The Daily Grind: What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?

A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story on ARK Park that included the image above, which just cracked me up. I mean, I get that VR games have an extra challenge when it comes to how they’re going to display your inventory in a believable and immersive way, but I was figuring that would manifest as a bag you can virtually rifle through, or store shelves at the merchant. I didn’t figure on a 3-D view on a panel within your field of view — it seems like a step backward for immersion.

That got me thinking about what I want out of MMO inventories in general. I’m playing Guild Wars 2 right now, and I have to say that the basic inventory right out of the box with even just a few option tweaks is one of the best in the genre, full stop, thanks to good color coding, a wallet, sorting bags, a “one bag” feature, the automatic compact option, and above all else, that “deposit all materials” clicky. I have to use several mods in top-end MMOs like World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online to get my character inventory to this level, and even then this is just slicker. And that’s before I get to the shared bank and crafting — for me, the ability to craft without hauling crap out of my bank or bag is the number one thing I look for when it comes to MMO inventories (and I’m so glad to see it becoming more and more common!).

How about you? What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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30 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?"

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camelotcrusade

For me the interesting thing about the GW2 inventory is that is pretty much acknowledges your “stuff” may as well be values on a spreadsheet. Then it gives you some tools to manage your ever-growing dataset.

That’s good, but what do I really like? Not needing so much “stuff” in the first place. I liked the early days of SWTOR when it didn’t matter that I didn’t have much bag space because frankly I didn’t have much that I needed put in it. Having come into it fresh off of EQ2, where I hoarded literally everything (banks with bags within bags, click the “open all” button and have a bag-pocalypse) it was a breath of the freshest air.

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Duane Does not check email

Throw away junk

Polyanna
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Polyanna

The only inventory feature that ever has impressed me, and even changed my behavior in playing the game, is ESO’s Crafting Bag, with infinite space for crafting materials.

This is exactly the sort of actual tangible benefit to gameplay that I’m happy to pay a subscription to have. It’s not game breaking and doesn’t grant actual character power, but it’s a huge and hugely welcome convenience, especially because it’s entirely transparent and requires exactly zero fiddling or “management” in any form.

It’s even made me enjoy a whole new aspect of the game in crafting and gathering, to the extent that I’ll go ridiculously far out of my way to gather any harvest node that I happen to sight in-game, I obsessively open every single crate and sack and cupboard that I find in every dungeon and house, and I love coming back to town with bags busting full of gear to deconstruct into materials.

For whatever reason, I just enjoy collecting all this crap a whole lot more when I know there is no limit to how much of it I can packrat away to use “someday,” and I never even knew this was something that was fun until I had this wonderful bottomless bag to (never) fill up with things.

Compared with everything else I have ever seen done with “inventory” in games, this is the only one that stands out to me as actually good, rather than merely tolerable.

Aside from that, the only other thing I’ll say is that I far prefer ESO’s minimalist scrolling list of items, with no attempt at any actual “bag” or “grid” presentation. It’s one of those teeny little things that shouldn’t bug me, but does, when any system attempts to impose some sort of physical metaphor on inventory, like any sort of “grid,” I just wind up spending far more time than I actually should making things “even out.” So please just don’t.

I mean, I’m lugging around sixteen greatswords in this magical invisible bag as it is. No need to pretend we’re striving for any actual semblance of reality here. Just let me pay as little attention as I possibly can to it.

flatline4400
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flatline4400

One thing I desperately miss from EQ1 is the ability to just press a key and have all the tooltips for the items in my open bags appear at once, essentially in a list form. It’s a lot easier to discern by reading than trying to tell the difference between low-rez-blob and slightly-different-colour low-rez-blob…

Or just be like EVE and show it all to me in a list/spreadsheet. I’m good with that.

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Rottenrotny

Gonna have to agree with the other and say stacking.

Also, some kind of sort function and I always appreciate account/server wide bank space.

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Chris Brown-DeMoreno

Convenience features. Things like the ability to store crafting materials in permanent storage and craft from that storage without having to withdraw them to your character inventory (even if this requires you to be in the town its stored in). Things that reduce a lot of running around and unnecessary clicking.

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Armsbend

Stacking, sort options and not creating an item pool intentionally created simply to fill your boxes for a trip to the cash shop – Like Marvel Heroes and Dungeon Fighter. The latter is a an instant delete from hard drive once I see it now.

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Paragon Lost

Stacking.

styopa
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styopa

I liked GW2s…until I realized it was entirely too convenient. I play a fantasy-medieval mmo on purpose, because the world has constraints. No cars, no jet airliners, no telephones.

Nah, I don’t like the ease of use features. I prefer the somewhat-clumsy-and-tedious (to a point) that makes me feel like it’s more like real life than, say, a superconvenient video game where everything is easy at your fingertips.

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Little Bugbear

Crafting bags and lots of bank space.

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NeoWolf

Auto stacking without a shadow of a doubt. It blows my mind just how many games have not provided auto stacking. Unless I manually split a stacks then putting something in your inventory should automatically stack it with the same item already in yout inventory, you shouldn’t have to manually do it.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Ummm … just a silly idea: is there inventory management simulator? because if not, there should be!

