Stolen Pixels #204: Alpha Etiquette

By Shamus
on Jun 18, 2010
Filed under:
Column

Here is a bit about the Alpha Protocol dialog system.

I need to keep playing this game before I can review it. One minute I’ll be thinking, “This game is okay. I don’t know what people are complaining about.” Ten minutes later, “This game sucks. I don’t know what people see in it.”

The most distressing problem is the save system. It’s checkpoint based, even when you’re at your hideout. I get back to the safe house and it checkpoint saves. Then I do some leveling up, buy some equipment, and arrange my gear. Then I want to quit. The only save option is “save last checkpoint”, which – if I’m understanding it – means I’d be saving the game state of when I arrived at my base. If I want to save all that fussing about, I have to start a new mission.

The other problem is that I can’t make any sense of how the save slots work. I finished the first act of the game, and then I needed to start a new game to make the previous comic. Just to make sure, I saved my game in two different slots. Later I wanted to return to that save, but both slots were overwritten with autosaves or something. They were gone, and I ended up losing about an hour and a half of progress. You don’t name your character or anything, so if you’ve got two different play-throughs going you can’t tell their saves apart, even if you can keep them from somehow overwriting each other. This is a significant flaw in a game designed around the idea of multiple replays.

Pretty classic Obsidian craftsmanship so far.

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From the Archives:

  1. ToastyVirus says:

    I really don’t like the game, The hacking minigame alone makes me want to tear all my hair out.

  2. X2-Eliah says:

    Is there even any reason for using ‘checkpoint’ saving in modern games?

    Also, Can’t wait to see New Vegas with checkpoint saving – or limited save slots.

    • Tizzy says:

      None I can think of. To me, checkpoint-saving was always the console’s admission of their vast technical inferiority to the PC. Now that the current-gen console have enough yummy hardware to kick my PC’s ass into next week, there is simply no explanation for that other than fake difficulty or lazy programming.

      As for lousy management of save slots… first of all, I hate when I’m given a visibly limited number of save slots (another very console-y thing to do), but if you programmed it and didn’t separate autosaves from player saves, you should be taken out and shot. No exceptions.

      • Didero says:

        The worst example of limited save slots I’ve seen (though I don’t have much experience) was in the PC version of Pirates of the Caribbean (almost unrelated to the movies, by the way). There you had I believe 10 save slots. But that limit was just a variable in an ini-file. So if you edited that file and increased the variable, you had more save slots. That was just incredibly lazy programming. But luckily it was easy to fix.

        • Abnaxis says:

          Gladius, a game for XBOX, had 3 slots. THREE! On a system which comes with a hard drive…

          • Taellosse says:

            Well, USUALLY comes with a hard drive. It is possible to get an XBox without one. The Arcade only comes with 256 MB of onboard storage. Of course, you can fit a fair number of saves on that, but still, by modern standards it is fairly small.

            But that’s why there are generally a limited number of save slots in games for the 360–Microsoft actually requires the developer to limit the number because of the Arcade owners that don’t have hard drives and thus have very limited storage capacity.

            Of course, that’s no excuse for a checkpoint-only system for an RPG.

    • Jeff says:

      It’s a pathetic copout.
      “We can’t figure out how to make our game appropriately difficult, so we’ll just make sure they can’t save and DAIS. We can’t be bothered to put enough content in to extend the playtime, so we’ll just use checkpoints and force them to replay sections over and over and over.”

      • Garden Ninja says:

        DIAS is hardly intrinsic to checkpoint systems. Checkpoints can have the opposite effect if done right. With just manual/quicksaves, the player can save themselves into a corner, e.g. by saving right before a dude shoots them in the face (reload, die, reload, die…). Depending on how well they managed their saves, they may not have another save to fall back on without losing a lot of progress.

        With a checkpoint system, the developer should know when it’s safe, and only put checkpoints at those places. If the checkpoints are paced well, then you won’t have to repeat large sections of content. I have seen similar systems in Save Anywhere games also (e.g. Infinity Engine games, Oblivion and Fallout will not let you save with enemies nearby. It doesn’t solve all DIAS problems. For example, not picking up an item you need and having to backtrack, using an item before you should, running out of ammo.

