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Why there should be restrictions on quicksaves


marbleman
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1 hour ago, Daft Mugi said:

It's about learning why a game designer made the decision to restrict saving. And, it's about learning — from the game designer's perspective — how restricted saving improves the player's experience.

Pretty sure my comments regarding Deathloop as the followup to Dishonored cover these points as well.

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7 hours ago, Wellingtoncrab said:

So why should there be save restrictions? Because we should be open as players and creators to trying new things.

Save restrictions aren't new. Not so long ago almost every console port had them.
Players of games that are designed with a lot of dying in mind, seem to be fine with save restrictions of any kind.
But in Kingdom Come Delivery, the save restrictions are commonly modded away.

There are games which are about doing the same area over and over again until you manage to beat it. The experience of overcomming frustration is what the players of such games are after. The more annoying it was to beat the boss, the more satisfying it is to finally have beaten it. Obviously, save restrictions can add a lot of frustration - and therefore are an integral part of such games.
Arcades and soulslikes normally profit from save restrictions, while immersive sims, basebuilders and sandbox games normally don't.

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@OktokoloI don’t know how many times in the same thread I need to say some version that my perspective is that save restrictions are a mechanic that are just a portion of entire design. Mechanics are very rarely new at this point, but new designs are and this is often achieved by combining mechanics which are not new in new ways. 

This is why I don’t believe in arbitrarily declaring specific mechanics are good or bad.

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11 hours ago, Loginnerer said:

But isn't stealth gone only temporarily? They calm down again with just their weapon readied from now on.

Yes, but some of them might have become ko-immune and others are much harder to knock out. I might sound like a broken record, but since I removed that "feature" with my patch, getting caught is less negative than it was before ;).

Edited by wesp5
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On 9/24/2022 at 1:59 AM, chakkman said:

I also don't play missions which disallow KO's in normal or expert difficulty, because I find that kind of restriction ridiculous.

I'm of the same opinion in that I generally dislike KO-limitations on missions. One could argue that the solution is to just play the easier skill level(s) that doesn't have that restriction, but unfortunately this tends to come with the baggage of also requiring less of the player in terms of loot limits and possibly even additional objectives that you'd be happy to do on the higher difficulties if it weren't for that KO limit.

On the other hand, my stubbornness for playing on the hardest difficulty level means I have to deal with these missions that, due to the KO limit, essentially force ghosting. And you know what? I actually became a better player of TDM by being put in a situation where I basically had to learn how to ghost properly, take my time and so on, because I couldn't KO or kill like I wanted to. If those limits were never there, I guarantee you I'd never have developed decent ghosting skills because it's frankly much harder. But now, even on missions that don't need as much ghosting as others, I'm still better at playing TDM because of those skills gained from missions which forced my hand.

I'm not sure if this helps when it comes to the topic of quicksaves, but I just wanted to address how limits can sometimes help the player because of how it forces them to get out of their comfort zone and deal with the new problem.

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A word of warning, Agent Denton. This was a simulated experience; real LAMs will not be so forgiving.

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53 minutes ago, Xolvix said:

I'm not sure if this helps when it comes to the topic of quicksaves, but I just wanted to address how limits can sometimes help the player because of how it forces them to get out of their comfort zone and deal with the new problem.

It does! I can definitely see how a designer might want to try and teach the player something through limitations. Similarly how no-KO restrictions can make one a better ghoster, I can see how no saving can make one better at combat or improvisation.

Is it always successful? No, and, as seen from this thread, the majority of players would rather avoid such a mission/game altogether.

Edited by marbleman
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The fact that this a recurring topic speaks volumes. Some us would like to do without so many quick-saves but we can't, too risky for different reasons I won't go into detail at this moment.

Skyrim does not allow saving when enemies are nearby. Confront them or run. I like this kind of thinking. Simple restrictions would have done wonders to this game, in example: quick-saves disallowed unless you are fully obscured by shadows and no nearby AI is currently alerted. Think of it.

On your question, @marbleman: Games like Alien Isolation gave me the most memorable of the experiences. Risky move by the devs but see the result. Bold. TDM is different, of course, but I hope you get my point without explanations.

