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Play without save/load


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#1 Karnot   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 05:33 PM

Usually when devs dont want player to abuse save/load they enforce ironman mode, or entice the player with some positive bonuses for not saving. As a player i prefer getting bonuses for not saving, rather than receiving penalties for saving. But !

What if you want to make a game, any game whatsoever, where combat is involved, and you really want for player to lose some battles. Not that the battles are scripted for player to lose, any given battle is winnable, but rather that winning or losing a battle will direct the story in different directions. Say, if you win you continue on your quest towards some goal, but if you lose you fall into servitude to someone, things like that. You want the player to experience the feel and consequences of losing, but more than that, you want players to see other sides of the storyline. If everyone will just reload and bruteforce through the battle - that will never happen !

How would you suggest to the player that losing might have its merits, storywise ?

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#2 colinhect   Members   -  Reputation: 193

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 07:02 PM

This is a really interesting subject. Pressing the quicksave key every time you enter a new room is a huge immersion breaker. I really noticed how much more immersive a game can be without manual saving when I played Amnesia: The Dark Decent. Their approach was to respawn the player somewhere nearby if the player died. Dying was only a minor setback gameplay-wise but it was terrifying psychologically. This worked well because they gave the player a reason to not want to die (fear) and forced them to play in the moment (no saving).

I think incorporating failure into the story can work okay. As long as complete failure is still an option. If no matter what the player does the story still continues (with minor set-backs) then that will seem pretty cheap to the player and they won't have much of a reason to try. However, repeating the same section over and over again because you keep dying is not very much fun either.

#3 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6951

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:00 AM

There're always two sides to a coin. For once you want to save the game progress, on the other hand repeated loading can be exploited to overcome a challenge, so infact loading/saving is a build in cheat.

The solution is simple: don't give the player control of manual loading/saving, just save the game when the player stops playing and load when he wants to continue.

The problem is, that gamers are accustomed to use it in single player games, that's all, there's no real benefit other than using it as cheat.

Take a look at multiplayer games like your standard MMORPG or even FPS like MW3/BF3. The game progression is saved automatically, when you die in a MMORPG you will get some penalty, when you die in a shooter you will spoil you statistics.

To be honest, saving/loading is a cheat for the game designer too. Did you design some bad balancing or an overpowered boss ? No problem, just let the player use your build-in cheat to overcome the design flaw. So, when you want to get rid of loading/saving you need an almost flawless design or optionally some other feature to weaken the impact of failure.

Eventually the solution for your case is not what you would expect:
Are you willing to confront your player base expectation by removing a manual loading/saving feature ? If this is the case, then just do it and incoperate your decision in your game design.

That's it, if you don't want to go to the right, go to the left, instead of searching for a way to go to the left and right at the same time :D

#4 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6951

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:13 AM

When you think about loading/saving, it was one of the first streamlining approaches to expand your game community from core-gamers to more casual gamers.:huh:

#5 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1965

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 01:35 PM

Probably the obvious thing to do is just make sure you tell the player that loosing isn't a big deal. But if your game has some particular 'optimal ending' (assuming there is an ending) the a player is likely to do what he can to head streight for it. And if an event occurs that makes that optimal result no longer attainable, he's going to feel disappointed and want to change the outcome of the event even if there may still be an interesting experience ahead of him. If there isn't really an optimal result and the player knows it then the he probably won't be focusing on looking for a specific end but rather on exploring what possibilities are available.

#6 DarklyDreaming   Members   -  Reputation: 363

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 01:47 PM

Manual loading/saving is sooo last decade. Join the present and implement auto-save and be done with it but please, please, don't make a thirty second "Saving -- Please sit here and watch this thingy spinning" kind of save; either save between chapters/cutscenes or make auto-saving autonomous and oblivious to the player; a minor annoyance, the players will forgive. A major one... not so much.

There is no reason to force the player to actually think about when to save -- that's just plain bad game design (unless, it's actually a part of the game; but otherwise it's just bad design). If the player is actually thinking: "Hmm, it's been five minutes since my last save... maybe I ought to do it now?" then you've failed.
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#7 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 04:37 PM

There are other reasosn aswell, but Crysis 2's move to linear paths with "action bubbles" and autosave between those, or in other words a much less sandbox enviroment, really helped making crysis 2 a huge dssappointment. I played original crysis first on a computer that only tackled low graphics (other games looked better), so it's not a game just about graphics as some claim. It's still the best singleplayer fps I've played to date.
Only save on certain locations really does not fit in here. It's very boring to play a huge portion again and again, only to die at some key moment right before the next autosave. Farcry had limited saves, but it had the same problems. It was more difficult, but I fail to see how going far back just to improve the state of your next state is more immersive than being able to save anywhere.
In more linear enviroments, I also hate when there's a long relatively easy sequence of stuff to do, and then facing a difficult encounter where save is right after that. Save should be right before, so you don't have to redo the boring parts over and over again.

