Created By: lu127 on August 10, 2012 Last Edited By: lu127 on August 6, 2013
Troped

Auto-save

A game automatically saves without the player's input

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A feature in Video Games, where the game automatically saves data without the player's input, usually with a small notification. The game will save at certain points, such as when the player enters a new location or wins a certain battle. An Auto-Save will always overwrite the previous file in the system. The option to save manually may also be present.

Although autosaving is usually meant to be just a convenience for the player, developers sometimes use it to prevent Save Scumming, which some feel is a form of cheating. The feature is relatively uncommon in certain types of genres, such as Eastern RPGs, platform games and action games.

Compare and contrast Save Point and Save-Game Limits.

Examples:

Action Adventure Games

Eastern RPG

  • Dark Souls autosaves almost constantly. The "Now autosaving" icon pops up every time you kill an enemy.
  • Dragon Quest IX only has autosave when calculating the odds of an alchemiracle, to prevent Save Scumming until you get the ultimate weapon/armor.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 autosaves before key events like bosses.
  • In The Last Story, the game's autosave is referred to as a "Checkpoint Save", and it's made any time you're about to go into a battle. The game notes that it only keeps one Checkpoint Save at a time, though you can have as many save files (using the traditional Save Point) as you want.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, getting a new chip from the chip trader machine will cause the game to auto-save. This is to prevent Save Scumming for the desired chip.

First-Person Shooter

  • Border Lands and Border Lands 2 use autosave both when a player changes areas and when they enter the proximity of a New-U station.
  • Most Call of Duty games save between levels, and some save at checkpoints.
  • All games in the FEAR series autosave after reaching a certain place and sometimes before or after a especially hard fight. The first game also has an option to save manually.
  • Both Goldeneye 1997 and Goldeneye Wii use auto save.
  • Done in Quake II. The game auto-saves into the first save slot whenever the player enters a new area, without notifying the player, but also allows the player to save in a different save slot manually whenever the player wishes.
  • Valve games such as Half-Life and Portal autosave in certain places or intervals. If you want to to back before an autosave, you can always load the previous save file.

Platform Games

  • The Jumper games automatically save progress at a moment that varies between games. Then again, being able to undo death-count wouldn't be rather fair.
  • Kirby games always save like this. The sole exception is "The Great Cave Offensive" game in Kirby Super Star, which has a Metroidvania-like design including Save Points.
  • Purple saves progress automatically when you beat a boss, but level high-scores and item collections are saved instantly when you complete a level.
  • The Ratchet & Clank games save in between levels.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: The game autosaves whenever you're entering a level or the hub.

Puzzle Games

  • Angry Birds and all its sequels automatically save your progress every time you complete a level.

Rhythm Games

Simulation Game

Stealth-Based Game

  • Castle Wolfenstein. In the original 1981 version the game saved your situation every time you entered a room or died. If you died you could prevent this by opening the disk drive's door, then re-booting. The game would start up again right where you entered the room.

Tower Defense

  • Plants vs. Zombies saves your progress every time you complete an action - be it completing a level, buying something from the store, or watering your garden.

Turn-Based Strategy

  • The GBA Fire Emblem titles all have a continuous autosave.
  • Victoria An Empire Under the Sun autosaves periodically, at intervals that can be set by the player (e.g. every 3 months in game time, 6 months, etc.). The player can also save manually at any point in the game.

Western RPG

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has autosaving, generally when moving between room sets and whenever significant conversations occur.
  • Diablo II and Diablo III. The second game seems to autosave after some time has passed, as well as when leaving the game. The third game autosaves when entering a certain place.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has the game autosave at certain predefined locations while Dragon Age II pretty much saves automatically each time the player enters a new area. Both have up to four autosave slots.
  • The Elder Scrolls:

Wide Open Sandbox


Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • August 10, 2012
    lu127
    I'd like some feedback here, since auto-saving usually flies over my head. Also, please specify the genre of the game so I can sort them appropriately.
  • August 10, 2012
    ccoa
    Probably should mention that autosaving can be used as a measure against Save Scumming, which some developers feel is a form of cheating.

    (This would be either RPG, Eastern RPG, or Action RPG, depending on how finely you're breaking this down - I prefer not to lump Western and Eastern into one category since they're so different, but that's up to you.)

  • August 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    duh?
  • August 10, 2012
    ccoa
    It's not an Omnipresent Trope, except possibly in certain genres of games. I can probably name three dozen games that don't use it off the top of my head - it's relatively uncommon in rpgs, platformers, adventure, and action-adventure games, just to name a few.

