Save Scummer

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I typically do 3 playthroughs of a game: One where I save scum to make sure I know how to do the things the game asks me to do, one where I play for the story and one where I do my best to perfect everything else I might have missed in the first two. I'm doing it in AC3 now because I've never played an Assassin's Creed game and I don't know a lot of the systems. I forgot you could go barehanded in a mission, for example, and kept getting stuck because I didn't know how to get around a specific guard without killing him or getting caught. Does it hurt the experience of the game, yes, especially if it's done excessively or at every little mistake. But if it's not abused, and instead used a tool to help yourself understand the game, it doesn't really factor.

I just hate it when games just "End" upon death, that's just a lazy design choice. It also makes savescumming mandatory, because you have to revert to a previous save, and it doesn't have any consequences. That is one of my major problems with Fallout, Skyrim, Deus Ex:HR, and many more.

XCOM has the right idea, but punishes you a bit too harshly for things you often can't see coming.

I'm not even sure why a voice pack like that hasn't been made by legions of fans yet. (Maybe they're too busy playing XCom?) They don't even need Yahtzee, they just need the blokes that did voice acting for Killing Floor (both of them) (no, really, there literally are only two voice sets for the Killing Floor male characters).

*a mutton smashes through a wall* "Bloody 'ell, guvnah! That chap's got fists the size of a bleedin' Mini!"

So, Yahtzee, why didn't you like Dark Souls again?

I have no idea why so many people put Dark Souls on the same boat as stuff like Yahtzee mentioned - Day Z, The Binding of Isaac, XCom, Spelunky etc. These games are incredibly hard, yes, but they're also randomized, (or in Day Z's case highly dependant on other players' actions, to the point that it's a different experience on every playthrough). When you die on Dark Souls, you have to replay the same part of the game over and over and over again until you master it. When you die on these other games, you have lost. You don't even get a chance to try again; that specific configuration of environment and enemies is gone forever. You have to master the tools of the game, and not specific parts of it. More importantly, every level is brand new, so the only difference between living and dying is the quality of your tools: you'll be exploring randomly generated maps anyway. Now, I won't say Dark Souls is worse, but I personally can't stand that kind of gameplay, while I love ultra-hard games with random maps.

I'm save scumming like a lunatic in XCOM because my game keeps randomly crashing.

And that's the only reason.


The only time I save scum is with a bad game.

Not to say X-com is a bad game, it just has allot of bad game elements. Shooting through cover. Enemies teleporting in behind you (like literally teleporting from one side of the map to the other), the horrible indoor camera controls that are godawful at showing you where you move your units, etc.

All little tiny points that annoyed me. One guy gets shot in the face through a wall... fine, what the fuck is that?? Sectopod from behind? He spawned near my chopper?! How did a giant death robot manage to spawn near my chopper on a single highway?! What it can still shoot? How? Isn't it supposed to wait it's turn? Double hit. Sniper gone, Assault gone, Heavy gone because he got popped through a solid piece of wall. Last guy panicked. FUCK! Game Over.

Describing an actual mission going FUBAR. Though this is no longer living with mistakes, this is the game giving you the finger and telling you to start a new campaign.

I say no. I am not going to restart a 30 hour campaign because the game decided to kill my entire squad for shits and giggles.

(also only 6 squad members? Seriously...)

Dishonored is the only game in which I've done this. It's astounding how much it sucks to get caught, when it's perfectly fine to use your little arsenal to just take care of the guards. I wish I hadn't read so much about the good/bad ending thing and the chaos meter, because if I had gone in totally blind it would be easier to be immersed and just clean up after my mistake.

Oh, and while I'm complaining about Dishonored, I really wish the narrative wasn't dumped in frequently found books throughout the level...didn't we complain about Doom 3 doing this with the PDAs?

One of the key things that irks me about XCOM is that you can't carry incapacitated soldiers. I have fond memories of getting worked over in X-Com and retreating back to the skyranger without actually losing any troops. The restricted squad size is what encourages the save scumming in a way I never felt in either X-Com ar JA2.

I only save my games if a reach a major milestone, or have just completed a difficult area. Although I will make an exception if the area is unreasonably difficult and I just want to see the next plot-point.
I also have found save-scumming kills much of the game experience since it removes the pretence of danger from game world. It's probably why I liked the limited save systems on the old resident evil games. It added just that little bit of extra danger to every encounter.
On the flip side, Save Scumming can make a frustrating area just a little less frustrating. Some games also demand it if they expect the player to be perfect, or much better then they should be at a given time.
So I think that Save-Scumming is acceptable if done for the right reasons.
Save-Scumming in Thief really is pitiful though.