You might limit when you can save though (not in combat), just make sure it's implemented correctly.

#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4697

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 05:10 PM

As a player, I'd prefer to know where there is a story branch and what causes it, and be able to restore to before the story branch if I accidentally went the wrong way. Perhaps before a key battle the narratorial voice of the story could say something like, "If the bad guy were to win this fight he would probably take me prisoner." That's all I'd really need to know. (I just finished playing World of Goo and I thought the sign-painter and his signs were a great way to convey the story.)

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#9 irrationalistic   Members   -  Reputation: 274

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:10 PM

I think the major issue with saving/loading vs. immersion is that the act of saving is not an immersive feature when it's tacked into a menu or pops up some random hud element. If you look at how Minecraft handles "saving," which is to say, whenever you open a menu or quit the game, it keeps track of your current game state. However, if you sleep on a bed, then you die, you respawn at the bed. In this sense, they've made saving almost non-existent in the player's eyes. Same with colinhect's example of Amnesia, saving is totally out of the way.

I have been playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it's almost easy to tell when a good time to save is based on the challenge you just experienced or if the environment is telling you "big battle coming up..." In that sense, perhaps one could look at autosaves in two separate categories, where the level has a major autosave and major environmental situations have minor autosaves before and after. In this sense, a player can safely know that before they tackle a room full of heavy machine guns, their place in the overall story won't be interrupted if they are killed. They also have the option, should they so choose, to restart the entire level at whatever point they started it at. In retrospect, I imagine a lot of these choices are limited by the hardware simply being unable to keep up with the speed necessary to keep saving files.


I would say that if you are going to take out saving in a game and replace it with reward/punishment systems, then it might be best to not mention what's going on behind-scenes to the player. That way, it just ends up looking like a series of choices and outcomes from their loss state.

#10 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:51 PM

I was considering for a fantasy RPG you can only save via Inns or by Camping .... so need to be in safety first, sort of akin to save spots I suppose.

#11 irrationalistic   Members   -  Reputation: 274

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 09:00 PM

That's a bit like Fallout, Red Dead, or Final Fantasy. That system tends to work pretty well since the saving system is hooked directly into the game itself, not a specific menu. Even helps by healing the player sometimes! Extra bonus.

#12 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17744

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 10:34 PM

As a player, I'd prefer to know where there is a story branch and what causes it, and be able to restore to before the story branch if I accidentally went the wrong way.

This sort of play-style could possibly be well served by having a series of save/safe points that are unlocked as they are reached and which can then be used to replay the game from any point along the way that you've already reached -- you could even display them as a tree so that the branching of different possibilities is visible in the loading screen.

#13 Karnot   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 01:57 AM

Thanks for your answers.

I think incorporating failure into the story can work okay. As long as complete failure is still an option.

Well...what if its not ? That is, player may be worse off on the resources and so on after losing, but what if you want players to adapt to their situation, instead of just keep on winning and steamrolling the opposition until the endgame credits ? Also, in many games after player performs poorly he is sometimes given a punishment game. Like, if you die you have to collect souls, or defeat some spawned enemies. Would you say its better if a punishment game is easy or if its hard, relative to the regular gameplay ? Because if its too easy it becomes a chore you soon cant wait to get past, but if its too hard it becomes basically a double punishment and leads to frustration.

Take a look at multiplayer games like your standard MMORPG or even FPS like MW3/BF3. The game progression is saved automatically

Yes, but its not really an intended game design, is it ? Its the nature of multiplayer, you cant really make it in any other way, thats why nobody questions it and demands a save functionality.

If there isn't really an optimal result and the player knows it then the he probably won't be focusing on looking for a specific end but rather on exploring what possibilities are available.

Ok, thats good reasoning.

Farcry had limited saves

It didnt, but devs were pressured to release the patch that added the functionality. Rather quickly, i might add. This had been the case for most of the games without saving feature for the last decade.

As a player, I'd prefer to know where there is a story branch and what causes it, and be able to restore to before the story branch

I was thinking of something more amorphous, like...you are hired by one faction to fight the other, but if you fail then they wont hire you anymore, or maybe you lost your weapons/equipment and cant pay to replace it, so your options for employment are immediately shifted to lower tiers. Naturally, i cant really put a narration on something like that, not everytime at least.

#14 AIbot   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 12:29 AM

hmm what about some good checkpoints as portal2? its the best option imo

#15 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 08:42 AM

I'm a big fan of no save/load, and having actions have irreversible consequences. Especially story-driven games / RPGs have lots to gain from that.

