Saved game

Saved game

A saved game (also sometimes called a game save, savegame, or savefile) is a piece of digitally stored information about the progress of a player in a video game. This saved game can be reloaded later, so the player can continue where he or she had stopped. Players usually save games to prevent the loss of progress in the game (as might happen after a game over unless the game features permadeath, in which the save file is permanently deleted), especially when interrupting or ending a game session.

The use of saved games is very common in modern video games, particularly in computer and console role-playing games, which are usually much too long to finish in a single session.


History and overview

In early arcade and video games, there was no need for saving games, since these games usually had no actual plot to develop and were generally very short in length.

The relative complexity and inconvenience of storing game state information on early home computers (and the fact that early video game consoles had no non-volatile data storage) meant that initially game saves were represented as "passwords" (often strings of characters that encoded the game state) that players could write down and later input into the game when resuming.

Home computers in the early 1980s had the advantage of using external media for saving, with compact cassettes and floppy disks, before finally using internal hard drives.

On later cartridge-based console games, such as Kirby's Adventure and The Legend of Zelda, saved games were stored in battery-backed RAM on the game cartridge itself. In recent consoles, which use compact disc and DVD technology for storing games, saved games are stored in other ways, such as by use of memory cards or internal hard drives on the game machine itself.

Some games do not save the player's progress towards completing the game, but rather high scores, custom settings, and other features. The first game to save the player's score was Taito's seminal 1978 shoot 'em up title Space Invaders.[1]

Depending on the game, a player will have the ability to save the game either at any arbitrary point (usually when the game has been paused), after a specific task has been completed (such as at the end of a level), or at designated areas within the game known as save points. Save points are employed either when a game state is too complex to save at any given point or as a way to manage the difficulty level (i.e. a save point located before a difficult area, or one single save point before a set of difficult bosses rather than in between).

Types of saved games

Save points

Save points are employed either when a game state is too complex to save at any given point or as a way to manage the difficulty level (i.e. a save point located before a difficult area, or one single save point before a set of difficult bosses rather than in between).


Checkpoints are locations in a computer or video game (generally found in platform games) where a player's status is saved and where the character respawns in the status saved by the checkpoint. A respawn is most often due to the death of the in-game character, but it can also be caused by the failure to meet an objective required to advance in the game. Some of these checkpoints are temporary and last until a new checkpoint is activated, the level is cleared, or the player loses all his/her lives. Most modern games, however, save the game to memory at these points, known as auto-saving. In many racing games with a limited race completion time, checkpoints passed by the player increase the amount of time available to finish the race by adding time to the countdown. In some games, bonuses are awarded for passing checkpoints.


A common feature of games with long load times is to automatically save the game immediately after loading a new level (much like a checkpoint save), so that if the most recent manual save was very close to the end of the last level and the player then needs to reload, they do not have to spend time reloading the previous level, playing for a short period and then loading the new one again.

Save states

A unique method of saving games is possible when playing under arcade and console emulators. These give the advantage of saving games even if the game or the system did not support such a feature. This is done by means of a RAM dump, which saves all the RAM data of the emulated console into a computer file for later use. Saved games of this kind are usually called "save states". "Save state hacking" is the practice of modifying the data in these saved states to achieve various effects, some of which would otherwise be impossible.

Some games that feature save points also use a variation of a save state called a suspend save; these saves will record the complete state of the game and the player will continue from that exact point when they resume. However, the point of this save is to allow the player to stop the game because they are interrupted and do not have time to reach a save point; as such, this save state is erased when the player continues the game so that the player cannot use this feature to inch their way through the game. Restoring from the same suspend save multiple times is often considered savescumming, and is generally considered cheating on most roguelikes.

Quick saving

Similar to save states, quick saving is the term used for saving the player's progress in a game at any given time. Normally, to save progress the player must reach a designated point in a level (checkpoint), or if saving is permitted elsewhere it is usually achieved through the use of a menu. In games that allow quick saving, one can save progress with a simple keystroke, bypassing the menus or checkpoints. Accompanying quick saving is the quick loading feature, which is a complementarily assigned key to load a game instantly.

Some people consider the use of quick save in a game to be a form of cheating since it allows the player to incrementally "inch" through a difficult level regardless of skill. Others see the omission of quick saving as a fatal flaw in a game, believing that the player should have control as to when the game is saved. A good balance can be achieved if a game's difficulty level is set so that quick saving is not required but to still provide the facility for those players that wish to make use of it. Some games (e.g. Painkiller) exclude quick save capability from the highest difficulty levels.

