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To Save Or Not To Save?
found this here:

"In Joust, for instance, you could fly anywhere you wanted to - you had full run of the entire game universe, as small as it was. At the same time, however, players could only interact with ostriches in about seven distinct areas. Thus, the designer could take the time to tweak the game to ensure the interaction would be just as he wanted it to be. Contrast to this is Quake, an otherwise great game that has a few flaws, namely the fact that you can save the game at any spot and constantly, and keep re-loading, and pass the level without any tension of skill involved whatsoever. Purely the result in which, it seems the user has way too much freedom over what happens with given obstacles."

My question is hence: is Quake 1 Sp better when you dont save throughout the level, (or only save maybe once or twice at key points), or can you just save all the time and it makes no difference to your enjoyment?

My personal opinion is whether saving is good or not depends on the game type (genre). But it is interesting to remember all the so called "classics" such as pacman ,space invaders, asteroids, R-type (et al), which of course had no save mechanism at all.

Certainly i think *many* games today *ARE* spoilt by being able to save whenever you want (it reduces the challenge and tension), but i dont think that in Q1SP its a problem.
I think the fact is people aren't really keen on startin a level over when they'd accomplished so much since beginning. Being able to save at any point in the game, yes has it's drawbacks - but no one is necessarily forced to use this complete freedom - if somebody want's to restrict this freedom to suit their own difficulty tastes, they can simply save at certain desired points much less often.

I think a good idea would be to have limited saving abilities when the player chooses a certain difficulty. If you were to choose Easy, you can save anywhere you want. Medium, save perhaps only every 3rd or 4th of the level. Hard, save only 1 or 2 times.

Didn't SoF incoporate this? I can't rememberr. 
Open Saves Are Fine Because... 
If you haven't gone from start to finish of a level without saving then you haven't actually completed the level: your just fooling yourself. :P 
are you being serious or not? i am interested in what you really think.

I might go back to some classic Q1SP maps and try to play them all the way through without saving. 
Restricted Saves 
Restricting saves to n per level is a pain in the backside because you don't know how long the level is going to be, so you can't use them optimally. If you want to limit saves, "save points" are probably a better mechanism. 
You should be able to save when you want, if people want to spoil the experience for themselves that's up to them. 
no it shouldnt be up to the player.
thats the whole point, which you are kind of missing.
its the game designers job to create the best game possible.
if defender or pacman had save points in, it would have been crap. What makes them classics (Possibly? thats kind of part of the question) is the tension induced by knowing there is no save mechanism. 
I've always found it frusterating when I get most of the way through a level, fall to a cheap shot from some strong monster, or drop down a stupid cliff that's extremley hard to navigate, and then have to start all over again.

Another problem is, having to play for another half hour because you're not able to save until you reach the save point or beat the level, or not at all. Especially if you're in a hurry or you don't have 3 hours to play all in a row.

Save points are fine, though strained. But having to go too long, too far, against your will, that's taking it too far. If you want to go through the whole level without saving, that's your choice. A better system is to count the number of times they save/load/die and reward them accordingly.

Also, for people who have to leave *right now* (really gotta go, and he's gonna be in there for hours, you just know from the sounds ;P ), you can have a quicksaveandquit function. You can save at any time in the game, but then it quits instead of letting you continue (so you can't keep it as a restart point in case you die, only for quitting and starting up later). 
I've done all the exm1 (millitary base) levels and most of episodes 1 and 2 straight through without so much as a save. The other more complicated levels though... There are some levels in the quake sp that I just don't like. Everything from the feel & design of my surroundings to the total loss of navigation (mazes anyone?)... I don't connect things in my mind well, and I spend a lot of time lost. The levels I've played repeatedly in beta testing I can beat in most any mod (or vanilla quake) and any difficulty and not die, barely getting hurt. But I wander around aimlessly too much in the others.

Course, as for the normal people... 
^ ^ ^ 
What nonenity says: I think players should have freedom in FPS; there are always ways to direct their decisions. I think HL did it best with both trigger_autosaves and the trusty F6 key: however badly I messed up, I knew I could rely on the Valve mappers to have put an autosave not too far back and in a sensible place.
Conversely, AvP ( prior to the Gold Edition ) had no saving druing levels. I did appreciate the challenge of trying to play intelligently, not always charging in Quake-like, which made you play more like your chosen species - a good thing. But there were maps that took an insane amount of focus and a lot of luck ( single player enemies had multiple potential spawn points ) to get even half-way through. Reaching a generator room or something, there'd be an errie lapse in the carnage, a great place to take stock of your inventory, lick your wounds and so on. I did that a lot in HL and it only added to my sense of being Gordon Freeman. But in AvP if even one alien then bled on me in a corner, I knew the hunt was over and I might as well restart. Not an attitude that should be encouraged in FPS.
As I've said before, it's a fine line between challenging gameplay and just bloody annoying. 
@ Wazat 
I actually enjoy getting lost in levels - exploration is what I enjoy most about SP; I love finding out what's around the next corner. Like you, I don't connect things together in my head very quickly so it takes me a long time to understand the whole layout of a level ( which gets to be a problem in multiplayer :P ) But I agree there are some id Q1SP levels that are plain infuriating because they don't reward exploration with new things - one just ends up wandering exactly the same architecture over and over until you accidently trip over some barely identifiable feature that's the only means of progression - that I consider bad design.

Btw: sounds?! Too much dietry fibre methinks... 
Save Here 
Saveless gaming can be good in adding tension and is simple. I got quite into it with the old Cube despite not liking it at first, but most levels weren't that hard back then. It is a way of increasing challenge. I had to get over a sense of greater nervousness when playing without save or I'd die *more* often.

Replaying a large amount of a level is not necessarily Fun. The most seamless way of maintaining an atmosphere even if you die *is* reloading. Starting over isn't maintaining the atmosphere -- if you favor it, you're saying the atmosphere can't be maintained, you just have to start over and see if you can maintain it this time (i.e. not die). The thing about SP FPS, though, is it's more a string of events than one continuous thing anyway, so I don't buy the case against. Plus, variation of environment is one advantage of FPS/modern games over the old repeat forever ones (and even those had one form of save: continue, or the elevated start level option in Tempest for example).

Save points leaves it up to the designer. Nothing inherent about the concept that requires them to be far apart.

I prefer save often, load rarely, exceptions when a level suddenly gets a lot harder partway. I'd rather not reload, but if I do I don't want it half the level back.

Yeah, AvP, of all games to not have save .. there's been a patch out almost since the beginning though.

Incidently, the new "Asteroids" (sic) does have savegame -- just like a FPS save. If your stats are crap when you save, save ain't going to help you. Makes sense, it's a long game with more visual than gameplay variety.