I still don't get how you are unable to recover from a mission wipeout in X-Com though. Playing on Normal mode (Ironman) I had two wipeouts consecutively, killing both my super team and my super team in training. So it was all back to rookies. This occurred because I was ill-prepared for Elite Mutons and Heavy Floaters in unison. However I have recovered from that have advanced to the mother-ship section of the game. I even have a new super-team!

I am glad I chose Ironman mode in that game since it has prevented me from save scumming, which would have prevented that blunder which was probably the most tense and rewarding part of my game-play.

I started save scumming halfway through my game of Xcom, because I had some glitches which completely screwed me on a mission. I mainly wanted to avoid glitches ruining my day because the game decided it was going to arbitrarily change the rules on me and have certain things not work, or have one of my top soldiers simply disappear.

The weird thing is once I started leaving a breadcrumb trail of manual saves, the glitches stopped.

I did revert to previous saves one one or two occasions when I made a mistake, but that was mainly because I had named one of my soldiers after my wife and she had promised me that there would be Consequences if anything happened to her. It's kind of disheartening when your best soldier, wearing your only suit of Titan Armour, with your only Plasma Rifle, dies because a Sectopod barrages her with missiles, destroying every piece of cover within range, follows up by blasting her with a death ray, then, just to really make sure you know your shit got pushed in, finishes her off by lasering her when she tries to run out of it's line of sight on your next turn because for some reason my snipers are too busy playing with their dicks to point their rifles at it (even though they should clearly have had line of sight and had the ability to shoot anything the rest of the squad can see, they stubbornly refused to "see" the Sectopod until AFTER it was done killing my wife's named soldier.

I agree on the saving situation in XCOM, and I think it's rooted in the annoyingly tiny level design.

You can't flank an enemy without activating another group of aliens and your flanking troops have no more moves left and start the next turn already flanked themselves with the aliens able to take all their shots at them. It's rediculious how small these places are. Especially the narrow corroidors that are the highway areas.

I will pay for a Yahtzee XCOM voice pack.

Cuz who wouldn't want to send him out to get killed* by aliens.

We need a petition to send to Firaxis to make this happen.

Screw it, I'm bothering a friend who works there to get this ball rolling...

*(anal probed)

Ooh! If your friend needs public fan support in a petition or vote/poll sort of way let us know, we shall click!

I defiantly agree with on most points. I find I tend to start a game not save scumming and as I get more and most invested in the game I do so more and more so only for games with short palythroughs or ones its easy to recover do I not ended up doing.

Also it true that Xcom needs more proactive things you can do and more ways to recover in the late game. Perhaps some specialist classes that unlock later, encouraging you to level more troops and give some extra power to late game rookies. I was thinking like cyborg and psionic specialist plus expanding the sivar system. As for more proactive stuff. Maybe invading nations that have drooped funding, for money, or to get back their support? Also gives you a chance to fight against a larger variety of enemies.

Haha, I used to stick my fingers in the pages of cyoa books too. As for save scumming I agree. I've been avoiding this lately myself and pushing on with mistakes because it makes the game more interesting (exception being fallout because I'm very much afraid of the game glitching). Back when skyrim came out I got stuck battling the wolf queen at one point and I was very much unprepared for this section but never the less I pulled out my sky forge steel sword, yelled a battle cry and persevered. It was pretty epic and satisfying. :)

Recovering from bad mistakes in XCOM, I miss the one feature from the original where, if you're moving to a location and the soldier spots an alien, he can stop moving so you can decide if you want to spend the necessary action points to shoot, or continue on your way, find cover, etc.

In the new XCOM, you're limited to 2 actions, and can't stop midway when moving someone. Just as annoying is that often I'd get LoS somewhere in between for the first movement, and I'd have to reload and do the move again, guessing which spot allowed for my soldier to shoot at the alien (and ideally with cover in case he missed). Would be nice if there was a way to preemptively check a destination for (known) alien LoS.

Equally annoying is that the higher levels, the aliens always seem to hit and crit, (granted I am playing on classic mode and am going after UFOs with elites now). While I know my guys can take the damage due to armour and also do the same in return, having both units do less damage instead of one shot kills would probably go towards less brutal results from bad decisions like missing or moving into a spot and triggering 3 groups.

And then there are games like Dark Souls... which makes you save before you can screw up, and then makes you save after you screw up anyway. I wasted my rare titanite slab on a shirt I wasn't ever going to where after Anor Londo because I pushed the A button one too many times. CANNOT GO BACK! My controller double-registered my small attack to wake up Frampt and it hit him twice so he left forever. CANNOT GO BACK! I just lost 140K souls in Sen's Fortress trying to get back to the Giant Blacksmith. CAN GO BACK! Yeah right.


TL;DR Dark Souls exemplifies exactly the opposite type of gameplay that Yahtzee is talking about here.

Actually, Dark Souls does have failure-born emergent game play... just not on a per-level sort of way. You can completely screw yourself over... but in the long run. In the short run, you can just keep throwing your frail body at a boss until luck happens and you win. But. In the long run, you can accidentally cause an NPC to become hostile, or accidentally feed the wrong item to a worm, or lose three hours worth of experience because you accidentally fell off of a cliff before you could get it back. That is a chance for failure that can very drastically change how you were playing.

One guy gets shot in the face through a wall...

Because he's not actually behind the wall. He's poking his head out from behind it so that he can see things and shoot at them. He's not actually 'behind' the wall unless you pick the 'hunker down' action.

Why not save at the beginning of every encounter, and then only reload if your team gets wiped out? That way you still get enough challenge, but you don't screw yourself in the long run.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Save Scummer

Sometimes, you just have to resist hitting that quickload key to get the best experience out of a game.

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Regarding your voice-file modding question at the beginning, if the voice files are saved as regular audio tracks within the install folder, a quick and dirty way to "mod" them would be to record your own voices and save them with the same file name and file type, then replace the original files with your custom ones. I experimented with this in Cave Story+, and it worked fairly well. Of course, if X-Com has the voices locked up in some weird proprietary file, or looks for specifics like the length of the file or certain metadata or what have you, it might not work. Still, worth a shot.

This is why I love the idea of mission based gameplay. Kinda like how Goldeneye was back in the day, but with a hypothetical 'save and quit' option (ala Rogue or FTL) so you're not dedicating your whole bloody day to the thing. That way, with save scumming out, game balancing is so much easier for the developer, and difficulty settings can actually have some meaning again.

The reason people save scum is much the same reason Nintendo has raised a generation of people straddling a serious OCD problem. Shitty, poorly designed games have made us fearful. Feaful of getting shafted at the end of a 40 hour experience. Its quite terrifying when you realise just how many weird gaming behaviors are based on fear. Smashing up someones house like a psychotic blind cat? Well, perhaps that one-off key-in-an-inconspicuous-jar that you missed back in A Link to the Past has made you fearful of leaving any stone unturned. Saving before and after every single event in-game whilst turning half your harddrive into some sort of perverse archive of savestates, shivering like a madman? Did you miss a limited time achievement in something of late? Or maybe the uber sword of alternate endings back in an old SNES title.

Metagame fear does not belong in an activity performed for fun.

* * *

Pretty much once a game hits the 5 hour mark of total gamplay length, from start to finish, developers need to make a choice to satisfy gamers, and perhaps even write this up as a promise to the user in the manual or something. Namely that the game is either:

a) Impossible to cock up. Like Metroid. Or Kirby. Or Zelda. But not Zelda 2 or that Minish Cap with the buggy light arrows you can miss just before the end (restart time!)

b) Level based, or unlockable roguelike based. Goldeneye and The Binding of Isaac are my two examples here. Each level/run is self-contained, but the unlockables list is designed in such a manner that any action you perform can't cock up your save state. Just please include a 'save and quit' feature. Oh, and returning to Zelda for a sec, Majora's Mask as an exception fits here too.

c) Open world, sprawling and character centric. Nothing short of Morrowind in scope so your cock ups don't just not matter: they are the game. I picked Morrowind as the example because that game even stuck in an entire second main questline for psychopathic murderers (kill Vivec and follow the hints to the Corpreuseum to trigger it).

Anything short of these three outcomes I feel is poor game design. Fine, and even encouraged, as part of an optional mode (ie: Hardcore mode), but not in the vanilla game.

