Looting

Are we past the point of clicking on bodies? Just put the loot in my inventory. Give me some sort of message, great, but most games do not benefit from the extra step of having me click on a body, bag, etc. Experience goes directly on to my character, cash sometimes goes directly onto my character; just put the loot in my inventory.

City of Heroes does this. Global Agenda does this. Team Fortress 2 does this. Rift does this with rift loot. LotRO skirmishes are half-way there with most rewards appearing in your barter wallet as a quest reward mechanic.

The downside is the question of limited inventory space. What do we do when inventory is full? When we click on bodies, the loot is just there, waiting for us to open some inventory slots. Do we just miss out on loot if we are full? My immediate notions would be:

  • Yes, so watch for the big red FULL alert and the continued red text on your screen.
  • Stop limiting inventory space. That might be a really bad idea in a game with lots of trash loot, which leads to the next step of stop with the trash loot. Alternately, have some sort of genericized system that takes less (server) storage space rather than having dozens of things to remember per item.
  • Have a loot overflow holding area. It would be a buffer that lasts for as long as you are logged on, kind of like buyback at the NPC merchants. As long as you stay online (plus time x, to deal with connection isseus?), your bag is infinitely large, but make sure you decide which items you are keeping/selling before logging off. If your connection is lousy, you will want to check that more often, but then you would have the same issue about corpses de-spawning with your loot still inside, and you would still be checking your inventory just as often with the question, “Which of these am I keeping or trashing?” Be sure to move the epic loot to permanent storage after the boss fight.

Any version would be purely a gameplay abstraction that makes no sense even after the best stories I concocted justifying it in-world, but we already accept inventory mechanics in which 100 metal ingots take up as much space as a ring, bears sometimes carry swords and multiple hides but have only a 50% chance to have one leg or tooth on each corpse, gold bars are worth less than gold coins, and gold coins take up no space. Of course, I usually use ranged attacks. I can already imagine sniping one target in a dangerous group and running, where now I would need to go in if I want the loot from that kill.

: Zubon

21 thoughts on “Looting

  1. Jeremy S.

    Runes of Magic comes close to your suggestions. Tons of space available to rent(Yes, extra cost, but 100s of extra slots if you want it).

    It does have an overflow. When you loot the loot icon briefly appears and bounces into your bag icon. When the bag is full, the loot bounces but stops on screen and stays there in bright red, and it will keep bottlenecking for I don’t know how many items. It will stay there until you clear space and finish “bouncing” into your bag.

    Runes of Magic handles trash loot differently. It basically doesn’t have it. Oh, there’s plenty of drops that are considered trash loot, but that’s mostly based off what activity you are doing at any given time.

    Plus, you can turn auto loot on or off, and there’s great addons(which is the sorta part because there’s probably this same extra player-option in other MMOs).

  2. Shawndra

    Wizard 101 is pretty good about looting. After a duel, loot is dropped in your bag with the standard message in your chat screen. Run out of room in your bags? It goes to your bank. Love it :)

  3. Sara Pickell

    I think it’s something that I wouldn’t just set wholesale on the chopping block, but for games like WoW and LotRO I’ll certainly have to agree with giving it the ax. It existed more because of the culture those games were developed in, that culture is still there, but it makes up a very small minority of their current player bases.

  4. Ravious

    I liked Tabula Rasa’s because you had to run over your enemy, which could of course be done on the way while you were mowing down more enemies. It gave the action “feeling” of picking up loot, but it was a natural action. I think that was important.

  5. Tanek

    While I think there should be some interaction or proximity involved (if only to avoid the ranged situation you describe), there is room for improvement to looting.

    If we are going to stay with clicking on bodies, Trion has the right idea with Rift…AOE looting. Click on one body and all you loot on nearby bodies is taken as well. Completely solved the issue I sometimes have where one body covers another’s loot and made the process faster to keep things moving along.

    Another beta, DCUO, has its own version of AOE looting. Press one key and all nearby loot is sucked to you. I don’t know if this is partly because of the console version, but when it comes to an “action MMO”, it worked really well to be able to loot even while other combat was still going on.

    Now…inventory space. I could not even imagine the magic that would need to go into even a session-limited infinite inventory, but there are some brilliant database folks out there, so I’ll leave that to them. With what we have now, I think LOTRO is making some great moves in the right direction. The barter wallet you mention (once they include more of the bound barter items it will be much better), moving all but clickable quest items out of your inventory and into the quest log, increasing stack sizes on trash loot. All have helped this packrat maintain a shred of sanity (I mostly keep it around for nostalgia reasons).

    I hope the developers keep trying out new things. As I said, there is plenty of room for improvement.

  6. moondog548

    Borderlands style looting is best IMO. You need to take some sort of action but there’s no pixel-bitching to it. I think the requiring interaction to loot is a feature. The task itself is a fun simulation of rifling satisfyingly through the pockets of that corpse you just created for this express purpose!

