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Saving Systems and the Comsequences of Death

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by howlingFantods, Jul 3, 2019.

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  1. Beastro Arcane

    Beastro
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    I'd agree except for the problem (and increasingly a problem with modern games) of bugs fucking with that kinda system.

    All things ideal, I wouldn't mind it and having to use saves strategically, but with some games you wind up having to use the saves to avoid overly reoccurring bugs fucking with you.

    I ran into that with Blood Money and the limited amount of saves on the higher difficulties. Pissed me off going to take someone down only to clip through them and have them go on alert as a result of spotting me attack them (through them).

    The worst part for some reason was the steam boat level where it just kept happening.

    This is why I never finished Blood Money. I got right to the near part and the comp CTDed (Which also wiped my saves). After that I was so bummed thinking of redoing that level I left the game for a bit only for my laptop to die a month or two later.
     
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  2. Artyoan Savant

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    A traditional 'game over upon death' scenario means the player loses 100% of their progress up until the last save point. It's easy to understand why thats tedious and the 'experience' of knowing what happens up to that point counts for very little. No one wants to lose a chunk of time with nothing to show for it.

    Dark Souls is a good example of a superior system because it is actually very forgiving about your time. Death is not a loss of your progress entirely. Every item you find is permanently acquired and even some enemies do not respawn once defeated. Shortcuts remain. Level ups are not lost. Even Souls currency is not lost necessarily. A death in Dark Souls only actually punishes you if you regress. And even if you do lose your Souls, the fact that respawns exist gives you infinite opportunity to recoup the loss.

    The inability to save whenever you want and load to undo a mistake means the game maintains a tension in your decision making and a strategic aspect to every journey in-between bonfire checkpoints. 'Meaningless' enemies can still be a factor because if they hurt you the potential to have to use one of your regulated Estus Flasks means you have one less for the boss. So even the stage can be considered part of the boss.

    Downsides to Dark Souls system of death exist though. There will likely need to be a lore reason for your continued survival. This wouldn't be too hard as the player and his party could wake up in an inn after being rescued by random nameless adventurers, or a church where their God has revived them, or anything really. Outward plays with this concept. It could also be awkward for story events. In Dark Souls the bosses wait around eternally for you to return. The plot is low level. If Mulahey killed you in the back of Nashkel mines would he wait around for you to return possibly weeks later if you decide to explore elsewhere first? Does new dialogue pop up if you return and he expresses amazement that you continue to live?

    An easy quick save/load system removes almost all tension from moment to moment gameplay, can make mechanics like traps nearly obsolete, and combat moves towards trial and error. From a role playing perspective, your character never dies because he is psychic. I love plenty of games that have this system but if it were my call, I wouldn't use it in a game I developed. In games that emphasize choice and consequence, it often undermines those aspects.
     
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  3. Beastro Arcane

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    This is where Soul Reaver's system blended wonderfully with the established setting. You're an unstoppable spirit of vengeance, so it's established that your foes can only temporarily delay you, hurt you enough to be thrown back into the spirit world only to reemerge again and go back at them.

    As a system it's one of the earliest of the modern trend of forgiving death systems, but it's one that remains challenging and frustrating enough to not dismiss. Getting hit once removes your Soul Reaver, a wepaon which is a good back up (The kill move is slow compared to a wepoans you can grab, so it allows older weps to remain useful after you get them) that later on allows you to fire projectiles that greatly eases travel by enemies. Everything comes together to want you to not only die, but to not get hit to make use of your abilities in a setting which isn't difficult enough to turn it all into pure frustration.

    After it SR2 went with something similar, but very different which devolved into a poorly explained checkpoint system that added to how annoying the backtracking in that game was (The original with fast travel and the Elder god nexus you could be back to any dungeon in a matter of minutes compared to the long stretches of walking you'd have to do in the second game).

    The only thing in SR1 that wasn't properly explained in-game and stood out like a sore thumb were the fast travel gates and how much they were a part of the world, but the rest works so well you're willing to forgive that one incongruity.
     
