A Simple Compromise on Save Points

Thanks for the kind words, but it’s worth noting that because you can get your rebels thrashed in the final chapter, Choice of Rebels is not the best example of the COG game design philosophy (which is one of the reasons it was the first to have chapter checkpoints). I planned and started writing it before the “every playthrough should be satisfying” guideline had been articulated… although it’s also in a genre where GRR Martin and others have arguably redefined “satisfying” to include “abrupt and heartbreaking failure.”

Though this isn’t clear from Game 1 alone, for non-death endings, there’s no such thing as “completely defeated already” in XoR – certainly not just with a bad winter. It won’t become clear until Game 2 that having your first attempt at revolt smashed in Game 1 opens up new and different opportunities (while beating the army creates new and different problems). A host of helots and yeomen in the Rim is just one asset for your rebellion, not the sine qua non for success.

Tally Ho and Jolly Good are much better examples, where a “fail” consistently has satisfying consequences. Are there other recent CoG games that set you up to fail the final tests if you’re halfway through the game and make the wrong choices?


Argh. I can’t help myself… :joy:

I think I can create tooling to generate a boilerplate soft save system. For exemple, the tool would read the startup file and generate the necessary code, then the author would copy and paste into their work.

That would be a nice pet project and a good excuse to postpone writing my own game. :joy:

Would something like that help?


I realize now that I didn’t word the question properly, and the poll comes off as seeking attention. :sweat_smile: I don’t think anyone would vote “no”. What I really meant to ask is: authors, would you (actually) use such a tool?

I just want to believe the effort is not going to waste, so I’m assessing interest.

  • :+1: YES
  • :-1: NO

0 voters

Edit 2: the tool is available here.


There is a problem with this stance and the problem is that an ending where the main character suffers a major loss (such as dying) can no longer be written alongside and ending where the main character does not suffer a major loss anymore.

While a lot of people like angst and a good tragedy can be cartharic - the matter of fact is that most people a going to feel that the ending where you lose something major is going is going to be the bad (or maybe tragic) end, if there also exist an end where you don´t lose.

So to make your thing work you end up with alwyas losing or always winning in the end, because if you don´t there is going to be a bad and a good end, no matter how well written the “bad” end is. That might work in a comedy like tally ho - but that just doesn´t work in stories like choice of rebels, where you are fighting for you life.

Fate of the Storm Gods is a recent CoG game which were well written, but where the final battle was so difficult that many complained - and my personal experience is that I put the game away forever, because after getting the “you die” end for the third time, because while the writing is surperb, the difficulty was just frustrating.

Jolly Good would also be a much lesser game if there wasn´t a chapter checkpoint. As @malinryden points out, I´m certainly one of those player who normally don´t explore out of my comfortzone once I´ve found the path which works - except in games like Jolly Good, because I have the safety net of “If I don´t like this, I can restart the chapter.”

Also if there is different endings, sometimes people might want to reach the different endings. Some might even want to reach the bad ending because they like tragedy and can´t because it is too well hidden, because it needs to be, because there is no savesystem and so the author error on making it easy to avoid people walking away in frustration - So it is not always about the “good” ending. The ability to save would have helped a lot.

Anyway your ideal is just that - An ideal. It is near impossible to reach and even if it wasn´t there is still the problem of people having to play the whole game through again - just to reach another ending. I have played a lot of VN`s. Believe me a lot of them have guides a lot of them have guides which a litterarly a step to step guide in which choice of to make so that you can make a save slot - as close as possible to the ending and still get all endings.


I agree so much. For example Diaspora is my favorite WIP but it is huge with tons of branching and variation. There are so many parts of that game that I wouldn’t have explored without having a save function. I can’t imagine clicking through the whole thing just to try a small variation in a side quest or a different dialogue option. Plus nothing is as frustrating as quickly clicking through to get to a branching option and you accidently click a wrong option and have to start over again.

I kind of dread when it gets released because losing the save function will mean I will have to dig through the code if I want to see other branches/dialogue options which just isn’t as fun in my opinion.


This :point_up_2::point_up_2::point_up_2:
Like when I’m playing TWC and want to see the differences between shy/bold flirt, I have to go through the whole game again.

There were times (yes, plural) when this happened to me that I got so mad and just gave up playing for the day.


Yeah, I feel discussing saves is a bit futile. It’s simply not something COG wants to be part of their design.

