Thursday, February 28, 2008

reverting to saved games

In games like Mass Effect and Deus Ex, the player can keep the game saved at many points. So it's possible to save before doing anything with a permanent effect (like choosing a skill or dialogue route) and returning to the save later to try a different route.

You can return in theory, anyway. In actuality, you've often progressed so far from the saved moment to the game's end that returning is a jarring experience. It's like watching a 2-hour film all the through, then being dropped back to the 30-minute mark to view a different course. Dropping back just 5 or 10 minutes, ala the ending of the movie Clue, is alright. But dropping back over an hour is begging for confusion and only a shallow immersion in events.

So, is there an alternative? Is there a way for a player to return to a much earlier point in his game experience without it feeling shallow or awkward?

TV series sometimes refresh their viewers memories with clips of the previous show. That helps avoid confusion, though it still requires that immersion be built up from scratch again. Would something like that work with a game? If skills or the complexity of the control scheme or item hoard changes significantly through the game, then the player would need to be refreshed on more than just the story.

Can much be done about this problem?

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