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THOUGHTS: Savegame/Loadgame Features Need to Go

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JimDaniel

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I'm sure at some point all of you have wished you had a savegame/loadgame feature in your daily life - I know there's more than a few occassions where I put my foot in my mouth and wished immediately I could reload and try again, just like in a video game. Or even more seriously, when I did something morally wrong or hurt someone in some way and wished I could take it all back again. It seems like such a feature would be a wonderful tool to have.

At the same time I understand this: Having the knowledge that the decisions I make in life are forever brings a kind of vitality to life, even to the mundane details of life, that would be missing if I had multiple chances to "get it just right."

Can you imagine how detached and listless we would all become if our choices didn't mean much, if we could just simply try again if things didn't work out the way we expected? Life would cease to be life and become an experiment, clinical and dead.

So taking these thoughts into consideration I say, if you want to make only games then by all means allow such conventions as a savegame/loadgame feature. It works well for games. No harm done there.

But if you want to give your participant something more, something like the experience of life - with real vitality - then please throw all savegame/loadgame features right out the window.

Let every decision, every mundane choice, be forever in your created world.

If you want proof that this is the right path for interactive art to take, you only have to look at nature. Cezanne was telling the truth when he wrote, "Art is a harmony parallel to nature." Therefore, if you are ever in doubt as to the direction your work should take, just look at nature, look at your life, and you will find the best way.

And I promise you won't find any savegame/loadgame features there.
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Interesting thoughts.

In a previes of Fallout (the new RPG from the Oblivion guys), they were saying that the developers are trying to make the implications of your actions affect events far off in the future of the game so that by the time you realise the implications of your choices, the game has progressed too far for you to simply reload and re-decide.

While I'm very much enjoying your thoughts in this journal, I think that for computer games to continue to sell, they need to remain in the realms of entertainment, however well they may compare to other forms of art, and in that sense I think that the traditional load/save systems will never die. (I assume this can't apply to MMOs though - never play them so I don't really know how all that works).

However, attempts like those described above to make the implications of game choices far too far-reaching and complex to be circumnavigated by "Shit, reload" sorts of strategies are perhaps the way forward.

Anyway, just wanted to say welcome to journal land and keep these interesting thoughts coming.

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Another thought-provoking entry!

I do agree with you that saving/loading features allow the player to 'optimize' his or her experience by undoing any adverse choices they have made, and this functionality has been harnessed extensively in roguelike games for many many years now. This is one of the main reasons I find myself growing so attached to some of my long-lasting characters in Angband or ADOM: permadeath. If you mess up anything as you go, you've got to live with it for the rest of your character's life. Your choices become more defining, although most people also play fairly timidly.

I believe that the best solution lies in the middleground, however. Games like Deus Ex 2 and Oblivion do this unintentionally, IMHO, with their painfully long loading times. Games like FarCry and Halo, which use a 'checkpoint' system also take the middleground. The idea is that loading a previous game is either too much of a hassle (takes too long) or reverting to a saved game would take you back too far (checkpoints). The result is that if the player wanted to correct every error they made during gameplay, it would be impractical, and they wouldn't bother. However, large mistakes -- ones that would make the game from that point on a 'un-fun' -- can still be reverted via their last saved game.

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Quote:
Original post by EasilyConfused
In a previes of Fallout (the new RPG from the Oblivion guys), they were saying that the developers are trying to make the implications of your actions affect events far off in the future of the game so that by the time you realise the implications of your choices, the game has progressed too far for you to simply reload and re-decide.

Which basically means: if you don't make the right choice, the only thing you can do is to create a new game. I don't think this is a good solution either: it merely ruins the "experiment things you wouldn't do in the real life" point in games and quite be quite frustrating. Let's imagine that a powerful reward that you can near the end of the game depends on an action you did at the beginning of the game - you have no way to know that doing the wrong choice will have an influence on how the game will reward later. That's quite unfair IMHO. As a conclusion, you'll play to maximize the rewards - so you'll always play the nice guy doing nice things, which is a pretty limited experience in a RPG (I often play games twice: once with honor in mind, once with terror in mind).

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