Encumbrance sucks, so why is it still so common?

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Good article, and I agree. While I can understand the intent of using such a mechanic, it rarely makes sense; especially when the game couldn't possibly physically represent all the gear you're carrying anyways. In a fantastical sense, if the gear hording can be balanced well in terms of say, rarity, duplicates, etc. within your person's inventory vs offloading it into storage, it can present an interesting tactical element.

Yeah, inventory management is so overdone in RPGs. I've said it many times how video game RPGs have lost their way, they've become about the "RPG elements" instead of the actual role-playing. The main issue with RPGs and inventories are needless loot systems. You're constantly getting slightly better weapons/gear and always in your inventory switching stuff out that's like +2 better on attack or defense. The main thing it accomplishes is wasting the player's time and not much else. Then, of course, becoming over-encumbered is basically a symptom to the illness. Cure the illness, not the symptom basically. It's like lootboxes are the same thing, the symptom to the Skinner box illness, get rid of the Skinner box, then the lootbox can't exist. Also, I've played pen and paper RPGs for a long time and no GM has ever made their players actually calculate their carrying weight because it ain't making the game anymore fun. At most, a GM will only make a point if a character is carrying ridiculously too much stuff, and of course just about any PnP RPG has something akin to the bag of holding.

I find the quotes from the Witcher 3 director quite funny. He calls Geralt a PROFESSIONAL monster slayer yet Geralt can't hold a level 2 sword at the start of the game. Witcher 3's loot system has no place and is the cause of becoming over-encumbered in the first place like most other RPGs. Why not make the character get better at using the weapon via character stats and/or upgrade the weapon to get more damage? It accomplishes the same exact thing while not wasting the player's time with needless management. Then, he goes on to say that every item in the inventory takes up memory and clutters up the UI as well. I don't think literally having 3 different kinds of chicken sandwiches is making the game any better or more immersive. And, you can have numerous different food items, even 20 varieties of chicken sandwiches if you want, but why not just have all different kinds of food picked up just listed in your inventory as just plain "food"? When you pickup anything worth money in Dishonored like say copper wire, the game just converts it into money so you don't have to manage an inventory of crap and have to find a merchant to sell it all.

If encumbrance was somehow incorporated intuitively into the game, I could see its existence being justified.

Ark for instance (and this is a rare bit of praise for that mess), its a decent mechanic. Acquiring distant(*) resources can take some thought, and the game has mechanics in the forms of dinosaurs(**) that can carry much more, and specialty dinosaurs that reduce the weight of some resources (even if that whole concept is just nonsense).

Whereas you have other cases like Bethesda where you just hit the fast travel button and warp through the ether, there's even perks to do so while encumbered instead of before. No actual gameplay to it, just extra loading screens to waste time. Or Kingdom Come Deliverances wacky teleporting items to your horse mechanic.

*Ark posits itself as a PvP game, so resources tend to be pretty universally spread out, which kind of nullifies this in practice.
**Ark's dino AI and pathfinding makes actual caravan procedures almost impossible. Barring actually having people to ride all the things, which starts to eat into any efficiency increase.

Personally, I hate games that use an encumbrance mechanic. It's the one thing that I mod out of games at any given opportunity. Carrying weight, when implemented with certain perks and stats and so on, just serve no function in making a game more fun or challenging, only tedious as all hell. If you want *immersion*, then actually make it realistic. Like what a person might actually carry. Or make certain allocations to item types, like 2 weapons, 6 food/health items, 4 booster items, unlimited crafting items, etc. And make the kind of armor you are wearing affect the movement speed, or agility to dodgy, parry and attack in combat. Thus giving certain movesets for light/medium/heavy armor or weapons.

Otherwise, the only thing you are testing is the player's patience, to sort through all the clutter, replace things, and even go and come back to town and sell them (which is another pet peeve, limited merchants, like I lugged all these breastplates to your freaking door and you can only buy ONE of them?!) Maybe I'm alone in this, and that's why literally every game has a carry limit, but I just hate backtracking and sorting.

The exception to the rule is something like Resident Evil, where that's actually an integral part of the games challenges and puzzles, I guess.

I'm playing a bunch of Dragon's Dogma and I spend half the game just working out my inventory and passing shit over to my glorified pack horse assistant. Carry weight should just work off the armour you wear in the majority of RPGs, Dark Souls did this right for example.

