Save points: Yes or no?

Do you use save points?

  • Yes!

    Votes: 30 53.6%
  • No!

    Votes: 26 46.4%

  • Total voters
    56

Jhale M.

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I think it is important to note that the Ys series had a save anywhere feature possibly since the first version of the first entry, but I have played the PC-engine version which came out in like 1990 and has save anywhere feature as well as voice acting and redbook audio. The interesting thing about that game was that saving could be really risky. It is a very finnicky action game and if you save in the wrong spot, you have to be kind of lucky to survive, although this is mostly gone once you get the fireball and health regeneration ring.

So anyway, sort of based on Ys, if I were to make a save anywhere feature, I might make it punishing to save in the wrong places. If I want the player to ensure being safe, then I will only have save at a certain location. And since I am currently making a game with a lot of complex variables, I prefer not to make saving anywhere because it would create a lot of confusion and most activity is based in a central hub. I also use primarily non-dead-end game overs so that you can just take a loss and get back home immediately if you really need to. I don't like making super long dungeons without save points as shops already do a good enough job testing your preparedness skills usually, but allowing the player to save-scum everything is not something I am a fan of. Also, being able to immediately escape a dungeon is still important to me too. I try to ensure that my games will be balanced around not needing absurd luck to get certain drops and such while still having a challenging game that is relatively immersive.
 

Basileus

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I'd say it depends on what the game is about and how it's designed. I reject the argument that the ability to save anywhere is "mandatory" or that save points are somehow a relic of old coding/design that must be discarded.

Dark Souls was already brought up, so I'll add another game from around the same time; Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Skyrim uses a 'save anywhere' system and this works for what it is. Besthesda made Skyrim to be a sandbox full of stuff to do and does not want any barriers to get in the player's way from going wherever and doing whatever they want. And it works as a casual action RPG. But it's not in the same postal code as the concept of 'difficulty' so it's more of a consequence-free adventure where the player can quick save in each room (especially on PC where quick save and quick load are mapped buttons).

Dark Souls is not meant to be like that at all. Dark Souls, and pretty much every From Software game, is about perseverance. Failure is an embedded part of the experience and very much intended by the developers. The bonfire save points are a key part of the Dark Souls experience, and it works because the rest of the game is built around that. Most maps aren't that big so where you died is probably only 5 minutes or less from the last bonfire. Maps loop back in on themselves so as you unlock shortcuts it gets very easy to move through areas faster. You keep items when you die, so even death can be a victory if you were able to pick up a new weapon or armor before you died. You don't 'Game Over' in Dark Souls, so it doesn't kick you to the title screen - you just respawn at the last bonfire and immediately keep playing.

A lot of these elements in Dark Souls are also the reason that many Metroidvania games in general continue to use save points. These games are built on maps with interconnecting zones and memorizing things, like boss attack patterns and enemy placement, so they benefit from save points that force the player to move through areas multiple times. The most important thing is for the games to actually be built around save points properly.

Games like Final Fantasy don't need save points. There is no benefit to doing things over again, and the developers even intend the player to have a more linear, cinematic story experience. Save points just get in the way of that. But a bookmark feature - creating an instant save even if it disappears after the player loads it and/or doesn't let the player reload there if they die - is still a nice feature for people that need to stop playing right now.
 

HexMozart88

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I'm not opposed to them, though I personally don't use them. (I like the cute little icons that some people use, though.) Only thing is sometimes they lead to death loops, which are extremely annoying.
 

Countyoungblood

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I'm not opposed to them, though I personally don't use them. (I like the cute little icons that some people use, though.) Only thing is sometimes they lead to death loops, which are extremely annoying.
That feeling when you relive dying over and over from bad save placement...
 

cabfe

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When a modern game has save points, it should also offer manual saving for people who can't play for long sessions at a time.
Some have the alternative to add a save when you quit, just for that purpose.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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Why in the world would you want to punish the player for saving the game 'in the wrong spot'? That sounds ridiculous to me.

If your events and variable set ups are so complex that the player could break the game by saving, I would argue that you have a flawed game.
 