Then there's something like GTA3, you die you just lose some funds and have to continue from in front of the hospital, savegame's for turning the machine off. 
Kell: Ah Yes! 
I wander around lost in deathmatch for about the first 5-15 minutes. In UT and in my 160 random map linup in Jeht (quake1), I've started getting sort of familiar with most maps, and fairly intimately with others. Still, it's a bad thing when I'm 3 frags behind and I don't know where any weapons are, where any players are, and all roads seem to be taking me back to were I started. :)

Being lost in a sp map was horribly annoying to me years ago because I'd spend so much time trying to figure out where I've been, where I haven't been, and where I need to go again. That was years ago though. I know for a fact that I'm a great deal better at it now (been trying to work on it, and gotten smarter).

Maybe I should try playing through Quake1 all over again, from start to finish, in normal difficulty. And without cheat codes on the e4 series. ;D 
saves should definatly be the choice of the player.

"please, don't tell me what to do. it sickens me."

i don't like being told how to play. if i need to save, don't you dare tell me i can't. i couldn't stand sof because of that, and never finished the game because i got so annoyed at restarting the map from 10 minutes ago over and over again because i had no saves left.

just because you can save doesn't me you have to. i like to save every couple of minutes just to be on the safe side. it doesn't necessarily mean i die all the time, but i prefer it to be there so that i don't have to redo the whole thing.

"you can save the game at any spot and constantly, and keep re-loading,"

if you need to keep re-loading over and over in an SP FPS, then the game is already fucked.

in an ideal game of this type, the player should never die, unless something stupid happens.

auto-save/quick-save is the catch-all saftey net for when stupid things happen.

pretty much everything else is frustration. 
you did know that sof had a custom difficulty setting which you could set to unlimited saves right? 
Play 'artcore 
whole q1 without a single death ! I did it once
and dozens of times thru e1 and e3 
yes, but what difficulty?

and don't lie.

you know what happens to people that lie?

i dunno, but someone will think of something. 
Tomb Raider 3 On The Playstation 
had a save system that i remember being impressed by at the time. (about 5 years ago)

As you progressed thru the level you reached crystals which you collected (maybe 2 a level). But you didnt have to use them straight away, it was your choice when to, you could even save some of them for different, later levels.

The key points here were 1) its was the players choice when to use a crystal. 2) they were rare enough as to render them highly valuable. (only 1 or 2 per level). 
Sounds Like Daikatana 
Still, a system of aotosave/quicksaves is good.
Depends a little bit on the pace of the game though. IE in an emulator, playing contra or whatever, there is an overwhelming possibility that one will be sitting with one had on the controls and the other on the save/load snapshot controls, feverishly saving every second when you didn't die/reloading when you do. ('course people think people that use the saving system in emulators are ghey, but my therapeutist says they're just the ghastly creations of a dysfunctional world.)
On the other hand, I forgot what I was supposed to use as an example here. But imagine that it was clever and the completely oposite of the scenario above kthx! 
oh, you *are* active here.. i emailed you re: your modded FGD ^_^ 
Was going to reply to the mail but then it seemed something went wrong on my part. Dunno if you got the mail or not, (most likely not) but here's a recap:

Fixed the bounding boxes on items so they are of the correct size and position
Fixed default values so they correspond with the default values in the .qc
Added tyrlite fields for the lights
Added the all important info_notnull entity

that is all

PS: Uploaded a new version of the fgd at my site just now. get that to make sure you have the most correct one. (The old one was, well, old...) 
Appreciate it. 
Re: Bounding Boxes 
world collision detection is done with three entity sizes: point, player, and shambler.

bullet/player/monster detection is done using the actual bounds in the qc file. For example, the monster_dog's bbox is shorter than a shambler (i think -- can't verify now.)

This means that if you don't want your monsters to spawn stuck, you should have bounding boxes in the fgd that are equal to the size used for world collision. Otherwise you'd put a monster_dog in a low-ceilinged hallway and not know why he's stuck.

Sorry i can't give more specific info but i don't have access to any of it right now. 
Ya, I'm serious. Open save-games are good (especially when designers get excited by "surprise" unbalanced increases in intensity as a game-play device, or if one's system is struggling to "run" the game, or if one's power supply is not terribly smooth etc.). However, I was very proud of myself when I eventually (mastered mouse-play, then) went back and completed Quake on a straight through run with no saves.

I'm not too proud to admit that it was on Easy :P 
Right on. If the game is not fun or too hard for a player the lack of 'free' saves could make it just frustrating, making want to quit. That was the issue with Enclave (on Xbox) btw.

IE Even the first time I played Quake I rarely saved, cause it was fun and I didnt mind restartimg the level to try again. In fakk jumping levels I qucksaved often, cause presize jumping over deathvoid is not my idea of fun and I`d hate to replay it (never liked mario).

phait: why lie. I`v been replaying quake (esp e1 and e3) numerous times and I know where every monster and every item is. Its not that hard even on hard skill, except maybe e4 (but I dont like to play e4 anyway) 
you did know that sof had a custom difficulty setting which you could set to unlimited saves right?

yeah, but when i found out, i was already playing Morrowind. 
me too. E1 and e3 have gotten played to the point of memorization, but I don't like e4.

I feel kinda guilty. I have this huge resource of custom sp maps and mappacks, and haven't even played many of them. The few I've played were great though (including a few in the 100 brush contest!). 
Lay off quake for a month and then go play all the custom maps. 
A Month? 
But how would I stay sane for a month? 
play hockey, just for a change
it could help you to enjoy quake more, cause you know it gets kinda dull if you are doing the same thing for a long time period 
Blah Blah... 
An open saving structure enables players to set their own standard of difficulty. Play new map... die lots, get good, do it in one run...

Practice makes perfect 
Fallout Brotherhood of Steel had cool feature - if you played on 'hardcore' you could save only at your bases, but got 50% more exp, so it was worth it if you were replaying the game 
a cool thread and I didn't even notice it.

I think this is a very important issue but very hard to resolve well. One thing that is clear is that having quicksave or not influences gamedesign heavily.

if you are not going to have quicksave, you have to have MUCH stronger quality control to ensure the level is 100% balanced, contains no situations which the player could consider "unfair" (traps which are very hard to predict etc.). I guess that is the real reason for having quicksaves: gameplay is more unpredictable (also because more is possible in 3d as mentioned in the article), so having quicksave is the easiest way to patch sloppy gameplay.

I'm not sure if there is an easy solution. If you had a very linear game and you have savepoints every 2 rooms or so, and the gameplay was perfectly balanced it would be ok, but most games are not like this.

in an RPG things are already easier, because you have other ways to "punish" the player for dying besides making him do things again, you can take 10% of the players gold or something. Diablo has something like this, and also has the save&quit system that someone mentioned above, which works well.

What it comes down to I guess that in FPS games you have not a lot of means to "punish" the player. Doing things again is always annoying.


You could take this discussion a step further and say that the problem is not with quicksaves, but with how "dying" is implemented. Think about it: you punish player mistakes by taking his health, however taking health has no immediate effect. Then suddenly the cumulative punishment of all the health kicks in together (you die). This is weird when you think of it, it woul be much better to be able to punish a player gradually for the amount of things he does wrong, something which is not limited to some arbitrary point.