        In the other direction, there is no technological reason not to have quicksave. Max Payne on Xbox had quick save. I didn’t even realize there were normal save slots until more than halfway through the game.

        Personally, my ideal save system would have automatic checkpoint saving, and a save anywhere, with quick saves. There shouldn’t be a limit on manual saves, and there should be multiple slots for quick and checkpoint saves.

        • Tizzy says:


          Personally, my ideal save system would have automatic checkpoint saving, and a save anywhere, with quick saves. There shouldn’t be a limit on manual saves, and there should be multiple slots for quick and checkpoint saves.

          And I’ve played many games that offer that. So why are game designers trying to turn back the clock?

          • Garden Ninja says:

            And I’ve played many games that offer that. So why are game designers trying to turn back the clock?

            I can’t think of any that I’ve played, but I mostly play console these days, where checkpoint systems are the standard, and save-anywhere is rather rare. Half Life 2 is close: 2 auto-save slots, plus separate save-anywhere slots. No quick-save (on the console version at least, though I assume the PC version does), but manual save is pretty quick, so not a big deal.

            As for why it isn’t more common, the smart ass answer is laziness. For a less-snarky answer, save systems aren’t sexy. People don’t mention the save system in reviews unless it’s broken. Rather than bother implementing a decent save system, they do the minimum that is considered acceptable, and move on to things that reviewers do mention, like graphics or gameplay.

            Considering you need some kind of save system, adding a few extra hooks for quick saves, and putting auto-saves, manual saves, and quick-saves into separate folders (an ideally multiple playthroughs as well, like Mass Effect does) should be basically trivial. So I return to my snarky comment: Laziness.

    • Jep jep says:

      I don’t believe we’re gonna see this in NV since they basically should already have a save system coded in with the Fallout 3’s engine. I mean KOTOR 2 had the all the same basics as the prequel. Now since general gameplay seems to be somewhat at the same level as in FO3 (from what you can gather of the various pieces of footage and info), I think we’ll mostly have to worry about the execution of the storyline. It might be just wishful thinking, but I think this time they may actually pull it all through.

      • 8th_Pacifist says:

        I dunno. KOTOR 2 used the exact same engine as the first one; the gameplay was fine and even improved in some areas, but the game on the whole was a bug-ridden mess. It’s not the technology, it’s how you use it.

        That said, I still enjoyed it more than the first one.

    • Corran says:

      They went for checkpoint saves on purpose. Their thinking was that that way you couldn’t save before conversations and ‘work the system’. This way there would be more incentive for replaying the game.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Except that you can save before conversations and see how they go.Its just more tedious.And if a game has good story and dialogue(like alpha protocol has),youll replay it even if you can save at any time and see every conversation how it goes.For example,after I won hordes of the underdark,I opened the main quest with the editor to see how the ending conversation can go,and Ive listened to all the options.Then,I replayed the game,even if I knew how all the endings can go.

      • Cory says:

        Corran’s comment illustrates the problem with current thinking on save states. People have got it into their heads that “save anywhere” means that you can restart again from 3 seconds ago. As anyone who’s ever played Nethack knows, this isn’t remotely true. You just create a special “suspend save” slot, which you can use anywhere. When save in that slot, it quits the game. When you load up your suspend save, it deletes the save. So there is no way to try different dialog options or come back from a death or whatever. It’s basically a long term pause button.

        Now obviously most games don’t want to be Nethack, but there is no reason not to have a suspend save along with whatever limited save system they want to do. You can quit whenever you want and have your data, but if you die or want to retry something, you have to go to a checkpoint.

        Nethack is an ancient game, so the concept has been around forever. What’s more, plenty of modern games use it, too (Etrian Odyssey for the DS, for example). I think the only reason that most games don’t use it is because conversations about it always end up in the “save anywhere is convenient” versus “limited saves increase tension” argument, without people realizing that there is already a solution that gives the best of both worlds.

        Side note: Obviously some game work better with full saves at any time, and those won’t need a separate suspend save. But every game that chooses to limit saves needs to let you suspend, for the convenience of the player.

