Encumbrance sucks, so why is it still so common?

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Phoenixmgs:

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.

To the part about ME3, if you didn't import a Shepard from ME2 you started at level 1; it was semi-justified by having Anderson call you "soft" during one of the cut-scenes (though it kinda loses its jab since he says it no matter if you're doing an import or not).

Great discussion, this is old Escapist stuff, love it. We should talk about some other mechanics/tropes.

Kyrian007:
Basically, it isn't the game's issue if the player can't suspend disbelief enough to get into it.

No man, it is entirely the game's/book's/film's fault, that's the point. That's one of people's complaints from ME1, from Skyrim and from myriad other games. It's an annoyance and at least in the case of Skyrim, mods like Glimpse of Elswyr and the like solve it.

Zeras:
To the part about ME3, if you didn't import a Shepard from ME2 you started at level 1; it was semi-justified by having Anderson call you "soft" during one of the cut-scenes (though it kinda loses its jab since he says it no matter if you're doing an import or not).

I don't remember the specifics, but I'm trying to remember games where this is an issue. So far I've got:

- Mass Effect: Rebuilt in ME2, Handwaved in ME3. Both have NG+ anyway.
- Baldur's Gate: Imports same character (stats/skills) but not inventory (except select items)
- The Witcher: Never explained
- Deus Ex: Explained in-game as part of the story.
- Dragon Age 2/Inquisition: Imports some story elements, but different protagonist so not really relevant.
- Jedi Knight: I never played JK1, only JK2 onward, but Kyle Katarn begins JK2 without access to the force at all. However it's explained in game and is an integral part of the story.

I'm trying to think of other RPG games with returning protagonists. I can think of non-RPGs (AssCreed2, GoW, Halo) but they aren't relevant here.

KingsGambit:
Great discussion, this is old Escapist stuff, love it. We should talk about some other mechanics/tropes.

[quote="Kyrian007" post="9.1055340.24240765"]

- Mass Effect: Rebuilt in ME2, Handwaved in ME3. Both have NG+ anyway.
- Baldur's Gate: Imports same character (stats/skills) but not inventory (except select items)
- The Witcher: Never explained
- Deus Ex: Explained in-game as part of the story.
- Dragon Age 2/Inquisition: Imports some story elements, but different protagonist so not really relevant.
- Jedi Knight: I never played JK1, only JK2 onward, but Kyle Katarn begins JK2 without access to the force at all. However it's explained in game and is an integral part of the story.

I'm trying to think of other RPG games with returning protagonists. I can think of non-RPGs (AssCreed2, GoW, Halo) but they aren't relevant here.

I mean, AssCreed's probably as much of an RPG as Jedi Knight.

Ultima had he transfer between the 4 realms of the series revert the persons strength. Got a bit clunky of course (particularly since the villains in Serpent Isle were seemingly unafflicted by the transition) Also post Serpent Isle and Pagan you were literally a god and presumably beyond that (though in the first case another god takes you and dumps you in Pagan, so maybe he offscreen took the Earth Serpents power away from you). Up until the 7th installment is was also a bit implied that the Avatar was actually a series of different strangers crossing from Earth.

Some of the older gold box D&D games (Pool of Radiance quadrology and the Champions of Krynn trilogy particularly) had ongoing protagonists, but they had an import system (which you could "exploit" to actually get what I believe is the first occasion of NG+).

I have a vague recollection of one of the Command and Conquer games where you were supposed to be the same Commander, but you still started out with restricted units, though similar vague memory as to whether they were justified somehow. New Xcom to a degree could also be thrown in, though that depends on how far the canon first war supposedly went.

Heroes of Might & Magic manages to do an ingame variation, where often your hero got scaled back while in the same campaign. IT was an off and on thing though. Your tech level or whatever changing was justified by having moved to a new city that needed to be developed. The 5th game probably has the best explained case, where Heretic hero Agrael eschews his demon magic and next appears as a warlock, explaining the need to learn new skills.

Speaking of Ultima 7 and back on the original topic, that had one of the really obtuse encumbrance systems. Essentially having both a weight limit, and a version of tetris inventory since you had to space things out in physically rendered bags and backpacks. Though the space limit was more of a personal sanity thing to keep organized so you could find things rather then stacking everything on top of each other.

So the pros of encumbrance:
1) It stops people hoovering up and keeping every last thing until the inventory just becomes too unweidly.
2) If you have a restrictive limit, it can feel more realistic.
3) A restrictive limit also forces the player to think tactically about their approach to things, with few options available.
4) In a system where shops will buy anything off the player, people can essentially get infinite money by simply picking up and selling everything in the land, unless you put some limit on the player that will punish them for carrying a million cheese wheels.

The negatives:
1) Despite the above attempt at realism, its often too generous and lets the player carry twenty swords. You will also still be able to pick up too many of the lighter nic-nacs, filling out your inventory screen.
2) It makes players have to think about inventory in the first place, when it is often a useless spreadsheet exercise which pads out the game.

maninahat:
So the pros of encumbrance:
1) It stops people hoovering up and keeping every last thing until the inventory just becomes too unweidly.
2) If you have a restrictive limit, it can feel more realistic.
3) A restrictive limit also forces the player to think tactically about their approach to things, with few options available.
4) In a system where shops will buy anything off the player, people can essentially get infinite money by simply picking up and selling everything in the land, unless you put some limit on the player that will punish them for carrying a million cheese wheels.

The negatives:
1) Despite the above attempt at realism, its often too generous and lets the player carry twenty swords. You will also still be able to pick up too many of the lighter nic-nacs, filling out your inventory screen.
2) It makes players have to think about inventory in the first place, when it is often a useless spreadsheet exercise which pads out the game.

P1) My first game with an unlimited inventory was Final Fantasy VI. As far as I know you can carry 99 of every item in the game. The inventory never became unwieldy.

P2, C1) Realism is for the real world and it only hurts video games.

P3) Forcing a player to play a certain way is not a good thing in an RPG. Why not let the player decide to play tactically or to bring 99 potions?

P4) What good does infinite money do if the game isn't giving you a good use for it and if the game is giving you a good use for it, what's wrong with spending the money on new equipment? IF the game is offering, it is meant for you to be able to get it.

C2) IMO, a simple list based inventory system is the least troublesome. No reason why you can't have icons beside the name of the item and even 'Press Y to view item' but for simple viewing and sorting, just a list.

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