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aDasTRa

[a thought on save games]

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aDasTRa    122
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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Gaiiden    5710
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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Drew Sikora
A.K.A. Gaiiden

ICQ #: 70449988
AOLIM: DarkPylat

Blade Edge Software
Staff Member, GDNet
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3-time Contributing author, Game Design Methods , Charles River Media (coming GDC 2002)
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Inmate2993    222
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.

:: Inmate2993
:: William C. Bubel
"Please refrain from bothering Booster."

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MSW    151
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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borngamer    204
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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Kylotan    10013
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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MSW    151
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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Sneftel    1788
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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MadKeithV    992
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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Garott    122
@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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Zaei    122
Make it a pain in the arse to save at a cerain points (forcing the user to create a backup of a current game state, using MadKeith''s idea would be a good example). That way, it becomes too much of a hassle to save at every doorway. Besides, if you get killed, and didnt save, and have to do a battle all over again... you deserve it. I had this happen yesterday in HL...7 hp, 3 grunts, most difficult setting... took me about 25 tries, and then i died again, and had to go for another 25 tries. I deserved it out of stupidity =).

Z.

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MadKeithV    992
quote:
Original post by Garott
@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.


This is a possibility for the simplest implementations of the system. It''s not really a bad thing either - I used to do it for games such as Their Finest Hour and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe.
You can also put in extra checks to make sure it doesn''t happen - though it isn''t really necessary. People will go to great lengths to have their save games

What you could ALSO do - just occurred to me writing this - is combining both systems. The game always has the latest state on disk - secure and crash-proof. It also has a "branching" mechanism, whereby you can choose to "set aside" the current state. You could tie the amount of "branches" you have available to the difficulty level for instance, or some other method of saving. You could even just have the "branching" available all the time, but you needn''t use it to continue the game, only to "branch" it or to preserve at a dangerous place.




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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eng3d    91
quote:
Original post by Zaei
Make it a pain in the arse to save at a cerain points (forcing the user to create a backup of a current game state, using MadKeith's idea would be a good example). That way, it becomes too much of a hassle to save at every doorway. Besides, if you get killed, and didnt save, and have to do a battle all over again... you deserve it. I had this happen yesterday in HL...7 hp, 3 grunts, most difficult setting... took me about 25 tries, and then i died again, and had to go for another 25 tries. I deserved it out of stupidity =).

Z.


You are right!.

In fact, Aliens vs Predator, the save option is only available in the end of scene.. this sux because you die 5 o 7 times in each scene. For this, they put a patch for save in any points.

In opposite, Resident Evil 1,2 you have a save points, and a amount (limited) of "save options". Is good because you have enough "save options" (even for rookies), and you avoid to save in any point. Also, is good for proffesional players, because if you don't save more that 10 times, then you can reach a secret level/stuff.

-----------------------------------------------

"Cuando se es peon, la unica salida es la revolución"

Edited by - eng3d on December 17, 2001 11:39:14 AM

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Militant    122
I didn''t read all of the posts but I know when a game has "save points" like some monolith the player has to touch, the game is less fun.. (?)

One of my friends has a couple games w/ save systems like that, and usually he will jump back how ever far it takes to save is progress.


"Yes I am lame, how did you know ?"

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Gaiiden    5710
First off, I'd like to say it's good to see you again MadKeithV, hope you start showing up more often

Now then, I have to admit that the constant save option is a good idea, but what about the overhead? What do you define as a game state? There is just so much data that goes into saving a game, a lot of games take minutes these days depending on the user's system. If you have the game constantly do writes to the hard drive, that will just drag the framerate all to hell. So while this is a good idea, you'd probably have to devise some new save-state method that stores all the neccessary data in the smallest and quickest way possible. This calls for R&D, which is probably why a lot of companies don't bother with it. Sorry to be realistic but you didn't specify how much data is being saved. I mean even a "snapshot" of time can be rather large these days in terms of data sizes. You may think that cause you've written data to the drive earlier you just have to update certain values, while others may not need to be touched. This may be true, but I just don't see the benefits coming from the development side, and it's sad that we have to think about it that way but there it is. Maybe one day when publishers aren't so nitpicky and tight on their purse strings we can look into stuff like this that would benefit the player.

_________________________________________________________________

Drew Sikora
A.K.A. Gaiiden

ICQ #: 70449988
AOLIM: DarkPylat

Blade Edge Software
Staff Member, GDNet
Public Relations, Game Institute

3-time Contributing author, Game Design Methods , Charles River Media (coming GDC 2002)
Online column - Design Corner at Pixelate

IGDC - the International Game Developers Chat! [irc.safemalloc.com #igdc]
NJ IGDA Chapter - NJ developers unite!! [Chapter Home | Chapter Forum]

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MadKeithV    992
quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
Now then, I have to admit that the constant save option is a good idea, but what about the overhead?


True, a very valid point. It''s probably because I''m more of a "slow games" player - CivIII and the like - where save time is not really an issue, and complete "game states" are reasonably small. I used to play things like Quake, but I never found the need to "save" there - it was always multiplayer.
But, considering the "future" of single player roleplaying games, such as Deus Ex, machine performance is an issue. I should have realised this point - because I''m also a musician, and my hard-disk performance while recording is so abominable that it drags down my whole windows performance (and that''s on a system with 400megs of memory!). So yes, implementing the "constant save" in a game would require a lot of careful planning - planning that will cost too much money for most game projects that can make do without. It''s not a big enough change to warrant a significant increase in budget. So, I guess an independent developer will have to prove the point in order to get it accepted into the mainstream.

I''m thinking that the whole concept of a "game" (i.e. what you start when you click "new game") will have to change to something akin to a database: you start a new "record", and everything you do happens within the database, with advanced visualisation. At a frame rate of 90FPS, that''s a hell of a hit to take. It might require locking down the framerate to the "visual maximum", something like 50FPS, and using excess power to make the saves. It might also mean that the game state is not "written" as often as every frame, but rather every second or so.
If I get the time, I''ll do some reading into the systems used for databases, see if I can come up with good reasons for or against this system, performance-wise.



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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Torn Space    122
Savegames should never be used if they allow a player to "go back in time".

Remember Wizardry 1? You could only save your game if you went all the way back out of the dungeon. If you died in the dungeon, sorry dude!

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Dracoliche    122
Of course, if there''s a good reason (plotwise) for allowing the player to go back in time...

You could have a system where the player saves the game at some point (fixed or otherwise) and then can load it up later, if they don''t die. The worldstate is restored but the player''s state remains from before the game was loaded, perhaps wounded and crawling away from a tough fight to a healer''s shop where they saved in the past. This would probably have to be limited somehow, possibly through characters that age (so if you keep going back in time you will die of old age and never finish the plot).

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snow    122
What about a timeline of the current game ''record''?
Using the already described method of Tick-saving (let''s say 1 Tick = 5 seconds) the game creates automatically a timeline of the players progress. When the game character dies and the player has to reload, he chooses the place from where he would like to restart out of the timeline, and here''s the trick (i hope ^_^):
the further the player goes back in the timeline to reload, the more he''ll get his game character safe from dangerous situations, but, at the same time, he''ll have to re-play more of the actions he performed the last time...err, i''ve made

a diagram to make it easier for you to understand
=)


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Gaiiden    5710
IMHO, I really don''t think saving deserves any spot whatsoever in gameplay. It''s a function that allows the user to either save his progress or back himself up from making stupid mistakes and having to repeat things over again. Like I said earlier, it''s a choice the player can make whether to be hardcore and save only when he absolutly needs to (like leaving the game) or more casual by saving a lot. This isn''t a decision the designer should make for the player.

_________________________________________________________________

Drew Sikora
A.K.A. Gaiiden

ICQ #: 70449988
AOLIM: DarkPylat

Blade Edge Software
Staff Member, GDNet
Public Relations, Game Institute

3-time Contributing author, Game Design Methods , Charles River Media (coming GDC 2002)
Online column - Design Corner at Pixelate

IGDC - the International Game Developers Chat! [irc.safemalloc.com #igdc]
NJ IGDA Chapter - NJ developers unite!! [Chapter Home | Chapter Forum]

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aDasTRa    122
very interestng posts guys...

i believe black and white uses that continual save type of system...either that or it locks up temporarily on me at regular intervals ...

i have thought about implementing only one save game spot in an rpg i'm working on. it is basically like a quick save in other games. every time you save you write over your previous save. this type of system would require two things from the game: 1). the player is not 'punished' (ie killed) everytime they make a mistake. 2). the player cannot find themselves in situations where they are absolutely stuck. for example, they wander around and slip off a cliff, and get stuck in some little pit they just can't quite get out of, and then accidently save the game pounding the keyboard in frustration. that would be bad. if such a situation were possible, it would be necessary to for instance give the player the ability to scale almost any kind of surface, or a spell to levitate out, or some other way. there should also be more than one or two solutions to any problem, and at least one that would not require anything besides what the player is guaranteed to possess. i have played a couple games where you need a certain item at a certain point, but i didn't have it, and i could not go back and get it, and i had no save game to revert to. when this happens at the very end of a game, violence ensues.

lucas arts adventure games did a good job of this (i am thinking of monkey island in particular). if you screw up and waste an important item, no harm done, you can get another. you didn't arbitrarily die either, like in some sierra adventure games i've played.



<(o)>

Edited by - aDasTRa on December 26, 2001 4:55:12 PM

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Neil Roy    122
Personally, wether or not you want to allow saved games depends on the game you''re creating. My Deluxe Pacman game has no save games. I think if you want to limit the number of saved games you could have waypoints, or you could limit the number of saved games a person can have, maybe to one save game on disk, again, depending on the game, they could regret overwriting a previous saved game when they realize they forgot to grab the rope that is important if they wish to get down the cliff to the golden idol bla blah blahh... if the person has to leave thier computer suddenly you could add in a "SAVE AND EXIT" option that would save the current game state and exit, reloading it when they play next time, with a seperate in game "SAVE & PLAY" option that is more limiting.

I think some game become too easy when a player is allowed to save as often as they like, it is almost like a cheat, when someone''s friend beat the game with hardly any saves at all. There definately needs to be a penalty for too many saves on certain games in my opinion.

Have a good one;
Neil "Night Hacker" Roy


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Gaiiden    5710
quote:
Original post by Neil Roy
I think some game become too easy when a player is allowed to save as often as they like, it is almost like a cheat, when someone's friend beat the game with hardly any saves at all.

Yes, but how can you fault the player when he's obvisouly making the decision himself to play the game in this manner? I understand the want of designers to make sure people play the game the way they are supposed to (the way the designer envisions it should be played), it makes it feel worthless to know that people are "cheating" through it like that and not making use of all these wonderful gameplay elements you created. But in doing so you hold in your head the image of the general public being complete nincompoops who can't do things for themselves! My point doesn't seem to be getting across. Different people find different means of satisfaction. For one person, they may just want to see the end of the game, who cares about the rest! They just want to finish. On the other hand, some people like to challenge themselves by making things difficult, and thus saving only after they are done playing for the time being. As game designers its our job to give the player the option of playing the game the way they feel like it, and not to dictate the way a game is to be played. In doing so you're accomplishing nothing but alienating a certain part of the general public. Always remember that it's them who are shelling out the $50 to play your game, doesn't this entitle to them the right to play it however they damn want to? I'm not mad, just trying to get people to see what I'm saying here.



_________________________________________________________________

Drew Sikora
A.K.A. Gaiiden

ICQ #: 70449988
AOLIM: DarkPylat

Blade Edge Software
Staff Member, GDNet
Public Relations, Game Institute

3-time Contributing author, Game Design Methods , Charles River Media (coming GDC 2002)
Online column - Design Corner at Pixelate

NJ IGDA Chapter - NJ developers unite!! [Chapter Home | Chapter Forum]

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MadKeithV    992
quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
I understand the want of designers to make sure people play the game the way they are supposed to (the way the designer envisions it should be played), it makes it feel worthless to know that people are "cheating" through it like that and not making use of all these wonderful gameplay elements you created. But in doing so you hold in your head the image of the general public being complete nincompoops who can''t do things for themselves! My point doesn''t seem to be getting across.



It took me a long time to get over my inherent dislike of "branching" savegames - I finally did get "your point" though (in one of the long save-game discussions earlier in the year).
I''m the kind of player that ends up with 25 save games on disk, but NEVER using another save game than the last one I made. It''s all too easy to apply this "logic" to games I''m designing, thinking everyone is the same - but everyone isn''t! So, if I ever get to finish making a game, it will have a "branching save" option for the players that want it. I will also definately have the "continual saved state" on disk, so that a player does not need to think about saving when stopping for dinner or somesuch. It would also make the game exit almost instantly when you choose to stop, no tedious waiting while it suddenly decides to do all sorts of things on your hard drive .

I MAY be annoying though, and put a nag screen up every time the player wants to do a "branching save", with something akin to the following message:
"This game does not really require additional saves - you can attempt different paths within the same game. Are you sure you wish to branch?".


But, if you''re making a long game that requires a saved game state of some sort, don''t take the choice away from the player. He or she will simply be annoyed that you decided to take something widely available in other games away.




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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eng3d    91
ALSO.

In some cases, quick save and quick load is very cool.

But in some cases, a stupid programmers, put the key very closely. For example. F5 for load, F6 for save. If you made a mistake, you lost everything. Think about Tombraider, where you must go to a complex route, you are in the middle, then save the game. And for a mistake you fall down, then you fastly press load-key.. if you press save-key, you are "doomed" :-(

My point is that "branching save" is CHEAT.

-----------------------------------------------

"Cuando se es peon, la unica salida es la revolución"

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