What's the point of Save Points; a discussion -

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Snake2557, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I was being intentionally reductive and rhetorical XD I actually did have fun in FF1, but taking away the silver sword was crossing a big line and I had to go to my NES to do my Red Mage party. FF2 without it's absurd (and frankly, bad) game design options and exploits just wasn't as fun. It's not so much that it's unplayable, but that earlier versions were basically better in every way that I just didn't like the new ones. However, QoL upgrades were definitely appreciated and I was glad they went forward in new games with them.
    This might just be an issue of not understanding how to remake a game; Link's Awakening DX was amazing because it's one big loss (no screen jumping which is a glitch) was made up for in swaths (Pictures, more focus on Marin, an entire new and fun dungeon you can do almost any point in the game, I might even say that color itself is an upside). Chrono Trigger was terrible on PS (Laaaag) and about average on DS (Portability and clarity are upsides, new content was literally unnecessary and was either grind boring or requires you to go out of your way to do).
    To further clarify, I don't think a game being easy makes a bad game. I love Mystic Quest. It's great. Difficulty isn't what makes it fun. I also understand that a game can be simultaneously easy and hard; Yoshi's Woolly World is literally made so the youngest of kids can play (even having god mode be a simple option) but on the other end not using it and trying to 100% levels is actually much harder than I expected and even harder than some "only" difficult games. "In game" difficulty control is fantastic (in that choice of goals that have various difficulty is what decides difficulty). In fact, I think it would be cool to be able to decide if you can save anywhere or not. Fire Emblem does this; In some modes, you can save on your turn in battle, on others you can only bookmark. Allowing "save anywhere" to just be an option while also putting save points in key locations (and using bookmarks!) might make for a game that can be built for what many groups of players want.
     
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  2. mobiusclimber

    mobiusclimber Veteran Veteran

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    I'm just saying, don't be Metallica and leave out guitar solos cuz that's what everyone else is doing. Think about your game. Think about how it's played. Think about the world it resides in. Then decide whether it makes sense to have save points or to allow saving anywhere. I didn't bring up Persona 5 because I liked it's "save the world in a month or die" idea. Or any of its other many many bad ideas. I brought it up because the save point is a safe room that also allows you to go back to the entrance and leave, as well as chatting with your party. It makes sense in the context of the game and affects how the player views the dungeon. There's a distinct sense of accomplishment and relief when finding that safe room. Or maybe your save is tied to camping. It would make sense that you can "save anywhere" on the world map, but only in certain places in a dungeon. I feel like the whole push to "save anywhere" is similar to how random encounters and turn-based battles have fallen out of favor. It's cool if you have a good alternative, but most games just flat out don't.
     
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  3. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @bgillisp
    Never heard or read people saying this about persona.
    Im actually very glad it stays true to their roots and hasnt become another simplyfied realtime rpg like Final Fantasy and other franchises.
    But I have to agree the main character KO resulting in game over always annoyed me a bit.

    @kirbwarrior
    Thats a good point.
    In Breath of Fire 3 save points were books and in Way of the Samurai you coud save on biwa players.
    Its cool if they are better integrated in the gameworld , than just a crystal floating around.

    @Seirein
    Too easy games can be unplayable.
    I dropped some games which were to easy, so calling them unplayable maybe sound hard but they actually are sometimes.

    @mobiusclimber
    My game will have all of this, savepoints, random encounters and turnbased battles and it will not easy peasy, maybe not many will like this, but im sure there are some people interested in it which like classic rpgs.
    Thats the problem nowadays, developers try to cater to everyone which makes more people play the game but in the end it often ends to be just a mediocore and shallow game.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
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  4. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    Exactly. Doing something different is going to take more work and thought, often far more. Understanding why something happens is extremely important to if it happens. Even allowing saving at all in a game is a decision that has to be made.

