Pack Space

Storage is broken in The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™. It works, as in I have rarely heard of its losing folks’ stuff, but as a game mechanic it is broken. This is not true for everyone: if you are not a crafter, collector, or social player with several outfits, and you are past level 30, you are fine. Turbine has done some good things to alleviate problems, such as simplifying the crafting items and increasing stack sizes. Once you save a cosmetic outfit, you can get rid of the items. Still, forum discussion directed me to what WoW is planning. Even before that, it would be nice if a game took advantage of the gameplay innovations from previous games. Keyrings, for example, should be required if you have keys. The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ lacks keyrings.

Note in the WoW plans “Pet and mount tabs” and “currency user interface.” That is, don’t store mounts in the vault, and track all those barter/reputation items the way you track money.

The funny thing is, The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ already has systems that could be adapted to deal with this. The deed log could have a “keyring” tab, with flags instead of inventory objects. Mounts are already summoned as if they were spells: have players buy the “Blonde Sorrel Pony mount” skill instead of getting a pony token for summoning. Saving a menu of housing items would be a bit more complex: you would unlock availability instead of buying the item, then slots in your house would have drop-down menus (rather than dragging an item over). (Did I just try to adapt CoX’s costume system as a housing decoration system?) Can we learn more than one copy of a single-use recipe? None of these, however, would be big savings, except for collectors of ponies, festival housing items, etc.

The currency user interface would be nice. Besides having a different type of barter item for everything, most of them have two types, rather than having unlimited stack sizes. So Annuminas has broken armour and armour fragments (trade one stack of the latter for one of the former), Angmar instances have bronze and silver coins, the rift has at least three, the Delving has three, each of the seasonal festivals has one (plus seven barter fish for the summer), and Book 14’s new flashback quests have just the one pile of marks of valour. Most of those also have drops that you barter along with the coins/armour/rocks/whatever to get bigger items. PvMP gives token rewards, and each tier of PvMP NPCs has its own type of trophy that you trade stacks of for those tokens. Each of seven factions has three different reputation items. I feel sure that I am missing something. So you can see how this adds up unless you just avoid fair-sized chunks of the game (or ruthlessly dispose of everything when switching between them).

Another chunk to avoid is saving things. You do not have much space for sentimental value, and you frequently get items that are difficult, tedious, or impossible to replace if you get rid of them. You get your irreplacable Prized Pie as soon as you get to Sandson’s Farm in The Shire. I still have my Hunter class quest hat from level 15, and I have never seen anything else that looks like it. If I get rid of my summer festival housing decorations, I can hope they will be back next year. Those 50-lb. salmon trophies can take hours of fishing, and I don’t know if you can ever get a replacement on the deed trophies. My Mirror of Mordirith, at least, is easy to replace: just defeat the 12th and final boss of Carn Dum and win the roll.

Crafting has similar issues with items. Let me describe what is used for 5th tier of tailoring, which is no more complicated than the previous ones but I don’t have space for the previous ones. The base resources used are exceptional hides (the main one), spider silk, and beryls. Foresters process hides into leather and silk into thread; jewelers process beryls into polished beryls. You (the tailor) process those components into the four types of pads and bindings. For single-shot recipes, you will also need a beryl shard; if you want to improve your critical success odds, you will want a single-shot scholar scroll, which needs its own resources and another shard. For non-single-shot recipes, you need great claws to improve your critical success odds; I think that is the only one for this tier, though other tiers have had two. You also have some vendor-purchased items like cloth. Take all those, process them together in the right combinations, and you’re a crafter. This requires very little storage if you have a “just in time” system, producing no intermediate components in advance or in bulk. Then you just need to store the raw or processed materials. You can imagine how much worse this is for crafters that are dependent on others, like woodworkers: do you want to store blades for however many tiers, or do you want to find a weaponsmith every time you make a spear? how about ingots for every hammer, plates for every crossbow…?

Each trade profession has three trade skills. Each trade skill has five tiers. I think I’m supposed to discuss solutions more at this point, but just thinking about and typing all that makes me tired, especially since all my characters have trade skills. And they will all have their own reputation scores, keys, deeds, traits to grind, etc. (At least they can pass items back and forth in my one housing chest.) I’m going to bed.

: Zubon

For all I know, The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume 2: Mines of Moria™ already has the fix in. I guess we’ll find out when info is available.

13 thoughts on “Pack Space”

  1. I’d heard they were planning on a keyring, but nothing announced as to when this might happen. WoW has the same problem, but they keep making bigger and bigger bag sizes to even it out. I’m hoping Turbine does something similar. In fact, I rather enjoyed the saddlebags from Vanguard as well… extra storage is always a good thing. Also give me the ability to someday purchase larger storage chests for my house!

    Also, they’ve hinted that we’ll be getting new mounts in MoM since horses don’t go underground. So there’s yet another bag slot taken up…

  2. Well, unless there’s going to be a “Pack Rats Online (TM)” game, I guess that item storage space in MMOs will always have (severe) upper limits. Devs need to calculate a storage quota per account, since “just installing another 1000 gig hard disk” doesn’t cut it. We’re talking about big iron SAN/NAS storage systems w/ RAID here, plus backup system(s), all of that standing in leased data centres with limited space/cooling/power supply. So, coding another bag or vault chest may sound trivial, but multiply that with hundreds of thousands of characters and suddenly your data centre provider rings you up, telling you that they have to expand the building (and you owe him muchos dineros for that).

