Why I Hate Trash Loot

written by Creston

I really hate trash loot.  By trash loot, I do not mean loot you cannot use.  I mean the loot that serves no purpose other than to fill your inventory and sell to a NPC vendor.

Grey Items

World of Warcraft (WOW) and Diablo use a color scale to categorize items.  Grey basically means trash.  You can get some currency if you sell it but that is about it.  You will pretty much never use the items you pick up unless you happen to have an empty equipment slot for it.  Even then, that item will be replaced very quickly.  Further, some items literally have no use other than to sell.  I am talking about grey items that you pick up from MOBs that you cannot equip and cannot use in crafting.  When I recently started playing Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR), I had hoped they would have evolved from this system.  Nope.  You get plenty of inexplicable and unusable grey loot drops from the MOBs.  Why do games provide this loot?  Why do I have to manage "trash"?

Inventory Management As A Game Mechanic

I guess I just dislike the idea of inventory management as a game mechanic.  If your inventory is constrained enough and you adventure enough, you run out of inventory and start having to make decisions about what to throw away.  This is especially bad if you are in a group and . . . whoops . . . your inventory is full.  "Wait guys don't pull anything yet, I have to destroy some . . . [ MOB pulled ] . . . sigh."  

Now, I understand this can happen with all items, not just grey ones.  But, the appropriate response nine times out of ten is to identify which is the cheapest grey item and destroy it to make room for more loot.  If the designers want or need to keep grey items, then why not add grey item destruction if your inventory gets full as a convenience feature.  Or, you could even design a system where you only wanted to pick up items worth more than some amount of currency.  SWTOR actually lets you send your companion to sell all of your grey items while you are adventuring.

However, I think it would be better to remove grey items from the game.  Let every item have a purpose.  Either let it be equipped or used in crafting.  You would avoid having to create all of these trash items that serve no purpose.  That lets me have a more interesting decision to make.  "Hmmm, should I destroy this piece of usable equipment or this set of crafting supplies . . ."  If there is a concern about the removal of a currency source, then replace it by increasing the drop rate of usable items.  

The Easy Way Out

To my mind, creating grey items or trash loot is an easy way out.  You don't have to think of a purpose for everything.  It is an easy way to create a currency source on mobs.  But since these are multiplayer games, I would appreciate designers taking the time to integrate all of the items into the crafting economy.  Maybe adding a "harvesting" mechanic so you could pull something useful out of trash items.  

Too often, inventory management of trash does not benefit my adventuring but harms it.  What do you think?  Do you like inventory micro-management?  Or is there another important reason for trash loot?

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