  3. Jokerman89 says:

    I thought the game was really good….you have to look past a few flaws. Graphics mean nothing to me anyway…and meh they aint even that bad to me haha.

    I got little bugs on 360…maybe a few visual glitches…but that is all.

    The Hacking seems to be only complained about by PC users…personally i found it a doddle on 360.

    • SnowballinHell says:

      I bought the game on PC (cause if I have a choice, that will always be my first) and upon getting to the hacking portion honestly considered returning the game and getting the X-Box version (oops, bought it on PC so that options out, cause “The used market/pirates are destroying gaming”)
      Were it not for my brother filling me in on being able to plug my wired controller into my PC, I would have had to buy the game AGAIN !!
      I think your right, a few of the flaws can be looked past (I did still want to play after all)
      But this is to God the worst port I’ve ever played, making the hacking mini-game ONLY do-able on an X-Box
      And a side note/Bug…with the mouse my character would mysteriously turn 180 degrees, making sneaking frustrating…with a Controller, smooth as butter

  4. acronix says:

    I strongly believe that Alpha Protocol´s mistakes exist because they were designing it with only consoles in mind. But I bet they too have lots of complains.

  5. Raygereio says:

    Oh man, the lack a decent save feature is a complaint I have with so many games, especially ones with a stealth mechanic or the ones that have resources you can easily loose after a single screw up. I thought it wasn’t that bad in Alpha Protocol, but there were plenty of times where I was cursing Obsidian for not including a quicksave.

    Game developers, take note! A checkpoint system does not equel a save system. A check point system does not make your game more difficult, just as the inclusion of a quicksave doesn’t make the game more easier. All a checkpoint system does is annoy the player.

    Jokerman89:

    The Hacking seems to be only complained about by PC users…personally i found it a doddle on 360

    That’s because it feels like it was designed for an analog stick. It’s… awkward on a keyboard and mouse setup.

    • Tizzy says:

      WORD on the save system stuff!

      You know, with FF7, Shamus painted a very clear picture of what is hard about making a current-gen game. It occurs to me that, on the other hand,
      the principles that govern the design of savegames cannot have changed much in the past 15 years. Even the size of said savegames cannot have gone up that much.

      So what’s their excuse?

      • Yar Kramer says:

        Jeff seems to make a compelling argument.

        • Tizzy says:

          I can see how it would make sense: since producing content is so hard these days (compared to the *ridiculous* number of levels in 1990’s shooters, for instance), the DIAS gameplay allows you to make your game last longer. Along the same lines as medals and unlocks and so on.

          Cheap trick though: I am not impressed.

  6. UtopiaV1 says:

    Is it still worth a purchase? Also, which do i choose, Alpha and Red Dead?

  7. Josh R says:

    betcha can’t wait for New Vegas eh Shamus

    • bbot says:

      This. I was almost looking forward to New Vegas, all the pre-release hype was hitting the right points… and then they released Alpha Protocol.

      I feel great fear for New Vegas.

      • Josh R says:

        Fingers crossed that they used all their resources on the Fallout game, rather then this more chancey project.
        My fear is that they’ll create a world like Far Cry 2’s, where it may be huge and varied, but nothing interesting is ever around, something FO3 Managed very well.

  8. SolkaTruesilver says:

    A checkpoint system is, effectively, auto-save. I can’t say it’s a bad system, and I can remember the number of time I screwed up and had to start all over again 20 minutes of gameplay ’cause I forgot to save.

    HOWEVER, it will never, ever be worth a proper save system. Why goes through dev’s head when they think “let’s do away without a save system, just checkpoints!”?

    • Nihil says:

      Thing is, there’s no reason not to have both autosave and quicksave, except for:

      A) You aren’t sufficiently competent to program a full, bug-free, reasonably speedy “save game” command.

      B) Playtesting shows that a quicksave feature leads people to compulsive reload/retry repetitions, and encouraging them to just go with the flow actually makes the game more fun.

      For any given game, the odds are significantly in favour of (A). For an Obsidian game, as much as I love those guys, it’s a slam-dunk.

  9. Zukhramm says:

    Actually, saving in the safehouse as “last checkpoint” seems to save all you’ve done in the safehouse since arriving.

