Delayed responses here, which are entirely my own fault because I mentioned JA then went and played it all weekend. Thanks to everyone who responded.
Btw not all JA2 mods had this roll system. Wildfire I think was different.
COUNTED saves are horrible, horrible idea. I always hated this in Hitman and some other games.
But with some games, I love to save and reload to get totally different "history". Europa Universalis, Knights of Honor or Civilization for example. "What if I made peace instead of declaring war instead?"
Sometimes it leads to amazingly different game.
Wildfire didn't, however wildfire DID jack up the difficulty to 11 and threw the difficulty curve out the window(it was intended for experienced players).
I don't want to do the X number of saves allowed system. Although you could argue that it does work with something like resident evil. Any game with 'random-death' (i.e. snipers in dense cover with perfect vision, invisible traps, enforced stealth) should avoid this imo.
R.E 4x games, I agree, and I do exactly the same. I'm not so worried about major breakpoint 'what if I didn't declare war' situations, I'm more concerned about someone reloading every time their spearman fails to kill a tank, or Gandhi builds the library first.
@Ali : - Large and imaginative amounts of swearing occur. - I've had games crash \ power cuts during an autosave before, which landed me with a corrupt file.
@Laukku :- Thanks for the link, it sums up the whole situation very nicely. I know some roguelikes don't feature permadeath, and suffer for it (since most roguelike fans won't touch 'em).
@Eggie:- I thought of that, however if the game autosaves every turn, you're just and ALT-F4 and a doubleclick away from reloading. It didn't work in UFO (be honest folks, how often did you dust off and reload?). I might as well just insert a 20 second delay into the loading screen.
I hovered over the idea of autosaving erratically, so the player doesn't actually know when the game was last saved (it could be 1 turn, it could be 7). this kinda avoids the reset button look scenario, since you might lose your progress.
I don't want it to get to the point of punishing people who save for non-game related reasons; say, you have to go to work and turn off the computer. However there's got to be a balance somewhere.
I don't play turn-based war games, but how do they usually deal with saving? The method they use is probably used because they asked the same questions you're asking now and decided that was the best way.
The TBS genre is a little docile these days. Turning the clock back to the 16-32bit console era, the save option is almost balanced by the lack of slots, and the time taken to save\reload\reset the console. Play these games on an emulator with instant savestates, and it's a completely different scenario. - As computers have become faster, saving has become more convenient, and I suspect, more widespread.
- A lot of Console titles featured a 'suspend' option. Which was really just an 'ironman only in battle' scenario. With the same potential pitfalls. I'm not sure I've even used this option in some cases.
@Armageddon;- Believe me, I do understand that some people want to save all the time. However it's a partly matter of; do they need to? if not, Would they even notice?
For example, you like to be able to save, so surely option 3 (pay, unlimited if broke) is acceptable? Sure, you might have a different experience from WHAM or Blueskirt, who might finish the game with some extra shiny stuff, but you'd still get to play your way to an extent. Or option 6. Which you'd only notice if you tried to abuse the save system.
@WHAM;- I does help. It was actually one of your games that got me thinking along these lines, since the only review it had (at the time, not sure if it's changed since.) complained about the difficulty and lack of saving.
@Nihilist;- I agree with your logic. I've ruined my fair share of games over the years. I didn't when I was younger because it wasn't convenient to save and reload, and it's only when I've gone back to games that flat out restrict saving that I realized how important this factor was to gameplay. Winning teaches a lot less than losing it seems.
@Andail;- Ultimately it will probably end up with me being bull headed about it and sitting on one option. - I started the thread in part because it's a topic which people avoid, but which I feel should be considered in game design. I'm actually impressed that it got this far without anyone resorting the 'You = Elitist. I win' arguments.
If I missed anyone. I'm sorry but this has turned into a mad ramble.
On topic, and just to promote a little more discussion;-
The problem with saving anywhere is that it denies certain options to the designer, because they become game breaking.
Stealing and gambling in many games are open to abuse. If you never get caught (because you reload), it's an 'I WIN' situation. You could balance the game around the possibility that the player will steal everything that's not nailed down, however that potentially forces players to steal.
Surprise!;- Yep, that zombie breaking in through the window was scary the first time, but he's not the second time when you know he's coming. Unless the designer randomizes which window he comes through, but then you start saving as you pass each one.....
Victory from the jaws of defeat;- It's hard to do well when defeat is locked behind a massive concrete save-wall. Save-abuse could also lock the player (see below)