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ManaStone

Auto Game Saves- good idea or bad idea?

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ManaStone    148
What would you think of a game that auto saved everything every 5 minutes and didn't allow you to save it manually? This would make the game more challenging because the player will not be able to revert back to a more comfortable spot when things get icky. Although the player might not consciously like this option, it will give him more game time and will probably take longer for him to get bored.

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MMOs use a constant game state system that keeps you from abusing the save/load system, and nobody really complains about that.

Escape Velocity did it, too, because the game would save every time you docked at a station, and there was no other way to save it. People beat that by storing copies of their character file and swapping them out when a mission chain didn't go the way they wanted it to.

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xaver    253
I have used autosaves in some of my games, but not that frequently. It also depends on what kind of game you are talking about. I think it is best to auto-save after a major event has happened (like completing a level). Players will use ways to get around them anyway, such as backing up old save files before launching the game.

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Edtharan    607
Auto saves are ok, but having the option of a chain of saves is a needed inclusion. That way anybody that played the game and wanted to be chalenged can just load up the last save, but players that didn't want to do that and were interested in other aspects of the game (rather than how hard the designer can make it) are alos accomodated. Why would a designer feel the need to alienate players unnessesarily?

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Dragoncar    517
I don't mind having an autosave, but it can't interfer with playing the game otherwise it is just annoying and if its at a time when things are loading just just have it take to long.

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Nitrogen    154
The way I see it, there are basically 2 ways of saving games:

either the user is able to save wherever and whenever he/she wants,

OR

The game saves at fixed intervals. But here is the caveat:
You must save the game at a stage when there is no frantic action
or the player is not just about to be killed.

There are many ways to do this. Checkpoints, markers, special saving points in the levels, even level codes which must be entered to get back to where you were.

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Coz    169
The way I would like saving to be, is that the game saves automatically when I enter a new area(for example in an RPG entering a room) or when something important happens.

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Talroth    3247
Have auto saves only when you can't hit a total deadend. If I enter a room where badguy with the "Sword of death +1000" and I have a dagger I picked up, I should be able to run back out of the room. Don't lock the player into things they might not be able to do, always give them the option of pulling back and regrouping.

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ManaStone    148
It shouldn't be that hard to prevent player's from messing with the saves. You can keep another hidden file somewhere that keeps track of the time everything was saved and if the save file doesn't match that, then just make it so it doesn't run.

Also, I remember some games like Jedi Knight took very little time to save. If it is very small like that then it wouldn't interfere too much with the game play going on.

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twanvl    512
Quote:
Original post by ManaStone
It shouldn't be that hard to prevent player's from messing with the saves. You can keep another hidden file somewhere that keeps track of the time everything was saved and if the save file doesn't match that, then just make it so it doesn't run.

If you do this you are just anoying the player. If the player wants to mess with save files, let him.

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Telastyn    3777
A few thoughts:

1. Autosave that doesn't interfere with gameplay is good.

2. Preventing the user from saving at will is [depending on the game] highly annoying. It effectively prevents those of us who maybe have to go at a moments' notice from playing the game. At least have full saves in town or in the world map [or at little save stones]. Then entering a dungeon for the first time or big plotlines can be done without save cheapness; but the player can still explore or shop while still being able to leave at a moment's notice.

3. Speaking of save cheapness, I agree that re-loading until you get the roll/result you want is highly lame. But it's also the players' choice in single player. If they want to ruin their own experience, why not let them? [OR, save the Random Generator seed, so that re-loading will always result in the same rolls]

4. Hiding a special file won't do anything to prevent file fiddling. It just means the hacker who makes the trainer in the first place spends 10 extra minutes. The rest just download tools anyways.

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Oluseyi    2103
Autosave at logical intervals to a temporary game save - a session file. Let the user save/load a session whenever, and let the user load from a specific checkpoint within the session.

Voila! Perfect saving.

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Nathan Baum    1027
Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Autosave at logical intervals to a temporary game save - a session file. Let the user save/load a session whenever, and let the user load from a specific checkpoint within the session.

Voila! Perfect saving.

It's so obvious that one wonders how people could possibly manage to get it wrong.

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Nathan Baum    1027
Quote:
Original post by ManaStone
What would you think of a game that auto saved everything every 5 minutes and didn't allow you to save it manually?