But also in this case there is a lack of sensible punishment in an fps... any ideas for punishment other than "repeat gameplay" I am very interested in hearing. 
I'm Not Sure If This Can Be Implemented 
but how about closing off a secret area or exploratory secret or whatever else the fancy gaming term for it is these days whenever the player dies. This way the reward is being able to fully explore the level and the punishment is vice versa. Of course, this would call for secret areas to be designed from the outset and probably also require them to be made interesting and worth finding.

can't you make a game where you don't die? 
theres too much hate in the world as it is 
Death And Conflict, Or Lack Thereof 

right on. ignoring the convience of save+quit anywhere, quick-save is simply a crutch, and in fact isn't the real issue. in an ideal game, quick save would only be used for save+quit, and this discussion would be moot.

wrath: Why can't you make a game where you don't die?

no reason, as long as you realize that there needs to be conflict, and feedback-for-actions. Death is usually used to create both. but note that the actual death does little compared to the knowledge that you can die. The more times the player dies, the more de-sensetized they get to the conflict/feedback that that knowledge generates. And ofcourse at the same time, frustration and annoyance increase, which is bad in themselves.

This is why, other then creating a new system for 'punishment', in an ideal game the player should never die, or at the very least it should be rare. And in all cases it must be explicitly clear that it was the player's fault that he died.

and ofcourse having no death, with no replacing punishment, leads to god mode. boring.

so for different punishment systems:
*deus ex had a system where the health for individual limbs were used to control the speed and aim of the player. Good idea in theory, but I found it highly annoying, since it takes away direct control and responsiveness from the player. Not being able to hit somebody standing right in front of you is not fun. but perhaps it could implemented better.

*unreal2 also had a fascinating system where you could save anywhere, but each time you died it took 5 minutes to load back the level.

personally, I kind of like the direction nitin is headed. I don't like his actual example, but the idea that the conflict should be focused less on the life/death of the player and onto something different, is very interesting to me. the current health/death system is a problem because it is used as the major source of conflict and feedback, when it really isn't robust enough, feedback wise, to handle it.

I suppose you could try to make it more robust like deus ex, but I'd prefer the complexity to be more on the world's side of things, rather then the player's. 
But Not Dieing Can Lead To Problems Also 
I've played some games where it was so easy that I didn't have to worry about dieing. It was fun for a while, cause I could play and do all sorts of stuff without worrying about interrupting the game flow. But then I realised that it wasn't challenging me, and it started to be come boring.

Also, when I eventually did die, it was over something careless. And then I got angry because I hadn't saved the game, anywhere. So I had to restart way, way back. This was particularly annoying in games that restart the level without any of your weapons (Doom, DN3D, etc.). So dieing added more frustration because now the level was way too hard. 
Challenge Death 
"can't you make a game where you don't die?"

You can't make a game where you can't lose, or it isn't a game. But games are redefining "lose" from the traditional, to a little bit of "punishment" , for example GTA3 and its hospital and jail. Other games had situations where you could get a "Mission Failed". In each case you get to do the mission over, so there is no difference from reloading the start of the mission, practically.

I did have an idea of an arcade machine as a kind of multieffect entertainment, but this also was not a game, but fit into the "form factor" of a game.

"games that restart the level without any of your weapons (Doom, DN3D, etc.)" [and have level carryover, i.e. not Cube]

Speaking of no save, if you die do you restart from the beginning, or the beginning of the current level? And do you get the level carryover back?

I suggest trying to complete DooM on the Sega 32X to cure you of such thoughts ;) .

"Practice makes perfect"

Yes, save/load was very helpful, that comment takes me back.

Another thing that goes out with no save is the extremely challenging finale at the end of a big level. 
Why Can't You Make A Game Where You Don't Die? 
I think what's important here is whether we're talking about games in general, or the fps genre in specific. There are plenty of games where you don't die, sports games, sim games, etc. There has to be a way to win and a way to lose or else the game loses meaning. "But what about The Sims?" Well the goal of the sims is to build a nice house and have well adjusted sims, or watch people die in their own feces, whatever gets you off. People may be saying that games are moving away from being goal oriented and towards story oriented, but good stories involve people with goals. That's the difference between a story and a bunch of things that happened. So games aren't really changing focus, just broadening it slightly.

BTW, the punishment scheme for The Sims is that he/she doesn't do what you want.

Back to the FPS SP genre. The goal of the levels (how you win) is to survive, or shoot everything and collect all secrets and still survive. You lose when you run out of health. But you haven't really lost jack all until you're punished for it, so you get sent back to the start of the level. Thus far every punishment scheme punishes you by wasting your time, most likely by redoing what you already did, exactly as it was before. Perhaps in future games the level could be presented differently to you after subsequent failures. After a death the game starts you off a couple of autosaves back (no quiksaves), helper secrets open up and monsters go a little easier on you. Some changes could even be cosmetic just to keep things interesting.

The advantage of that scheme is that the goals are no longer absolute. Uber M Gamer will accept nothing less than 100/100 and no deaths for a level. Most people will want to shoot for no deaths and most of the secrets. A relative beginner could set his own goal at only 3 deaths, or 1 deaths and a couple of secrets. And a total newbie could content himself with having seen and completed every level. 
nitin: it is an interesting idea in the sense that your "punishment" is exactly the reverse than one of the biggest rewards in an fps: seeing new areas. But I don't think it is scalable, the newbie who is really not familiar with fps games who dies a lot won't see any of the extra goodies, and you will run out of goodies to take from him pretty soon.

gilt: I think we agree there... but none of your examples seem like particularly good solutions. You can think of other thinks to take away from the player in the world as his punishment, but you risk having to make it into an rpg first :)

pushplay: the point is exactly FPS games, for most other genres I can already think of ways of punishment that are much better than replaying parts of the level. As said in RPGs you can take resources/experience away, in RTS games you punish by time, i.e. sucky players don't "die", they just will take absolutely ages to build up the units to defeat the enemy. FPS games just don't have a lot in terms of stuff the player posesses/acquires, or gains when he progresses (other than pretty architecture :)

cmon people, some more ideas for alternative punishment in fps games ;) 
Looped MIDI's Of Modern Hard Rock 
*beep boop boop bup* c'mon get down with the sickness *boop boop* 
i've seen your claim before that losing health doesn't qualify as punnishment. This doesn't sit well with my intuition, and the best way i can explain it is by saying that if you were right, then getting armor or a megahealth isn't a reward either -- so why do people waste time getting them? It's becuase humans are capable of projecting their current status into the future. They know that the extra health, armor, or ammo will improve their chances of a positive outcome in the next battle.

However, i have thought about the health system and found that there is a major gameplay difference between it and a one-hit death game like super mario brothers or gradius. The difference is that in a one-hit game, any time you get to a certain point in a level, you have equal chance of making it to the end. In a game with health, you might get to a point with 15 health instead of 90, and while you're still alive, you have a much lower chance of getting to the end. In that sense i think a game like super mario brothers is good in that you always have hope -- the obstacles are all designed so that you can potentially get past without getting hit.

