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Save-Load Cycles

Save-Load Cycles

The actions of saving and loading game states.

Some games allow players to save the game state at points in the gameplay to later return to them. This allows players to replay challenges in the game as many times as they wish in order to successfully complete actions or to maximize how well the actions are performed.

Example: The single-player campaigns Return to Castle Wolfenstein and most other first-person shooters allow players to save the game state whenever they wish. A recent exception is Far Cry where the game state is automatically saved as soon as players reach certain locations.

Using the pattern

Save-Load Cycles may be instantiated in games either by letting players initiate savingand loading whenever they wish or only at specific Save Points. The former increases players Freedom of Choice and encourages Experimenting. The latter creates goals of reaching the Save Points and makes Risk/Reward choices have more Tension.

Considerations that should be made when creating Save-Load Cycles are how this affects Surprises and Leaps of Faiths in the game. Further, Save-Load Cycles are difficult to include in Multiplayer Games since they require Negotiation to coordinate these actions and thereby easily ruin Immersion. Although no Negotiation is required in Single-Player Games, the presence of Save-Load Cycles during gameplay may in this case also work against Immersion.


Save-Load Cycles are Extra-Game Actions that allow players to save and load entire game states, typically made possible by Dedicated Game Facilitators. The possibility of Save-Load Cycles in a game means that play sessions do not have to be part of the complete game session as parts of the gameplay can be abandoned to return to previous game states. This gives players the possibility of Replayability within a game instance, although the players can use Trans-Game Information from previous play sessions. Being able to learn from experience and try to practice this new knowledge can provide players with a Smooth Learning Curves and form a sort of Near Miss Indicator since players can compare how well they have succeeded when playing from a saved point several times.

Since Save-Load Cycles make Irreversible Actions impossible in the perspective of the overall game session, players are free to do Experimenting. Further, Save-Load Cycles make Penalties and Ability Losses have less influence on the overall game session as in other cases of Reversability. The act of loading a game state creates a form of Spawning action for players, and since they can know the game state from earlier experiences, they have the opportunity of Stimulated Planning.

Although Save-Load Cycles provide the possibility of Replayability, they do not necessarily make replay meaningful. Puzzle Solving especiallybecomes pointless to do repeatedly, unless the puzzle can be solve in many different ways that can be quantifiably measured against each other.

Save-Load Cycles cause Downtime and Game Pauses from actual gameplay in Real-Time Games, since the actions to perform savingand loading take time away from actions in the game.

Although not intentionally constructed so, Save-Load Cycles may give players Direct Information to the game state by analyzing the files in which the saved game state is stored.


Instantiates: Stimulated Planning, Trans-Game Information, Smooth Learning Curves, Experimenting, Downtime, Replayability, Freedom of Choice, Spawning, Extra-Game Actions, Game Pauses, Reversability

Modulates: Direct Information, Near Miss Indicators, Real-Time Games, Single-Player Games, Tension

Instantiated by: Dedicated Game Facilitators

Modulated by: Save Points

Potentially conflicting with: Surprises, Leaps of Faith, Penalties, Multiplayer Games, Irreversible Actions, Puzzle Solving, Immersion, Ability Losses, Score

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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