Countyoungblood

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Why in the world would you want to punish the player for saving the game 'in the wrong spot'? That sounds ridiculous to me.

If your events and variable set ups are so complex that the player could break the game by saving, I would argue that you have a flawed game.
While I agree about game complexity Im curious as to what youre refering to about punishing the player
 

HumanNinjaToo

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So anyway, sort of based on Ys, if I were to make a save anywhere feature, I might make it punishing to save in the wrong places. If I want the player to ensure being safe, then I will only have save at a certain location. And since I am currently making a game with a lot of complex variables, I prefer not to make saving anywhere because it would create a lot of confusion and most activity is based in a central hub. I also use primarily non-dead-end game overs so that you can just take a loss and get back home immediately if you really need to. I don't like making super long dungeons without save points as shops already do a good enough job testing your preparedness skills usually, but allowing the player to save-scum everything is not something I am a fan of. Also, being able to immediately escape a dungeon is still important to me too. I try to ensure that my games will be balanced around not needing absurd luck to get certain drops and such while still having a challenging game that is relatively immersive.
@Countyoungblood I was referring to this. Should have made it clear.
 

QuantumCapybara

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like most of people that have been doing this for 10+ years I've done all sorts of variations on both...in various finished projects that never saw the light of completion lol. in general my preference is for save anywhere because it's convenient, but I can lean in the direction of save points if the idea of those "save points" can be made interesting in the game world/story/universe/in-game logic.

The most interesting take I've ever heard on this I heard years ago, which is that properly implemented (that is to say, plentiful) save points are better than "save anywhere" because with "save anywhere" players can forget to save where they should. Even with "save anywhere" enabled, a save point is a good reminder that, say, there's a nasty boss coming up and it's time to save your game.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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@QuantumCapybara Good point. This, I think, is where auto-save features come in handy. You may forget to save, but at least you have some back-up file rather than losing hours of progress. Some games just don't have the save point built into the game in a way that makes sense, but I think this is more dependent on the style of game. Sometimes save anywhere and save points do not fit, but autosave does.
 

Jhale M.

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I just feel like games become more authentic (like a tabletop roleplay) if the player can have their adventure become unwinnable and are forced to start over. It's definitely not what most people think they want but I think it is really cool. It would likely require more intentional designs than save anywhere alone though.
 

V_Aero

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I use Save Points but only because I use procedurally Map generation and I have no methods yet to persist them. So it's technically not possible (yet) to save inside a dungoen.
 

LVGames

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I would say I like to save anywhere that would work for most people playing games. For me I choose to do both.
I would still have save points in my game, they would be rare. When you do see one it will be a reward when you go into a save point as you will receive full recovery.
 
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M.I.A.

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So.. quick background on my current main..
The player can save just about anywhere, at just about anytime. It's not exactly free though. They need to have (Name not finalized) at least one Scroll of Memory. It's a consumable item only usable from the menu. Yes, you can buy them. They are pretty inexpensive. Also, they are found all over the place and are also rewards for mini-missions, etc.

With that in mind, before a big planned battle or cut scene, there is usually an NPC of some sort that will say something along the lines of "Oh, I sense some serious danger in the next room.. now would be a good time to use a Scroll of Memory." If the player has none, then the NPC or whatever, will "loan" you one of theirs.

It's a silly idea, sure. And I've gone back and forth with "why not just let the player save whenever/wherever for free??", well, because I'm the game designer, so SHUT UP!! :p Just kidding. It's a fairly simple game with very few gold-sink opportunities, and I wanted to avoid "save crystals" or "there's a mysterious glow on the ground, lets save there!" type situations.

Take this as you will. Some may enjoy this little aspect. Some may not. Some may be indifferent.
Whatever the case may be, this little system highlights how important it is to have a couple Scrolls with you, but doesn't necessarily punish you if you are out. :)

Hope this helps!
-MIA
 

Nightblade50

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I just feel like games become more authentic (like a tabletop roleplay) if the player can have their adventure become unwinnable and are forced to start over. It's definitely not what most people think they want but I think it is really cool. It would likely require more intentional designs than save anywhere alone though.
Saving is NEVER authentic, because in reality, it makes no sense. You can't rewind time to retry your life, nor can you just stop time whenever.

there is usually an NPC of some sort that will say something along the lines of "Oh, I sense some serious danger in the next room.. now would be a good time to use a Scroll of Memory."
I prefer to have a message from the invisible all-knowing narrator pop up to tell me such. Because NPCs don't really have a sixth sense...
 

M.I.A.

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I prefer to have a message from the invisible all-knowing narrator pop up to tell me such. Because NPCs don't really have a sixth sense...
Well, like I said, "of sorts". Haha! There isn't always going to be an NPC per se. There may be a warning sign "Danger lurks up ahead. Carve your name into the sign?" Or even a small chest that will contain a Scroll and a small text prompt "You've obtained a Scroll of Memory.. doesn't this seem like a great time to use one?" I try not to limit myself to just one way of relaying that the player may want to save right now. ;)

-MIA
 

Aesica

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Even if your game is save-anywhere, save points are still useful because they can be used to give visual queues to players, usually to let them know that something important/dangerous, like a boss, party member change, important decision, etc is coming up soon.

So yeah, I use them. Even in save-anywhere games. As incentive, players also are given exp the first time they touch a new save point. Mana users also get a nice top-off, so players should naturally be drawn to touching them (thus autosaving the game for them) which helps cut back on "oops I died and forgot to save, there goes 2 hours I'll never get back."
 

QuantumCapybara

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@Jhale M. I'm also a roleplayer so I'm kind of with you about in-game actions having permanent consequences, but it is very, very hard to implement in a satisfying way in video games, maybe even verging on "impossible" territory. For instance, my favorite RPG from Japan, probably, is Final Fantasy Tactics (original). That has permanent character death eventually, I think, for everyone but Ramza. In theory, that's really interesting. If you win a really tough battle but you lose a unit that's important to your tactics/strategy to permadeath, it's a tough choice: do you accept the loss and continue, or do you reload and retry the battle?

But in practice I think I just always reloaded and retried the battle. I was just too attached to my little dudes.

It's my opinion (but not mine alone) that Prey (2017) is easily the most underrated videogame of all time. But actually I'm going to use it as an example of why choices with lasting consequences like the kind you're talking about @Jhale M.are really, really hard to implement in videogames. I don't want to get too technical, but it has to do with, in videogames, inputting your intent into a mechanical system which then translates it to an outcome automatically as part of a closed system, as opposed to having the adjudicator of your intended outcome (a Dungeon Master or GM) be aware of your intent.

So anyway, at the point in the game I was at, you've just got back inside the station into the cargo bay and you finally find the paltry collective of human survivors. The way I was roleplaying my character--something I do with virtually every videogame--was consistent with the way I'd built him, heavily invested in the engineering and security skills and very hesitant about putting "Exotic Material" in his head, and entirely willing to sacrifice himself (but maybe less so with everyone on the station) to the January Protocol to save Earth. I got the goal from the leader of the survivors to fabricate them some turrets to fortify their defensive position. I missed the nuance/detail, not covered in dialogue but only appearing briefly when the objective is received, that the turrets need to be in a very specific zone for the game to count them. Missing that detail, I kept fabricating/finding/repairing more and more turrets but because I wasn't putting them in the right place, the game was acting like I was not doing what I was doing and I honestly thought it was a bug (the game is, like seemingly ANYTHING published by Bethesda, not w/o its bugs). Anyway, so I thought I'd run up against a bug and the only way to proceed was by doing something my character would never do, but you know, I want to progress the game so, I use my maxed out Leverage to force open the unpowered door leading out of Cargo Bay B where all the survivors are. Now, I fought well to defend my fellow crewmen, interposing myself between them and the Phantoms to take those hits, and maybe one or two of the many, many turrets that I dropped around the area they were in happened be able to actually shoot at the enemies by chance, but the game doesn't track any of that, it's a simple binary. Did you put at least 3 turrets in the loading zone? Then the game responds like you nobly defended your fellow humans. Didn't? Then the game responds like you recklessly disregarded the health and safety of your fellow humans to pursue your personal goals.

In other words, in translating my intent to the outcome via the game mechanic, I wound up with an outcome that was the exact opposite of my intent. This is why the kind of weighty decisions that can be great in TTRPG can be not so great in videogames, where there is just a relatively dumb AI and not an actual human being there to ensure that you are entertained, which means--so easy as to be automatic for most humans, and nearly impossible for most videogames--ensuring your outcomes/consequences line up with your choices/intent. Wow that's a lot of words. Am I making any sense?
 

Countyoungblood

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@Jhale M. I'm also a roleplayer so I'm kind of with you about in-game actions having permanent consequences, but it is very, very hard to implement in a satisfying way in video games, maybe even verging on "impossible" territory. For instance, my favorite RPG from Japan, probably, is Final Fantasy Tactics (original). That has permanent character death eventually, I think, for everyone but Ramza. In theory, that's really interesting. If you win a really tough battle but you lose a unit that's important to your tactics/strategy to permadeath, it's a tough choice: do you accept the loss and continue, or do you reload and retry the battle?

But in practice I think I just always reloaded and retried the battle. I was just too attached to my little dudes.

It's my opinion (but not mine alone) that Prey (2017) is easily the most underrated videogame of all time. But actually I'm going to use it as an example of why choices with lasting consequences like the kind you're talking about @Jhale M.are really, really hard to implement in videogames. I don't want to get too technical, but it has to do with, in videogames, inputting your intent into a mechanical system which then translates it to an outcome automatically as part of a closed system, as opposed to having the adjudicator of your intended outcome (a Dungeon Master or GM) be aware of your intent.

So anyway, at the point in the game I was at, you've just got back inside the station into the cargo bay and you finally find the paltry collective of human survivors. The way I was roleplaying my character--something I do with virtually every videogame--was consistent with the way I'd built him, heavily invested in the engineering and security skills and very hesitant about putting "Exotic Material" in his head, and entirely willing to sacrifice himself (but maybe less so with everyone on the station) to the January Protocol to save Earth. I got the goal from the leader of the survivors to fabricate them some turrets to fortify their defensive position. I missed the nuance/detail, not covered in dialogue but only appearing briefly when the objective is received, that the turrets need to be in a very specific zone for the game to count them. Missing that detail, I kept fabricating/finding/repairing more and more turrets but because I wasn't putting them in the right place, the game was acting like I was not doing what I was doing and I honestly thought it was a bug (the game is, like seemingly ANYTHING published by Bethesda, not w/o its bugs). Anyway, so I thought I'd run up against a bug and the only way to proceed was by doing something my character would never do, but you know, I want to progress the game so, I use my maxed out Leverage to force open the unpowered door leading out of Cargo Bay B where all the survivors are. Now, I fought well to defend my fellow crewmen, interposing myself between them and the Phantoms to take those hits, and maybe one or two of the many, many turrets that I dropped around the area they were in happened be able to actually shoot at the enemies by chance, but the game doesn't track any of that, it's a simple binary. Did you put at least 3 turrets in the loading zone? Then the game responds like you nobly defended your fellow humans. Didn't? Then the game responds like you recklessly disregarded the health and safety of your fellow humans to pursue your personal goals.

In other words, in translating my intent to the outcome via the game mechanic, I wound up with an outcome that was the exact opposite of my intent. This is why the kind of weighty decisions that can be great in TTRPG can be not so great in videogames, where there is just a relatively dumb AI and not an actual human being there to ensure that you are entertained, which means--so easy as to be automatic for most humans, and nearly impossible for most videogames--ensuring your outcomes/consequences line up with your choices/intent. Wow that's a lot of words. Am I making any sense?
Interesting example. Are you saying the limitations of videogame design vastly limit the potential for long term choices because of flaws or do you suppose its impossible to anticipate the player well enough? DM's can predict a lot of what youre going to do but not everything and thankfully we can improvise. A computer on the other hand doesnt have any choice but to use gates and switches in inevitably limited combination but what comes to mind to me is how is that gap bridged?
 

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