Improving the save system

Discussion in 'Other Flashing Hardware & Software' started by pelago, Aug 11, 2006.

Aug 11, 2006

Improving the save system by pelago at 1:56 PM (1,214 Views / 0 Likes) 10 replies

  1. pelago
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    Member pelago Member

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    The G6 save system, with its multiple save slots (Default aka .0, .1, and .2) is pretty good. It allows a user to backup their save to two different backup slots, allowing them to go back to a previous save if they found they made a mistake. It seems to be designed for just this purpose.

    However, there is another use case for multiple save slots, and that is when multiple people share a single console (with one G6 and one set of game roms). At the moment the save system is not optimum for this use case, and I have an idea to improve it.

    (By the way, from now on I am considering games which only have one save in the game itself, like Phoenix Wright, Polarium, Wario Ware, Feel the Magic and so on. Games like Mario 64 or Metroid Hunters support multiple saves in the game itself, so they work fine with the current system with multiple users.)

    At the moment, if two people share a system and both want to play through a game keeping their own save, they have to do the following:

    - Angie, who uses save slot 1, has to start the DS, find the game, press Select, choose 1->Default, press OK, wait for the copy, press OK again, then start the game. When they finish they have to restart the DS, find the game, press Select, choose Default->1, press OK, wait for the copy, press OK again, then switch off.

    - Bill, who uses save slot 2, then comes along and has to start the DS, find the game, press Select, choose 2->Default, press OK, wait for the copy, press OK again, then start the game. When they finish they have to restart the DS, find the game, press Select, choose Default->2, press OK, wait for the copy, press OK again, then switch off.

    As you can see, this is quite a bit of extra work, and is prone to errors. If Angie forgets to do Default->1 when they finish playing, Bill will accidentally write over Angie's latest save when he does does 2->Default.

    My suggested improvement is for the G6 to allow launching the game from any one of the three save slots, rather than just Default/.0 as current. When the game is launched (possibly with a different button press), the player could choose which save slot to use. That save slot is then loaded into SRAM directly from the .0, .1 or .2 file and the game started. When the player finishes playing, they can just switch the console off, safe in the knowledge that when it is next switched on the G6 will write the save from SRAM into whichever save slot was chosen to launch the game.

    With the above improvement, the system becomes a lot more 'pick up and play' for multiple users. They just have to pick their save slot when launching and the system takes care of the rest. This will improve the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) considerably. It also means, with three save slots (.0, .1 and .2) that three different people can have their own saves, whereas the current system only allows two people.

    In order to implement this improvement, the G6 team would need to modify their loader to allow the copying of save slots other than .0 to SRAM, and they would have to keep track of which save slot was used so that when the console is restarted it will copy from SRAM back to the correct file. The system already remembers which game was last played, so this is just an extension of that.

    Some questions:

    1, Does this seem like a good idea to other people?
    2, Do any other flash carts have a multiple save-slot system, and how do they work? I would be interested to compare who other systems handle this.
    3, How would it be best to communicate this to the G6 developers?
    4, Could a third-party write their own replacement loader for G6 or any other system? I'm used to the Xbox scene where it doesn't matter which modchip you use, you have a choice of several different loaders (called dashboards in the Xbox scene) all of which are by third parties. With GBA/DS it seems you are stuck with whoever made your flash system.
     
  2. MunkeeMan

    Newcomer MunkeeMan Member

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    I think it would be nice if this was an option one could choose when updating their loader. The reason I say this is that while this would be a benefit for a multiple user system, it would add an extra annoying step in launching a game for someone that never shares their system, and is the sole user. It doesn't seem much to press one button to choose a save slot when loading a game, but over time, it will become somewhat annoying since most people would always choose the same option.

    I do agree that currently it is easy to make a mistake and overwrite the wrong saved game though.
     
  3. ledats

    Member ledats Advanced Member

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    This seems like a very good idea! I suggest you write them an e-mail with those exact words! [​IMG]
     
  4. pelago
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    Member pelago Member

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    MunkeeMan, that's a good point, and I wouldn't want to annoy solitary users with an extra unnecessary popup every time they load the game. Maybe pressing A or double-clicking the game with the stylus as usual will always launch the game with either 1) the default save slot (.0) as it does at the moment, or 2) the last save slot used, with no popup menu displayed. (I'm not sure which of these two choices is the best).

