Why have video games gone to this autosave system instead of letting us create our own saves?

Never having played any Assassin’s Creed games before, I picked up Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection a few months ago when it was on sale for $25. I’ve played through ACII and Brotherhood, and started Revelations about 2 weeks ago. I got about 75% of the way through the game, but when I was playing last night, immediately after finishing a main story mission, the application crashed, with my PS4 giving me the error code CE-34878-0. Restarting the game just resulted in the same crash. Doing some searching online, finding this is a general error and not specific to this game, I encountered suggestions to restore my save game data from the cloud, delete and reinstall the game, and finally, re-initialize my PS4. Well, the first 2 didn’t work, so today I reinitialized my PS4. After reinstalling the game and downloading my save game data… the same crash, with the same error code. People online were also saying it could be corrupt save game data and there could be nothing for it but to start the game over.

This got me thinking, if this had been Fallout 4 or one of the Naughty Dog games, if one save game file got corrupted, I could just reload the previous save. Sure, I might have to replay that one mission, but that would beat the choice I now face: give up on the game, or start over and play all those hours again. Why are video games companies doing this to us? What advantage does this checkpoint/autosave system have? Why can’t we just save the game when we want, creating multiple save files?

Moving over to the Game Room for you.

I mean, just because a game autosaves doesn’t mean you CAN’T save. I love autosaving because I’m lazy and I always forget to save after missions, then I die and get super pissed when I have to replay a ton of things (lookin’ at you Mass Effect 1). But even in the newest games, you can still save. Why don’t you just save periodically just in case? I do all the time. Whenever I shut the game off I ALWAYS manually save.

Not always the case. On PC, both Mad Max and Shadow of Mordor only allow autosaves. There is no manual save option.

There’s no manual save on World of Warcraft, either. I freaking love autosave.

ETA: And many games, especially turn-based games, do offer access to multiple autosaves. The Civ games are one example of this.

Mainly, for the same reason a lot of games switched from healthpacks to regenerating health and open mazes (e.g.: Doom, Duke) to gauntlet corridors: It makes it easier for the developer to tightly control the experience of the player, lead the needier players by the hand, err on the side of convenience vs options for the player and prevent save scumming.

The new Doom game only autosaved at certain points. It forced the player to concentrate on not fucking up at all, or else you’d have to start the whole scene again. I see the purpose of not allowing the player to save each time an individual bad guy is killed when fighting many, but man it makes getting killed frustrating.

Why not, in the single-player campaign? If I’m saving after every kill, how does that affect your game? Why should you care if another player, in single-player, is saving so often? Do these games allow single player rewards/progress transfer to multi-player (in which case I could understand)?

Personally, many times when I’m playing, I may be called away unexpectedly. I’d rather save then pause, just in case something craps out (a frequent occurrence in my heavily modded Fallout 4), especially if I’m alt-tabbing and running other things and coming back hours later. Having to wait for an autosave is a nuisance, and any game that autosaves before a cut-scene/long dialog is a f’n p.i.t.a. whose developers should be thrown into an active volcano.

Save point systems are easy to implement. “Save anywhere,” means you need to track the state of a ton of objects - where’s each guard located, how much health do they have, do they know where the player is, is the player in the middle of doing something, etc. etc. Save points drastically reduce the number of things you need to track. This is both easier to implement and generally safer for the end-user. The more things there are to track in a save file, the more likely an error is going to get recorded, breaking the game. While it sucks that your save game was ruined, the developer has to choose between a system that fails catastrophically for a very small number of players, versus something that will fail at varying levels of severity for a large number of players.

Save anywhere doesn’t guarantee you won’t get a save bug that breaks your game, either. Hell, just last week I had to abandon a game of Total War: Warhammer II because my save file got glitched in a way that didn’t manifest itself until I hit a particular cut scene - but the glitch happened some hours or more before I hit that particular cut scene. I may have eventually found a save file from before it glitches, but how many hours would I have had to waste playing the game up to that cutscenes, crashing, and restoring to an even earlier point to try again? I’ve had similar problems with Fallout and Elder Scroll games.

I think World of Warcraft is a great example of what I thought when I saw the thread question, with its known intentional methods of trying to addict players.

Pulling up a menu and saving provides a natural stopping point for a game where you’ll likely consider turning it off and going to do something else. If, on the other hand, the game always autosaves, it provides a seamless real-time experience with the action *always happening and the game never pausing.

With no manual saves you’re likely to stay in the game longer and become more engaged with it, a definite win for the game developers especially in subscription and in-game purchase models, but to a lesser extent also for games where you buy everything up front. You’re far more likely to recommend a game you’ve spent umpteen hours in versus a game you saved, decided to quit, and didn’t feel a significant urge to go back to.

Daggerfall had to be the worst regarding that. But it was such an awesome game, far ahead of its contemporaries. I loved that broken game.

You can’t save an MMORPG because its a live multiplayer experience. You can only log out. Your character will be where you left it but everything else will be different.

I’m aware; I used to be a WoW player. Just a convenient example of a system with lots of features built-in for the purpose of trying to reinforce addictive tendencies.

Most of the games I’ve played since getting a PS4 have been these open-world action-adventure games, and AFAIK all of them–as opposed to RPGs like Falllout 4, or non-open-world games like the Uncharted games–have had autosaves at checkpoints only, with only one save file per user, and no manual saves. All the Ubisoft games (the Assassin’s Creed series, Watch Dogs 1 & 2,) Metal Gear Solid V, and Rise of the Tomb Raider were all like that.

I’m pretty sure the only way I was able to beat Eternal Darkness was by saving after each melee.

Something similar happened to me with the Family Guy VG on PS2 - I died immediately after a save point about halfway through, and every time the game resumed from that save, a game glitch made it impossible to get past the next scene.

This isn’t new. This goes back decades. Usually it’s called the checkpoint system. It requires the player to reach a level of skill that they can beat an entire sequence of enemies and obstacles without screwing up, instead of being barely good enough to pass each individual enemy/obstacle once, quicksaving every 5 feet.

Its a reasonable choice that game developers can make. Grand Theft Auto has always done this, and it makes certain missions very thrilling and exciting because you have to beat a whole sequence without crashing a car too many times or some other challenge.

The game Alien : Isolation uses this to great effect. See a phone that you can pick up to save? Don’t sprint for it, as tempting as salvation may appear, it’s probably a trap.

But yes, the flip side of the coin is that when you hit a particularly hard mission, one where the checkpoint was placed a long time ago, it can be extremely frustrating.

It is not a reasonable choice if you have real world responsibilities and can be interrupted at anytime.

Not every game is for everyone. Also, even checkpoint style games almost always let you pause.

I think my first experience of this was the checkpoint system in the original Halo on Xbox. I found it a bit frustrating at first but I think I’ve grown used to it to the point that even on games that let me have multiple saves I tend to just run with the autosave or quick-save. In X-Com I functionally run it in Ironman mode even though I don’t have Ironman selected. I use the one save and avoid reloading an old save unless there’s some reason out of my control like a bug.

I’m playing horizon Zero Dawn at the moment which lets you save only at campfires. The option is there for manual saves (i.e., a separate save file) but I just go with the quick-save.

I think the way the PS4 can be put into rest mode with the game suspended has made it so that game saves are a minor priority for me. I play until I have to stop, then I just put the PS4 to sleep. When I start it again I can play from exactly where I left off. The down side is that a power outage will shut it down completely and I will have to start from the save but that is a rare occurrence.