But i'm not sure that the alternative -- health-based gameplay -- is necessarily bad. 
ofcourse you should test the line of death, just don't cross it.

in single player games, nobody wins when the player loses

the problem I see with both your and nitin's example, is that it relegate this stuff to bonuses, when they should be a major integrated part of the game.

I didn't say they were good examples, just examples other games have used.

The thing is, I firmly believe that this kind of stuff should be a direct and fluid part of the game play, and so should reflect the overall game mechanics. Doom/Quake style FPSes are simple, and like metlslime implied, the current health based stuff is decent enough.

you think that's a cop-out, and still want some examples? fine:

many modern fps games today are starting to become team based. Assuming that the teammates are actually useful, and the player has somekind of control over whether they live or die, their deaths can function as punishment.

and usually in these more strategic games, while the ultimate conflict may to be over the player's life, there are many different sources of conflict, such as battling over a key turret position or bunker or something. whether you win the position or not for the time being, is your punishment/reward.
in a doom/quake style game, theres just simply less to work with:

Perhaps you can make it so that the enemies can pick up the power ups/ammo that are lying around, and use them. So now besides just trying to kill each other, you're fighting for your weapons and health.

or perhaps, you can have it so that you carry your weapons and ammo on your body. So now the enemy has the chance of shooting them off, or simply destroy them.

For both, great care would have to be taken to make sure it's fair. The enemies shouldn't be picking up stuff when the player doesn't have the chance to, and they shouldn't be huge hogs. And if it isn't made explicitly clear that some of their ammo has been blown to bits the player is going to get confused and pissed. etc, etc. 
I Still Like My Idea 
metlslime: I think what you're describing the slipery slope problem, which Sirlin talks about here: . FPS games are like fighters, while losing health damages your chance of winning, it doesn't harm your chances of damaging your opponent.

Gilt: bonuses are a major part of gameplay, but their priority is different from player to player. If you screw around with the punishment system too much you risk alienating the hardcore gamers, who while being a small slice of sales do act as opinion leaders. 
Gilt: "in single player games, nobody wins when the player loses"

Yes, but then you try again (in whole or part) and hopefully win. Winning doesn't mean anything unless you can lose. In fact the winning tends to be better if you lost a bunch of times first (and didn't get distracted by replaying all the easy parts). Of course, if winning is hard enough, progress may be enough to feel some accomplishment.

Not that it has to mean anything, but it's just a video game anyway. The challenge is the (main) thing that's real.

Savegame can correct for balance, but the player also may not know what the designer has in mind. Many levels, or entire episodes, have a progressing difficulty and/or the first sections require you to build yourself up for the end. But you just don't know. One point in Duke3D I backed up 2 or 3 whole levels because I buzzed through and then it got tough. I don't think that was accidental, either.

What the health thing is is a way of providing a measured amount of slack. You must beat par to win. While losing health does not immediately kill you, I feel the sense of starting to lose when the health goes down and a relief when making it to the next oasis(somewhat based on perceived difficulty -- so this gets odd if the next section is unsurvivable with less than 90 health or something).

I experimented with a "restart shortcut" system (the shortcut part relates to the game restarting to the beginning first and the player moving through a shortcut from there, but could be done different). Using the shortcut to reenter the level at an advanced point requires an estimate of the normal player stats at that point. I make it harder than if the player beat the previous section soundly, but easier than if the player was in bad shape by the time they got the passcode. So dying is punishment if it was truly from the following section, but reward if the previous section was the main problem (which the player would be likely to do better on if they were required to repeat). This system does take some extra work to implement.

FFA deathmatch against many is an interesting case. Dying is the slippery slope effect only without much real effect immediately. Someone else gets the frag, but they could have gotten that frag more or less as easily by killing someone else. It's more a frag race. Dying slows you down by taking stuff away. Killing is what gets you points. Dying also means you need to go just a bit faster, but you can't make the race stop by not dying at all. (I really like the against-many version of botmatch -- it actually gets harder with more bots because strategy becomes harder to use.) 
"the newbie who is really not familiar with fps games who dies a lot won't see any of the extra goodies"

Yes, but wouldnt that add replay value rather than boring you by going through the same level all over again. Of course, like you said it does have scalability problems and I'm sure implementation itself would be quite difficult, but personally I think this is more the direction punishment should be. I disagree with gilt on the bonuses aspect, yes secrets are a bonus, and yes the player should be encouraged to find them. However, removal of bonuses as punishment doesnt necessarily mean that they are not integral to the game anymore. 
I'm going slightly off track here but, with respect to a punishment/reward system in FPS why not do away with "health-items" all together? Give the player an essence (or life force) sucking mechanism, whether as part of the character or via some technaddition to the body of the player. Thus, when the player kills an enemy, the residual life-forece of the enemy flows into the player.

The additional "life-force" might always be added to the players health level - even exceeding the notional player maximum (up to an actual maximum...say 200% of the notional amount), but reverting to the notional maximum in time as with MH in Quake.

Different enemies would deliver different amounts of "life-force", and maybe one of the meaner enemy could have an ability akin to the player thus allowing for battles over "life-force" based on proximity at the time of death. Graded skin changes to the beastie as it beats out the player for go juice would que the player as to how powerful the beastie is becoming.

This system would also give an added incentive for inaugurating in-fighting. Set 'em up against each other and then just sit back and soak up the rays :)

Other (non-health) power-ups (bonuses) would still remain an integral part of the game. 
RE: Hmmmm... 
Are you aware of Aliens vs. Predator? The alien gets health from the victims. More credit for head bites (yes!). No powerups. A bit different but must mention. 
Yeah, the headbite was a cool feature. Well, I enjoyed it anyway. It meant humans and preds were a source of health as well as being enemies; an intersting POV 
Splinter Cell 
Just completed it, and it required alot of saves as doing the same thing over just isn't fun.

I had one save called Dave one called scared and one called aa and they were all needed 
Save The World ... Kill Yourself ! 
The bottom line is the quality of a game. If its fun and balanced the save and death/health system isnt much of a problem imo 
"...when the player kills an enemy, the residual life-forece of the enemy flows into the player."

Just like in many old games killed enemies left health packs 
I dont see how that solves the death/punishment issue. Alice had a similar thing except that it was mana rather than health, and so was used as ammo basically (for all weapons). The idea can work but when you die, you still have the problem of replaying most the level. 
I think something I touched on in my last essay but didn't really expound upon as I should have is that balance is a relative term when it comes to sp. Something I find easy others may find hard, and vice versa, even with the same group of people in my skill level. A mapper can only map with a limited granularity of skill settings in mind (3 seems about right). Thus quick saves act as a cushion to the fact that you can't plan for every set of abilities and every play style.