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ogged451

Not having an auto-sort button which can be pressed accidentally.

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Rottenrotny

That would be FFXIV imo. Start a new character and try to level every single class/job at the same time. Have fun!

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Pandalulz

Lots of space is good, but the organization of that space is important too. I like the fact that FFXIV has different space for every equippable type of item, and GW2 has that wonderful crafting bag that exists in magical space, and then WoW’s cosmetic system where the looks are just in a virtual wardrobe, taking up no space at all. While I get the argument about the Ark VR system dragging you out of immersion, at some point usability in the UI has to win out over realism. Some people will always be masochists though.

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starbuck1771

space lots of space. I have my bag space in lotro maxed out and there still isn’t enough space.

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Darthbawl

1. Crafting anywhere from bank/house inventory.
2. Crafting bag/storage that is separate from normal inventory. Preferably a non-sub-only feature but can understand if it is a perk of a sub feature (like in ESO).
3. Large stack sizes. None of this 10-item stacks for stuff you might want/need to carry around 100+ of.

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starbuck1771

So basically EQ2 & GW2

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Oleg Chebeneev

Bags size and good sorting

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Schmidt.Capela

Sincerely, bag size. Preferably if said size is infinite. In a MMO I will take the crappiest unlimited inventory system over the best one with limited storage every single time.

I like inventory management in certain kinds of game. Multiplayer games, including MMOs, are certainly not among them; having to wait for someone on your group to go to town sell the trash — or, worse yet, decide what among a bag full of interesting options will be going to be discarded — isn’t exactly a good experience, and just forging ahead without the group member is outright rude.

If you want me to name a game: Free Realms. Exactly because it had infinite storage.

Related: this is why I will never, ever, purchase any in-game item with real money if said item will take any space in my bags, and why I ignore that the game even has things to collect unless said collection sits outside our bags. It’s why in WoW my main character had no mount or pet (being a paladin he had a mount-summoning spell instead) until Blizzard took mounts out of our bags, at which point I started to collect every single mount and pet in the game. Between my love for collecting things and my hate of wasting bag space, the hate wins.

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Melissa McDonald

insufficient storage is the biggest problem. Agree with MesaSage about EQ2.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

The most annoying thing when it comes to inventory system; is to have full bags and no vendor nearby to sell unneeded items, or not having a button to send crafting materials to the bank (like GW2), and yet the game keep giving you more items and sometimes you can’t progress because your bags are full.

If the game have mail system with mail boxes around cities and villages, i want to use them to send items to the bank, is there a game do that?

Most important feature? auto-sort and to have a list of items with icons + names, i don’t like wall of icons where i have to hover over each one to know what it is.

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Iridescence

The two things I really want from any MMO inentory system are the ability to get crafting materials out of your main inventory with a simple click like GW2 has and unlimited storage space like EVE has. MMOs that inundate you with crafting crap and game currencies and cosmetics and then limit your storage space so you have to be constantly fussing and selling un-needed crap just to have space to pick up more crap are a major annoyance to me.

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Veldan

The most important thing is if it’s a multi-bag system, that the bags can be combined into a single inventory window with slots equal to the total of the bags. I hate having a dozen windows for my inventory.

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CthulhuDawg

Not charging me real money for bag slots.

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Nater

Search or sorting ability! I don’t know who came up with it and implemented it in their game, but they were a genius!

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Haywood Phillips

Customization options, and search option. Wow with mods is probably the best I’ve seen. Especially because they don’t use it as an rmt opportunity. FF really dropped the ball on it imo. No mods. Continued cost for storage.

BnS has by far the worst system. Char locked and tied to mictro transaction. Not moddable, and nearly no customization features. Very annoying in a game with so much currency (perm and temp) as well as collectables. GW2 gets a ton of praise, but I also don’t like how they do inventory either. Better by far than other f2p games, but the only thing I like is shared slots. And you gotta pay extra for that too.

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thalendor

Basically, I want two things in an inventory system: I want to be able to both find things quickly and do so with a minimal amount of manual organization needed. Features like coloring coding, text search, auto-sorting, and highlighting newly acquired items are all useful in this regard as long as they’re implemented well. While I haven’t played it in a while, I do recall GW2’s inventory system as being pretty decent and a good mod or two turns WoW’s inventory system into really good one. On the other hand, I do not care for ESO’s inventory system.

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MesaSage

I love the way EQ II does it and would like to see that in Lotro. You can craft your own bags, up to a ridiculous number of total slots. I also like that I can mark bags as “not for sale” so I can dump stuff in there without having to look if I’ve locked it.

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BalsBigBrother

Let me auto sort stuff into bags as defined by myself. So i set one bag to armour, one to weapons, one for vendor junk etc and as I pick stuff up it goes into the specific bag without any further input from me.

If we are going with complete wishes let me drill down into the stats for the above auto sort. By that I mean say I only want a sword of power that has 20 + strength so I define my bag to only accept those and everything else goes into the vendor sell bag.

GW2 does a pretty good job with the auto sort as long as you use the items specific bags that are available either through crafting or the AH. Still I would still like to see some agency given to the players about exactly what they accept for each bag.

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