    As for alternatives, I think it's important to bring up Pokemon again. Notice how it's not a grand adventure with scary beasts, save-the-world, and often epic confrontations. It's a story about a 10 year old effectively trying to win the Olympics. The tone and world are so different for what is effectively the same genre. That idea is taken even further in "card game" rpgs, where health and such aren't shared between battles and so it wouldn't make sense to have random encounters, save points, or to even think of any two battles as connected in any sense. I think that's why it's decisions work out so well, all the decisions to change assumptions of the genre make for a very different and specific experience.

    That's something I adored in FF4. I also really like the "campfire" idea more and more. Four Heroes of Light was far more interesting since you could talk to your allies so often (even to the point of sometimes changing based on who you talk as). Considering towns are also safe places, you could find your team spread around town, looking at things and commenting.

    To be fair, regular rpgs are strangely niche. Except for Dragon Quest (especially 5!), even game companies themselves don't seem too keen on making them nowadays and early on they were never the most set after game style by players. I love turn-based, and yet I can completely see why it's not hugely popular, The other massive rpg Final Fantasy didn't even stick with it long, changing to ATB with 4 and never went back (not even FFX has a traditional turn-based combat).
    Unlike the other two, how often you can save has shifted with the audience; In the 80s, 90s, and even early 00s, people generally had free time (not just children). They could sit down and play a game for four hours a day without sacrificing anything else, and many games didn't even ask that much of you. Past that, it seems like everyone's lives are getting crazier and they need more options to be able to turn the game off at an instant's notice.

    On a note of older style of games, one thing that's stuck with me hard that might in fact be bad game design (I honestly don't know) is "missable" content. Save points and multiple save files allow for you to do the opposite of what "save anywhere" games tend to allow; undo a ton of work in a controllable situation. I always have minimum two saves and usually have three in case it becomes obvious (and it often does) that I missed something four hours ago. I'm the kind of person who's willing to undo four hours of work to get something, I'm fairly certain that's not common.

    There's definitely a difference between "true to your roots" and "stuck in your ways". I don't know enough about Persona to know which it is, but it sounds more like the latter (just from hearsay and this thread). Yes, you shouldn't sacrifice what makes the series what it is, but that doesn't mean it can't change. FE8 was largely ridiculed since it was basically FE7 but with a different story (also considered shallow in general, but that can be a side effect of keeping too same).

    Finding ways to either lessen the clash between in-game and meta effects (such as save anywhere) or by making meta effects make sense in game (save points that actually save in world, like a book or the church) is helpful with trying to keep "suspension of disbelief". I even like games that do this subtly with other meta effects like opening the menu (Fallout's arm brace) or bigger with making battles actually somewhere you go (from "card game" rpgs to Ephemeral Phantasia's "rip open reality for random encounters"). Mind, it can come across as "cheesy" or itself break that suspension.
     
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  5. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Lornsteyn : Most of it was on the forums when the games first came out. I remember all the whining about the RNG when Persona3 was new, and Persona5 the RNG hated me so badly I joked the final boss should have been a pair of dice. I have no idea how that game computes to hit but I actually counted my hit/misses and I was hitting 60% of the time. Best weapons, enemies with no evade skills. If we put 60% to hit in our games we'd get ripped to shreds though (I know as I tried 75% to hit on my first demo, and I was ripped for it and the high miss rate). And don't get me started on how I was 0% on inflicting status ailments (seriously. A status ailment skill NEVER worked for me, ever, in the entire game, even on enemies where the forum and guide suggestions was to inflict them with a status ailment).

    So yes, the RNG can mess you over. That's why it is considered an example of the pray to the RNGGoddess. And if you want to really see it in action go play Persona 3 the Answer (not the Journey, the Answer. It's included with the FES version). That one is the worst.

    And yes, why they didn't get rid of KO the MC get a Game Over I don't understand, especially as they did it in Shin Megami 4.

