As someone who plays video games for fun, rather than competitively, there are many common mechanics that I don’t care for or that I’m broadly indifferent to. These usually tend to be fiddly, time consuming tasks such as inventory management or having to excessively (a very subjective term) fine tune gear. The Legendary Item system in LOTRO being a great example of this. I fully appreciate that there are players who really dig this sort of thing and I am not in any way advocating that they have their “fun” taken away. However, what I would like to see in more games, especially MMOs, is the ability to auto manage some of these systems. To be able to just click a button and have the peace of mind that the most relevant item in my inventory will be equipped by default.
Allow me to give an example. Back in 2003 I use to play a tactical squad based shooter called Hidden and Dangerous 2. You could spend ages equipping your team, meticulously pawing over the stats of each item and trying to ensure you had a cache of ammunition and supplies that suited your strategy. Or you if you preferred, you could click on a handy "auto manage" button that selected and equipped an adequate selection of items automatically. These were not the best or the worse items available and if you decided to choose for yourself you could do better. But they were sufficient for the task in hand, allowing the player to move on to the next step of the game. Overall the system was a nice compromise.
Requesting such a system (albeit rhetorically), is not such an outrageous demand, because a quasi-version of auto manage already exists in many games. For example, many shooters, such as the COD franchise come with default builds for each class. Again these may not be the best permutation of gear and weapons available, but they certainly work. In fact on occasions I have stuck with such loadouts without any major impediment. Such a facility also exists in real time strategy games. I can remember playing Star Wars: Rebellion back in the late nineties and allowing the AI to manage resources on the planets that were occupied. Again this was not the optimal choice, but it served a purpose if you didn’t wish to be bogged down in the minutiae of planning, building and maintaining factories, army barracks and ship yards.
Having an option to auto manage is about choice and allowing the player to do things in a fashion that suits them. There are many popular titles at present that have inventory management as a core game mechanic. Having a means to manage this process may well make such games attractive to a broader audience. Another factor to consider is the finite availability of leisure time. I certainly cannot spend an entire evening playing as I did a decade ago. Therefore when I do spend an hour or two playing a game, I want to be as productive as possible. The inclusion of some sort of auto manage facility would certainly contribute toward this and help with achieving goals in-game goals. The content gamer is one who is happy to log back in the next day. In an age of “live services” and an industry governed by churn, surely a content gamer is desirable?