    Puzzle Game:
    • Angry Birds and all its sequels automatically save your progress every time you complete a level.

    Tower Defense:
    • Plants Vs Zombies saves your progress every time you do complete an action - be it completing a level, buying something from the store, or watering your garden.

  • August 10, 2012
    lu127
    ^^ If it was omnipresent you'd see it everywhere, but it is very rare to see it in a JRPG.

    ^ I usually break RPGs if the list gets too long.
  • August 10, 2012
    surgoshan
  • August 10, 2012
    KTera
    • Dark Souls autosaves almost constantly. The "Now autosaving" icon pops up every time you kill an enemy.
  • August 10, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Western RPG
    • Diablo II and Diablo III. The second game seems to autosave after some time has passed (correct me I'm wrong, but definitely it autosaves in some way or other), as well as when leaving the game. The third game autosaves when entering a certain place. The first game has manual saving, so it doesn't fit into this trope.

    First Person Shooter
    • All games in the FEAR series autosave after reaching a certain place and sometimes before or after a especially hard fight. The first game has also an option to save manually (saving manually in this game allows you to have several savegames, so the first game probably doesn't fit into this trope).
  • August 10, 2012
    juanguy
    Dragon's Dogma has autosaving, though it doesn't seem to pop up often enough to be effective, especially considering the singular save file.

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution has autosaving, as well, generally when moving between room sets & whenever significant conversations occur.

    Consider that autosaving in western RPG's like Oblivion and Skyrim doesn't do anything to prevent save scumming. In these games the autosaves are meant to be convenient both loading information and saving progress for entering rooms and fast traveling.
  • August 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • August 10, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Action Adventure: Every one of the Lego Adaptation Game does this.
  • August 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That should remove the s at the end to make it a blue link.
  • August 10, 2012
    BoneHead777
    The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (rpg) also has this, but you can turn it off.
  • August 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Can't remember if Saints Row 1 has auto save, but Saints Row 2 and Saints Row The Third certainly do.
  • August 10, 2012
    Diask
    Platform Game
    • The Jumper games automatically save progress at a moment that varies between games. Then again, being able to undo death-count wouldn't be rather fair.
    • Purple saves progress automatically when you beat a boss, but level high-scores and item collections are saved instantly when you complete a level.
  • August 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Many games save high scores and tropies/achievements.
  • August 11, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Wipe Open Sandbox
    • Not sure if it counts, but Grand Theft Auto IV, aside from the manual saving that is allowed at Save Point, autosaves after completing missions. The manual saving at Save Point allows several savegames, the autosave uses only one file that is replaced each time.
  • August 11, 2012
    Lyendith
    Actually... pretty much every single game has some kind of auto-save function nowadays... I'm not sure it's not People Sit On Chairs.
  • August 11, 2012
    nman
    I gotta agree with other people said. This is in a lot of games. I have a feeling that you'd be better listing off Western games that don't save your progress automatically, and Japanese games that do.

    But that's just a half-joke I'm using to bring up whether there should be any criteria for listing a game, because even if it's not omnipresent, it's still highly common. Here's something important:

    You wrote "An Auto-Save will always overwrite the previous file in the system." Always seems a bit too strong, almost like a requirement.
  • August 11, 2012
    lu127
    Very common =/= People Sit On Chairs. That terminology is greatly misused these days. I rarely play games that even have autosaving.

    To bring up recent examples: @/Disgaea 4, every Final Fantasy game ever, every Yu Gi Oh video game ever. Pretty sure Devil May Cry doesn't use autosave either.

    ^ Doesn't it always do that, however? If it's the case of a system mechanic and not a judgement call, then weasel words don't do any good.

  • August 11, 2012
    lewman
    Dragon Quest IX only has autosave when calculating the odds of an alchemiracle, to prevent Save Scumming until you get the ultimate weapon/armor.
  • August 11, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "Very common =/= People Sit On Chairs."