    Thankfully I only had one wipe out repeat what you just did due to poor RNG, but even that one was not fun. As for why only one? That is because I played on Easy as I just don't find their design of dungeons or how battles still depend a lot on RNG fun anymore. Now maybe because it had that option the lack of save anywhere was not a big issue, but I'm still a fan of let me save when I want to. Most early games had save points due to memory issues, not due to deliberate design decisions. And even then, not all early design decisions should be kept. After all, no one tries to emulate Starflght 1's save system anymore, do they? There's a reason for that.

    Starflight is an old 80's PC game that used a system that when you saved the game, it saved the world state to the disk. However, it did this in such a way that if you ever got a game over, your disc was unusable. Yep, the saving of the world state saved over the original state, and there was no way to get it back. So if you didn't make a backup of your discs and play on those, your first game over = go buy the game again.
     
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  6. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @bgillisp
    With roots I meant mostly they stayed with turnbased etc since many rpg nowadays are the tedios realtime**** i totally start to despise.
    Also I think I remember this from another thread, I mentioned there it was too easy I did it on normal and the final boss was really weak, Akechi was harder.^^
    Yeah KO the MC was always not logical for me.

    I think even If they could have add free saving in the past they wouldnt have done it.
    Im really an enemy of free saving, its just wrong in my opinion and makes things too easy, but in the end its the decision of the developer.
    The problem I have is, this all feels like a witchhunt currently.
    Save Points? Burn them! Random Encounters? Burn them! Turnbased? Burn them!
    I think this is really ridiculous.
    In my opinion many of these old features get only demonized because they are old and this is just wrong.
    To starflight, I dont think you can compare these two with another.
     
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  7. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    No, but it was an example of an old design decision. Sometimes people worship the old methods in games when sometimes the old methods were honestly just bad and we fail to realize it. And sometimes the old methods can be saved but need to be updated or the bad quirks fixed.

    On the Persona example, I think the difficulty settings help a lot with the issue myself. Persona3 for example you could choose to play on Easy which gave you 10 Auto-Revive items that would kick in if the MC was ever KO'd. Once those were out though, they were out. Now whether that made the game too easy...probably a topic for another thread.

    As for the issues, I think the big issue is people are not fans of the RNG messing them over, whether it is via random KO spells or random fights giving you two battles in a row. Any feature that has too huge a risk of the RNG messing you over and you cannot do anything about it or control it, people tend to hate. Save anywhere helps some with that in my opinion, but...at the same time there are games meant to be all about the RNG (maybe Rogue-likes are this way), and save anywhere would throw that off. So it's all in the implementation honestly.
     
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  8. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I'm not saying you're wrong, but what do you think makes it too easy? Would Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Pokemon, Golden Sun, or Skyrim be actually harder with save points instead of save anywhere? Would Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire, and Suikoden be easy if you could save anywhere?

    In that situation, save anywhere is like putting a band-aid on a broken leg. You might stop the bleeding, you still shouldn't walk on it. Too much RNG eventually pushes a game into a movie in a different way than making it too easy does; effectively the game, not you, is telling you what happens and what you as the player does, but with the illusion that you have control (and that illusion is easily stripped away). It's basically gambling but you can only get a Pyrrhic victory. There are genres built around this, but the audience for those is significantly different from those that generally like rpgs. I say this as a person that plays both; rpgs are puzzle-like and played for the thought requirements and rogue-likes are almost comedic in difficulty and doing everything it can to not let you win (sometimes even breaking it's own rules).

    We might have some bad games today, but we had Silver Surfer and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde on the NES. But more importantly, even the best games in the past have flaws. I could say with confidence that Chrono Trigger is the best made jrpg of all time, and I say that without it being my favorite. It absolutely has flaws (The entire Blackbird "chapter" was handled honestly pretty badly, there's a ton of room for just improving that).
    How saving is done is the same thing; As said above, save points didn't exist only as a design choice, sometimes it's just plainly hard to do. It was before my time, but being allowed to save was a huge deal in the past. Before batteries, you either can't save or had to use passwords, and passwords don't really work on rpgs. Would any of us say "Back in my day, rpgs didn't let you save, so saving is bad!"? No (and of course it's reductionist), so we should really look at how saving works the same way. As much as I like "save anywhere", it's because I like the style of game that works with saving anywhere, not because I think it works for every rpg in a vacuum.
     
