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Savegames and My Documents

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I have a huge pet peeve with many of the current computer games running on WIntel and in order to try to stop the infestation I post this message. Why on earth do you store savegames in the "My Documents"-folder? Obviously most game developers are not aware (or do not care) about the concept of "My Documents". In "My Documents", documents that the user cares about should be stored. What I mean about that the user cares about them is that the user might want to rename the file or "oh, where did I put the recipe for that good soup?" or that she somehow by the aid of some program want to alter the contents of a file in for her a deterministic way! That is, the documents in "My Documents" should be documents that the user is aware of! Or as Raymond Chen puts it: "My Documents is where users store their files, whereas Application Data is where programs store their files" (much better and to the point than my ramblings). Some questions for game developers that ponder this: How does that fit with savegame data? Do you want your users to manually rename and/or alter the data in the files? I think not! Afterall does the user even care about where the savegames are stored? Does she need to know? Obviously not! The user plays the game, saves and the only thing the user want is to be able to continue playing from where they last saved! So obviously there's no reason to store savegames in "My Documents" and every reason not to! So where should savegames be stored? Well for security reasons they should not be stored in the game's install directory either. But do we really only have two places to store them? Either the install-directory or "My Documents"? No! A much better way is to store them in the "Application Data" or the "Local Settings\Application Data"! Thank you for reading!

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Hi.

I (partially) agree with you. However, the first time I discovered my savegames were stored in "Application Data" I felt a bit annoyed. I like to know where my savegames are stored (I like to keep them on a CD when I finnished the game). Besides, my C:\ partition is quite small so I don't like having a lot of files saved in it (in "Documents and Settings"). The problem doesn't rise for the "My Documents" folder as it is possible to make in point to another location.

This is annoying to have unwanted files in the "My Documents" folder but games are not the first to blame. Microsoft is the first. When you install Windows XP, it automatically creates some folders ("My Pictures", "My Music"...). That makes me angry : I don't want to put my music files in that directory (same for other directory).

So, as everybody thinks it's a good idea to store files and to create directories and the "My Documents" folder, I have found a quick solution : I store my documents in another folder. :p

Just my 2 cents...

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I never trust anything to the my documents folder. I always keep all my critical data in a seperate drive.

But for games, user data and saved games belong in a very obvious subdirectory of the game's directory. Whenever I uninstall a game, I can simply pick up the data/ folder and put it somewhere safe.

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the "My Documents" folder doesn't have to be at c:\documents and settings\blah\...

honestly I think putting savegames there is MUCH better than the alternative some games take: store it in the game's directory

which doesn't work when you don't run as admin [or don't give your user write rights to that directory]

is storing in application data any better? ... it is harder to find if I want to back up... that is if I wasn't aware there is an application data folder.

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How is saving a game state any different to saving a document from MS Word? Should MS Word default to storing documents in its own folder, unless you _explicitly_ move them? Why not? After all, saving a game is just as much a _user-initiated_ event as clicking "File -> Save As...".

I've been handling support for an indie games company for some time now and, believe me, storing saved games in the "Program Files" folder is a Very Bad Thing. Program Files should be reserved for just that: files that the program *requires* in order to run. It should not be a dumping ground for game-state backups or game option settings.

A saved-game *IS* something the user cares about. I frequently get asked where Game X stores its saved game files because -- get this! -- computers can, and do, crash, break down or suffer damage, resulting in a need to reinstall. Sometimes, people just plain *buy a new computer*. How is Auntie Maude supposed to cope with this when Windows XP's default behaviour upon opening the "Program Files" folder is to tell you that you're doing something wrong?

Since "My Documents" isn't actually named "My Documents Reserved Only For Documents I Created Entirely On My Own So Windows Movie Maker's Sample Video File Can Just Piss Off", it seems far more logical to me that this is where saved games should be stored. Ideally, it'd be nice to see a "My Game Documents" folder within "My Documents", with each game creating its own subfolder within that; game options and settings files should go into this folder too, so that you don't have to reset all your key bindings for that complex flight-sim game you love to play.

Please, PLEASE remember that games developers are NOT a target audience for games! Just because YOU folks here like doing things your way, it does not automatically follow that every bugger else does too. The "My Documents" folder concept is merely an evolution of UNIX's own "home" folder. It exists for a damned good reason.



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For me, the "My Documents" is the unofficial "Not My Documents" folder. I never ever store something there, I have separate partitions on separate physical drives to organize my data. So, anytime I find something in "My Documents", I know for sure that I never put it there, and that some appllication or game must have created it. That's rather convenient, actually. TBH, I wish that all games would put their savegames into "My Documents". "Application Data" is a real pain because, as it was mentioned, you cannot change its position to a different physical drive or directory, using a different filesystem than NTFS (to be writable by Linux, for instance).