Encumbrance works in some TTRPGs like DnD though, if your DM can be bothered keeping track. My current character has 4 Strength in a game where 10 Strength is what a basic bitch commoner has, obviously it'd make sense in that occasion. Encumbrance is supposed to work as a mechanic stopping ludicrous amounts of items on someone where most RPGs are only hindered by such a mechanic since there's a million ways around it. Such as in Skyrim you could just drop all your loot on the floor, fast travel, sell everything you need to, fast travel back and pick up the rest.

The problem of doing away with encumbrance... is players. Players exploit everything in a game for advantage. An unlimited carrying capacity makes games that are already generally too easy these days... downright babies-first-videagame simple. Look at all the folks crying and whining about settlement building in Fallout 4. Bethesda made it completely optional in game, but people still bellyached about its inclusion. But remove encumbrance, and you even remove the need to just have somewhere to keep all your stuff... whether its a place you built or just some random abandoned building with a couple of containers.

Encumbrance forces a player to prioritize a loadout, create a playstyle based on carrying capacity vs attack and defense. Encumbrance creates the need to defend strategic areas in an effort to store items. Basically encumbrance helps make someone engage with and fully play a game. If someone really wants baby mode for lightweights and casuals... I guess games could give someone a feature turning encumbrance off?

And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

I just don't think the "problem with encumbrance" is a problem that needs solving.

I enjoy inventory management in RPGs but I do loathe encumbrance. I'm carrying a portable nuke launcher but picking up that pistol is suddenly going to make me move at a crawling pace?

I don't mind encumbrance, but it could maybe be a bit better implemented. Maybe a more gradual slowdown rather than full effectiveness to crawl all of a sudden...*reads article*...see!

Playing Fallout's survival mode and having to be wary of what you were carrying is pretty good if that's the sort of experience you want. I can't tote around enough equipment to start and win a small war, so I have to make some decisions.

The lack of fast travel in Skyrim and Fallout when over encumbered just felt like busywork, especially in the non Survival modes. If you could fast travel without the overload (i.e. no enemies about etc), then why not? All you're going to do otherwise is dump gear, fast travel, sell a bunch then fast travel back to pick up the rest, fast travel back and sell it. Nothing exciting happens in the interim, I don't think anyone finds loading screens entertaining.

Skyrim I just downloaded the bag of holding mod. It's in DnD, I can work with that.

I dunno...choices. Give players choices. and hooray for mods.

To this day the upgradable Resident Evil 4 suitcase and Deus Ex:HR inventory remain my favorite way to do inventory.

There's a mod for The Witcher 3 that allows you to use your horse as additional inventory, which is also kind of awesome and also worrisome because modders thought of it before the devs.

It depend on the game but well done it can add a lot. Like if you play fallout 4 in survival mode (no fast travel) you need to make a lot of decision about what you carry, I personally find that interesting. It's not that the mechanic suck, it's that dev don't put in the time to integrate it well in the game.

Inventory limits suck and I hate how modern games throw so much loot at you that vast majority of it is useless outside of selling it. Combine those two and it's just a bad experience.

Kyrian007:
The problem of doing away with encumbrance... is players. Players exploit everything in a game for advantage. An unlimited carrying capacity makes games that are already generally too easy these days... downright babies-first-videagame simple. Look at all the folks crying and whining about settlement building in Fallout 4. Bethesda made it completely optional in game, but people still bellyached about its inclusion. But remove encumbrance, and you even remove the need to just have somewhere to keep all your stuff... whether its a place you built or just some random abandoned building with a couple of containers.

Encumbrance forces a player to prioritize a loadout, create a playstyle based on carrying capacity vs attack and defense. Encumbrance creates the need to defend strategic areas in an effort to store items. Basically encumbrance helps make someone engage with and fully play a game. If someone really wants baby mode for lightweights and casuals... I guess games could give someone a feature turning encumbrance off?

And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

I just don't think the "problem with encumbrance" is a problem that needs solving.

I fail to see how being able to carry more would make the game easier? Is it a matter of money, the player could haul back an unlimited amount of useless junk and sell it? Then lessen the useless junk that the game gives the player.

It's to stop you hoarding shit. Not wealth, sadly, it maintains that element of real life.

