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Game Design Theory / Would not having any game save points be a good idea?

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Posted: 28th Jul 2011 01:39
I'm currently in the early stages of making a game where the player has to escape from a prison / military base. It'll be a first person game but I want the game play to focus on sleath not shooting. The game is split into seperate levels, each level lasting no more than a few minutes each. This is not a free roaming game so once a player has left a level they can't go back to it.

I'm planning on having the levels randomly chosen from a list of levels, the levels will also be in a random order and that the position of enemies will also have a random element. Hopefully this will give some replay value as each game would be different and that the player couldn't simply rely on memory to get them through it.

I then thought it would add to the tension if the player could not save their progress during the game. This is not a game mechanic I've seen in many games and I thought it would add extra tension.

To make the game more accessible, I'm going to allow the player to choose how many levels they want to play and that a full game won't last more than half an hour or maybe an hour at tops (I haven't quite decided yet and it''ll depend on how many levels I can create).

So, my question is: would not having any save points make the game more of a challenge or just make it a frustrating nightmare?
Kezzla
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Posted: 28th Jul 2011 14:58
when i was at high school my friend and I always used to play this game for playstation called "In the hunt"

It was a japanese sidescroller "blow ridiculous amounts of enemies to bits" submarine game.

It had no saving and it was a long game for one sitting, about 4-5 hours to get to the end.

it let you respawn a decent number of times, but you really had to try to minimize deaths or you'd just never make it and you gotta start again.
I loved that game and we played it repeatedly until the cd got scratched.

same with super ghouls and ghosts, it had no saves and it was soooo hard but we played it and played it and played it until we got to the end and that damn princess says
"ooohhh, I dropped my bracelet somewhere! please go back and find it for me."
then you go back to the start.
I remember thinking "you ungrateful ....." taking the cartridge out and never playing it again.

so no saves can make it extremely addictive, just have a great ending so the player feels its worth the struggle.

Sometimes I like to use words out of contents
Quel
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Posted: 29th Jul 2011 01:20
Not having saving may seem to be a revolutionary idea today, but believe or not there weren't any for decades of video gaming.

I do believe there are the types of games where you MUST NOT include saving. If the game is pretty long, maybe a few checkpoint per chapter will do. This is what i do in my schmup', there is only one life for the whole thing, no credits, and it is gonna be a pretty lenghty thingy too, but i will include some chapters where you can take the stuff down and do something else.

I'm a big retro gamer, and personally i like the fact that games back then required you to sit through the whole thing. But they were designed for this (mostly)! ...so make sure it is possible to do.

Whatever you do, don't allow the player for a limited amount of saving ability, because that's the most frustrating crap ever. I hated it in AVP1 Gold, seriously it was much better without saving in the original release, and also was crap in Soldier of Fortune.

You also need to make sure your game is 100% bug free for not having save option! If a player loses his / her state due to an error, there's a possibility the game won't ever be touched again.

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Phaelax
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Posted: 31st Jul 2011 20:51
At least have some checkpoints or places where the game could be saved. But even those I find annoying when playing older games and say "yea mom, just let me save the game..." Hours are then spent searching for a save location if you weren't a pro at the game.

I think the method of saving (if implemented) can depend on the length and style of the game.

But saving the game at any point in time can also ruin some of the game play, allowing the player to save just before making a critical decision and reloading the game in case it was the wrong one. I do that in Thief a lot. :p

So to answer your question, I think it depends on the game itself.

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Posted: 4th Aug 2011 00:37
I didn't really start to play games until the playstation 1 era but I get the notion that earlier games used to be hard, some times to the point where they were unfair.

Quote: "... just have a great ending so the player feels its worth the struggle"


Yes, I'm going to have to think of some decent end of game levels. I also think that if the basic game play is good then the very act of playing should be enjoyable enough to warrant repeated replays, even if getting to the end is something that doesn't always happen.

Quote: "You also need to make sure your game is 100% bug free for not having save option!"

Noted.

Quote: "... saving the game at any point in time can also ruin some of the game play, allowing the player to save just before making a critical decision and reloading the game in case it was the wrong one..."


