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April 14th, 2010, 03:03
The latest design update from Brian Mitsoda on the Zombie RPG kicks off a discussion on save game systems. Here's a partial snip:
This week Iím throwing out a design question for a system that hasnít received much design or thought on our end, but itís one that can alter the intent of a lot of our design decisions, and that system is the save/load system. Iíd mostly like to solicit feedback from the group on this one, but here are my thoughts on save/load:

-I donít want people to save before/reload after every single time combat doesnít go their way, so Iíve considered no saving in combat. BUTÖ I understand that sometimes people need to take a call, go to sleep, or make time for loved ones or their bridge club, so I donít want to punish those people that need to stop playing the game that moment.

-One possibility would be to allow saves during combat with a quit to menu, then erase those files when loaded, like a lot of console strategy games do. BUT I worry about people not liking the ability to save/reload when they want and if itís worth implementing special save functionality just for combat.

-One problem we have in the game is that for the gameís narrative to really feel like a zombie movie, the player should expect to lose allies Ė that they shouldnít expect to keep all their companions alive BUT there are few games I can think of where losing a genuine asset isnít an upsetting situation to be in as a player and I canít think of any incentive to not reload except that itís one less mouth to feed.
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April 14th, 2010, 03:03
Do it like Mount & Blade does it and have it as an only save on exit game with the aility to activate a standard Save & Reload system in the options. This way you have the restrictive save and quit mods for people who want it and the standard Save & Reload system for the people who want it.
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April 14th, 2010, 04:30
I really hate being told when and where I either can or can't save a game. I payed for the game, I'm playing the game as I want to, so I should be able to save my progress whenever I want/need to.
If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 14th, 2010, 07:17
I'm ok if the save during combat is not implemented but save during combat is allowed just its a snapshot from before combat began. Assumes combat is less than a couple of minutes. If more than that then perhaps restrict number of total saves during a given combat (though this is probably more complicated than necessary).

Ironman mode is perfectly ok as an option just dont force it on me unless its supposed to be a rogue-like. Also support multiple save slots even if you just keep most recent backup in case of disk corruption or bug.
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April 14th, 2010, 16:04
I actually support not allowing save during combat. Save anywhere outside combat, but not during combat.
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April 14th, 2010, 16:19
There is a trend to not be satisfied with the current save systems…

The idea I am using for T:MoF got a lot of debate though… that is the game always save…. so you have to deal with all things that happen.

There is no event which could happen to render the game impossible to finish.
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April 14th, 2010, 18:09
Maybe I'm different or maybe I am unclear on this point, but I've played RPGs since before Betrayal At Krondor. My personal practice is to Save before I open doors, chests, go outside from inside, engage in combat, or perform any potentially dangerous or important function. I also Save immediately afterward to have a fresh starting point.

Saving in the midst of combat, to me, seems silly and counter-productive for some reason. I'd rather Save far enough ahead of a combat situation to avoid it entirely, if I so choose, or to map out a different strategy.
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April 14th, 2010, 20:28
I'm in the 'save anywhere' camp. If you want to restrict saves stick it in the 'ironman' mode.
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April 14th, 2010, 20:55
To me, the most sensible default save settings are those that allow saving a game only when pc/party is idling aka not interacting with the gameworld.
Saving in the middle of an action seems counterintuitive to me, especially when it comes to TB or RTwP cRPGs. Thus, saving in the middle of opening a lock, dialoguing npc to submission or just fighting a good fight should be disabled.
However, this assumes average combat encounter doesnīt last an hour.

Applying further save game restrictions should be reserved for some iteration of ironman mode or similar (independent on other difficulty settings).

As for the Zombie RPG at hand, I donīt think that trying to increase chances player will suffer negative consequences via restrictive savegame system is generally a good idea.
It feels kinda lazy and artificial so Iīd suggest trying to come up with some other means.
More longterm consequences perhaps, like a possibility of character being diseased during combat without playerīs knowledge (insufficient skill, badly managed resources etc.), character with low morale being traumatized after certain amount of battles, or something like that.
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April 14th, 2010, 21:31
I can understand the whole not-save-during-combat thing, but that's where I draw the line. Also, I'm a huge fan of good quick/auto save features.
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April 14th, 2010, 23:38
Punishing the customer through save restrictions makes no sense, and games that do so are always worse off because of it. If I want to save in the middle of combat, so what? Since it's a turn-based game it's a lot more feasible to save during combat, and since turn-based combat can draw out any length of time there's a strong possibility of Real Life interrupting half-way through. If the player chooses to save and load constantly, undoing undesired consequences of their actions, that's entirely their choice. If that's fun for them let them do it.

Save the save limitations for the ironman mode(s). Unless the game is totally aimed at the ironman audience the non-ironman modes shouldn't have ironman features.
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April 15th, 2010, 03:12
It must always be up to the player to control how much or little they save. I really hate (seriously, I use that term intentionally - it's not hyperbole) when saves/loads are limited in any way. For those of you who want hardcore-perma-death-only-save-on-exit, then play that way! For those who want to cheat by saving/reloading at the drop of a hat and potentially (but not necessarily) ruin the game for yourselves, then play that way! And for the rest of us, we can play our way.

Think about it. Are systems that make you replay a section of the game when you don't want to enhancing your enjoyment of a RPG? Is having the ability save when you want perma-death preventing you from just not saving?

If you simply allow save and load whenever we want, the player can decide what method is best for their enjoyment. I do urge to have an multiple-slot autosave, including long term slots like chapter starts, etc., however, so people who don't want to have to think about saving can avoid it entirely. The long term slots are important because of save game corruption.

I personally like to save all the time, but like to avoid reloading. But if I play a segment of the game that I find unenjoyable, you're darn right I'm glad if I can just replay the last minute instead of the last 15 minutes. Every game has those segments. Additionally, other things can happen that make me glad I have a save only a minute or two old: crashes and input screwups. The former is simple enough to understand, the latter, however is also important. No game interface is perfect. There are times when your intentions do not get translated into the game properly because our input devices are very limited. I loathe when I have to replay a long section just because my mouse went off the mousepad, or my finger spasmed, or the game didn't poll for the input at the right moment and something I performed correctly didn't register with the game. Granted these issues are less of a problem in RPGs, but they contribute to my stance on saving. When these frustrating things happen in a game with limited saves and I have to do some long frustrating or boring segment all over again through no fault of my own, I get mighty mad.

Then again, when I screw up and want to see if I can do better, I just go replay the entire segment. Again, it's up to me. I have little enough free time and I know how to make the most of every minute. Let me enjoy your game as thoroughly as possible, by letting me play it my way. Thank you.

Summary: I agree completely with what Corwin said.
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April 15th, 2010, 10:38
If you want players to accept allies death, you have to use it as a jump off point for further narrative: "retrieve the body" missions for cremation, saving them from turning undead. Revenge missions. Morale boosts from such missions. Talk among the group and toasts to absent friends.
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