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TDM Modpack v2.0 (20/11/2022) - Visit:

Snatcher's Workshop - Mods for The Dark Mod

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4 hours ago, wesp5 said:

Yes, but some of them might have become ko-immune and others are much harder to knock out. I might sound like a broken record, but since I removed that "feature" with my patch, getting caught is less negative than it was before ;).

Sounds like here we have a disagreement about whether taking someone down is still considered a part of stealth or not, which is completely okay.

 

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52 minutes ago, marbleman said:

It does! I can definitely see how a designer might want to try and teach the player something through limitations. Similarly how no-KO restrictions can make one a better ghoster, I can see how no saving can make one better at combat or improvisation.

Is it always successful? No, and, as seen from this thread, the majority of players would rather avoid such a mission/game altogether.

That's completely wrong, if anything, save restrictions would cause players to AVOID combat, which comes with the HUGE penalty of death and causing the loss of all progress since last save / mission start.

If anything, quicksaving before a combat encounter should encourage players to try something daring and dangerous and not too bright. Can I make that jump? Can I take on 2 guards at once? Can I just run by these undead? etc etc.

Quicksaving provides safety net for trying things without huge punishment.

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I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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It's interesting because I recently read a thread on the Doomworld forums on people's opinions of single-segmenting maps in classic Doom/Doom 2. In other words, playing a map from start to finish without using saves - if you die, you have to replay the entire map.

The general consensus was that saves are useful, however there was some merit in there being extra tension and challenge knowing that death couldn't be rewound easily by reloading a save. On the other hand (and speaking as an adult), people have to work and often have limited time for gaming. Having to replay a long map because you died can be quite off-putting and takes the joy out of a game if it happens often enough. Savegames keep the tempo going, keeps the feeling of progress going. Also someone pointed out that starting a map from scratch after a death is kinda like using saves anyway, just a single save at the beginning. You're just being tedious by denying the use of saves in this case.

Dunno where I'm going with this. Trying to be diplomatic and say I can see all sides to the discussion.

 

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A word of warning, Agent Denton. This was a simulated experience; real LAMs will not be so forgiving.

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Another thing.

The Dark Mod is, by its nature, rather punishing to mistakes. Fail to hit a guard perfectly on the sweet spot of their head/neck to trigger a blackjack KO? They're on full alert gunning for you, triggering the attention of nearby AI and you can do fuck all except to flee and hide. Since they'll be alerted for quite a while, this can potentially ruin an entire playthrough (not to mention your stealth score).

Games like the Deus Ex and Dishonored series? At least in those games if you blow your stealth approach, you've got guns/swords/weapons/augs/powers to bring to bear. You can adapt and take down those pesky AI even if you screw up. Those games allow for a rapid change of playstyle which makes mistakes cost very little. TDM deliberately gimps the player because you're playing a lowly thief after all, not a highly-trained bodyguard/augmented individual. The penalties for failure are much higher because you can't respond with force.

So I quicksave like a scummy bastard before almost every blackjack attempt and before any use of an arrow aimed at an AI target. Hell I sometimes quicksave before using water arrows if they're limited. I have no shame because the cost of failure is too high to avoid, at least for me.

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A word of warning, Agent Denton. This was a simulated experience; real LAMs will not be so forgiving.

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Since this thread has deviated irretrievably from marbleman's original inquiry, here's a question for you all: Is there an acceptable middle ground between the hardline pro and anti save restriction philosophies?

I have described some specific advantages that could be had from restricted saving, but as some of you have rightly pointed out, these advantages actually come from the diegetic tokens used to meter out the restricted save points, not from having disallowed reloading itself.

Is it technically and conceptually possible to have the tokens as a carrot for these desirable behaviors (AND have them be effective carrots) without the stick of actually removing at-will save states? Part of it is probably making the curtailed save system pleasant to use: Providing convenient save points near difficulty spikes so players need never suffer a reset time longer than 1-2 minutes at most, and doling out a few item-based save tokens that give players an option for when they need to save/load somewhere the map maker did not account for. In all but the most extreme circumstances that would address the valid complaints about wasting the player's time and punishing curiosity, right?

