Nerd Rage: Save and Quit

Nerd Rage: Save and Quit

Written by on October 29, 2010 in [, , , , , , , , ]

One of my first introductions to gaming as a child was with Super Mario Bros. for the NES. I would spend countless hours traveling the land, memorizing where the  pipes and secret blocks were, fighting off goombas, and trying to finish the game in one sitting. Why one sitting you ask? Super Mario Bros. didn’t have save points, and so you are forced to finish the game in one play through. While this was fine in 1985, the case is completely different in 2010. Nothing pisses me off more in a game than awkward autosave points, or having to go out of my way to save my progress.

Take Left 4 Dead for example. In L4D you are forced to play through a campaign in one sitting to be eligible for rewards and achievements. I remember getting stuck on the last portion of the “The Sacrifice” campaign, getting flustered, and turning my Xbox off only to realize that I had to start the campaign all over again the next time. Why not just have a checkpoint allowing you to start at the same point your left off?

In games, you have 2 types of saves. The first is a “save point” which can be accessed either through the in-game start menu, or by accessing a save point where your progress will be saved at the specific location. The other type is the dreaded autosave, which saves the game automatically for you, without the need to access a menu. This can be a problem though as games often will choose terrible autosave points.

I’m a Halo fanboy, but I have had my share of frustrations with the autosave system throughout the entire series. Recently I was playing Halo: Reach and got to a mission where I was flying a marine armored aircraft. I obliterated an enemy aircraft and the shrapnel landed on top of my craft, weighing me down. I wasn’t able to move and had to watch as my vehicle plummeted to its death. As I plummeted, I saw two words that sent me into a rage; “Checkpoint Reached”. As my game reloaded following my death, I was spawned back in the vehicle with the shrapnel still resting on top of my aircraft, meaning I was forced to relive my death over and over again. I eventually got so frustrated that I smashed myself into a nearby building and restarted the level. Why must autosaves choose the most inopportune time to save my progress? Why couldn’t you have saved my game when I wasn’t in combat?

I want games that let me choose when to save. I want to be able to press a button and save the game exactly where I’m standing. I don’t want to have to jog to the bathroom like in Dead Rising, find a typewriter in Resident Evil, or fork over 2 banana coins just to save my game in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest. All of this so I can attempt to save my game, having to fight through waves of enemies, only to die feet away from the save point that shouldn’t have been so difficult to find and use in the first place.

The best utilization of save games I have found is in Portal where with the push of a button you can save your progress, allowing you to literally save after every dangerous gap or enemy killed. In my opinion, the use of quicksaves doesn’t detract from the difficulty of the game one bit, but instead saves me from having to repeat the same 5 minute section of gameplay over and over again. I hate fighting a wave of enemies, only to be killed by the last foe, forcing me to start the section all over again. Let me save my game so I don’t have to play the same repetitive part five times in a row!

So if you work for a gaming company and are working on a game, make the save system easy to use in-game. Take an example from the Doom 3 or Portal playbook and let me quicksave whenever I want, wherever I want.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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