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chronos

Saving Games

48 posts in this topic

Oops... it seems like dwarfsoft replied to my message just as I decided to edit it. For the sake of the other readers, in the original version of my reply I told dwarfsoft that I didn''t understand what he meant by his post.
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how about having then both, and let the player deside, have an option where there is free save and another where is save spots. know u cant complain. also another good one will be choosing it according to the difficulty level, easy is free save, hard is savespot
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I don''t know about letting the player check the box, but difficulty levels sounds promising. It also depends on how you advance the difficulty level. You could require the character to have gone a certain distance through the game and then switch it. I would like to see freesave->Savespot->Hardcore... that would be cool!


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A good example of atmosphere-preserving save points is in the Playstation game Parasite Eve, where the save points are telephones, located at natural places within the environment. They always also have a blinking red light so that you can always identify them.

Believe me, there were times I was never happier to see a phone.
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Save games are for weenies! Hardcore mode forever!

Of course, I allow saving in town (or at base, whatever). You do have to go to work some time. But if you die out in the adventure, it''s OVER BABY!
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Okay. {picks up BIG claymore and walks around the room glaring at everybody...}

Why is it that designers feel the URGE to impose THEIR play style on players? Is this machismo, or what? Repeat and die gameplay appeals to 13 year olds. Now, I've got nothing against 13 year olds, but I'm not 13. I don't have much time to play games, and so the ABSOLUTE LAST THING I want to do is repeat Level 16 a half dozen times because I've got to reload from my friggin' save point.

As designers, we've GOT to think like chefs. No, seriously. We've got to think about what people want, not what we think they should have. If people want to save anywhere, let 'em save anywhere, and let's not be moralistic about it.

Look, this issue has even costs the big guys money. Anybody remember the Aliens vs. Predator save patch? That certainly wasn't figured into Fox's development budget, and I for one didn't even buy the game until it came out.

A lot of you seem to want to create RPGs, where death has many more consequences. I would strongly {with claymore } encourage you to use the carrot, not the stick. DO NOT PENALIZE free savers. Sometimes they just want to experiment. Sometimes they just want to explore. Sometimes they don't want to suffer whatever loss we high and mighty designers choose to inflict on them.

If freesavers really irritate you, then why don't you reward the repeat-and-diers? Give 'em extra points, a higher score, special potions, whatever. Use the carrot, not the stick...

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - Wavinator on August 15, 2000 7:19:38 PM
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Wavinator,

It seems your design philosophy is distinctly different from mine. Striving to determine what "the people" want seems to me rather naive. While designers should certainly be aware of the way players might respond to certain design choices, I don''t really believe in democratic design. Some people feel that pandering to the masses will lead to formulaic, regurgitated crap. True or not, I prefer to write games according to the things that I might enjoy. What better criteria is there?
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Wavinator,

I can agree with not penalizing players for free saving. That does not, however, mean that one should implement a free save function. As for penalizing death, I think that pretty much necessary, or else it serves no function.
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I think Soul Reaver did a pretty interesting thing with this whole issue. I''ll try to explain this game to those who haven''t played it. This is a 3rd person 3D puzzle game, some may say similar to Tomb Raider, but I think it''s much better.

First of all, the whole game was very nicely designed. There were no save points, instead there were gateways which took you to different places (similar to Diablo 2''s system). There also were no levels, the whole game world was one BIG level. The storyline called for two realms, a material one and a soul one. Originally you exist in the soul realm, and you are able to materialize in the material realm at certain points. These two realms are pretty much the same (some differences do exist which are used for some puzzles), except that you can''t physically touch or move anything in the soul realm. Initially you can''t stay in the material realm forever, your life slowly degrades.

When you die in the material realm, you simply go to the soul realm. When you die in the soul realm, you go back to the beginning of the game, but you are still able to use any gateways you activated. When you save the game and re-load, you always start at the beginning, and you have to use gateways to continue your quest.

It may sound like there is no penalty for death, and there isn''t. This however goes with the storyline and the whole concept of the game. The gateways are also a part of the story, so basically everything is very nicely integrated into the game, and you rarely have to leave the game world mentally. You only save when you''re going to quit, because there is no penalty for dying anyway.

The point I''m trying to make is this: you don''t have to have save points or free saves. I think a better solution would be (as someone mentioned before) to use a system similar to Diablo 2''s (meaning use way points, or gateways).
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quote:
Original post by chronos

Wavinator,

It seems your design philosophy is distinctly different from mine. Striving to determine what "the people" want seems to me rather naive. While designers should certainly be aware of the way players might respond to certain design choices, I don''t really believe in democratic design. Some people feel that pandering to the masses will lead to formulaic, regurgitated crap. True or not, I prefer to write games according to the things that I might enjoy. What better criteria is there?



Allow me to suggest very relevant criteria: Your game ships, or it does not.

I approve wholeheartedly of designing solely for yourself. It can be fun and very creative. But I wouldn''t assume for a second that designing in a vacuum, without a thought as to what my audience would or wouldn''t like, is going to give me a shippable product.

