Quicksaving in Underworld Ascendant


#1

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.


#2

I cannot stress enough how important quicksaving is to me and how I play. It’s very much appreciated, again for reasons that aren’t about beating the game or perfecting stats, etc.


#3

I think you covered all the major points, Flatfingers. Thank you.

I’ve always been a fan of being able to save and load whenever I need to. There’s very little worse (in a metaphorical way) than having made major progress in a game but not having enough time to find a save point. It’s like cooking a REALLY tasty meal but having to rush out of the house and not having enough time to put it in the fridge.


#4

PC games without Quicksaving shouldn’t exist in this day and age.

Period.

Limited savegames is a terrible thing inherited from consoles, that was born out of necessity because it was technically impossible to do proper “save anywhere” on consoles for a long time. This doesn’t belong in a computer game as far as I’m concerned.

If people want to abuse the save system, that’s their prerogative. If you feel it shouldn’t be abused, then just don’t.

-Sergorn


#5

Why is it one or the other? It’s not like additional iron man game modes are hard to implement.


#6

Saves are something I wholesomely support With quicksaves being an added bonus. I can generally pull a random game from my game library, and barring console ports and online only games, will have quicksaves. Even if there is no quicksave button, you should still be able to go into a menu to save or load a game.

This was available in UW, System Shock, Terra Nova and Thief.

Where we get into trouble is when games are designed around being on a console. Even in new games that are ported over to PC, you will be lucky to have more than one save file that updates based on predefined checkpoints or completing objectives.

This would also go in hand with difficulty settings. envision an easy, standard and ironman or anything in between. Like Flatfingers said, Ironman would remove the quicksaves and make the game a different experience without alienating others. Whether that would please the Dark Souls crowd would remain to be seen. However the Elder Scrolls crowd would probably be satisfied with that*.

*Opinions are my own and in no way reflect that of other Elder Scrolls fans.

P.S. Everytime I see FlatFingers I think FatFingers. I caught myself this time, but eventually I will type that without thinking.


#7

Hopefully I won’t get drawn too deep into this argument as I just finished the same damn conversation over the course of several weeks on the Bard’s Tale IV board.

But - I hate permissive save structures. They take away so much of the tension that excites me about so many games.

As a player who is somewhat obsessive-compulsive, I often feel driven to retry game scenes until I get them “perfectly”, and a quicksave system encourages this style … but it’s really not as fun as barely surviving a scene, wasting a bunch of ammo and coming out with a few health left. Normally, when something like that happens, I think, “I can do better, and I may need that ammo later,” so I redo everything, often 3 or 4 times until I feel I’ve performed close enough to optimally. If the save system would make me lose 30 minutes of progress with that decision, though, taking that option becomes a hard decision, and the game is better for it.

I support an automatic save when leaving the game at any point, for players who have to go pick up their kids. I also support a rolling autosave to prevent losing progress from a crash or power outage. But the autosave should be inaccessible from anywhere but the main menu … in other words, you have to quit (and autosave) to load your one autosave. I support permanent “hard saves” only at set checkpoints or safe zones, or through limited resources such as “save crystals” or whatnot, to flatly prevent the “brick on F5 all the time” style of play.

And yes, in matters of save scumming, I am an opponent of player choice. Giving the player total control over everything as much as he wants is not ideal. A game design that rewards boring behavior is a bad design.

To be honest, I never played the original Underworld games, but it seems like the setting is one of fear and tension. You can’t have real immersion in that fear and tension when every mistake can be instantly erased with no repercussions.

This has been one zebra’s opinion.


#8

Word!


#9

All of the Looking Glass games had quicksaves. Underworld also had a silver sapling that would respawn you where you last planted it whenever you died. But yes, there are gamers that don’t like quicksaves which is why the “IronMan” setting was brought up as a solution. Which incidentally was not available in the previous games.


#10

I often don’t have time to sit around and wait for a game to decide to save for me. Autosaving-only works fine in heavily instanced Ubisoft-style games, but in narrative-driven games that exist in a consistent state, I really, really prefer the option to quicksave. An added autosave feature is a great bonus though.


#11

I’m really not too bothered if they stick with the standard save anywhere an unlimited amount of times, mostly because I am not expecting it as it was never LGS’ thing (unfortunately).

And yes, in matters of save scumming, I am an opponent of player choice. Giving the player total control over everything as much as he wants is not ideal.

The unlimited rewind time from any point you set spell (we’ll call it Chronos’ Clock, power of a God) has held back many a great game, including LGS’.
A checkpoint system is the compromising (sane) middle ground.

But hey, LGS did just fine without it, and an optional mode adds workload. Leave it to a possible stretch goal or mod.


#12

And the ones I played suffered for it, in my opinion :slight_smile:


#13

A lot of the fun in games like UW and Deus Ex is trying out unorthodox solutions or plain goofing around.
Checkpoint saving discourages this the further one gets from a checkpoint.