I'd think the developer was arrogant.
Quote:
This would make the game more challenging because the player will not be able to revert back to a more comfortable spot when things get icky. Although the player might not consciously like this option, it will give him more game time and will probably take longer for him to get bored.

Not in my case. It would more likely cause me to (1) download a crack to let me save on demand or (2) not play your game. Your game would have to be spectacularly good that I'd overlook such a fundamental flaw in the game's design.

I also don't think that it's terribly likely that I'd be less likely to get bored: I think the exact opposite is the case. If I have the choice of restoring the single session I have available or restarting the entire game, then every time I find myself in a no-win situation with my current session, I'll have no choice but to start the game from scratch. Unless the game is terrifically dynamic, that's going to get boring real fast.
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
MMOs use a constant game state system that keeps you from abusing the save/load system, and nobody really complains about that.

I think there's a big difference here. Dying in an MMO isn't necessarily a permanent death. Even when it is, if you start as a new character, you don't start in exactly the same game as last time you started.

For me, the most annoying thing about dying and not being able to restore from a recent save is the fact that I'd have to play half of the exact same game again. In a MMO, you don't ever play the same game, so it's quite different.
Quote:
Original post by Talroth
Have auto saves only when you can't hit a total deadend. If I enter a room where badguy with the "Sword of death +1000" and I have a dagger I picked up, I should be able to run back out of the room. Don't lock the player into things they might not be able to do, always give them the option of pulling back and regrouping.

Excellent observation.
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
3. Speaking of save cheapness, I agree that re-loading until you get the roll/result you want is highly lame. But it's also the players' choice in single player. If they want to ruin their own experience, why not let them? [OR, save the Random Generator seed, so that re-loading will always result in the same rolls]

Perhaps a better solution to this problem is to tell the player that he's playing the wrong way. If he keeps trying something and nearly succeeding, you could wait until he manages it by pure luck, or you could offer a hint as to another way to do it. There's another way to do it, right?

Also, let the user decide. One feature of AvP and SoF that stuck out was that you got to pick how many save games you were allowed. It annoyed me that AvP didn't have a "Infinite" option, though (even though I never actually ran out).

Furthermore, if users are going to insist upon rerolling until they gets maximum points for everything, that's a clue that you should add a "god mode" where you always win your rolls. Cheating? Only if you decide that it is: Alpha Centauri has a highly flexible cheat mode and it never diminished the gameplay for me, because I just didn't use it when I wanted to win "fair and square".

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Trapper Zoid    1370
While I'm in favour of a good game design that incorporates auto-saving at regular intervals rather than manual saving, I agree with the other replies that I don't think you've listed a very good reason for having that feature.

In my view, pretty much the only reason for having that feature would be to send the message "this game doesn't need you to save every six seconds, so we'll take care of the saving for you so you can go enjoy playing the game".

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Telastyn    3777
Quote:

that's a clue that you should add a "god mode" where you always win your rolls.


I disagree. Why waste even a minute of developer time neutering your own game design? To appease a portion of your playerbase that have no inclination to actually play the game? Might as well ship a web page with "YOU WIN!" in big red blinking font.

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Nathan Baum    1027
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
Quote:

that's a clue that you should add a "god mode" where you always win your rolls.

I disagree. Why waste even a minute of developer time neutering your own game design? To appease a portion of your playerbase that have no inclination to actually play the game the way you've decided they should be playing it? Might as well ship a web page with "YOU WIN!" in big red blinking font.

Fixed.

Plus, I rather suspect you'd have a god mode in there to make things easier when you're testing it. Who wants to waste hours of developer time checking some inventory glitch somewhere because you have to battle through an army of the undead every time to get to the point where the glitch occurs? The more likely scenario is that removing the god mode is what would take the extra time (although, granted, it shouldn't take any more time than toggling a constant somewhere).

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Flarelocke    410
Earth 2160 had a nice solution: Two autosave slots, where the older one was overwritten every five minutes.

This pretty much (because of the pace of the game) meant I never saved manually mid-level. Unfortunately, it took several seconds to save the game, so it was annoying sometimes. If possible, try to minimize the time it takes to autosave, and don't save in the middle of a hairy situation.

I don't understand the notion that the player should only be able to save at certain spots or only be able to have a certain amount of saved games. That pretty much means to me that the game either isn't exciting enough (the player has too many opportunities to save) or is too repetitive (the player really hates the idea of redoing part or all of the time between saves).