After that, how do you discourage free saving without actually banning it? For the analogous situation of restricting knockouts, I think an optional objective is the best solution. But for saving I question whether that could work, both technically, and in terms of narratively contextualizing free-saving. Maybe instead make it so the free save ban is over-ridden by purchasing a special item from the pre-level shop?

 

What do you guys think?
(And please, we have all already heard the absolutist anti-restriction-take a dozen times over. Let's skip the obligatory round of "it's all in your head; If you want to play without saves you just need to get-good and do it"... It's just needlessly patronizing, flippant, and moreover doesn't address any of the substantive arguments of your opposition--which is why it's much less persuasive to the rest of us than you think it is. There's plenty to talk about concerning why specific ideas would and wouldn't work without resorting to thinly veiled ad-hominins.)

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2 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

That's completely wrong, if anything, save restrictions would cause players to AVOID combat, which comes with the HUGE penalty of death and causing the loss of all progress since last save / mission start.

I disagree a little, as I think you are right as far as the likely dynamic in vanilla Thief/TDM, but since the discussion is about stealth games in general I am not sure this is entirely true. It probably does cause players to try and avoid detection and other risk in games, but the idea is when it occurs the player must then engage with the detection/combat mechanics or at least weigh this against significant progress loss. This understandably sounds like a bad compromise to those players who are not interested and typically always just quickload when this sort of thing kicks off. 

This is kind of the loop in the modern wolfenstein games - when the player is discovered you go loud so to speak and it works (Especially in New World Order) because that side of the game holds up really well (it also lets you quick save and the encounters are short with generous autosaves so restarting does not come at risk of significant loss of progress).

In vanilla thief/TDM this experience is likely to be miserable in the most common scenarios in the game, so forcing players to engage with it seems like a mistake. If you want players to engage with the detection/combat loop making it fun is my mind a more successful approach than restricting a players ability to save (I think Hazard Pay also does this relatively well in the enemy design, which is another reason why I think it works and why we should not be closed off to this avenue for designers).

But I do think it is a way to get more players to engage with a different side of a game, or at least those that would typically just quickload to reassert their typical play style instead of using the quickload as a means to experiment with the game as you describe.

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5 hours ago, snatcher said:

The fact that this a recurring topic speaks volumes. Some us would like to do without so many quick-saves but we can't, too risky for different reasons I won't go into detail at this moment.

Skyrim does not allow saving when enemies are nearby. Confront them or run. I like this kind of thinking. Simple restrictions would have done wonders to this game, in example: quick-saves disallowed unless you are fully obscured by shadows and no nearby AI is currently alerted. Think of it.

I don't think that's the point of such save systems at all. Rather that you shouldn't quickload, and everything is on full alert, or already attacking you...

TDM solved that cleverly: By always keeping the last 2 quicksaves. So, even if you quicksaved falling off a building (if that's even possible...), you still have a "proper" save left. ;)

Edited by chakkman
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1 hour ago, Wellingtoncrab said:

I disagree a little, as I think you are right as far as the likely dynamic in vanilla Thief/TDM, but since the discussion is about stealth games in general I am not sure this is entirely true. It probably does cause players to try and avoid detection and other risk in games, but the idea is when it occurs the player must then engage with the detection/combat mechanics or at least weigh this against significant progress loss. This understandably sounds like a bad compromise to those players who are not interested and typically always just quickload when this sort of thing kicks off. 

This is kind of the loop in the modern wolfenstein games - when the player is discovered you go loud so to speak and it works (Especially in New World Order) because that side of the game holds up really well (it also lets you quick save and the encounters are short with generous autosaves so restarting does not come at risk of significant loss of progress).

In vanilla thief/TDM this experience is likely to be miserable in the most common scenarios in the game, so forcing players to engage with it seems like a mistake. If you want players to engage with the detection/combat loop making it fun is my mind a more successful approach than restricting a players ability to save (I think Hazard Pay also does this relatively well in the enemy design, which is another reason why I think it works and why we should not be closed off to this avenue for designers).

