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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.
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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 
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