Mothro:

Kyrian007:
The problem of doing away with encumbrance... is players. Players exploit everything in a game for advantage. An unlimited carrying capacity makes games that are already generally too easy these days... downright babies-first-videagame simple. Look at all the folks crying and whining about settlement building in Fallout 4. Bethesda made it completely optional in game, but people still bellyached about its inclusion. But remove encumbrance, and you even remove the need to just have somewhere to keep all your stuff... whether its a place you built or just some random abandoned building with a couple of containers.

Encumbrance forces a player to prioritize a loadout, create a playstyle based on carrying capacity vs attack and defense. Encumbrance creates the need to defend strategic areas in an effort to store items. Basically encumbrance helps make someone engage with and fully play a game. If someone really wants baby mode for lightweights and casuals... I guess games could give someone a feature turning encumbrance off?

And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

I just don't think the "problem with encumbrance" is a problem that needs solving.

I fail to see how being able to carry more would make the game easier? Is it a matter of money, the player could haul back an unlimited amount of useless junk and sell it? Then lessen the useless junk that the game gives the player.

I think the logic being employed is 'There are more things to manage, and places to bother about with busywork like defending your base or trekking back to lighten those bags.'

It seems like a...questionable way to make your game "hard" (unless that is the core mechanic, in something like State of Decay, Minecraft, Rust, etc etc).

So in this scenario, needlessly wasting the players time with side mechanics which dont build upon the core experience make it 'good' and a focused experience is 'for babies, lightweights and casuals'.

Mothro:

Kyrian007:
The problem of doing away with encumbrance... is players. Players exploit everything in a game for advantage. An unlimited carrying capacity makes games that are already generally too easy these days... downright babies-first-videagame simple. Look at all the folks crying and whining about settlement building in Fallout 4. Bethesda made it completely optional in game, but people still bellyached about its inclusion. But remove encumbrance, and you even remove the need to just have somewhere to keep all your stuff... whether its a place you built or just some random abandoned building with a couple of containers.

Encumbrance forces a player to prioritize a loadout, create a playstyle based on carrying capacity vs attack and defense. Encumbrance creates the need to defend strategic areas in an effort to store items. Basically encumbrance helps make someone engage with and fully play a game. If someone really wants baby mode for lightweights and casuals... I guess games could give someone a feature turning encumbrance off?

And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

I just don't think the "problem with encumbrance" is a problem that needs solving.

I fail to see how being able to carry more would make the game easier? Is it a matter of money, the player could haul back an unlimited amount of useless junk and sell it? Then lessen the useless junk that the game gives the player.

I mean I could see a scenario where a limited inventory makes it harder.

Pokemon is one example of it. If you could carry every pokemon that you've ever caught in your party at once or pokemon could know an infinite number of moves at a time, the game would be ridiculously easy; limiting it to 6/4 forces you to make choices on which types/moves you want. However, any system like that needs to have a way around that hard limit for picking up items to not be annoying. Continuing the pokemon example, you can catch an infinite (essentially) number of pokemon out in the field, and they're automatically sent to your pc. You're not forced to leave towns with only 4/6 slots open to be able to catch new ones then have to run back to town to drop them off every time you do.

Zykon TheLich:
Skyrim I just downloaded the bag of holding mod. It's in DnD, I can work with that.

Glimpse of Elswyr? Man, I remember life before that mod. It was a dark time. The only mod I value more is AutoHarvest2.

Adam Jensen:
To this day the upgradable ... Deus Ex:HR inventory remain my favorite way to do inventory.

Oh I see, I get it. What a surprise!? How unexpected, Adam Jensen likes Deus Ex inventory system, stop the press. Totally unbiased, yeah, you're not selling any more games bub. :-P I suppose you also like body modification and large air vents in office buildings.

PS. Please don't elbow sword me.

OT: I'm not really a fan. There are games where I think it's done well, but more in terms of mechanics than in just being a pain. Inventory management, slow movement and crap like that is tedious and not fun. Dark Souls OTOH it is a core part of building your character. Greater loads need either stat investment or giving up a ring slot, wearing less, etc. It affects the ability to roll and dodge efficiently.

It's less noticible in games as mentioned above, like RE4, DE:HR and the like, where the "encumbrance" is more a way to enforce choosing what you take, rather than shuffling shit around between party members, slogging back to town to sell all the trousers (as Yahtzee would describe it) and that stuff. Hence in Skyrim, Bag of Holding because it's a slog, not a mechanical or playstyle related choice.

