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Proposal to make all games instantly better...

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Nice Article,but I guess this guy has not played Breath of Fire 5:Dragon Quarter,which uses a pretty hardcore save system that I really enjoyed.You start the game with 10 save tokens and you can find let''s say 10 more in a game that lasts from 10 to 20 hours depending on how you play it,also it uses another coundown system that leads you to your death if it reaches its climax,this might be extreme but it could be another example that some people wouldn''t and like and other people would enjoy/

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The game should be designed first and foremost so that it's fun to play with limited saves, but the player should also be given the opportunity to choose unlimited saves. The save game choice should be separate from other difficulty settings. That's all. The problem is just the "unlimited save-oriented game design" where sudden deaths are common because the game expects you to save a lot.

And as was suggested in the above thread, even in limited save game system one should always be given the possibility to exit the game at any point. But those save games would be temporary like in Nethack, i.e. you could continue from them only once.

[edited by - civguy on April 11, 2004 1:56:47 PM]

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This subject is totally a matter of opinion, but I strongly believe that the player should be able to save his progress in a game at any time. I do not find "save points" to increase the suspense in a game. They merely add unneeded frustration. When playing games that only allow me to save at certain points, I don''t find myself feeling anxious as to what will happen next. I find myself worrying about where the next save point will be. Forcing the player to replay parts of your game over and over is stupid.

To quote Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams:

"We believe that these arguments against saving are spurious and the sign of a lazy designer. Making a game harder simply by preventing the player from saving the game is a cheap way of creating challenge out of nothing...If a player continuously reloads a game to avoid a random event or to solve some problem by trial and error rather than skill or intelligence, he is, in effect, cheating at solitaire."

Of course, allowing unlimited saves is not necessary. Limiting the number of saves per level/mission/whatever (ala Hitman 2) would increase the suspense but allow the player to save his progress at carefully chosen times.

These are just my thoughts, so feel free to disagree. However, be aware that the games we build are played (hopefully) by many people, and we as designers are here to provide entertainment to them. It is not our goal to "beat" the player, or prevent them from enjoying our games.

-Mike

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Nice post!
Unlimited (anytime) saves is nice, for the right game. As been stated, it''s all opinion and what''s best for the game. I agree with a lot of what doctor6string said.
I prefer designers properly placing limited saves. Places, as an example, after puzzles, boss fights, etc. This way the player gets a huge sense of relief when they beat that area and reach the save. Recently I played through Sly Cooper, and the best feelings came from working my way through a tough area and reaching that checkpoint.
I''m currently designing an adventure/platform game with a checkpoint save system, very similar to saving system seen in sly cooper, farcry, etc. As a designer, I enjoy placing these in levels, just like any item, in strategic places that will give the player a sense of accomplishment and relief.

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Playing through Dynasty Warriors 4, and finally beating a particularly annoying level in the middle of the night, I felt happy. I turned off the X-box and went to bed.

A few days later, I wanted to continue -- that''s when I found out that you have to page through 3 statistics display scenes AFTER beating the level, before the level is actually saved. So I have to re-beat this annoying level.

BAD DESIGNER! NO COOKIE!

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I would lean towards automatically invalidating a save file once it has been opened so that the user can stop at any time, but isn''t implicitly given the power to turn back time, unless of course that concept was actually intended and integral to the gameplay.

______________________________________________________________
The Phoenix shall arise from the ashes... ThunderHawk -- ¦þ
MySite
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quote:
Original post by Thunder_Hawk
I would lean towards automatically invalidating a save file once it has been opened so that the user can stop at any time, but isn''t implicitly given the power to turn back time, unless of course that concept was actually intended and integral to the gameplay.



So, what is a player supposed to do if the game crashed? The
power is gone? Some toddler kicked the plug?

[Insert other unpredictable "disasters".]

"Oops, the save game I loaded is now gone. Curse the designer!"

2501: BFDQ has one of the strictest save system I''ve seen for
a console game, an RPG to boot. I''ve read MANY people complain
about it.

Some got their game disc scratched and the game would freeze in
the middle of a battle or something. There goes 2 hours of game
play down the drain.




Kami no Itte ga ore ni zettai naru!

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quote:
Original post by tangentz
So, what is a player supposed to do if the game crashed? The
power is gone? Some toddler kicked the plug?



Autosave-But you'd still probably be screwed out of those 2 hours in a standard save setup anyways (I've had this happen numerous times). I guess I made the mistake of listing my thoughts in reverse priority as well. I would only use such a system in a situation where a unique runthrough is one the primary gameplay concepts. Even then, though, I would have to mull over it for a while.

______________________________________________________________
The Phoenix shall arise from the ashes... ThunderHawk -- ¦þ
MySite
______________________________________________________________


[edited by - Thunder_Hawk on April 11, 2004 3:49:00 PM]

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quote:
Original post by doctorsixstring
This subject is totally a matter of opinion
It doesn''t matter if you make it an option and design the game so that it''s not overly frustrating even without save anywhere.
quote:
I do not find "save points" to increase the suspense in a game. They merely add unneeded frustration.
I think the frustration is needed, as a punishment for playing badly and not thinking enough. With "save points" I won''t try foolish moves such as "what happens if I jump off that cliff" because I know trying dumb things costs me time. Trial and error won''t be a viable solution anymore. And for me, they do add a lot of suspense as well, because an enemy killing me actually has a real-life consequence.
quote:
"Making a game harder simply by preventing the player from saving the game is a cheap way of creating challenge out of nothing."
If the game really is challenging when you can''t save everywhere, doesn''t it mean there is a real challenge in the game? I.e. it''s not "out of nothing". If solving it were to be made easier by adding the "save anywhere"-feature and not by designing the game to be manageable without "save anywhere" (the approach I prefer), then these fellows are actually encouraging what they describe as "cheating at solitaire". IMO, "save anywhere" is a cheap way to cover up game balance design errors.

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^ i agree with the above poster.

From my own experience from playing the Heroes of Might And Magic series, i can say that unlimited saves is not a good thing in such a game. Maybe its just me, but in that serie the game was automatically saved each turn, and if my main army was jumped and took alot of casualties, i often tended twoards loading the last autosave. Taking a diffrent path, avoiding the jump, or letting the battle progress diffrently.

But that dosn''t have to mean its a bad thing, the game is still great fun, but the risk of "loosing" is eliminated.

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What about flipping it around?
Unlimited saves but limited loads?



-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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I think games should be designed so that you don''t need to save every 30 seconds, unless I''m playing on the extreme difficulty setting. Whether I HAVE unlimited saves is insignificant if I don''t NEED unlimited saves. It should be hard enough that there is a real chance of dying , but not so hard that I''m constantly in fear of it. The above post presents an interesting idea, though that seems pretty much equivilent to "lives" in practice.

tj963

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Players don't like to be punished. Punsihment being loss of xp/equipment (in rpgs) or game time (fps's).Punished by intention or not, they don't like it . The saves are for two reasons i) saving a game so you can put it down and restore it later to contine. or ii) save so you sneak away from the punishment.

While none of these purposes is "wrong", it's the second use that the limited save design is trying to battle, the designer want's to smack the player for doing something stupid. However, limiting saves is just a hack for a system that is used in way it wasn't supposed to be used.

Designers need to find a way of punishing the player in a "good" way, and thus removing the need for the 5min save in the process.

Taking a rpg as an example (one of my favourite genres), instead of just killing of the player, substracting xp, or say "you were captured, stripped of your eq and dropped of in the nearest puddle", there has to be a better way of doing it.

in the case of our imaginary rpg here:

i) There should almost always be a way of running away from at battle that's too tough.

ii) instead of killing them when you "have to", find another non-fatal ("good") punishment. This of course needs to be designed carefully. Even letting the player keep all his eq/xp and spawn them back to some "safe" spot is a "bad" punishment, not to mention unimaginative. (I remember this from playing planescape torment, even if you didn't die when defeated and you kept all your possessions. It was a drag walking all over sigil to pick up from where you left of). The designers needs to find a way to punish the player so that they get angry at whatever stole their property (or whatever it was), NOT the designer. If they are angry at a NPC, fine, that'll cause them to hunt up the NPC and take back their possession, all the time being "in character" and playing the game. Not "out of character" and cursing the designer.