    Pressing a different button, e.g. X, or clicking a particular icon with the stylus after highlighting the game, could popup a menu "Launch with save 0, Launch with save 1, Launch with slot 2, etc". To make things quicker, the last save slot used for that particular game could be highlighted by default in this popup menu, meaning if you were the last person to play the game you could just press X then A without having to scroll up and down and choose your slot. Although if option 2) above is picked, then they could in fact just press A.

    If this takes off, there are further optional refinements that I can imagine making. There could be a 'manage saves' option allowing the user to name/rename the save slots (using an on-screen keyboard) so that they didn't need to remember which is which - e.g. "Bill", "Angie", "Bill backup" instead of 0, 1 and 2. These custom save names could be made part of the filename (e.g. "Polarium Bill.sav" instead of the current "Polarium.0") to make things clearer for people who backup their saves to their PC.

    You could also allow the user to create new blank save slots - I see no reason why the system should be limited to three slots - and delete and copy saves. If all this was handled on the G6 loader itself, the U-Disk Manager needn't do what it does at the moment and make three save slots when you transfer a new game. Instead, the loader itself would detect that there were no save slots and create a save slot the first time you launch a game, calling it "Save 1" or similar. I definitely wouldn't want the user to be forced to name the save slot before playing the game for the first time - the G6 should make a default name and only users who care about this kind of thing would go in and rename it.

    As you can tell, I've been thinking quite a lot about this, and I've only had my G6 a couple of days!
     
  5. outphase

    Member outphase Custom title

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    The "pressing" question is that how many games don't have 2 save slots built into it? I know Phoenix Wright only has one, but most games should have multiple slots already.
     
  6. Hellfenix

    Member Hellfenix GBAtemp Regular

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    But some don't so yeah.. another aproach could be creating profiles in the G6 lite system. If you have more than one profile, the G6 prompts you to chose one before anything else. Then it would automatically keep track of the saves your profile uses, for example John would always use .0 files and Cindy would use .1 files. If the whole G6 was made with profiles the PDA could also contain different information per profile. I think that would be sweet.
     
  7. Lazycus

    Member Lazycus Rotten

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    I agree with outphase. The majority of games already have this feature built in with multiple save slots. I would find it an annoyance more than a benefit for the G6 to prompt every time for save selection.
     
  8. pelago
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    Member pelago Member

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    Hellfenix, multiple profiles (that is, choosing who you are before showing the game list), is quite a good idea. (To keep people happy who don't want this feature, of course by default it would boot into a default profile and you would have to specifically ask to create new profiles and change to them). Different profiles could have different colour schemes in the launcher menu, and even a different favourite game list, so that my wife might have a pink menu with Nintendogs at the top of it, different from my menu.

    The problem with having profiles at a high-level, though, is that it might be a bit too restrictive. Even a single player might want multiple saves. When I talked about being able to rename the saves, I gave the examples of "Bill" and "Bill backup" (the latter being a copied save from an earlier point in the game), but you could also imagine "Bill second playthrough" where Bill plays the same game with a different character, for example. If you had to make top-level profiles for all of these multiple "Bill"s that might be a bit awkward and not be suitable for every game, so I would rather just let the user call the saves whatever they like on a per-game basis.

    If I knew how to do it I'd knock up a prototype in Flash or something.
     
  9. pubjoe

    Member pubjoe GBAtemp Regular

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    good idea.
     
  10. DiegoCJ

    Newcomer DiegoCJ Member

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    I loved the idea... I just hope G6 team likes it too... you have my support!
     
  11. pelago
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    Member pelago Member

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    Apparently the M3 (by the same people who make the G6) has a different multiple save interface than the G6, including allowing more than 3 save slots, renaming saves, and saving directly to the chosen save rather than having to do 1->default, default->1.

    I've not actually seen the M3 myself, so can any M3 owners confirm this? Is the M3 save interface as easy to use as my 'dream' interface as I've described in this thread? If so, then it should be relatively easy for them to add it to the G6, yes?
     

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