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Phone Home, Moogle

Diana Scott
Staff Editorialist

Save points have always been essential parts of an RPG game. But despite their usefulness, they usually are put on the back-burner when it comes to design. Designers consider where to put save points, but often times don't bother coming up with original ways to present them. In my opinion, these designers should take hints from a few unique RPGs, where save points weren't just the typical random shiny floating object we have all come to know.

As anyone who has ever played an RPG can probably tell you, most RPGs associate saving with a stay at the inn. In most cases an option for saving would appear after a good night's rest, or a save point would lie nearby. But this option soon became so commonplace, it was almost as bland and unfeeling as the simple 'save after the level' function.

Enter a new, fresh way to save your game. Some developers, whether to bring individuality to their game or to simply be quirky, came up with new ideas for methods of saving. Examples include Earthbound, where you had to 'phone home' in order to save your game. Or Final Fantasy IX where you had to locate a moogle, who had a nice traveler's log. I remember being thrilled to find that my method of saving my game wasn't an annoying task but instead was filled with at least some entertainment.

The typical RPG save point has some head scratching moments as well. Has anyone wondered how the small blue save spheres of Final Fantasy X allowed you to play blitzball? Likewise, you've probably noticed that the save sphere also functions as a teleportation device, usually allowing you to board an airship of some kind. Convenient? Yes. Logical? Not really. To me, not integrating the save points into a game takes away from the experience. People say games are becoming more and more realistic, yet the save points of today are nearly identical to the ones of the 16-bit generation. If RPGs are developing more thought-out plots and creating more fleshed out characters, I think its high time the save point gets an upgrade...

So, I would like to bid farewell to the games where saving is as simple as going to the menu screen after you locate a glowing cube and stand on/around it. I want to say goodbye to some head-scratching moments. (Why would the innkeeper have any desire to save my progress?)I'd also like to give a warm welcome to the games that manage to make such a mundane thing entertaining. It's not too easy to come up with interesting ways to save the game, which is why I think designers that do so should be commended. It implies that they may spend more time on the little things of a game, which to me is impressive.

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