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mod: Save At Will


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4 minutes ago, Dragofer said:

My regrets are that this takes up one of the difficulty slots, so one potentially can't have expert-level mission design without save restrictions, as well as my earlier points about unfair deaths and losing progress if you run out of RL time for your session before you make it to the next save room.

I guess it would feel less controversial and more clear if there was a system that would allow to choose a gameplay type and then choose a difficulty level for it? Like playing Quake with bots and first choosing between deathmatch, capture the flag, etc.and then the difficulty level. But I'm not sure how much of a gui nightmare would that be, plus how much additional work for mission authors to set the whole thing up.

Edited by peter_spy
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And how about adding a settings-screen at the mission objectives, where you can override the rules. (Or some commands for the console)

I created earlier a mod that disables the saves also. But isnt userfriendly and less advanced.

 

Edited by freyk
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38 minutes ago, Dragofer said:

My regrets are that this takes up one of the difficulty slots, so one potentially can't have expert-level mission design without save restrictions, as well as my earlier points about unfair deaths and losing progress if you run out of RL time for your session before you make it to the next save room.

I spent an hour researching the save restriction system, writing a tiny mod that turns it into the opposite and testing it on the only mission using the save restriction system available today.

So it doesn't matter anymore, whether any difficulty level also contains save restrictions or not.
Authors are free to experiment with save restrictions without having to consider the impact on player experience for us few who like to be able to save whenever we want.

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18 minutes ago, Goldwell said:

Specifically with save limits they're implemented to inspire a change in player thinking. For example with the old system you might approach a situation and just quick save, attempt your idea and then if it fails you'll quickload. You have removed any sort of risk and challenge involved.

 

If you have limited saves you would approach a situation and then take pause and think "hm.. do I risk this? is this worth the risk? is there a better way to continue?". Because the risk of dying is lost progress, and the risk of getting caught means you're forced to deal with it. It adds a lot more weight and consequence to your action because there's no easy way out.

 

It forces you to play outside of your comfort zone, but that's why it's tied to a higher challenge level and not on base difficulty.

Why exactly do you think a "change in player's thinking" is needed? Are you unhappy with the way people approach your, or others missions? And, if you are, why are you unhappy with it? Isn't it solely the player's decision how he wants to approach the game?

I repeat myself, but, the best games or missions for me are the ones which let you, the player, decide how you want to play them. Everything else is forced by the developers, or game designers. YMMV, but, for me, it's pretty annoying to be forced to play only the way the mapper allowed it for me. As I also pointed out, there are people who ghost missions, people who knock people out, people who kill people, people who save every 10 seconds, people who rarely or never save... why not try to please all, instead of having that idea in mind what would be the best for players?

I also have an idea in mind what would be best for players, but, I wouldn't force anyone to play my way. Best is to provide all ways. Just like it's best to design your map for all ways. 

Edited by chakkman
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12 minutes ago, chakkman said:

Why exactly do you think a "change in player's thinking" is needed? Are you unhappy with the way people approach your, or others missions? And, if you are, why are you unhappy with it? Isn't it solely the player's decision how he wants to approach the game?

I repeat myself, but, the best games or missions for me are the ones which let you, the player, decide how you want to play them. Everything else is forced by the developers, or game designers. YMMV, but, for me, it's pretty annoying to be forced to play only the way the mapper allowed it for me. As I also pointed out, there are people who ghost missions, people who knock people out, people who kill people, people who save every 10 seconds, people who rarely or never save... why not try to please all, instead of having that idea in mind what would be the best for players?

I also have an idea in mind what would be best for players, but, I wouldn't force anyone to play my way. Best is to provide all ways. Just like it's best to design your map for all ways. 

I just want to clarify I am all about giving the player choices.

 

I believe you should play the game the way you want to. Which I why I said I want to INSPIRE a change in player thinking, NOT control it. Two very different things.

 

Also I believe if you want to try out this new feature, which is an experiment, that you should have the option to.

 

In another thread discussing this I had put forward the idea of three difficulty settings. Normal/Expert/Save Rooms.

 

So that way you can either play on normal or expert, which is your standard, save as much as you want experience. And then a third option which is for save rooms.

 

That's a win / win situation. It's a win for folks who want to play with save rooms as they have the choice to, and it's a win for folks who don't as they can play on normal or expert with zero restrictions.