    There’s a reason its always been “Kill things *and take their stuff*” ;-}

    Think about how stupid slot machines are IRL. Then think about how much stupider (i.e. still stupid but not fun too) it would be to just get periodic updates on your iphone letting you know when they took a quarter out of your online account and when they put some back in because you “won”.

  7. D506

    I really don’t like the idea of not having to loot. To me, it distracts from the feeling of being part of a world and not simply playing a game with the goal of leveling up and collecting shiny things. Then again, when I kill a wolf I generally want to have to go skin it and when I kill an archer I want him to at least drop a bow and arrows and ideally any armor he’s wearing.

    That said, for games like WoW I think it’s a good idea. I mean, they’ve already thrown out any semblance of roleplaying in favor of game mechanics (which is fine, and obviously what their audience wants) – they may as well ditch the current looting system which adds nothing and is simply an annoyance.

  8. Julian

    Give players a companion pet (whatever mystical whimsical creature for Fantasy games, a floating AI encased in a metal ball for SF games and everything in between). Have it floating/crawling near you and make it player-programmable. Give it loot settings and have it check corpses on each mob kill, displaying a little window with the contents of each loot round.

    Immersion is preserved, the illusion doesn’t break, the loot checking process is streamlined. There’s “something” checking each kill that’s not the player or a cold, detached gaming mechanic. It’s right there and you see it.

    For bonus points, make it cute.
    For bonus money, create several models and RMT them.
    For extra cream pants points, have it manage your inventory and take the trash to the vendor by itself when you hit the nearest town.

        1. Jeremy S.

          Oh shoot. I needed to add that to my list of things Runes of Magic has. The pet system has that ability.

          You can buy a magic powder – or some such nonsense – and for a limited time, your pet will auto loot the bodies around within an area. I don’t know how large of a radius it is though.

          Sounds like RoM has everything you suggested and then some. No. That’s not a plug for RoM, for the sake of plugging. But yeah, it sounds like it does all that.

          Plus I’d be lying if I didn’t say I love RoM. I’m a RoM fanboy.

  9. Bronte

    Honestly the “limiting inventory space” mechanic makes no sense to me. We play games like WoW, where you can put an elephant in your backpack, along with about 4,000 potions, weapons, secondary armor sets, tons of feats for your party, other food, gems, your hearthstone.

    But no more than there. You’re out of room after putting all that. In your backpack. Without being encumbered.

    Uh, what?

    1. Jick

      It makes sense to the people paying for the database servers.

      Sure, storage is cheap, but instant access for you and millions of other people to an arbitrarily-sized batch of that storage is a thornier problem.

      If you give people the ability to keep everything, they’ll do it. Think of all the times you’ve had some item in your bag and made the decision “Am I ACTUALLY going to use this in the future, or is it just wasting space?” Every one of those is inventory load +1.

      1. Bronte

        Consider EVE Online. The ships sure have inventory issues. You can only store as much as the ship’s cargo bay allows, and that, spatially and logically, makes sense.

        In a space station, however, you can store as much of whatever commodity you damn well please, with no regard for how many cubic meters of space it takes. if CCP can come up with a working solution since 2003, I doubt developers in 2010 (2011 practically) would have any trouble coding an infinite-sized inventory.

        As for your second point: I completely agree. but at least that is a matter of personal choice. You choose to be a pack rat, be a pack rat. I had a guildmate who had bought another account filled with bank characters to store everything because she hated the thought of getting rid of something just in case it comes in handy later.

        I just feel that it would be a lot more practical (perhaps even immersive) for a player to worry about encumbrance (such as the space in your EVE ship) and NOT have to worry about space issues once you are at your storage facility (stations in EVE).

        My 2c.

      2. Zubon Post author

        Jick runs a game with one of the more efficient item set-ups, since KoL does not have a half-dozen different things to track on every item. But he also lets players keep everything, and then sometimes separate copies of everything in storage, in the closet, in the display case, in guild storage.

        EVE has a good system, although as much with their superior economy, the implementation depends on more of the full package. Without having seen EVE’s architecture, I would guess that they store things differently in stations and in ships (as I assume most games do with vaults). The station/vault storage is not as immediately and constantly available as your on-character inventory. You also get more efficient using generic item IDs rather than tracking durability and color on everything.

        Coding is not really the problem. Long-term storage of potentially infinite inventory on potentially dozens of characters on potentially millions of lapsed subscriptions is, along with the expectation of instant access to all inventories on all alts on all active accounts. Doable, but there are costs, and it makes sense to minimize some costs, especially given MMO tourists. I am sympathetic to the dev side here. But yes, there are better solutions.

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  12. 32ndlaw

    I can think of a couple situations where auto looting wouldn’t work:

    1) A game where anyone else can loot the same corpse and the speed at which you loot is part of the game (Darkfall, etc)

    2) A game where certain skills let you loot in different ways to prioritize what sort of drop you get.

    Other than that, if its the same loot no matter who clicks and you get the first shot and it goes straight in your bag anyway…yeah there’s no reason not to autoloot. Just have a filter set up so that you don’t have to loot all the trash if you don’t want it.

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