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Thread: Why there should be restrictions on quicksaves

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Location: France

    Why there should be restrictions on quicksaves

    Hey all,

    I'm doing a bit of research on save restrictions in stealth games, and what better community to ask about this than the Thief one?

    Basically, the topic of save restrictions has been gaining prominence lately, and some stealth games are starting to adopt this in some form. The explanation I always see in favor of it is, "It's just too easy to reload when you get caught!" which makes me think that the entire reason behind it is to inhibit the ghosting playstyle. However, I can't help but think I'm biased here because ghosting is my preferred playstyle. Thus, I want to ask: what other reasons are there for save restrictions?

    Note that I'm not looking for reasons that quicksaves should be allowed. I don't want this to turn into a debate thread, I just want to see and understand all possible reasons against quicksaving.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2012
    Glypher and Jax often need saves at specific points in the game when something goes wrong as it’s not always possible to replicate issues otherwise.

    I must have uploaded 1000s of quicksaves over the years whilst bug testing, guess that could be done with hard saves but not if the game had only allowed saves to be made at specific points in the game.

    Without the ability to quick save it would have been a lot more difficult to make some dml’s and we have all benefited from those.

    I know you asked for reason as to why quick saves shouldn’t be allowed and I gave a reason why they should, but felt it reasonable to put forward an otherwise unconsidered necessity of quick saving. Apart from the above I can’t think of any positives apart from lazy taffer benefits, which I very much approve of.
    Last edited by fortuni; 22nd Sep 2022 at 15:04.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    Maybe if the failure of stealth (for example a guard spots you) resulted in gameplay that is actually fun, then there would be no need to hit the quickload every time. But that's almost never the case. Non-stealthy gameplay in Thief for example is pretty awful, and sometimes it feels that most stealth games are designed with save scumming in mind.

    So yeah, I'm all for some kind of restrictions on quicksaves, especially on harder difficulty levels. But the ideal solution would be to make some changes to whatever happens when the player gets spotted.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Location: France
    @fortuni: Thanks, but yeah, not quite what I'm looking for. This is also a more general question that applies to all stealth games, not only Thief. And just to clarify, I'm not arguing in favor of save restrictions. I prefer uninihibited quicksaving myself. I just want to know what, in general, people think quicksaving takes away from the stealth experience.
    Last edited by marbleman; 22nd Sep 2022 at 20:28.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2007
    Location: US, New York State
    Well I've tried ghosting without quicksaves and it takes an ungodly amount of practice, also it's not as fun because you could be at the end of an extremely long level and get seen at the last second and you're like ok I shouldn't do that again, but then spend a long time getting back to that point when you could have just had more fun quick loading. If you're not Ghosting then yeah, I barely ever quick loaded, but ghosting without quickload on some levels isn't fun to me. You probably shouldn't be able to reset their alert level if you mess up because it's not realistic, but games were never realistic to begin with. They're meant for fun.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Stealth exists in a liminal space similar to horror, dancing on the line of being in danger, but not quite yet. A big part of it is the tension of having to remain undetected while almost getting caught. So you want to stretch as much as possible the time spent between "safe" and "in danger". Being able to save anywhere, despite all of its other benefits, can be overused by the player and as such greatly increases the "safe" side of the safe-danger balance in addition to lessening the overall challenge. And you can't simply make the game more difficult to counterbalance it, because when it comes to stealth you're not interested in actually beating the player.

    Much like in horror, the designer's chief responsiblity is to provide an enjoyable environment where the player can engage in the fantasy, because stealth and horror are both voluntary experiences where the player seeks to explore a particular feeling, a tension that the designer has to carefully enable with various tools at his disposal. The goal in horror is not to successfully scare the player as much as to allow the player to scare themselves, to stimulate and engage their fantasy, and likewise, in stealth the grand prize is not the challenge of the stealth, the difficulty of it, but this tension that the threat of getting caught generates.