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12 minutes ago, Goldwell said:

That's a win / win situation. It's a win for folks who want to play with save rooms as they have the choice to, and it's a win for folks who don't as they can play on normal or expert with zero restrictions.

Nah, sacrificing the noob difficulty isn't nice. New players are probably very happy about it existing.
I also removed any reason for having separate save restriction difficulties with this mod.

And it doesn't end here: Other commonly used restrictions are related to knockouts, loot, kills, ghosting... It isn't feasible to make separate difficulty levels for all combinations of the common restrictions authors like to flavor their missions with.

In the long run, a settings screen would be nice. But players who don't like forced whatever will probably always choose to disable whatever and therefore a collection of cheat mods only disabling a single type of whatever while working fine with any mission is probably the more feasible option until such a generic settings screen exists for authors to use.

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1 hour ago, Goldwell said:

Specifically with save limits they're implemented to inspire a change in player thinking. For example with the old system you might approach a situation and just quick save, attempt your idea and then if it fails you'll quickload. You have removed any sort of risk and challenge involved.

For me, save restriction does not work in hardcore stealth games because there is no alternative.

If I fail this knockout or get accidentally caught here, then I have options:

  1. quickload 😊
  2. die and replay a whole section from scratch
  3. run away and wait for a long time, after which have much more problems during the whole rest of the mission because every guard is prepared for combat (and killing people is annoying and often forbidden)

That's boring! 😛
The options 2 and 3 are absolutely opposite to having fun!

What is even worse, if I start to care about risk, then I have to restrain myself from exploration. I should not go to some places because I find them too risky! Doing so is absolutely stupid in a game like thief/TDM, where exploration is the core aspect of the game.

I never understood what's the pleasure of playing TDM/Thief in ironman mode, even though I tried to do that on a small mission.

On the other hand, I won Dishonored 2 in ironman mode without dying/loading and had a lot of fun with it. And the reason why it was fun is that I knew I had a lot of alternatives when I messed up. Like sleeping darts, stun weapons, and unarmed combat. And most importantly, I could pull out my pistol and shoot out through the crowd if things went really bad! As the result, the cases where I failed stealth were the best moments in the whole playthrough, even though I was mostly stealthy and non-lethal.

No-killing is a tradition for TDM, we cannot go against it, partly because AI is tuned to calm behavior more than to combat.
Turning the player into fighting beast (like in Dishonored) is not an option either.
Hence there is no way to restrict save/load without breaking the fun completely for most players.

 

And speaking about cheats in general, there are many reasons to have them.
The most important is young players (although this probably does not apply to TDM) and players lacking skill.

My dad was a geek. He brought PC to our house when I was six, and showed be QBasic. He also showed me how to use Hex Editor to change gold/time in savegames before anything like Artmoney existed (that was DOS times, so I converted between hex and decimal on paper).

I remember how I lifted time restrictions from games, like Prince of Persia and King's Bounty. That's the only way I could play through those games at that age. Of course, much later I revisited them and won them without cheating.

I played ADOM for a long time with backing up my savefiles, effectively removing the permadeath restriction of roguelike genre. The fun thing: it did not help me to win the game 😁 After spoiling myself with reading a lot of wiki, I managed to win the game and then started to play it without backups.
 

On the other hand, I'm opposed to having such customizations anywhere in the menu. Having more options usually means that things break more often, and also it hinders players away from the experience prepared by the mapper.

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Inspiring alternative gameplay approaches is all well and good, but in my opinion it needs to go hand-in-hand with game mechanics to avoid an overwhelmingly frustrating experience.

By far the most frequent reason for me reloading is not because I am detected or killed, but because of some unforgiving gameplay mechanic resulting in a loss of scarce resources. If I only have 6 water arrows and my attempt to put out a light fails because it's entirely non-obvious where I am supposed to aim the bow, I'm sure as hell not going to waste another shot — I will just reload and try again.

Constantly reloading is indeed a very boring thing to do, but restricting the save/load mechanism doesn't solve the problem at all. Combining the restricted save system with more forgiving game mechanics (for example: you can put out a torch for free every 5 minutes, and only consume resources if you want to put out another one within the cooldown time) might make for more interesting gameplay rather than just adding more frustration and punishment for failures.