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  4. Mr. Magniloquent Savant

    Mr. Magniloquent
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    Yeah, no shit I brought up Prince of Persia of PST. They are example of game mechanics. Things that take place in game. This is distinct from something with merely captures the STATE of a game--a save file. Saves do not affect game play. Saving changes nothing in game. Even if you savescum 30x to succeed on a 5% RNG check, you still succeeded that 5% RNG check within the framework of the game.

    While being able to save the game at will may influence the mentality of the player, that is entirely different than altering the mechanics of the game. By controlling when they player can save, you're changing player behavior outside of the actual game. You are enforcing a style of use that the customer may not wish to abide by.
     
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  5. HarveyBirdman Savant

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    :bravo:
     
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  6. Mr. Hiver Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Mr. Hiver
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    As i explained two times already and anyone with basic logic capability should be able to understand, that is not true.
    Saves and loads are both mechanics inside the game, obviously... you save and load inside the game. And avoid game over state even though you failed completely. Although most often not a part of the setting or lore and other mechanics of the game story, these mechanics affect how player experiences and plays the game - whatever form they take.

    Seeing how you are stuck on that explanation of yours means you dont want to understand but just stubbornly claim your version.
    Not that i care what you think. But you are wrong and thats not how things work.
     
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  7. what am i doing Prophet

    what am i doing
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    I think Diablo 2 had the best singleplayer RPG implementation of death. You die, you go back to where you started absent a lot of gold and a big chunk of XP - and also without the equipment you had on you, though you can still use spares. You can then retrace your steps to where you died and recover your equipment and gold with some risk (some XP as well if I recall correctly), or you can quit and reload which will mean the money and XP is lost and you have to fight all the enemies all over again, but you do get your equipment back immediately. It's not realistic but it's good from a gameplay standpoint. Failure is punished, but not to the degree that the player is compelled to try to undo the failure completely by reloading a save (or in D2's case quitting before death).

    EYE: Divine Cybermancy allowed several resurrections in-mission and if you ran out of those you had to redo the mission from scratch. You also risked picking up long-term debuffs called Fatal Wounds that stayed on your character until lategame researches cured them. At that point death was largely consequence-free, but it contributed to the player feeling like their character had gotten extremely powerful (which is something EYE did really well while still retaining a degree of difficulty). It was a good implementation of death.

    I do think that overall, I prefer that sort of "character state separate from world state" setup, if I'm wording that correctly. You can reload and retry a mission many times but your character doesn't revert each time. This allows for punishing death without giving a hard "game over" screen that incentivizes reloading. The problem with a hard "game over" screen is that the only reasonable reaction is to reload. Well, you could start a new game for realism, but most players aren't going to do that. And if the reaction to game over is to reload then people are going to want to save as much as possible and reload instead of facing failure, because really, a hard "game over" screen doesn't let you face failure... the game is done. Now, holding character state separate from world state is, granted, a bit abstract and less simulationist than tying them directly together. But from what I've seen it tends to be better for the game.

    And concerning hard "game over" states as they relate to RPGs, if I did play PnP and found myself GMing a campaign, I think I'd be inclined to avoid hard campaign-ending failure as well unless I was running something where it'd be appropriate (say, Dark Heresy, or some sort of short one-session game). My preference would generally be that if the party is defeated it leads more to story consequences (such as an NPC they're attached to getting killed, or an unfavourable change to the world state and greater hardship later on) and a retreat, rather than a wipeout, unless it was hard to avoid. That kind of story adaptation/flexibility is hard to achieve in a programmed game with no human oversight, though, so it doesn't work well in video games, which is why video games' fail states are generally either "you're dead, reload" or "you're dead and back in X safe area with some penalties". But out of those two I much prefer the latter.

    tl;dr it's best to punish the player for death but not to the extent that they'll try gamey/meta shit to avoid it (like saving constantly to avoid losing a large time investment) and this is best achieved by separating character state from world state, so death doesn't require a hard reload of everything (you still retain some benefits of your time investment).
     