But I do think it is a way to get more players to engage with a different side of a game, or at least those that would typically just quickload to reassert their typical play style instead of using the quickload as a means to experiment with the game as you describe.

 

Well I can tell you in the only mission that restricts save games, when playing, I did EVERYTHING to avoid dying. That means, no combat, no crazy jumping attempts, no sneaking past enemies unless I was absolutely sure I wouldn't be detected. And I lost progress enough times that I never went back and finished the mission.

Are all players going to be like this? No.

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I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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1 minute ago, AluminumHaste said:

 

Well I can tell you in the only mission that restricts save games, when playing, I did EVERYTHING to avoid dying. That means, no combat, no crazy jumping attempts, no sneaking past enemies unless I was absolutely sure I wouldn't be detected. And I lost progress enough times that I never went back and finished the mission.

Are all players going to be like this? No.

Interesting - I certainly didn’t avoid combat - I made it a priority to remove threats and this forced me to use every tool I had at my disposal as the risk of dying and losing progress seemed greater if I let the threats remain in the map. To each their own.

I imagine it is also a niche of players who then for some reason would also not be interested in playing on another difficulty which allows for quick saving, as the hard coded differences are not that significant in my opinion compared to the customizable difficulty settings players have or how mappers implement different difficulties.

So you are in subsection of players who must play on the highest difficulty determined by the designer but this also cannot be too hard?

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12 minutes ago, Wellingtoncrab said:

So you are in subsection of players who must play on the highest difficulty determined by the designer but this also cannot be too hard?

I don't think that's the point. Rather the single mission where a mapper decided that it's a good idea to do something completely new, which never has been done before, even in the original Thief's which this mod tries to rebuild.

So, it's not a matter of someone having to play on the highest difficulty, which musn't be too hard. It's bringing an element to the highest difficulty which never has been there in the first place.

Doesn't mean you can't do it, of course. But, you really shouldn't be surprised about discussions and criticism of such a system then.

I think we will agree that there should be a certain consistency, in lore, but also in difficulty. Otherwise you'll end up with missions which are ridiculously easy, and missions which are ridiculously hard. Not that that wouldn't be the case already. ;)

I can only repeat myself: I will also always criticize mappers who decide that it's a good idea to prevent knockouts on higher difficulty levels. You really shouldn't do that. It's a no go for me. For the same reason as such restricting save systems: You will dictate the way players should play your missions. I love the freedom to play the way I do. And, I'm sure I'm not alone with that.

No kills make sense, if a client doesn't want a bloodbath on his hands. No KO's make no sense at all, as no noble man or the city watch will give a damn about some knocked out guards. The only scenario I could imagine would justify no knockouts as well is a mission where you have to snoop a place out before making a hit. But that's about the only reason I could imagine, apart from a simple gameplay "be as professional as possible" scenario, which shouldn't be in the hand of mappers.

Lastly, it's totally fine if we can't come to an agreement about this. ;) Just bear in mind that some people won't like it, if you decide to implement such a save system. I see a few in this thread already, there'll be more out there, which don't post here.

Edited by chakkman
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I usually play on Expert for the added difficulty in most missions, extra AI, higher loot goals, more optional quests. Some missions even have less of the map available to the player unless you play on the highest difficulty.

Also, killing the undead is not a requirement so I'm not sure why you felt you needed to kill them.

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I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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13 minutes ago, AluminumHaste said:

I usually play on Expert for the added difficulty in most missions, extra AI, higher loot goals, more optional quests. Some missions even have less of the map available to the player unless you play on the highest difficulty.

Exactly! For me, it's the bigger loot goal, most of the time.

And, if we take a look at what the original Thief's did with the different diffictulties, it's exactly that: More objectives, higher loot goals, more AI. Maybe no kill objectives.

Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but, I like the mod for being close to the original games, thus wouldn't want it to stray too far from those. Save rooms would be more for games which resemble Resident Evil for me. Apart from not liking such save systems in general, because, I don't want to do the same stuff over and over again.