In short, design games better, not the save systems.

My 0.02€ of late night madness.


-Luctus

Statisticly seen, most things happens to other people.
[Mail]


[edited by - Luctus on April 11, 2004 8:15:14 PM]

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quote:
Designers need to find a way of punishing the player in a "good" way.


"Positive Punishment"

I believe we''ve coined a new term today :-)

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
What about flipping it around?
Unlimited saves but limited loads?


I''ve thought about this a year ago; limited loads sets up like the old classics of limited times a player dies and can continue the game. Personally I don''t like it that much because it puts the player''s in-game experience even further away by limiting things in gameplay that are suppose to be external.

Just to make it short, my take on this is have unlimited saves but make the loading process longer by plugging in clips of linear side stories to discourage player''s need to optimized everything. Say if you save/reload a game, you''ll penelized to watch a minute of movie clip where npc boss laughing diabolically planing to set a trap for you before you can regain control.

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Bad idea and sign of a bad designer. I rarely play single player games without infinite saves anywhere/anytime. Not everybody can play games for hours at a time. Often while working I might play a game for 15-30 minutes as a quick break--That''s impossible with finite saves. Create challenge IN the game, not OUTSIDE of the game.

I believe this is covered in most of every game design book. You do not want to punish the player or make him do the same thing over and over. Its just not fun.

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I just played a racing game on the Xbox for 3 hours, and only just found out that its the only damn friggen console racing game without an auto save!!!! You have to go right back to the main menu to save your game!!! GRRRR!! >

And I did it again the next time I played it!!!!!!! GRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

>

>

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quote:
Original post by Luctus
Players don't like to be punished.
Speak for yourself. I find beating the game to be more rewarding if the game punished me appropriately when I did something dumb.
quote:
Not "out of character" and cursing the designer.
I only curse the designer if I have to replay some part because of a clear design flaw, not because of me.
quote:
However, limiting saves is just a hack for a system that is used in way it wasn't supposed to be used.
Now that's just unimaginative and quite a blanket statement. Surely we can bend any feature to whatever purpose it fits well.

So.. Why is not making the save game system an option the best option? It's clear that people have different opinions on how they want their game (do they want to be punished for failing?)

[edited by - civguy on April 12, 2004 10:44:45 AM]

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quote:
Original post by haro
Bad idea and sign of a bad designer.
That''s interesting.
quote:
Not everybody can play games for hours at a time. Often while working I might play a game for 15-30 minutes as a quick break--That''s impossible with finite saves.

Solution:
quote:
Original post by civguy
And as was suggested in the above thread, even in limited save game system one should always be given the possibility to exit the game at any point. But those save games would be temporary like in Nethack, i.e. you could continue from them only once.

quote:
Original post by haro
Create challenge IN the game, not OUTSIDE of the game.

Yeah, that''s what the save anywhere bunch keeps on saying. But the converse statement applies if "save anywhere" is used: Make the game solvable/manageable IN the game, not OUTSIDE of the game. If save games don''t exist also for making the game easier EXTERNALLY, then temporary saves should do well.
quote:
You do not want to punish the player or make him do the same thing over and over. Its just not fun.
Why not let the player decide what''s fun for her instead of some holy game design book writer?

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You wont have to worry about unlimited saves or limited saves etc. If all the games would have at least 4 different endings depending on your answers and actions throughout the game..that will make things more interesting/challenging.Yes it would take alot for the programmers ..and will possibly take longer to make..but i like being able to choose my own path through a game...i dont like the ones where you must do it one way and if you dont you die and get kicked back to your last save or the begining of that level...thats BS. Someday if i even get this programming stuff right ..ill be makeing games that have the different endings and there will be realistic and random stuff that WILL happen to you and you can make your own decision( in the selections that are there of course..but at least your given a choice:-) ).

[edited by - BES on April 12, 2004 11:15:39 AM]

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How about using carrots instead of sticks?

That is, instead of punishing the player for saving or loading, REWARD the player for NOT doing that.

