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Why there should be restrictions on quicksaves


marbleman
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For the record I actually agree that any restrictions on play-style should be optional, if that is at all possible. That includes loot objectives, no-kill objectives, knockout limits, and save restrictions. Generally speaking, none of them should be required at any difficulty. 

BUT if someone wants to build an entire level around one of these restrictions, and wants to make it a hard requirement so that people understand how to play their mission properly, I think they should be both free and encouraged to do so. At the worst we find out there is no audience for that kind of mission and nobody else has to waste their time thinking about how to make one in the future. 🙂  At best people click with the new concept and future missions in the same mold can make the restrictions optional, because everyone now understands how they should be played.

(And incidentally, Aluminum's unlucky misread of Hazard Pay shows precisely why aggressive limitations are sometimes needed to snap a player out of their customary playstyle [as Wellingtoncrab so perfectly explained 💖]. Maybe it would have worked better if Hazard Pay had an [optional??] objective requiring you to kill 10 zombies?  😉)

3 hours ago, chakkman said:

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).

I was going to argue with this, but actually you are right. Due to the interaction with TDMs inconsistent knockout and platforming it is true that restricting saves requires some adjustments to typical level design (beyond just plopping down save point at regular intervals). I don't think it is an intractable problem though, and luckily we have some very bright minds who will be the first in line to try out concepts like this if they ever gain any traction.

It's true that Hazard Pay didn't quite nail some of these aspects as well as we might have wanted. I think its save points, and especially the gears for them, were too sparse. It would have helped to add some extra music boxes before the major difficulty spikes (like at the bottom of the silo where you get the sword, and maybe in a dark corner by the quarry security station). But it was only a first attempt at something like this. The concept's been demonstrated, and, if there is an audience for it, it will get better in future iterations, which hopefully will find a better balance between different playstyle preferences.

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9 hours ago, snatcher said:

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 disagree about nearby AI being alerted, because you sometimes don't even know if some are, but I could live with being unnoticed at the moment because this is exactly when I usually quicksave :)!

Also regarding the loot objectives, I normally play easy difficulty because I love to knock everybody out, but with the stats scrolls I can still see how many loot there is and how much I am missing.

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15 hours ago, ChronA said:

For the record I actually agree that any restrictions on play-style should be optional, if that is at all possible. That includes loot objectives, no-kill objectives, knockout limits, and save restrictions. Generally speaking, none of them should be required at any difficulty. 

BUT if someone wants to build an entire level around one of these restrictions, and wants to make it a hard requirement so that people understand how to play their mission properly, I think they should be both free and encouraged to do so. At the worst we find out there is no audience for that kind of mission and nobody else has to waste their time thinking about how to make one in the future. 🙂  At best people click with the new concept and future missions in the same mold can make the restrictions optional, because everyone now understands how they should be played.

(And incidentally, Aluminum's unlucky misread of Hazard Pay shows precisely why aggressive limitations are sometimes needed to snap a player out of their customary playstyle [as Wellingtoncrab so perfectly explained 💖]. Maybe it would have worked better if Hazard Pay had an [optional??] objective requiring you to kill 10 zombies?  😉)

I was going to argue with this, but actually you are right. Due to the interaction with TDMs inconsistent knockout and platforming it is true that restricting saves requires some adjustments to typical level design (beyond just plopping down save point at regular intervals). I don't think it is an intractable problem though, and luckily we have some very bright minds who will be the first in line to try out concepts like this if they ever gain any traction.

It's true that Hazard Pay didn't quite nail some of these aspects as well as we might have wanted. I think its save points, and especially the gears for them, were too sparse. It would have helped to add some extra music boxes before the major difficulty spikes (like at the bottom of the silo where you get the sword, and maybe in a dark corner by the quarry security station). But it was only a first attempt at something like this. The concept's been demonstrated, and, if there is an audience for it, it will get better in future iterations, which hopefully will find a better balance between different playstyle preferences.

You seem to not understand, it wasn't a misread at all. I did what a THIEF should do, what we've been trained to do over the course of these games; stay in the shadows, avoid the light.

