It’s all about the Space Baby!

In the last post I touched on space issues in WoW and the impact they have on our gaming experience.  There were a lot of points that I left unsaid, so I thought I’d delve into that a bit more as a separate post.  Space is something that affects all of us and I think we all struggle with it at one point or another.  We start out with one bag and very early on we start purchasing additional bags.  Then we start segregating our junk between the bank and our bags.  At some point we realize this isn’t sufficient for our needs and we start creating alts to house our extra stuff.

First, I’d like to comment on the whole concept of a bank alt.  Anytime you’re in a situation where you abuse an existing game mechanic (multiple toons per server) to solve an unrelated problem (lack of space), that’s bad design.  In the past Blizzard has argued that we should be required to make hard choices, they don’t want us to save everything.  But lately they’ve been getting just as gluttonous as we have.  In Wrath, every quest has a gizmo that you’re required to use to complete it.  In-game events have more novelty items added every year.  The whole situation is getting truly ridiculous.  If they continue to stand by the ideal that players need to be selective in their packrat ways, the game designers need to start making those hard choices too.

Obviously there are two solutions here, they can either do away with unnecessary item glut such as quest objects or give us more space to compensate for them.  Quite frankly, I think they should get rid of them.  They’ve already integrated quest objects into the quest tracking interface, so we shouldn’t even need the stupid things in our bag.  Just let us “use” items from the quest tracker and remove the need to store an identical object in a bag slot.  If they don’t want to do that, they I expect compensation in the form of 25 free bag slots for quest items.  My quest log holds 25 quests and theoretically I could have an object for each quest.  The way I see it, they owe me 25 bag slots.

Then we have the bank system.  I know they felt very generous when they gave us extra bank slots and such, but we all know that this is a joke.  We all keep alts so we can double or triple our available space, so clearly the current bank space is not sufficient for the vast majority of players.  Instead of turning a blind eye, let’s face the music here.  People need more room for their stuff and if the developers refuse to address it then they should force themselves to do the same economizing they want us to do.

While I’m on the subject of unreasonable design, let’s talk about stack sizes.  Is there any valid reason to stubbornly retain the 5 stack limit??  Seriously, why can’t we standardize on the 20 stack size?  What are we proving here by forcing people to deal with 5 stacks of certain items?  If the developers refuse to introduce major changes to inventory management, the least they could do is increase stack sizes so we can more effectively work within the current system.  At this point we know it’s possible to go as high as 1000 objects in a stack, so a ridiculous limit like 5 is…. well, ridiculous.

There are also some special cases to consider, one of which is old gear.  I know there are lots of us who would like to save our old gear, not to wear it but purely to honor or commemorate our past achievements.  Blizzard gives us no way to do this… but why not?  Especially now that we have Achievements in the game, why can’t we retire our old gear and relevant goodies from vanilla WoW or Burning Crusade?  They want us to bond with our characters, feel a true sense of attachment that keeps us improving on them.  Part of that bond includes the pride we get from previous achievements, but right now most of us are forced to throw our old glories away like last week’s leftovers.  It’s sad to see gear you spent months accumulating end up in the trash heap behind the “Tanks for Everything” shop.  I think the developers need to seriously consider implementing some mechanism that allows us to save our old gear.  It could be as simple as an “Achievement” type window that let’s us archive older items that we want to save for posterity.

The last thing I want to talk about is novelty items.  I will grant that some headway has been made in this area.  Non-combat pets have been rolled into the interface, as well as mounts.  This is great and has facilitated some collectors, but other collectors are still ignored.  Tabards, holiday outfits and holiday trinkets are just a few items that still need attention.  I mean, at one point we had an achievement that encouraged us to collect 20 costume masks for each racial/gender combination in the game.  Why ask people to do this sort of thing when you know full well that it creates an inventory nightmare?  The same could be said of collecting 200 chocolate eggs that only stack to 20.  Holidays are getting out of control when it comes to inventory management, and I personally don’t think it’s fair to dump all this collecting in our laps and continue to ignore the aggravation it creates.  Either remove the insane collection requirements or change the inventory system to account for them.  Once again, a simple solution could be tweaking stack sizes.  Let the chocolates stack to 250 so I don’t have to suck up 10 bag slots with them.  And why can’t wands stack as well?  If not, then just change the number of charges on each wand so I don’t need as many.  This isn’t rocket science here, just common sense.

