Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

sunandshadow

save spots=carrots?

Recommended Posts

For a while now I had been of the opinion that save spots were an unnecessary relic of the time when games didn''t have the power or memory to let the player save anywhere. Certainly we all have felt the agony and break in immersion of dying far from the last save spot and having to replay that part of the game again. I also feel that a game is poorly designed if it allows you to become stuck in such away that you must revert to a previous save and do things differently to ontinue playing. Not to mention that in many games the worldbuilding explanation for what save spots are is hopelessly cheesy. But, I was thinking about the idea of save spots today and I realized that in sme way they''re better than being able to save freely. I think that one of the major reasons people play games is to feel that they are making measurable progress, and I remember rejoicing when I got to a save spot because it was a milestone meaning that I had conquered a difficult area - kind of like getting to the peak of a mountain when hiking. Also, it''s kind of like having a periodic autosave feature in a word processing program - the very act of encountering a save spot reminds you that you should save, because otherwise you might be too engrossed in playing the game to remember to save, and you''d be a lot worse off if you dies in that situation. So, what do you all think about save spots, or save times like the end of a game day for that matter? What purposes do they serve, and what''s the best way to implement saving?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Argh.. Not again! You Sir, as a moderator you should know never to bring up this topic again.. The last time we almost started a war.
Unfortunately I don't remember the topic nor the forum of that particular discussion, and since the search is.. hrm.. slightly buggy.. I couldn't find it there either. There are however a lot of topics on savegames if you search on "save" in the game design forum.

I don't know what "abilities" you mods have, but if you can look at my posting history you'll find the thread I mentioned there. (It has scrolled off the list I can access, and I don't know how or if it's possible to get my complete posting history)

My opinion is that the player should be able to save anywhere at any time. That said, I enjoy Final Fantasy games and XIII and all of these had save spots. It depends a lot on how the game is designed. If there is a hard area with no ability to save and the player dies after 5 minutes, and the same happens over and over he'll get annoyed. If it's a easy area and there's a save spot in front of a cave it can signify that something hard is waiting inside, thereby spoiling some of the effect.

If you're implementing save spots to help the player remember to save, you can include both. If you want to stop the player from trying to perfect something (or savescumming) you can do something to restrict loading. Not being able to load the previous save until 5 minutes have passed or the player has died is a good option here.

Remember that the player may not be able to wait until he can find a save spot before quitting. The wife's water broke or something, and it'd be annoying to loose the time since the last save just because of that pesky brat .

[edited by - frostburn on April 21, 2004 4:45:18 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I absolutely hate quicksave/quickload features. I really destroy games with those buttons and I hate myself for it. I just find myself quicksaving before or after each and every room and I''m sure plenty of other poeple do it too.

I certainly feel a save point is like a carrot on the end of a stick and rightly so too. I have found memories of playing Prince of Persia: SOT and saying to myself, "just one more save point, and then I''ll go to bed". Likewise, I remember the save chrystals of Tomb Raider and how ecstatic I was to find one after a tough collection of puzzles and combat.


To really appreciate the value of save points in a game you should play a Japanese scrolling shooter in an arcade. When you have a single credit (priced at an extortionate 1 pound sterling) every bullet heading your way leaves you flinching and twisting in front of the screen. As soon as you play it on an emulator, with no concerns for cash/credit, the game becomes a chore. The whole point of the game, the excitment of dicing with death, is compeltely negated. I feel the same applies to save points. The more we look-after the player, the less emotions we are going to generate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
I agree with frostburn. I think the player of a game should have the freedom to stop the game whenever he or she wants to.
Being forced to reach a save point before quitting a game, makes me wonder who controls who.... the game controls the player? Or the other way around.
I certainly do understand the argument, that a savepoint can be like a milestone and a great relief with all its emotions of success and so on, but people who got to work or do other things besides playing all day long - and I don''t mean to sound rude here, I for myself also did play for days almost without interruption (sleep, eat, drink, loo...) - those working people must be able to plan the time they are investing in playing games.

On the other hand, I believe as well, that it strongly depends on the game design, whether savepoints are good or evil.

I was playing Far Cry lately and was quite annoyed that I couldn''t save at any point I wanted to. Therefore I looked for some quicksave hack and found one. But after that, the game wasn''t as much fun than before and even worse, quicksaving brought the script of some stages of the game into troubles and concluded into visiting a "ghost version" of the level I quickloaded...

Well... shortly - I''m voting for quicksave feature... at least for longer games.
Those games with short playing time, may have these savepoints :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by frostburn
Remember that the player may not be able to wait until he can find a save spot before quitting.



