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Karnot

Play without save/load

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Usually when devs dont want player to abuse save/load they enforce ironman mode, or entice the player with some positive bonuses for not saving. As a player i prefer getting bonuses for not saving, rather than receiving penalties for saving. But !

What if you want to make a game, any game whatsoever, where combat is involved, and you really want for player to lose some battles. Not that the battles are scripted for player to lose, any given battle is winnable, but rather that winning or losing a battle will direct the story in different directions. Say, if you win you continue on your quest towards some goal, but if you lose you fall into servitude to someone, things like that. You want the player to experience the feel and consequences of losing, but more than that, you want players to see other sides of the storyline. If everyone will just reload and bruteforce through the battle - that will never happen !

How would you suggest to the player that losing might have its merits, storywise ?

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This is a really interesting subject. Pressing the quicksave key every time you enter a new room is a huge immersion breaker. I really noticed how much more immersive a game can be without manual saving when I played Amnesia: The Dark Decent. Their approach was to respawn the player somewhere nearby if the player died. Dying was only a minor setback gameplay-wise but it was terrifying psychologically. This worked well because they gave the player a reason to not want to die (fear) and forced them to play in the moment (no saving).

I think incorporating failure into the story can work okay. As long as complete failure is still an option. If no matter what the player does the story still continues (with minor set-backs) then that will seem pretty cheap to the player and they won't have much of a reason to try. However, repeating the same section over and over again because you keep dying is not very much fun either.

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There're always two sides to a coin. For once you want to save the game progress, on the other hand repeated loading can be exploited to overcome a challenge, so infact loading/saving is a build in cheat.

The solution is simple: don't give the player control of manual loading/saving, just save the game when the player stops playing and load when he wants to continue.

The problem is, that gamers are accustomed to use it in single player games, that's all, there's no real benefit other than using it as cheat.

Take a look at multiplayer games like your standard MMORPG or even FPS like MW3/BF3. The game progression is saved automatically, when you die in a MMORPG you will get some penalty, when you die in a shooter you will spoil you statistics.

To be honest, saving/loading is a cheat for the game designer too. Did you design some bad balancing or an overpowered boss ? No problem, just let the player use your build-in cheat to overcome the design flaw. So, when you want to get rid of loading/saving you need an almost flawless design or optionally some other feature to weaken the impact of failure.

Eventually the solution for your case is not what you would expect:
Are you willing to confront your player base expectation by removing a manual loading/saving feature ? If this is the case, then just do it and incoperate your decision in your game design.

That's it, if you don't want to go to the right, go to the left, instead of searching for a way to go to the left and right at the same time :D

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When you think about loading/saving, it was one of the first streamlining approaches to expand your game community from core-gamers to more casual gamers.:huh:

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Probably the obvious thing to do is just make sure you tell the player that loosing isn't a big deal. But if your game has some particular 'optimal ending' (assuming there is an ending) the a player is likely to do what he can to head streight for it. And if an event occurs that makes that optimal result no longer attainable, he's going to feel disappointed and want to change the outcome of the event even if there may still be an interesting experience ahead of him. If there isn't really an optimal result and the player knows it then the he probably won't be focusing on looking for a specific end but rather on exploring what possibilities are available.

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Manual loading/saving is sooo last decade. Join the present and implement auto-save and be done with it but please, please, don't make a thirty second "Saving -- Please sit here and watch this thingy spinning" kind of save; either save between chapters/cutscenes or make auto-saving autonomous and oblivious to the player; a minor annoyance, the players will forgive. A major one... not so much.

There is no reason to force the player to actually think about when to save -- that's just plain bad game design (unless, it's actually a part of the game; but otherwise it's just bad design). If the player is actually thinking: "Hmm, it's been five minutes since my last save... maybe I ought to do it now?" then you've failed.

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There are other reasosn aswell, but Crysis 2's move to linear paths with "action bubbles" and autosave between those, or in other words a much less sandbox enviroment, really helped making crysis 2 a huge dssappointment. I played original crysis first on a computer that only tackled low graphics (other games looked better), so it's not a game just about graphics as some claim. It's still the best singleplayer fps I've played to date.
Only save on certain locations really does not fit in here. It's very boring to play a huge portion again and again, only to die at some key moment right before the next autosave. Farcry had limited saves, but it had the same problems. It was more difficult, but I fail to see how going far back just to improve the state of your next state is more immersive than being able to save anywhere.
In more linear enviroments, I also hate when there's a long relatively easy sequence of stuff to do, and then facing a difficult encounter where save is right after that. Save should be right before, so you don't have to redo the boring parts over and over again.

You might limit when you can save though (not in combat), just make sure it's implemented correctly.

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As a player, I'd prefer to know where there is a story branch and what causes it, and be able to restore to before the story branch if I accidentally went the wrong way. Perhaps before a key battle the narratorial voice of the story could say something like, "If the bad guy were to win this fight he would probably take me prisoner." That's all I'd really need to know. (I just finished playing World of Goo and I thought the sign-painter and his signs were a great way to convey the story.)

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I think the major issue with saving/loading vs. immersion is that the act of saving is not an immersive feature when it's tacked into a menu or pops up some random hud element. If you look at how Minecraft handles "saving," which is to say, whenever you open a menu or quit the game, it keeps track of your current game state. However, if you sleep on a bed, then you die, you respawn at the bed. In this sense, they've made saving almost non-existent in the player's eyes. Same with colinhect's example of Amnesia, saving is totally out of the way.

I have been playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it's almost easy to tell when a good time to save is based on the challenge you just experienced or if the environment is telling you "big battle coming up..." In that sense, perhaps one could look at autosaves in two separate categories, where the level has a major autosave and major environmental situations have minor autosaves before and after. In this sense, a player can safely know that before they tackle a room full of heavy machine guns, their place in the overall story won't be interrupted if they are killed. They also have the option, should they so choose, to restart the entire level at whatever point they started it at. In retrospect, I imagine a lot of these choices are limited by the hardware simply being unable to keep up with the speed necessary to keep saving files.


I would say that if you are going to take out saving in a game and replace it with reward/punishment systems, then it might be best to not mention what's going on behind-scenes to the player. That way, it just ends up looking like a series of choices and outcomes from their loss state.

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