    AKA, No Trope Is Too Common.
  • August 11, 2012
    Nin3DS
    Yoshis Island and Yoshis Island DS

    Any Wario Land game from the first onwards.
  • August 11, 2012
    Balmung
    The GBA Fire Emblem titles all have a continuous Auto Save.
  • August 11, 2012
    PsiPaula4
    • Kirby games always save like this.
  • August 12, 2012
    lu127
    While examples will definitely be simplistic, let's not go into Zero Context Examples. A short description of when and where should be enough.
  • August 12, 2012
    TBeholder
    @ DragonQuestZ: still way too much of an Omnipresent Trope to collect examples.
  • August 12, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That is not what Omnipresent Tropes means.
  • August 12, 2012
    Arivne
    Stealth Based Game
    • Castle Wolfenstein. In the original 1981 version the game saved your situation every time you entered a room or died. If you died you could prevent this by opening the disk drive's door, then re-booting. The game would start up again right where you entered the room.
  • August 14, 2012
    lu127
    We could exclude the genres where this is almost omnipresent. Ccoa mentioned some genres where this is uncommon in post 4. Obviously, examples from those genres are going to be rare. Which genres almost always have it?

    Incidentally, here's giantbomb's article and Wikipedia's.

  • May 24, 2013
    Stratadrake
    A few quick examples of games that technically do auto-save but it is too trivial to qualify as an example: Both of these games feature short, self-contained levels so the game only has to save the fact that you've beaten it.


    • In The Last Story, the game's autosave is referred to as a "Checkpoint Save", and it's made any time you're about to go into a battle. The game notes that it only keeps one Checkpoint Save at a time, though you can have as many save files (using the traditional Save Point) as you want.
  • May 24, 2013
    StarSword
    Simulation Games:
    • The later games in the X-Universe series autosave when you dock at a station.
  • May 24, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Not sure if this is common to all Paradox games, but Victoria An Empire Under the Sun autosaves periodically, at intervals that can be set by the player (e.g. every 3 months in game time, 6 months, etc.). The player can also save manually at any point in the game.
  • May 26, 2013
    Melkior
    FPS:
    • Done in Quake II. The game auto-saves into the first save slot whenever the player enters a new area, without notifying the player, but also allows the player to save in a different save slot manually whenever the player wishes.
  • May 26, 2013
    BearyScary
    • Simulation Game example: Publisher Dream, a downloadable game for the Nintendo 3 DS, autosaves at the end of every work week.

    There are many other examples, but I can't think of any others right now.
  • May 26, 2013
    Rethkir
    FPS
    • Valve games such as Half-Life and Portal autosave in certain places or intervals. If you want to to back before an autosave, you can always load the previous save file.
  • May 26, 2013
    BearyScary
    Role Playing Games
  • July 6, 2013
    DAN004
  • July 6, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    To expand on the Kirby example: the sole exception is "The Great Cave Offensive" game in Kirby Super Star, which has a Metroidvania-like design including Save Points.
  • July 29, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Happens in non-games, too. Since around 97-2003, the Microsoft Office package has included an auto save feature that creates a temporary file that gets saved while you're working on it.
  • July 29, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^ That's not always the same, applications have various levels of auto-saving. Sometimes it's strictly a backup copy in case of crash recovery and you still have to explicitly save changes before closing the file.

  • July 29, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Fixed a Red Link (Kirby games are Name Spaced in "Video Game", not "Franchise").
  • July 29, 2013
    godofgamers
    It's definitely not People Sit In Chairs; although it may be largely obsolete these days. To think of a few examples where Autosaves DON'T happen:

    I think this idea should be divided into three categories:

    Based on what I've seen here, I give it a tip of the hat
  • July 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Non-games:
    • GMail now autosaves your draft emails.
    • Hackpad (a collaborative document service kinda like Google Docs) autosaves any changes you make to the document in question.
  • July 29, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^^ No Autosave For You sounds non-tropable.

  • July 29, 2013
    Bisected8
    • Shadowrun Returns was criticised for only having autosaves (which were done whenever a new area loaded), as the engine doesn't support manual saves.
  • July 29, 2013
    godofgamers
    "No Autosave For You sounds non-tropable."

    I beg to differ; there are plenty of games that don't use them at all; my list is just what I can think of offhand. If anything, insofar as I can tell, it's the games with optional autosaves that may be Too Rare To Trope. And I think we've already established that none of these three categories are People Sit In Chairs. If you want me to write a big, long speech on why save mechanics are not generic and meaningless, I will. as a quick example, using limited saves or autosaves only in horror games helps build the atmosphere of fear and discomfort.

    A quick internet search yielded some more games to file under No Auto Save For You:
    • XCOM - Enemy Unknown
    • Madden Football
    • Fallout 2
    • Many, many arcade-style games (Password Save is already a trope, and would be a Sub Trope of No Auto Save For You, so just mentally copy-paste the examples from there into my list)

  • July 29, 2013
    madcapguy
    FPS
    • Border Lands (and the sequel.) use autosave both when a player changes areas and when they enter the proximity of a New-U station.
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