In every save or not save discussion I''ve participated in so far, there was general agreement on a robust auto-save feature that saveguards progress on exit (and on crashes). I.e., as long as you don''t lose the game, you can always continue from the exact point you stopped playing last time.

The question is what to allow after the player does lose the game.

Perhaps a combination of saves/save spots can be found. For example:
- Saving allows you to continue from that with the character/stats/items at the time of saving.
- Reaching a save spots allow you to start over from that spot, with the items and stats you would be expected to have at that point. I.e., allowing you to do a part of the game with a different character without having to have done all the previous bits. For extra detail: the amount of stuff you get when restarting could be related to your "score" at the time of reaching the save point, or the number of saves you needed to get there, etc. etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ok, it''s a long post, but it solves all problems relating to saving and probably starts a flamewar or two...

No, I really don''t want a flamewar, and it probably isn''t really the holy grail of game saving, but it does try to consider game saving from an abstract (or even philosophical) point of view.

I consider the whole concept of game saving problematic mainly because it really is (at least) three concepts hidden behind the word save.

Consider first that the keyboard, mouse, graphical user interface etc. are in a different level of abstraction from the actual game world. The game world doesn''t have the guild of resolution changing or the knights of the polygon rendering, for instance. However, game saving can be considered to be on either level - tool or a gameplay element.

Personally I would categorize the uses of the concept of saving into three categories:

1. Taking a long pause. This should never be limited by time or location in the game world, but the game should also quit when saving (and vice versa) and you could load that save only once.

This should be considered a tool, something in the abstraction level of the user interface. It''s like pushing the pause key. Therefore, there shouldn''t be any kind of limitation or punishment regarding this.


2. Preparing yourself for the future. Every now and then, you want to have a sort of a safety net before continuing the game, so that if you die you don''t have to start from the beginning.

However, if you allow this by actually saving the game any time or place, the game difficulty will be zero. It should be limited and if the player''s character dies, there should be some sort of penalty.

Do note, however, that I never say here that there shouldn''t be some sort of way to be prepared - all I''m saying that this "saving" (as opposed to (1)) is in the abstraction level of the game world; it really has nothing to do with saving as in (1).

The ability to (2)-save is really a game rule. Just as you can''t walk through walls (at least, not usually...), you can''t use the in-game safety-net option without limits. So before saying "Hey! Why not allow the players decide when to save? Then those who want limited saves could just not save etc." , you are practically saying "Hey! Why not allow the player decide whether he takes damage from the bad guy at all times? Those who want a challenge could then choose to take the pain" . What I didn''t say was that there can''t be a rule that allows you to save with no limits. Indeed there could be a rule allowing the walking through walls as well.

The main point is really that arguments based on "the long pause"-save (1) are not really valid when discussing whether (2) should be unlimited. Even if you have save spots (on level (2)), you still should have unlimited (1).


3. Savescumming. This would mean abusing the saving system to duplicate items, saving before winning a boss-fight and then reloading until you get good drops etc.

The saving system shouldn''t be used like this. Again, the game might well have replicators for unlimited item duplication, but since it really happens in the game world and game saving (as in (1)) is not on the abstraction level of the game world, using the saving system for this would be abuse.


But how about autosaving?

This should be a lot like (1), in a way that you could only load the save if the game has really crashed.


CONCLUSION

Saving the game for pausing and saving the game so that you don''t have to start again after dying are VERY different concepts from each other.

Keep the (1) saving strictly OUT of the game world, do not limit it by the game world and above all, do not punish the player from using it.

Keep the (2) saving strictly IN the game world, feel free to limit it as you see fit, but do not break the immersion by asking filenames for the save etc. It should be a gameplay element for being prepared, not really saving in the traditional sense (do note that (1) isn''t traditional saving either).

If you want to keep savescummers happy, put an in-game element for (3), so the saving system will not need to be needlessly abused. (3) shouldn''t really be possible.

As for save spots, they are a good alternative to the tedious quicksave-quickload in both punishing the player for doing something wrong and rewarding the player by giving a sense of achievement - however they should really fit in the game world; calling them save spots wouldn''t really be immersing.

That''s all this time (and there was much rejoicing; "Yay!").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I prefer a checkpoint/save-on-quit feature over quicksave.
Games these days don''t feel quite so challenging because most of them are essentially quicksave/quickload spamfests. There''s no challenge in any game if you can simply save after every single enemy.

- It''s a life''s work

40% Off ALL Hosting Plans
-ryan@lecherousjester.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think a combination of limited quick-saves (per area/time interval) and "unlimited-with-truncation" is not such a bad idea.