In closing, I think inventory management needs some attention and this is just a few of the areas that I think create the most frustration.  Feel free to add your own comments as well.

22 Responses to “It’s all about the Space Baby!”

  1. Shyraia Says:

    There are a couple of easy solutions:

    BOE bag, ever expandable like the keyring.

    Tabards going into the collectables like mounts and pets.

    Standardizing stacking to 20 solves it for some items, and makes it worse for other items. Just have all things stack, no limit to the stack.

    The problem is the server side extra space that would be needed for all of this I think. It’s not 1 character, because knowing people they would still have 10 characters per account, and so it would be times 10.

  2. Kring Says:

    The keyring has a limit, I reached it with some BoE keys. It’s not that big, 32 or something. I forgot.

    The masks for the 20 masks achievement have only a 7 day duration. :-)

    Besides that… I would love to see something like guild wars. There you have a bank with 1 slot for every trade skill material and you can dump as many into this slot as you like (there probably is a limit, but you get the picture).

    1 slot for all infinite dust
    1 slot for all copper ore
    and so on…

    Make this special bank account wide and I’m quite happy. :-)

    And yes, I hate the holiday events. I don’t care about the crap because male characters don’t need nice dresses but you never know if you need them again next year for a meta drake achievement… -.-

  3. Ali Says:

    Warhammer has a nice bag system for quest items. It has an expandable quest only bag tab. Which came in nice so they weren’t taking up our normal bag space. This is something WoW needs to pick up. Like you said it only needs to be big enough to hold all the quest items whether it’s one you pick up to be used or you have to collect it to turn in.

  4. Chorius Says:

    The main problem with increasing our bag slots is memory on the server side, they’ve said it before, but with each additional bag slot we get, the amount of data increases exponentially. That being said, I totally agree, I’m a feral druid, so I only have about 3-5 inventory spots open at any time. Cat gear, Bear gear, Tree gear, Boomkin gear, PvP gear, raid consumables… It gets quite ridiculous extremely fast!

  5. Ian Says:

    Especially in these days of championing I think having tabards kept in the same way pets and mounts are would make a lot of sense.

  6. Shawn Says:

    From a capacity side you can’t do “unlimited” anything as some folks have suggested – it just isn’t an option. But the easy wins seem to be generally accepted as good solutions. For kicks I’ll make a list here of the suggestions from Kal, plus the comments, because I like lists :)

    Easiest to implement:

    * Items with less than 20 stack size increased to 20.
    * Tabard menu (like pets)
    * Less quest items or some variation of alternate storage for them.
    * Reagents menu (like currency)

    More complicated solutions:

    * Account bank (like guild bank)
    * Equipment manager with storage
    * Heirlooms: store sentimental items off to a visual menu.

    None of this is anything that Blizz doesn’t already know of course. Now if only they would prioritize it.

  7. Debrashavi Says:

    Hi Kaliope, I’m a big fan of yours and was just thinking about how to organize my space yesterday. I am leveling several alts with all of the professions and have a guild vault for my vanity guild. I am lost when it comes to organizing the stuff I need to store in there for leveling professions, quests etc. Would you have any suggestions for this dilemma? Thanks for you time!

  8. Solidstate Says:

    Great post. I think you’re absolutely right that designers have been just as “greedy” as players, only it’s not just restricted to quest and novelty items. What about duel-specs? What about PvP+PvE in the same game?

    Before duel-specs you could *maybe* make the claim that people with multiple specs (and gear sets to support them) were making a choice and had to live with it.
    But even back then you had stuff like resist-gear sets needed for fights which *Blizzard* designed on purpose! Where was the bag space for those items?
    Now, with duel-specs, Blizzard introduced a way to switch gear – but the player is supposed to have all the free space for that gear. No extra space was provided with this feature. You can’t claim this is a player choice any more, duel-spec is now a core feature and serious raiders expect to be able to off-spec for example from OT to DPS on fights when they are not needed. The fact that Blizzard added this feature without adding space is just not right.

    Players who want to both PvE and PvP need completely different sets of items, as PvP uses resilience. Extra space? Your problem… To me this is as if the devs are sending us a message, you can PvE or you can PvP but you shouldn’t try both… :(

    I think equipment dummies, taking up a space alongside your keyring, with the ability to place multiple item sets on them (I think at least 5 “full set slots” would be needed, perhaps more) would go a long way towards helping players with space issues. As you said Kali, This isn’t about players being greedy packrats, it’s about developers being greedy and adding features to the game without considering the player bag issues resulting from these new features.

  9. casual_juergen Says:

    Ouwww, this is one of my pet peeves with WoW, the other being the traveling system. Seriously, why do we have to spend hours a year on griphons/windriders/boats/zeppelins?

    All of these points could be addressed, if Blizzard hired a few designers/developers with a background in usability in software design, because these points are all examples of bad usability.

    The thought to force the player to make decisions about which stuff to keep and what to drop is ok in my opinion. But the space available to each character, or even the accounts, should be in line with the amount of stuff needed for certain things (crafting, achievements, equipment sets). Or in other words, the available space should be large enough for what could be deemed necessary, before decisions have to be made. That is not the case and hence the continuing demands from the player side for more space.

    Judging by the space that is available to characters at the moment, Blizzard seems to want us play characters with no professions or at most a gathering profession and no more than one spare set of equipment. In my opinion, they need to increase their expectations based on what the players actually do with their characters. But that is just my opinion :)

  10. Kring Says:

    Actually… please make travel times longer… vanilla WoW has much more a feeling of a virtual world, the short Outland and Northrend travel times just look like it’s only a game…

  11. kaliope Says:

    Deb: I think everyone has their own system when it comes to inventory management that makes sense to them. My personal method for my guild bank is to have separate areas for each type of item: quest/faction items, cross-trade items (primals and such), trade specific items (cloth, leather) and so on. I would organize the bank according to grouping that make sense to you and if you can, leave a blank row in between to separate sections. If not, then use one item as the separator, like 10 stacks of runecloth used to form a border. Good luck with it!

    Thanks for all the great feedback folks, it’s nice to know that others are feeling the imbalance just as I am. Solid has hit the nail on the head, this is a design issue. They shouldn’t be adding new features and content to the game that require additional space and then not providing additional space to compensate for the increased requirement. As everyone has pointed out, there are a variety of solutions which range from very easy to quite complicated. I tried to present a few suggestions and I’m sure there are others I didn’t think of. Regardless which route they decide to take, the bloat is real and needs to be addressed with something more than a bandaid solution. I think the next expansion is the perfect time to revamp the inventory system.

  12. Hagu Says:

    I heartily agree we need the space issue addressed. @shawn was also spot on. My alt guild has 3 bank tabs and I have about 6 bank alts. Getting ready to make a tailor when the mage hit 80, I accumulated more than 400 stacks of cloth and there was more than one alt dedicated to just Netherweave.

    The mail system is also a bag substitute. So I would mail whatever cloth I got from questing/AH to the alt in whatever stack size. Then when the 30-day timer is near to running out, bring the cloth in, restack and then send 1 mail of 12 stacks of 20 to another alt – this is to help with the only see last 50 mails defect; so you can see 50*12 stacks of items in the last 50 messages.

    A problem with the stacking may be that there seem to be some defects in the software; i.e. you cant get the 1 hour vendor refund on things that stack huh? why would stackable items behave differently?

    A huge bank-only bag for previous generation items seemed reasonable. and the holiday events are incrediblely annoying – those things need to stack to 200 or 1000.

    Ammo has been partially addressed but not soul shards.

    Professions exacerbate the problem tremendously. I also think that crafted items should go in the craft bag – e. g. cards go in scribe bag. The meta problem is that Blizzard is adding more twitch fights and vehicles and spending practically no effort on professions. Insert Engineering rant here.

  13. Kring Says:

    You also can’t gift wrap stackable items which, for me, is a major pita.

  14. Viscount Says:

    Actually one of the things I am kind of shocked is still around is the multiple crafting bags. Blizzard is homoginizing everything else, whats the point of these different bags?
    Honestly they should have have one bag called a crafting bag. It can hold all reagents and crafting supplies for all professions that can be held by current bags. And give it a decent number of slots because these 6 to 10 extra slots that you get other then the largets bag dont really make them that great at the cost of limiting what they can hold.