    The dialog seems to behave oddly for you, for me, the timer lways ran out just at the time the other person was done speaking and it’d make sense to reply.

    I really liked the game, but that’s not to say it does not have some flaws. Dialog works fine for the most part, but sometimes it’s unclear. The option “Sarcastic” appears, is that going to be asshole sarcastic or frindly jokingly sarcastic? I pick it, it was the former. -1 reputation.

    The horrible bosses. Forcing a firefight in a game that allows you to specialize in stealth? I’m not sure that’s the best idea. And the checkpoint save-system.

    • SnowballinHell says:

      On the first pass at playing I had the same problem
      Waiting for the other person to finish their sentence before I responded
      (it’s just polite after all)
      But after getting the hang of Professional/Aggressive/Suave, it started to flow for me
      I was thinking less about how I felt about what they were saying, and instead started to focus on how my character felt at the time and their feelings towards who they were talking to…made the PC more interesting then the NPC (whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure…cause no matter what, your always kind of a dick)
      And the reputation system in “OK”…no matter what my choices, I never did any REAL damage to people I liked…almost like talking to a REAL person O.O

  10. Tizzy says:

    So your terrorist is some unholy mix of islamic beard and the Che’s fatigues and beret; weird, but why not… But seriously, what the hell is your character wearing?

    • Gildan Bladeborn says:

      SWAT utility armor, the picture is just at an odd angle. Personally I prefer the color scheme in other regions better (armor and clothing changes based on where you are, so you’ll be wearing winter clothing in Moscow and your armor changes the camo-pattern accordingly). The more advanced versions of that suit look really cool actually.

  11. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    Shamus: That’s not actually how the saving works in safe houses. In missions, yes, telling it to “Save Last Checkpoint” will just save the last checkpoint and not any progress you’ve made since then. In the safe house though anything you do will be remembered if you make a save after doing it, you don’t need to start a new mission. I’ve tested this multiple times when I was trying to figure out which email responses did what, the only thing that’s not saved is where your character was standing, but any actions you take are.

    As for the save slots, I don’t know why that would be the case – the game has two autosave slots, the last safehouse and last checkpoint saves. If you made a manual save at any point, it should only ever get overwritten if you did that. Unfortunately they are just named after the zone, so it beats the hell out of me how you’ll tell them apart short of memorizing the time stamps (does it put a date on them too? I don’t remember now), but they still shouldn’t be getting overwritten unless you’re the one doing that.

  12. GTB says:

    Oh obsidian, is there anything you can’t fuck up? Its adorable the way you keep trying. Like a retarded kid who loses the race but still keeps plodding along to the finish line anyway, assured of a participation ribbon.

    I picked this up thinking “Well, you know, neverwinter nights 2 wasn’t… terrible. Maybe it’ll be okay.” Even though in the back of my head my subconscious is screaming “KOTOR 2, YOU DUMB BASTARD! KOTOR 2!”
    I uninstalled it after about five or six hours. The story is interesting to me, but the gameplay isn’t worth it just to continue the story. i’d like to read Alpha protocol: The Book, but i’m basically done with the game.

    Edit: The hacking minigame is essentially broken on PC. At least it was for me. I would slam the “left side” code in just fine, but the “right side” code that uses the mouse doesn’t work at all for me. I have to repeatedly flail around with my mouse just to get the cursor to move at all, and it usually results in minigame fail as I scream at the game. ITS RIGHT THERE! RIGHT FUCKING THERE! GO DOWN! GO LEFT! GOOOO LEEEEFT! AARAGH. The cursor moves about 1/5th as fast as the cursor that is bound to the keyboard. I never tried to rebind the controls for it but I bet you can’t, without even looking.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The only problem Ive had with alpha protocol is that its a console port.The hacking minigame,the camera,the checkpoints,and some other things are just bad on a pc(if I rebind e and space,it still says press e,when it should say press space).Also,some dialogs just cant be skipped,which is so annoying when you want to quit,and you have to wait for 5 minutes until everything is said.Oh,and the ai is bad.

    On the plus side,it is much more alt tab friendly than split second.

    • Nihil says:

      The console-itis symptom that bugs me the most is the forced use of the radial menu for weapons/skills/gadget.