Kyrian007:
And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

It is, or certainly can be immersion breaking, and I'll explain why as succinctly as I'm able (hah!). JRR Tolkein described the concept of the Secondary World. In its simplest it can be thought of as:

Secondary world is a term used by Tolkien to refer to a consistent, fictional world or setting, created by a man, also called subcreation, in contrast to the Reality, called Primary world.

While you're playing Skyrim, turning into a Werewolf and FUS-ROH-DAHing like a champ, you're immersed in the world. They are among the reasons the game is so immersive. It's all consistent and keeps you hooked. When you suddenly get the encumbered popup and slow to a crawl, the player is often suddenly thrown back to the primary world and reminded that they're playing a game and have to take care of busywork. It has nothing to do with how fantastic the setting, it's about consistency and respect to the player, reader or viewer.

KingsGambit:
PS. Please don't elbow sword me.

Nah. Luckily for you I like a non-lethal approach.

Phoenixmgs:
Yeah, inventory management is so overdone in RPGs. I've said it many times how video game RPGs have lost their way, they've become about the "RPG elements" instead of the actual role-playing. The main issue with RPGs and inventories are needless loot systems. You're constantly getting slightly better weapons/gear and always in your inventory switching stuff out that's like +2 better on attack or defense. The main thing it accomplishes is wasting the player's time and not much else. Then, of course, becoming over-encumbered is basically a symptom to the illness. Cure the illness, not the symptom basically. It's like lootboxes are the same thing, the symptom to the Skinner box illness, get rid of the Skinner box, then the lootbox can't exist. Also, I've played pen and paper RPGs for a long time and no GM has ever made their players actually calculate their carrying weight because it ain't making the game anymore fun. At most, a GM will only make a point if a character is carrying ridiculously too much stuff, and of course just about any PnP RPG has something akin to the bag of holding.

I find the quotes from the Witcher 3 director quite funny. He calls Geralt a PROFESSIONAL monster slayer yet Geralt can't hold a level 2 sword at the start of the game. Witcher 3's loot system has no place and is the cause of becoming over-encumbered in the first place like most other RPGs. Why not make the character get better at using the weapon via character stats and/or upgrade the weapon to get more damage? It accomplishes the same exact thing while not wasting the player's time with needless management. Then, he goes on to say that every item in the inventory takes up memory and clutters up the UI as well. I don't think literally having 3 different kinds of chicken sandwiches is making the game any better or more immersive. And, you can have numerous different food items, even 20 varieties of chicken sandwiches if you want, but why not just have all different kinds of food picked up just listed in your inventory as just plain "food"? When you pickup anything worth money in Dishonored like say copper wire, the game just converts it into money so you don't have to manage an inventory of crap and have to find a merchant to sell it all.

That's the other thing that bothers me about RPGs. Why does a pre-established character need to constantly start "at the beginning" with basic stats and skills just because of the story? At the very least you should be able to transfer your build over the course of the series, even if it would require some extra legwork balancing the game. I think some games actually do this, but only to varying degrees.

Kyrian007:
The problem of doing away with encumbrance... is players. Players exploit everything in a game for advantage. An unlimited carrying capacity makes games that are already generally too easy these days... downright babies-first-videagame simple. Look at all the folks crying and whining about settlement building in Fallout 4. Bethesda made it completely optional in game, but people still bellyached about its inclusion. But remove encumbrance, and you even remove the need to just have somewhere to keep all your stuff... whether its a place you built or just some random abandoned building with a couple of containers.

Encumbrance forces a player to prioritize a loadout, create a playstyle based on carrying capacity vs attack and defense. Encumbrance creates the need to defend strategic areas in an effort to store items. Basically encumbrance helps make someone engage with and fully play a game. If someone really wants baby mode for lightweights and casuals... I guess games could give someone a feature turning encumbrance off?

And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

I just don't think the "problem with encumbrance" is a problem that needs solving.

I don't think your wrong but the issue is that players will tend to always skirt the line of encumbrance just in case they need something later, but that means that players will end up having to spend a lot of time with inventory management for any new stuff they find. Never underestimate players abilities to make a game not fun while they try to min max things. Dark Souls had a rather elegant system for it. You can carry almost as much as you want of anything in the game, but you have very limited healing/magic restore items that are restored at a rest point and you can wear any amount of heavy armor but it makes it more difficult to dodge damage.

Encumbrance only sucks because developers are pussies and won't do it properly. Its not a shit mechanic from the get go.