So actually there are two things you can do about the problem of people replaying too much of the level after they die:
1) change the punishment scheme
2) change how difficulty affects the game world or how difficulty is determined

I think if you jigger around with both of them you won't have to do anything too radical. The problem of people forced to replay too much of the level when dying is what this thread has really become about, isn't it? 
You Could Do... 
like in descent, where you respawn with nothing, but can go back to where you were to pick up your 'spew' ... weapons, items, etc... 
as stated, it was slightly off-topic. Just an idea that might help balance the game *shrug*.

Never played AvP or Alice.

Bleh! To paraphrase Shambler; easy should be easy, normal should be challenging and hard should indeed be hard. 
re: bonuses as major part of game:
i don't know, but wouldn't bonuses, by thier very definition, be extraneous to the main game?

re: "The problem of people forced to replay too much of the level when dying is what this thread has really become about, isn't it?"

aard's health issue has more to do with lack of feedback. you're fine one mintute, and dead the next, with no real inbetween. 
lack of feedback is usually only an issue when there's instant deaths involved, I think watching your health go from 100 to 0 is feedback enough :)

The problem of course I guess is that you function the same as at 1 health as you do at 100 health (apart from player caution influences at lower health levels). 
That's Not A Problem 
Degrading player performance with health loss can lead to feedback situations (lose health->less effective->lose more health->...) that you probably don't want. (Unless you're sadistic. Which is always an option.) 
re: "I think watching your health go from 100 to 0 is feedback enough :)"

sure it's decent, but I tend to side with the idea that more feedback is better. the goal is to make the game feel more responsive.

and I think aard's choice of words, (ie: punishment) is a bad one. the designer is not against the gamer. feedback doesn't have to be negative.

it's just as good (if not more so) to do things like pumping up the music when the player's health is low. 
metl: you misunderstand my claim. of course armour is useful, it brings me further away from that single expression of punishment, i.e. death. But the armour itself doesn't do anything, still all the effect of having armour or not comes together in one single moment, where either the frustration (no quicksaves) or apathy (quicksaves) kicks in.

yup that is one other difficulty of the health system and Gilt also mentions this: any alternative system for saving need to take into account that certain saves may be "useless" because they were reached with 10 health with 10 instant hit monsters in the next room. I'd rather fix this with a different mechanism for health/death than by an eleborate save mechanism with multiple backtrack points.

Gilt: allowing powerups to be taken away from you is even worse, as it enhances chances of death (it is "slippery slope", as in the article someone referred to).
Yes in FPS you have very few things to work with, so maybe that's why maybe the gameplay should be extended with something that has exactly the purpose of giving more options for "punishment".
You may not like the word, please suggest something different, and I will happily adopt it. It is just you often express gameplay in terms what rewards and opposite of rewards are the consequence of the players actions (forced upon him by conflict). 
so, do we reward players when they do it the right way, or punish them when they misbehave.

or both? 
wrath: reward.

aard: I'll suggest the word feedback instead. but the word doesn't really matter, I just wanted to it make clear that 'punishment' doesn't (or even shouldn't) need to be a negative thing. perhaps it could just be a less positive thing then a reward, or be neutral.

And yeah my example, as it is, is broken. Hence the large disclaimer about "keeping it fair" at the end. But what is far more important then the example itself, is the idea that the focus of the conflict should be shifted somewhat away from just killing the player. 
Here's An Idea 
Here's something I though of while reading distran's post. I'm going to put it in the form of rpg because that's how I'm imagining it:

The player doesn't actually die. When he is attacked, he loses health, and eventually passes out and the battle ends if he reaches 0. The battles he enters and the monsters he encounters will be based on his current health. If his health is next to nill, he'll be fighting weak monsters. If his health is strong, he'll be fighting powerful monsters. The only way to heal himself is to defeat enemies. By killing enemies, he heals a bit more, which allows him to fight more powerful enemies, which will heal him even more than before. Somewhere around mid-health, a transition occurs where he no longer has an advantage over the enemy and it's more of a battle (the previous battles were playing cathup, but he could still lose occasionally).

The reason this is important is, the harder enemies produce more experience, more gold, better rewards alltogether. He can level up faster, and build up his defenses and abilities better. He may also need to be at a certain level to progress through the story line, fight a boss, etc. There may also be certain enemies which do not alter their difficulty based on the player's health (so the player has no chance of defeating them until he builds himself to full health again).

The monster difficulty has a random range of about 20%: they can be 10% more powerful, or 10% less powerful, than the player. The player can choose to engage in battles that are risky, or run away (he would be penalized in health, but not as much as if he got the crap beat out of him). If he fights a risky battle and loses, he can lost most or all of his health and be back to low-level, low-development again.

Whaddya think?

BTW, I think you guys are looking at the health issue the wrong way. The glass is actually half-full. I can run around getting punished by losing health, and as long as I don't hit 0, I'm fine. I can run around with next to no health in quake, and as long as I don't get hit, I can get away with it. That's rather encouraging, isn't it? >;)

I like Front Mission 3 (strategy rpg), where you can lose an arm or your legs, and you only lose the functionality of the weapons equipped on that arm, or their legs don't work well so they can barely walk, but if you lose the mech's body, it's over, no matter how healthy the other parts are. 
Under a certain light, knowing when to quicksave is something of a skill. Ideally, the player won't know exactly what is comming up next, but should be given an idea when he has a moment to breathe. There's a certain limit on how much damage you can take before quicksaving becomes risky, which is another skill a player should pick up.

It's probably not fair to the player to be forced to pick up such a skill, but that's another matter. 
pushplay: I'd be careful with that argument. you're just a hop away from saying that a bad UI is good, since battling with it adds a whole new mini-game to the play. 
No, I covered that in the last sentance. Also, I wouldn't say that the saving mechanism falls under UI. 
sure, you can have a game with just rewards. It is just that in an fps, the rewards are pretty weak, in fact, progress (seeing a new area) is the only real reward. Finding items is not a strong reward, not in the sense that finding items in an RPG is, anyway. Most of the feedback in an FPS is negative. You are welcome to suggest more kinds of positive feedback to build on.

wazat: I really quite like your idea, but as you say it sounds more suitable for an RPG. Also you would need a good way to explain how come same-looking monsters can suddenly be much stronger than before (can feel frustrating), or you need to have a large amount of monsters that scale nicely (but then you need to explain why monsters are placed differently every time.

Also, your level design etc. must be such that monsters can walk away after they have slain you, and you can regain consciousness and health without being immediately attacked again (as it would be quite cool doing all this without having to respawn at a different spot in the level).

One problem in an RPG is that it does take away some incentive. Yes you get more gold/experience by playing well, but why do you want more experience? so you can slay the more difficult monsters more efficienly as you need this for future quests. But if you die a lot and monsters stay at the weakest level, then you can finish all quests and the game being weak, probably at almost the same pace as an expert player. This takes away some incentive. In classic RPGs, if you suck at slaying monsters you have to compensate by taking much longer slaying a lot of weak ones / doing side quests to increase your experience, so you can trade off skill for time. This gives a very strong incentive for playing good and collecting as much experience as possible. 
Unfortunately you're right. I tried to cover myself by saying you would have to be at a certain level to progress through the game, but that's a weak argument. And it would be terribly difficult to do in fps as well.