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
I disagree. Why waste even a minute of developer time neutering your own game design? To appease a portion of your playerbase that have no inclination to actually play the game? Might as well ship a web page with "YOU WIN!" in big red blinking font.

There are many reasons that a player might want to "break" you game design. One could be that it is a bad design. Another is that your kid messed with it while you were on the phone. If you just had a save every 5 mins that overwrote the last and they were messing about for more thime than that, you might loos all your effort that went into getting to that point.

I think more developer time would be wasted by people getting fed up with a bad save system and abandoning the game out of frustration. If you give people the option then those that relish in the chalenge can refuse to use the save games, and those that tend to get interupted by "Real Life" (whatever that is :D) will apreciate that functionallity.

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Telastyn    3777
Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
Quote:
I disagree. Why waste even a minute of developer time neutering your own game design? To appease a portion of your playerbase that have no inclination to actually play the game? Might as well ship a web page with "YOU WIN!" in big red blinking font.

There are many reasons that a player might want to "break" you game design. One could be that it is a bad design. Another is that your kid messed with it while you were on the phone. If you just had a save every 5 mins that overwrote the last and they were messing about for more thime than that, you might loos all your effort that went into getting to that point.

I think more developer time would be wasted by people getting fed up with a bad save system and abandoning the game out of frustration. If you give people the option then those that relish in the chalenge can refuse to use the save games, and those that tend to get interupted by "Real Life" (whatever that is :D) will apreciate that functionallity.


Note that the original reply was not to auto-save, but to making a mode where you always 'roll 20'. There is a reason I posted a quote above that comment.

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NotAYakk    876
Have an autosave every 5 minutes, but keep your entire history of auto-saves, and have a tree-like interface for viewing it.

Heck, track the user inputs in the 5 minutes between saves, and have an engine capable of replaying user inputs and getting the same game state, and you have a complete record of everything that happened in the game, backing up to any point in the past, and testing out "what if" game branches at will.

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Way Walker    745
How about making it an option like Fallout Tactics' "Iron Man" (or "Hardcore" or whatever they called it) mode. You selected the option at the start of the game. If you chose it, you could only save between missions. Thus, panzies (like me) do not select it and have a good time, while iron men get the extra challenge. Making it optional gives the best of all worlds:

Players who want/need to be able to save often don't have to deal with the troubles of being locked into the designers' saving schedule. Hardcore players can get the extra challenge and have the pride of finishing "hardcore" mode.

This is one of the benefits of including "cheats", especially if it's under the guise of "lower difficulty". By renaming cheats as "difficulty levels" you do not alienate players who want/need to use them and you give a gold star to anyone with balls of steel who can complete your higher difficulty levels. Even better, because people generally like gold stars, they'll want to complete your higher difficulty level just to say they did (i.e. they'll consciously like this option).

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eelke_folmer    191
autosaving every five minutes sounds like a good idea only three things you should consider:

1) is there only one slot for saving e.g. new autosave overwrites an older one. This doesn't work for games that are not irreversible. E.g. I might want to go back to an earlier point in the game to get some information (or roll 20 on a dice)
2) each autosave leads to a new savegame. If a game takes 10 hours to complete you're looking at 200 savegames. Consoles like ps2 do not provide for that many savegames, in addition how is the user ever going to find the savegame he/she wants to restore? An autosave (especially background) does not create a mental image in the head of the gamer where the game is in the game especially if savegames are named autosave-XX-DATE and there is no visual save implemented. If the gamer can save the game himself and give it a name he's/she's much likelier to recall the right savegame.
3) is the user aware that the game is being saved? if not how will he feel "save" to leave the game?

I've tried describing autosave in my interaction desig pattern collection for games see autosave

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Scint    355
One thing I don't like about autosaves is when it saves too late, like it saves then a second later a bomb explodes under me and no matter how many times I load I cannot avoid it. This makes me look for an older save. Therefore, I'd only run the autosave when you are in a safe place. Then let the user use quicksaves at his own peril. I get what you mean by not being able to go to a comfy spot and making it more 'challenging', but if it saves at a really bad time it would be more frustrating than challenging.

For games without permadeath (like Diablo 2), I think it is sufficient to save upon exit and load when you start the game again. (However, I remember reading in the Diablo 2 post-mortem that a lot of people wanted a save-anywhere no-monster-respawn system, but in my opinion that would have trivialized tough parts of the game.)

There was a very long thread about save games a couple years ago I think, you might want to search for that for more input.

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