When we first started working on Forever Lost: Episode 1, all those years ago, our inventory system was fairly simple. It was a simple horizontal bar with slots in it.
It was fine for the time and it got the job done, plus it worked in the same way as most other mobile adventure games’ inventory systems so it didn’t need much explanation.
Our old inventory system.
Some of you may know that for our first two games, Episode 1 & 2, we wrote a framework called Mango ( don’t ask ) on top of the Corona SDK that allowed us to make adventure games easier.
After we finished work on Episode 2 Mango was showing its age. It had accumulated lots of little issues and quirks that we didn’t like and so to fix this I started work on what would become Serenity ( internally it’s simply called Adventure as I wasn’t sure what to call it at first ).
The original plan was to take this as an opportunity to change the inventory system to something better, however for various reasons, one of which being we didn’t want to change the inventory mid way through the FL series, we decided to stick with the horizontal bar that had worked for us so far. Internally it was re-written, along with the rest of the engine, to work much better however on the surface it was basically the same.
Fast forward a little bit of time and we’ve now made Cabin Escape: Alice’s Story, Ferris Mueller’s Day Off, Forever Lost: Episode 3, and A Short Tale all with Serenity and we came to the conclusion that the engine was fairly stable. It seemed as good a time as any to start upgrading various parts of it, beginning with the Inventory.
And so, when Simon first started making concept art for The Game Formerly Known as Ellipsis: AE and also Formerly Known as Solus:AE and now Known Simply as The Game With No Name, we also started working on an updated system.
Now that we were also releasing on desktops as well as mobile we wanted something that took advantage of the whole screen, giving us much more room to play with.
Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce you to our new inventory system.
Please ignore the low framerate, it’s much smoother in game.
As you can see, the horizontal bar has been replaced with 12 item slots located around a central circle. In that circle is the item’s name and description, as well as a rotating 3D version of the item itself.
Dotted around the screen are the Home and Settings buttons, now only visible when the Inventory is up to make the main game screen simpler, as well as a little objective label at the top ensuring you don’t get lost when you return to the game after a break.
In the old system, to use an item you would simply open the inventory, tap the item you want, and then tap the screen somewhere. This worked great when the inventory didn’t take up much screen space however with the new system we needed to come up with a new way.
At first we had it working much the same way, you tap the item you want and then the inventory would close automatically and you could then tap the screen. This worked but sometimes you would forget what item you had selected as you had no way of seeing it when the inventory was closed.
We toyed around with the idea of putting your currently selected item on top of the actual Inventory button however this still didn’t seem right.
What we have now is, I hope you’ll agree, much nicer. To use an item you simply open the inventory, and then drag whatever item you want out. The inventory will then close automatically and you’ll be left with the item in your hands ready to release on whatever object you wish to use it on.
Drag items out of the inventory to use them.
Now I know what you’re going to say, it’s all well and good making something prettier, but what new features does it bring to the game? Well, thanks for asking!
We now have the ability to combine items, simply by dragging an item onto another. As can be seen below, although, as I’m sure you’re all aware, you can not combine a torch with a pin.
Drag items onto each other to combine them.
We’re very happy with our new inventory system, and we hope you will be too. Going forward we will be using this system for all our future games, and over time we will be updating our older games to support it. We’re not sure how long this process will take so please be patient.
Please let us know what you think of it, and if you have any questions please just ask!