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You can tune the AI, lighting and the level layout in general to accommodate for the high-risk reward situations. There are plenty of games with automatic / restricted saves that give tons of fun for thousands of players. Metal Gear Solid 5 has automatic checkpoints when you get near or leave a mission area, so you have to own up to your mistakes or run away and reset the mission. Dark Souls have automatic saves every few seconds and in bonfires. Prey Mooncrash has a time limit, and a game world state and abilities saved between level runs (that and a few other things you discover on your own). None of that discourages exploration. It only limits you from seeing everything during one play-through.

And none of that makes a game boring. On the contrary, encounters have higher stakes, your choices have consequences, and there are funny emergent accidents. I had plenty of great playthrough stories from Mooncrash, because of how unpredictable and suprising the events could get. A lot of near-death experiences, dumb mistakes that were reverted later by finding proper equipment, or near-wins destroyed by me not making to the rescue pod, because I made a mistake and got detected by that one nasty monster. It was awesome :D

Edited by peter_spy
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33 minutes ago, peter_spy said:

None of that discourages exploration. It only limits you from seeing everything during one play-through.

The fun of permadeath is about getting enough skill in analyzing the current situation and understanding when you can continue and when you should run away. "Run or shoot", as Left4Dead worded it.

In ADOM, you cannot win the game without having to run away at least a few times. Having versatile escape options is very important in order to survive in the long run. You can later revisit the problematic section after you cleaned out other dungeons, having more experience and better equipment.
TDM has no level-ups and rarely have any items which significantly improve you chances, so this system does not apply: either you skip the problematic section, or you just have to try again and again and quickload when you fail.

In Spelunky, you get more resources by investigating more of the levels, but after some time you notice that the more you explore, the more likely you die. To optimize your chances to win, you should ignore some parts and grab only the loot you see nearby or you know about. Once again: estimating the risk is very important, and you have alternatives (often bomb through walls) if something looks too dangerous.

I also played Diablo 2 in Hardcore mode, and once again knowing when to run and when to just end the current game session and start a new one was crucial to surviving.

The first two games are roguelikes, meaning that most of the game is randomized (Diablo is  randomized too).
If you die, you play different levels.
TDM is not randomized, so replaying is not so fun.

I did not play Metal Gear Solid, but as far as I see from a video, it has an option to do open firefight without much pain if you fail stealth, like in Dishonored.
I did not play Dark Souls but isn't it just a masochistic game? Not something to compare TDM to.

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32 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

The fun of permadeath is about getting enough skill in analyzing the current situation and understanding when you can continue and when you should run away.

And this also applies to stealth games: you gauge the situation, think of a plan, execute and... quickload if it fails :D But you could try to deal with the situation at hand. Well designed maps allow for this, you can look at OG Thief maps for example.

And I don't think TDM needs to have leveling system. Again, OG Thief maps are usually designed the way that you can "expand your territory" by either buying and finding water arrows to douse lights and set the scales more in your favor. You can expand that idea to other player tools, it doesn't have to be water arrow.

32 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

TDM is not randomized, so replaying is not so fun.

Mooncrash doesn't have randomized world, and it's still plenty of fun because items, events and monsters are randomized. You could do a similar thing in TDM. That plus all the systemic reactions between different stim impulses and receivers make unique and not 100% predictable situations.

32 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

I did not play Dark Souls but isn't it just a masochistic game? Not something to compare TDM to.

It's a brilliant tough-but-mostly-fair series of games, that attract the curiosity of many different players with all backgrounds. I absolutely adore this playthrough, it's brilliant to see how Ellen has grown throughout it:

 

Edited by peter_spy
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Just an observation & I may be misreading, but most of the arguments for having the author control where the player can save discuss other games e.g. dark souls, left4dead, call of chernobyl etc or reference survival/horror genres, none of which I'm interested in playing

And most of the arguments for having the player control where a game is saved reference TDM or Thief, which I am interested in playing

My personal thought is that people who want to play these other style games are extremely well served & there must be some that allow authors to write fan missions, so why not write some for those

Whereas those that want to play thief style missions in whatever playstyle they like, up to & including having one of those nodding glass birds perched over the save button, have Thief & TDM

So if you want to author a mission that looks like these other games & you're going to stop the player from saving where they like because you really want them to experience the gut churning horror of it all, which seems to be the major argument, go right ahead

I just want to know which ones do this, so I don't download them, start playing, save periodically, fuck things up, find my saves didn't work, complain to the team that my save function isn't working, waste half a day working out it's just this one game & it's not a bug it's a feature, wiping said game off my system, coming back on the forum & probably getting banned because of being less than complimentary to the author about the lack of warning

I play these games for fun, not so I'm going to need therapy for the nightmares

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If I understand correctly, there is yet only one mission that limits saving in one extreme difficulty mode so I see no reason to fix anything there. But I agree that TDM has some irritating game mechanics that might make reloading more necessary than reasonable. Like the sudden-knock-out immunity of alerted guards before they even have their sword out or the fact that you have to waste water arrows on oil lamps and some candles that you could easily pinch out with your fingers. Luckily I fixed those in my patch and I have much fun with it playing every new mission in such a very-easy mode :)!