This is exactly what I want to discourage. In some games this can be really useful (I'm thinking Deus Ex, Half LIfe and Mount and Blade style games) but it can also take away the danger and that there is no consequence for the player's actions. Go in guns blazing. Got killed? Never mind, just go back to your last save and try again.

I think the trick here is to make sure that the game is fair and the player has a chance to make the right choices without having to guess.

Quote: "... I think it depends on the game itself."


I suspected as much
Plotinus
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Posted: 8th Sep 2011 18:37
"I then thought it would add to the tension if the player could not save their progress during the game. This is not a game mechanic I've seen in many games..."

Wow! Thanks for making me feel even older.

As you say, games in the past were harder, but they were also much shorter, because of memory limitations. Making them hard and making them so that you had to start from the beginning every time was the only way that publishers could say they'd given you your money's worth - it meant that it took you longer to get through them. Modern games have far more content.

Personally I prefer the modern style. It was annoying having to play through all the familiar, early levels of (say) Rainbow Islands in order to tackle the harder, later ones - every single time.
maho76
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Posted: 12th Sep 2011 14:57
i think saving on fair placed savepoints or only at the end of a (relatively short) level is far the best.

danger and tention holds player to do his best and not fooling around, and its a fair system to not playthrough the whole game again and again.

i am playing deus ex3 atm, and you can do what you want, human minds are simple: restart is an option anytime
Its hard to only use one savepoint until the end of a "level", you have to control yourself.

remember the old arcade-shooters where you get a password for solved levels? great system. shout out loud when you get the code for gradius II- level 6!!! yeah, finally after 300 tries!^^
Seppuku Arts
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Posted: 3rd Oct 2011 17:56 Edited at: 3rd Oct 2011 18:00
Quote: "same with super ghouls and ghosts, it had no saves and it was soooo hard but we played it and played it and played it until we got to the end and that damn princess says
"ooohhh, I dropped my bracelet somewhere! please go back and find it for me."
then you go back to the start.
I remember thinking "you ungrateful ....." taking the cartridge out and never playing it again."


I didn't finish Ghouls and Ghosts, I felt that game was purposely designed to be brilliantly cruel, but that ending, that's just trolling.


I think if you can make it last in a single run then this is a good idea. And I think if you're gonna do it, you might as well be cruel to the player, because cruelty can be addictive, with the sense of danger they're going to try harder to beat the game. But cruelty to a player could be a double-edged sword, on one hand there's "this is so awesomely frustrating, I have to beat it" or "this game's too frustrating, I give up!"

Syobon Action was a small game that was circling around the net that had no saves in it and was purposely glitched to be cruel to the player, but you loved where the glitches were placed, because you could die an infinite number of times the aim wasn't JUST to get to the end. but to beat the game losing the least number of lives, I think my friend in the end managed to beat the game only losing 1 life. VVVVV uses the principle of 'beat this game losing the fewest lives' and has a 'No Death Mode', where if you die it's game over and it is addictively cruel to the player, however, it is one that saves the game for you.


Some Syobon Action for you. The game is perfectly trollerific, heck the last level theme is stolen from Ghouls and Ghosts, as though to taunt you :S


Hawkblood
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Posted: 29th Dec 2011 01:27
I like the basis for "no save game". It makes the game challenging and makes the player stick with whatever decisions he/she makes throughout the game. I mean, if you have the ability to save/load at-will, then you could save just before a decision and then if you didn't like the outcome of that decision, you could just reload and try it a different way.... Life doesn't work that way.

The problem with "no save game" is that in a long game, you would have a player loosing progress if he/she had to exit the game for any number of reasons. I would like to make a method of saving the game state without the player being able to make a backup. This can be accomplished with an online game where the game state is saved at some remote server that the player would have no access to.

Just some thoughts.....

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Quel
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Posted: 31st Dec 2011 10:42
Someone mentioned up there the hassle it means to play the early stages over an over again for the later harder ones.

..Well, i personally always felt like a saving point is practically the death of the previous levels. Unless if it is a supa-dupa game which i'm gonna return to every year, i'm never gonna see those levels ever again. And this is kinda not right...

