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[a thought on save games]

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after a discussion i had last night i thought i''d share this idea about saving games. if you are worried about players saving the game too much, and want to limit or deter this, one relatively elegant way to do it could be to keep track of how frequently the player is saving their game, and perhaps even the circumstances surrounding the save. it is conceivable that a person may have a computer so unstable that they need to save ever two minutes or so lest they lose all their progress (this just was the case with me a little while ago). these kinds of situations, where players have ''legitimate'' reasons for saving often, should be un-hindered. but if the player is for example saving before they open every door, this kind of action may want to be discouraged. limiting the number of save games, or where you can save, is kind of artificial. i suggest instead that you allow the game to scale the difficulty based on the frequency of the saves. this can kind of be seen in max payne. that game scales the difficulty to your skill level. if a person saves and loads the game constantly and plays throught the levels perfectly, the game will increase the difficutly more and more, which might encourage the player to save more and more, et cetera. It might be better to reduce the difficulty slightly, until the player feels comfortable that they won''t need to save the game so much. or you could be malicious and increase the difficulty. the only way this system would be really effective is if the player were aware of it and how it worked. they must understand that if they save too much the game will get too hard, or if they are finding the game hard, they should save less...etc <(o)>

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You have the right idea, but generally I don''t think most game developers will waste the time to go to that much detail in figuring out why the person is saving games. Well, at least they won''t try and figure out if your system is unstable or not. Your idea for Max Payne is much more conceivable. To me, I really don''t care about the whole save game deal. In my opinion by allowing the player to save the game at anytime, you are effectivly placing all responsibility in the hands of the player. If he or she chooses to "ruin" the game experience by constantly saving, then that''s their decision, and the game designer can''t be held responsible for any loss of challenge because obviously they care for none. What I do care about is games that only let you save at certain "checkpoints " along the way. This takes a choice away from the player, which is a design no-no. I''m still not sure what to think of save areas in games (like Zelda: Majora''s Mask ). I think they constitute the middle ground and are acceptable in some cases. I think they work well in Zelda because it is an open world with free travel from place to place, so the save areas are easy to get to.

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Although following the examples of John Romero should probably be discouraged, Daikatana had a system that involved a consumable item that allowed saving. You should probably be allowed to carry more than three, but you have right there all the control you could possibly want over the saving routine. Its an idea that needs more playing with, like each area having a ''cleared'' item that allows you to save at any point of the area, and then place this item after the major objective for the area. Then place save checkpoint in the area so on the first time through, you can only save where dictated, then when you get the item, not having to use those points anymore.

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I don''t think that haveing only ''checkpoint'' savespots is such a bad idea...it certainly does NOT take gameplay choices away from the player.

let me explain.

In this day and age of flashy 3D graphics...when so many gamers and developers are striveing for more and MORE ''realisam''...I find we are not really trying to make games anymore, but rather simulations...this is bad...this is a game design no-no...games are about limited but directly enforceable set of rules...these rules do not have to obey the laws of nature, or even physics...but they have to make sense within the context of the game...If we really want to create realistic simulations as opposed to games then the save feature should be removed entirely...By useing ''check point'' saves, many games have placed them in "safe spots"...this allows the player to continue a game without fear of sudden suprises...allowing them to get reaqouinted with the game controls, etc...This is a game design choice, createing a simple and directly enforceable game rule...haveing a free save system is also a design choice...however giveing the player the ability to "save anywhere, at anytime", but then disableing such a system when monsters/danger are near takes that choice away from the player (and if you think about it such a system wouldn''t be all that much different then a ''checkpoint'' system)

Allowing the computer to adjust game difficulty on the fly is a dangerious situation...Even in a such a system the game developers are the ones who set the extream limits and the way in which it acts...there is nothing automatic about it...and it in no way, shape, or form will such a system be capable of compinsateing for every player (what the designers think is a medium difficulty could be to easy/hard for the average player)...in any case whether you have 1, 5, or an infinate number of difficulty levels in a game...it all boils down to the same idea that the player must think, act, and do like the designers to complete the game

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Boy I remember this thread from a year or two ago.

My attitude hasn''t changed at all since then. Personally I believe that game developers are trying to create a product that consumers should want to play and buy. By telling a user that they can only save 3 times a day or something silly like that takes away choices. This is a bad thing.