      I can see that building a full-featured, bug-free and fast quicksave/quickload function may require a significant amount of extra programming time. But adding a handful of extra programmable hotkeys to menu items shouldn’t require more than a few lines of code for any game studio worth a damn. That was sheer laziness.

  14. WILL says:

    Saving in the safehouse will be like any other save, actually, since the game has a checkpoint after anything you do in the safehouse.

  15. Andy_Panthro says:

    Well, I really liked it.

    Mind you, I used a 360 controller. Definitely worked better than keyboard and mouse. Although I did feel like a heretic.

  16. Gandaug says:

    Someone order an extra helping of vitriol and venom?

  17. tremor3258 says:

    Isn’t it interesting how across various games or even genres to some respect, the design touches of a studio can show through?

    It isn’t the good thing it often is in this case, but it’s still interesting.

  18. Danel says:

    Yeah, it really is classic Obsidian – surpassing brilliance mixed with utter awfulness seemingly at random.

    I mean, the weird thing is that clearly at times they’ve given thought to how there are different ways of building your character, and so there’s two ways to defeat the first boss (complete with hilarious surprise flying kick if you manage to stealthily sneak up on him; though if you do gun him down from a distance your character still teleports over to beat him up in the cutscene after). And then the second boss immediately afterwards always involves running about and firing missiles at a APC, and can’t be stealthed at all.

    As regards the safehouse – it’s actually okay to start a mission, since it always creates a save just before you leave, complete with everything you’ve done there, and that won’t be replaced until you actually start a new mission.

    It really is just so many quality of life issues they just seem to have forgot. The checkpoint-autosave and save system seems both redundant and insufficient (the only use I’ve found for using saves when they go back to checkpoint anyway is in the rare case that you accidentally set off an alarm just before hitting a checkpoint – but when then happens you’ve likely forgot to save anyway).

    But of course it’s then hindered by them not letting you name the saves, to the extent that you can’t even tell what playthrough it’s from, a huge disadvantage on a game that works so well on repeated plays.

  19. Licaon_Kter says:

    Since Obisidian concentrated on the “choice” idea, as they say here: http://blip.tv/file/3491456/ , a checkpoint system and a dialog timer do help imho to deter gamers to save and reload before the dialog just to see what happens if they chose otherwise. Also it helps in the long run as one needs more than one run through the game to see all the options.
    I for one don’t have a problem with such systems as long as the checkpoints are smartly located and as long as the PC is consistent with answer attitudes.

    • Tizzy says:

      Sorry. Explain to me in what world deterring your paying customers from doing something they may legitimately want to do is a good thing.

      • Gandaug says:

        In his world. It’s his opinion. Save your pitchfork for something that deserves it.

        I agree with you in your opinion that save points are bad. That doesn’t mean everybody has to though.

        • Tizzy says:

          We are not talking about save points or whatever else here! I am quoting:


          […] help imho to deter gamers to save and reload

          and I say: how does deterring gamers from doing something make any sense? Why would a gaming company want to prescribe how I am supposed to enjoy their game?

          This applies whatever point of design you’re discussing, and it doesn’t matter who agrees with whom. I think the only way you can defend a feature is by explaining what enhancement it brings to the player’s experience, not what it prevents players from doing.

          • Gandaug says:

            The reason the save system was implemented the way it was is to further enhance the “what you do matters” immersion part of the game. From the complaints about the system it seems they implemented the design poorly.

            There is the system shown in a light that enhances the player’s experience. Since it doesn’t matter who agrees with whom I won’t bother explaining what I think about that.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Not really.Alpha protocol has one of the best implementations of checkpoints Ive seen.The thing is that the system itself is bad,so even when implemented well,it still is tedious and stupid.

              • Gandaug says:

                I’m not defending the system even though it may seem like it. My point in this entire thing is that Licaon is entitled to his opinion, which is all any of this is, without rude, combative responses demanding he explain himself for such heresy.

      • Licaon_Kter says:

        It makes the story consistent, “this happened”-“you decide”-“something else occurs”-etc-“the end”.