By the way, to name some numbers: I quicksave about 150 times per mission, probably more in longer missions. You can imagine how it feels if someone takes that away from you, just because he knows better how YOU want to play this game. Because, that's something you need to realize, that you design the game or the missions for players out there, not just yourself, or people who like to play the way you do. I totally appreciate the amount of work mappers put in this game, and I'm grateful for every mission, but, should this become the standard for saving in TDM, or even the standard for expert difficulty, then I simply will stop playing this game, because, that's just not something I want in a game like this.

Especially as, again, everyone is free to save as much or as little as he/she wants already.

Edited by chakkman
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37 minutes ago, AluminumHaste said:

Also, killing the undead is not a requirement so I'm not sure why you felt you needed to kill them.

For the reason I stated - it makes the map feel safer to navigate and risk management is part of the design especially if you’ve opted to play where you cannot save the game. That is why the mission gives you a few broadhead arrows right away and actually makes them effective.

It basically trains you do to this in the first few seconds of the mission when it puts you in a narrow hallway behind a barricade and the zombie bursts in. Pulling off a head shot is very satisfying in that it both removes a threat from the map and allows you to recover a resource.

44 minutes ago, chakkman said:

Doesn't mean you can't do it, of course. But, you really shouldn't be surprised about discussions and criticism of such a system then.

I am not surprised and if you read my comments I have plenty of criticism and concerns regarding save restrictions and have stated I am like any other player who get’s frustrated with certain design decisions. I have only ever designed one mission and you might be able to tell from it I am not particularly interested in restricting how players approach the game or even the concept of “mandatory” objectives really. I think we actually agree more or less on the point that mission authors should feel free to design their missions how they see fit and just know like any other creative work they must be willing to accept criticism of it so I think there is very little conflict. I am trying to understand why it is an issue it is option for players and I think I understand now that it being tied to a difficulty setting makes it feel like it also depriving players of other options they enjoy.

32 minutes ago, chakkman said:

Exactly! For me, it's the bigger loot goal, most of the time.

A pet peeve of mine is actually arbitrarily high loot goals when this also isn’t balanced very carefully in the design. Same with no kill objectives, no knockout objectives, key hunts, etc. all of which are hallmarks in a lot of TDM missions.

So perhaps this is just an issue with the granularity of the difficulty settings in hazard pay? Not really feasible that I am aware of, but I imagine if you could play on expert but there was a toggle for this like “iron man” mode in XCOM there wouldn’t be this level of an issue with the design?

Edited by Wellingtoncrab
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13 minutes ago, chakkman said:

I just imagined a saveroom in The Painter's Wife. 😁 That would take some work if you mess up...

This is where the discussion does become a little exhausting for me. It so obviously would not work well and no one is seriously considering this sort of thing. Nor is Hazard Pay a similar scenario in design to TPW or 99% of TDM missions.

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41 minutes ago, Wellingtoncrab said:

A pet peeve of mine is actually arbitrarily high loot goals when this also isn’t balanced very carefully in the design. Same with no kill objectives, no knockout objectives, key hunts, etc. all of which are hallmarks in a lot of TDM missions.

So perhaps this is just an issue with the granularity of the difficulty settings in hazard pay? Not really feasible that I am aware of, but I imagine if you could play on expert but there was a toggle for this like “iron man” mode in XCOM there wouldn’t be this level of an issue with the design?

You don't seem to understand that a change to the save system is a much deeper intervention into gameplay than differing loot objectives, or no kill objectives (and also a fundamental change to how a gameplay system of the mod works in general). Talking about "exhausting".

It's a shit idea, regardless of how long we discuss it here.

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3 hours ago, Wellingtoncrab said:

For the reason I stated - it makes the map feel safer to navigate and risk management is part of the design especially if you’ve opted to play where you cannot save the game. That is why the mission gives you a few broadhead arrows right away and actually makes them effective.

It basically trains you do to this in the first few seconds of the mission when it puts you in a narrow hallway behind a barricade and the zombie bursts in. Pulling off a head shot is very satisfying in that it both removes a threat from the map and allows you to recover a resource.

 

That's what I was supposed to do? LOL.

Whoops, I did what a Thief is supposed to do and just not be seen by that, explains why he glitches out on the stairs and doesn't come down.

I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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