So I've been spending time upgrading the game system. A mechanic I had not previously approached was inventory. I had originally been daunted because I loath gui programming. Its tedious, uncomplicated work and when you're finally done, its just 2d reactive elements with simple unimpressive grunt work logic. That said I've broken it down in edible bits, and spent the better part of this week doing research (See: Playing Video Games) and brushing up on my basics.
There is basically 2 systems currently in popular use for MMORPG-FPS genres.
-Bag Slot (Any item fits into a 'slot' and you have so many slots per 'bag'.
-Tetris Brick (items fit into a grid taking up spaces.)
Both can be further denoted by Bulk (which is really volume) and Weight.
However it was that wonderful floating Gold $ Cash number that really attracted me. I'll explain why in a bit.
While trying to decipher 'what the people want' I've learned a lot about what makes a game fun. I tried to make a list. It was a bit long, but no where on that list is Grinding, Harvesting 10,000 regents which is also grinding IMO, and spending 5 minutes at the end of each game session organizing the inventory. In fact upon further examination I found myself thinking the only reason people even want Item X is because of three reasons. Status symbol so you can brag to your friends, secondly it might have better stats, and finally because it makes you character look boss.
None of those things require a huge amount of items. Hefty inventory systems don't make games fun. I've never looked at someone and said "Yeah but, it had a really awesome inventory." I've found myself wondering why top game producers bothered to make so many differing items except maybe, to showoff. That and it allows for more customization, a unique feel to each character.
So I'm going back to basics, and taking the lessons I've learned forward. Instead of having a million regents and materials. I'm going to simplify. Starcraft did fine with 2 resources and a population cap. Enter floating numbers. Wood, Metal, Money, Food, and Ammo. Obviously you can only carry so many units of Wood, Metal, Food, and Ammo. Cash is going to roll with the weightless~unencumbered~no~nonsense~style because no one actually wants to worry about how much their money weighs.
FPS take a more realistic approach to weaponry than your standard RPG. Primary, Secondary, Special. That's it. All are visible and make sense.
Lastly, the pack. No Tetris, no lists, no nonsense. It will be equipped just like anything else on your character. It will set your bulk limit. Only so much food, metal, wood, and quest items can be carried based on this pack.
Now back to my studies. Customization is important. However in a minimal inventory game how do you preserve that? Easy. Craft system. In Raging Zombies I'm going to support a style that WOW recently adopted to a lesser degree. Item craft and customization, where your items will be improved, growing with your character, with the ability to change the look and feel of the item to still give that personal touch. RZ will sport safe towns where you'll be able to use the workshop to rebuild your gear, build new gear, or even build your own new vehicles.
Obviously dragging back enough steel to cook up a F350 with armored sides and a turret could take a while. RZ will sport a mission style retrieval system where you will be required to preform salvage missions. If you want a ATV just coming back with wood and metal doesn't make sense. Scavenging a battery and some tires will be necessary. This concept will be used to create weapons, gear, ammo, etc.
Now as you explore, preform missions, and scrape a life off the wasted north american continent, your character will be given more status and trusted by more people. 'Joe the Mechanic' may not trust 'Gustave the Wanderer' who just strolled into town to go scavenge a particular piece of quality goods. But that 'Johnny Timbre' fella, well he helped some people clean the zed off their ranch, he's better bet. Reputation is earned not through meaningless repetitive tasks, but by enjoying the content in the game, and more importantly beating the content.
That Zeppelin is still a status symbol. Its still got great stats. Its still pimped out just they way you want. You just don't have to kill 2000 rats or sort through the 500 individual bits and pieces to get it built. Raging Zombies won't be encumbered by it's inventory system, it will be made better by it. Best of all, players can stop micromanaging and grinding, and can get back to gaming and having fun.