        I’ve said: “to deter gamers to save and reload before the dialog just to see what happens if they chose otherwise” so don’t quote me out of context, I find it great that i can play a game that goes on only based on my choices and it creates my story based on my actions rather than playing a game that has this or that happen’ after i kill all the bad guys like a run-to-the-mill shooter where the story ends up the same for each and any player in the world.

        I don’t find it hampers the experience, it adds a bit of realism and suspension like spy game should have. The timer and the fact that the last checkpoint might be far behind creates the pressure, the emotion, it makes the player balance game time and reloading benefits. And given that consequences are not seen right away make the reloading a bit moot, why would i reload if i don’t know what happens 2 hours from now anyway? There is no bad choice, if i can complete the game anyway, if the story unfolds based on what i’ve chosen, i don’t feel like i’ve lost anything, actually it feels nicer to see the game world touched by my decisions.

        Also, the timer is not that of a big deal, how many of you just sit there watching the celling when somebody asks you a question?

        @Tizzy: you have a RealLife(tm) choice of not buying the game anyway so that the game companys’ design decisions don’t affect you. ;)

        @Gandaug: Everyone is entitled to my opinion. :D

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          If you are thinking “The last save was half an hour ago,I must be careful”,that doesnt add to the story,it breaks the immersion.It is bad design.Look at half life 2,mostly the episodes:You can save freely,but it is designed so that you dont need to(unless you put it to a higher difficulty than you are skilled),thus can experience the story much better.However,you can up the challenge,you can play without ever saving,if you want extra challenge.Or you can save every second if you think you arent skilled enough.So saves are there,but they arent designed to break immersion.Checkpoints do.

          The timer,on the other hand,doesnt break immersion.It adds the real tension of thinking on the go.

      • Sauron says:

        Don’t play rogue-likes much, do ya?

        Personally, I think the checkpoint system helps the immersion/fun factor a lot. I can still remember clearly one point in the game where I had about 3 seconds to make a choice, so I selected something and then considered the consequences after it went through. I immediately realised I’d prefer a different option, but the game checkpointed then and there and my most recent saved checkpoint was the beginning of the mission. I was then forced to live with the consequences of my actions. You know, just like in real life, just like the game is about. I realised thereafter that this significantly added to the richness of the game, and added a depth I simply wouldn’t have had using a quicksave feature.

        Of course, I grew up on rogue-likes, so maybe I’m just weird….

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          And Im a minmaxer,so I save almost every checkpoint manually,so it wouldnt be that hard for me to go back and replay the same 5-10 minutes again just to make a different choice.In fact,I did it once.I dont do it usually because I like the narrative.So the only thing the check point system adds is tedium.

          Also,the best rogue game yet,still thief 2,has quick saves.And it doesnt break the immersion.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Both dragon age and mass effect have quick saves,so you can save before dialogue and check all the options,yet I rarely did that on my first playthroughs,even though I am a minmaxer.And I did save before one dialogue in alpha protocol just to check all the options,even though it ended in me replaying the same 10 minutes 3 times.So there really is no point in the checkpoint system.

      The timer,however,I find ok.It reminds me of fahrenheit,and it is a nice system for immersion.It was even well implemented in dialogues in alpha protocol,so that you dont have pauses before your responses,unless you fast forward.

  20. Gandaug says:

    The amount of rage going on here is astounding. Bordering on the fanatical and unreasoning.

    The save point thing is bad, but it’s not “classic Obsidian”. This is the first game they’ve released with this system to my knowledge.

    I do not own the game. From everything I’ve read I don’t know if I could look past its flaws and enjoy it or not at this point. A game with actual consequences to your actions sounds awesome, but a game with the technical difficulties this one seems to be having is sometimes hard to accept.

    By no means am I telling anybody they shouldn’t be upset if the game they bought is buggy to the point of unplayability.

    What I am saying is any interesting discussion or commentary on the game is being drowned by unstable, impotent rage.

    I miss the days when this site had discussions instead of bitch-sessions.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The classic obsidian comments are not about save points,but about a good game having loads of negative stuff(bugs,glitches,bad design,ets).Checkpoints are actually well places here.