First thing I did was put out the light and hid in the shadows. Being Rambo isn't something I'm interested in when playing thief/Darkmod.

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9 minutes ago, ChronA said:

 was going to argue with this, but actually you are right. Due to the interaction with TDMs inconsistent knockout and platforming it is true that restricting saves requires some adjustments to typical level design (beyond just plopping down save point at regular intervals)

Excuse me? Inconsistent platforming? Are we playing the same game? TDM has some of the BEST mantling and ledge grabbing of any game I've ever played. I'm almost always disappointed in other games mantling systems.

 

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3 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

I did what a THIEF should do

But you weren't playing a thief. You were playing a miner... A starving miner in the middle of a zombie apocalypses whose only tools were a bow and arrows. A miner crouching in a shadow at the end of a hall with no cover and an angry undead breaking down the only door between it and him. It's pretty clear what you are supposed to do, or at the very least consider doing, in that moment. (It's only later in the level that you actually become a Thief, subclass Tomb Raider.)

The mission gave you the tools to deal with your situation, but you thought you knew better than the map maker, and as a result by your own admission you let the level beat you. Others of us overcame our preconceptions of how missions in the TDM engine are supposed to play, and consequently conquered it, save restrictions and all, and had a great time doing so. (And in fact, when I recall my total time played, it was pretty typical of a mid-large size TDM level, despite my suffering multiple catastrophic resets that set me back half-an-hour to an hour each time.)

Maybe you don't want to play a bad-ass ninja miner who goes Rambo on a hoard of zombies with fire arrows and holy water to steal their treasure. That's fine, laudable even to be so attuned to your own preferences. But other people loved it; warts and all. That's what's so perverse about actively trying to suppress experiments like this. This engine is capable of telling so many more stories than just "discount Garret #26 breaks into mansion #267 to steal MacGuffin #532", but some of those stories require a bit of innovation or a bit of novelty. Why fight so hard to shut that down? Why presume that it won't work or will end distastefully to you before you can even try it? (That's rhetorical by the way. I know why. I've done it myself in other contexts... frequently... good way to alienate folks.)

4 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

Inconsistent platforming?

Ok bad word choice. I meant that TDM's platforming has tremendous versatility and a very high potential skill ceiling. Consequently the outcomes of a platforming puzzle have the potential to vary widely between different players. Some people will be zipping around maps like Mirror's Edge, and others will have trouble with timing or over/undercooking simple jumps.  Inconsistent in that sense. (Same applies to blackjacking too.)

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4 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

TDM has some of the BEST mantling and ledge grabbing of any game I've ever played. I'm almost always disappointed in other games mantling systems.

I heartily agree. Really makes it hard to play other first person games.

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1 hour ago, ChronA said:

But you weren't playing a thief. You were playing a miner... A starving miner in the middle of a zombie apocalypses whose only tools were a bow and arrows. A miner crouching in a shadow at the end of a hall with no cover and an angry undead breaking down the only door between it and him. It's pretty clear what you are supposed to do, or at the very least consider doing, in that moment. (It's only later in the level that you actually become a Thief, subclass Tomb Raider.)

The mission gave you the tools to deal with your situation, but you thought you knew better than the map maker, and as a result by your own admission you let the level beat you. Others of us overcame our preconceptions of how missions in the TDM engine are supposed to play, and consequently conquered it, save restrictions and all, and had a great time doing so. (And in fact, when I recall my total time played, it was pretty typical of a mid-large size TDM level, despite my suffering multiple catastrophic resets that set me back half-an-hour to an hour each time.)

Maybe you don't want to play a bad-ass ninja miner who goes Rambo on a hoard of zombies with fire arrows and holy water to steal their treasure. That's fine, laudable even to be so attuned to your own preferences. But other people loved it; warts and all. That's what's so perverse about actively trying to suppress experiments like this. This engine is capable of telling so many more stories than just "discount Garret #26 breaks into mansion #267 to steal MacGuffin #532", but some of those stories require a bit of innovation or a bit of novelty. Why fight so hard to shut that down? Why presume that it won't work or will end distastefully to you before you can even try it? (That's rhetorical by the way. I know why. I've done it myself in other contexts... frequently... good way to alienate folks.)

