My one hour Fallout 2 gaming session and bitching about lack of auto-save

Yesterday, I bought Fallout 2 and played it for like one hour or so. During the session, I managed to go through trial, and almost killed one plant and then finally made my way into woods to find a dog. I found dog, tried to come back and then gecko killed me. It was man-size gecko. Fast bastards.

I don’t know what happened to the dog, but then I encountered a game over screen showing bones of a dead human. Text indicated that it was bad thing for mankind too as they were not saved.

Then I saw the start menu.

Then… I started wondering if there was auto-saves, but heheee, there were no such things as autosaves in ’99. Nah, I should have saved the game and not mess with the gecko.

Okay, I realize that now.

Now, I might suck at Fallout but do I have to go through the damn trial again? I found a great strategy of fighting which consisted of “hit & run”. Hit once, run 4 squares away. Wait spider to follow and hit again. Repeat for a long time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Fallout 2. It was game I never played in my childhood and I want to correct that error.

But, I started thinking stuff from game designers point-of-view. I encountered a permanent death. All my progress was lost, and I have to restart.

I started thinking: “does this make game more fun?”

I doubt it.

Okay, if there would have been auto-save… then I could have wanted to continue from that point and try saving the dog bit differently. Or, since there was no in-built autosave I could have just saved the game every 15 minutes.

…but that sort of breaks immersion to me. I’m going on a mission and tribesmen there and I can have ask guidance and all, and then trout slap to my face: “HEY, I GOTTA SAVE NOW” my brain reminds me.

I think permanent death works great in games where rounds are short. For example, Rogue Spear multiplayer was great. One shot and you could have to wait for the round to end. It was pure genius and added to thrill.

(And to clarify: permanent death means all your progress is lost and hell no your next character can pick up your experience/items/stuff/anything and no loading either. It’s one shot thing: if you die, you must start game from zero. That’s permanent death. Period. Everything else isn’t.)

Fallout’s (okay, it’s decade old game, I know) lack of auto-save – in my humble opinion – does NOT add to the gaming experience. I’d rather have one slot that I cannot save/load whenever I want, but so that it would autosave like every 30 minutes or at critical points (like just before going to critical area or something).

I think that way no much immersion is lost since I don’t have to go to pause menu & save the game… and it would still offer me meaningful choices to make. I would know that I have to make good decisions, since I’d have just one slot where the game is saved. No fooling around, but thinking what to do next.

Don’t get me wrong: the game’s just great. I’m just thinking out loud about permanent death & auto-save.

What you think?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Late comment, but for the perma-death thing, I think they must have been going for the hardcore (really hardcore) crowd. Some people love that stuff.

    I guess, for the autosave thing, you just have to save, and save often, just like that old computer saying. :D

  2. I did not play Fallout myself, but when I was observing a friend playing it I remember noting how long did the save/load take. I think it was about a minute. I guess it would be annoying to the boiling point if the thing kicked in unprompted every now and then, pausing the game for a minute.

    It has nothing to do with play experience or permadeath – it was just a convention to have manual save systems these days. I find it hard to recall a few mid-90 games having autosave.

    Dorin Lazar – you don’t play permadeath game to complete them. Think of them like of Teteris but with much longer time per session. When you lose, you just start again and the random generator will make the next time different.

    • Good point. It sure would kill immersion if game would freeze 1 min every 15 minutes.

  3. I was intrigued by this in nethack, and found it awesome. But these days, I wouldn’t like it so much, because I have less time to play and I really don’t want to be bothered with that. Did I die? Ok, do something and get me back on track, a la Bastion. I want to play for 20 minutes, not think about when will I be able to save my progress.

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