In order to allow for people with less time (or unpredictable time allowances), a quick-save, quick-load feature is benefitial. I have played games where the interval between save points was long enough that I just couldn''t quite make it to the next one before I had to leave (for legitimate, non "cheating" reasons). That is a frustrating element and unfairly penalizes the player.

Quick-saves/quick-loads is necessary for those players who cannot guarantee enough time per gaming session to avoid un-needed repetition. However, its effectiveness should be limited to provide little or no benefit to a player who wants to "play it safe".

Perhaps a you can quick-load/quick-save once per hour interval. This eleminates the benefit of playing it safe and forces players to be more cautious about their decisions.

However, the maximum punishment that a player will sustain by using this system is 1 hour. This allows a reasonable amount of saves with quick-loads (starting up exactly where you saved) without becoming a crutch for gamers.

However, this does not solve the problem of saving before a difficult area or boss. I believe that bosses and difficult areas should, in general, be clued in to the player. If not explicitly, they should be aware that they are getting into a dangerous situation beforehand unless you are teaching them that they should be more careful about their inventory and health status. Now, levels generally have natural checkpoints (because most levels are not a constantly intense-experience. There should be peaks and valleys so players do not become numb) and any permanent saves that are made in certain areas are truncated down to those checkpoints.

This prevents the player from saving in areas right before a boss and it means that players (who are not aware of these checkpoints - they are not stated explicitly) will be more cautious about their situation and less likely play by trial-and-error. The benefit that it gives over tangible checkpoints is that it allows players to save at any point without having to backtrack t the previous checkpoint if something should arise that they need to quit suddenly.

In summary:
Allow players to quick-load a limited amount of times per area of the level or time interval
advantages:

  • Allows players to reduce overlapping gameplay because of emergencies or time constraints
  • Prevents "save&load" cheating


All saves are truncated to invisible checkpoints

  • Players cannot abuse the ability to load a game anywhere and any time
  • Allows the developers to control load-points
  • Invisibility does not give players comfort in knowing where they will re=load the game, but gives comfort in knowing that they will not have to start from scratch


Basically, the idea is that players can save anywhere, but only load at certain checkpoints - as well as a temporary but very-limited re-load option for the legitimate players (allows a small degree of "safety saving", but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, prevent "abusive saving".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I love ringing in with past examples of decent save systems, but I''ve used the BoF5:DQ Save-On-Quit example to much, so I''ll use another example.

Wild Arms 3 (PS2) had a save-anywhere system that was limited by a special item, I think they called them Gimel Coins. In dungeons, where you''d figure a normal save-system would place the save points, they''d place the gimel coins. I thought it worked great, just save where you found the coins, and find a few extras in case you ever wanted to save on quit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You missed one...

4) Fast-Forward Replay. This isn''t quite the same as preparing for the future. It''s more along the lines of "I''d like to come back here some day". This applies right before a major decision point. By keeping a record, the player is able to see what happens if they did things differently. It let''s them explore other options without having to restart the entire game. For example, let''s say I ran through a conversation being fairly nice, but I want to see what would have happened if I was a real bastard about it. It''s a little thing, not really worth restating the game about, but fun enough to try if there''s a recent save.
Granted, this option is open to abuse, but it doesn''t have to mean "savescumming". For those who like limited saves, it just means put save points before major plot points.

Let''s take a look at "savescumming", while we''re on the subject.

3. Savescumming. This would mean abusing the saving system to duplicate items, saving before winning a boss-fight and then reloading until you get good drops etc.

If they can duplicate items, that means your save system is flawed. It''s an in game cheat, and should be dealt with as such.
What''s wrong with saving before winning a boss fight? Do you mean before battle or during it? Quite a few save point systems put them right before boss battles. I usually take the appearance of save points in a dungeon as a warning sign. Is the boss really so easy that you need to face a horde of other critters before there''s any challenge? I don''t really see much of a problem with saving right before a boss battle. As for saving during battle, I admit it can get a bit cheesy. There 2 major reasons for doing this: difficulty adjustment and time saving. I don''t have a problem with there being some challenge in the game, but I don''t like having to spend days beating one scene just so I can see the next part of the game. Take Knights of the Old Republic. The final boss had a 1 in 3 chance of paralyzing me per hit, and could finish me off in 3 to 4 hits. This was when I had a maximum level character (granted, it was the scoundrel / power heavy combo). I ended up having to use mines to take him out, hardly heroic and kinda disappointing. The point is if he hit me once I could be paralyzed, at which point he''d hack me to death before I could recover. Imagine an entire boss fight without being able to be hit once. I think in battle saves are kind of justified there, especially since I couldn''t just adjust the difficulty level. Actually, this also ties into the time saving reason. In an extended battle, it''s kind of nice to be able to save your progress on reaching a breakpoint. That way if you have to start all over again, the setback isn''t so great. I know that may sound cheesy, but I''ve seen some battles take a solid hour. I''d hate to be a couple points from victory and them have to replay another hour of the same battle to back to that point. Maybe if you stuck a save point in between transformation sequences... Granted time saving is more an issue for people who have a limited amount of gaming time.
Reloading for good drops isn''t the greatest motive, but how much worse is it than engaging in random battle until you get the drop? The second player will get a load of items and experience in the meantime. Granted, that''s a crpg approach to it. In action games it''s cheesier, but more justifiable if you only have an item that can can gotten from that drop. Honestly, if you want to discourage this, just don''t use as many rare item drops.

