View Full Version : Save files in the Saga?

Slimsy Platypus
09-24-2013, 04:43 PM
There's been some interesting discussion here and there about how saving will work in The Banner Saga, so I figured I'd get the conversation going here with my favorite fellow Vikings! :)

In summary, there are a couple different saving options:

A: Have the option to generate a save "block" anytime, that can be reloaded at any time (e.g. Shining Force, Fire Emblem, XCOM)
B: Generate a file when you start a play through where your progress saves at various intervals; if not initiated automatically, this effectively becomes A (e.g. Diablo, WoW)
C: Have the option to choose A or B, potentially via the options tied into a difficulty setting or when starting a "game block"

The key difference between the two is that in A, you can effectively revert back to a save after making a wrong decision and have the chance to start over. Which sounds good, but can lead to stints of irritating gameplay. B fixes the pitfall of A, but at the expense of control.

For whatever it's worth, my personal preference is either B or C, because from my past experiences I KNOW that I will find myself doing things that are un-fun, at the expense of a slightly more optimal play through. Here's a couple of my experiences that tie into my personal preference.

Fire Emblem: this game brought permanent death to your characters to the turn based strategy scene. Rather than carefully thought out turn based gameplay (for me at least), it brought very quick trips to the reset button whenever a character died. Mass frustration ensued when a unit died at the very end of the battle, or it occurred several times forcing me to play the same content many times in a row. Excessive mass frustration ensured when a unit died, then you realized you haven't saved for the last couple battles.

XCOM: The first time I heard of the term "save scum" was XCOMM. Units have permanent death, and the way the gaming systems were developed cause optimal combat performance (i.e. retaining unit power-ups) not to be achieved/retained if your units die. Coupled with a moderate difficulty and designed randomness (limited vision, critical hits, and "ambushing") unit deaths were common. Players that wanted to strive for an optimum play through, would play the same content many times, until the randomness worked favorably. Playing the same content over and over again and losing was not fun, and there was a large negative reaction by the community after it's release (after learning of the willpower fueled "quit resetting" mode, the game was substantially more fun; at least for me personally - but this occurred months after me putting the game down in frustration).

My fear, is that the perception of outcomes being bad in The Banner Saga will force me to feel like I need to reset my game and play through the same battle multiple times to get to a crucial decision point to do it right. I know and hope that my willpower fixes this alone. But when my beautifully bearded Warhawk dies, will I submit to un-fun things to get him back?.. probably yes. Will this deter from the other positives in the gameplay... who knows at this point?

Let's discuss!

09-24-2013, 06:42 PM
We're taking a bit of a hybrid approach to saving currently and once we get more testing done with it I'd be happy to weigh in on why we chose it. It's a bit premature to go into details right now though as, who knows, it may change before we ship. :)

09-24-2013, 07:13 PM
i'd say it's also important to consider how a developer would want his game to be played.

my feel is he'd like an exclusive one save file which autosaves/overwrites after every choice and before every battle, allowing to go back and retry the very last battle but not redoing any choices.

he'd probably like his game to be played straight from start to finish (except maybe for the last battle, that could be retried) and he would like the player to go through the whole caravan's endeavours to the end and live with the choices he made and all the consequences which, according to what we've heard Stoic say, is an important part of the game's leit motiv.

only after getting to the end you could start another new save file. so you would play the game again from start, another playthrough. with this unforgiving save system replayability grows, i guess, this is also important from a developers point of view.

else with a 'normal' saving system the temptation to go back choose another option is too strong. since in The Banner Saga decisions matter that much.. i bet in a whole playthrough very few people will resist to go back change something at least once or twice.

now i know this is not the saving system most backers would choose, i know there's also the need to please the player base. so which one is it going to be ? the "you will play my game as it is intended" or "i will allow players to play as they please even if this way some people won't immerse themselves in the experience".

all of this is related somehow to the big discussion about if medium should leveled with audience or not. i believe people learn and adapt and if you give them 'easy' then just out of pure comfort/lazyness they get used to it and won't progress. in this particular subject if you allow the option to go back and redo ( specially with a script that is going to pull 'unwanted' ugly scenarios on you after every corner ) .. lots and lots of players will press rewind.

considering all, if it was my game i'd say don't allow it. play it like a book, like a film. this is the story with its ups and downs. want different ? get to the end then start anew.

but what do i know and i may be going out of topic so i'll leave it there.

09-26-2013, 06:12 AM
My previously expressed opinions on the subject quite match balnoisi's -- Let there be one save-slot per-Saga, that auto-saves at each decision and before battles (or even after each turn inside the battle). That way, you are kinda forced to play through the whole game, or fail trying, in order to be given the option to create a second Saga, i.e. a second play-thru. Many will hate this, even myself I'm sure, but in the end it's sure to be a truly timeless & memorable experience :rolleyes:

I have two more things to throw at this discussion:

How about the save/load being tied into the lore of the game? They've talked about those cairn-stones (?) that are somehow connected to monitoring your progress (?) or asking favors from the gods (?) etc. I imagine some sort of bending the fabric of time (Menders!) and returning to some point in the past, potentially undoing specific things or actually replaying it all, once more. Obviously this kind of "miracle" could be invoked a limited number of times, and only once you've "unlocked" it by reaching a specific part of the story.
I'd love to see some sort of memoire, book of scroll of each Saga we play, or even generated as we play it. That is, all the parts of the story (I mean all choices, all little things, deaths and loves and treacheries etc) falling in one kind of text, log or calendar that is actually a record of a specific play-through. I understand that there's a lot of literary work involved for that, but it can still be worth it. This can be imported on the following Chapters of the Saga to diversify their starting conditions...

09-26-2013, 12:08 PM
I'd love to see some sort of memoire, book of scroll of each Saga we play, or even generated as we play it.

Or, maybe, a Banner? :)

09-27-2013, 06:33 AM
I wonder if they can get banner stuff in actually. There's still quite a number of things they need to polish/iron out that the banner story log feature might be fafetched for the first chapter.

I'm with Bal and Aleo on the playing through with the choices you've made. The only thing more I think I might add is that I would want the game to game me over if I get into a vicious cycle which I couldn't recover from. I mean I hope there are clear points which force the player to start a new play thru and not prolong his/her agony :p if it comes down to it :)

If the choices made put you into deep sh*t and we'll your journey ends prematurely...well that's also a valid end right?

09-27-2013, 06:41 AM
... I would want the game to game me over if I get into a vicious cycle which I couldn't recover from. I mean I hope there are clear points which force the player to start a new play thru and not prolong his/her agony :p if it comes down to it :)

I all depends on the nature of the vicious cycle. If it means that the battles will only get harder-and-harder or that things/options will only get worse-and-worse, then surely there should be a hard-end, I agree. However, if it is always (albeit remotely) possible to "win back" even after a series of bad events/choice, then, by all means, please... Bring-the-Pain! :p

09-27-2013, 06:44 AM
Yep that sounds good to me :)