Edited by wesp5
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21 hours ago, Goldwell said:

I just want to clarify I am all about giving the player choices.

 

I believe you should play the game the way you want to. Which I why I said I want to INSPIRE a change in player thinking, NOT control it. Two very different things.

But why? :) People already can save as much or as little as they want. No need to make a fancy Resident Evil style save room, and make it mandatory at expert, or other difficulties to save there.

21 hours ago, Goldwell said:

Also I believe if you want to try out this new feature, which is an experiment, that you should have the option to.

 

In another thread discussing this I had put forward the idea of three difficulty settings. Normal/Expert/Save Rooms.

 

So that way you can either play on normal or expert, which is your standard, save as much as you want experience. And then a third option which is for save rooms.

 

That's a win / win situation. It's a win for folks who want to play with save rooms as they have the choice to, and it's a win for folks who don't as they can play on normal or expert with zero restrictions.

No. It's a lose-lose. A win-win is the way it is now: That everyone can decide where and how much he wants to save. You don't even need to design a fancy room for it. Or make checkpoints, or similar nonsense. That will just force another way of playing these games. Which is also different to the way the original games were designed. 

Sorry that I'm so robust about this, but, in my opinion, it's just not a well thought out idea.

Edited by chakkman
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Another couple of thoughts have occurred, how much effort are authors going to expend making these save rooms & building them into their mission ?

What other actual gameplay features will be sacrificed ?

I guess we'll never know this second one because those features won't be thought of as the author is busy

And a final point authors are going to work harder making a mission that's engaging & fun to play with a normal save system & also for at least one level of difficulty they're going to change to a save room system without affecting the engagement & fun

That's a lot of effort considering that between a quarter & a third of players probably aren't going to play that difficulty, based on a poll of 28 members @4th Feb 2022 so it may not be that representative

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Limiting your own saves requires discipline. Having the restriction built-in really feels different. I've spent the last two or three years on and off playing Fallout 4 with new rules of my own. Nothing enforced them except my own will. However, I'd have rather there had been the option. I love freedom but that includes the freedom to choose restrictions of my freedom.

I recall long ago (probably before Dark Mod 1 was launched) that I proposed we have extra choices on the objectives page, but the idea was not adopted.

In particular I wanted note-taking that would eliminate frustration and abandoned missions forever (except where some special skill is needed, i.e. you know what to do but find it too difficult.)

The idea was that the player character would make notes as he/she discovered info.

There were to be four levels of help:

Option 1 was to disable this help completely and play as now.

Option 2 would provide three degrees of help in the player notes: hint, strong clue, or full explicit description of how to proceed. A bonus side-effect of this is that those who don't like lengthy readables need only click on them once and the player character notes down what matters, reducing five pages to a couple of terse sentences.

Everything would be optional. If you only want an occasional nudge when stuck then that is what you can look at. If utterly stumped then you view your characters more extensive info.

Back to save rooms: one could have an option to disable it halfway through if desperate - but not reverse that later. Fallout 4 does this with Survival mode. You can switch back to a lower difficulty but you can't get back to Survival mode except by reloading a gamesave.

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  • 4 months later...

I like optional save restrictions very much. It will of course have to be balanced with forgiving level design, though, putting more responsibility on the mapper to think things through. Some mappers are not good at that, and so it's good that they can instead save at will. Also, some players are not good at playing, and so it's good that there are cheats.

The only strong stance I have on this, is if the devs would not implement the save restriction feature at all, because I want to use that option very much.

Edit
I came here from another thread, which was about save rooms. Save rooms shouldn't be necessary. Resident Evil implemented save rooms mainly as a place to sort through your inventory, and store it away. You don't have a massive inventory in the Dark Mod, so entire save rooms aren't needed. Just implement some invisible entity that is a save controller, which would enable and disable saving, and let mappers choose the saving mechanics in his map.

Edited by Nort
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