However, if you allow this by actually saving the game any time or place, the game difficulty will be zero. It should be limited and if the player''s character dies, there should be some sort of penalty.

First off, difficulty doesn''t drop to zero. Even if the person saved before every action, there''d still be the difficulty of that action. Granted, this is more relevant to action titles, where a number of actions can take place in matter of seconds. The point is that while anytime saves may decrease difficulty, they don''t eliminate it entirely, even when horribly abused.
Second, noone answered my question on why you have to punish people for dying. This implies that dying is somehow desirable, or least very minor. Otherwise, why would you need to remind then it''s a bad thing? How''s this for a penalty: make the speakers whine at them or do something similiarly annoying.

Sorry if I''m getting a bit edgy here. It''s just these debates usually wind down into challenge-oriented types saying they make the game too easy, while explorer types complain it''s makes it more frustrating than challenging. I think what the challenger need to realize is that explorers don''t really care that it makes the game easier. I went through this in my post on replay value in the thread on 1 time only secrets in rpgs. Some people just want to experience new things, and will inevitably get frustrated/bored if they have to face the same thing over and over again.
I think what happens is challengers want the game to be more difficult, but this keeps explorers from enjoying the same, since they focus more on taking things in than honing a set of skills. This makes the explorers upset because their play style is portrayed as somehow wrong. On the other hand, just toning down the difficulty across the board doesn''t work, because many player do get their enjoyment from overcoming the game''s challenges. The thing is that this feeling of challenge depends on the overall difficuly as well as how strong the player is in the skills called for by the event. Also, different people will enjoy different levels of talent at different times. Some people like to push themselves more, while others like to experience things. Exactly what you want depends on a combination of personality and mood.

Man, this post got long winded. Btw, the earlier board was "A proposal to make every game instantly better", based on thread by the same name on another site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
I prefer a checkpoint/save-on-quit feature over quicksave.
Games these days don''t feel quite so challenging because most of them are essentially quicksave/quickload spamfests. There''s no challenge in any game if you can simply save after every single enemy.



Not everyone plays the game to have a challenge. Some like to play on "Maniac" to see if they''ll survive the ordeal, others play on "Sissy" to watch the story (in a story driven game).

I do enjoy games with checkpoints like FF, XIII, Far Cry, Halo but not because of the checkpoints. If they''re sensibly placed there''s no problem, and when they''re reusable like in FF it mostly negates the need for "normal" save games (besides, it''s nearly impossible to get killed unless you play like a goof or against a boss, and there''s not many different thing''s you can do in conversations). XIII had "logically" placed checkpoints and I never noticed anyone left alive when the game saved, but Far Cry and Halo had one-time autosaves at specific places on the level or specific events like killing enemy A. This is ok for someone rushing through the games and not looking back, but if someone want''s to retrace his steps and kill the remaining enemies or look for a weapon or new vehicle they''ve lost their safetynet. When driving around there might be saves with 20 seconds between, but if you retrace your steps it might be 30 minutes before you can find another checkpoint.
Also the combination not being able to save and tedious tasks is very bad. In FFX you''d get something if you evaded 100 lightning bolts, but if you got hit by the lightning you had to start over. This could easily take 10 minutes and you can imagine the frustration by getting hit at 99. I value my TV and PS2 enough to not even bother with trying and thus was unable to get part of someone''s ultimate weapon. I''m perfectly aware that if I''d be able to save at any time this would be easy, but I really don''t see the point in intentionally frustrate the player. So remove the pointless task altogether and replace it with something else, maybe something as hard or harder but not so tedious and repetitive.

