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 On SAVE/LOAD (et similia)

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Laonoone
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PostSubject: On SAVE/LOAD (et similia)   Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:44 pm

(Note: This is a bit messy, since I wrote it all without editing on a phone. Sorry.)

In the past decade or so, and probably even just the last five years, there's been a lot of extraordinary games and not-as-extraordinary games, and a lot of amazing stories and worlds as a result of the growth of the game industry. Some may argue that point, citing the waves of cloned mobile games and uninspired first-person titles, as well as the very recent surge of AAA titles playing too safe to be much more than uninspired, but that's not the point here.
Stories in games haven't just evolved in depth, maturity, and a bunch of other ways, of course. Games have always been prominent in allowing one to insert themselves into the game by means of an avatar, the playable character. Even if that character has some sort of personality granted to them by the world, their ultimate course of action, or the way they go about doing it, is determined by you, the player. This interactivity has bled into the part of the game called the plot. Stories often don't just go on a one-track railway nowadays. Instead of just 'saving the princess', you can save her, kill her, or go do something else entirely. These different routes and possibilities encourage playing the game once more, and a game with good replayability rewards you with different scenarios and secrets for doing so. There are games where the player community has practically tortured every bit of information, every possibility, every line of code out of it. Here's to you, Chrono Trigger.
To do this quicker, they often use the game's built-in saving feature, or if they're on an emulator, they use savestates.
Save files. Something that the player can use to return to previous points in the game, and from there, to try new things. Now, that brings me to what I believe is one of the most interesting interpretations of this mechanic, bringing a whole new depth to something so innocuous. The SAVE ability as presented in Undertale.
Undertale breaks a lot of molds when it comes to RPGs, and it retreads a lot of old ground with a new pair of shoes at the same time. The commentary on the 'grinding' phenomenon, the fragments of the world's lore hidden in dummied-out assets, unorthodox solutions to every situation, and a tremendously broken fourth wall that serves to draw you into a remarkably self-aware game. But that's all been said time and time again all over the internet. The main point is how the game treats the idea of saving and loading.
In the world of Undertale, saving and is treated as essentially creating a 'jump-point' in the current timeline of the game, and loading is when the character(and the player) jumps back to that point, leaving the current timeline behind and creating a new one. Essentially a form of interdimensional time travel, something not necessarily brand-new. However, it is played with in Undertale. The player and his avatar are not the only ones capable of this feat, and certainly not the only ones aware of it. Timelines bleed into each other, with less-aware characters experiencing fragments of memories from other timelines, and the more-aware characters actually taking action based on their observations. The power is depicted as something all-powerful and godlike, something capable of immeasurable harm, and indeed, it is. With it, the player has the ability to render a perfectly peaceful world nonexistent, or to immediately absolve himself of any and all sins. If he dies, he can just load back to a previous time before he perished, and continue unharmed. In fact, one character in the game who possesses this power did all that and more.
But I am probably going on for too long about a specific example.
Saving and loading, when presented in the manner that Undertale does, is honestly terrifying. How would you act and feel, knowing that at any time, you would cease to be, no longer part of a timeline significant enough to be recounted? You probably wouldn't be aware of it at all. But if you were?
That specific breaking down of the barrier between the game and the world, where the character can be aware of the player's influence and capabilities, and behave accordingly, is something really rather interesting. It links with the idea of the 'Artificial World' theory, something explored in many media such as the Matrix films and even Wreck-it Ralph. But rarely do we find ourselves actually experiencing it from the higher ground so directly. It's amazing to see it touched upon in a way that actually affects the game itself.
But here's the thing; The scope of its impact is limited. In Undertale, the power itself is limited to you, the avatar, and an antagonist who lost his capacity for it as soon as you turned the game on. The only ones who can do anything about it lack the power itself and can only stand in your way in one timeline at a time, or are rendered ineffectual. Plus, there's only one savefile. What if you could have more, like in many other games?
Now imagine; a character with the capability of jumping between this metaphysical, non-predetermined timelines that you create by saving. Maybe a dangerous villain, who can bar your way in one timeline, but not quite defeat you, but by forcing you to create a new timeline to try another route, catch you there and dispatch your avatar more easily. Maybe a character who can escape the destruction of one savefile timeline to another file, and continue to exist there. Undertale already showed how terrifying that ability can be, even bound by the limits of the game world, with the final boss of the Neutral route. Imagine if that wasn't just a one-time battle, and instead a mainstay of the game's world. A villain that chases you from savefile to savefile. An ally who can bring his experience from an old time into a new time to help you early on. An NPC who has knowledge of other worlds that you've long since abandoned.

Stuff like that. Stuff like that is one of the things that, personally, I'm excited to see more of. Not even specifically the interaction of the characters with system mechanics normally only available to the player. Everything to do with the dissolution of the barrier between the game world on the screen and the real world just touching it. A whole new kind of marriage between interaction and immersion, something that can connect the player even further with these wonderful little pieces of entertainment. After all, how many tears and laughs have come about, because of one silly little game called Undertale?
Instead of player-avatar interaction and subsequently avatar-world interaction, how about a triangle, a trinity of connection?
I'd like to see that happen more often.

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OyutheGaggles
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PostSubject: Re: On SAVE/LOAD (et similia)   Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:06 pm

tl;dr

except not really why did i read all of that















undertale is hamazing tho

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I'd totally buy this for five bucks. In the black market. On Steam Greenlight. During a flash sale.
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SmashBasher123
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PostSubject: Re: On SAVE/LOAD (et similia)   Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:13 pm

Meanwhile I will continue to not play it due to no moniez *kicked*
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