You're also right about items not being nearly as strong a reward in fps as in rpg. It's really tricky trying to give the player any enjoyable rewards that don't make the game too easy, without making the game too hard without them to compensate.

I think Quake2 had some good ideas though. The adrenaline is a wimpy bonus alone, but since they build up over the course of the game, you can slowly increase your max hp by 20% or so. When used in chorus with the health items that heal beyond your health, and with armor that protects quite well, the player can go far in giving himself a very protective buffer to prepare for whatever surprises or challenges the game may present.

Things that will stay with the player permanently are usually pretty good. Things that gradually enhance defense, health, ammo capacity, attack power, or provide the player with additional abilities beyond just a new weapon will go far to make the player feel that he's benefiting from his hard work, in a greater sense than avoiding failure.

Some ideas:

Minimum armor upgrades: The player has to pick up armor, and when it's gone, it's gone. But with these upgrades, the player will develop a minimum amount of armor that will begin to regenerate several seconds after he stops taking damage (the player finishes killing the enemy or escapes, and 5 seconds later his armor begins to regenerate from 0 to 20 yellow).

Abilities: When the player can learn and equip abilities, based on experience from killing enemies or progressing through the game, he has even more incentive to kill and charge forward than just to get through or get some ammo. If the player has a certian number of slots he can fill with abilities (the number of which can be expanded by certain activities) and each ability takes a certain number of those slots to equip (4/10 slots etc), there's now more involved than point, shoot, run. He now has more abilities than he can equip at one time, and needs to decide which are valuable to his particular situation. It gets more interesting when the "equip slots" are not based on him, but instead on his weapon. Now he can choose which abilities to equip on the rocket launcher versus the abilities he chooses to give his shotgun. Perhaps the player also has slots that affect him personally, or affect all weapons to a lesser degree etc.

Abilities can range from greater damage, lower ammo cost, ammo regeneration, instant death (each attack has a certain small percent chance of instantly killing the enemy based on how much damage it's doing versus the enemy health), faster attack rate, slowing surrounding opponents' movements and attacks, etc. Notice that many of these abilities are similar to rune abilities in many mods. You don't have to go far for ideas.

The difference between this and runes is how it's presented. Runes you just find and use. Abilities you earn, equip, and manage. And they're permanent, unlike runes. 
A, Character Progression 
the boon of so many concept design meetings.

you know what? fuck character progression, fuck character driven games and don't stop fucking until they rot.

If I wan't character progression I'll play a RPG. Easy as that.
YOU should learn to bunny-jump, YOU should learn how to utilize the environments, YOU should learn how to rocket-jump. Why give all that to your in-game avatar? The pro of putting the player in the big seat is that I can go over to my friends house and kick his ass in halo or super smash bros, instead of moping around about how much whoop I'd handed him if I had my 'Conan the Barber'-character here.

If you're doing a deus ex or a baldur's gate. Fine, gimme stats up the ass. But in a straight on-a-rail shooter? Fuck off.

This, coupled with the 'story-driven' fad is one of the reasons we have so many shitty games. Too many jackasses with a "vision", not enough game-designers willing to work out good solid game-play mechanics to build upon. 

I agree with you on the more intelligent parts of the case you seem to be making. Parts of them, anyway. 
Informative post.

"I agree with some of what you said, but I won't tell you what parts. Also, who I'm replying too will be shrouded in mystery." 
Your point about having the player gain skills instead of the character/avatar is an important one. However, there are skills that players learn in RPGs and use to succeed. Instead of combat skills like timing and aim, skills like character management and battle deployment are the focus.

Also, i hope you recognize that even in a game like quake, there are obstacles that can be overcome only by equipping your character. Sure, you don't need to get to level 30 so you can beat a boss, but m4d sk1llz won't open a locked door -- you need a key, which is something that your character aquires, not something the player learns. And, you aquire it just like you would a magic spell or a bunch of experience points -- by covering ground and fighting guys. 
well, since you have to design for the lowest common denominator, lovingly refered to as "bird-brains", you can't really make character management a skill per se. The game can't stop your progression just because you misplaced a few experience points on account that you didn't now what the game would throw at you around the corner.
It must always give you a fighting chance, even though your skill-tree is but a revoltingly ugly bonzai-shrub.

and your quake argument don't really hold up, since the "equip" you are talking about is a standard argument from the designers as to why the player has to haul ass across the level instead of saying "to hell with it" and blow the door to pieces.

To me, it's not equipment if you HAVE to have it to get past a certain place, then it's just a bottleneck requirement.

However, using the door example, say that the game uses lockpicks, and you have chosen to carry around a battery of those instead of toting around a gun the size of a small pacific island, then perhaps one can say there is some equipment skill involved. Get the blue key or use your lockpicks. 
And, On Topic 
the designers should always, always, implement save anywhere.
there is nothing so frustrating, so pointlessly irritating than sitting down and enjoying a game only to have to find a god damn save station or checkpoint just because I'm fucking tired and I wanna go to bed.

Metroid prime suffers from this, which is really sad, beacuse between that and the controls (and I'm sure they chose this method based on extensive internal testing) the game is on par with halo. only with morphing and a cool character design. Halo on the other hand has vehicles and huge fuck-off outdoor environments. It's a toss up really, I enjoy them both. Bungies game uses a pretty nifty save system, the next best thing after save anywhere.

On the Metroid Prime tangent, I'd have loved to see how a 3rd person MP would've played like. With the camera behind Samus, Enclave style. 
RE: #66 
pushplay: "Under a certain light, knowing when to quicksave is something of a skill.[...]It's probably not fair to the player to be forced to pick up such a skill, but that's another matter."

One of the first skills I picked up ;) . 
So, Metl And Wrath 
What would you think of a Quake level that begins in a large atrium with four doors. One is obviously the exit, one a GK door, one a SK door and the last a normal door.

The exit door can be opened immediately upon pushing a switch twice. The message on first push is something like "A horde awaits behing these doors! Are you sure you wish to proceed?"

Now the player with "m4d sk1llz" might say yes and proceed into a single frantic battle before exiting, but players of lesser ability have the choice to explore all or part of the rest of the level and "equip" themselves with better weapons, armour etc. to a level that they feel comfortable with, before attempting the final fracas.

No need for difficulty settings here. The player decides when they're good enough to go the final sequence. This sort of "hub" level might be expanded such that behind each door there is also choice on how much or little of that section the player completes. So, although I agree with the "save anywhere" principle, in this type of level at least, one could disable open saves and restrict "auto saves" to the" last time through the central hub." And feedback to the player is basically "Your skillz are not m4d enough...either die again, go practice, or pick up some more equipment before trying the final fracas." 
aard: to read your description of FPSes, it would seem that only masochists with perhaps a taste for eye candy, would play them. hmm....