Oh and for helping the player to remember to save, in XIII the game "saves" at a checkpoint, meaning if you die you can restart from the checkpoint. The same with levels (game "saves" at beginning of the level). The problem is - it doesn''t SAVE. If you play a couple of levels or half the game or whatever and quit without explicitly clicking SAVE, when you return the game looks dumbly at you and say''s "what? no you haven''t done that level". I had to play 2 levels over in XIII because of this and it was only a coincidence that I actually saved when I did. I doubt I saved more than 2 times before that. I could easily had had to play half the game over.

I don''t value games like Splinter Cell or Max Payne (or any Bioware RPGs) any less than the ones listed above becuase of the saving and I usually don''t abuse the quicksave button. I have entered a "rapid quicksave" mode once in a while, but I don''t load for being hit once... If you absolutely have to remove some of the saving ability, take the quicksave/quickload. If you have to hit escape go to save game and type in a name to save most won''t do it so often.

Also if you use savepoints/checkpoints you should not have respawning monsters. You''ve already made the game harder as it is.

Summary:
-The game won''t be better because of the inability to save when you''d like.
-Removing the quicksave/quickload buttons is not a big loss.
-Savepoints should not be one-use. One option is to autosave the first time and ask the player if he wants to save or not the next time.
-Savepoints should be easily visible to the player.
-Don''t respawn monsters (at least with savepoints)
-Don''t have tedious tasks like the 100 lightningbolts example.
-By removing the ability to save the game gets harder. This must be balanced by making the gameplay easier.
-When you reach a checkpoint the game shouldn''t "pretend" to save.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Shimeran
You missed one...

4) Fast-Forward Replay.



You are indeed correct. This wouldn''t be properly classified in any of those three categories. A good point. Still, it might be more easily abused than the first two, since it would really mean the traditional save in a way.


quote:
Original post by Shimeran
Let''s take a look at "savescumming", while we''re on the subject.

[...]

What''s wrong with saving before winning a boss fight? Do you mean before battle or during it? Quite a few save point systems put them right before boss battles. I usually take the appearance of save points in a dungeon as a warning sign. Is the boss really so easy that you need to face a horde of other critters before there''s any challenge? I don''t really see much of a problem with saving right before a boss battle. As for saving during battle, I admit it can get a bit cheesy.



Saving before beginning (or in some cases even during) a boss fight would be classified as (2). Nothing wrong with that one as such. I mainly meant the saving just before the boss dies and reloading until the rewards were good enough (the example only works if the actual reward is somehow probabilistic). The problem is, if the probability of a good reward was higher on a boss than a regular bad guy, getting the same quality stuff would mean killing swarms and then again swarms of the regular baddies. This will usually take a lot of time while the savescumming much less.

quote:
Original post by Shimeran
There 2 major reasons for doing this: difficulty adjustment and time saving. I don''t have a problem with there being some challenge in the game, but I don''t like having to spend days beating one scene just so I can see the next part of the game.



I do admit that I have abused the saving system to beat very hard enemies (or swarms of easy ones), but it''s not really the saving system I dislike. The reason for the (2)-saving is being prepared (in the classification I gave, that is). If that preparation is a real "type-filename-here"-save, it kills the immersion, at least for me. Having some other way to be prepared or warned would be much better. A very cheap trick would be to have the door before the boss-fight have a plaque with the text "Warning: Boss Fight" and a gun/medkit shop right next to it... Yes, it''s lame, but the player would be able to prepare.

I''ve never really liked boss-fights that take a lot of time. I think there should be different alternatives to that, eg. you could use some cunning tactic to beat the boss, or sneak by him. You might not even need to kill him in the first place, but just disable him. Disable his ability to communicate with other bad guys or something. If he''s not all that important, you could just ignore him.

And having a human opponent in normal clothes surviving several clips of bullets from an machine pistol, straight in the face at point blank range is really lame . I mean, come on! Man I hate boss fights... What I try to say is, don''t make the bosses just 100000x stronger than usual baddies, but smarter etc.

quote:
Original post by Shimeran
Second, noone answered my question on why you have to punish people for dying. This implies that dying is somehow desirable, or least very minor.



If there was no penalty, dying wouldn''t really be undesirable either. Do note that even having to trek back to the place where you died all the way from the save point is a punishment. If there was no punishment at all, it would mean that the player could keep on bashing skulls as if nothing ever happened. I mean, why have dying in your game if it means nothing?

