Anger Management #5: Save Games

Let me have them, you massive, massive wankers.

By which I mean: if you are a games developer, or publisher, or distribution platform, or hardware platform, and you decide to restrict your players’ ability to copy, backup or otherwise move their saves around, you are an unforgivable, small-minded cretin.

If you tie your saves to anything which relies on the player being online, or having access to a unique identifier tied to their system, you are an unforgivable, small-minded cretin.

If you conceal the location of your saves, force them to be saved on a specific drive letter ignoring the install path of the game they’re tied to or the location of Windows’ libraries, you are an unforgivable, small-minded cretin.

If you don’t allow the player to easily manage and delete their saves from within the game… well, you’re quite annoying. But I can just about forgive you, so long as the above issues aren’t the case, and all I have to do is browse to an easy to find save directory where my saves are logically laid out and delete from there.

Why the rant? There’s little more annoying than losing your saves. This might be because of a crash in the middle of the game causing data corruption – Fable 3 likes this trick, so it’s just as well it lets you keep multiple saves. Unfortunately, it’s too dumb to try and access the other saves if your autosave gets corrupted, so you have to delete the autosave in order to force it to look for manual saves. Which seems a bit daft. It might be because you’ve had to reinstall your OS for any reason (say, because you upgraded your system), and doing so has magically invalidated some of your saves that were inexplicably tied to the old hardware – Batman: Arkham Asylum, I’m looking at you. There’s a game I won’t be completing on PC any time soon. Or maybe it’s because your console’s hard-drive died, and you weren’t able to backup your old data because the developers decided to stop you from moving or copying your saves. Even though those saves are crucial to the enjoyment of a trilogy that’s not yet finished; isn’t that right, Mass Effect 2. And finally, in this era of SSDs, with many people owning a small but efficient OS drive, finding out that some of their games like to ignore not only their install path, but Windows’ libraries as well, and force their saves onto the C drive seems incredibly, well, stupid. Fortunately, a few symbolic links later and the problem is solved, but the player shouldn’t have to come up with work-arounds for a developer’s inflexibility.

There is absolutely no excuse for developers limiting players’ access to their own damned saves in this manner – gamers move on, hardware breaks, errors occur: players need the ability to backup their saves. Particularly in games with customised characters and/or multiple-title-spanning save games. The only possible excuse I’ve ever come across is that it’s to stop people “unlocking achievements through other people’s saves”. And if you’re seriously using that argument, you might want to re-examine your priorities. So just sodding well stop it already and show your players the courtesy of letting them have full control over their saves.


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July 2011
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