A few weeks ago I took a stab at redesigning the inventory system presented in Divinity: Original Sin. A quick bit about the game. It’s an RPG, Turn-based, Tactical game with tons of depth and an amazing amount of opportunity for creative problem solving in and out of battles. You can play alone, with a group of four adventurers, or invite a 2nd player to split the party, two characters to each person.

The Divinity Original Sin inventory system enables players to have a unique set of items stored by each of the four playable characters. Items magically float between inventories if the player decides different characters needs the items. The number of items is not limited but the weight of all of the items is limited based on character strength. There is a large variety item types. They can be filtered, sorted, and organized by the player.

 

First I step I took was to analyze what’s going on in the game. Break down the existing system into some major components and then have a more focused look at each piece.

Inventory Grid

  • Displays all items carried only by the selected character.
  • 5 x 10 grid displays 50 items at once.
  • Scrollable
  • 7 Filter options to help focus searches
  • 5 Sort options for organization
  • Items can be manual arranged via drag+drop

Character Information

  • Title bar identifies which character’s inventory is displayed.
  • Arrow buttons to rotate between available characters.
  • Character icons also used to select different inventories.
  • Displays selected character statistics and equipment.

Inventory Interactions

  • Hover items for Name + descriptions.
  • Hover equipment to see comparisons with equipped item.
  • Right click for context-sensitive action menu.
  • Left click drag to move items.

 

After analyzing the UI, I determined some high priority use cases or problems I would like to solve in this short exercise.

  1. As a player, I want to know if any of my characters are holding item C.
  • Displays all items carried only by the selected character.
  • Many items use the same or similar icons.
  • Not enough filter options / unintuitive options.
  1. As a player, I want to equip this item in character A’s inventory on character B.
  • You must move items to other character inventories one at a time.
  • Knowing which character inventory displayed is not obvious.
  • Determining if Character A meets an item’s requirements to wear, while it is held by Character B is a long process.
  1. As a player, I want to investigate the item I or another character just collected.
  • Finding the item you just picked up is difficult. But you can change the sort type to Recent for help.
  • Typography and style of hover menus difficult to read quickly.

Let’s take a look at what some other games do in their inventory and/or character interfaces.

Keeping the user stories and the references in mind, I stepped into a wireframing phase. Quickly roughing out different layouts allows me to visualize potential solutions and highlight successes and failures in each. For example, no one wants to play a game that looks like a spreadsheet (Options A/B) and that showing all of the information is probably just as harmful as showing none of the information (Option C).

I thought that Divinity: Original Sin would be more accessible if the inventory system was redesigned so that there is a singular inventory shared amongst all of the active characters. This, of course, has a lot of ripple effects across the other game systems, but leads to a more streamlined and manageable inventory. D:OS has a really awesome blur effect when you zoom the camera in (mouse scroll) which I thought could be used to highlight the selected character when opening the inventory. The zoom-in effect keeps the player ‘in the world’ so they remain connected despite working in an interface.

How does this concept address the prioritized user stories?

  1. As a player, I want to know if any of my characters are holding item C.
  • All items shown in one collected inventory.
  • Names are displays alongside item icons.
  • Increased room for 9 (or more) possible filters.

2. As a player, I want to equip this item in character A’s inventory on character B.

  • Large character portrait is visible. Helps show who an item will be used on.
  • No more item swapping to different characters.

     3. As a player, I want to investigate the item I or another character just collected.

  • Inventory list auto-sorts to the Recent sort.
  • New items marked with graphics until hovered over.
  • No longer have to look at every character inventory separately.

Looking back, I think this was a good exercise. I got to practice analyzing existing systems, identifying problems, prototyping solutions and trying to make some UI Art that matches an existing brand. The inventory of D:OS is essential to how the game establishes an old-school table-top game feeling where a lot of focus in the game is managing what your character is carrying. I think my result fails in that aspect. By pairing the inventory system down into ‘one big bag’, the ownership of items by each character is lost, and there are a lot of other systems that exist in the game that rely on that ownership. I made something that would be more useable and looks cool, but doesn’t fit with the soul or identity of the game.