As a consumer (as well as a developer), I know it''s important to have as many choices as possible. I like it when a product let''s me choose how I want to use it. Imagine if the ketchup makers found a way to make sure that you ONLY put it on french fries. You would be pretty pissed off if you wanted it on your burger and Heinz stopped you from doing it. (I know, a really bad example... But it makes a point).

To you, saving every 3 seconds might ruin a game. To someone else, not being able to finish a game might ruin it. Personally I hate fighting the same fight over and over again. I really hate way-point saves.

Just my opinion.

borngamer

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quote:
Original post by MSW
I don''t think that haveing only ''checkpoint'' savespots is such a bad idea...it certainly does NOT take gameplay choices away from the player.


"Billy, dinner''s ready!"
"But mom, I can''t, I''m half-way between..."
"BILLY! GET HERE NOW OR I''LL.."
etc.

Limiting when a player can save is going to have an effect on when people can play, which people can play, how long they can play for, and so on. I don''t want more of those sort of limitations on my games.

Let''s also add in the fact that most modern dev teams don''t make games run 100% stable. So saving is a nice luxury in case something crashes.

Some background reading:
Big reload times in Thief : design choice ?
What if there were no saves - ever?
Saving games

I''m sure there were others, but those threads say a lot.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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Borngamer - "By telling a user that they can only save 3 times a day or something silly like that takes away choices."

...er...no...it doesn''t take away choices...If the game allows them to only save 3 times a day...but then, for whatever reason, switches things around and only allows them to save once or twice a day...then THAT takes away choices.

In my opinion games should''nt be about the quantity of choices...but the quality of choices available to the player...If a game only allows you to save 3 times a day, you have added stratigy and weight to the players choice to save the game...players must then be more carfull of how they make this choice.

Not saying that such a system is what all games should use...but that it isn''t as bad of a game design choice as it has been made out to be.

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The problem with deciding on a save-game strategy is that it''s unlike almost any other gameplay decision. Limiting the amount of ammunition available to a player? good... makes him conserve ammo as a tactic. Can''t shoot underwater? great; he''ll have to sneak around the evil Nazi sharks. Both of these define the gameplay, constraining a player''s choices in order to make the game more challenging and more fun.

But in deciding on a save-game strategy, you have to keep in mind that this is not about the challenge. Players have to save for a variety of different reasons; almost all of these reasons are beyond the scope of the game. If the player has to leave for work in three minutes, it is NOT the duty of the game to extend the challenge of getting to the next savepoint to include a real life deadline!

Look at it this way... suppose you had to answer a series of trivia questions every time you wanted to quit the game. If you didn''t get four out of five, you stayed in the game. People would hate that... they''d force-quit. Challenges should be restricted to the scope of the game; and saving is very definitely not completely in the scope of the game.

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IMHO, it''s really simple. Write a game with no saving. Simply a game-state per game (so you can have several different games going on at the same time). At every "tick", the game automatically updates the game-state on disk, in such a way that nomatter what happens, and nomatter when you get a crash, the game-state on disk is always saveguarded (this is possible, just grab any database book).

This way, you can''t excessively save, because you are constantly saving. All the "I can''t play longer than this" or "my computer is not stable" types of saves are covered by this. The "I''ll save and try this, and if it doesn''t work I''ll reload and try something else" type of save does NOT occur with this system. This CAN be bad, specially in games designed around a lot of dead-end decisions. So don''t use it if you plan to end the game a lot on bad player decisions!


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

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@MadKeithV -
Can''t you just make a backup copy of the save-state and restore it when you want to? This would make it a pain in the butt for your average gamer, and this system was implemented in some of the old classic games.

I''d like a system were your choice of difficulty at the start of the game, be it easy, medium or hard, would affect how you save the game. So if you start on easy, you gat unlimited saves, if you chose medium, you have strategic area saves, and if you chose hard, you get a set number of saves, say 20, and that would be it. A system like this lets the player choose, what they want, so if they''re strapped for time they would pick easy and so on...

I''m not saying the exact choices above are the best ones, but a system were you CAN choose your save criterion at the start of the game, would be best.

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