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SonicSilcion

Save Games : "Experience"-Based & Objective-Based

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Yes, here we go again with The Quest for the Ultimate Save Game Method. After reading nearly all of the threads here dicussing how "saved games" (that is, the recording of a players progress in a game) I''ve come up with a few ideas of my own (which I believe have yet to be mentioned, I may be wrong.) An "Experience"-Based Save Game System: Everything action the user performs is noted by the game. Each action would be weighted with a value based on how much of a difference it will make on progress though the game. When the user has earned a high enough value by performing actions such as Defeating an Enemy, Throwing a Switch, Using a Key, etc. the user will have "generated" an item that may be used to save the game. This way there will always be a save for people who are accomplishing tasks within the game but will stop the "saveaholics" from clearly not playing the game as intended. I leave it to the designer to judge how to value actions and wheter or not to reset the accumulated value to nothing or to meerly subtract the value of one save (the latter should calculate the number of saves remaining.) An Objective-Based System: Many games have Quests, Missions, Tasks, and whatnot. Usually they are comprised of smaller objectives, of which can be kept track of by the game. This is already done in some of those games (to notify the player of success,) so no code really would need the be added in those cases. The difference is that the state of said objectives is monitored by the save game code. When an objective is accomplished, the game is saved. This allows for many options: the save criteria can be location based (Got to the Sand Castle,) time based (Didn''t move from That There Spot until Noon,) or item based (Retrieved the Medallion of Stench *phwew!*,) or action based (Dressed in Drag (which seems to be gaining popularity in a few RPGs.)) It also rewards the player for progess and they most likely will never have to think about it. I leave it to the designer to judge how many levels of sub-objectives to account for. For instance collecting five items doens''t sound difficult, but are they all in the same room or spread out over an area? In each case would you want t he player to get all five items before a save occurs, just get one, or maybe even hand one out just for reaching a location along the journey.

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The only problem with such systems is some unfortunate accident that could end up alienating the player (making the game less fun). If, for example, we''re working in an RPG with one of the systems, and the player isn''t very good at watching HP, he could die in a random battle right next to an event save point. Or... he could die in a boss fight that IS an event or exp save point. This would have to be designed around. However, if done correctly (and such a save state is done in action scrolling games all the time), it could probably work, so long as the designer is good enough to realize how to balance the system.

Something that is used really often and might work just as well is a once only location based save. If you''ve ever played Klona(s?p) 2, there are save spots at given locations that can only be hit once. This might work, so long as you provide saves coming into, and coming out of, hard areas.

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AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can we please stop thinking about this?? How the heck did game saves ever go from a simple continuation method to a gameplay element?? I''m sure we can think of better things to focus the player''s attention on rather then whether or not he has enough points to save his game!
quote:

This way there will always be a save for people who are accomplishing tasks within the game but will stop the "saveaholics" from clearly not playing the game as intended


yet another example of designer dictatorship. I want someone to try and give me an example of a "savaholic" who was unhappy with his gameplay experience because he saved to much. Come on, I dare you.

The Ultimate Save Game Method
Letting the player save whenever he wants!!!

yes, this was a rant. Please excuse my abhorrent behavior *storms off*

_________________________________________________________________

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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Although I can see how it might be interesting in some ways to limit saves, the term "clearly not playing the game as intended" gives me a bad feeling. I decide how I write the game: they decide how to play it. People who want that tense feeling of imminent disaster if they make 1 wrong move will willingly play on Expert level or will only save at the start of a level anyway.

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

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*raises hand* I''m a savaholic who has his game ruined by saving too often. I didn''t used to be so bad, but with the amount of horrifically buggy RPGs being released these days, with solutions like "If you accidentally talk to the people in the wrong order, go back to an earlier save", i feel like i need to keep about 20 saves and save every 5 minutes. This in itself is annoying, but it also takes all the tension out of a battle if nothing bad happens when you lose (You just do it over and over from the save until it''s done right). Let''s take Baldur''s Gate, etc. for example. I could have only saved every 20 minutes and done it all over if i got killed, but why should i when the game lets me save constantly? And as long as i''m saving constantly, i might as well not bother detecting traps or scouting out with a thief, i''ll just run headlong through the dungeon and reload if i step on a trap or encounter a battle. Now, the problem is that BG seemed to be designed to be played that way (maybe not with a save every 2 minutes, but at least one save every 10 minutes), in that the only way to develop a strategy for a difficult battle was to have experienced (and been killed in) that battle first. On the other hand, if you think of Nethack, which has no reloading at all (unless you cheat), i would be on the edge of my seat in every battle. Of course, that was also designed to be much less repetetive than most RPGs when you have to restart from the beginning....

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quote:
Original post by makeshiftwings
Let''s take Baldur''s Gate, etc. for example. I could have only saved every 20 minutes and done it all over if i got killed, but why should i when the game lets me save constantly? And as long as i''m saving constantly, i might as well not bother detecting traps or scouting out with a thief, i''ll just run headlong through the dungeon and reload if i step on a trap or encounter a battle.


Okay, so you say that by saving your game a lot you effectively ruined the gameplay experience. That''s nice. So does this also mean that you are so irresponsible that you need this option taken away from you in order to play a game to your enjoyment? Fool! If saving a lot obviously ruined the game and you had the option to save only every so often so you would be more cautious and "on the edge of your seat", then your argument falls flat on its face to the fact that you deserve what you did to yourself. Next!



_________________________________________________________________

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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*raises hand* Savegames are evil. Because of them games have to become very hard, if they are to challenge a player. Because they are so hard it becomes impossible to not use savegames. It''s a vicious cycle and the next thing you know you use the auto-save button more than the reload weapon one. I remember with horror playing Panzer General and reloading again and again and again and again because the enemy kept killing one of my units.

Text games like nethack are _very_ good without savegames: you must be carefull at all times, you must make a lot of decisions that would simply be skipped with savegame cheating, like makeshiftwings mentioned. Thief without savegames is a wonder. Thief with savegames becomes boring pretty fast.

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Diablo and Diablo II have great savegame systems. You choose the character that you want to play, and the game enters where you last left off. If you want to save the game, you must exit the game.

I personally like the idea of procedural-saves rather than event-saves; the main question that arises in my mind is, how do you manage often-changing data (such as movement) Save this state upon every change in movement? Take a snapshot of the character''s current position once per 100ms?

Great ideas though.



MatrixCubed
http://MatrixCubed.cjb.net






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quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
Okay, so you say that by saving your game a lot you effectively ruined the gameplay experience. That''s nice. So does this also mean that you are so irresponsible that you need this option taken away from you in order to play a game to your enjoyment? Fool! If saving a lot obviously ruined the game and you had the option to save only every so often so you would be more cautious and "on the edge of your seat", then your argument falls flat on its face to the fact that you deserve what you did to yourself. Next!


Whether or not he deserves what he did to himself, I''m willing to bet he was dissatisfied with Baldur''s Gate for allowing and actually encouraging him to save so often. This would mean less sales for Baldur''s Gate.

You can''t count on players to be so responsible that they will play a game to their maximum enjoyment. It''s like having a popup window every time a monster turns up in an RPG - "Would you like to fight this monster or just skip the battle and get experience anyway? Fight/Skip". Not everyone is going to choose the option that will make the game satisfying for them.

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quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
So does this also mean that you are so irresponsible that you need this option taken away from you in order to play a game to your enjoyment? Fool! If saving a lot obviously ruined the game and you had the option to save only every so often so you would be more cautious and "on the edge of your seat", then your argument falls flat on its face to the fact that you deserve what you did to yourself. Next!


The player == the customer. The customer is NEVER wrong. Having a save option CAN and DOES ruin the ultimate "edge of your seat" feeling, because at a certain stress level, you will simply save because you can''t take it. If you can''t save, or at least not the way you want to, you will have to face that stress level.

That being said, some games completely miss the mark. I remember playing the first level of Soldier of Fortune, and doing it without saving. At first, it was great - I snuck around, being very careful, taking clues from the way characters acted, thinking the AI must be very good. I mean, you shoot this guy, and wound him, and he gets on his knees, cowering, begging for mercy. First thought: the moment I turn my back, he''s just going to grab a gun and kill me. Turns out there''s no such thing in the damn game. Any time you get a character that far, he stays that way. BAH. Finished the game on nearly NO saves, until the final baddy. Final baddy == the kind of "challenge" where even if you empty a full complement of EVERY weapon you can carry at full ammo, it''s still not dead. Sorry, but that is just a pure waste of my time. That''s not even a challenge, that''s just a slugfest. I saved before that fight the second time, and had to reload several times before actually "winning" (HAH!) the game. Because of a VERY badly designed challenge.

That is particularly why games with NO saves would be even more annoying. Just one badly playtested challenge, and you''d lose 90% of the players. Not much room for error! Save games make the designer''s job easier.




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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