      Also,the game is not unplayable.You can always play it on easy in order not to get bothered with glitchy combat and minigames,and focus on the story.Plus,with certain builds,it can be a cakewalk(stealth+pistols makes it so easy to clear the levels of enemies).

      I would recommend to anyone who enjoys good story,but only when the price drops.

      • Gandaug says:

        I’ll admit to playing dumb on the save/Obsidian thing. I just find it odd that everybody is talking about save points at the same time they’re talking about Obsidian shenanigans without actually mentioning any of them.

        It is really is a symptom of consolitis. Most cross platform games are incredibly buggy on the PC unfortunately.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          The thing is that there are games like arkham asylum,so we have actual proof that a game can work well both on a pc and a console.There is no excuse for a game to be buggy just because its cross platform.Sure,its harder to code,but if you do your job well,there will be very few bugs.

          Alpha protocol bugs on both pc and consoles.And the ai is very,very poor.That is why people call it classical obsidian.It has great narrative,but fails in the gameplay part a lot of times.

          • Gandaug says:

            Agreed. Which is why I said most and not all. Arkham Asylum stands as a diamond in the rough in the console port world.

            I’m also agreed that console ports don’t need to be buggy messes, but the truth is most are.

            The funny thing with Obsidian for me is I’ve never had a problem with bugs on their games. I’m one of the lucky few.

  21. Lintman says:

    The worst save system I’ve seen in a game was the infamous Master of Orion 3. You could select the “Save” option at any time, but what was actually saved was always the beginning-of-turn data – not any of your commands or movement. The micromanagement was extreme in that game, so you could spend 40+ minutes doing a single turn for a large empire, and this is not a trivial thing. Worse, they didn’t tell you they weren’t actually saving when you did, it took me losing a bunsh of effort a few times before I figured out what was happening.

  22. Ramsus says:

    Yeah I have the same complaint about the dialog choices. I have no idea why that timer is there. When it’s too long it breaks the feel that you’re having an actual conversation and when it’s too short it’s not “here is the tension of responding on the fly” it’s “wait I only had time to read two of my choices before the timer ran out wtf?”

    The checkpoint thing makes no sense to me. Even if they wanted to use a checkpoint system why are the checkpoints so infrequent? Many games use checkpoints and have them often enough that nobody will ever complain.

    I never had any real trouble organizing saves but then again I never had more than two saves and my auto save taking up space.

    My one major complaint with the game though is that I didn’t really feel like a spy at all. I can’t say from experience but I’m pretty sure spies don’t spend their entire lives alternating between sitting in their houses and skulking around/shooting up places full of enemies of the week.

  23. James Pope says:

    I actually dig the game. I even don’t have a problem with the hacking minigame once I got the hang of it and sank some points into it.

  24. Will says:

    I dunno, i kinda like Alpha Protocol. The dialogue timer system is odd certainly, but i can see why it’s there; it’s so you don’t have those wierd endless pauses you get otherwise. Admittedly sometimes the timer is just way too short, but mostly it seems long enough to scan each word and pick the appropriate response.

    The minigames are great, although the hacking one drives me up the wall (NUMBERS AND LETTERS EVERYWHERE) it’s still enjoyable, and they’re fast enough to not break the pace, but complex enough to actually be a challenge.

    I can’t comment on buggyness; i havn’t seen any bugs.

  25. Lord Xyfets says:

    Ok, so this is just a comment on the comic.
    I really had no clue what was going on until I read the explanation in the sidebar – I thought he was just “staring at the creepy eye”, rather than waiting for the dialogue option to register.

  26. Vegedus says:

    “Pretty classic Obsidian craftsmanship so far.”

    Man, have I got some ‘I told you so’ to do.

  27. SimeSublime says:

    TL;DR sorry if this was already in comments. But one key point of a save system that seems to be missing all too often is the ability to name your saves. It’s such a simple thing, but how else am I to tell the difference between random screenshot/date 1 and random screenshot/date 2, especially when I’m dropping back from years ago. It’s not hard to do, the only argument against it is it would be difficult on consoles, I guess. But that doesn’t excuse the PC versions of, say, Fallout 3 or Oblivion. And The Witcher, a PC exclusive. I love you, but damn are you hard to work with sometimes.

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