-In.Dev.X: A unique heavy story based shoot'em ~35%
-CoreFleet: An underground commander unit based RTS ~15%
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Posted: 6th Jan 2012 21:39
I think there should be save points in various places in the game. Like Halo.
Fallout3fan
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Posted: 8th Jan 2012 05:15
It would suck because what if you had to do other stuff during the day and you could only finish it tomorrow.

Imagine if Final Fantasy had no save points.

To me, try having save points when the character truly needs it and not at an advantage that would make the game easy.

Like after a boss battle or a really hard level.

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Quel
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Posted: 8th Jan 2012 15:14
...i guess this topic is not about RPGs...

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Posted: 11th Jan 2012 02:07
Quote: "It would suck because what if you had to do other stuff during the day and you could only finish it tomorrow"


I've put in a pause option if you need to go for a pee but you only get nine seconds.

Like Quel said, this is not going to be a lengthy RPG. It's actually turning into a sort of stealth based, first person arcade game, I think. It's certainly not a run and gun style of game.

As I've been working on the game, it's interesting to see how this basic "no saves" idea influences the design. Funnily enough, it could actually make the game too easy. There is a temptation to give the player loads of health and have really weak enemies that couldn't shoot straight just so the player could get to the end but I want getting to the end to be an achievement, not something that's garaunteed.

Because the levels will be presented in a random order from a larger list, when replaying the game the player would see the different levels / maps and enemies without necessarily completing the game so they won't miss out on much in terms of seeing the content.

I'm also trying to make sure that I remove anything that is blatantly unfair, like putting an enemy in a position so that the player has no hope of seeing them before it's too late (there are no snipers in this game).

Playing the game (most of the basic game play coding is done) I've found that taking a patient approach means the player should never be attacked and might not even have to fire a single shot.

I think if you're going to do something like this (or you take away some other gaming safety net like regenerating health and health packs, i.e. essentially no way of regaining health) then you have to design the game around this. As long as you're aware of this when you're makeing the game then it should enhance the game rather than ruin it.

Picking up on what Seppuku Arts mentioned, there is such a thing as addictively difficult and that's what I'm aiming at. I appreciate that some people will just find it frustrating but I'm not trying to please everyone. That's impossible.

I'm going to stick to my guns for the time being and see how it works out but I'm finding the responses interesting and helpful, so thanks.
Latch
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Posted: 27th Feb 2012 22:08
Maybe have a setting where you can turn off the save capability. This could be considered a difficulty setting. Personally, I've never enjoyed games that had some impossible "trick" to get through them. If you don't do something exactly exactly exactly right you can't complete a level... Or some kind of riddle that only makes sense to the designer's line of thought.

A cross section of testers will give you an idea if your game is fun or not.

Quote: "So, my question is: would not having any save points make the game more of a challenge or just make it a frustrating nightmare?"

Frustrating Nightmare - unless you can choose any level you want. But not advancing in the game somehow is no fun to me.

Enjoy your day.
maho76
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Posted: 28th Feb 2012 11:06
when you try to do a sneakergame (like deusex or mgs) you should be able to minimum do autosaves after a group of enemies. its very frustrating to sneak around the same guys for 10th time, much more frustrating than a 10th shootout with the same guys, simply because in a shooting you are in action.

sneakers are more rpg/adventure than shooter, so you should stay with savepoints at this, even if only fair placed autosaves.

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Posted: 14th Mar 2012 04:27
Quote: "I've never enjoyed games that had some impossible "trick" to get through them. If you don't do something exactly exactly exactly right you can't complete a level"


I'd agree with this. But even with a save system this is going to be annoying. Maybe less so, as you don't have to slog your way through the whole of the game again. I have to admit, I'd probably give up but it would depend on the game as to whether or not I'd want to go through it all again.

Quote: "Maybe have a setting where you can turn off the save capability"


I've been thinking about doing this. Especially in light of the next comment.

Quote: "its very frustrating to sneak around the same guys for 10th time, much more frustrating than a 10th shootout with the same guys, simply because in a shooting you are in action"


This is a good point. I've not really thought about it in this way before. This could, quite literally, be a game changer.
DAEvo
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Posted: 18th Mar 2012 17:11
What the OP describes sounds fun to me. Short levels, survive them all -- or fail. In a 40+ hour RPG? Not fun. A 30-minute IRONMAN challenge? Awesome.

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