Blizzard Still Working On Inventory Management

A disgruntled user on the official Blizzard forums mentioned how the worst part of Diablo II was the DiabloWikiinventory management. Bashiok attempted to put these fears to rest and outlined some of the improvements that have been made in Diablo 3.  He also clarified that they are still working on improving inventory management even further.

Diablo III has a larger inventory. An enormous shared DiabloWikistash. Items take up less space. We don’t encourage carrying tons of potions. No identify scrolls/tomes. No TP scrolls/tomes. We don’t have charms. And we’re still evaluating some of the other inventory items, which could free up even more space. Yes, you will need to go back to town every once in a while but I don’t think it’s quite as severe as some are imagining it to be.

With the removal of the DiabloWikiNephalem Cube for breaking unwanted items down and the DiabloWikiCauldron of Jordon to sell items due to happen in Patch 10 this will certainly mean visiting town more often than is currently happening in the beta but it won’t be nearly as frequent as it was in D2.

Bashiok followed up with even more detail about concerns on parties behind held up by inventory management.

After a lot of playing at high levels we realized returning to town and breaking up the action is actually good. There are some more designery reasons that reinforce all of this, but the bottom line is that the action is very important, and being actively engaged in the action. Being able to be out and killing for hours and hours straight was negating the fun elements. Just like a story arc has highs and lows, a game needs to promote those ups and downs through its mechanics.

As far as harming co-op, there’s really no difference now. Before you’d say “WAIT UP” and everyone would have to stop while you examined each item and decided to sell, salvage, or keep it. In the best case scenario everyone would agree to stop and do this at the same time. It’s no different than everyone agreeing to head back to town, and in fact it provides a more prominent, not to mention safe, pause point where everyone can take care of a few quick tasks, and then head back out.

Say your friend’s inventory is full, but yours isn’t, well you both decide to TP and while he’s going through his bag you have time to craft a few things, or alt+tab free of fear to read reddit or something. Whatever. It’s not different to the co-op game because you had to stop before, and the benefits to being in town now are actually pretty substantial.

I am not going to “wait up” for someone.
Then you will die. You’re going to have to stick together to survive, and that’s going to force groups to stop together. It’s a lot better for everyone if that stopping point is in-town, for the aforementioned reason that not everyone takes the same amount of time to complete the same tasks, and there’s more things that can be accomplished in town. Not to mention it’s safer if you need to grab some more Cactus Cooler or take a bio break.

If you played the beta at all, you realize that you struggle with this decision pretty much the entire time you are out in the game world with a party. Every 15 seconds or so there’s a side room, a stray monster drop, a slab/pot/tile/rack/urn/coffin/etc off to the side or down some dead end hallway or stairwell (entire sections or dungeons are already easily recognizable as being dead ends before you even get 5 steps into them), and you have to decide to pursue that interest in the name of picking up an item to salvage/vendor or to stay with the group.
That is absolutely the case, but you’re not thinking about how that dynamic changes when the game is actually difficult. Beyond Normal if you take off to go clear that side room on your own and either you will die, the rest of your group will, or both.

So now Blizzard is intentionally interrupting my experience?
Managing your inventory is and has absolutely always been an integral part of the Diablo experience. Picking up items and deciding which ones to keep, equip, or otherwise is the game. When it comes down to it that is the entire point of the entire game. Killing demons to get item drops, and those item drops being ‘dealt with’ in some way.

You had to stop and manage your inventory before. You have to do the same thing now. The difference is a 2 second cast timer to head back to town and a right click on the Blacksmith. You’re going to be just fine.

It’s true sometimes everyone has things to do in town that take more than a few minutes so you might have time to read websites or craft or make something to eat but it depends how often in one evening’s play you want to do that, as opposed to quickly breaking down/selling items out in the field and then cracking on with the action.

Thanks to Crudesash68 for mailing this in.

Tagged As: , | Categories: Blizzard People, Blue Posts, Interface


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  1. I think this will be more apparent once you reach late game. In my d2 experience I had an inventory full of charms except for that one empty space where I would save for that really good item that dropped during a baal run. With all that free inventory space I doubt you would have to go to town very often.

  2. The game has been in development for so many years and yet they are still working on the inventory?
    Sometimes I just don’t understand Blizzard at all.

    • Incompetence of the current team?

