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

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

  1. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    I personally think that's what good battles DO rather than what the point of them is. I would hope everything in a game is made to be engaging.
     
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  2. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    We wouldn't play video games or engage in fiction in general. No matter how much "realism" people want in games, they play them for the unrealistic parts.
    That doesn't answer the question. Yes, you save as often as you can in any given game. I already addressed the time loss, is there something else that modifies difficulty I'm missing?
    That sounds dangerously close to binary thinking. Just because new games annoy you doesn't mean old games are actually better. In general I prefer old rpgs to new ones (I'm not certain I've actually liked a AAA rpg since the PS2, but I could just be forgetting something). On the flip side, I can absolutely see the flaws in the games I do love and see how the QoL changes in new games can be improvements. I bring it up sometimes that I like Dragon Quest 1 that I play it about yearly yet I think it's a bad game. Why?
    One save point - Yeah, wings of wyvern do bring you back to it, but then they also only go there
    No party
    Lack of often vital information
    Requires grinding (and comparatively a lot)
    Paltry storyline
    Slow movement
    Shallow strategy
    I still find the game fun, but I also know it's got a lot of terrible game decisions. I basically won't play rpg maker games that have single-party systems that don't add something to make it engaging.
    You know what sucks in a new rpg? The newer Paper Marios drop exp from random encounters. Combine that with the somewhat simplistic and easy combat and there's literally no reason to fight those encounters;
    It's a pretty simple maxim I've heard that "challenges should be engaging". Many makers I know seem to think that's more important than the game as a whole being engaging.
     
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  3. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    If you die you lose progress as punishment.
    If you can save always, you can save after every fight, this makes things easier you dont really have to fear consequenses, you dont need to overthink your moves.
    How should I say this, some people like consequenses.
    There are games, if you die, your character gets deleted, people play these games, because its challenging.
    That leads back to >not every game is for everyone<
    I hope this answer was more to your liking.
    Please explain, I dont know what you mean.
    Also whats single party? A party consisting of one character?
     
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  4. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    Yep. DQ1, single person party, still plays like turn-based rpgs. The only two "single person" rpgs I can think of that work are;
    Pokemon, largely because it changes up enough that the approach to battle is quite different, plus you can switch out who is in your one person party
    Paper Mario's partner doesn't have HP or MP. I even have a project where I just took Paper Mario as a base and turned the partner into a command that works at "Instant" speed (it doesn't take your turn) that can be used once per turn because I was testing out ideas for a single person party. The timed hits and clever battles (such as how enemies can be hit and how they will act) makes it engaging without needing a party.
    True, and I accept this. I'm more interested in why. I don't like certain genres of games, so when people do I want to figure out why because maybe I could like them or maybe I'm missing something.
    If you could save after every turn, absolutely. The difference between being able to save between each fight and each turn is far more game affecting than saving anywhere on the map versus save points. But I wouldn't say the Elite Four in Pokemon or any given boss in Final Fantasy is inherently easier because you can save right before them, nor would it make sense to say that bosses in Pokemon are inherently easier than Final Fantasy. In fact, I find bosses often easier in games like Dragon Quest and other rpgs where save points are rare, since the bosses seem built around you not being capable of being fully healed up while it's often easy to keep your resources up. I almost felt like I was cheating in Four Heroes of Light since it's remarkably easy to get from a save point to the boss (often at start of or halfway through the dungeon) without being down resources in a meaningful way, and I really felt it since the few bosses you fight right by a heal-and-save-point were significantly harder.
    I'm guess still not sure what you mean by consequences. I can't think of a game in general where I feared the consequences. Even absurd games like Silver Surfer (everything kills you, the walls kill you) didn't feel like that. It's merely wasted time, back to the last save.
     
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  5. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    Sometimes there isnt a answer.
    Also I think I gave you enough answers, why I prefer savepoints, I even said why I dont like free saving.
    I cant give you more, because I dont know what else you wanna hear.
    Yes its wasted time, this should stimulate the player not to die, thats part of the challenge.
    Roguelikes where your character gets deleted if you die, would be wasted time too, its part of the challenge, its part of the game.
     
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  6. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    I disagree, with a rougelike the point of perma death isnt wasted time, its the loss of your character. Since the games are allso hoghly ranfom you generally dont expirence the same content either. Your lijely to have gone through a different dungeon, with a differ character build, qnd have faced different challenges. Its not the same as repeating the same dungeon with the same party amd the same gear. A chunk of content in a rougelike is measured by the run.
     
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  7. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @Lornsteyn
    I feel that you're casting too wide a net with the 'wasted time' paradigm. That kind of paradigm fits things that can easily and reliably be reclaimed, in whole, by re-investing a similar amount of time that you spent getting the things you lost.

    If you have to return to your last save point, and walk for five minutes to get back to the boss you lost on (without any significant challenges along the way), or have to watch a cutscene again before taking on the boss, that's certainly wasted time. If you lose money but there's an infinite supply of money, that could also be reasonably seen as wasted time. I'd also argue that the "find your corpse" element of WoW's death is also wasted time, although it's less to recover what you already had, and more to avoid a harsher penalty.

    On the other hand, permadeath in a single-character party should not be viewed in the paradigm of wasted time, since you're not just losing the time you invested into the character, but also the "story" of the character, the gear/items the character had (which you might never see again even with thousands more hours of time), and the progress you made with the character (since it's not guaranteed or even reliable for you to be able to make it that "far" in the main arc again). Permadeath in a multiple-character party (though rarely seen in systems where you can continue after a total party wipe) is certainly not appropriate for this paradigm either since the character can't be reclaimed with time, and the entire course of gameplay changes. If you lose money and money is in finite supply, that's also inappropriate to view in the paradigm of wasted time, since your lifetime max potential of total money that you can spend has been reduced (and can't be recovered by simply investing X more hours). Finally, any time being defeated causes you to lose items, equipment, buffs, or anything else that cannot be easily and reliably recovered, I feel it's also inappropriate to view it in the paradigm of wasted time. Rather, it's a material loss that you may have to cope with for a long time (or even forever).

    I feel that all of these penalties in the paragraph above should instead be viewed in the paradigm of 'risk and reward', where every action the player takes is done with the goal of either permanently improving their resources/power, or making progress toward a large goal (like the narrative arc of the game), while putting at risk the resources/power they have already earned every time they do it.
     
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  8. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @trouble time
    Yes maybe, but in the end its still wasted time you put in your character, thats why I dont play games with permadeath anymore.
    This could actually end in the same discussion we have right now about savepoints.
    You see this kind of games with permadeath are wasted times for me, but I dont feel the same about savepoints, traveling back is fine for me.
    The permadeath in some games is a kind of punishment, like traveling to savepoints.
    It depends on the player what punishment he/she can accept.

    @Wavelength
    I didnt came up with the wasted time thing, that was someone else, since some people view it as wasted time to travel back to a save point.
    But traveling back isnt necessary wasted time, that depends on the player, like I mentioned above.
    I think most of people here in this thread just overthink this whole mechanic too much anyway.
    The people who criticize savepoints, even could critcize Super Mario for not having unlimited lives to beat the level.
    Save points are a just gamemechanic, nothing more nothin less, there are reasons to use them and reasons not to use them.
    It seems some people here just want an answer what mechanic is better.
    Save points or free saving, but even as an enemy of free saving I can say: neither.
    With this I think I will leave this discussion Im really tired of running in circles.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  9. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Gotcha. Maybe I got confused about who said what since this topic has naturally diverged in a bunch of different directions at a fast pace. Sorry if I misrepresented what you were saying.

    The early Super Mario games would be a very different experience if you had unlimited lives (or even frequent Save Points). It would completely transform the dynamic from "peril awaits" to "just keep trying until you get it right". In fact, in the transition to a more epic-sized adventure with Super Mario World, they did exactly that - still finite lives, but the lives had little effect because losing one would force you to re-enter the level, whereas losing all of them would... dump you to the title screen and then force you to re-enter the level.

    A lot of this comes back to a point that I think you were getting at - that the best type of save system (and penalties-for-dying systems) for a game heavily depends on the dynamics you want the player to get out of the game. It's an important choice but not always an obvious one.

    For standard RPGs that don't do anything really wacky, I'm personally a fan of Save Points (as a small form of risk and reward), with a Soft Save feature that can be used anywhere (for convenience, in case the player needs to attend to real life matters or inclement weather hits).
     
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  10. mobiusclimber

    mobiusclimber Veteran Veteran

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    The thing is, you can always warp back to a save point and save if you really need to even in most games with save points. And if you're having trouble with the fights, you need to grind a little anyway. But I never leave the player with really long dungeons or ones that don't have easy ways back; for instance, sending down a ladder if the dungeon has two floors. I like to have environmental stuff like that. Same with save points. I use books/journals usually, tho it depends on the game. I use computers and sign in sheets in a high school horror game I made. I made another one that was a teleporter, so you only saved after being briefed on your mission and you teleport there, or when you come back (which you could do whenever you wanted, so you could save as often as getting to the teleporter). I only ever get mad at not being able to save everywhere when I get severely inconvenienced by it. That doesn't happen in games that are well-designed with that in mind. I think of save points like check points in Sonic. They're never too far away, and mark the middle and right-before-a-boss-fight end. If you can't get to a save point quickly, you're under-leveled. I get inconvenienced by cutscenes way more often than save points. If I ever have a long cutscene I either put a save screen in the middle of it or give the player stuff to do to break it up a little and have a save point lying around. (I try not to have long cutscenes, but I also try to let the game be whatever it's going to be.) I try to think of all my choices and make the one that's best for the game I'm making. Sometimes I even try things out and see which way works best. I usually start with "save anywhere" while also adding an item in the environment where you can save at. Then when I test play, I do one, then the other. If I don't want to have save points, I just change the save event to a text event.
     
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  11. Seacliff

    Seacliff RPG Maker Mastermind Veteran

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    It's to prevent the player from resorting to a trial-and-error approach when they are stuck learning the game's core mechanics, in non-boss battle situations.

    An inexperienced RPG player normally takes one of two routes if they are stuck on a certain point of a game. They either grind so they can overwhelm the challenge with raw numbers, or they jump back into the fray over and over again until they succeed and likely learn nothing from the experience.

    The ability to save anywhere allows players to save directly within these types of threats and directly after a section of that threat is completed. A player could restart a game every time a party member is inflicted with a status effect they cannot cure, rather than finding the correct way to approach the challenge and find the object needed to cure the issue.

    Convince is great, and respecting the player's time is also great. However, each QoL feature added into a game will force the developers to break up the challenges into smaller and smaller segments. This is not ideal if you want to make a game with threatening locations or longer adventure periods that slowly whittle downs a player's resources. Depends on the game you are making.
     
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  12. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    Welcome to Game Mechanics forum ;) But more seriously, I do tend to overanalyze things in the quest for knowledge,
    I more want to find the cut offs that make one or the other better. We can easily say that "it depends". We can see how DQ likes rare save points and pokemon likes save anywhere. But for making a new game, I want to figure out what in a game makes the difference meaningful.
    Yeah, ever since 64 Mario lives were pretty meaningless. That's not really a bad thing to me, for me the challenge is in 100%ing efficiently.
    Some QoL things do nothing to affect the difficulty, namely;
    Saves instead of passwords
    Item descriptions, and full ones at that (I sure would love to know that the Crystal Bracelet lets me absorb lightning attacks and isn't just "A pretty bauble")
    Tight and concise controls
    The ability to skip a two minute cutscene that happens between a save point and a boss fight

    And I think that's important. QoL isn't necessarily making the game less difficult but rather less frustrating. It's pretty well accepted that the game not letting you learn it's rules and breaking them is pretty bad design.

    Hmm. I'm not sure if I've looked at it as much as a form of punishment or not. Sure, it is in some sense, but sometimes dying can even be an upside. Then again, are you thinking of "frustrating" and "difficult" as the same thing?
     
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  13. Seacliff

    Seacliff RPG Maker Mastermind Veteran

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    Maybe 'QoL' wasn't the best term for my example. However, all of these examples are limitations based on the hardware older games are built on. An NES game might lack save-data because that would make the cartridge more expensive to produce, or lack the storage space of item descriptions, but nothing is stopping a game developer back then from adding free recovering points in dungeons.

    What I'm referring to are game design choices that would undermine certain poor decision-making on the player's part. But putting it that way makes it sound like I think they are bad, which I don't. Different types of games have different focuses on what should be challenging. An RPG could make sure each battle is as challenging as a boss battle but heals the entire party after every battle, or focus on making the act of surviving through a dungeon on limited resources challenging. Each game can make use of different 'QoL' features to make the actual challenging part of the game more enjoyable.
     
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  14. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    @kirbwarrior
    Sometimes this can be the case.
     
