Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Game Dev Quote of the Week: RPG Commerce Edition

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 31, 2014

This week’s quote comes from Ernest Adam’s 2013 “Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie” column:

“The constant buying and selling in CRPGs harms their heroic quest feel, so the least you can do is make this more efficient so that the player doesn’t have to waste a lot of time on it. It’s not fun to have to click the sell button 100 times to get rid of 100 Vegetable Peelers of Unusual Bluntness looted from hapless kobolds. Stéphane Bessette suggested a set of qualities that a good loot-selling interface should have:

  1. Players need a way to be able to buy stuff back that they’ve sold by accident, at least within the context of the current transaction. The opportunity doesn’t need to last forever, just long enough to be able to correct clicking on the wrong thing.
  2. They need a way to lock items so they can’t sell them unintentionally.
  3. It’s nice to be able to get rid of low-level junk without having to schlep it all the way back to the surface. Torchlight offers this.
  4. Let players buy one item, a specific quantity of items, or a stack of items.
  5. It would be good to be able to sell quantities of identical items that don’t stack.”

A lot of the GD quotes of the week are pretty general-purpose, but this one’s pretty specific. It assumes a game with a large number of items — something common enough with modern mainstream western RPGs and MMORPGs, but not necessarily the case with many indie games with far more limited inventories.

I might one more suggestion that if an item is currently “locked” (manually, or because it is currently equipped and the game doesn’t allow you to sell equipped items), that it be possible to unlock them from within the loot-selling interface. It’s annoying to have to leave the merchant screen, make changes, and go back – which is a problem that often does plague smaller, indie-style RPGs.  Just ‘cuz the old 16-bit console RPGs made you do it doesn’t make it right…

Filed Under: Quote of the Week - Comments: 8 Comments to Read

  • CdrJameson said,

    Could we not just get rid of the low value junk altogether?
    Surely this kind of inventory micromanagement is a symptom of a bigger problem – too many barely differentiated, irrelevant items.

    Oh the pain of Mass Effect’s mountains of difficult to ditch weaponry.
    Glad they learned from that in the sequels.
    Well, at least until they forgot and put the mineral mining in.

  • Maklak said,

    Just give me an option to mark item types as vendor trash, which moves them to separate tab (if there are tabs) and to mass-sell anything marked as trash. It diminishes a lot of inventory-related problems. All future items of selected types will be vendor trash and there must be an option to undo selection.

  • McTeddy said,

    I agree with Maklak. I love when I have the option to “Mark as junk”.

    I also fully disagree with Cdr Jameson. I’m downright bothered by games that don’t allow me to control my inventory. Why in gods name can’t I put down the crappy rocket launcher to make room for more than 6 shots for my sniper rifle.

    I hated ME2 with a passion. Never have I felt so much like the developers were insulting me.

  • Maklak said,

    > I hated ME2 with a passion. Never have I felt so much like the developers were insulting me.
    Not until ME3, that is?

    I agree, removing inventory is not a good fix for bloated inventory. But then, I’ve learned to expect lots of suck from games made for consoles.

  • Anon said,

    Having an inventory mainly to do business is a paradox of most CRPGs anyway. Why the hell should I even bother to do that to save the kingdom/world/civilization (which is still the #1 plot goal)?
    But it’s of course pointless to come with realism and logic if killing 50 rats, 25 skeletons, 15 bandits and one lich in a single game day is normal. 😉

    Personally, I seldomly buy weapons & armour, for example.
    Most of the basic stuff is plentily available and higher stat items can be gotten on quests. Cleaning a dungeon is usually way cheaper saving for a 5000g Shield of Undead Slaying (the next cheaper item is a 150 shortsword!).

    What I usually do buy is rations or potions, at least in the beginning. After that it’s usually only selling for me and the traders in Skyrim still fear me entering their shops…

  • CdrJameson said,

    I’ve got nothing against Inventories,they’re a major, strategic ‘interesting choice’.
    I just don’t like collecting junk. It’s not interesting.

    For example, UFO: Enemy Unknown had excellent use of inventories without junk problems. All the battlefield trash was shipped back to base automatically at the end of an encounter.

    ME never had good inventories, they just made it less terrible.

    Perhaps this is a demand-side problem. If the junk truly was worthless even to merchants perhaps we’d leave it alone.

  • Maklak said,

    > Having an inventory mainly to do business is a paradox of most CRPGs anyway.
    Well, unless you’re starting as a nobody, it would make sense to have a pretty good starting equipment, especially in w world saving plot, where you’d have a powerful sponsor. Sadly, pretty much everyone thinks you should start the game with the crappiest equipment, even if it makes no sense, like with a Ranger patrol in Wasteland 2.

    If you start as a landed noble and you’re using those extra items from questing to boost your home guard, acquiring lots of equivalents of DnD +1 and +2 weapons and armors would actually be useful. Heck, I always wanted to take over a town and arm them in Fallout, instead of selling all those excess weapons. But pretty much all RPGs are about action, dramatism, scripted events and adventuring and not some strange hybrid of world simulator, city builder and RPG. It would be OK if they at least let me hire lots of redshirts that I can equip and not “scale” encounters with the size of my party.

    > Personally, I seldomly buy weapons & armour, for example.
    This is a problem with game designer mentality, not inventory system. Game designers generally think that the best weapons should be hidden in tombs or be in the hands of enemies. This trend was started by DnD, I believe. Anyway, an alternative is to have the players grind cash and buy or order enchanted items. It worked fairly well in Morrowind, where to get the best equipment, you had to find rare armor pieces, hunt for souls, then pay tens of thousands to an enchanter to make a single item.

  • McTeddy said,

    Then I can agree with you completely Jameson. My problem with modern Bioware is mostly THE WAY they “Streamline”.

    – Complaints about the inventory in ME1… cut it!
    – Complaints about the vehicles in ME1… cut it!
    – Complaints about the linear combat in ME2… casual mode so people can skip it!
    – Complaints about the generic RPG system in DA:O… Cut it out and put in a generic action one!

    Modern Bioware doesn’t seem to iterate and learn from their mistakes. Instead, they keep polishing out anything they didn’t do quite right.

    This irks me as both a player and a developer. Sometimes, you do need to cut a feature… but it’s like their not trying to fix them anymore.