It’s like genderlocking; I, you, and my grandma can argue how it’d make the game better all day long, but at the end of the day it’s not something COG wants in their games. And that’s that.

Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but if you understand how to create and set variables, it’s not so hard to implement a Tin Star-style checkpoint system once you’ve finalized your variables. If you own it, Cakes and Ale is great example of this technique in action.

If you’ve got a good grasp on CS, you can rig up a fancier save system using string variables and concatenation. Mommy, We Created a Plot Hole is the only example of this technique I’ve seen in the wild. Go check it out — it’s very cool.


I understand and i might not have conveyed my points clearly as i feel you’re reinforcing them :p. I wanted to highlight how some “defeats” feel different depending where they happen in the game even if the end state is the same. Just how you say how a “defeat ending” can still be “satisfying”’. And the second paragraph reinforces what I was trying to say: Getting your rebels destroyed in the final chapter still feels like a good progression on the story, you feel, just as you say, that being smashed still leaves a lot of possibilities, you got defeated but there are this new endless posibilities, meanwhile getting destroyed by the winter in the midgame just feels like defeat. The other posibilities hasn’t been shown yet, the big battle is coming up and you’re already on the brink of failure, you feel defeated with no “buts” (again, talking about how it feels to play, even if on the grand scheme you will end up in the same place), no grand battle, no heroic final stand, no holding the line to save your people.

And I think is a perfect example of a game that has a downer ending that is still satisfying and worth keeping for the sequel, and yet you still have points in which people will restart.

And, on a tangent but I have to say it, the answer on the faq *f… bugs me. Is not “We feel it conveys our goals better/we prefer/we want…”. No, is “Users can’t help themselves” “Users spoil their games” “They describe it as a chore”. I’m not spoiling my games, I don’t see anyone in any of this discussion going for the "chore"or “I’m just gonna go back every single time” thing and damit, I hate the “You can’t help yourself so we will handle that for you :)” vibe


While it’s nice to see so many people want save points, I was hoping for input from those against them.


You’re going to need to wait a while then. In my experience there are way more people who want it then those who don’t. If this topic stays on the top long enough you’ll see them eventually.


Why is that?

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Personally, I’m kind of against them.

I almost exclusively use the saving on dashingdon for the end of the demo so I don’t have to start over if it’s updated, but tbh more often than not I just start over anyways (I’ve never been able to retain my memory of books/movies/etc very well, so often starting from a saved point results in me not remembering things and starting over anyway out of necessity.)

And in terms of the argument where you make a choice and then it wasn’t what you expected it to be – personally I think that if I’m not able to get a good grasp of what the choices mean/what the general consequences of those choices are, it’s more reflective of the quality and clarity of the work, which will not be improved by redoing something. In the couple of instances I’ve had where I misclick a choice or I misinterpreted it (in CoG/HG games), I’ll just restart and I have a good enough memory of the choices I made before to really quickly get back to the point I left off on. Which isn’t to say I don’t internally groan and complain about having to do that, but for me personally it’s manageable. And I’ve noticed that when I DO save before a choice on dashingdon so I can go back and try multiple, I pretty much always end up sticking with my first choice anyway.

On the aspect of your choices resulting in the character’s death, which understandably many people find extremely disatisfying, actually my favorite COG is probably Heart of the House, and that’s a pretty long game and I spent SO MUCH time on it, all to end up dying at the end lol. And I remember just feeling so, I guess, betrayed? when that happened, like yeah that was definitely disheartening - I put all that genuine effort in just to have my MC up and die at the end. And another thing for me is that once I play through a game once, I have to wait a while before playing it again because I don’t want to just skim through the choices, etc. because that really diminishes the immersiveness for me, and I want to be able to read through it all again and be able to appreciate it with it still feeling sort of “new,” because in the time I spent away from the game I forgot many of the details.

But back to Heart of the House - so yeah I waited a while and replayed the game and I made a lot of different choices (I think I died because I didn’t have enough like magical power left since I’d used it up (I don’t remember the details of course lol)) - which actually, typically when I do replay a game I change my route very little so this was an exceptional case for me - and I found my second playthrough to be immensely satisfying and it automatically became one of my favorite games. And I think if I had had the option to just go back and pick a different choice, at the climax of the game, which wouldn’t have resulted in my character’s death (which I definitely would have done if I had been able to do so) I wouldn’t have gotten the same value out of the game that I did.