I used to do this with Fallout 3. I later discovered it was ruining my game experience by making it too perfect and challenge-free, and so I tried to make a quicksave disabling option for my mod, and make it so you can only save at beds. However, I eventually gave up on that waste of time, and instead exercised some self control and started reducing (but not eliminating) my quicksave whoring.

Since my mod has semi-realistic combat, death or killing occurs within seconds, and whole battles could be over in a minute, but during that time I used to tap F5 after every kill on reflex, even before considering reloading a new magazine or taking cover. Now I've gotten it down to the point where I quick save only once before engaging enemies, and once afterwards.

Now I play more cautiously, I avoid firefights sometimes. I retreat from losing battles. I have to be more careful rationing my food, water, and medicine, since I can't trust my quicksaves to help me out all the time. The survival experiences I've had more than make up for the frustration of dying after 15 minutes without saving. I think a game isn't as fun unless there is a consequence worse than having to hit F9 for dying.

i agree that using quick save can ruin games but only certain games.
i quick save and save quite often in fallout new Vegas and the game is pretty stable considering i am using a decent amount of mods. but it could crash or freeze on me at any time so i don't trust not saving often.
well at this point i worry more about Fallout 3(which has less mods then FNV) crashing and freezing then i do in fallout new Vegas

it is tempting to load a save if i survive a fight but get too damaged in the process; but most of the time i don't do that
though i save scum while hacking and pick pocketing because it is a pain the ass if i don't.

Perhaps aware that save scumming has a tendency to make things unorganic, it seems save scumming is actually impossible in Dwarf Fortress. Whenever you load your fort, the only ways to quit is either to save and exit or abandon the fortress (the "I give up"-button, or as I like to call it, the "I'm a beardless shame to dwarven culture"-button :P), so barring a crash to desktop, you can't actually savescum, which actually works alot in the game's favour.

When you quit the game after saving, you can backup the game's save file. It's actually common to pass that save file around to somebody else after a year of gameplay for Succession gameplay, where everybody takes turns running the fortress to see how it goes.

Most roguelikes can actually be savescummed just by copying a file.

Not that I would, of course. Partially because I have no problem with dying in a roguelike that doesn't usuaully last long per game anyways, and partially because i'm too lazy to copy my files often.

I guess you could say that I save scum a little in Xcom but when I do it's usually the kind where I have my soldier run to a spot, check if he can take a shot from there and if he doesn't I reload. Or if my assault pulls back and four some reason triggers 2 groups that art behind the one I am currently fighting. The game ghastly some weird line of sight issues.

One thing that does make me save scum is when a game rates my progress in stealth games because I am not a big fan of replaying levels a thousand times to get a perfect score. I have the patience to do that on my first run but not after that


One guy gets shot in the face through a wall...

Because he's not actually behind the wall. He's poking his head out from behind it so that he can see things and shoot at them. He's not actually 'behind' the wall unless you pick the 'hunker down' action.

No he actually isn't peeking around the corner, and even if you hunker down you still risk getting shot.

No what is funnier was that this guy was infact standing behind a wall.... of about 12 feet of rock. And got shot straight through that 12 feet of rock... because the enemy had a slightly elevated position.... a position at which he still would have never been able to hit me if this game didn't have a dice system but an actual cover system.

my best example of this experience is probably WoW. Salvaging a 5 man heroic dungeon after someone has wandered off or done something stupid that would otherwise cause a wipe and then everyone breaking normal rotation and going on damage controll duty and just killing the boss with everyone battered down but alive. Those are the best experiences in dungeoneering for me so I can defenitly relate to the sentiment provided

Where exactly has this really horrible sounding phrase come from? It's almost as if whoever came up with it is trying to make people who make use of the tools they're given feel bad.

Like Yahtzee I tended to, as a child, keep my fingers in those pages of Pick a Path stories, partially because I wanted to read every ending, but also partially becuase I wanted to get the best ending.

Sadly in Dishonored I save scummed more than I did play the game. Why? A mix of both of the prior reasons.

I wanted the story, [i]all of it[i]. If I missed some NPCs chatting because I alerted them, I didn't want to have to miss that, so almost every time I alerted a guard, bam loaded. If I started randomly stabbing guards at frustration of my failed sneak attempts, bam loaded. If I missed a bit of dialogue because someone was talking outside, bam loaded. I also wanted to be able to explore freely, and as you can imagine, that involved clearing out most of the enemies in some areas to allow me to find all the hidden booty.