Ok bad word choice. I meant that TDM's platforming has tremendous versatility and a very high potential skill ceiling. Consequently the outcomes of a platforming puzzle have the potential to vary widely between different players. Some people will be zipping around maps like Mirror's Edge, and others will have trouble with timing or over/undercooking simple jumps.  Inconsistent in that sense. (Same applies to blackjacking too.)

Oh it was just the limited saves that beat me lol.
Also, I have no problem rambo'ing a level.

My record is winning 12 AI vs me. But that was an older build, the AI in combat are much more dangerous these days.

 

 

I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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I've said this before but back when TDM was literally a Doom 3 mod and required the base game to be installed, I envisioned the idea of being able to go on a complete power-trip and hoped it was possible to open the console, type in "give all" and then it'd spawn all the Doom 3 weapons in TDM. It never actually worked, but taking on the builders or the undead with a chainsaw or shotgun or even the BFG would be... entertaining. :)

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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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15 hours ago, ChronA said:

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?

The real way to make people rely less on the ability to load (because that actually is, what safe restrictions really seem to try to achieve), is to make failure recoverable without loading. There is no point in saving if you know for sure, that you won't want to load that save. TDM is one of the most stable games today. People almost only save for reallife reasons and to insure against ingame failure (either in general every N minutes or before trying something expected to be a gamble - like extinguishing a torch using a water arrow).

Designing for absolute recoverability is at least pretty damn hard. But having safe spaces (rooms, the AI can't reach) near difficulty spikes, reducing the AI cooldown time and using a clear design language would probably make people feel less in need of that revorey insurance already. Important would be to actually advertise deviations from the standard path - so players know, how this mission is different.
As an example, expecting the player to get that in your mission headshots kill zombies is a bit far a stretch when the player has played literally over a hundred other missions where headshots wheren't killing zombies. Such stuff would need explicit advertising because a lot of players would only be able to get that insight by accident or reading the spoilers in a forum thread otherwise.

Death actually is the elephant in the room. The biggest ingame failure, players insure against by saving, is the death of the player's avatar. So that would have to be eliminated somehow. Technically, it doesn't actually exist right now either as the player can just reload. But that mechanic obviously needs to be replaced by something else if you want players to be confident that they won't want to load. Waking up in a cell instead of dying, just spawning in a nearby safe room, being left for dead but recovering a bit after the AI leaves the scene - all potential replacements for one or the other situation normally undone by a quick tap on the quickload key. There should be way more possible ways to replace that final game element (i just am not that creative). But the point is, that there needs to be a non-final replacement for that final ingame failure.

And then there are other ways of getting stuck - on geometry, by going somewhere the designer didn't thought to be accessible, killing the wrong person or just by accidently throwing a key into an inaccessible gutter. These aren't that common (well, the first one is, but the noclip console command exists). But players, who don't save regularly, start doing so when experiencing a non-recoverable situation. So these situations have to be made hard to create or otherwise catered for.

On the extreme end, it may be possible to create missions that exhibit no reason for saving apart from meatspace stuff like having to go to sleep. But you aren't fully against saves. So just having a sane autosave system can already do a lot to make the player save less. When the player enters a safe room and ther wasn't just an autosave - just perform an autosave. It signals the player, that this indeed is a safe room - and that you took care of his insurance already.

If going the path of confidence, i would actually advice against using save items or manually activatable "bonfires". If the player thinks about saving, they will do so and just fall back to the (still available) save system, they have been trained use by all the games and missions that came before yours.

TLDR: If you really want players to not save, give them the confidence that they won't want to load.

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1 hour ago, Oktokolo said:

TLDR: If you really want players to not save, give them the confidence that they won't want to load.

I agree with your other points made, but, I can't agree with the first part of this one. Why would you want players not to save in the first place? How do you even think you know how players use the save system? (Goes to mappers who think about such systems, of course.)

