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1045137 Posts in 42339 Topics- by 34050 Members - Latest Member: raoulvdberge

September 22, 2014, 12:15:26 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignGame Saving and You
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Author Topic: Game Saving and You  (Read 3878 times)
mirosurabu
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« Reply #60 on: January 13, 2012, 05:15:18 PM »

@Fallsburg:

Video games have traditionally included inferior modes. Cheats, bugs and difficulty modes come to mind. They all introduce dominant strategies and they have never been a problem. I guess we can agree that there is nothing wrong with including inferior and superior modes per se.

These have always been fine because they are clearly judged by the game as inferior. Cheats require an extra cheating effort, bugs are obvious technical mistakes and difficulty modes clearly tell you you're playing an easy mode.

However, there is a growing demand for various kinds of modes/features/playing styles that are often implemented in a way that makes demarcation between what's superior and what's inferior so weak to the point that one can easily confuse inferior with superior.

Quicksaving has this problem. You design an excellent game that requires no quicksaving and then, you decide to put quicksaves in, and suddenly, it's an average game to most players, even to those who don't suck at games.

So yeah, one needs a way to demarcate between inferior and superior. How do you do it with quicksaving? Teach hardcore players to shout at causal players? Put a big splash screen in your game informing players that quicksaving is bad? Actually, I think the best way to handle quicksaves is to make them exclusive to easy mode, but the point I'm trying to make is related to something I wrote earlier - grinding doesn't have this problem. Grinding is tedious and you can adjust this tedium to hint at its inferiority. Make it so that grinding isn't as fast and pleasant as it is in most games, and it should be fine.

But then again, I don't think that quicksaving is actually that desirable. If you target audience sucks at games, it's better to design an easy mode that is actually good, than to simply rely on quicksaves. There is however some use to quicksaving that makes people defend itbut I think these demands can be satisfied in a much better way - without having to rely on quicksaves themselves.

I wanna talk about save-branching, but I have no time right now.
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Fallsburg
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« Reply #61 on: January 13, 2012, 06:32:04 PM »

Quote
Quicksaving has this problem. You design an excellent game that requires no quicksaving and then, you decide to put quicksaves in, and suddenly, it's an average game to most players, even to those who don't suck at games.

This makes me feel like we understand eachother completely.

As Ichigo Jam said, "Maybe the thing that sets us apart is that I think of the save system as a game mechanic."
I think the important thing is, people need to consider the save system as a mechanic.  It isn't some sort of meta-mechanic that operates outside of the game.  It needs to be carefully considered and formulated to work inside the mechanics of the game.  A game with an ill-considered save mechanic can ruin the desired intention of the game (e.g. X-COM quicksaving). 

I guess the question comes down to:
Do you want players to determine the tension of the game, or do you, the designer, want to determine the tension of the game?  I feel it is naive to allow players to determine such things, but if you want to give that option to players, that is your prerogative.

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Dragonmaw
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« Reply #62 on: January 13, 2012, 07:22:43 PM »

As a designer, players come first and auteur, ego-wank vision comes second. Also, I can't think of any game that was actively made worse by quicksaving.
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« Reply #63 on: January 13, 2012, 08:36:30 PM »

I like quicksaving because I use my life to do things with.
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starsrift
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« Reply #64 on: January 14, 2012, 12:54:37 AM »

A couple thoughts - an immersive game should be autosaving. Nothing breaks immersion like dying in a game - and then realizing that because the game was so immersive, you haven't thought to save your game. Bethesda's open-world titles (TES, Fallout) seem to get it pretty right, the only issue I have with them is large amounts of time spent travelling in their "main terrain" areas can end badly.

I'm also a fan of save-anywhere. Gating saves into checkpoints or "safe areas" or the like seems to be a result of bad design - or sheer nostalgia for the systems that had to do this for engineering reasons. If a game is made so that players would rather "savescum" through it than suffer a death from their last "otherwise normal" save, I would instead suggest that there is a flaw in your game's design.
In other words, if player death (or a player's character's death, such as in X-Com) is so punitive for the player that they can't bear to not savescum, then either your game curve of difficulty-vs-reward is too punitive or you should encourage players to savescum if they want to. A number of games take the latter route, "This looks like a dangerous area, you should save your game!"
Enacting a way to punish or prohibit save-scumming explicitly to increase the difficulty of your game is basically admitting "I don't know how to make this passably difficult or make different difficulty levels, I am a poor designer", IMHO. Rewarding a player for NOT savescumming (such as with an achievement or sth), is a different kettle of fish altogether, I'm all for that. I don't recall any games that do that, though it would be as easy as assigning each game a player starts with unique ID and maintaining a deathlog file.

We're a long way from quarters in arcade machines, and we don't have a reason to waste players' time by making them retread the same ground again and again.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012, 01:09:09 AM by starsrift » Logged

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« Reply #65 on: January 14, 2012, 01:18:59 AM »

We're a long way from quarters in arcade machines, and we don't have a reason to waste players' time by making them retread the same ground again and again.

I don't find it a waste of time at all, these games are thrilling and intense! I find dying and replaying well designed challenging and gorgeous levels fun. Whereas with games like Skyrim, I had the problems that DavidCaruso described earlier, the save system was one of the main reasons the game was ruined for me. I thought I'd try using Skyrim's autosave/checkpoint thing, but once you die when you're far into a dungeon it remembers everything you've killed so you have run through empty dead halls all the time! It just feels like a scenery tour, which is nice for a while but the aesthetic appeal wears off. So it seems the best thing to do in Skyrim is save every second, which is tedious, and feels like I may as well just enable God mode.
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« Reply #66 on: January 14, 2012, 09:11:59 PM »

Maybe the thing that sets us apart is that I think of the save system as a game mechanic...

...If, however, I think of the save system as something external to the game (like being able to jump to a random point in a book or movie) then I can see that being OK as a different way to experience what the game has to offer. (Although I feel that having to manually place bookmarks at every page I might want to look back at is pretty clunky :-)

Oh, this is a good post in a not-so-good thread. Totally, I think it's just us looking at it from different perspectives - I tend to equate savestate-style saving with basically bookmarks.
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Strife
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« Reply #67 on: January 15, 2012, 03:10:16 AM »

I'd have to agree with the idea of the save system being designed to accommodate the gameplay. If anyone here has ever played a classic game on a PC emulator and used save states, then you would have noticed how boss fights that were supposed to be intense were rendered utterly tensionless by the use of save states. It's because those classic games were designed with the idea that the player would have a limited number of attempts before they'd have to replay a certain section of the game.

A game's saving system could actually be thought of in terms of layers. For example:

Save file or password -> Continues -> Extra Lives -> Checkpoints

The main save file is always at the top layer unless you're using an emulator with save states. In older games without a way to store game data, this would take the form of a password.

I prefer to think of Extra Lives and Continues as a limited save system. Continues typically "save" the player's progress up to the beginning of the current world/mission/etc. Extra Lives typically save progress up to the last Checkpoint the player crossed. All of these different layers of saving are a way of letting the game figure out how much progress the player should lose as punishment for repeated failures.

Because of the way that a lot of modern games are designed, you'll often notice them employing a system of unlimited lives, where the player loses the same amount of progress no matter how many times they fail. This is probably one of my favorite saving methods, since it's less frustrating for casual players to mess up while still challenging players to overcome strings of obstacles in succession. Plus if I reach a boss fight, I'd rather try again right away than have to go through the regular stage again. xD
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