#16 Paul Franzen   Members   -  Reputation: 333

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 12:58 PM

I dunno if this helps the discussion, but as a player, I really can't stand games that don't let me save anywhere--to the point where if I know a game doesn't, there's a good chance I won't buy it unless I'm really interested in it otherwise.

I don't usually have a ton of free time for playing videogames; I tend to squeeze my gaming sessions into 30- to 60-minute chunks. Given that, I try to avoid any game that's going to waste my time by making me re-do things, because I died and the last save point was a long time ago, or because I had to turn the game off before saving because there wasn't enough time to keep playing. Moreover, in games that don't have save-anywhere, I tend to spend the whole time fretting over where my next save point is going to be (because I don't want to keep playing if the next save point is far away), to the point where it ruins the whole experience for me.

So! If you don't want players to take advantage of saving/loading to wipe away mistakes, I think it'd help if you could at least save and quit at any time, and then have that save file immediately deleted when you load it.

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#17 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 05:58 PM

I don't usually have a ton of free time for playing videogames; I tend to squeeze my gaming sessions into 30- to 60-minute chunks. Given that, I try to avoid any game that's going to waste my time by making me re-do things, because I died and the last save point was a long time ago,

It's only a waste of your time if the section you have to re-do is too easy or the game is boring in the first place. Arcade games are all about re-do, playing the entire game from start to victory or failure, but very rarely waste the player's time. With rich mechanics and tight difficulty balancing the play stays meaningful.

or because I had to turn the game off before saving because there wasn't enough time to keep playing. Moreover, in games that don't have save-anywhere, I tend to spend the whole time fretting over where my next save point is going to be (because I don't want to keep playing if the next save point is far away), to the point where it ruins the whole experience for me.

So! If you don't want players to take advantage of saving/loading to wipe away mistakes, I think it'd help if you could at least save and quit at any time, and then have that save file immediately deleted when you load it.

Yep, every last game should have save and quit. I have no idea why more designers have not realized that.

#18 Paul Franzen   Members   -  Reputation: 333

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 07:28 PM

It's only a waste of your time if the section you have to re-do is too easy or the game is boring in the first place. Arcade games are all about re-do, playing the entire game from start to victory or failure, but very rarely waste the player's time. With rich mechanics and tight difficulty balancing the play stays meaningful.

Maybe it's just me! It's only in specific genres that I enjoy repetition--racing games, sports games, things like that. If I'm playing a brawler, and I get most of the way through and die, it's probably going to be a loooong time before I pick it up from the beginning again.



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#19 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 01:16 PM

I already believed that manual save/load is a bad feature in games before reading this thread.
There's many other ways to implement saving like having to return to your home or an inn to save if you want to logout.

What got me to think about stopping manual save/load is that I ALWAYS abuse it in all games where you can pickpocket npc's.
I hate doing it because I know it's cheating.. But all games have really bad game design when it comes to the penalty of getting caught pick pocketing.. so I don't have any choice but to cheat.

This brings up what Ashaman said below...

To be honest, saving/loading is a cheat for the game designer too. Did you design some bad balancing or an overpowered boss ? No problem, just let the player use your build-in cheat to overcome the design flaw. So, when you want to get rid of loading/saving you need an almost flawless design or optionally some other feature to weaken the impact of failure.


This is also something I've meditated on for months and I still believe in this motto:

"Someone convinced against his opinion is of his own opinion still."

People including game designers always believe themselves to be right even if they are proven wrong they somehow think they are right.
Why I don't know but it's always like that.

I made a post in perma-death thread where I said that if you're going to have perma-death you better make sure the combat system and mechanics of the game make sure there won't be any unfair or lame deaths. Class based games, RNG based combat goes out the window if you want to have perma-death.
I think this goes for singleplayer games too that have no save/load.. You have to make sure that the player won't die of bullshit reasons.

I don't feel like going indepth on how I've come up with everything I said about combat systems in the other thread because I don't think anyone would agree with me anyway because of my motto which I will QFT again: "Someone convinced against his opinion is of his own opinion still.". But I think that anyone who could understand me should be able to fill in the blanks on their own such as why class based games aren't fair 1v1.


So, There's really no way to know if your game is "flawless". There will always be bad players even after they've played for hundreds of hours that will complain about certain features without knowing what they are really capable of. So you can't really listen to the players because you really don't know which one of them knows what they're talking about. And you can't listen to yourself either because like I said previously, Everyone thinks they have created a flawless system and they can't be convinced otherwise no matter the proof infront of them.

I think my theories are flawless too because they are.. no one has yet to prove me wrong.
I know it's funny hearing me say that after everything I just told but it proves my point I guess.

#20 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 05:49 AM

Class based games, RNG based combat goes out the window if you want to have perma-death.

Wrong. The presence of "classes" does not imply unfairness. Some amount of randomness is tolerable as well as long as it averages out sufficiently and the player has enough tools to cope with it.




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