Without any sick desire to start yet another flamewar I would like to note however, that the whole dying business is just as messed up as saving, and it might be fruitful to analyse it a bit more objectively. Permadeath or no permadeath? Now that is the question. Whether ''tis nobler in the mind to suffer the sli... (Sorry, got carried away... ) However, this thread was about saving and save spots, so while dying is related to saving (in a way), it''s a bit off-topic.

quote:
Original post by Shimeran
Sorry if I''m getting a bit edgy here. It''s just these debates usually wind down into challenge-oriented types saying they make the game too easy, while explorer types complain it''s makes it more frustrating than challenging. I think what the challenger need to realize is that explorers don''t really care that it makes the game easier. I went through this in my post on replay value in the thread on 1 time only secrets in rpgs. Some people just want to experience new things, and will inevitably get frustrated/bored if they have to face the same thing over and over again.



I tried to avoid saying that saving is somehow bad. My main point was that saving for pausing should be unlimited and that preparation-like-saving should fit in the game world (and shouldn''t really even be called saving). Saving as such isn''t bad, but there are different kinds of saving. I tried to be objective and not really get into the "saving is bad/good"-business.

I do like to try some things several times in games just for the sheer fun of it, also I like to be prepared. It''s just annoying that the only way to prepare in many games is by saving.

I also didn''t say that saving for better boss-drops or item duplication is bad either, per se. However, having to abuse the save system for this is the problem. If the game makers don''t want this to happen, a save system that doesn''t allow it would be good. If the game makers do wish to allow it, there should be some other way of doing it - a cheat menu or something.

CONCLUSION

A bit of redundancy here, but maybe it summarizes it better:

The main points here and in my previous post were:
- Saving for taking a break should be unlimited.
- Having a good way that fits the game world for preparing for the future should be included. I didn''t specify how this should be done, but I consider save spots a viable alternative to unlimited saving.
- The saving system shouldn''t allow anything that it wasn''t designed for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
There''s no challenge in any game if you can simply save after every single enemy.



Haven''t we gone over this a billion times before?

Yes, you can simply save after every single enemy.

No, nothing/nobody is forcing you to do this.




Kami no Itte ga ore ni zettai naru!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just a few thoughts:
I think that for some games, save points are a good idea. It depends on the genre and difficulty of the game (of course, difficulty is different for different people, so you can't decide based on it; however, you could have more frequent save points on lower difficulty levels)

I used to play Donkey Kong Country on a second-hand SNES. DKC, for those that haven't played it, has a system of save points where you have to put your character through a special "save barrel". When you do, the barrel disappears in a puff of smoke and stars, and the game is saved. If you die, you respawn and burst out of the barrel. I think this system of making save points a visible object in the game - something that can be missed if you're not careful (edit/clarification: I don't mean missing as in not-seeing; I mean missing as in not breaking the barrel/not getting the save point - i.e., the save points can be placed in hard-to-reach locations, or put in with a sequence of enemies) - is very good (although only if the style of game allows for it).
Another thing is that save points shouldn't necessarily remain between levels. That is, depending on the game, it may be better to

Finally, there is a potential problem in a game where you can't save at any point, and that is if you get interrupted and have to leave the game quickly; you lose where you were and have to start the level again. Very frustrating, especially if it's a difficult level, or a level with a particularly difficult stage. I think there's actually an easy solution to this: Give the player the option to save-on-quit. That is, allow saves at any stage through the level, but only by dumping out of the game.

John B

[edited by - JohnBSmall on April 21, 2004 3:26:39 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the feedback, Grim. Save points are certainly useful, and I think a non-invasive type 2 save would definately be nice. Maybe make the save points work like quick saves. I admit using saves to improve item drops and is cheap, though I feel more lenient if that''s the only way to get the item, epecially if it''s a quest item. I''d consider that a game bug, to be treated just like any other.

quote:
Original Post by Grim
I''ve never really liked boss-fights that take a lot of time. I think there should be different alternatives to that, eg. you could use some cunning tactic to beat the boss, or sneak by him. You might not even need to kill him in the first place, but just disable him. Disable his ability to communicate with other bad guys or something. If he''s not all that important, you could just ignore him.

And having a human opponent in normal clothes surviving several clips of bullets from an machine pistol, straight in the face at point blank range is really lame . I mean, come on! Man I hate boss fights... What I try to say is, don''t make the bosses just 100000x stronger than usual baddies, but smarter etc.


I definetly agree on this point having to learn a bosses pattern is fine, but once I''ve got it figured out, I really don''t want the rest of the battle to take forever.

quote:
Original Post by Grim
If there was no penalty, dying wouldn''t really be undesirable either. Do note that even having to trek back to the place where you died all the way from the save point is a punishment. If there was no punishment at all, it would mean that the player could keep on bashing skulls as if nothing ever happened. I mean, why have dying in your game if it means nothing?


