Tag Archives: management

Video game inventory

A game’s choice of inventory system can make gameplay worry-free or stressful. In the worst cases, managing your items can feel like work or make you not want to play at all.

Inventory comes in many forms. I’m specifically referring to the player’s management of limited inventory space. This space may include crafting materials, usage items, and collectibles. Sometimes, the item management & finding upgrades becomes the game, in the cases of the Diablo or Borderlands series.

Here is an inventory (get it? sorry) of my recently completed games and their handling of inventory. As you can tell, these are all single player games. No plot spoilers. Below are inventory mechanics ratings, not overall gameplay ratings.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – awful

The game has inventory for different weapon types. While you don’t need to max out your inventory size, it helps so you can collect different weapons. My issue with this game is the laughable item durability. Items break often with some usage. This was an intentional gameplay mechanic, but it made me conscious enough that I would strongly consider avoiding battles just to keep my inventory pristine. Given the choice, I would prefer a game with weapons that did not disappear completely, an affordable repair cost for broken weapons, and a more limited inventory size.

Horizon Zero Dawn – below average

In the resources section, your character holds trading parts, crafting material, and other items. By fighting enemies, you’ll usually pick up parts and materials. At the end of the game, I had a few of each part and a good amount of crafting materials. Crafting materials are important to have since you craft ammo to fight with. With my inventory maxed out at the end of the base story and at the start of the expansion (The Frozen Wilds), figuring out which parts to sell is such an ordeal that it’s killed my interest in exploring the expansion. Each new fight, I get more items that remind me my inventory is at capacity. This game would really benefit from a storage chest in town to offload parts that I don’t need constantly.

Control – acceptable

This game has weapon mods, personal mods, and confusingly named materials to find. While it is easy to fill up your inventory, the ease of cleaning up my inventory made the system a non-issue. Also, the game’s sorting options for mods (rarity, type, etc) made clean up easier.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – good or N/A

This game doesn’t really have inventory. Miles has ammo counts for his gadgets, but those are easy to replenish. This game is all about swinging around Manhattan and fighting lots of well-armed enemies (somehow everywhere in the city).

The Last of Us Part II – good or N/A

This game doesn’t have a complicated inventory system. You can find crafting materials or collectibles. If you max out your crafting materials space, you can’t pick up anymore until you use it up. Fair enough.

Wrapping it up, I wish more developers would consider adding Quality of Life improvements after you complete the game. This could come in the form of a massively expanded inventory (if the game’s inventory size was typically limited).

In The Last of Us Part II, New Game+ lets you purchase and use gameplay modifiers (such as cheats), which made replaying the game notably different. Fighting tough monsters without worrying about ammo? Sign me up!

Steve Jobs on Excuses

Steve Jobs by Getty

Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky:

Jobs imagines his garbage regularly not being emptied in his office, and when he asks the janitor why, he gets an excuse: The locks have been changed, and the janitor doesn’t have a key. This is an acceptable excuse coming from someone who empties trash bins for a living. The janitor gets to explain why something went wrong. Senior people do not. “When you’re the janitor,” Jobs has repeatedly told incoming VPs, “reasons matter.” He continues: “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering.” That “Rubicon,” he has said, “is crossed when you become a VP.

This makes sense.

A junior employee at the bottom of the chain of command (such as a janitor) can have a legitimate excuse for why something was not done. It’s plausible that the janitor does not have the authority to get the key he needs, so it is not the janitor’s fault.

Whereas a member of management (such as a VP) has no excuse. If the key is missing, the VP has authority to find the person with the key, force open the door, hire a locksmith, etc. The VP needs to problem solve and cannot explain away things that were not accomplished as the VP has sufficient authority to get it done.

It’s interesting to note that Jobs is quoted using the term ‘reason’ and not ‘excuse.’ The former being legitimate and the latter being a scapegoat. That is, the former is only available to people at the staff level who are not sufficiently authorized/empowered.