Anyway why do people like FPSes in the first place? maybe a good reward should be based on those things.

going back to my example, where the player and enemy are fighting over something: if the player is always getting the thing, then maybe reward them by increasing the challenge. or if the player is never getting the thing, decrease the challenge, and maybe add some humor or something. maybe make the monster do a turkey dance in celebration, or have it trip and fall giving the thing over to the player, or whatever. just a kind of nod to the fact that yeah, you as the player suck, but you made an effort so continue on.

also, you made a comment about the incentive of increasing one's experience/skill. But I wonder why not create incentive for the player to simply enjoy themselves? Sure, for the those powergamers out there, experince/skill goes hand-in-hand with enjoyment. However the vast majority of players are skilless shmucks who are only playing the game to soak in the atmosphere, or for whatever other reason. one of the best rewards, is to have the game be responsive to what the player wants.

plus why would you ever want to punish your customer in a single player game? I think, in a way, wrath put it best when he asked whether or not the player should be punished when they misbehave. Of course in a single player game, how can one misbehave? Can one grief themeselves? and if so, is the correct solution really to punish those poor confused people? 
distrans: as a reasonably hardcore gamer I would still want to go through all the rooms and see what's what, but then I would get bored because of the lack of challenge. And why do I want a level consisting of a single battle royale? If I wanted that I could have made 60 of those maps in as many minutes.

Gilt: that is totally the system I was describing way up there ^^^. 
Better Idea. 
The better YOU play, the tougher the game gets. Conversely, if YOU suck, the game is easy.

Yes I know Max Payne did this, and it was a terrible idea for a game that had both massive system req's and hordes dead-eye shot enemies with hitscan weapons. I watched my roommate play one single firefight at least 10 times before he figured out how to do it without dying or living with 15 health, all at ~20fps. Not exactly my idea of fun.

I'm not sure how skills would be implemented in a fluid system like this... maybe they wouldn't be. Actually, i think it is more the keyboard mouse combo that is the major restriction here. Has anybody played Devil May Cry or Devil May Cry 2 (PS2). DMC2 sucked, but that's irrelevant. What I wanted to point out was the control system, obviously optimized for the PS2 controller, one that allowed the skilled player to perform combos, backflip, mid-air stunts, etc... quite entrancing to watch. It's like dueling in Quake... you might live by just firing away, but the true master has a massive back of tricks. In other words, skills should be acquired through learning the system of controls, not gaining levels (or a hybrid: at a certain level, you gain the use of a new button, that enables new attacks/combos to be performed).

What I'm getting at is, the gameplay experience might be ultimately far more enjoyable if all the mechanics and configuration (like learning and setting skills in an RPG game) faded into the background, leaving a seamless experience that you could just PLAY, whatever your skill level, and be challenged.

Hmmm, perhaps that's impossible. That's my response to Wazat's post (#70), hopefully more levelheaded than wrath's... I felt that the skill setup we were defining was a bit too complicated.

So back to the original question of this thread, on saving and dying. I like the idea of not dying at all. If you can't die then the necessity of saving vanishes, and saves can pretty much be done whenever. One game mentioned was GTA3, another with a slightly nonstandard system I can think of is Metal Gear Solid/2: when you load a save game, you start at the beginning of the room you saved in, so you can't save your way through a tough room, you have to treat it as a whole. On the reverse side, dying also returns you to the beginning of the room you died in, so by segmenting the game, less is put at stake at one time, relieving save anxiety.

I think the best way to implement some of this stuff would be in a totally nonstandard game environment, with none of the standard clich�s. That way, removing all the standard FPS gameplay conventions wouldnt feel as forced or odd.

I can envision a game taking place in some kind of "realm of light," or hyperspace, or something, where your enemies are superdimensional entities instead of demons and army grunts. Maybe they would glow a given amount, based on their relative health? That way you could implement something like what Aard was talking about, a variable health system. Since this is a higher dimension, maybe the enemies can't kill you, just make you really weak so you have to retreat and recharge. Or you just get sent back your home base (like GTA3 hospitals). Or maybe space has no meaning to beings like you so you can go wherever you want to instantly, so being "sent" somewhere is meaningless. =) I can imagine "weapons" having a similarly nonstandard function, maybe you absorb the enemies and take them back to your home base. It's like single player CTF!

OK, I'm out of ideas. My writer's block should be cleared, now back to doing the paper I'm supposed to be writing. ;) 
Original Question Be Damned 
<quote>The better YOU play, the tougher the game gets.</quote>

That's elastic band AI and no body likes it. There's joy in beating a difficult level, but there's also joy in totally raping a level you once found difficult. And the computer will happily suffer embarassing loss after embarassing loss. 
"you know what? fuck character progression, fuck character driven games and don't stop fucking until they rot."

Aren't you working on one? :) 
Exactly. EXACTLY! 
wazat: again, same problem that the crappy players don't get the goodies, which makes them even crappier on the next level (slippery slope). This is even worse when they are "abilities" because you may actually need them at some point. FPS games have a fixed difficulty, apart from the initial difficulty setting, whereas in RPGs not giving someone certain items or skills just means he has to work longer to get them.

wrath: we're not discussing about making an FPS into an RPG. We (atleast I) are just interested in how we can improve the situation that if you have quicksave you don't really care if you die anymore, and if you don't have them it is frustrating. Btw, I hate story driven FPS games as much as you do. And Btw2 a lot of the architecture in Enclave totally rocks, if you did any of it then congrats.

Gilt: I guess the reason I like to play an FPS is two fold:
- the adrenaline rush of intense fights
- on the one side the first person perspective combined with great environments is a wonderful sensation already, the feeling to be in some interesting new place.. until recently, FPS was the strongest genre for this, though recently RPGs have been doing even better in this area.

how to reward the second one is clear... how to reward the first one less so. Variable difficulty as many people are suggesting I don't feel is the answer, it reduces your incestive to play well. One thing one could vary without hurthing the incentive is how aggressively monsters look for you and hunt you down: good players would get more intensity and bad ones more time to catch their breath, even though the amount of monsters and their strength stays the same. Still, that is not a full solution.

And this is not an issue for "hardcode gamers" only... millions of people have played the "final fantasy" games, and I would guess that almost all of them were driven by increasing their stats/items.

You seem to be still very concerned with the word "punishment"... it is just a way to describe negative feedback. Almost every game genre has it, many even very strongly, and it still sells, even to non-SM customers. "mario" games punish you relentlessly if you fail to make a certain jump, time and time again, and still people love these games for it. They wouldn't be as popular without it. 
"And Btw2 a lot of the architecture in Enclave totally rocks, if you did any of it then congrats."