Example: I modded Skyrim to make the cold and storms a real threat, ie, go skinny dipping during a snowstorm on a mountain and you'll freeze to death in a matter of minutes. Then I installed another mod that changes encumbrance to what it should be: it doesn't just assign every item a certain weight and then give you 200 points to fill up or whatever, instead, it limits how much of each type of item you can carry. That makes a lot more sense. In Skyrim you could lower how much you can carry to say, 120 points, but if each garguantuan warhammer has a weight of 20 you can still carry around 6 of them. With this mod you can carry say, a large weapon, a smaller one, 5 pieces of food, 5 potions, 10 miscellaneous items, etc.

This works on 3 levels: first, it just makes sense and makes the game more believable as a whole. Second, it transforms gameplay since all those boring taverns and random merchants you usually only use to offload useless crap for a few coins now have another important purpose. Third, it requires you to spend a few seconds planning what equipment you're taking with you depending on what you're planning on doing. Innovating when you run into a situation you didn't anticipate is also a fun challenge, as opposed to just having 3 billion potions of every type on hand to deal with every single plausible scenario you can run into in the entire gameworld.

I also think this would have been great for The Witcher 3, by the way. Potions play an even more critical roll in those games and I loved the system in the second game where you couldn't carry around 50 different potions to pop in the middle of a fight. Its a shame they went back on it.

Really the problem with encumbrance is that developers often kinda use it but not really. Its harsh enough to be an annoyance but not harsh enough to actually challenge you.

Encumbrance systems are the only thing stopping me from pocketing everything that isn't nailed down in a game like Fallout or Skyrim.

Do I need fifteen stacks of Pre-War Money, a pack of bubble gum, a pencil, three letter blocks, and a dozen subway tokens? Probably not. But I might...

I... I might have a problem.

hanselthecaretaker:
That?s the other thing that bothers me about RPGs. Why does a pre-established character need to constantly start ?at the beginning? with basic stats and skills just because of the story?

I guess it's a matter of balance. Oftentimes, a gamer might never play an earlier title and so design 101 is generally start all players even at the start. This is only really a factor in RPGs with recurring characters. Some get around it by having different protagonists and/or time periods (eg. Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age). In the case of Baldur's Gate saga, you actually can take the same character from the start through the end of ToB, although IIRC as a result, BG1 had a level cap of 8 or 9, so you'd get no more XP after that (and wealth/items didn't carry over (except some specific things).

I do agree with you that it's harder to justify with the Witcher and Mass Effect series, when your player character is imported in and is still the protagonist. ME2 justified it as Shepard being "rebuilt", not sure if ME3 even bothered with an explanation. Adam Jensen in Mankind Divided actually begins in Dubai at full power (as he would have been at the end of HR), but a story development actually explains why after the prologue he's returned to the start. The game doesn't have a save import, but I think it actually does a good job of explaining why you're back at the beginning power-wise.

I think it's not unreasonable to accept, as a player, that we'd begin a game anew even if it was a sequel. Simple design decisions mean a game has to be balanced for a certain difficulty/level and it has to allow for new players. New Game+ mode, of which I'm a big fan, is a solution of sorts in that a game with NG+ generally allows us to start levelled and geared up. Mankind Divided has this, as does all the Mass Effect games, Borderlands titles, Dark Souls games and many more. Alpha Protocol gave a unique dialogue tree only available in its pseudo-NG+. I believe TW3 has NG+ mode tho I'm not sure how that works.

Because it's easier to mess with people saying 'okay, you have XXXX amount of weight' verses saying you can have 'XX amount of items'.

I don't like it, personally, but it does help me not be AS MUCH of a hoarder.

Because it reminds my players minmaxing the shit out of your ability scores has a downside, and that extra 6lbs carrying capacity means the difference of being able to wear armour, be able to carry that loot, AND not plummet to your death the next time you try to make a jump check.

KingsGambit:

hanselthecaretaker:
That?s the other thing that bothers me about RPGs. Why does a pre-established character need to constantly start ?at the beginning? with basic stats and skills just because of the story?

I guess it's a matter of balance. Oftentimes, a gamer might never play an earlier title and so design 101 is generally start all players even at the start. This is only really a factor in RPGs with recurring characters. Some get around it by having different protagonists and/or time periods (eg. Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age). In the case of Baldur's Gate saga, you actually can take the same character from the start through the end of ToB, although IIRC as a result, BG1 had a level cap of 8 or 9, so you'd get no more XP after that (and wealth/items didn't carry over (except some specific things).