    So there's a lot of care that has to be taken not to push the player out of the experience. We don't want the player to feel too safe, we want to push him out of the safe zone so that he can experience the tension. Save restrictions are one such tool to force players to engage in risky behaviour without a safety net and to have to deal with the consequences. It increases the challenge and as such the tension that comes with it.

    Of course, there is also the danger of pushing the player too much to the other side, the "in danger" side. Quicksaving is a fast way to get right back to the stealth experience, to the tension, while having to play through your failures is usually not. The problem for stealth is that once you're caught, the interesting part is over, the tension is released. Trying to make the consequences interesting doesn't actually solve the issue that there is no longer stealth and anticipation, that you're taken out of the stealth fantasy. But that's getting outside the scope of this topic.

    So, to answer the question, quicksave restrictions are a trade-off, a tool to force a particular experience and to increase the challenge. Whether stealth necessarily benefits from the increased challenge is a separate question.

  7. #7
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Quote Originally Posted by marbleman View Post
    Basically, the topic of save restrictions has been gaining prominence lately
    Lately? Restricted saving has been a topic of debate for decades.

    I'm still annoyed by the limited saves in AvP 2000.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2007
    Location: US, New York State
    I really don't think there's any reason behind it except that it might look more impressive. It would take more skill, practice and patience to ghost without quickloads. I used to be against it too. I didn't know why everyone just quick loaded when they got caught, but it now makes sense to me after actually trying to ghost without quickloads. You're not going to do the entire level over with so many unpredictable things and glitches that happen in the game, even for a veteran. They aren't worth your time starting over. It's just tedious and will become unfun to most people. I would say yes, if you've ghosted a huge amount of times barely getting caught then go for it. The people against quickloading probably just don't understand why its necessary just as I used to. Unfortunately I'm for quickloads now, so I can't actually argue for the people against it. I can only speculate what they think.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Location: France
    @Starker: I don't think the question of consequences of getting caught is that far out of scope. It's pretty logical to follow "It's just too easy to reload when you get caught" with "Why don't you continue playing and try to fix the mistake you made?" It's pure speculation on my part, but it often seems like the reasoning behind this is not to enhance the stealth experience but to ensure that the player also experiences the thrill of the chase. To me, however, it doesn't matter how fun the chase is because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to stealth, and I would rather reload or restart the entire mission/section of the game until I get through it undetected, and at some point stealth becomes tedious rather than tense. But I did, and do, acknowledge a possible bias on my part since my playstyle is so niche, so I appreciate this answer a lot. Having experienced this myself, I can definitely agree that the very first playthrough is, indeed, more tense when you cannot rely on quicksaves.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by marbleman View Post
    Hey all,
    I just want to see and understand all possible reasons against quicksaving.
    Because Demon's Souls being unforgiving was deemed kewl and so all games since then that want to be kewl should definitely do it.

    Yes, it happened before Demon's Souls, but I feel a copy-cat fad has ensued where there has been a noticeable uptick in preventing manual saves since then (quantities and frequencies)
    Last edited by Darkness_Falls; 24th Sep 2022 at 06:45.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Location: Lyon, France
    The main incentive for limiting saves is to have players roll with their mistakes instead of reloading at the slightest mishap, to increase tension and to adapt to whatever situation they may find themselves in. The system works pretty well in Hitman for example. The main caveat is that, for stealth games and games with open-ended level design in general, it can be detrimental to exploration and experimentation if the enemy is strong by default (such as guards in Thief), if you don't have a lot of ways to retaliate and if getting detected or killing people results in bad scores at the end of a mission. Deathloop's approach is particularly successful in that regard because there is no scoring system and Colt is a murder machine, so if stealth goes out of the window, combat is a very viable option most of the time. Obviously, this would not be the case with a game that puts a much stricter emphasis on stealth versus combat.

    Still, I am of the opinion that limiting saves for specific modes is a good idea, for example an expert difficulty that gives you a few items you can use to save your game, and that you can also purchase or find in the world. You already know it but that was the main idea for my game document, in addition to being vulnerable for a few seconds when you use them.