Hmm.. strong point there. Character death should mean something. However, I don''t like deliberately punishing the player for failure. I don''t think the game should do something for the sole purpose of frustrating or upsetting the player just because they died. It''s fine if the penalty has other reasons, but setting out with the intent to "punish" the player just seems wrong.
I think it''s kinda sad that death, especially in story based games, has so little impact on the player. I know why it has little impact on the game. To keep playing you have to "take back" the death (thus removing it''s game effects) or restart (which will lose players in longer games). Some options occured to me just now.

  1. Remove true death from gameplay, though not neccesarily from the story. Before anyone starts in on this, consider the difference between "battle death" (cured by resurrection items) and "cinematic death" (perma-death for that character).
  2. Allow another character to take the place of the fallen.
  3. Let them reload, but make them watch a death scene. This doesn''t affect the game world, but it should act as a reminder to the player. You may want to let them skip this if that last one happened within the last 5 minutes. Don''t worry about making them too interesting/varied. It''d be kind of weird to have players killing their characters just to watch the newest death scene.

Oop, looks like I leaked into the permadeath issue myself.

I honestly think the save system has to be tailored to fit the game. Come to think of it, a good save system should run in the background. If people are taking notice of the save system, it probably could be better.

How''s this for a compromise: make the save setting a game option. Start with "Save Points Only" and let them shift either way to "Iron Man" (only saves on exit) or "Unlimited" modes. That way the person actually has to do something to get unlimited saves. This changes "if you don''t like it don''t use it" to "if you didn''t want unlimited saves, why did you turn them on".

You can also use a few tricks to make quick saves less appealing. I believe one person mentioned saves setting off a lights display which attracted monsters. How about making open saves a character action. This means it would actually take a little while to finish the "save spell". While this is hardly a problem out of combat, it would discourage mid battle saves, or at least make them take more skill. After all, you''d have to get a few moments break to safely use the save ability. If you want to discourage frequent loading, try a little "time-hop" trick with each load. Basically, you''d wait for the game to load, then make another save a second or two later and copy over the original save. This means each time they load, the save comes a few seconds later. Once again, this isn''t a problem during calmer scenes, but for time critical things like combat...
Note that neither of these methods interfer with "downtime" saves, they just make mid-action saves harder.

I really liked the idea someone mentioned about being able to come back to old saves with new characters. That would make a pretty nice addition for something like a "game+" mode. Heck, I have a save in Freedom Force that I revert to when I want to field test a new character design. This works because the game lets you recruit any custom characters after a certain point in the story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Diablo 2 (I know, I use it often when looking for examples of good design) allowed peole to save anywhere but when loading (or dying), you restarted in town.

The result was that people did not want to die because they would have to track back to where they died to retrieve their body (which was sometimes a horrible experience) and restarting did little to relieve the situation.

If you decided to save the game and load it after you died, you would have your equipment returned to town, but the gold would be lost.

Any NPC-partners were also killed. It made the threat of death enough of an inconvenience to create stress, but it was not an unfair punishment

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Shimeran
Character death should mean something. However, I don't like deliberately punishing the player for failure. I don't think the game should do something for the sole purpose of frustrating or upsetting the player just because they died. It's fine if the penalty has other reasons, but setting out with the intent to "punish" the player just seems wrong.



I agree. As with the save spots, the death penalty should fit in the game world too. It shouldn't be artificial.

As in the Diablo 2 example, the death penalty has a purpose - losing your equipped items but having the possibility to get them back is a punishment, but doesn't necessarily do any permanent damage. Especially since you can just quit and save and at reload time you get your stuff back.

quote:


  1. Remove true death from gameplay, though not neccesarily from the story. Before anyone starts in on this, consider the difference between "battle death" (cured by resurrection items) and "cinematic death" (perma-death for that character).
  2. Allow another character to take the place of the fallen.
  3. Let them reload, but make them watch a death scene. This doesn't affect the game world, but it should act as a reminder to the player. You may want to let them skip this if that last one happened within the last 5 minutes. Don't worry about making them too interesting/varied. It'd be kind of weird to have players killing their characters just to watch the newest death scene.




I've also considered the possibility of not having "real" death at all. Those are good alternatives. Here's a couple more:

- Dying will turn you into an undead creature (zombie, reanimated skeleton, whatever). You have a certain time to reach the nearest temple or the transformation will be permanent (after which the character will be just another mosnter). Also, you constantly lose control and start attacking everything living at random.
- After dying you go to hell. The game doesn't stop, you just have to redeem yourself to get back to the land of the living.
- Reincarnation, but what you will reincarnate as will be determined by your karma/alignment/whatever.

quote:

Oop, looks like I leaked into the permadeath issue myself.




Actually I consider arguments with saving and the permadeath argument so close to each other that it really doesn't matter...

quote:

How's this for a compromise: make the save setting a game option. Start with "Save Points Only" and let them shift either way to "Iron Man" (only saves on exit) or "Unlimited" modes. That way the person actually has to do something to get unlimited saves. This changes "if you don't like it don't use it" to "if you didn't want unlimited saves, why did you turn them on".



Making it optional is probably the way to go. However, the (1)-type saving should always be in, since it's not really saving in the traditional sense, it's really taking a pause. Also, your suggestions for making the quicksave less appealing were quite viable. Also, you could make it so that every time you quicksave you lower the probability of good item drops etc.

quote:
Original post by dgaf
Diablo 2 (I know, I use it often when looking for examples of good design) allowed peole to save anywhere but when loading (or dying), you restarted in town.



Actually Diablo 2 is an exellent example for my three-category saving:
- You could always quit and save. Granted, at reload you spawned in the act town, but I don't mind this.
- For the (2)-type saving you have the waypoints. They are really just save spots, but fit in the game world perfectly.
- As for savescumming, you could do that too. Well, in LAN games at least, you could easily duplicate items etc.

Diablo 2 is really a good example on different types of "saving", and you even have the option to choose whether to have permadeath or not.


[edited by - Grim on April 22, 2004 3:10:03 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I''m pretty sure its been said a dozen times, but at the core of the save system''s flaws is bad design in the gameplay or levels. Play an FPS where you could be killed quickly and a Quicksave is almost neccessary. However, play a survival-horror, or any game where death is supposed to be severe, and saving would defeat the purpose of the game. Hell, look at Counter-Strike. Sure, its multiplayer, so you can''t really save, but they don''t even allow respawning. Death is death.

So, rather than argueing time and time again about the save systems and how players who don''t want to save don''t have to, lets rather think about what design idealogies lead to needed save systems.

For instance, you need to quicksave and quickload when theres a large object, view obstructed, ready to drop on you. Removing those cases reduces the need for quicksaves. Or, adding those situations creates the need for quicksaves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Idea: Use save points AND save tokens.

Space save points along the main story areas and have save tokens that can be picked up. Have other side adventurs that are quite a distance or very hard to reach from any of the save points. If you are a hard core gamer and you really want to do that side quest, you have to first find a few save tokens before heading out to do it. If you are a casual gammer that could be interupted at any time, you hold onto the tokens and use them between the save points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
Pokemon: character faints wakes up back at the town but loses some money.

Obviously this system wouldn''t work so well for say, Half-Life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The only way tokens are effective for helping "casual gamers" (to categorize time constraints) is to allow people to carry enough of them to not cause an impact. However, that same system will allow "hardcore gamers" to effectively "quick-save, quick-load".

The only different between that system and save/load-anywhere and at any time is that there are limited quantities of tokens. In the case of too few - it''s useless to the casual gamer. In the case of too many, it''s abused by the others. In the case of a balance, it''s still not going to solve either of the problems, only make those abuses and shortcomings lesser.

Quick-loads lower the value of life. If you can try something, die, load up your character again, and try again in a matter of seconds (or even a couple minutes), there''s no reason for you to spend time worrying about tactics and increasing your skill level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
For a while now I had been of the opinion that save spots were an unnecessary relic of the time when games didn''t have the power or memory to let the player save anywhere. Certainly we all have felt the agony and break in immersion of dying far from the last save spot and having to replay that part of the game again. I also feel that a game is poorly designed if it allows you to become stuck in such away that you must revert to a previous save and do things differently to ontinue playing. Not to mention that in many games the worldbuilding explanation for what save spots are is hopelessly cheesy.

But, I was thinking about the idea of save spots today and I realized that in sme way they''re better than being able to save freely. I think that one of the major reasons people play games is to feel that they are making measurable progress, and I remember rejoicing when I got to a save spot because it was a milestone meaning that I had conquered a difficult area - kind of like getting to the peak of a mountain when hiking. Also, it''s kind of like having a periodic autosave feature in a word processing program - the very act of encountering a save spot reminds you that you should save, because otherwise you might be too engrossed in playing the game to remember to save, and you''d be a lot worse off if you dies in that situation.

So, what do you all think about save spots, or save times like the end of a game day for that matter? What purposes do they serve, and what''s the best way to implement saving?



The correct answers is :THE SAVE METHOD DEPEND OF THE GAME.

nuff said










Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
I don''t know if this has already been mentioned, but one of the positve aspects of the quicksave/quickload feature is that it encourages people to experiment with the game. Without a penalty for dying, people have more freedom to try crazy stunts and tactics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites