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Incline On the topic of Consequence Persistence & save systems

What type of save system do you prefer?

  • Save and exit only, exit save deletes upon continuing

  • Save and exit(with delete) + limited saving(resting, special items, etc.,)

  • i like to savescum and therefore prefer quicksaves


Results are only viewable after voting.
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Codex Year of the Donut
Glenn Wichman(one of the original authors of Rogue for the unaware) made a few statements about this at a 2016 convention:


When people talk about permadeath, they talk about us three being mean. 'Oh, they wanted to make it extra hard, so they threw in permadeath.' … permadeath is an example of 'consequence persistence.' … Do I read this scroll, do I drink this potion? I don't know. It might be good. It might be bad. If I can save the game and then drink the potion and—oh, it's bad-then I restore the game and I don't drink the potion. That entire game mechanic just completely goes away. So that was a whole reason why once you have taken an action and a consequence has happened, there's no way to go back and undo it.

The good stuff is just as permanent as the bad stuff.

While the original talk was geared towards roguelikes, this applies to cRPGs in general when we view it under the lens of 'consequence persistence'.
This is unrelated and orthogonal to things such as "ironman" where you only have one save. I dislike this mode because games are often buggy and I'd rather not lose hours of game time due a bug.

What games feature systems that promote consequence persistence? Do they make the game more enjoyable?
 

Lord_Potato

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Games in which consequences of your choices become aparent much later, like a dozen or two hours after the choice was made.

The Witchers have several moments such as this. Most players will just accept the results and move on.*

*Although I replayed like 15 hours of Witcher 3 after I learned that casually fucking Triss will not allow me to fully romance Yennefer :)
 
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jewboy

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Perhaps you should actually define 'save scumming' before leaving it as the only traditional option in your poll. Its meaning seems to vary significantly in different contexts. Some give it a very narrow definition of when you use the save system itself as a kind of exploit. For instance in a game with gambling you can just reload a bunch of times until you get lucky. I dislike that because it's an exploit and just a win button. Someone should probably remind you of the original reason games have historically had saving at all: repetition is boring.

I have a very low tolerance for repetition and if I forget to save or I am playing a console port with limited or no saves I will just stop playing the game for as long as maybe a year before replaying that particular section again. In many cases I may uninstall the game. I am not sure if that is what the designers have in mind when making limited save systems. In some cases it's my own fault for not saving often enough. In others it is the fault of the devs for pandering to the consoletards who seem to thrive on playing exactly the same sequence over and over and over and over and over again. I could do that too when I was like 6 years old, but I'm all grown up now and I don't actually have infinite stretches of time to waste on repetitive tasks I'm not getting paid for.

In some cases with nonlinear games I can just not play the same content when I go back to an earlier save. A quicksave option is ok as long as the game isn't buggy. I was recently playing Fallout New Vegas for a while, but with all the mods I have installed it crashes frequently and I was getting actual save game corruption too. Sometimes more than one save game file would be corrupted and I had to go back 2 or 3 saves. After that I saved very frequently. About the only limited save option I find tolerable is something like BG2 where you could not save once a combat encounter had actually begun.
 

undecaf

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Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2
I like being able to save when I feel like it. I don’t savescum, so that’s not a problem, and those ”one save” challenge modes just feel pretentious and choresome for little actual benefit.

That said, I’m not all that adverse to timed ”autosave only”.

I like consequences that have long term - and often ambiguous - effects, that don’t present the player their full disclosures right away, but in due time. And even more than that, I’d want developers to explore more of the idea on how to make failure a meaningful and interesting mechanic, how to tie it to character mechanics and narrative, that it’s not simply a ”full stop” on what ever it is the player/character just failed at, but rather open up new pathways, progressive mechanics and outcomes that might not be ideal, but still interesting enough for the player to withstand the failure/loss and see how things develop from thereon. Things that discourage savescumming. In contextually fitting places and ways of course (sometimes failure is just that, a failure, and there’s no getting around it).
 
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Funposter

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you can make consequence persistence work without tethering the player to shitty save systems - just make it so the most major consequences only become apparent later on.
 

Swigen

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Right, I’ll echo the sentiment that consequences happen later on and shouldn’t necessarily be negative but drastically change the player’s experience in an interesting way. As others have said, I wouldn’t tie C&C to any kind of perma-save system though. I shouldn’t be punished ‘cause the dialog choice says, “Well, it’s best to soldier on” but upon choosing it Geralt says, “Why don’t you grow a pair, faggot! Forget about yore wife and go fuck a whore you fuckin’ queer!”, prompting said character to pour flammable liquid all over his body and set himself on fire whilst slowly walking through the castle burning everything in his wake.
 

CryptRat

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The example you quoted is very relevant, identification systems, trap detection, food systems ect... and resource consumption overall truly shine in rogue-likes (randomness and ironman mode).