This highlights what I consider a big problem among would be designers. Designing for your audience is not pandering. We are not high culture artists, and any arrogance we may have toward "the masses" is unfounded. We are, instead, more like cooks-- we blend together a bunch of ingredients that we hope others will enjoy.

Now we are best at our craft when we like the same things our audience likes. Professionals like Meier and Miyamoto have said that this is the secret to their success: they and their audience share similar tastes. But they never forget their audience, and must be constantly aware of where they and their audience diverge.

Remember, it''s all about the players . Game creation is a business, and NO business survives by ignoring the will or wishes of its customers.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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Supernova,

But there is a penalty for dying in your example. You''re either moved to the soul world, or back to the beginning.
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Wavinator,

There's a very big difference between considering the players and giving the players "what they want". The latter attempts to assign a preference to a collective whose preferences, taken together, may be quite contradictory. That's why I think it's naive. Please note that I never said we should ignore the players. The vacuum you speak of is hard to achieve.

I suppose what I'm saying is that market demands should not determine design, but rather the designer should. That a designer considers the player as part of his design does not necessarily mean he's trying to satisfy some kind of perceived demand ("what players want").

For me games are primarily and art form and only secondarily a business. I'm sure many people feel otherwise. Burger king appeals to the masses, a chef's culinary art might not. Hollywood special effects appeal to the masses, Woody Allen might not.

Edited by - chronos on August 15, 2000 9:44:42 PM
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chronos,

Yeah I guess you can say that''s a penalty. What that does though is eliminate the need for the player to save every 2 seconds because they''re afraid they''ll die. Here, the player can just go find a "portal" where they can materialize in the physical realm. Though yeah, you still have to go through the trouble of finding a portal so that can be seen as a penalty.

I think this kind of system is better than making the player have to save very often. The designers must''ve assumed that everyone will be saving like crazy, so they made it unnecessary to save at all.
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Supernova,

I see what you mean. The game is designed in a way that makes compulsive saving irrelevant. I don't think there's anything wrong with free saving. It's just that save points can have a certain strategic design value that free saving lacks. Even so, save points are certainly not the only valid alternative.

[rambling mode: on]

To think of it, I should ammend my statement about death. Death should mean something, and that meaning is usually negative. I suppose in some quirky games death might lead to a positive result.

[rambling mode: off]

Edited by - chronos on August 15, 2000 10:15:17 PM
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quote:
Original post by chronos

I suppose what I'm saying is that market demands should not determine design, but rather the designer should. That a designer considers the player as part of his design does not necessarily mean he's trying to satisfy some kind of perceived demand ("what players want").



Maybe we don't disagree so much. Perhaps it's a matter of degrees. Here's a litmus test: If you make something and show it to a bunch of friends, and get lots of negative feedback, do you change it?

For me, there are only a few cases where I will not. In fact, the only case really is if something is so core to the design that it can't be changed. For instance, there are some aspects to my current RPG that I think the user will appreciate once he gets used to them (the time limit, for instance, which is usually EVIL). But if they turn out to be unappealing, I'll rip them out without remorse.


quote:

For me games are primarily and art form and only secondarily a business. I'm sure many people feel otherwise. Burger king appeals to the masses, a chef's culinary art might not. Hollywood special effects appeal to the masses, Woody Allen might not.



... and Boston Markets or your local burrito joint is somewhere in between. Nothing wrong with this. I WILL NOT make a Deer Hunter, to save my life (in fact, it was one of the reasons I left my last job-- we started making hunting games! )

I think what's important here is to be realistic. I have what I consider to be complicated, artsy ideas, too, but I want to make games for a living, so I have to be honest about the viability of my projects. My E.T.Civilization game that traces an alien culture's rise from the stone era to transcendence is going to have a MUCH smaller audience than the action games I'm dreaming up.

Like Andy Worhol once said, sometimes ya make make art, sometimes ya make soup...

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - Wavinator on August 15, 2000 10:54:38 PM
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Suggestion: take the Diablo 2/Championship Manager 3 (2 -very- different games for you there, showing general appeal) approach.

Yes: you can save whenever you like.
But: it kicks you out of the game when you do so.

Result: if you can only play for 10 minute periods, or whatever, you can still save whenever you like, with just a couple of clicks. No finding savepoints or tokens or whatever. But, due to the hassle involved, it discourages the save/fail/reload/repeat mentality. People will be less inclined to use the game save feature as a way to pass a difficult section if they have to quit and reload the entire game each time.

Thief: The Dark Project had a similar effect for me, cos to load a saved game took 2 or 3 minutes I''d rather try harder to not die, than to keep reloading
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And then to make it impossible for players to load cause they died, auto-save it when they die

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"
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quote:
Original post by Ironblayde

I don't see how this would be much different from free saves. You say that the suspension data is gone as soon as you resume the game. Does it also disappear if you die? Even if so, there's nothing to stop the player from suspending the game as a safety net... when he gets into a fight he knows he can't win, he just kills the game before the enemy can kill him and erase his save data. Then he resumes the game, 'suspends' it again, and repeats. Call me pessimistic, but I don't think you can find a happy medium between free saves and save points, unless you count games like FF7 where you can free save only in a certain area (the world map).