Anyway I’m sure my reasoning for preferring not to have the save points is full of flaws and contradictions but it’s just my personal preference. And by no means am I saying that just because I personally don’t want save points that I think it shouldn’t be implemented on a wider scale for published games! I’m more against it on a personal level than a broader level that impacts a lot of others.

But yeah probably my own combination of being unable to retain information for a long time but also not enjoying the games as much on an immediate replay is what makes not having a save system work well for me. I guess it suits my playing style and of course that doesn’t hold true for many others.


The saving question should be left to the authors to answer. How often saves are available should depend on the tone the authors want. A stat-heavy grimdark story should not have to use the same save system as Choice Of Carebears, and vice versa. What if you want to make some sort of grimdark time travel story. Where you can get a second chance, but at the cost of a soul, or something else. The story I am making has characters react to how many times you get yourself killed. Being able to undo it cheapens it for everyone. Not every story needs this, so I don’t want to make other authors comply to my, or anyone else’s ideas.

I do appreciate that some are trying to make compromises, that is better than what many whiners do and just complain that actions have consequences that need to be considered and that they can’t metagame them all. To them, I tell them how I used to love Choose your own adventure books, but when I cheated the “no takebacks rule.” things became a lot less fun. The same with save-scumming speech in Fallout 3.

I will give them a couple of things, one mistaps/clicks are indeed quite annoying, but that is not worth cheapening the whole experience, a back button might do some that are on the gamish side some good for their puzzles.

The other is that If you want to review a game, and need to see everything, it can be annoying to restart, but going through the adventure fully makes the choices more meaningful, and everyone reads at least part of it, but not everyone tries to read all of it. It also makes achievements practically worthless.


With the compromise I proposed, you would not have been able to go back and pick a different choice at the climax of the game, because that option would not have been available to you until the second time you reached the climax.

I didn’t find any other arguments against the compromise in the rest of your post. If I missed any, please clarify them.

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I’m not asking for authors to be forced to offer save points. I don’t think anyone else has explicitly requested that either. From what I’ve gathered from these comments, it is difficult for authors to offer save slots as it is now. If you want more author choice, shouldn’t you want to make it easier for them to do so?

It’s not clear that when you talk of “cheapening the whole experience” you have the proposed compromise in mind and not save states being available without restriction. If you hold that the whole experience is significantly cheapened even with the compromise, could you please rephrase your argument in a way that more explicitly addresses my response to objection 2?

This is a point I hadn’t considered. I suppose it’s possible to code the games in such a way that achievements are only awarded if no save states were used, but I don’t know how difficult that would be. Besides, restarting a game already cheapens achievements.


I was more giving my opinion for why I would prefer not to have the saving option available for games in the same way it is on dashingdon. I don’t disagree with your compromise at all, really. Would I prefer if there were no save options? Maybe, but not strongly enough that I would be opposed to your idea. But really I don’t think I know nearly enough about code or how to write IF to really understand the extant of work that it would be to implement. Which I think is probably the biggest issue - whether the author wants to and is capable of doing it.


There really aren’t any beyond “I want people to play as i do, because that the best way!”. Dictating how people should enjoy something, just make fansbase seem elitist.

While i understand not all authors/devs(whatever is the correct term is) can or have time to implement a save system, i think it should be available by default in choicescript itself.


While I might not want to use saves for my own personal sake, I will always have the option not to use them in games that has them. I never used them in Tin Star. That, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t want other people to have the option.

In my opinion, this is much like accessibility features or difficulty settings in computer games. They should be included, but it will always been the choice of the design team. However, to not have them should probably not be the default choice…


After so many times I have to restart the game, I started to buy two visions for every game I owned, one on my phone, on in steam, so that I can peek the code whilst playing non-stop…and yeah I prefer to play on my phone :sweat_smile:

And because of I didn’t know how to reach the results I wanted back then I even made a simple walkthrough for Fallen Hero because I’d seen somebody made one but they haven’t updated for awhile, I guess when the new game release I’ll make another.


Or like, just add them and people can use them if they want to

Or at the beginning of every chapter like in the Infinity games

I too always get annoyed by failing one obscure stat check because I picked from 4 unclear choices and hour ago and got a different stat boost than what I needed

Also make it so we know what stats influence decisions/what decisions will improve or degrade stats


When I had two phones, I used to play on both of them at the same time, just to try different dialogue options. Now that one of then finally decided to stop working it’s a struggle to play the whole game again just for that :laughing: