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felonius

Let's take a look at "saved games"

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Hi, I would like to bring to life the old topic of "saving games". I know some of you think that this topic is a dead hat and nothing is left to be said, but I would very much like to hear your opinions. A "saved game" is defined as being a snapshot of a game state that can reloaded later to be able to continue. This posting is NOT about pausing of games. That is another discussion. Traditionally there exists a number of ways game saving can be done: 1. Don''t allow it. To make things easier give the player more lives. This was used in old shoot''em ups. 2. Allow the player to save as often as he/she wishes to. We will call this "Doom"-style saving. 3. Only allow saved games at specific "save game points". 4. Only allow the user to save a single "slot" and require saving at character death and game exit. This is done in rogue-like games like ADOM. We pros and cons of the extremes (1. and 2.) are: With "Doom"-style saving players can quit the game at any time and continue later. This is important for most people. On the other hand can saved games be abused by repeating the same game section over and over again. The player can choose to reload every time even the tinyest thing goes wrong. If the game was written to be played without saving then it becomes very easy. If it was written with game saves in mind then it is often very hard if one avoids saving. This is a problem in many first person shooters and CRPGs which often require one to save often. I think that overusing of saved games is bad and should be prevented. I have often seen players approaching something dangerous, stopping, saving, continuing without caution, seeing the result and the reloading. The tension has now completely gone from the game and it is somewhat spoiled. I suggest that we use the following alternative (all of the list elements and the same time): 1. Allow the player to SAVE at "save points". These saves are called FREE. 2. Allow the player to SAVE as often as he/she wants. Call this EXPENSIVE. 3. Require the player to save the game upon exit in a special slot for this purpose. This is a FREE save. 4. Restoring a FREE save can be done at any time without adverse effects. 5. Restoring a EXPENSIVE save should cost something (in game terms) for *ALL* the saved games stored. Opinions, anyone? B.S. Jacob Marner
Graduate Student of Computer Science, The University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
http://fp.image.dk/fpelisjac/rolemaker/


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I''m in favor of the expensive save. (as often as you like)
There have been many times in a game where I''m stuck on one spot and if I can''t save just before the problem, I quickly become tired of going over the same path to get there and will eventually just stop playing.

If you were able to get to that point once, you''ve proven you have the skill to get there in that state. Making you do it over and over is just repetative and takes away from the fun of the game.

E:cb woof!

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I''m in favour of free saves. They force the player to take responsibilty for their actions and makes them play the game better. Theres nothing worst than watching someone play the same scene over and over again just because it didn''t go the way they wanted. It ruins the flow of the game and their envolvement in it.

A good example of a game using free saves is the Resident Evil series. The player has to play the game carefully because the can''t keep saving all the time, and the chance of death is great. They have to be careful when the fight because the have very limited amounts of ammo and medicine. Knowing that they can''t simply cut loose and mess around without dealing with the concequences of their actions makes the game more real. But this style of saving has to be implemented careful. Space the save point to far apart and make the challenges in between to hard and the player will get angry and annoyed. They will get mad at the game and might just give up. Also the does have a life outside the game, there is nothing worse than having to stop playing to do something else (like having dinner or going to work) and not being able to find a save point. Or if you put them to close together it like having and expensive saving system.

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I think you both misunderstood what I mean with free and expensive saves. The 5 points listed in the end of my mail should be applied *at the same time in the same game*, meaning that if somebody saves at a save game point then it is free but if is anywhere else then it is expensive.

It agree with dog135 that people should be able save as often as they wish as repeating the same path is boring. I see, though, it as being a flaw in the game if it is neccessary to replay some part some many times. The game is too hard at this point at should be made easier. Just like it is boring to replay the same path several times I also think that replaying the hard bit after the saved state is just as boring.

I also agree with Abort Fail Retry in that people should be able to take responsibility for their actions, but we should as designers take care not to prevent players from leaving the game.

Review my 5 point scheme. With this scheme it is possible to exit the game and return without game cost. Safety saves could also be bade from time to time in the same slot guard against system crashes.
Only if the player restores a saved game that is expensive then the restore operation will have adverce effects.
If the game ends then the special slot for the safety saved game should be deleted.