-Ironblayde
 Aeon Software


Of course the suspension data would disappear when you die--for two reasons:

1) You've already resumed the game, and as he said, the suspension data would disappear when you resume the game.

2) Suspension saves like this are similar to pausing the game in old platform games (like Mario Bros. #). Now, when was the last time you saw a platform game where you paused the game, jumped/fell off a cliff, then resumed where you saved it?

In relation to the argument free saves vs. spot saves, I still think free save is the way to go, especially in RPGs and strategy games where one mistake could throw you off and require hours of work to get back to where you were.


--
(edited here)

Oops, I just realized how long the post already was, so some of that may have already been covered...
--



All hail the Technoweenie!

Edited by - draqza on August 21, 2000 4:42:35 PM
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Diablo II offers only one option, Save and Exit. However, it also pops you back into town and respawns all the maps (though it does not regenerate all the maps unless it is a multiplayer game) If you die, a Save and Exit won''t change that(though it does have one unrealistic benefit I''ll touch upon. Your corpse reappears in town when you reload the game, instead of where you died. Makes equipment retrieval easy, the downside being you lose all the progress you made cause the monsters are respawned)

I think this is by far the best way of handling saved games. Save spots will never ever truly merge seamlessly with the atmosphere of the game. The whole concept of saving the world state and the concept that the world is a game some person is playing should be completely absent from the reality of that fantasy world, no matter how disguised they are.

People should be free to save the game and leave it whenever they want. They should be free to play in 5 minute chunks of time, or 5 hour chunks of time. The only problem I have with complete free saves, is there allows players to very easily bypass many built in game penalizing functions that can drastically affect the overall intended gameplay. Every developer needs to draw the line somewhere when it comes to giving the player the freedom to do what he wants within the game. If there are actions of such a severe nature that the player can no longer properly play the game, then that''s a problem completely unrelated to being able to save the game.
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There was this quite crap game for the Gameboy, Frankenstein. You played the so-called Franky trying to collect the body parts of his girlfriend (well...). The game pak had no built-in memory battery, so the only way to ''save'' your game was by noting 40+ numbers where every game variable was included in. And try to re-enter this number without a real keyboard! THIS WAS SO CRAP. I didn''t write down this number one single time, instead kicked the game the first time I died

For my game, I''ll make a compromise between save points and free saves. Basically, there ARE save points, but you don''t see them: Whenever you make progress in the game, your character is saved. There is only one save slot. The player doesn''t see anything from the save/load feature (no file name dialog or stuff), it just is in there. Because your game is automatically saved very often, not much progress is lost when dying. I like that
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Wavinator I agree with you. In the end, most of us want people to enjoy the games that we create. I don''t know about everyone else, but I hate when game developers do not allow me to free save. It is the only way that I can make it through a game. I am the type of person who enjoys playing games, but is easily frustrated. I love to see the graphics in the game, and how the game was constructed. I love to see all of the interesting effects in the game. I do not want to see the scenery for level 1 for 3 days straight just because I keep forgetting that the monster pops out of the cave when I walk by. I like the idea of rewarding a player for wait for a save spot yet not punishing me for saving whenever I feel like it.

One other important point to consider is the game complexity. When I say this, I mean how hard is it to get through the entire game, and how long will it take to complete. As everyone knows, there has to be a fine balance in the difficulty of a level. You want your player to be on the edge of frustration only to allow them to complete their current task. To allow them to become frustrated will hurt their opinion of your game. A psychological fact is that if they are emotionally low(frustrated) then the emotional high (completing the level for instance) will be much higher. When a person feels really good about themselves, everything looks better to them, including your games.

In the end it is your decision as to the saving system, but try to look at it with an open mind willing to try new ideas. Those people that want to impose their own ideas or beliefs on players will only succeed in taking the fun out of a game. There may be no easy solution, but a good balance works.

So if anyone is wondering, pretty much I just talked in a complete circle!! If anyone is left still reading this post, thanks for sticking with me!!
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A point that no-one appears to consider is that free saving is excellent for people who have crappy unstable computers like me. Playing most games for me involves saaving every 5 mins in case of crash.

Just play fallout2 or daggerfall without saving regularly to see the true meaning of frustration.

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I actually play something besides RPGs... I''ve been playing a game called X: Beyond the Frontier They have meshed the spot saving into the game and it is a very believable fashion. Although I don''t really like this method of saving, I really despise free saving (I have some friends who abuse this, as I''m sure you all do).

They have space stations and in these facilities you can buy a "save." At first I thought it to be stupid... but, the more I play, I have come to the conclusion that it does a couple of things. One it cost you money... so, you need to have money to save and if you do it too often, well, you just waste money. Two, it adds to the futuristic feel of the game.

Anyway just my 1 credit worth,



Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser
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