Do mappers not want the freedom for players to approach the game how they want? Why make alternative ways to the mission objectives then? Why give the player different tools to his disposal? 

This makes no sense. Everyone who wants to restrict him-/herself from saving can do so. Everyone who wants to save every 5 seconds can do so. The system is already great. Why make it bad? It's not the mappers task to care about how people use fundamental features of the MOD, not the mission. They're responsible for their mission, not how people play the game.

Well, going around in circles, but, obviously, some just don't understand this.

I think the main thing I don't get is how mappers limit their "clientele" even more. This is a niche mod, for niche people, and then mappers implement stuff which only really applies to a niche of the niche people. Incomprehensible.

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23 hours ago, Xolvix said:

... 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.

That is a good point, I hadn't considered that

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14 hours ago, wesp5 said:

Oktokolo is right, but judging all the needed changes I would say: Never touch a running system :)!

In my opinion, all that changes would actually be good for normal gameplay too. Recoverability of normally final ingame situations and reliability of player tools are a good thing in general as is a clean mission design language.
Definitely worth it to improve in that fields. And when it comes to player tool determinism, that actually already happened almost each release.

13 hours ago, chakkman said:

I agree with your other points made, but, I can't agree with the first part of this one. Why would you want players not to save in the first place? How do you even think you know how players use the save system? (Goes to mappers who think about such systems, of course.)

I, as the maker of the mod disabling the save restrictions and a proud savescummer obviously want players to save whenever they want to. But you know, i'm something of a player myself and would like not having to remember to save. It does sometimes fell less immersive when you remember to renew your insurance by tapping the quicksave key.
Why players (including myself) use the save system is pretty obvious - it allows to create a snapshot of the current game state and to continue at that state whenever i want to. So it allows to interrupt playing or to recover from undesired game states like getting stuck, dying, getting all the AI into high alert state, wasting tools, runining any scores, failing objectives... It is also quite handy for giving the current game state to someone using it for debugging the game or a mission. And you can preserve a moment in the game as a memory in its fullest form - instead of just making a screenshot (i never did it for that reason though).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Restricting saves in Hazard was a way to test a new tool in the authors toolbox. That's kinda it honestly. Save rooms seemed to line up well with the theme, so I decided to try it.  I didn't love the idea of eating up my EXPERT difficulty to test save restrictions, but it was the only solution that worked at the time. Looking back I might have done it this way:

- Normal
- Expert
- Master (exactly like Expert but with save restrictions)

Balancing and testing three difficulties is a huge pain to be honest. So having only 2 difficulties + a save restricted one might work well with maybe more save gears :)

Anyways- I would be down to see more experimenting with save restrictions, but authors might want to plan for a good deal of testing. Any bugs or unintended deaths are brutal for the player in that situation :)
 

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On 9/26/2022 at 5:25 AM, AluminumHaste said:

But that was an older build, the AI in combat are much more dangerous these days.

They changed it after your example? 😩

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The truth is that I LOVE to ghost. And I will abuse saves when they're given to me. For sure.

 

But... I really want to get out of this habit, and I think games should begin enforcing save limits. At least games like this. So many fantastic stealth games have entire WEALTHS of systems dedicated to what to do IF things go wrong. Metal Gear Solid, Hitman, and even Thief/The Dark Mod's own guards tendency to become permanently more alert when they've noticed you did something sketchy.

A stealth-ish game that's doing this well actually is Gloomwood. You have forcibly limited saves in that game, so when something DOES go wrong, you're even naturally inclined to use your resources to solve the problem. Because failure mean a significant loss of time. Now mind you Gloomwood isn't a PERFECT example because it's leading equally into survival horror as well as stealth, so fighting is expected. But it is a good show of how limited saves actually cause the player to interact with systems of a game they'd otherwise just go "Uugh. I got seen. Reload save" about.

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1 hour ago, Something Hank said:

The truth is that I LOVE to ghost. And I will abuse saves when they're given to me. For sure.

 

But... I really want to get out of this habit, and I think games should begin enforcing save limits.

 

Unbind your quicksave key.

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