  12. #12
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2020
    If the goal of restricted saving is to increase tension by forcing the player to adapt to being discovered, I think the game is no longer purely a stealth game, such as Thief. Once the player is discovered, there is no more stealth involved. It's like an insta-death in a shooter. If we include power fantasies here, the stealth power fantasy is gone. Therefore, it's either a mix of genres or a new yet to be named genre.

    The new genre could be a "chase game," perhaps? The stealth part is a time to collect resources and put the player in a better position for the inevitable chase. The player is rewarded during the chase instead of during the stealth part.

    So, my question is: Are game designers actually wanting a different genre than stealth when they restrict saving?

    Edit: To add a bit more context, it's hard to understand removing the save function (and all the negatives that come with that) when the player can self-impose no saving to increase tension and adapt to being discovered. Iron mode is an example of this. Sure, there's the thrill of completing the objectives without getting killed, but I'm not sure what the power fantasy is there. Instead of stealth, the power fantasy is to outsmart the guards? Hence, my question about mixed genres or a new genre.
    Last edited by Daft Mugi; 24th Sep 2022 at 20:16.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2012
    Another concern for restricting quicksaves is that Thief requires considerable amount of use for rope arrows but if you miss that thin bit of wood high up on a building you lose that rope arrow permanently, so I always quicksave before using them (or any arrow for that matter).

    Yes authors can accommodate this by placing many more arrows, and other essential power ups where necessary in their missions if quicksaves were restricted but are you not then veering into altering the very fundamentals of a game that more often than not gives players just enough arrows and other power ups to complete the mission, without flooding their inventory with excessive tools,

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2001
    Location: 0x0x0
    I'm too old not to QS

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany

    Why don't game designers let every player decide for himself/herself what is desired? There are always the die-hard players who prefer to play with at least one hand tied behind the back, a blindfold over the eyes, and possibly a large heavy brick tied to their exposed reproductive organs. They may self-impose restrictions on their playstyle if they want, but I get REALLY upset if anyone wants to force someone else to adopt a certain playstyle or other restrictions (especially if that someone else turns out to be me, myself and I). That is one reason why The Dark Mod never stayed long on my machines - for me, there are too many restrictions in the majority of missions for TDM. (Not concerning savegames in this case, but gameplay-wise.)

    Give me freedom to save whenever I want! If I am still making one save after another in less than a minute, then chances are good that either I might be not bright enough for that game, or the game designer didn't do a good job for that particular spot in the game.

    Furthermore, if savegames are limited in any way, everything that interrupts playing (such as someone discovering that I have to buy something right now (or we're all gonna die)) becomes a real nightmare. I still remember the idiotic savegame policy of the first Far Cry game: The levels had about four to eight places where the game would automatically save the first time the player walks through (and never ever again unless you restarted the whole level), and if you walked over three out of four save spots in the first few minutes of playing a level, you wished you could turn your machine gun towards the one designer who thought this was a brilliant idea. Especially since the save spots were not marked in any way, and sometimes were not in a good place either (if you ask me, anyway). And of course, there was no other way of making saves than this one.

    On a side note: Quicksaves are not needed for making a DML. Recently, I sent several "regular" savegames to Jax for DML building, and he reported no problems with them. I also fail to recognize any difference in quicksaves and "regular" savegames in Thief.
    Last edited by baeuchlein; 25th Sep 2022 at 00:15.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    after reading some of these posts i feel quick save is ok as long as its stated they used quick save feature,no we dont need to know how many times it was used ,just stating was completed with quick saves/loads would be fair

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2003
    Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA, Earth
    I don't see any reason to force save restrictions on people. However, I am totally for providing that option in the game settings. It would make for a cool playstyle, sort of semi-ironman, and would definitely increase the tension of the playthrough. However, since my style is a challenging version of ghosting, playing with save restrictions has never even been an option for me. I have tried iron-ghosting, but like Phantom0914 mentioned, it just isn't fun for medium/hard missions. And for Supreme ghosting I would never even consider it.