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  15. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    True, but then that's part of my point. "Features" that only existed due to old hardware/software problems should definitely be questioned when making newer games.
    To me, that's the important part. Can extreme difficulty be enjoyable? Yes. Can it be even more frustrating? Even more yes. As you pointed out, surviving a dungeon can be the "encounter" in totality, which makes save points usually better.
    Ah, one big thing I want to do is separate these two. I find easy-but-frustrating games far worse than difficult games that have no frustration.


    One big thing about save points (that I don't think has been brought up much yet); How much rng affects the game? If it's heavy, then save-scumming becomes available (hoping for crits, dodges, loot drops, etc). If it's light or non-existent (for instance, if only what encounter you get is randomly chosen but nothing else is random), then saves help a lot less and in fact are likely better to have often because it would then encourage trial and error.
     
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  16. Seacliff

    Seacliff RPG Maker Mastermind Veteran

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    That was kind of the opposite of what I was referring to for that example, actually. :p
    As I said before, I'm referring to elements that would undermine certain poor decision-making on the player's part.

    In a game like Etrian Odyssey, save points only exist at the beginning of each dungeon. This means it is up to the player to find the most efficient route to their next destination, and to keep as many resources as they can before facing the boss at the end of the dungeon. Even when more generous warp points are added later on in the series, this still applies and encourages players to map their current floor and find shortcuts to make revisiting floors of a dungeon easier to navigate.

    If the player faces a dungeon boss Etrian Odyssey and finds themselves incapable to defeat it, it means multiple things other than simply 'not being strong enough'. It could mean the dungeon enemies up to the boss consumes more of the player's resources than expected or the player does not enter the dungeon fully prepared with the best choices of items and equipment. The player needs to learn how to deal with these problems effectively along with a possible re-routing of the dungeon before facing the boss. And given the game's sub-focus on exploration, that does not have to be a frustrating thing.

    The game has a quick-save feature to make sure you can leave the game at any point, but those get erased when loaded. If a proper save point existed before the boss, then the player will simply rechallenge the boss over and over again in their current state until RNG works in their favor, and will learn nothing from the experience. They do that because the developer had made it convenient for them to do so.
     
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  17. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I was actually referring to this part and I do apologize if I misinterpreted;

    Well, that can also be an issue of letting RNG be able to swing battles that much.

    You know, after the DS's ability to close and just pause everything, I've been thinking about quick saves going a step further; Being able to quick save in a long cutscene or boss fight (say, Angry Mainyu in FFX-2) would do wonders, especially for people who like long games like rpgs but sometimes have to stop right now and/or get only pockets of 5-10 minutes of time through a day, even if it technically adds up to four hours.
     
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  18. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    I've been debating on whether or not I should use a save point system. The biggest reason for a save point system right now is that if I want to update the game with some extra content, if a player can save anywhere they could potentially be stuck inside whatever I add. That means the player is soft locked for all eternity. I've been struggling to come up with a way to deal with that, honestly, and that's pretty much the only reason why save points are currently beating out saving anywhere in my project. If I can come up with a way to deal with that or anyone has any ideas, hit me with them, because being able to save anywhere is actually a lot nicer for my project as I have this whole "revive or previous save" system where choosing revive will start you back at the last church you were at but with all of your EXP gained from the battle you just lost (since you gain EXP per action instead of per battle) which makes grinding less of an issue, but you just gotta' walk a little bit more to get back to where you were. If you could save anywhere, it would make this choice a little bit harder to make since you could have a save right in front of the boss you were trying to defeat and have another go if you wanted that trade-off.
     
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  19. jwgz

    jwgz Villager Member

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    I do like save points as I think they add a layer of meta-narrative to the experience by warning players that danger is near and that they shouldn't be reckless in an oncoming area, like others have said. However, I also like them to be somewhat tied into the story (like in FFIV, save spots were "wards" left by good Samaritan mages in the middle of dungeons; or, in Chrono Cross, where they were 100% tied into the lore of the game and people were encouraged to use them).

    However, having a game rely strictly on save points is a no-no for me. At the very least, I would prefer to allow players to save in the overworld (if there is one) or in non-hostile areas. There's nothing worse than having to replay a long (over 5-10 minute) info-dump with no true play value, which the JRPG genre as a whole is constantly guilty of.
     
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  20. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I definitely like that idea, but then newer games also allow things like cutscene skipping so that specific problem is less likely to be an issue. (I really appreciate the games that throw save points in maps in towns)
     

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