I don’t tend to pay attention to my players’ encumbrance. It’s too much work and the only time I seem to really care is if a single object they want to carry weighs like, three hundred pounds or more. I just started a character in Skyrim the other day, and noticed to my dismay the Alchemy system changed from Oblivion.

In Oblivion, you could mash ingredients together from your inventory to make potions and level up your Alchemy skill. I liked it. Not only could you indulge your kleptomania by picking up literally everything in the game world, but the resulting potions often weighed less than their component parts, and could be sold.

Talk about transforming random junk into gold!

Not only does Skyrim take away your portable chemistry set, but the recipes are unknown to you and the entire process takes far longer. I haven’t confirmed yet, but it also looks like the potions also weigh more than the ingredients, but it also looked like botching a recipe yields neither experience nor a potion.

Fail, fail, fail, fail. Even if the latter two points turn out to be incorrect — the first two are enough to ruin the Alchemy system for the entire game.

If I can’t get those items out of my inventory fast enough, I won’t pick them up. If I don’t pick up random crap in Skyrim, I won’t even bother to look at it. If I don’t look at the random stuff, it serves literally no purpose in the game.

The Elder Scrolls scavenger hunt is part of the reason to play the game — but once that element is gone, you’re just looking for the “good stuff” — gold, skill tomes, and magic items — and all that clutter doesn’t mean a thing anymore.

I mentioned my distress to cookiemonger, and we got on the topic of carry limits and inventory puzzles. That got me thinking about inventory puzzles in general.

Really, not only do I not mind inventory puzzles, I rather enjoy weighing the utility of various pieces of loot and trying to determine whether they’re worth keeping or not. It adds something to the game — I’m not sure what, exactly.

CM however, hates inventory puzzles. More specifically, she hates limitations on carrying items that can be picked up — her reasons are complex, and it’s hard to do them justice. If she’s so inclined, she might share them on her own blog.

The question of the moment is, “when are inventory puzzles actually fun?”