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Daryl Nash

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E-mail: Real Life Inventory Management [Nov. 21st, 2013|12:36 pm]
Daryl Nash
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Originally published at Daryl Nash. You can comment here or there.

I hate inventory management.

I’m not talking about retail, I’m talking about the “game” mechanic that exposes the hoarder in all of us. In most computer role playing games, your character(s) have a limited inventory space in which to carry all of the shiny things they find in that dungeon or abandoned space mine. It evolved from the rational mechanics of tabletop Dungeons & Dragons which places a limit on the amount of weight you can carry. It was annoying there, but computer games have taken it to new levels, and it rarely involves actual weight anymore. Here is more about it on TV Tropes… but follow that link at your own risk–you could end up browsing tropes for the rest of the day.

The game mechanic does serve a practical purpose. Having limited space encourages the player to use items rather than horde them, “just in case.” I have to force myself to use potions in RPGs, because I’m saving them for that emergency that rarely ever comes. So running out of inventory space could spur me on to use that healing potion, even if it’s not the absolute worst battle I could imagine. Inventory, like all game mechanics, can occasionally be well done.

But most of the time, it’s a cheap way to pad out game time. When your bags get full of plundered loot, you’re forced to run back to town and find a vendor to sell the crap you don’t need. This adds time to the clock, so those misers who want a 200 hour game will have it, but it’s not really fun. Does it even really count as part of the game?

World of Warcraft and SWTOR and several other MMOs are especially egregious offenders here. They have trash loot. It has no point other than to take up inventory space and then be carted to the vendor to be converted into whatever form of currency the game uses. There is no reason that the game couldn’t simply cut out the middle man and drop “gold” instead of vendor trash.

No reason except to take up time.

And how much time have I wasted deleting and sorting e-mails?

Every morning, I get a deluge of vendor trash, I mean spam, that I have to delete. Even messages that seem useful may sit in my inbox, taking up space, while I decide what to do with them. And then others get shuffled off into folders, hoarded in case they are useful in that final boss fight.

I don’t put up with such sloppy game mechanics in MMOs for very long. Why have I tolerated it IRL for so many years?

Starting today, I am unsubscribing from any daily ads that I got suckered into signing up for, and the ones that send me a useful ad once a year. I can seek them out when I need them, I don’t need their bombardment of vendor trash. Also, my wife just switched to the gmail webmail interface and was raving about its auto-sorting features. Time to finally give up on my offline mail reader? Well, let’s not get too carried away. But definitely way past time to switch to cloud-based email rather than strictly offline.

I’m done with wasting my real life on inventory management.