I came in very late in the dev cycle - and I hardly contributed anything on the architecture. I'll, as always, pass the praise along to the people deserving it. 
A Game Where You Don't Die... 
Ever played Riven or Myst? ;)

Regarding player development, it's a tricky one. Yes it is quite hard to make it so that the player doesn't have to spend too much time learning abilities just to get through. Ideally the player could just play off skill and never bother with his abilities (or rarely) if he wished; but then the game would be too easy for those who did use their abilities or bothered to develop a little.

Also, I understand wrath's stance regarding player equality. Sometimes you just want to jump into a game and be on physically equal terms with your opponent - it's all about skill. No spending time developing your character, finding stuff or learning abilities. You just jump in, grab the best weapon you can find and send your opponent to the meat grinder before he does it to you. That's what fps is all about to me.

On the other hand, it doesn't hurt to explore other options. This is how new games and ideas are found: people were willing to step outside of the little circle drawn in the dirt and explore a little. Yea, some fell down cliffs and hurt themselves, and we all have to put up with their endless legacy of failure stinking like a rotting carcas (dead or crippled sequals, bad game designs, and ideas that just plain sucked). But we have a long line of excellent rewards, too.
So let's not be so quick to f*** things we don't like. Hopefully you have a girlfriend that would consent to that, for the computer's sake. 
those are excellent games, with the right approach to it. You don't die, you just don't progress.

Explore all you want, but please, pretty please, explore it early in your development so if it sucks you can throw it out in time. 
Sorta Re: #79 
For me the reward of FPS, other than overcoming challenge, can be summed up as: doing stuff with excellent control and visuals.

Nonstandard saves: one example I can think of is Jaguar AvP. Loading randomly respawned all enemy and normal powerups (it's nonlinear). So you could save anywhere but it wasn't a good idea to save anywhere but the elevator. At least a "safe" save. I left the machine on a lot.

The adaptive skill system was first used on the Atari arcade Red Baron in 1980 or so. Every time it has been used, it has been critisized.

Making "games" without challenge, i.e. that aren't really games, is potentially a good thing. The format of "computer interactive thingie" is adaptive as the big box that accepts quarters I mentioned earlier.

But I found an interesting thing when I made levels with a nonstandard difficulty selector: people would complain about it being too hard, but no one would try easy (or at least admit to it, and since using easy is "duh" when it's too hard, no one would admit to not trying easy either).

And as to Mario, yes, people talk about how they played one bit all night BECAUSE it was so damn frustrating. I "had to" beat a Quake level on Nightmare because the designer said it probably couldn't be done. 
damn, I knew there was something wrong with it when I was typing it up, :p

re: aard, prob with word, punishment:
yeah, I seem to be rehashing old ideas. I guess I keep on getting caught on it because I don't consider something punishment if there is an implied payoff afterwards. 
1 607 M4d $k1LLZ 
spentron: "The adaptive skill system ..[snip].. Every time it has been used, it has been critisized.

people would complain about it being too hard, but no one would try easy"

yeah I'm curious as to how much the dislike for adaptive skill systems is simply due to machoism. It'd be interesting to see what would happen if a game implemented a good adaptive system, except made it seem like it only used the normal way of, easy/normal/hard. 
An adaptive skill system could work if it analyzed the playing in some way and didn't react to health or other scoring factors. To do this really right might require considerably more AI than is currently available though (could you watch a player and estimate their experience independent of actual performance at the moment?). Other possibility is keep it subtle or mainly based on early in the game (automatic more than adaptive).

This is getting away from saving though. One possible complaint about saving is it makes it artificially easy; making things even easier if you die is no solution to that one. 
" a reasonably hardcore gamer I would still want to go through all the rooms and see what's what..."

I never said these "rooms" would be empty =) 
distrans: but my point was that if they were meant for newbies I would get bored in there.

gilt: :P 
Any one remembers resurrection 'rune' from Nehahra - it revives you, unless you were gibbed or felt into the lava/void, and gives about 2 sec protection. Not bad eh ? 
Would an adaptive skill system for Quake be that hard to implement?

Button pushing and key grabbing are well entrenched. So why not start the level on "easy". If the player chews through all the enemy in the first section of a level within a certain time limit and arrives at at button driven door to enter the next section with all the available weapon pickups for the previous section, health above say 75%, ammo within say 75% of the minimum to clear the previous section and has cleared 75% of the bonuses available in the previous section then trigging the door changes the difficulty level of the next section to "normal", and so a short amount of time really good players will be doing it on "nightmare", but the lamers (puts hand up) will still be battling through on "easy".

The reward for the player with m4d ski77z is a tougher game, but only ever as tough as him/her so negative feedback is minimized.

Just a thought. 
If dying is such a problem, how come so many reviews consider an overabundance of health to be a bad thing? 
people who write reviews are hardcore l33t gamerz, not average game buying joes.

Sadly, too many games today cater to the hardcore crowd. 
I'm sure there are many ways to create variable skill settings, but I'm more interested in why it's considered bad conceptually. here is the list I've got so far, and of course the validity of all the points are arguable:

for variable skill settings
- fluid challenge and gameplay

against vss
- no incentive to play well
- can't measure one's skill

speedy: sounds like a console game.

aard: I forgot to reply to this.
millions of people have played the "final fantasy" games, and I would guess that almost all of them were driven by increasing their stats/items.
if you mean that they were driven to keep on progressing through the game, I have to disagree. I think story and great enviroments, play a much larger role in that. A better example might have been pokeman, but then again, kids are probably the most hardcore players out there.

the incentive to play well has to partly be a natural one. If it isn't, one would just cheat. so, I don't think a good variable skill system would reduce one's incentive. in fact it would should help it, as the challenge grows with the players skills. 
But with your timelimit it wouldn't work really well on people that are skilled but like to stay around for a while and look at geometry and textures...

wrath: err really? I thought almost all games weren't caterered to the hardcore gamers since they are only a very small part of the market.

Too few games that really offer a good challange imo (then again I don't play many new games). 
I agree, but on the other side of the coin, even more games today cater to the much larger group of blind llamas who still don't understand this whole "more than 1 button" thing. But they're not worth playing anyway... ;)

I enjoy games as they are mostly difficult. If it gets real hard, I spend some time getting getter. However, if it gets the point of just being annoying and rediculous, like Shinobi on PS2 (had to replay the level from start if you died, which was very often and annoying), then it's ok because I rent most console games and I download demos of most pc games anyway. I just take it back and add the company to my list of people to kill.

Shinobi was annoying because of the timelimit, and the maze-like feeling of the levels, and the iffy-ness of the controls when you're trying to do the simplest of things. This would have been a very effective arcade game to force people to pump quarters, but I doubt people would be patient that long. But I digress.

I'm one of those people who enjoys a good challenge, especially when I find a game I like and get good at it. I want to know I can still enjoy it in the future without having to invite 4 friends over for the rare LAN party.

But if it's too hard, or just gimmicky with the number of times you die, then that's a major turn-off. 
I enjoy games as they are mostly difficult

I enjoy difficult games mostly as they are.

^is what happens when I am mal-nurished 
getting getter = getting better

Where the hell am I today? 
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