    I’ve read what the WoW devs are planning to do (no bigger bags, but less bag clutter) and I think it’s a good approach. It remains to be seen whether this impacts the ability of the player to trade/give away (where intended), or use these kind of items. The LotRO devs surely should take a look at it (and I’m sure they will do), but with the MoM expansion looming ahead, anything that wasn’t planned to go in anyway just gets to be put in the queue (i.e. further away).

    Until such niceties like keyrings arrive, a player just has to play at the “what to keep, what to lose” game (damn that indestructible skull key!). I think that “A Historians guide” thing is still lying around somewhere in one my chests. Oh well, guess I have to commit it to memory and get rid of it…

  3. I hate the whole inventory management system of every game. The only ones that didn’t bother me were single player rpgs that had unlimited storage. I guess that’s what I want… to not be annoyed.

    Some people argue “they’re forcing you to prioritize” but why should they? It’s not exactly fun.

    The only other argument I see is because it’s an MMO, unlimited storage might eliminate scarcity, which would make trade with other players difficult.

  4. as far as keyrings go yes they are working on it and remember that wow didn’t have a keyring system and was just as annoying during its first 1.5 years of existence as well. Its not a high priority for developers for some reason to avoid annoying players.

  5. “For all I know, The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume 2: Mines of Moria™ already has the fix in.”

    Ya know, that happens to me. I’ll write up a post about something my favorite MMO should be doing, a long, detailed list of suggestions, and then I’ll try to research something about my idea, only to find that yeah, it’s coming up soon in a patch. Love that.

  6. Rick: but it is annoying to hear, “Yes, we plan to stop jabbing you with this stick soon. It’s working internally, but we’re holding it for the next big patch.”

  7. I will say LOTRO is the worst I think I’ve played when it comes to always having full bags. Turbine continues to make the crafting crit items stack higher every few patches (we’re up to stacks of 20 now) but ya know, I’d almost prefer a Guild Wars approach where my bank has N bags/tabs, then a final one strictly for crafting mats, which stack up to 250 each.

    Give us keyrings, which attach to the character sheet, no longer taking up bag space.

    Skills: do hunters *really* need a bazillion separate Guide skills? How about a SINGLE *active* Guide skill that brings up a UI frame to select which location to travel to? You still gain access to the new locations as you level, but not wasting hotbar space on them.

    One thing they did several months ago in DDO was to make two new types of bags. One holds only gemstones, the other holds collectibles. Each of those bags takes up one slot each in your inventory, but once opened are various sizes (can buy/craft bigger ones like in WoW). I’d approve of a similar system in LOTRO, though I’d like it condensed somewhere in its own separate bag system, not taking up inventory slots.

  8. I use a non-hotkeyed bar for my Hunter’s guide skills. It lives on the side of my screen. I suppose I could set it not to “always on,” because I can get it by opening a pack bag.

    This is probably not a long-term solution. There are too many teleport skills. All the guides, to personal house, to kin house, map home… That is already more than a bar, and I also include my pony with my travel skills.

  9. Give your players every possible convenience. UI, Storage, Controls…

    And the only problem I could remotely see with unlimited storage space is simply having a hard time finding what you’re looking for.

    What I would love:

    A bank with *unlimited space. You start out with, oh 100 slots. Need some space? Just pay a small, non-exponential fee to add 10 more slots. Give players the ability to tab, organize, color code, and even search their banks.
    There really shouldn’t be a need to create five “bank alts” to hold all your crap.
    Everything that CAN be stored like money is (accessible from anywhere with unlimied stacking) SHOULD be stored like money is.
    For everything else, large stacks is a good way to go.

    You’re right. There is really no reason to limit people when it comes to this. How can you exploit it? How is it a bad thing? I just can’t see it.

  10. I don’t either.. its just inconvenience for “realism” and inconvenience’s sake. We’re playing a freaking game to get away from reality. Don’t need the bags to behave like real bags ty very much.

  11. I believe it’s more a case where the developers find themselves with cross purposes, first is their immersion mandate, second is their entertainment mandate. That which immerses is not necessarily fun, and that which is fun does not necessarily immerse. Inventory becomes the sad victim of this dilemma because it’s developmentally easy to favor parts of immersion.

    The real problem comes out of it when you realize that you are already carrying infinite amounts of weight and “stacks” of similar items anyways. The better answer overall is generally to simplify and make the inventory as convenient as possible, but as previously noted, that takes additional development resources.

    Unfortunately, as the game is built the resources required increase, making late fixes significantly more difficult than they should be. Remember, it may be conceptually easy, but overworked programmers don’t always take the time to create properly flexible interfaces. And sometimes it’s not even the base functionality, it’s the optimization, since if you can deal with any single stack in O(n) time that’s fine for stacks of 1-5, but above that you now need to rewrite the entire method for better optimization or else introduce a massive amount of additional lag.

    I could be way off base, but those are the issues that I see lurking on the edge here.

  12. Forum comment reminded me: creeps have more of an issue that could be solved by making maps (their equivalent of Hunter guide skills) into skills. There are 16 maps, which is more than 1/5 of their pack space. Granted, creeps rarely have pack space issues, but they have no storage, so they must always carry around any collectibles, keepsakes, etc. Few, but you can easily end up with a pack or less of space, which fills up quickly if you hit the Delving.

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