Chainsaw-wielding maniacs want to know: have you hit F5 lately?
I got an interesting question on my Formspring profile that seemed like it'd be fun to answer here, where the rest of PC Gamerdom can weigh in in the comments. Go nuts!
Q: Do you think we sometimes rely too much on autosave?
A: How can you rely too much on autosave? Yes, it’s a modern convenience to not be forced to replay a section of a game after an unforeseen death as punishment for neglecting to manually save every couple of minutes by habitually hitting the F5 key like a lab monkey earning his food pellets. Perhaps playing the same area of a game multiple times built character, in the same way that losing a limb to gangrene built character before the discovery of antibiotics. Kids today just don’t understand the fun they missed back in the old days.
I’ve already got plenty of character, though, and personally I don’t like being forced to replay parts of a game I didn’t necessarily enjoy the first time. Any tool or system that can be put in place to help me avoid that and concentrate instead on speeding me to better parts of a game is fine by me.
In my mind there’s no such thing as too much autosave—if I could have a system that saved 60 times per second and allowed me to jump back to any point in my game without making it run like a slideshow, I’d sign up in a second. PC gaming may never fully eradicate the scourge of the occasional game crash, but if you always had a save file from seconds before any crash could hit, they’d go from huge hassle to minor inconvenience (in single-player games, anyway). It’s true that being able to jump back in time to before you made a crucial mistake would reduce the stakes of game death to the point of non-existence and basically turn every game into Prince of Persia, but as an optional feature it'd be great.
The only real downside I can see to becoming accustomed to frequent autosave is if you go from a game that supports that functionality to one that has inconsiderately left out a reasonable autosave functionality—which describes what happened to me when I was playing Serious Sam HD. Then there’s a period of painful adjustment when you realize, during your death throes, that you haven’t hit the quicksave in the better part of an hour.
That said, checkpoint-only save systems, or systems that require the player to go to a specific location to save, are the devil. If I want to save in a specific location at a specific time, I should be able to, dammit, and I should be able to jump back to that exact point in time as often as I please. Developers should be flattered by this: I'm saving it because I liked it enough to want to come back to it.
What do you guys think? Is autosave a boon or bane to gaming?