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  8. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    If I can't quit at any time for any reason, then return to the exact point I quit when I play the next time, the save system is shit.
     
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  9. huskarls Educated

    huskarls
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    clearly ironman mode is best since the game is at the same point even on crash. you could also design a no death system where tension is reintroduced through set backs on loss rather than reloading a death
     
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  10. Mr. Magniloquent Savant

    Mr. Magniloquent
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    Your elaboration is wrong. Does saving:
    • Move a character?
    • Cast a spell?
    • Assign an attribute?
    • Resolve an attack?
    No. It does nothing in game. Creating a save point in no way carries out any activity in the game. It preserves the state of the game. That is all. If you can't resist save-scumming, that's your problem. If the knowledge of an accessible save file breaks your tension, then self enforce a no-reload policy. People with lives need the ability to save their game at any point. Crippling the customers ability to do this because of your own neurotic inability to self-enforce an imaginary restriction is innane.
     
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  11. zwanzig_zwoelf Graverobber Foundation Developer

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    Saving attempts in Outcast attract enemies towards you if you fail to find a safe place, which is a pretty good example of that.

    Saving and loading can be implemented as game mechanics or have some sort of spin to them, but main problems lie in game design and implementation (unstable game, terrible design, difficulty spike because the designer fell asleep while adding zeroes to enemy hp, etc). Unless the designer has a good excuse to add them, it's best to leave the default 'save/load anywhere' with other options required by the genre (e.g. permadeath in roguelikes). And yet, throwing any attempts for a different take on it out the window without giving them a proper try is too much -- same line of thinking led the industry into 'playing it safe' all the time by cranking out samey boring games every year that get their dumbing down treatment anyway because a random Goomba Muchacha finds a random element offensive/terrible/detracting from 'emotional experience and investment into teh storee'.
     
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  12. laclongquan Arcane

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    Final Fantasy 8 prove that experiments, even with great intention and great excution, carry its own great financial risk.

    FF8 is full of innovations and experimentative ideas. A fully customizable system of offense and defense (junction). School setting. Loss of memory.

    Yet the implications were so great that they dare not repeat the ideas and the experiments again. Game has too much financial pressure to try innovations.

    These days they rarely experiment in game. And we cant even criticize them for that.
     
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  13. zwanzig_zwoelf Graverobber Foundation Developer

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    Final Fantasy VIII sold over 8.5 million units and was the fastest-selling FF title until Corridor Fantasy came out. 'Too much financial pressure' my ass.
     
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  14. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
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  15. Master Arbiter

    Master
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    I would remove saving completely. It would be inconvinient sometimes but its just videogames, so so what if you have to repeat some sections.. Only a few people would ever finish them, those who would really want to, and they would be able to talk about them. Gaming journalism would then probably die off. And those horendous youtubers too.
     
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  16. Sreggin Etah I Learned

    Sreggin Etah I
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    F5 is my favourite keyboard key
     
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  17. Lord_Potato Arcane

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    Real life, the ultimate ironman mode.
     
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  18. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    Ironman mode is utter shit for games that aren't procedurally generated because one fuckup means you gotta run through the past 10 hours of content again. Sure, in a game with choices and consequences you can make different decisions this time around, but even that will get old at some point. Something like Baldur's Gate, Arcanum, Planescape Torment, Morrowind, they would all be utter shit with a mandatory ironman saving system. It would be barely acceptable in Fallout because of how short that game is, but even then it would be annoying. Moreover, an ironman system in games like these, where you will lose tangible progress and will have to repeat the same content again if you die, encourages conservative and risk-averse gameplay styles. Yeah you could pull off a cool tactic like running through the enemy's line of fire, right towards their machine gun nests, throw a grenade inside, blow them up, then hop in and take over the MG and swing it around to clear out the rest of the enemy bunker with it. That would be super cool. But you're also likely to fail and die, and in a game with mandatory ironman, you're just going to hang back and methodically snipe until the enemy base has been cleared. It's much less exciting, but it's safer because you don't risk losing all your progress that way.

