Picking items up
I should probably mention to start with that the target platform for this game is going to be the Gameboy Advance. Also bear in mind that I'm doing my developing on and for the PC - but I'm still keeping things down to 4 active buttons, 2 less-active buttons, and a 4 button D-pad. Simple? Simple. I have a Playstation 2 joystick hooked through an adapter to a USB port, and that's what i'm going to be aiming my input set at - along with the keyboard for other people who might not be so lucky.
Zelda Gameboy: Rupee on ground
Let's think back to Zelda for Gameboy again. If you want to pick something up, like a rupee or heart, you simply have to clip it with your avatar's sprite. Here, there's no reason to not pick things up besides laziness. There's no downside to picking stuff up. In Diablo, inventory management comes into play; sometimes you have to be picky about the things you pick up. Suddenly things get a little more complicated.
Diablo II: Inventory Managing
In the above clip, I can pick up the magical sash (which I'm probably going to do) and I can pick up some arrows. In Zelda, if you pick up arrows and you're at the limit of arrows you can pick up, the arrows get picked up and your arrow count caps. Here in Diablo, I have to make sure I have space for those arrows, or I can't pick them up. If I picked them up before the sash and suddenly had no room for the sash, I'd have to throw the arrows on the ground to pick up that sash.
Well so far we could work around all that - if your avatar clips the arrow sprite, he picks it up and it goes into inventory if it fits. If it doesn't fit, he (obviously) wouldn't pick it up. So thats cool, if you want to grab that sash, you can just run your avatar over both the arrow and sash and you're cool. Suppose now that there's 5 items all overlapping one another. Further suppose that our inventory is packed full and the only way we're going to be picking anything up from that pile is if we chuck some stuff on the ground. To top things off, you only see one item in the pile that you want, and its dead in the middle of the pile. We'd have to pick up all of those items in order to get at the one you wanted - and thats just no good. I don't want to be sitting around all day throwing items out of my inventory.
What I need is a way to pick and choose between the items that are laying there on the ground. If you could push items around if they weren't going to fit, you might be able to shove the items off of one another and seperate them like that, like in Crystal Chronicles. In all honesty, though I like how easy it is to pick things up in Zelda, I know I'm going to want to be more picky about what I pick up and what I don't - all the time. If I choose to pick something up, I want to be pressing a button to pick that damn thing up.
I don't even feel like I should have to shove things around to get at the particular item I want. I want an action on one of my buttons that will let me see names of the items nearby (like pressing L-Alt in Diablo II) and getting to choose, from the item names, which items will go in my inventory. I don't think that's too difficult to imagine - nor too out of the question for a player to have to do. Let's face it, players ARE going to want to be choosy in a game like this, I already know I will be.
What about money though? Should people be forced to use the PickUp action to get money off the ground? Is there ever a reason for people to NOT pick up money, unless they're maxed out? I don't see why you'd have to pick up money manually when you're always going to be picking it up anyways. If you're maxed out, it should just on the ground.
Actually, this is getting me thinking now.. If we're going to be making things easier on the player, why bother dropping the money at all, like in Final Fantasy Adventure (original Sword of Mana; Seiken Dentetsu 1)? The player kills the monster, and gains the money like he does the experience. I remember not liking the idea. When cash pops out of an enemy in Zelda, you see the Rupee and can tell by the color how much its worth. Same in Diablo - you put the mouse over the pile of gold and it tells you how much was dropped. Come to think of it, after a little while in Diablo, you don't even really need to bother picking up money - the money you earn from finding good magical items and selling them more than makes up for the gold you walked by in the hallway.
On another hand, if you're forced to PickUp gold, you get to see how much is in the pile and even decide not to pick it up - to leave it for another player.. so much to think about. I need a break. The bed awaits.