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Quote:
Original post by stimarco
I've been handling support for an indie games company for some time now and, believe me, storing saved games in the "Program Files" folder is a Very Bad Thing. Program Files should be reserved for just that: files that the program *requires* in order to run. It should not be a dumping ground for game-state backups or game option settings.

The OP is advocating saved games to stored in Application Data, not Program Files. Application Data is just like My Documents, except the user doesn't see it unless he goes looking for it. I'm sure it has a Unix counterpart, but I don't know what it is. Maybe /usr? *edit: It sounds like Application Data may not be just like My Documents...I assumed it could be relocated and what not.

That said, I agree with your point 100%.

CM

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a small note from a system-admin: the application data can get relocated just as my documents (and about any other folder).
i _think_ it's doable with tweakui.

and yes, games should definitely store in Application Data, or in My Documents.

I'd say game settings should get stored in Application Data, and savegames into My Documents. but that is discutable :D

what i'd love is a more simple access from My Documents to "Application Data", so users would at least be aware of that folder (i've backed up all my files, but lost all my e-mails!!!! where are they now, i fresh formated my disk... yes.. they where in the appdata... and are gone now). and then, my documents would ONLY be for user-saves, and not get flooded by stupid other apps. but i think with time, this will all work out. too much programmers still don't know how to work with such stuff.

it's difficult to get rid of old habbits. but my work would be boring if everyone knew how to write an application right :D

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Application Data may not be moved using TweakUI (or at least not when using TweakUI on a limited account) plus Application Data is a hidden folder. The implication is that the things in Application Data are probably not necessarily supposed to be backed up.

Personally, I'd rather savegames be My Documents than Application Data since a savegame is a document created by a game. Configuration files should go in Application Data.

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Quote:
Original post by Conner McCloud
Quote:
Original post by stimarco
I've been handling support for an indie games company for some time now and, believe me, storing saved games in the "Program Files" folder is a Very Bad Thing. Program Files should be reserved for just that: files that the program *requires* in order to run. It should not be a dumping ground for game-state backups or game option settings.

The OP is advocating saved games to stored in Application Data, not Program Files. Application Data is just like My Documents, except the user doesn't see it unless he goes looking for it. I'm sure it has a Unix counterpart, but I don't know what it is. Maybe /usr?


If you go off the LFS (Linux Filesystem Standard? Not sure I'm titling what I'm thinking of correctly):

"C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\*" is equivilant to "/home/username/*"

"C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\*" is equivilant to "/home/username/.*"

It's a thin line. If you go by the dictionary definition of "Document", the two areas overlap.

Quote:
Original post by amag
How does that fit with savegame data? Do you want your users to manually rename
yes
Quote:
and/or alter the data in the files?
by playing them further, yes
Quote:
I think not! Afterall does the user even care about where the savegames are stored?
When I want to do a backup, yes
Quote:
Does she need to know?
to do aforementioned backup, yes
Quote:
So obviously there's no reason
except the ones I've allready mentioned...

You get the idea.

Last I checked, also, savegames wern't a type of "Setting". Video resolution and key bindings yes. Savegames no.

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Ok, I thought I explained it all but I guess my text was a bit dense.

Firstly I do certainly *not* advocate putting the savegames in "Program Files" (if you look carefully you'll see I said this in the OP). And of course I care about my savegames, it's just that I only care about them A) when I play the game they belong to, or B) when I need to make a backup.
In case of (A) it doesn't matter where the savegames are located just as long as they work even when I'm not admin. In the case of (B) I must first confess that I never backup my savegames as I don't really see a point in doing that. But say that I do, then the game manual or a readme or what not can direct me to the "Application Data"-folder.

Anyway, I guess I disagree with most of you whether savegames really are "documents". For me a document has a purpose all by itself whereas a savegame is just the means to an end. I really don't care *how* the game makes it possible for me to continue from where I last left off, just that it does!

Another thing that annoys me about programs (ok, it's not just games) creating folders and documents in "My Documents" is that Explorer shows "My Documents" as the default start location when you open it. As "My Documents" is very seldom my desired destination it annoys me that I now have so many folders in "My Documents" that I always need to scroll down to find my harddrives.

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Personally, I am quite fond of the My Documents/My Games folder, which to date I have only seen Halo and Civ 4 use. It doesn't add a ton of clutter (damnit GTA!) but it leaves the files in an easily accessible place.

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I have my documents on a separate drive partition. I had to use Tweak UI to get it there and I went through the effort because the icon for the My Documents folder is everywhere, so getting to it is easy. That is also why I use the my pictures and my music folders (although with Tweak UI I renamed them to pictures and music).

For the matter of a game saving settings and game saves in the My Document folder, I believe that the game should first ask the user. If the user doesn't want it there, then the user should be able to choose where it should go. Once a location is chosen, the game should make a subdirectory to prevent files from being mixed up. Or, it can pack all of the files into a custom archive format.