“Save everywhere” is a must. And that doesn’t hold anybody back from doing a “no save” play through.


#14

Choices should have consequences, positive or negative.

"Save everywhere" is a must. And that doesn't hold anybody back from doing a "no save" play through.

No saving at all is the opposite extreme.

Ultimately all systems have pros and cons. Ideally we’d have choices, but again that will obviously result in increased workload.


#15

Story time. :slight_smile:

After not playing any of its predecessors, I decided to give Call of Duty: Modern Warfare a go.

With a few hours in, I realized something: I hated this game. HATED it. We’re talking “inarticulate growling and shaking fist at monitor” level hate here. I wanted to be able to explore, and the game just would not let me. Either it would shoot me, or I’d bounce off an invisible wall, or I’d get yelled at by characters, or I’d want to try something different and I couldn’t because there was no quicksave/quickload.

But I kept playing, because I’d paid money for the darn thing and I was going to get some more value out of it.

And as I did, I realized that I had been playing it all wrong. I was coming at it like an explorer, but this game was not designed for explorers. It was designed for thrill-seekers, risk-takers, wild and crazy adrenaline junkies. It didn’t have quicksave for a darned good reason, which is that letting the player reload would have interrupted the excitement that is the whole point of that game.

Once I realized this, I gave up trying to see the game world and its nooks and crannies and systems; I put my hands in the air and let the roller-coaster fling me around as it willed. And I had a much better time that way.

It’s still not the genre I like best. But I’m glad I played it, because that was a valuable design lesson: know your target audience and don’t do anything that would interfere with the kind of fun they enjoy. If that means not giving them stuff, don’t give them stuff.

Another kind of game where no-quicksave might be appropriate is survival horror. Again, it’s a roller-coaster; the point is to take players on an exciting ride. Letting them slow down the action to potter around the environment, taking notes on how the level design artists implemented staircases, works against the aesthetic the designer is trying to achieve. So implementing quicksave may be wrong for this kind of game, too.

Which brings me to the point of all this, which is: what kind of game is Underworld Ascendant going to be? Who’s it mostly for?

Is it meant mostly to provoke excitement? Or competitive challenge through rules-following? Or thoughtful exploration and systems-discovery? Or social interaction with interesting characters creating deeply meaningful stories?

“All of those, in varying degrees at different times” may be the intended answer. I’d actually like that. But for those times when it’s about challenge and excitement, will OtherSide turn off the ability to save and reload, while leaving them active for the more leisurely-paced story and exploration moments?

Would that be OK?

Or is there a generic setting that could be, if not perfect, at least acceptable to most likely players of UA?


#16

This irks me something chronic. The argument that saving negatively impacts gameplay on any level is interesting, but jeez, if you care, resist the urge. It has a far bigger impact on those whom want the option to save.

Ideally, OtherSide will be able to incorporate the equivalent of an ‘ironman’ mode. No quick saving, maybe not regular saving, except when quitting.

But it should be optional.


#17

My feeling is this. When playing a single player game, let each player play their own way. That could mean saving every five minutes, that could mean cheating, or that could mean leaving the auto-respawn tree alone and playing a hardcore mode version of the game where you only save when quitting, and delete the save if you die.

When playing online with others, that’s when it becomes less about letting people play their own way, and making things balanced for all.


#18

Some players don’t get to play without interruption every few minutes. Hard-saves take to long when you you gotta hop up and take care of things, and interruption can break concentration where pausing/unpausing may lead to a stupid death. :stuck_out_tongue:


#19

In Thief, the way I used the quick save, it was for me both, a matter of comfort and a risk, because I never did multiple saves (after the first play, that is). It’s just that one quick save and if I screw it up (saving right before I get spotted and hunted down) than 1.5 hrs of fine game play are gone.

So this heightened the tension and made saving part of the game, where I have to better find a good spot and check the perimeter before saving, but also it didn’t interrupt the flow of the game by fiddling with menus, you just hit the key and keep going as if nothing happened.

Not saying that there should be only a quick save feature though. There should be a way to back up previous saves.


#20

The only way it wouldn’t alienate anyone would be if that “Ironman” mode ONLY removes saves. If it changes other difficulty aspects, I’d alienate anyone wanting a more difficult game without having to bother with a crappy consolish save system.

And who cares about the Dark Souls crowd ? The Souls games are nothing like UWs anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

Exactly. If you don’t want to save anywhere because you feel it lessens the experience… then just don’t save anywhere duh. :o

Don’t blame the game’s save system for one’s own shortcomings.

This reminds me of people who were complaing of Oblivion’s fast travel system - well duh nobody was forcing to use it, and as a metter of fact I barely did.

-Sergorn