Saving your progress in a game wasn’t always as easy as it is now. Back in the 70’s & 80’s, when home consoles became a “thing,” it was probably more likely you would spend your time binging at the local arcade with a soda and 3 months allowance. While some games attempted to stay rooted in single-session, faux-quarter-binging, the majority moved toward allowing the player to save their progress throughout the game. This was usually done in a couple different ways: saving after each completed level, saving at specific, pre-determined points in the game world or manually saving at any point in the game the player wished (For a while, there was also the password system that allowed you to keep record and track your progress in analog, rather than using the game’s built memory system).
As games and game systems became more and more advanced, you’d think the ability to “save anywhere” or “save state” (freezing your game at any point in time so that you can return to the exact moment you chose to save) would be synonymous with “saving your progress” in a video game. Sadly, this is not the case. In fact, there are early DOS & Windows-based games that have more advanced save features than some of the most graphically and mechanically impressive games today.
So here’s the thing: most games today don’t even give you the option to save anymore; they just do it automatically whenever the game deems it “necessary.” The problem with this system is that the game is often extremely vague on where, when and what it’s actually saving. Did it save at that arbitrary checkpoint I just passed? Did it save when I picked up that collectible? Did it save after that cutscene? Did it save after that area transition? Were any of those “real saves,” or just “fake saves” that disappear when I die or quit the game? Well good luck figuring that out cause the game sure as frell won’t tell you what’s been saved and what hasn’t.
It boggles my mind that this is still an issue in games. We had the technology for “quicksaves” and “save states” back in the early nineties (at least in PC games), yet so many games refuse to put game saving in the hands of the player. Sure, I appreciate that your game automatically saves my progress in case I forget, but let me also manually save the game whenever I want. Don’t tie me down to your arbitrary and vague “checkpoints” that don’t always work. Maybe I want to try for that one elusive achievement without replaying the entire level. Maybe I want to save before a crucial decision in case I change my mind shortly thereafter. So what if I saved my game mere seconds before death? Let me reload a previous save or restart a checkpoint and we have the best of both worlds.