How do you like this alternate scheme (it has not been tried on any published games)?


B.S. Jacob Marner
Graduate Student of Computer Science, The University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
http://fp.image.dk/fpelisjac/rolemaker/


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Personally I favor just giving the player a limited number or saves / level, usable anywhere. In general, I think the saving mechanism should NOT have in-game presence, either in the form of mysterious glowing ''save points'' or in the even more mysterious loss of abilities/equipment that could constitute the EXPENSIVE save cost you detail.

But if you''re willing to accept the loss of immersiveness, or can incorporate the mechanisms into the world, then I think it''s a great balance for both the player and the game designer.

- genovov

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What type of games are we talking about here? RTS games usually doesn''t have these kind of problems (i.e. they''ve got unlimited saves, mostly) while RPG games usually uses different kinds of save methods.

I like the "save-by-character" method for most RPG games, like Diablo works, where you only can save in one slot per character, therefor not have the possibility to re-play a part of the game just to make it.

One of the funniest game saves types must be in Outcast where you get a SAAVGAM (something like that) item

============================
Daniel Netz, Sentinel Design
"I'm not stupid, I'm from Sweden" - Unknown

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I can't recall for sure, but I think the Sega-CD game Lunar 2 had tackled this fairly well. It was an RPG, that allowed the normal save as often as you like in the overworld, and only at certain spots in dungeons method that just about every console rpg I've played does. The catch point was that you had to earn some kind of points to be able to save at all. I don't remember it ever making the game frustrating, but it did offer a good bit more challenge to it.

I'm not entirely sure this was the game, by the way, so take this with a grain or two of salt

Jonathan

P.S. - Another game I'm not too sure on, Outcast was mentioned. I've heard that it's way of handling saving is like the poster child for this topic. You have to find those SAAVGAM crystals, or something like that, and using them freezes an instant in time, at the same time causing a great deal of noise and light, which can be bad if you're trying to hide from someone. Save wherever you like, but it can be very expensive in gameplay terms.

Edited by - Jonathan on 4/6/00 1:51:02 AM

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Imagine if Rainbow 6/Rogue Spear (I feel one of the most immersive games out there) used in-game saves, so that you could save while you were in the actual level. I think the lack of that option created a situation where the player knew they only had one life and thus played totally different then if they could save at any point. I think R6 is a perfect example of how the lack of saving, used correctly, can "make" a game. Of course, R6''s approach can''t be used for every genre
...but overall I think that if the thought that the player can always save is not in the mind of the player when they are in the game, then the game will be a huge deal more immersive.

-Tim Yarosh
Lucid Games

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I guess it depends on the game. If you write a 3D program where the game doesn''t follow a specific path and the levels are large, there''s no real good way to save other then to save whenever you want. If you were to have save areas around there, the player could easily miss it by going down a different path. If you put them in every path, you''ll have to many save areas out there.

Also, sometimes when I''m playing a game, I don''t feel like being immersed. Sometimes I just want to play around for 10-15 minutes while I''m waiting for dinner to cook, or whatever. In those times, I''ll just use up all my high power weapons blasting away all the small characters. If there were consiquences to this, it''d take away from the versitility of the game.

If someone wants to make the game boring and miss use saves, I think that should be up to the player. Just like it''s up to the player wether or not to use cheats.

E:cb woof!

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hmm good question.

I for one am in favour of being able to save as many times as you want for a certain reason. Bugs.

I have recently been playing ultima 9. buggy as hell. before i got the patch that thing qould crash constantly. iimagine if a player had been doing things for 4 hours, and the game crashed, causing the player to go back and repeat everythign he jsut did. even now with teh patch the game still crashes every once in a while.

while its nearly impossible for any game amnufacturer to get all the bugs out of a program < due to the thousands of different hardware / software combos out there> allowing the player to save anywhere jsut for the mere fact that the game could crash at any given point woudl make the customer happier i believe.

But then again you do take away the challenge of certain parts of the game. i think its really a toss up. try it one way, see how many angry tech support calls the company gets, then try it the other way.



The Code is a Living breathing entity, and will move in accordance with you, therefore, be one with the Tao of the Code..

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