    • The nit-picking is driving me crazy as well. The worst part is when people start complaining about a system if there’s enough bitching it feels like it goes right back drawing board, Imean common, how “perfect” does this game need to be? Stop whining!

  3. To be honest, I may be one of the few who actually enjoy playing Inventory Tetris. Diablo 2 and Resident Evil 4 are 2 examples of some of my favorite inventory systems ever designed. I know that a lot of people hate item management like that, but I actually enjoy it and find it fun. When items have different sizes and shapes it makes it more enjoyable.

    • u sound easy to amuse, but i have to agree with you a little ^^ its all an addiction. “waste of time” like facebook. its all good. what i like more is item explotions. love that they are focusing on getting it back!

      • I may have missed something in the years that I played Diablo 1 and Diablo 2, but when exactly were “item explosions” a part of the game in the first place? I played D1 for about 3 months before D2 came out, then played D2 ever since then. I still have nightmares of Mephisto dropping that damn green breastplate. That aside, I really don’t remember very many explosions of items. A mess of items on the ground after a battle, yeah, but no explosions. Maybe I just never noticed them… Could you point out a scenario where it’s considered an “item explosion” for me? I think I may just be missing it.

    • Dude, hell yeah! The Torchlight inventory system put me to sleep… it got so boring juggling 1×2 slot items… I loved dealing with horrendously powerful two-handers and crossbows. At the same time, I enjoyed how even a small item could have so much power yet take up so little space. Like that one lil magic find dagger… the name escapes me.
      Anyway, to expand on your point — I think the different sizes added tons of character to the items and really differentiated the big stuff from the little stuff, making each item type feel much more unique.

  4. LMFAO told you they can’t make up their mind about anything and they’ll keep using various systems as an excuse to procrastinate and delay. first they say the gameplay design focus is nonstop action, now they say it will negate the fun element.
    ummmmm……..then what’s the fun factor in D3 supposed to be? put me down for Q4 2022

  5. Going to town is part of Diablo.  Inventory management is part of Diablo.  Always has, always should be.  If you don’t like it, go play something else.  Period, the end.

  6. I’m just relieved they are taking into consideration reading Reddit when making game design choices.

  7. “Being able to be out and killing for hours and hours straight was negating the fun elements. Just like a story arc has highs and lows, a game needs to promote those ups and downs through its mechanics”

    I ‘m surprised it took them this long to realise this. It was the first thing that came to mind when I read about the Nephalem Cube.

  8. They’re just back to square one. Blinded by the money freight train (RMAH) they steered everything in the game to make items even more important to the game but it turns out people play games for fun and not to have a second job as Blizzards money mule. Endless grind is just not fun and gets boring easily, there was also this rush of going to town to identify your stash, it would be gone otherwise.

    I like how Torchlight made some very interesting & smart decisions and now Blizzard struggles to go around them without outright copying, but ultimately fails and doesn’t change a thing 🙂

  9. Actually most of the changes except the removal of Mystic and scroll of identification are good for the game. The problem is it took years for them to understand what works and what not.

    For example on topic, I’ve been saying why there should be town portals by using the same arguments but they were insisting that breaking the action in an aRPGs is not fun. 

    I suspect most of these changes dictated by Blizzard higher management and D3 team was going to go with the previous mechanics.

  10. Truth is the problem wasn’t having to go back to town, but having to do it too often… someone needs to ask what the median time for needing to go back is… if it’s 15+ min then it’s fine by me…

    • Thats why Torchlight has a superior system (Pet gives you a way to handle crappy items and it has a cost associated – time), blizzard tried to imitate this but they eventually overdid it and now they’re back to where they were.

      Its all PR, half a year ago they were shouting in completely different direction, I expect it will change a few times before/after release too.

  11. Most of the recent changes have as much to do with inventory management as anything else.  Perhaps one of the reasons for nixing the cube and cauldron was to encourage use of the shared stash for storing items rather than breaking them down just to avoid going to town.  You can’t access the shared stash from anywhere but town (I’m not in beta but I’m fairly certain this is true).  The theory for me goes that this is all revolving around the auction houses (RMAH in particular of course).  If an item could end up on an auction house instead scrapped for parts or money for the sake of convenience, Blizzard will encourage that.  I think this all has a lot more to do with these changes than how often players should be going to town.  The “going to town” argument is there to deflect attention from the more important reasons behind things because these reasons cast Blizzard in the light of a company delaying a game to maximize profits.