I do agree with you that it's harder to justify with the Witcher and Mass Effect series, when your player character is imported in and is still the protagonist. ME2 justified it as Shepard being "rebuilt", not sure if ME3 even bothered with an explanation. Adam Jensen in Mankind Divided actually begins in Dubai at full power (as he would have been at the end of HR), but a story development actually explains why after the prologue he's returned to the start. The game doesn't have a save import, but I think it actually does a good job of explaining why you're back at the beginning power-wise.

I think it's not unreasonable to accept, as a player, that we'd begin a game anew even if it was a sequel. Simple design decisions mean a game has to be balanced for a certain difficulty/level and it has to allow for new players. New Game+ mode, of which I'm a big fan, is a solution of sorts in that a game with NG+ generally allows us to start levelled and geared up. Mankind Divided has this, as does all the Mass Effect games, Borderlands titles, Dark Souls games and many more. Alpha Protocol gave a unique dialogue tree only available in its pseudo-NG+. I believe TW3 has NG+ mode tho I'm not sure how that works.

So in TOS the Klingons looked nothing like the Klingons in TNG, DS9, Voyager and the TNG movies. Now we all know the reason, it's because makeup technology had improved in the years between TOS and TNG but people unwisely wanted an in-universe explanation. Well, it was a stupid ask and a stupid explanation was provided in DS9. Something about a virus.

What's my point? The reason you have to start a character new is for gameplay purposes and an explanation is not needed since it's just going to be BS anyway (you already know the real reason). Have you ever played a game in New Game + mode (or cheated with an Action Replay) and made the game boring because you were too powerful?

The virus was actually explained fairly well in Enterprise.

KingsGambit:

Kyrian007:
And as far as "immersion breaking..." yes it is a little odd when your dragonborn suddenly can't run or jump because he picked up that one too many butterfly wing. But immersion BREAKING? In a game where you can whisper a SHOUT, or steal after placing a bucket on someone's head, or... turn into a werewolf... somehow encumbrance is the immersion problem?

It is, or certainly can be immersion breaking, and I'll explain why as succinctly as I'm able (hah!). JRR Tolkein described the concept of the Secondary World. In its simplest it can be thought of as:

Secondary world is a term used by Tolkien to refer to a consistent, fictional world or setting, created by a man, also called subcreation, in contrast to the Reality, called Primary world.

While you're playing Skyrim, turning into a Werewolf and FUS-ROH-DAHing like a champ, you're immersed in the world. They are among the reasons the game is so immersive. It's all consistent and keeps you hooked. When you suddenly get the encumbered popup and slow to a crawl, the player is often suddenly thrown back to the primary world and reminded that they're playing a game and have to take care of busywork. It has nothing to do with how fantastic the setting, it's about consistency and respect to the player, reader or viewer.

Immersion and secondary world is such a subjective thing though. It could be that every time I turn into a werewolf I'm reminded there actually are no such things and bam, immersion broken... I'm playing a video game. Conversely I pick up a butterfly wing and suddenly feel overburdened, but remember that I'm carrying that potion of strength. I quaff it and am able to make it back to my trusty horse and ride back into town to sell my loot... and bam, I'm completely immersed. The "problem" isn't encumbrance. Its the player trying to justify not wanting to have to deal with inventory management in a game where that's just part of the game.

Good question- who ever thought that not getting to carry all a shooter's guns at once was a good idea?

image

Halo has a lot to answer for.

Kyrian007:
Immersion and secondary world is such a subjective thing though. It could be that every time I turn into a werewolf I'm reminded there actually are no such things and bam, immersion broken... I'm playing a video game. Conversely I pick up a butterfly wing and suddenly feel overburdened, but remember that I'm carrying that potion of strength. I quaff it and am able to make it back to my trusty horse and ride back into town to sell my loot... and bam, I'm completely immersed. The "problem" isn't encumbrance. Its the player trying to justify not wanting to have to deal with inventory management in a game where that's just part of the game.

It doesn't have anything to do with subjectivity, that isn't a relevant point. If something else is immersion breaking it doesn't preclude another thing from being that too. Regardless, if players are mentioning it, there's a reason for it. I'm just explaining the why....it breaks the illusion for many players. In the case of Skyrim, encumbrance is more a quality of life thing than a mechanical thing. It doesn't add strategic depth or affect builds and while there are in-game remedies, it is an annoyance and for many evidently an immersion-breaker, more than an interesting mechanic.