However handcrafted party-based RPGs aka the best kind of RPGs don't really work in ironman mode, I'd rather have very hard handcrafted encounters that make me reload once in a while (or make me reload a lot, which is even better) and well thought handcrafted dungeons. Some random encounters with possibly good rewards and no save during combat (and save everywhere otherwise) can be enough to have the party be careful, always prepared and use resources (to win the encounter for the rewards since reloading won't trigger it again). I've no problem with only saving only in town for example, I just think save everywhere (except during combat) is fine too.

Regarding examples of systems that promote consequence persistence, Evowok Breeder is played in ironman mode, but it is a Pokemon-like so your character can't directly die during combat but can die during events or because of your choices, and you get a few "luck points" (=extra lifes) during the game, I think that works fine in this particular game and I think it is a good idea for very specific games not designed first and foremost around the characters fighting.
 

Yosharian

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I'm all for difficult or high impact decisions such as the potion example, but it has to fit the game. In a game like Nethack, it's suitable to have that kind of mechanic, because the game is built around death being around every corner, and multiple playthroughs. However you can't just toss this kind of decision into your game if it doesn't fit the game. If 99% of your game features zero moments like that, but then suddenly there's this one time where I might die from a random choice... yeah, I'm save 'scumming'.
 

Dodo1610

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You call it savescumming I call it a pro gamer move.
 
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I understand the issues designers face when players can revert their save but the reality is: the convenience of me being able to save when I want to trumps anything a designer can offer in replacement of it.
 

CryptRat

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Dark Souls also promotes consequence persistence but this kind of systems where you're pushed back to checkpoint with a small penalty and all you did is still done is a bad example because it does not work as well with a party as far as I know, a small penalty for party wiping has its problems, to begin you want one dead characters stay dead (until you resurrect him or her and it is expensive, or forever dead depending on the game), and you want to choose if a dead character is worth continuing or reloading.
 

Rahdulan

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I think the problem is a lot of people simply don't like it when negative choices or bad outcomes have permanent consequences because they still strive for good or optimal outcomes. This has seemingly become more and more prevalent as replaying games is going out of fashion and there are people who use guides for their first and only playthrough to get the most out of games. Or to use an example I've seen people bring up online - Fire Emblem. Recent Fire Emblems have a difficulty choice where you can go with classical difficulty with permadeath or new mode where characters just disappear from battle, but come back later. People are playing on classic and simply reloading when they lose a character regardless. Why? Point is to roll with the punches, take a loss and try to make the most of that new situation.
 

Yosharian

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Are you guys against the idea of not being able to save at all(not what the OP was about), or against the idea of infrequent saving?
I think checkpoint based saves, or permadeath where it's appropriate, can make for an amazing game experience. Dark Souls wouldn't be anywhere near as tense and frenetic if you could save anywhere.

However, I am thoroughly opposed to such systems when the developers are incapable of making a game that doesn't crash every two minutes, or putting sufficiently frequent and non-retarded checkpoints into their game.
 

Bester

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This is unrelated and orthogonal to things such as "ironman" where you only have one save. I dislike this mode because games are often buggy and I'd rather not lose hours of game time due a bug.
Save frequently. If a crash occurs (they almost never do, ffs), you can reload and still be an Ironman.
 
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Codex Year of the Donut
This is unrelated and orthogonal to things such as "ironman" where you only have one save. I dislike this mode because games are often buggy and I'd rather not lose hours of game time due a bug.
Save frequently. If a crash occurs (they almost never do, ffs), you can reload and still be an Ironman.
Game breaking bugs aren't that infrequent and often don't manifest itself until a while later when any saves prior to triggering it would be gone.
 

jewboy

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I thought 'ironman' was all about no saves and having to restart the game from the beginning if you die. A single save-anytime slot is nearly the same as unlimited save slots in terms of game difficulty. Even checkpoint only saving isn't really any more difficult. It's just more tedious and repetitive when the combat is difficult because you have to keep replaying the same sequence over and over again to get to the difficult combat. Console games also resort to other methods like countdown timers to try to artificially increase the game difficulty. Those really do make the combat more difficult at least but also a lot more annoying and frustrating imo, but I guess console gamers love that kind of thing along with jumping puzzles and other arcadey kid stuff. I stopped playing Far Cry 4 after the A Cultural Exchange mission because the mission itself was difficult, tedious, unfun, and timed and every time I replayed it I had to also play through a non-combat sequence again and again to the point I wanted to scream. I would never ever do that quest again for as long as I live. Is that the kind of experience you want to give some of your players just so you can please the little kids who can boast to their 5th grade classmates about how they completed some quest without saves?
 
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The example you quoted is very relevant, identification systems, trap detection, food systems ect... and resource consumption overall truly shine in rogue-likes (randomness and ironman mode).

However handcrafted party-based RPGs aka the best kind of RPGs don't really work in ironman mode, I'd rather have very hard handcrafted encounters that make me reload once in a while (or make me reload a lot, which is even better) and well thought handcrafted dungeons. Some random encounters with possibly good rewards and no save during combat (and save everywhere otherwise) can be enough to have the party be careful, always prepared and use resources (to win the encounter for the rewards since reloading won't trigger it again). I've no problem with only saving only in town for example, I just think save everywhere (except during combat) is fine too.

