How do you feel about being able to quickly save and reload game state in Underworld Ascendant?
Necessity? Convenience? A thing of such unspeakable evil that no player of UA should be able to do it?
Are checkpoint saves (invented for limited consoles) good enough for a PC game?
Does being able to save and reload quickly harm the level of mechanical challenge in a single-player game? Is that important for a game like UA that may be primarily about exploration and discovery?
Does being able to save and reload quickly hurt immersiveness?
Does being able to save and reload quickly hurt replayability?
Let’s talk about one of the dirty little secrets of UU and UU2: wands didn’t actually stop working after their number of charges ran down to zero. Among other things, this meant that once you found the Wand of Name Enchantment in UU, you never needed to manually cast that spell again. If the wand broke after revealing the name of something, you’d just reload and try again until you got the reveal without the wand breaking. Similarly in System Shock (and preserved in System Shock 2, and even in later games), if you didn’t like what you found on the body of a defeated enemy, you could just reload until you got loot you liked better.
People who like competitive games tend to really, really dislike this kind of thing, calling it “save-scumming” and pretty much saying that anyone who does it is, well, scum. And while I truly dislike that term, they do have a point when talking about a game where players can compare scores against each other. Allowing retries makes it harder to assess the actual levels of competitive competence of players.
Does that concern apply to a game like we think Underworld Ascendant will be?
I freely acknowledge that I very much hope UA will provide a quicksave/quickload. As someone who mostly enjoys discovering the systemic behaviors of the world of a game and is not interested in score-comparing, I’m hoping that UA is being designed so that exploration is one of the consciously supported ways of enjoying it. To my mind, that means being able to save progress while trying out various alternative ways of doing things. Being able to save and reload is a huge asset in systems-exploration. (It also has never kept me from replaying any immersive game.)
Being prevented from recovering from an unfortunate moment of curiosity, on the other hand – say, by the developer only implementing checkpoints where they think I should be able to save – penalizes exploration by making it too risky. On the gripping hand, some players report that the success of victory is much sweeter when it comes from overcoming risks, such as when you don’t get to save at all.
A suggestion that’s sometimes offered as a middle way between these competing interests is to let players starting a new game select an “Ironman Mode” that disables saves except at key points (or possibly even all saves). Players who are there to explore the world can save at will, while players looking for a tough challenge to overcome can get that, too.
Is this something Otherside might consider for Underworld Ascendant? Or should UA be only an exploration game, or only a challenge game, with the appropriately unrestricted or limited modes of saving the game’s state?
I’m interested in hearing what fans think about this question of quicksaving. Bear in mind though that this is one of those questions that can be contentious – please be respectful to people with different opinions.