    I don't think the limit to saving argument is particularly against ghosting, though that topic has emerged in the ghosting community quite frequently the last couple of years. Reasons for having limits to saving that I can think of are:
    1) Force of habit; the player is used to playing like that from other video games
    2) Increased immersion; perhaps especially in stealth games this is a better argument than other genres
    3) Increased challenge and tension
    4) Increased replayability (though having to start a mission over every time I call tedious)
    5) Seeing others saving too much and wanting to impose a limit to their playstyle

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: thiefgold.com
    I'm ok with higher difficulties having some kind of quick save restriction, it will make you more conscious of your actions. That said, it shouldn't be removed entirely for obvious reasons (more saving my progress rather than being lazy)

    Quote Originally Posted by marbleman View Post
    I don't want this to turn into a debate thread
    Pit the Virgin Quicksave Junkie against the Chad Ironman

  19. #19
    New Member
    Registered: Oct 2022
    I don't like the idea because I feel many game designs nowadays are too controlling.I feel older games cared less about letting player do what they want. Nowadays everything has to e balanced or controlled and not just in stealth games.I think thief is challenging enough like this and if players don't want to use quicksaves they can just not use them. In the case of Thief I also feel it is more a case of comfort to be able to use quicksave than to have to use manual saves through menu.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    Quote Originally Posted by redfalcon View Post
    I don't like the idea because I feel many game designs nowadays are too controlling.I feel older games cared less about letting player do what they want. Nowadays everything has to e balanced or controlled and not just in stealth games.I think thief is challenging enough like this and if players don't want to use quicksaves they can just not use them.
    I think that the game design plays a huge role in all this though. The levels have to be designed either for people who hit quickload at the first sign of trouble, or for people who prefer not to quickload... or "everything has to be balanced", like you said. Thief is a fairly easy game by today's standards, but in most cases the "people can just choose not to quicksave" doesn't really work, because a lot of games are designed with save scumming in mind. And that's a shame.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: May 2005
    Personally, I enjoy Thief more when I don't use any saves during a mission. The tension is higher. Whenever I get caught, I have frantically try to salvage the situation if I still want to have a chance at completing the mission.

    This only works with smaller missions though. Many are just too large and/or contain areas where the likelihood of a mission failure is too high.

    The possibility to forego saving entirely is the reason why I enjoy smaller fan missions like Guardhouse 2, Shadow Play or Alcazar so much.

  22. #22
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2011
    Location: Manchester
    Quote Originally Posted by klatremus View Post
    I don't see any reason to force save restrictions on people. However, I am totally for providing that option in the game settings. It would make for a cool playstyle, sort of semi-ironman, and would definitely increase the tension of the playthrough. However, since my style is a challenging version of ghosting, playing with save restrictions has never even been an option for me. I have tried iron-ghosting, but like Phantom0914 mentioned, it just isn't fun for medium/hard missions. And for Supreme ghosting I would never even consider it.

    I don't think the limit to saving argument is particularly against ghosting, though that topic has emerged in the ghosting community quite frequently the last couple of years. Reasons for having limits to saving that I can think of are:
    1) Force of habit; the player is used to playing like that from other video games
    2) Increased immersion; perhaps especially in stealth games this is a better argument than other genres
    3) Increased challenge and tension
    4) Increased replayability (though having to start a mission over every time I call tedious)
    5) Seeing others saving too much and wanting to impose a limit to their playstyle
    I think it would make supreme ghosting more akin to an Low% speedrun, where rather than going from start to finish with no busts, you go from start to finish with the minimum number of busts possible within the limited save pool.

    I think it could be interesting with a limited LOAD pool, rather than limited save pool, you should be able to save wherever and whenever, but can only load the game so many times. (so yea basically ironman)

    OR all stays as it is but it tallys up saves and relaods. so again Low% speedrun, finish the mission with the lowest amount of total loads and saves while supreme ghosting to add an extra dimension

  23. #23
    One should not try to impose a style of gameplay for everyone so the argument of quicksaves is pointless. Even with quicksave enabled it is still possible to play the entire level without having to save at all for those that want such a challenge.

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