I wanted the best ending. Primarily a problem with 'moral choice' media, is that you can get stuck with the shitty ending if you stab just one more person, I was not taking that risk, attempting to go through all missions by silencing my opponent non-lethally, hiding his body, and moving on. So, naturally, anytime I was forced into confrontation, BAM loaded.
This was less of a problem in my lethal playthrough, and was probably part of the reason it was more enjoyable, but I still savescummed in order to preserve my gear for some future boss battle that never came.

Games have taught me to be stingy with my use of items incase I be forced into a situation where I will actually need them, except it never happens. They have also taught me to explore everywhere, even when the costs may outweigh the benifits (leading to a hell of a lot of save scrumming) and I will forever pay the price.


In the new XCOM, you're limited to 2 actions, and can't stop midway when moving someone. Just as annoying is that often I'd get LoS somewhere in between for the first movement, and I'd have to reload and do the move again, guessing which spot allowed for my soldier to shoot at the alien (and ideally with cover in case he missed). Would be nice if there was a way to preemptively check a destination for (known) alien LoS.

To be fair, if a soldier is in a combat zone and is running from one piece of cover to another are they going to stop to think in mid-run? Or, are they going to note the alien and get the hell into the cover they were going for. In that sense the movement system makes a bit more sense.

What I don't really like is that you can only move and shoot, you can't shoot and move by default. Maybe they shoot more bullets when they stand still or something, but if your guy wanted to fall back for example he could shoot and then move to other cover. Would be nice. But in the game you can only really move and go into overwatch, or move and hope you have as good a shot or whatever.

My favourite episode of emergent failure gameplay was in Guild Wars, when my entire party was murdered in the Hall of Heroes - except for me as I was the only one who'd brought along any skills that increased movement speed. I ran away and hid, then everything turned into a cat-and-mouse stealth game as I snuck around the dungeon trying to resurrect everybody. Successfully putting my party back together and finishing the dungeon was quite the rush.

I only really save scum in games to avoid repetition. If death means I have to go back through a bit and do it pretty much exactly the same as before, then it quickly descends into tedium. If I can avoid that, I will.

Where exactly has this really horrible sounding phrase come from? It's almost as if whoever came up with it is trying to make people who make use of the tools they're given feel bad.

That's exactly what it's trying to do.

'Save-scumming' places the blame entirely on the player. I don't think that's right. The game has to take some responsibility for making it possible (and advantageous) to do something like that, and at the same time should also make sure the bulk of the gameplay isn't spent replaying large sections that you've already done because of some silly death you ran into.

Amnesia was a game I thought did this right. I don't remember needing to save much because I barely died in the game. Yet there were plenty of times I felt threatened enough that I WAS going to die, or go insane, which made the game more entertaining. When you have a game like that you don't feel the need to save much at all.

Oh, and checkpoints suck.

The only games I save-scummed in was Deus Ex: Human Revolution when I was trying for the 'no alarms' achievement, mainly because those stupid fucking security cameras would fail the achievement EVEN IF THE ALARMS WERE A SCRIPTED EVENT (Looking at you, Tai Yung Medical Hangar). It was easier to just save scum rather than replay the entire game to get the achievement.

I also save scummed in Fallout: New Vegas/Skyrim, but that's mainly because of random game-crashing bugs appearing and potentially ruining hours of progress. The enemies weren't a threat, the game itself was in this case.


Well, with one exception anyway.... that being, trying to get decent IVs and a good nature for this shiny gible that refuses to cooperate.

I've scummed a few legendaries for decent natures - It's kinda acceptable to pokemon, especially if you're playing competitive due to the sheer speed/bulk/power difference a good/bad nature can have on a pokemon.

Strangely enough, every Mewtwo (read: my single most favorite legendary) I've caught has been either Modest or Timid, the best natures for a Mewtwo. It's really, really weird.

I may have also got a Hasty 30/31/29/21/30/31 IV Gible on my first attempt... don't hate me.

I'm a full-on shameless save scummer because today's games just do not give a fuck about those who are unable to 200% them and cure all the world's diseases.

Developers/writers are going in a very wrong direction, in more ways than one.

The problem with "Gordon Brown Mode" is that at the end the evil scum-sucking aliens form a coalition with Nick Clegg.

Yeah I save scum like a motherfucker when I have to. I'm okay with it though seeing as how Comix Zone is really really really really really really really really really hard.

XCOM, even on impossible, is way too easy if you reload to keep your troops alive.

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