How to approach save games for a continuously updated game

raffle

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Hello there! I'm currently working on a game that will have a long story which I'll deliver with patches to the game. My main concern are save games. I'm afraid older saves could be incompatible with new patches.

The way I'm going to approach it is to only let players save at a specific location, which is a small interior (the player's room). This way the player can't save while an event is going on or if I change the map he could be in.

I'm also going to install all the plugins I require from the first release so I don't have to add any new ones in the future, and I'm going to add all the basic items/weapons/skills etc that I require at the start.
Will I break anything if I add new items to the database in the future? What about actors, if I decided to add a new companion for the story later on, would it somehow break it?

Thanks for reading!
 

WilsonE7

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I'm trying to do the same thing, so here are my thoughts/observations:
You should be able to add stuff to the Database just fine as long as you're not overwriting something you already made for the first patch. The key principle is that you don't want to change anything that has to do with game flow: switches, variables, etc., so you don't lock the player out of progressing by accident. It seems like you were already thinking about this, though. Doing the things you said shouldn't pose a problem.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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I think there's a possibility of breaking the game in the future. As you progress with the game, you will get new ideas and will have to add new things. You might need to fix bugs which might be included in the saves and when it's loaded, weird stuff might happen. Anything that's new or different with the game can mess up save file behaviour. While playtesting I made a save so that I didn't have to replay that part again. There were bugs and I fixed them. When I loaded the save after that, the events went poof! They weren't in the map anymore XD (Now that I think about it, I think they were there. The graphics were just messed up and turned transparent) I don't know what exactly happened but changing things might affect the save file. But if you're careful, it is possible that the saves won't be affected.
 
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DarkFrost

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Far as I can tell, adding most things won't break the game. But if you try to do something like a new system (aka not having points to spend to upgrade stats then adding it later), some things will break.

If you're generally just adding more content and storyline, you should be fine. But altering the basic game data like battle systems, map layouts, and so on is risky.

It's best to test and see how much you can do without ruining things. I've noticed that when I play tested my game after adding something new. Minor stuff like wrong icons and skill damage changes won't do much. Repositioning skills can break some scripts/plugins, and a brand new system like being able to learn skills with points or changing item limits below what they used to be will definitely break something.

Simply put, if something breaks, you have to restart the game from the beginning. some stuff doesn't even register unless it's a new game in fact, even if nothing breaks. Those are cases where save files will get rendered useless.

It's also the reason why I'm glad I have a debug room set up in my game. it'll also let changes be quickly rebalanced if need be.
 

prototyper

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You can always patch "DataManager.extractSaveContents" to make necessary modifications to load data that supports your newly patched game version. You just have to know what data is no longer compatible and update it to be compatible again.

That means that saves on newer versions of the game will not be compatible with older versions of the game though. But I don't see anyway reason they'd need to be.
 

raffle

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Thank you everyone for your replies, I think I'll stick to it and future-proof as much as I can database-wise. I only plan on adding new maps/events but I was wondering if changes to plugins would break it too, for example I plan on adding more quests over the course of the game with this plugin and some people told me this would definitely break the save, any changes to plugins do apparently?

It's also the reason why I'm glad I have a debug room set up in my game. it'll also let changes be quickly rebalanced if need be.
Would you be so kind as to explain how did you set that up? I'd love to give it a try :)
 

DarkFrost

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Would you be so kind as to explain how did you set that up? I'd love to give it a try :)

It's just a debug room for battles right now, but it allows me to simply try out any battle i've programmed into the game through events. I've also set up every event to not have any cutscene dialogue for quick access to the fights.

Done correctly everything looks like the room I made below, with the event lines using the "if win, if lose, and if flee" branch lines (which all lead to the same stuff of resetting the party back to how it should be).






the end result ends up like this:


 

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