Quick saving is usually a feature found in PC games and is often not present in console games. One reason for this is hardware limitation: because a quick save must contain information about the entire level state, rather than minor statistics such as player health and inventory, it can require significantly more memory to store the information (a quick save for Doom 3 is approximately 10 megabytes in size, while a corresponding save game for any PlayStation game only occupies a few kilobytes). Half-Life for the PS2 gets around this by saving the quick saves directly to the console's memory; if the game is left for any reason without going into a menu and saving properly, the quick save is lost. In The Orange Box, which when for the PlayStation 3 contains no autosave function, the player is merely reminded to quick save at important checkpoints. On Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, the quicksave function is accessible at any time during play through the pause menu and is useful to use it in safe spots so that in the occasion that you die in the next dangerous part of a level it is not necessary to repeat a relatively long section of playing to try it again, however, because it's possible to quick save when you are cornered or otherwise bound to lose, and because you can't quick save on more than one location some strategy is needed to know when it is useful and safe to quick save.

The term Quicksave can also refer to a suspend save, such as in the Mystery Dungeon series (in fan translations, this term has been translated as "Quit").

Save anywhere

Another type of saved game is the concept of save anywhere, which allows the user to save at any point of the game at any time at any state of the game. The phrase "SAVE SAVE SAVE" is a reference to this feature and if often included in guides to these types of games to ensure that the user takes maximum advantage of this feature. This was chiefly a computer-only save game ability until the introduction of hard drives on console systems.

Some high-end models of digital audio players and portable media players have the "save anywhere" system for playlists and randomization modes for audio files (and videos).

Integration of saved game systems into gameplay

Game designers often attempt to integrate the save points into the style of the game. Resident Evil represents save points with old fashioned typewriters (which require an ink ribbon item for each save), the Grand Theft Auto series used representations appropriate to the era of the setting: audio cassettes for the mid-1980s (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), 3½-inch disks for the early-1990s (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) and compact discs for the late-1990s (Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories). Many RPGs integrate the function of saving into the form of a journal that the characters can write into, or by auto-saving whenever the character stays at an inn or other resting place.

Square is notorious for commonly treating save points as legitimate objects within the game world. In Chrono Trigger, a save point in Magus' castle will actually attack the character if he attempts to use it. In Final Fantasy VII, there is a save point at the Gold Saucer amusement park that forces the player to spend in-game currency to use it. There is also a phony save point serving as a distraction early on. If it is checked, the player misses out on a new character. In Final Fantasy VIII, the effects of a mysterious magical spell cause one save point to suddenly replicate into dozens of save points when touched. In Chrono Cross, Terranigma, and Xenogears, the character's recording of his memories in the game's various save points becomes a plot point later in the game.

In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, it costs two banana coins to use any save point more than once. Also, there is a puzzle in Alundra 2 that entails a cost in GP proportional to the number of times the game has been saved, penalizing frequent savers.

Perhaps one of the most famous integration of saved games in gameplay is Metal Gear Solid. Depending on how often the player saves, Psycho Mantis and Revolver Ocelot comment on how often they save, and also comment if save files from certain other Konami games are on the same memory card.

Another way saved games interact with each other is through passing along data to a particular game's sequels. A famous example of this is in Konami's own Suikoden series. By having and utilizing a save state from Suikoden's final save point that includes all 108 Stars of Destiny recruited, extra characters and plot elements are introduced in Suikoden II, and both previous games can stack with Suikoden III to show the player even more. Another notable example is the Ratchet & Clank series, in which having saves from previous entries to drastically reduce the price of previously purchased weapons that reappear in later games. Saves of non-related games can also interact with each other; for example, Super Smash Bros. Melee will reward the player with a Captain Olimar trophy when he or she boots the game with a Pikmin game save on the memory card. The character Rosalina becomes available on Mario Kart Wii if you have a Super Mario Galaxy save on your console. In Mass Effect 2, the player can import a save from Mass Effect which can alter the events that transpire in the game. Other franchises that allow transferring saves between games include the Fire Emblem, Shenmue and .hack series. In Silent Hill 3, if the player has a save from a complete play-through of Silent Hill 2 on the same PS2 memory card, the player can unlock hidden scenes that are similar to that of the previous game.

Save sharing

For many years, sharing game saves among friends has been very common. From trading passwords to swapping memory cards, gamers have always been able to help each other out to unlock features in a game. With the growing popularity of the internet, many people upload their game saves to the World Wide Web to help out their online friends with some of the harder games out there. However, with the inclusion of a progress meter or "gamerscore" that tracks player progress in games for the Xbox 360, many players are beginning to view those who load other people's files onto their systems as "cheaters".[2] The Legend of Zelda Oracles games actually encourages this with a password swapping side quest that is available after finishing the main story.


Saved games have generally been rare at arcades, but have found some use, notably in the Konami e-Amusement system, or by the use of PlayStation cards, as in Dance Dance Revolution. These generally use either a magnetic card to store the data, or network (internet) connection, or some combination thereof. Similarly, passwords have generally been rare at arcades, with occasional exceptions, such as Gauntlet Legends.


See also

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