14 Nov 2009

Clover: ACT Improvements: Inventory

The TL;DR summary:
  • New one-button 'use' interface
  • No confusing menus
  • Larger inventory to start off with
  • Context-sensitive

One the absolute mountain of improvements to Clover: A Curious Tale is a complete revamp of the inventory system. Aside from all the other loveliness, this is going to make a huge difference to the sorts of people that played the original and got confused.

In short it's like Fantastic Dizzy, and now context-sensitive. There's only one button for "use", which handles picking up items, dropping items, using things, and talking to people. A little bit of code does all the hard work for you, figuring out what it is you're trying to do.

Rather than a hideous menu, the inventory now works like a queue. You can't drop a specific item, rather you just just drop the item at the front of the queue. This occasionally means a little bit of extra faff, but it's much more understandable.

As the more observant amongst you may have noticed, you also start the game with two inventory slots rather than just one.

"But without a menu, how do I know what item it is that I've just picked up," I hear you cry. Now we've got lovely little prompts that appear when you first pick up an item, and an extra 'remind me what I'm carrying' screen too.

For the game design/user experience nerds out there, this was a pretty important lesson. Core interaction mechanics in your game need to be easily understandable before being powerful and flexible. If you already understood the original Clover menu, it was a better tool than a queue. However, if confused the hell out of most people that had never played Dizzy, and that put people off the game.