Mothro:
What's my point? The reason you have to start a character new is for gameplay purposes and an explanation is not needed since it's just going to be BS anyway (you already know the real reason). Have you ever played a game in New Game + mode (or cheated with an Action Replay) and made the game boring because you were too powerful?

I agree that an explanation isn't always needed and have no issue with the trope. Having said that, when Deus Ex: MD is able to explain it in-universe there's something to be said for trying; it acknowledges Jensen's abilities, even lets you enjoy them in the prologue, then a story development elegantly explains their later loss. It's only really a noticeable issue when the same protagonist returns for a sequel (in the RPG/RPG-elements genres) and there aren't a huge number of games like that.

Adam Jensen:
To this day the upgradable Resident Evil 4 suitcase and Deus Ex:HR inventory remain my favorite way to do inventory.

There's a mod for The Witcher 3 that allows you to use your horse as additional inventory, which is also kind of awesome and also worrisome because modders thought of it before the devs.

The grid inventory i think it's called, and it was also in Diablo among other games. I don't mind it, although some people think of it as just more busywork. It sure beats something we got in new Fallouts or first Mass Effect, though.

MrCalavera:

Adam Jensen:
To this day the upgradable Resident Evil 4 suitcase and Deus Ex:HR inventory remain my favorite way to do inventory.

There's a mod for The Witcher 3 that allows you to use your horse as additional inventory, which is also kind of awesome and also worrisome because modders thought of it before the devs.

The grid inventory i think it's called, and it was also in Diablo among other games. I don't mind it, although some people think of it as just more busywork. It sure beats something we got in new Fallouts or first Mass Effect, though.

It's called inventory Tetris.

KingsGambit:

Kyrian007:
Immersion and secondary world is such a subjective thing though. It could be that every time I turn into a werewolf I'm reminded there actually are no such things and bam, immersion broken... I'm playing a video game. Conversely I pick up a butterfly wing and suddenly feel overburdened, but remember that I'm carrying that potion of strength. I quaff it and am able to make it back to my trusty horse and ride back into town to sell my loot... and bam, I'm completely immersed. The "problem" isn't encumbrance. Its the player trying to justify not wanting to have to deal with inventory management in a game where that's just part of the game.

It doesn't have anything to do with subjectivity, that isn't a relevant point. If something else is immersion breaking it doesn't preclude another thing from being that too. Regardless, if players are mentioning it, there's a reason for it. I'm just explaining the why....it breaks the illusion for many players. In the case of Skyrim, encumbrance is more a quality of life thing than a mechanical thing. It doesn't add strategic depth or affect builds and while there are in-game remedies, it is an annoyance and for many evidently an immersion-breaker, more than an interesting mechanic.

And my point is, the problem isn't with the mechanic... it is with the players who subjectively judge encumbrance as immersion breaking. Basically, it isn't the game's issue if the player can't suspend disbelief enough to get into it.

Kyrian007:

KingsGambit:

Kyrian007:
Immersion and secondary world is such a subjective thing though. It could be that every time I turn into a werewolf I'm reminded there actually are no such things and bam, immersion broken... I'm playing a video game. Conversely I pick up a butterfly wing and suddenly feel overburdened, but remember that I'm carrying that potion of strength. I quaff it and am able to make it back to my trusty horse and ride back into town to sell my loot... and bam, I'm completely immersed. The "problem" isn't encumbrance. Its the player trying to justify not wanting to have to deal with inventory management in a game where that's just part of the game.

It doesn't have anything to do with subjectivity, that isn't a relevant point. If something else is immersion breaking it doesn't preclude another thing from being that too. Regardless, if players are mentioning it, there's a reason for it. I'm just explaining the why....it breaks the illusion for many players. In the case of Skyrim, encumbrance is more a quality of life thing than a mechanical thing. It doesn't add strategic depth or affect builds and while there are in-game remedies, it is an annoyance and for many evidently an immersion-breaker, more than an interesting mechanic.

And my point is, the problem isn't with the mechanic... it is with the players who subjectively judge encumbrance as immersion breaking. Basically, it isn't the game's issue if the player can't suspend disbelief enough to get into it.

To take your example, Werewolves and magic potions are fantastical elements. We can accept them more or less however ludicrously they're presented.

