Friday, 24 October 2014

Heroine's Quest - EP3 - Freezing in the Forest

This episode is mostly a mix of exploration and getting to grips with Heroine's Quests fighting and survival mechanics it contains a lot of dying. Right from the start in fact with a badly placed autosave.

This kind of situation is an edge case of two different mechanics not meshing with each other. Autosaves are nice in a game like this because they reduce the amount of content we have to repeatedly push through, but the system used here is a bit too simple. One autosave slot triggered on entering or leaving town.

In most cases that is fine, just resets us to where we left off, but here it left us seconds before death with no real recourse. This is the autosave not only being useless but sabotaging itself. If you have no manual saves you have to completely restart. From this point on I can no longer trust that there will be a useful autosave to fall back on.

There are a few ways to try to solve this:
1) Try to detect edge cases like these, don't trigger autosave below a health threshold for example
2) Don't autosave when entering towns only autosave when you leave towns.
3) Have several autosaves, automatically rotate through 3 or so. Letting players go back further to fix mistakes.

1 and 2 do have drawbacks though. For 1 if you don't make the edge cases clear then the autosave system feels a bit unpredictable and thus unsafe to rely upon. In the case of 2, narrowly but survivably entering town is kind of the best time to have saved your game.

But number 3 seems like the best way to avoid situations like these, I don't understand why some games are so keen to place low limits on saving. Replaying content is not fun, encountering Ratatosk is funny once, encountering him 3 times... not so much.

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