Having and knowing the location of one place where all user specific settings for a game are, could be very useful. It would be great if all the user needs is a copy of that file/directory and the original install disc to fully recover from a hard drive reformat. I don't know of any software that allows for that.

*edit: blank line added*

[Edited by - T1Oracle on December 31, 2005 12:43:55 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by Promit
Personally, I am quite fond of the My Documents/My Games folder, which to date I have only seen Halo and Civ 4 use. It doesn't add a ton of clutter (damnit GTA!) but it leaves the files in an easily accessible place.

Microsoft Games has used this as well (with Freelancer and MW4, at least). It seems the most logical place for save-games to me. I only wish more companies would adopt this as a standard.

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I'd prefer a backup/export and import option in games to save everything to one single zip or something for easy backup and save swaping.

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well then it's all fine and leave the files in the "my documents" folder.
Then, since its a document, you'll want to be able to open it, right?
so why not, go ahead and register the filetype. Because every one wants each of their games to have its own registered file extension hooked to the game, since that's the usual way we load games, by double-clicking the savegame file, right?

Grrr. Application data. No registering file extensions. Damn you half life.

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Quote:
Original post by Madster
well then it's all fine and leave the files in the "my documents" folder.
Then, since its a document, you'll want to be able to open it, right?
so why not, go ahead and register the filetype. Because every one wants each of their games to have its own registered file extension hooked to the game, since that's the usual way we load games, by double-clicking the savegame file, right?


Exactly.

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they do it that way because (theoretically) everyone doesn't run their windows box as the "administrator" user... and therefore doesn't (or at least shouldn't) have write access to the "program files" folder.

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There does exist the application data "temporary files" folder (where things like cookies and browser cache goes). It is writable by the user. However, a save game isn't very likely a "temporary" thing -- you'd be pretty miffed if it was wiped by the system just because it felt like it.

Windows Vista is said to actually add "Game" as an entire application concept, with special support. This is part of the "Windows for Gaming" platform initiative. Exactly how much of this problem (and others) it will solve for real remains to be seen.

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Quote:
Original post by Promit
Personally, I am quite fond of the My Documents/My Games folder, which to date I have only seen Halo and Civ 4 use. It doesn't add a ton of clutter (damnit GTA!) but it leaves the files in an easily accessible place.


Hmmm, I hadnt noticed that folder being added (it got lost among the other My X folders) and that also gets my vote, I keep my documents in another location as well (right click on the my documents folder and select 'move target'.. tweakui indeed [razz]), its annoying to have to look around stuff at backup time..

I even retarged OE's mail store to a directory in My Docs.

If you games has per-user profiles it might even be worth storing them in my docs as well with the saves, that way the user doesnt have to reconfigure the game on reinstall (a pet hate of mine... ).

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Quote:
Original post by amag
Anyway, I guess I disagree with most of you whether savegames really are "documents". For me a document has a purpose all by itself whereas a savegame is just the means to an end. I really don't care *how* the game makes it possible for me to continue from where I last left off, just that it does!

Well I really don't care *how* the word processor makes it possible for me to continue from where I last left off, just that it does! I can put pretty much any program ino that sentence and it still makes sense. Users do not want to use programs, they want to get something done. A gamer is still a user - exactly the same as any other - they just have a different goal in mind. So are you therefore arguing that no documents should ever be automatically placed in the My Documents folder by any program?

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I think in most cases, the user should have the option of where he wants the savegames to be. Each user is different. Some users may want to do data back ups and will look in the my documents folder. Others wouldn't want to see anything with the work "game" at all in there my documents folder. The game should provide a default "save" folder where the game itself is stored, but in the options dialog/window of the game, or the window where the game is saved, let the user choose where to save it. Either this could be done each time a game is saved, or could be setup just once and default each time to this location, but the point is that the USER gets to decide where HE wants his save games.

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Quote:
Original post by T1Oracle
For the matter of a game saving settings and game saves in the My Document folder, I believe that the game should first ask the user. If the user doesn't want it there, then the user should be able to choose where it should go. Once a location is chosen, the game should make a subdirectory to prevent files from being mixed up. Or, it can pack all of the files into a custom archive format.

If you mean that when the user goes to Save in the game he has the ability to chose a different folder to save to and that the game would remember that folder the next time the user saves, then I agree. If you mean that the game should ask the user where they want the save games to go when the game is installed, then I disagree completely. Most likely the user does not care and the user should not have to know in order to play the game.

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here is a small counter example why Saves should be put in my documents.
lets say you want to formate your PC and yet you need to have a copy of all your saved games. So instead of going folder by folder for every game and check your save game, which folder does this game use or something then backing them up 1 by 1. If all saved games where in 1 folder .. lets say "My Documents" then you just back up this folder and voila easy access.
anyways My documents differ per user on XP so every user has his own copy of his own saved game. And i like this way, all games need to put save files in 1 common folder and my docmunets is easily accessed.

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