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  9. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @kirbwarrior
    Pokemon and Golden Sun would be a bit harder yes, I even could imagine savepoints in Skyrim.
    Of course Dragon Quest and Breath of Fire would be easier then with free saving.
    I like Suikoden, but in this case it wouldnt matter, Suikoden was always easy.

    @bgillisp
    Sure I worship them and of course they have disadvantages, but thats the case with everything.
    Even free saving has many disadvantages which were already mentioned.
    Like you said its a design decision and should still have a place.
    I really never had a problem with RNG, like in reallife you cant control everything some times you have bad luck.
    Random fights, if you walking trough a dark forest and bandits attack and after the fight you do one step and a monsterbear jumps out of a bush, its just bad luck.
    But without savepoints, what is the point in fighting monsters anyway, when there are no real consequenses?
    Should we remove them so people could walk straight to the boss?
    If the player cant beat the boss should he be allowed to skip him so he can see the endscene?
    Thats almost the same as watching a movie.
    And the boss skipping was discussed in this forum, not a long time ago.
    In my opinion its currently a realy dark time for game developement.
     
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  10. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I think you (and many others) seem to be confusing "unplayable" with "easy and boring." Unplayable, in a literal sense, implies that the game cannot be played properly for whatever reason. Maybe it's full of bugs, where changing maps causes the game to sometimes glitch and drop you in some buggy outside-the-actual-map location, trapping you forever. Maybe the enemies are so imbalanced that you roll right out of the start zone and get a game over on the first fight. Maybe the game randomly freezes and deletes saves. Maybe the game literally does not even load. That is unplayable.

    Boring, on the other hand, just implies that the game's mechanics and design don't appeal to you. Classic SNES FF4 (branded FF2) was mind-numbingly easy, as was FF6 (branded FF3) and yet, both were quite playable and even popular.

    So yeah, just felt like this needed to be corrected. :)
     
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  11. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    But what makes it easier? Dragon Quests, even in final dungeons, don't have battles that can party wipe you easily. With proper attention, they won't kill you, and dying to the final boss without reloading will actually make the game easier because of the exp you got to that point.
    By that logic games should have hunger systems. Yet I literally can't think of a good hunger system or a game made better for it (Note, not food system, hunger system, food and meals can often be cool).
    I will say that small amounts of rng (tiny variance in damage, crit rates, what random encounter you get) can be fun. It's an excess of RNG over strategy that gets under people's skins.
    Even in games where death = gameover, there's no real consequence. It only costs you time. Which is a large part of games; it's a controlled environment where you are allowed to test and try out without getting actually stabbed or permanently incapable of trying again.
    Considering it really is at worst a time loss;
    Castlevania; Death? Go back to start of game.
    Advance Wars; Death? Restart level.
    Final Fantasy (anything 6 forward); Death? Go back in time 20 or less minutes
    Pokemon; Death? Go back in time 5 or less minutes.
    Skyrim; Death? Go back in time, however much you want.
    That's it. And when it equals GO, it's frustrating, not difficult, to get back to where you were if it's a long time, and that itself sometimes turns off players. Look at that list again and replace them all with Castlevania. Can you imagine playing the somewhat easy Pokemon, but any wipeout restarts the game? That doesn't make it harder, especially considering how often that death is Elite Four more often than not, it's basically now "Do those same action you did for however long, catch all those pokemon, fight the gym leader, hours of gameplay, all to get another chance to do this fight". It's just reiteration, how long a cycle is to retry.
    In games where it doesn't equal game over, it can sometimes be a net gain. The consequences are positive.
    At least in rpgs, the point of fighting is for the story and the strategy.
    I keep forgetting how much easier FF2us is. At least it's not EasyType.
     
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  12. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    The poiny of the monsters is yo either reduce your resources (attrition) or just outright kill you.

    Adding or removing save points doesnt change encounter difficult, especially if they're meant to end you then and there.
     
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  13. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @kirbwarrior
    But what makes it easier?
    If you can save always, you save always. There is no other answer.
     
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  14. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Lornsteyn : Yes, but I can't think of anyone who finds it FUN to be attacked 2x in a row due to a random fight. Sure, it might be bad luck, and it could even be semi-realistic, but realism =/= fun. If we want to be realistic, then fights should be over when you are hit the first time, as few can continue to fight once they are ran through by a sword. And we should have hunger and thirst gauges, and players should have to stop to go to the bathroom. But none of that sounds at all fun, so we don't do that with our games.

    Now like other things, it can be fixed, but it requires understanding the RNG and how it works. For example, I have a zone that has random encounters in the game, even though the rest uses on screen ones. But I wrote a script to put a minimum number of steps between battles so that the RNG cant mess you over and give you fight, fight, fight, fight, fight.

    Remember, bad RNG will mess someone over. I mentioned that 60% hit rate I got in Persona5? That is a 0.4^5 or 1% chance to miss every enemy in a group of 5. That means it is going to happen on average 1 battle of 100. And in those games missing all enemies usually is game over on harder difficulties. But I don't think anyone would say you should expect to just be wiped out every 100th fight or so and start over because the RNG hates you.
     
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  15. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @bgillisp
    Sorry, I just cant see the problem.
    These are things that never bothered me so much, I just cant see the problems you see with all this stuff.
    I probably never will, I use the Maker to create these "old" games with features you dont like, because Im very annoyed by modern RPGs.
    I want to create a classic RPG game and it will probably have many of these "old flawed features", because they arent flawed for me.
    Also I never had a problem hitting enemies in Persona 5, it seems we had a different experience with it.
    You played on easy since you found it too hard, I played on normal and thought it was too easy.
    We have different views how a game should be, but this will not be solved in making a game suitable for everyone, that just will not work.
     
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  16. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Whatever. Just be sure to take away the RIGHT features, or the game will be bad in the end. I've seen too many devs take the wrong lessons from the old games and the game honestly stunk, and that's not just me saying it but all the reviews they got from others.

    I will say this though, even though it belongs on another thread. Don't be obtuse about how your formulas work. Persona never tells the player how to hit works in that game (and its far from obvious, in Persona3 one character has 145% evade or so. Does that mean they always dodge. Nope). If it had just spelled out how to hit worked I might have felt differently but in the end it was pray to the RNGGoddess that it likes me. Eventually I hated that and moved to Easy around the Sphinx boss.

    (side note: I did play the PS3 version. So I do wonder if it had a bad RNG generator in it. FFX had a problem with that when it did a release on the PS4 where they messed up how the RNG worked and it was bad until they patched it).
     
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  17. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    And here is the problem, who decides which feature is bad?
    I think most developers keep only the things they like, thats ok.
    Its all a matter of preference.
    Like we see with this discussion, there are people who like savepoints and some not.
    In the end its up to the developer if he want to make a game he imagined or catering to the masses.
    If someone only want to make money, catering to the masses is probably the way.
    Im honest my game will be free, but even if I would want money, I wouldnt change my way.
    Maybe only few people will play my game because its "old school", but even if only one will be entertained, then it was worth it.
     
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  18. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I will give you that, at least you know your target audience. That is probably the most important thing for any developer. And that is probably the biggest thing we all need to do is decide on what audience we wish to target and go for that.
     
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  19. Seirein

    Seirein Veteran Veteran

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    The real problem is that most gamers hate things when games they don't like do it, then praise the exact same thing when a game they do like does it.

    So making game design choices based around what players claim their opinion is about specific elements is a short-sighted endeavour. If the average person who complains about games doesn't like your game, they don't need factual reasons to whine about everything your game does.
     
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  20. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I suppose that depends on the developer, but for me, the point of monsters was always to give players something engaging to overcome.
     
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