Monday, 31 August 2009

Auto saving and why I hate Halo

When circus performers do things perilously high up, most of the time they have the piece of mind in knowing there is a safety net below them. It means that if they fall, instead of dying permanently, only a little piece of them perishes, like their ego or confidence, and a few weeks later, they can get back to juggling lions 80 feet in the air again.

I feel that in the world of gaming auto saves and checkpoints are our safety nets that helps us deal with irritation that bit better. It is so generally wide spread now, that any game that does not have such a safety is usually quite a source of frustration.

My sad tale that sparked the idea for this post in my scary little mind came from the Xbox 360 flagship title Halo 3. I had just had quite an intense stab at the campaign which I am still yet to complete and made some quite decent progress in it. I decided that it was a suitable time to have a break and so got up and switched my console off.

As soon as I did it suddenly hit the back of my mind like an aerodynamic sledge hammer with no air friction. I hadn’t selected the option to save and quit. I immediately booted up Halo 3 again and sure enough, two hours of progress were lost. It made me so angry, it felt like I had died and gone to Swindon.

In a world where we take auto saving for granted, how can somebody leave such a feature out? Why rely on the rather archaic system that relies on the player to think about saving, rather than doing what just about everything else does and do it automatically.

I can understand the lack of an auto save in a game that is not checkpoint based, where you can save at any time your awkward self desires. You would be used to saving the game just before a suspected hard bit, usually when you come across an area full of health and ammo, which is a good indication that an old fashioned sodomising is just round the corner.

Even in games like this though, there is usually an auto save. We as gamers have been spoiled by such a feature for too long now for it to be randomly removed from a main stream title.

If I was a high flying acrobat and Halo 3 was the circus, I would have fallen off the tightrope walk and plummeted to an unexpected and inconvenient death. Who are they to remove my safety net? I only take risks when I know that in the very likely event it all goes wrong, I can do something equally as stupid in about five minutes time.

I just think it is daft that you can play for about two hours and have nothing saved if you don’t quit and save the game first. In the heat of frustration, who really has the time and patience to wait for the level to load again after death so they can open the pause menu just to quit the game. Sane people just go straight for the off button.

I can therefore conclude that Halo 3 campaign mode was beta tested by Buddhist Monks who are not allowed to be that bothered when they forgot to manually save the game before quitting.

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