Containers and capacity

I’m wondering how you prefer to handle constraints on containers. In my WIP I do feel like I want to have some checking, so you can’t put a chair in a wallet. I wrote some code for this, which (after the fact) turns out to be very much like Bulk Limiter by Eric Eve.

As I see it there are two kinds of checking going on:

[]“no chairs in wallets” - checking that the size of a thing can at all fit inside the container[/]
[]“free capacity” - making sure there is enough empty space in a container[/]

I certainly want the first kind of checking, to stop obviously silly situations like putting a chair in wallet or a gun in a box of matches.

But I am not so sure I need the second part. I don’t want to have the player feeling like there’s an inventory management puzzle going on, but I also don’t want to break immersion by having containers behave too unrealistically.

I’m considering going for “holdalls” but with a constraint on the maximum size of things you can put inside them. Like a wallet which will accept an infinite amount of coins, matches, paper notes and other tiny objects, but not, well, chairs.

At the other extreme I suppose one could even care about the size of things, so that a tube-shaped container could only contain narrow objects etc.

What do you prefer?

I prefer your holdall-with-maximum-size option. (With no limit at all on the player’s carrying capacity. Unless you have a specific puzzle of the form “the player can only carry one armchair at a time” – that would be okay if it were a limited scene.)

No whales into matchboxes is good. Carrying capacity and inventory limits are, in almost every IF game I’ve seen them, a gigantic pain in the arse. There are certainly exceptions, but you need to be careful.

Doing things for the sake of bloody-minded realism will only make trouble for yourself. And like historical accuracy pedants, realism pedants tend to be really really focused on certain areas of realism while totally ignoring others. If you seriously care about the realism of some aspect of your game, why do you care? Can you get that across to the audience? ‘It’s realistic’ on its own is not a good reason. You need ‘It’s realistic, and this is interesting and relevant, because…’

  • I want this character to behave realistically, because they’re a major part of the story and the PC is meant to feel invested in them: if they feel wooden and artificial, the PC’s motivation will feel all wrong.
  • I want this water to behave realistically, because it’s part of a major puzzle; the player will be tinkering with it a lot, and if anything behaves weirdly they’ll probably find it and get confused.
  • I want this drinks cabinet to behave realistically, because even though it’s not crucial, it’s a cool toy that the player might enjoy fiddling with.

So, if you’re considering capacity, why is capacity important? Are there puzzles involving capacity in the game? Is the PC the sort of person who seems as though they’d spend a lot of time and thought on packing problems? Is the scene where the player has to repack his rucksack and discard the bedroll in order to make room for the snowshoes an interesting scene? Are the decisions the player’s making in that situation more interesting, or more frustrating?

I guess I should clarify: I said “the holdall-with-maximum-size option” because I would expect the player to never need to run into it. The player might try putting a stepladder into a wallet, for fun, so a sensible refusal would be appropriate. But the player would never stare at the screen thinking “Dammit, how shall I carry around this stepladder?”

Because of what maga said.

Thank you, Maga and Zarf.

I am going for the size-constrained holdalls.