(via MacStories via HN)

Management Philosophy

A couple pieces on business management (via HN).

Matthew Stewart, founder of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, cuts to the heart of management theory:

Between them, Taylor and Mayo carved up the world of management theory. According to my scientific sampling, you can save yourself from reading about 99 percent of all the management literature once you master this dialectic between rationalists and humanists. The Taylorite rationalist says: Be efficient! The Mayo-ist humanist replies: Hey, these are people we’re talking about!

For any given management theory, the support is from numbers (where Stewart mentions, “[pacifying] recalcitrant data with entirely confected numbers“) or emotions (where Stewart says, “And who would want to take a stand against creativity, freedom, empowerment, and—yes, let’s call it by its name—love?“).

Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware (acquired by HP in 2007), describes the difference between peace and wartime CEOs:

Peacetime in business means those times when a company has a large advantage vs. the competition in its core market, and its market is growing. In times of peace, the company can focus on expanding the market and reinforcing the company’s strengths.

In wartime, a company is fending off an imminent existential threat. Such a threat can come from a wide range of sources including competition, dramatic macro economic change, market change, supply chain change, and so forth.

The piece goes over the top in describing the difference in thinking of peace VS war CEOs. That said, it does a great job of explaining that different CEO roles are needed when a company is looking for the right product/market fit (aka a viable business plan) VS growing their market share.

Totems and Document Authenticity

*minor spoilers about the film Inception*

In the movie Inception, I was introduced to the concept of a totem. Your totem is a device that only you can verify as authentic. Another person who has knowledge of your totem would not be able to fully reproduce your totem. For example, a loaded dice will always fall on a certain side due to the unbalanced weight. Even if another person knew your totem was a dice, they would not know that it was loaded unless 1.) you told them the secret attribute or 2.) they were able to get a hold of it and reverse engineer it. When a totem is properly kept secret, it is useful as another individual cannot properly reproduce it.

What occurred to me randomly was that you could use a totem-like system amongst individuals to verify document authenticity. This may or may not be used in the real world. By definition, I wouldn’t know about another individual’s totem in the real world. For instance, a spy agency could use a totem on classified documents, the kind you see in movies stamped ‘Confidential’ and tucked away in a dossier. Instead of having a generic template with the agency letterhead, a totem such as an image or uncommon pattern could be incorporated onto the template. This way, people who are “in the know” could verify the authenticity of high-level, confidential documents by checking if the unique image serving as the totem was on the document. If the document was forged and put forward as real, the missing totem would help disprove the document’s authenticity.

To an extent, every document already has a distinct profile but not necessarily an explicit defined totem. With a hard copy printout, the type of paper, the ink used, etc. would help narrow down the document authenticity. Company specific letterhead helps to a degree to authenticate documents. With soft copy documents, file names, size, types, etc. could help narrow down the electronic origin. The distinction is that totems would not be used for *all* documents within an organization. A totem would be reserved for high-level, sensitive board minutes or signed agreements in order to maintain a level of security by obscurity (or the effectiveness of the totem).

Another use of totems, beside the purpose of preventing forgery, would be to incorporate version control. A totem could be dynamically generated as part of a electronic document system to provide version control. Besides using an image to designate the totem, text could be used that may seem out of place. Or text that doesn’t seem out of place to the untrained eye. To provide an example, let’s say you have 3 members of management working on a document updated with constant revisions. By placing the text “Tigers500,” a completely arbitrary selection of text, on the document, only the 3 who worked on the document would be able to verify the document as authentic. An individual outside the 3 original members would have no way to include the text “Tigers500” as part of a forged document. The next version of the document could include “Tigers501” and so forth.

Totems bring up many interesting use cases. I’ve talked about totems in a social setting, whereas Inception utilized it as a personal effect. One potential pitfall of a totem is that if your totem is compromised and “found out,” then you may be relying on blind faith when presented with a false totem.