Regarding examples of systems that promote consequence persistence, Evowok Breeder is played in ironman mode, but it is a Pokemon-like so your character can't directly die during combat but can die during events or because of your choices, and you get a few "luck points" (=extra lifes) during the game, I think that works fine in this particular game and I think it is a good idea for very specific games not designed first and foremost around the characters fighting.

I'd normally agree with you, but if we take a step back: party based CRPGs are trying to emulate the experience and feel of TTRPGs. Literally the Gold Box games goal, using D&D rules etc. The problem is that a lot of the fun of TTRPGs, is that you cannot save and load. If you step on a trap, you step on a trap. In a CRPG, you can savescum every door and corridor, making traps only a "time waster" for most players (unless the truly hardcore will wall through traps without saying anything) and definitively for the Devs who made them in the first place. Yet not putting them creates a vacuum (I include magical tricks and stuff as "traps" also).

And I say this as a perfectionist save scummer. I save scummed through AoD all the way through, and made all the achievements. That being said, I feel there is a tediousness and a lack of design in CRPGs regarding this. You are right that some of the RPG-lite games have good system for this: Pokemon as you said, but also stuff like Dark Souls, where dying is tied into the actual gameplay AND setting. Planescape did the same in a way (although it can create a retarded situation where you cannot finish the game because it's too tough). The problem I think goes back to what the OP posted: it's not only about dying, but about specific instance of resource management. Like he said, a potion/scroll use, or I said, traps and tricks.

TLDR: I do think it's a valid design question both from the perspective of party RPGs and Roguelike games.
 

Ranarama

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Save on exit is why I haven't finished Dragon's Dogma or Shadow of Mordor. Because of bugs and corruption a single save slot is just asking to fuck people over.

So Quicksave, because I'm not going to replay the game from the start when it shits the bed.
 
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Save on exit is why I haven't finished Dragon's Dogma or Shadow of Mordor. Because of bugs and corruption a single save slot is just asking to fuck people over.

So Quicksave, because I'm not going to replay the game from the start when it shits the bed.
I feel like people are misunderstanding the second option
 

Beowulf

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Pathologic 2 has a neat idea (but very limited in the scope of the effects of death) - every time you die, you receive small penalties to your health and hunger meter.
And they are persistent for that playthrough. You can load earlier saves, but the consequences of your death are still there.
Furthermore - it's tied to the story in an elegant way.
 

DraQ

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Other.

1 and to lesser extent 2 are predicated on developers being far more competent than is typically the case - both in terms of constructing experience devoid of cheap deaths/fuck-overs while retaining overall difficulty and in terms of constructing software that will neither corrupt the data nor break unexpectedly on a more in-game level.
For example, in Wizardry 8 there were several spots that would outright eat the party if player hugged a wall there, several others that would catapult the party high into the air when ran into causing damage and at least in one place causing unintended and very impactful hostilities to erupt between the party and one of the factions (T'Rang).

OTOH there is no denying that savescumming completely demolishes most game elements reliant on either luck or incomplete information, unless there is a long delay involved and unless luck and information cannot just be traded for one another.

On the third hand any sort of limited resource based savescumming is not going to be universally applicable mechanics as it will require gimmicky justification and gameplay built specifically around it.

The best general use option would be to track savescumming, treat it as player trying to skew luck in their favour and compensate.
Compensation would be in the form of turning broadly defined favourable events into unfavourable ones.
For example, if you savescummed a lot you would risk high chance that legendary artifact's resting place would turn out to be looted before you got there, noble's daughter would turn up dead already while you were trying to rescue her (with noble blaming you, naturally), and if you reloaded seven times to get better randomized loot out of boss level chest seven other boss level chests in the world would fail to contain anything more than yarn and calipers. Those events should also have a chance of occurring (rarely) on their own, but excessive savescumming (not just on purpose but also mindless trial and error to avoid getting gud) would greatly increase their occurrence.
 
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Pathologic 2 has a neat idea (but very limited in the scope of the effects of death) - every time you die, you receive small penalties to your health and hunger meter.
And they are persistent for that playthrough. You can load earlier saves, but the consequences of your death are still there.
Furthermore - it's tied to the story in an elegant way.

Yes, but the problem is that Pathologic push perfectionists to reload more than most games.

There are few games with c&c so linked with daily time limits, (and you don't know what things have the limit in one or two days) and have so prevalent things-to-do list for every couple of days with so definitive consequences as the death of some (or most) main characters, including a specific list of npcs to save and other 20 main characters more. The result is that even with the limited save system (you can only save on few locations with a specific object), the game favours as no other the frequent reloading, with the usual consequence to die more and reducing stats. Developers even included a message in loading screens advising player to not reload so often, because "consequences of mistakes can be cool" or something similar. Not enough.

I think the combination of: Time-limit heavy design + tens of c&c linked with daily list of things to do + a list of people to save from disease with their lives depending entirely on player actions + limited manual saves on few places/objects + player character dead (and be infected also? ) permanent effects on saves, it's a mix that doesn't work well.

I'm playing Pathologic 2 right now and I prefer original Pathologic save system (and few other things).
 

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