    It's why I tend to savescum in roguelikes (copy the save file elsewhere so it won't get deleted, or kill the .exe if I'm shortly before dying so it doesn't save). Permadeath ironman makes you play safe because taking risks has the huge cost of losing hours of progress attached to it.

    Ironman only really works for strategy games where you don't play through content but pit yourself against AI controlled nations on a grand strategy map, like the Total War games, Paradox games, or 4X like Master of Orion and Civilization. I like playing those in ironman because it leads to more interesting games.
     
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  19. Mr. Hiver Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Mr. Hiver
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    As i explained, that is not "all".

    Its not a part of the game story - because its kept as a meta feature not integrated into the game internal content, yet it enables you do sidestep that story established failure states, and so affects the story anyway.
    It allows you to revert to any point in the gameplay and attempt any task indefinite number of times until you succeed.
    So - it does affect the gameplay in extreme ways - which you can experience and confirm by playing self imposed ironman mode of any game, which will be a different experience of the game.
     
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  20. PsychoFox Educated

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    Unlike OP i think free save is the best option. There's nothing realistic about save items and arbitrary hurdles you'd have to go to save. Not every game mechanic needs be immersive imo. The system in DS works really well for that type of game, but the same cannot be said for every game. Save stations can be fine too if the game's structured deliberately in smaller areas like RE or Alien Isolation, but not in open world games. Save items are imo the worse ala KCD.

    I guess it boils down to the type of the game (open world etc.) but in general i prefer free save over everything else. Maybe restrict saving while in combat to avoid save scumming, but that's about it.
     
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  21. Incendax Augur

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    Best save penalty is punching yourself. You get to decide how hard, how many times, and where to strike. One person might be content with a quick pop in the stomach when they die, while a true Dark Souls style gamer will uppercut themselves in the jaw twice.
     
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  22. huskarls Educated

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    I played a game that had (optional) ironman without permadeath, I was talking about it as a save system. So basically just a checkpoint system except it works at any time. There's also xcom/darkest dungeon where people permanently die but you don't permanently lose. I would prefer every game to have an option for constant autosaves only, or whatever you want to call it, with perhaps 4 series of backups every 5min for possible bugs & corruption, since it stops progress loss, no hassle with my 50 saves, and those times were I forget reloading sub-optimal and for c&c is painful.

    also when I do actual ironman, 90% of the time its when I'm going to stop playing when I die instead of going over old content. Like for skyrim I pick a rogue and do the related guild and area content until I died then went and played a mage etc. There's more content overlap for arcanum, fo2, but I've still done it there to see the speech path, thief, mage, good, evil, retarded evil while making it more exciting. Its great for replays too since you're going to stop playing at some point any way, for example I got all the way to arena city in under-rail on my 2nd replay then dropped it from boredom. Other 10% is actual autism, I played kingmaker on ironman raw, died 3-4 on part I, then died in part III and redid all that shit and then some up to part V, haven't played it in 3-4 months
     
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  23. anvi Cipher Village Idiot

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    I don't really like savegames at all, and limiting them doesn't help much either. I prefer no saving, except when you quit the game. I prefer an RPG to work more like an MMO where if you die, you die. There is no loading. But the penalty for dying is something that is planned out to suit the game. It can be no big deal or it can enrage you, and everything in between. In non-RPGs I still prefer this method too, but it doesn't suit every game.
     
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  24. Beastro Arcane

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    If you mean by "they" Square, well no shit. They didn't simply take risks creating odd things like what they put into FFVIII, they made their own fucking movie and it bombed badly.

    After enduring what happened to them with the Spirits Within I can fully see why they'd be so damn cautious.
     
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