Grabbing All That Loot

Item pick-up's have been a focus of constant improvement from game to game in the Diablo franchise, starting in Diablo I where items were about as easy to find once they were on the ground as the proverbial needle in a haystack, between the excessively dark and gritty textures and the lack of item flags. Then came the unofficial Diablo I expansion pack, which introduced a spell that, when cast, showed the labels of all the items currently on the ground. This was an obvious improvement from the original system.

With the release of Diablo II, the Blizzard North team, whether because of the Hellfire unofficial expansion or from their own minds, introduced item-revealing as a hotkey (ALT on Windows systems) that did the same thing, though not as a mana-consuming spell. While it was an improvement, it left some to be desired, such as the introduction of strictly against-policy third-party programs used to automatically pick up items.

With the revelation of Diablo III we were promised another upgrade from this older system, including such changes as player-specific drops that others could not get at and automatic pick-up for specific items, namely gold. Item and inventory systems continue to evolve at Blizzard HQ, however:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Inventory management and the systems that surround it are something we're obviously interested in, but not something that can really be tuned until we have more of the item game fleshed out and tuned itself. It's hard to know exactly the best way to handle inventory management when the items, types, pickup frequency, and removal frequency can't really be measured with any real accuracy.

How can the currently-known Diablo III inventory system be bettered? What from the old would be better mixed with the new? It has already been proven that fan-based criticisms have affected the game, such as the reintroduction of the "tetris inventory", as it is called by most, from the previous installments (see Has the Tetris Inventory and Magic Find Returned?), so speak and let Blizzard hear your opinions!

Of course all of this talk of automated item systems begs the question: Where do we draw the line? When does automation go too far and what is best left to automated processes? Bashiok argues that certain items, like gold, are a no-brainer, but:

Official Blizzard Quote:

We want inventory management to include player choice and interaction, and so while we're definitely not opposed to new ideas and while we're certainly drawing inspiration from many places, we want to maintain that inventory management doesn't become an automated process.

It should only make sense, then, that while there needs to be some limiting of the item-picking grindfest from the old games that often detracted from the continues immersion flow, there still needs to be player-oriented choice (imagine being forced to pick up every light plate armor in the entire game- you would run out of inventory space fairly quickly).


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