Take a game like Metroid. It has save points. If you play the whole game without saving even once (whoa...), you might design it so that the player will get the "super mega cool" ending and maybe some bonus features. If you save 1-5 times, you get the "pretty cool" ending, 6-14 times and get the "vanilla" ending and 15+ you get the crappy ending with a message that says "wimp!".

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quote:
Original post by civguy
Speak for yourself. I find beating the game to be more rewarding if the game punished me appropriately when I did something dumb.


ah yes, but I bet you don''t like when you are killed without warning and have to wait for the savegame to load, then play for 15 minutes to continue where you were.

As I said, there''s a need of possitive punishment, which let''s you know how stupid you just was, but don''t add any element of frustration.

Come to think of it..looking at your name, I take it you played civilization? Thats a game that solved the problem with savegames. You don''t need them . I believe it''s the open-ended nature of the game that makes the need for 5 minute saves unnecessary. Even if you''re suffering a setback in one area, there''s still plenty of things for you to do in other places. Also, since the rate of downfall is very slow in that game, loading a game from 10 minutes before doesn''t really improve much, it''s still pretty much the same.


-Luctus

Statisticly seen, most things happens to other people.
[Mail]

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quote:
Original post by Luctus
ah yes, but I bet you don't like when you are killed without warning and have to wait for the savegame to load, then play for 15 minutes to continue where you were.
That's true, the game needs to be designed so that such deaths are unlikely if the player is cautious enough. If I run on the wide open and know there's a sniper waiting for me to come out, a punishment of 15 minutes replay is appropriate for me
quote:
As I said, there's a need of possitive punishment, which let's you know how stupid you just was, but don't add any element of frustration.
Well I'm not sure which kinds of "positive punishments" (PP) are applicable to games in general, and whether people would still prefer to load than accept the PP if they had the easy save anywhere-feature. I suppose the punishment is good if you'll have to do something *new* because you failed, not replay some part you already did. If the game had *only* that kind of punisment, then it could even have pure Nethack-style savegames which never allow you to reload an old save. So it doesn't really take away my likening to restricted save games at all. If I couldn't effortlessly load an old savegame after a failure, I'd be more willing to accept my PP and see what consequences it has, and the PP-feature would become an integral part of a restricted save game scheme.
quote:
I believe it's the open-ended nature of the game that makes the need for 5 minute saves unnecessary.
Yes, we do agree on how the gameplay itself could be improved. But RPG, action, sports etc. games are quite different from Civilization. In them the feedback is more direct, the situation can turn from a winning position into a losing position in a matter of seconds, and the urge to load is bigger.

[edited by - civguy on April 12, 2004 3:18:26 PM]

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quote:
Original post by civguy
I think the frustration is needed, as a punishment for playing badly and not thinking enough.



Perhaps our definition of frustration differs. If a game is fun, I will enjoy it even in defeat. Why? Because the game itself is fun, not necessarily the act of completing it. I may feel frustration for losing, but I am really only angry at my opponent . I think that this is the definition you are using. I was referring to frustration at the game for punishing me.

So...

Internal frustration (directed against an in-game opponent) = Good
External frustration (directed against bad game design OR save game system) = Bad


quote:
Original post by civguy
With "save points" I won't try foolish moves such as "what happens if I jump off that cliff" because I know trying dumb things costs me time. Trial and error won't be a viable solution anymore.



Exploration is what makes many games so fun. It might be a good idea to discourage the player from being stupid, but forcing him to replay parts of a game should not be one of the ways.

quote:
Original post by civguy
And for me, they do add a lot of suspense as well, because an enemy killing me actually has a real-life consequence.



Since when has death in a game had real-life consequences?

quote:
Original post by civguy
IMO, "save anywhere" is a cheap way to cover up game balance design errors.



The same could be said for "save only at certain points". A poor design may be helped or hindered by any type of save system.

In the end, we must realize that ANY save game system is an external hack, a necessary evil that must be included in games due to the requirements of real life. The mere act of using a load/save menu/GUI usually breaks the suspension of disbelief for the player, throwing them into an operating system-style file-management environment.

On a final note, I like the idea of giving the player the option to choose his/her own save system. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

-Mike

[edited by - doctorsixstring on April 12, 2004 3:43:50 PM]

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