system to empower RPG Maker users...... I succeeded." :guffaw:

Diablo made it easy to use the limited inventory. D1 and 2 just have this very small box where you see all your items making it easy to sell any unwanted stuff, plus they are fast paced hack and slash games, hoarding items isnt really a thing for those games. D3 has an auto system for removing all non legend stuff, so it was also easy... Using those to justify a limited inventory for the usual types of RPGs made in RPG Maker doesnt sit that well because they have different styles..
This is a good point when comparing professional games like Diablo to RPG Maker games. To add onto it, games like Diablo also use a very visual interface, allowing you to quickly understand what items you have, whereas RPG Maker inventories are usually very textual, meaning that it will take the player much longer to mentally get a grasp of what's in their inventory when they need to select something to discard.
 

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