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Post news RSS Devlog #106: swapping inventory items

Another devlog entry for Shardpunk. Let's take a look at how characters can swap items.

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I am finalizing another monthly build with all-finished localisation support, so I will make this one quick - except that instead of talking about localisation, it'll be about handling character inventory.

Every character in the game can have three different item types in their inventory: grenades, fusion cores and stimpaks. Their number was displayed in the bottom-right corner of the screen, and the player could drop items on the ground if they really wanted to.

As there was no carry weight limit (I've dropped it in one of the early demos after realising that it is doing nothing but causing frustration), there was no real need to shuffle items. Sure, one might want to pass a grenade or something, but most of the time it was not a big deal.

However, there was one major game design flaw with this approach: in Shardpunk, when a character loses all their HPs, they start to bleed out. The player has a number of turns to revive them using a stimpak.

However, there might be a situation in which a bleeding character is the only one having a stimpak. Therefore, there was no possibility to heal them as it was impossible to pass inventory items around.

Initially, I thought that characters who bleed out might auto-drop their items. The thing is that they could not be dropped on the same tile they are standing on, as another player only can pick up items from the tile they're on.

So, I could make it so that items are dropped randomly into neighboring tiles. Still, there may be situations in which there are no neighboring tiles that one can walk on (e.g. when a character is surrounded by walls/crates), or some of these tiles are inaccessible. Bad idea.

Alternatively, bleeding out characters might become "transparent", meaning that other characters can walk over them. In such way, another player character might stand on their tile, pick up a stimpak and use it to revive them.
On the other hand, I would then run into issues after the character has been revived. I mean I would have to place them somewhere else on the map, as their original tile might be occupied by another friendly character. And again, there might be no valid tiles around, so yeah - another silly idea.

It was clear to me that the best way of handling it was to introduce some kind of inventory management. So right now, after the player clicks the backpack button, a new window appears. It allows swapping items with adjacent characters. Now it's not a problem to approach a downed ally, grab their stimpak, and heal them!

That's it for this entry - thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

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