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May 8th, 2011, 20:20
@ChienAboyeur: You make good points and I really disagree with none of them. And I fully appreciate that what works for me doesn't for everyone. But the save systems that I like are hardly a rarity. They've worked well for decades.

I see two issues: One is technical, the other is game design. You address well the game design side, and if that's all there were then, without question, designers should implement both systems so people have a choice. The technical side is where that gets sticky. Obviously save-anywhere is more complex to implement. But it was so common with PC games in the past where resources are plentiful. While Desale was right that some of the classics had restricted saves, they were far from the majority (on PCs - the flip is true for consoles). I believe the real blossoming of restricted save systems came from the resource limitations of consoles. It's my opinion that that led to the mainstream consumer adopting that as the norm. And that was fine until the cross-platform craze, where the mainstream gamer wins out almost every time.

But that can be said for many of the game mechanics to which we old-schoolers cling. I will fight tooth and nail for save-anywhere because it is critical to my enjoyment of one of my favorite pastimes.

I don't think it's futile, though. PC gamers as a whole tend to support gamer choice when it comes to saving. It's intriguing comparing comments on save systems on RPS, which has a strong PC contingent, and Kotaku, which is a generalist but leans console.

As for your remark on risk, I agree, although it actually wraps around to your initial point. Just because I take a risk with experimentation or exploration does not mean I reload when it fails. I just like to have the choice. As I mentioned, I see no difference as far as realism between being able to pick what point in time I reload. Reloading from a checkpoint is just as "silly" as picking my own spot. It's just that checkpoints are about penalty, and I don't want to be penalized in my free time - at least not without my consent.

And the risk needs to be in-game risk - but far too often going off the beaten trail in a game leads to undiscovered bugs or role-playing problems where the writers didn't account for your actions. I absolutely should be able to reload right before that happened since it was through no fault of mine that my experience got derailed.

@Desale: It wasn't _that_ long. But save systems are not superficial - at least not to me. I feel I defend that well in my post, which I hope you read, but I'll elaborate a bit. Save systems are out-of-character, of course, but that's a very different thing from superficial. If any game-play mechanic impedes my enjoyment of a game as much as checkpoint systems do, I'm going to speak out against them. All I am is a proponent of gamer choice. See my other "dissertations" here on the Watch regarding difficulty settings for more evidence of this. Or note my passion for modding and even hacking (SP only of course) when a game can be improved by it.

I think this is a apt analogy for how I feel about this: Try go playing a really good early 80s game that you never played before. Without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia benefiting the experience, you'll likely find the user-interface gets in the way quite a lot. It may still be a great game but it's diminished, perhaps to the point of being unplayable, by that user interface. Well that's how restricted saves are for me. It's an out-of-character mechanic that deeply and negatively impinges on my in-character enjoyment.
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