Miscellaneous items should not be easily classified

| Monday, June 3, 2013
Alternative title: Easily classified items should not be miscellaneous.

Games with inventory also have inventory management and organization.  Once upon a time there would be no sorting at all beside alphabetical.  Everything was just there.  Let's admit it, alphabetical is not often a useful sorting method, particularly when done by the first letter.  Surely Small Blaster and Large Blaster should be next to each other, rather than buried between Smack and Smelling Salts and Lacey Combat Armor and Lice Remover.

In a visual space players could do much of it manually.  In WoW, in the early days players could stick items in different bags, though needing to manually resort since the looting system didn't play along.  Eventually all the col people got bag addons and the coolest people spent a lot of time making sure everything was sorted perfectly.  No miscellaneous items here.  Diablo could use a similar location-based organization, but of course that couldn't last forever when the Tetris mini-game started.

Games such as Knights of the Old Republic and Fallout use tabs of pre-sorted categories.  Weapons, armor, consumables (potions, scrolls, food), and... miscellaneous.  The first three are just great.  But what's miscellaneous?

I'm not opposed to the presence of a bag category for items that don't fit well elsewhere or for items that don't fit a classification with anything else.  Wookie hair balls and cantina music samples don't really belong in consumable, at least I hope not...  But what about crafting materials?  Skyrim even puts the potion ingredients in their own category: ingredients.  Yet the many ores, gems, pelts,and dragon bits are stuck in the miscellaneous category alongside Pelagius' hip bone and various soul gems.  Surely a crafting category would be called for.  The same, but worse, may apply to Fallout: New Vegas.  The currency is weightless and therefore is not something I ever need to remove from my inventory.  Ditto for the hundred types of empty shell casings which exist only to be reloaded into more bullets.  Yet my somewhat more important scrap metal is mixed in with these, alongside the various heads and brains I'd be collecting.

Knights of the Old Republic may be even worse.  Grenades and mines, rather than being in either weapons or usable, and seemingly being a coherent category unto themselves, have somehow been classified as miscellaneous.  This mixes them in with passkeys, various non-quest quest bits (such as pieces for fixing up the speeder on Nar Shaddaa), and what is surely a worthy category: item upgrades.

I understand that when you only have a handful of a type of item that it is not worth the effort to make a category for it.  It would take time, and even more importantly, space in the UI.  Yet when an item is thrown into the miscellaneous category, despite being worth a category of its own, or at least fitting somewhat well in another, don't put them in miscellaneous. 


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