Whereas we understand how people work on a pretty intimate level. And we know inherently that there's no magic point at which a 0.01lb butterfly wing will suddenly slow our pace to a crawl or stop it altogether (while notably having no other ill effects). Its such a drastic abstract of a human experience that it bears no semblance to our actual well-founded knowledge.

If I had to work encumbrance into Bethesda's mechanics, it'd make far more sense if being encumbered just increased stamina expenditures and over time reduced max stamina. And some sort of stacking of the state after you spend a while in it, where miniscule items would have to have a lot of the encumbrance effect stacked up to start actively contributing to it.

Applying realism usually makes a game worse and gamers demanding realism is like shooting themselves in the foot. If Mario was say...30 in 1985 then he is 63 now and there is no way he is making awesome jumps at 63. How about Sonic, do Hedgehogs really run the fast? Does a magic potion really heal 5 sword hits?

Games aren't about realism and gamers trying to make them more realistic aren't doing themselves any favors.

hanselthecaretaker:
That?s the other thing that bothers me about RPGs. Why does a pre-established character need to constantly start ?at the beginning? with basic stats and skills just because of the story? At the very least you should be able to transfer your build over the course of the series, even if it would require some extra legwork balancing the game. I think some games actually do this, but only to varying degrees.

You don't need to start a player "at the beginning" with a character. A character action game isn't starting your character at "level 1" (even though those games don't have levels), they give you most of the combat system and mechanics at the start of the game and the game is about learning/mastering those mechanics. I don't see why RPGs can't do the same thing. RPGs get so bogged down in stats for really no reason. What's the point in having your character constantly get damage and health stat increases to basically keep the game the same in the next dungeon? What I mean by that is that the devs ideally what the challenge to stay even the entire game, Souls is a great example. If you level up and upgrade properly, the enemies in say the 8th dungeon should be dying in 4 hits just like enemies in the 1st dungeon died in 4 hits. Basically, you level up to keep the game the same. What's the point? Can't we just cut out the garbage that's not really doing anything? When you're just increasing numbers the game isn't changing, but getting new abilities/skills/moves/etc does change gameplay. To me, Borderlands is all about the builds via the skill trees, not the fucking time-wasting loot system causing so much wasted time in inventory management that I'm just doing to basically keep the game the same.

I understand then players won't feel a sense of progression if they can theoretically beat a dragon at level 1, but you can link all that damage/defense/health increases to just character leveling and/or gear upgrading. Your character gets better at using said sword so its damage increases. Where Souls does a great job is not giving the player all this inventory trash to swift though, you get one of every weapon and if you like it, you can upgrade it instead of later on finding a +5 katana so now you have to unequip and sell your +3 katana. Souls also utilizes character stats to get better using dex or str weapons for example. I personally don't find that too engaging because it is still keeping the game the same basically but at least I ain't constantly managing the inventory wasting time so it's like 100x better than a stupid loot system. Monster Hunter does a similar thing with gear and you're basically never in your inventory.

KingsGambit:
I do agree with you that it's harder to justify with the Witcher and Mass Effect series, when your player character is imported in and is still the protagonist. ME2 justified it as Shepard being "rebuilt", not sure if ME3 even bothered with an explanation.

I'm like 99.9% sure that ME3 started you with a ton of skill points to allocate how you wanted so Shepard didn't start at level 1 in ME3.

Kyrian007:
The "problem" isn't encumbrance. Its the player trying to justify not wanting to have to deal with inventory management in a game where that's just part of the game.

The problem is inventory management in most games is not adding anything to the game, and the game's loot system is usually the core cause of pointless inventory management. Also, an overly complicated crafting system can also be the cause; as Seth Carter mentioned a 0.01lb butterfly wing, the player is probably only picking that up because it just might be some integral item needed to craft something later. In fact, most RPGs keep stuff like crafting materials totally separate from your managed inventory and not adding weight because of all the random shit needed for crafting. Players mostly just want to hold an armory of weapons and gear just to sell them (not for actual tactical purposes like a mage carry old wands or a bastard sword) just in case there is something awesome to buy, which there rarely is because the best stuff is found or crafted in just about every RPG anyway. It's like how the devs made a point to put in a haggle mechanic in Witcher 3, but it's not like Geralt actually needs money for anything important. Geralt being poor or rich changes nothing really. Players have a problem with doing needless things that just waste their time.

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