  15. Viscount Says:

    Honestly I am fine with Gift wraping going away. It was cute but it was used more often for scaming people then anything else. By stopping it from being used on stackable items it prevents people from doing the whole “flour” cod giftwrap scam. Though they can always do it with white weapons.

  16. neutrallo Says:

    I definitely agree with larger stack sizes (maybe 250) and making quest items go away entirely.

    One thing that I would LOVE to see is the ability to keep an equipment graphic… forever. I have tons of gear that just looks cool (so I can’t get rid of it) but the gear is hopelessly outdated or was never all that good anyway.

    My personal dream is a scenario like this: “Yay, I won the roll on a pc of T7 gear”… but that don’t look nearly as cool as my Frozen Shadoweave pc in the same slot. I take the two pcs, transfer the T7 stats to the FS pc and BAM… I get to keep my look (my signature appearance, if you will) forever.

    Hmmm… kind of off topic, but at least it’s in the ballpark.

  17. Alazasthas Says:

    TO be tru Im a pack rat like everyone else is, but right now Im almost finished with replacing all of my bags with 22 slotters in my main, and Im finally getting to the point that I might have more than 10 free slots in my backpack.

    Im a druid and after dual specs, Im carrying almost 4 sets of gear: my feral dps and tank gear set, my healing set and my feral PvP set. If you want to count the odd item I switch to PvP as resto and some caster dps gea…thats a lot of stuff to carry around. Given I carry my fishing set and some novelty items I carry around just for fun (like my Wolvar mug :D) even with 120 slots Im running awefully low in normal space :D

    I know its hard to destroy those chocalte eggs or candy bars, but after this many years, stuff I dont use in 1 year I usually vendor it to get more space :D

  18. Diabolos Says:

    Space baby? Who has a space baby???

  19. Julia Says:

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  20. Dave Says:

    “The meta problem is that Blizzard is adding more twitch fights and vehicles and spending practically no effort on professions.”

    I wouldn’t blame the current vehicle obsession for diverting attention away from other areas. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. Vehicle-based fights are exponentially simpler to create than normal boss fights, which allows them to pump out more content at a faster pace.

    How so? With a normal fight, Blizzard has to base the fight around a number of different classes, each with multiple specs & bringing a number of different buffs. Additionally, each player has different gear levels which alter stats and performance in different ways. They have to tune the fight for all these different variables and combinations.

    Now consider the vehicle fight. Let’s look at Flame Leviathan. The fight is based around 3 vehicles/roles. No different specs, no buffs to worry about. Gear makes a slight difference, but it is in a consistent and predictable manner. Tuning the fight around a much smaller set of variables is much, much simpler.

    So basically they get to simplify the game for their benefit & sell it as a feature. In theory, the reduced design time would allow them to spend *more* time on things like professions.

  21. Kirys Says:

    A few thoughts –

    There actually is a mechanism built into the game for saving a special “look.” I get a set of armor I think is particularly cool, it’s time for the “vacation shot” — stand in front of something cool (a large dead mob you just killed, for example, and maybe a live one running in to eat you) and wave. Screen shot! Plus when you go on vacation in real life and end up at the internet cafe playing WoW on your portable drive, you can send your screenshots back to your friends as “here’s what I’m doing on vacation!” postcards. (Hey, it beats “Boise at Night” by a long shot!)

    That said, I am ALL for extra bag space! If they can have a 32 slot mining bag, why can’t they have a 32 slot anything bag? (And everyone knows that Hemet Jr. needs to hand out a special binder when you head out to collect all those pages to The Green Hills of Stranglethorn!)

    I definitely think that anything should be able to stack, at least up to 20. And that includes those 14 Twilight Cultists Robes. Just sayin’.

    I’m not thrilled with shortening travel time in WoW, because I love the way it makes the world feel. Of course, my main is a mage, so when I need to hurry I can take shortcuts not available to other players, so maybe I’m speaking out of turn here …

    Lots of good ideas here! Let’s hope someone from Bliz reads them!

  22. Quixota Says:

    I caught (and vendored) Ol’ Crafty… before Achievements came in… /sob

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