    • Im sorry to go negative, but that entire statement is truly idiotic. There is absolutely nothing in this change that suggests an attempt by Blizzard to maximize profits. Saying so just makes you look like a tin-foil hat wearing, crazy Bobby K-conspiracy spouting lunatic.

  12. They make it sound like endgame you’ll need a group to survive or you’ll die. I’m not liking that since I really enjoy the solo do it yourself play with occasional grouping. Even in that video where those testers who were playing inferno are saying how it will kick our asses, one guy says you’ll need a group or you’ll die. So why do they say it’s solo-able. I don’t wanna be forced to group in inferno, but whatever ><

    • I think it might be similar to how feasible solo Hell difficulty was in the later DII patches. I mean, it was doable if you had a character with pretty awesome items, but if you got there with an untwinked character, it was actually pretty damn hard and at times even nigh impossible. On Hell difficulty, your character would be much more efficient if teamed up with a complimentary class. I suspect DIII will use the same mechanic. Solo Inferno will be doable if equiped properly, but much more easy with other players.

    • Also, i think those comments are more referring to if you’re PLAYING a multiplayer game (i.e. in a game with 3 other players), then the “minions of hell” are that much stronger, and in the later difficulties if you’re playing in a game with a group and go off on your own, well THEN you’re in trouble.  If you start a “private game” and have no other players there to make the “minions of hell” stronger, well then THAT i believe would be solo-able.

  13. “Doing everything out in the field” was a horribly stupid idea to begin with (for all the obvious reasons stated) and it took them this long to realise?

  14. When they say ‘designery reasons’ they mean ‘we need to inflate the amount of time you play the gave by making you do menial tasks’.  They are always admitting to gold sinks, having to go back to town constantly is a time sink.

  15. “Beyond Normal if you take off to go clear that side room on your own and either you will die, the rest of your group will, or both”

    All this hype about how difficult later parts of the game will be but no actual footage showing it. It will be interesting as release comes closer if we get to see any extensive footage of actual challenging gameplay or if they’re going to ride the hypewave all the way to release.

    I have a hard time believing it’s going to be as challenging past normal as he implies here.

  16. I too am starting to wonder how many times Blizzard wants to re-invent the wheel. I think we can safely assume that the reason DII was so succesful for all these years, is because the core mechanics worked so damn well. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as perfection, but as far as action RPG’s go, DII got pretty damn close. It may sound like a cliché, but why fix if it ain’t broken?

    I’m under the impression that Blizzard’s current design philosophy isn’t the best. While I agree with them that iteration and trial and error is very important in improving a game system, the basis of designing the game system itself should be by working it out theoretically. It’s this step that they seem to skip too quickly. I think a lot of the changes are quite unnecessary if they had only thought about them a bit longer at the drawing board, instead of immediately implementing them in the game to see how they work out. Take their latest insights about needing to break up the action and the necessity to have less worthful stuff. Was there no one with some common sense who could have pointed out that it is contrasts that make something meaningful? It is the periods of tranquility in the game that make the action stand out, just like it takes cheap, worthless items to make the desirable items, you know… desirable! Thinking instead of trial and error should have pointed this out.

  17. I understand Blizzard wanting to make “the best game they can” but I also agree enough is enough.  These changes are not LATE beta style changes, they are alpha/early beta changes.  Until I see an official release date, I wouldn’t put anything in stone…

  18. “After a lot of playing at high levels we realized returning to town and breaking up the action is actually good.”
    As a cynical economist, I read this as, “Not enough people remembered, or bothered, to use the RMAH, so we needed to take steps to correct that.  I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but most recent (past 6 months or so) actions can be seen in this light.  Were my goals to optimize revenue, rather than enjoyment, I would do the same.

  19. your right SalvalBork, I haven’t played the official Beta, so if you have to be in town to use the auction house this change will get people thinking “hey, I’m in town lets check the ah quick”. And getting rid of cauldron so you cant sell on the fly, reducing the amount of gold you make in a certain time frame. So yeah it makes sense for it.

  20. The pacing thing is legit. Action games have been following this script forever:

  21. I have never posted here before but couldn’t resist voicing my appreciation of your well paced post flux.

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