A feature common for single player in computer games (especially first-person shooters). Quick save is, as the name states, a quick way to save the game. This is usually achieved by hitting whatever key has been designated for the action during the game, thus alleviating the necessity for the player to escape to a menu, select which file to save the game as (if the game gives that option, which some don't), and so on.

It might sound like a feature designed purely out of sloth but is a nice touch if a game's menu takes a while to load up or if the player is really into the feel of the game and doesn't want to interrupt that heightened video game alertness. Quick save's loading counterpart is aptly known as quick load.

It must be noted that when playing a classic game on an emulator, such as Callus or Nesticle, the quick save feature can be used to pretty much walk your way through even the most difficult of games.

Don't like the stats that you roll for yourself in that RPG? Press the quick save button before you roll, then you can press the quick load button if you get bad stats.

This feature has allowed me to do the impossible which is to finish Final Fantasy for the Nintendo using 4 White Mages (healers, for the uninformed). The quick save is also invaluable when in the dungeon in Wizardry (the way the game generates random numbers helps). Properly used the quick save will allow you to quickly become a Ninja or Lord, not to mention getting all of the rare equipment.

There's something of a trend against the quick save in game design at the moment. The perceived problem with the system is that it allows the player to move through the game too easily, by providing a limitless safety net - before rounding a corner, tap the quick save key, and you can proceed without fear. With limitless quick saves, the capacity for tension is greatly reduced, and any risk may be removed.

This has been addressed in a number of ways. In the seminal Xbox shooter Halo, the player can issue a save command at any time, but the save points are set at discrete intervals. Until you have passed a checkpoint, any save games will restart from the previous checkpoint. This means that you cannot save a game halfway through a battle - or rather, you can, but you will find yourself at the outset of the battle when you return. As a result, reaching a checkpoint seems like an achievement and can be an almost physical relief. It should be noted, however, that this approach only really works because of Halo's emergent gameplay; if the action between checkpoints played out in the same way every time, the system would be highly detrimental.

Another approach is to allow saving at any point, but restrict the number of times this can happen. This technique is used in the cross-platform title Conflict: Desert Storm, which attempts to offer a "realistic" combat environment. The player can save the game whenever they wish, but only twice per level. This strikes a balance between the convenience of the quick save (it's unreasonable to demand that the large levels in modern games be completed in one sitting) and the need to present a challenge to the gamer.

But quick saves have their advantages. The gaming journalist Steven Poole has argued on several occasions that the ability to save a game is important to the success of gaming in the mainstream, where gameplay needs to integrate casually with other lifestyle demands. There's also the argument that players can simply elect not to use the quick save key, which is undeniable. But it's also worth considering the effect the concept may have on game design at a more fundamental level; games offering quick save should be designed with the system in mind. If the system was applied to the Resident Evil series, would it be addressing a flaw in its design, or diluting the tension the titles are noted for?

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